View Full Version : 2E Skill System

2009-12-17, 07:54 AM
I've put together a fairly straightforward system of combat and non-combat skills for 2nd edition D&D. It's based heavily on the system from Skills and Powers, but there are certain changes I've made to fit my campaign that I'd like criticism on. First, the rules:

Character Points
On creation, a 1st level character of any class recieves 30 character points (CPs) to spend on skills and proficiencies.

With each level gained, a character recieves 3 additional CPs. These points may be spent immediately or may be saved to be spent later.

Human characters recieve 5 bonus CPs at 1st level, and 1 additional CP at each level thereafter.

Thieves recieve the normal allotment of CPs. In addition, thieves recieve a special allotment of 20 thief skill points at 1st level, and 6 thief skill points at each level thereafter. Thief skill points function as do character points, except that they can only be spent on skills from the Thief Group (q.v.).

Spending Character Points

Weapon Proficiencies
Character points may be spent to acquire weapon proficiencies. To purchase a weapon proficiency costs 2 CPs for a warrior, or 3 CPs for other classes.

A character may purchase weapon proficiencies from outside the group of weapons normally permitted to their class. Priests and rogues can buy weapon proficiencies from the warrior group at the cost of 1 extra CP per proficiency. Wizards can buy proficiencies from the priest or thief groups at the cost of 2 extra CPs per proficiency, or from the warrior group at the cost of 3 extra CPs.

Weapon proficiencies and weapons permissable by class are detailed in the Player's Handbook.

Weapon Specialisation
Characters may spend additional CPs to attain greater levels of skill with their weapons. There are four levels of weapon specialisation available: weapon of choice, weapon expertise, weapon specialisation and weapon mastery.

Weapon of choice
A character can upgrade one weapon in which they are proficient to a weapon of choice. This costs 2 CPs for warriors, 3 for priests and rogues, or 4 for wizards. A character recieves a +1 bonus 'to hit' when attacking with their weapon of choice.
Warriors may have multiple weapons of choice, but other classes may have only one.

Weapon expertise
A character can upgrade one weapon of choice to weapon expertise. This costs 2 CPs for warriors, 4 for priests and rogues, or 5 for wizards. A character with weapon expertise gains an extra attack every other melee round when fighting with that weapon, in addition to the benefits of weapon of choice.

Weapon specialisation
A character of sufficient level can upgrade one weapon of expertise to weapon specialisation. The minimum level required and CP cost for this is below:

Class Min. lvl CP cost
Fighter 1 2
M*fighter 2 4
Warrior 3 4
Priest 5 6
Rogue 6 8
Wizard 7 10

A character can only ever specialise in one type of weapon. Weapon specialisation grants a +2 bonus to damage inflicted with that weapon, in addition to the benefits of weapon of choice and weapon expertise.

Weapon mastery
A single-classed fighter of at least 5th level may upgrade their weapon of specialisation to weapon mastery at a cost of 3 CPs. Weapon mastery grants an additional +2 bonus 'to hit' and +1 to damage inflicted with that weapon, as well as all the benefits of lesser levels of specialisation.

Fighting Styles
Character points may be spent to learn a fighting style. Warriors can learn as many different fighting styles as they want, but other classes may learn just one. Only one fighting style may be employed at a time. To learn a fighting style costs 2 CPs for warriors, or 3 CPs for all other classes, with the exception of the two-weapon fighting style (see below).

Single weapon
When the character fights with a weapon in one hand, and the other hand empty, they gain a +1 bonus to AC.

Weapon & shield
When the character fights with a weapon in one hand, and a shield in the other, they gain at their option, either a +1 bonus 'to hit' or a +1 to AC each round that they continue to hold a weapon and shield.

Two-handed weapon
When the character fights with a two-handed weapon, or when wielding a single-handed weapon with both hands if the weapon is of a sort to allow this, they gain a +1 bonus to damage rolls.

This fighting style costs 2 CPs for rangers, 3 CPs for other warriors and 5 CPs for all other classes. A character with this fighting style reduces the 'to hit' penalties for fighting with two weapons to 0 for the primary hand and -2 for the off hand. The weapon in the off hand must be of small size. At a cost of an additional 2 CPs, however, a character can learn to use two weapons of equal size, provided both can be wielded in one hand.

Missile weapon
The character can move up to half their movement distance and still make their full number of attacks with a missile weapon. They may move up to their full movement rate and make half as many attacks. In addition, the character gains a +1 bonus to AC vs. missile fire.

Horse archery
A character with this fighting style suffers no penalty firing from a mount moving up to half its speed, and only half the usual penalty (-2) firing from a mount moving at full speed.

Thrown weapon
As for the missile weapon fighting style, but pertaining to thrown weapons.

When wielding a weapon in one hand and with the other hand empty, the character can make a free kick or punch attack each melee round in addition to their weapon attack.

Character points may be spent to purchase non-combat skills from the following tables. A skill may be purchased from the General Group or from the appropriate class group at the cost listed below, or from other groups for an additional 2 CPs per skill; e.g. a thief could purchase skills from the General Group or the Thief Group at the listed cost, but when buying skills from any other group would add 2 CPs to the listed cost.

A character who has purchased a skill gains the initial skill rating shown in the tables below. This is modified by the character's ability scores as below:

Ability score Modifier
3 -4
4 -3
5-6 -2
7-8 -1
9-12 0
13-14 +1
15-16 +2
17 +3
18 +4

The abilities relevant to each skill are listed in the tables below. A character applies only the single best modifier - either the largest bonus, or the smallest penalty. The modifier is applied to the character's initial rating in that skill. For example, a character with a Wisdom of 15 and a Charisma of 13 who purchased the Animal Handling skill would add 2 to their initial rating due to their high wisdom, for a rating of 7.

Skill ratings may be improved at a cost of 1 CP per skill level.

Skill checks are made by rolling a D20. A result equal to or less than the skill rating is a success. A 20 is always a failure. Skill rolls may have modifiers imposed by the DM depending on difficulty and conditions. Simple, everyday tasks do not require a skill check - automatic success is assumed.

A character who has not spent any points on given skill has a default skill rating of 1, modified by ability scores as above. For example, a character who has spent no CPs on the Etiquette skill but who has a Charisma of 18 would have a default skill rating of 1+4= 5 in that skill.

Proficiency Cost Initial Rating Ability
Anc. History 3 6 Wisdom, Intelligence
Appraising 2 8 Intelligence, Wisdom
Blindfighting 4 6 Wisdom, Dexterity
Climbing 2 7 Strength, Dexterity
Cryptography 3 6 Intelligence, Wisdom
Disguise 4 5 Wisdom, Charisma
Escape bonds 4 6 Dexterity
Forgery 3 5 Dexterity, Wisdom
Gem Cutting 3 6 Dexterity
Hear noise 2 5 Intelligence, Wisdom
Hide in shadows 3 6 Intelligence, Dexterity
Juggling 2 7 Dexterity
Jumping 2 8 Strength, Dexterity
Local History 2 8 Intelligence, Charisma
Move silently 3 6 Dexterity
Open locks 3 5 Intelligence
Pick pockets 3 6 Dexterity
Reading Lips 3 7 Intelligence, Wisdom
Remove traps 3 5 Intelligence, Dexterity
Set Snares 3 6 Dexterity, Wisdom
Rope Walking 3 5 Dexterity
Throwing 2 8 Dexterity, Strength
Tumbling 3 7 Dexterity, Strength
Ventriloquism 4 5 Intelligence, Charisma

[skipping most of the skill tables for brevity's sake]

As you can see, it's fairly close to the original, but there are a few changes.

Rather than having a bunch of seperate stages with players recieiving more points at each stage and spending leftover points on later stages and so on, I've lumped all the points together into one pool. In theory, this should make things simpler, and allow the players more freedom to customise their characters. I don't see any obvious problems to balance that it will cause, but I could be overlooking something.

Human characters recieve bonus character points. This is because I've abolished level caps in my campaign - my players all hate them, and I'm not too keen on them myself. Since that takes away humans' one advantage, the bonus character points are an attempt to balance them out and make them a desirable option again. The question is, are five bonus character points and an extra each level enough of an advantage when compared to all the abilities demihumans get?

I've integrated thieving skills with the other non-combat skills, so that thieves now buy their abilities with character points. This is in direct response to the players in my group, who often - quite reasonably - want to try and move stealthily, climb over walls or up cliffs, hide in darkness, and so forth, despite most of them not being thieves. It seems like they ought to have some chance of success, and I'm not aware of any rules covering the matter, so hopefully this will sort things out. Non-thief characters can buy thief skills, or if they don't have any skill at all then can do their best with the defaults (another addition).

The rate at which thieves recieve thief skill points is intended to roughly mimick their progression using the system in the Player's Manual. I'm not sure how to deal with racial modifiers to thieving skills. Should I translate them into bonuses and penalties in the new skill system? Should I ignore them? If the former, what about other skills - if dwarves get a bonus to lockpicking, then should they also get bonuses to brewing and smithing and half a dozen other "dwarvish" skills, and penalties to riding and the like? If I drop the racial modifiers, that simplifies things, but it also removes some of the distinction between races and a lot of the incentive for certain races - like halflings - to become thieves. On the other hand, if I include them, then to be consistent I ought to include a great deal of other racial bonuses and penalties. When it comes to defaults, it complicates things unnecessarily - a character now has to add their ability modifier as well as look up any racial modifier they may or may not have and add that as well.

The weapon specialisations and fighting styles might be too cheap. They're all lifted pretty much straight out of the Skills and Powers book, but with just a single pool of character points, players are free to spend as much as they like on combat skills, and the natural tendency will be to beef up as much as possible. I'm considering increasing the costs of specialisations to counter that.

I may make some changes to the fighting styles and specialisations to make them more varied and interesting. I'll also, eventually, be adding a list of advantages and disadvantages that players can take, but that should be smooth sailing - I'm mostly concerned about the rules posted above.

I've left off most of the charts of skills, and their descriptions - they're largely the same as in Skills and Powers, and you get the general idea anyway.

Any comments, or especially criticism, would be much welcomed.

2009-12-17, 08:31 AM
I like it, except for everyone being able to take theif-ly skills. To me that was one of the staples of AD&D (both 1e and 2e) was the percentage rolls for thief skills. 3e is what made the rogue dead to me.

2009-12-17, 09:01 AM
Giving the other classes an extra attack so cheaply and at first level is a problem as it takes power away from the fighter.

As for letting people learn thief skills, the PHB suggests using raw ability scores for anything not specifically covered but you should imply a penalty (hide and move silently should use dexterity modified by armor, there's a climb proficiency for non-thieves because only thieves can climb smooth walls, find/remove traps and pick locks are difficult untrained so a -6 penalty should be implied). The thieve's strength is in his training which gives him a greater chance than his allies and he has a better chance to perform it with armor. If you let everyone take their skills then you undermine their importance in a party.

It's not a bad ruling if the team has no thieves but if someone wants to play one they'll probably feel disappointed.

2009-12-17, 09:14 AM
I like it, except for everyone being able to take theif-ly skills. To me that was one of the staples of AD&D (both 1e and 2e) was the percentage rolls for thief skills. 3e is what made the rogue dead to me.

One of my problems is that I keep running into situations where, for example, a wizard wants to try and sneak past a guard who's looking the other way. Under favourable conditions, she ought to have a chance of success, but there are no rules for it. Up until now I've just winged it but I'd really like to lay down some concrete rules on the subject.
Basically I want to give other classes some ability to hide, move silently, and climb, not as well as a thief but well enough to have a decent chance to succeed when it would be reasonable for them to do so.

I suppose I could work something out in which the thief skills stay as percentages, and other classes get a small percentage chance, say equal to their Dexterity, of success with certain skills. But it seems fiddly and awkward.

I don't mind thief skills being rolled on a d20 rather than a d100, but now that I think about it I do share your feeling about other classes being able to buy thief skills. I'd prefer if they were stuck with the default rankings, and just for the skills I mentioned. I'll have to give it some thought.