View Full Version : Modified Skill Trick System (3.5, E6, brainstorming)

2013-01-11, 08:25 PM
Hello, playgrounders. Hope you are all doing well.

I am writing you today because I've been kicking around an idea for a slight revamp of my E6 project. I was working on a "Tactics" subsystem, functionally similar to ToB, for my martial classes. Give them something to put them on slightly more even footing with the casters. But I always wanted something for the skilled classes, and after some deliberation I think I may have decided on an idea: skill tricks.

The way I envision it is this: like maneuvers or spells, you have skill trick levels, skill trick disciplines/schools. Each skilled character learns a certain number of skill tricks per level (I am toying with keeping the 2 skill point cost, but feel that may have an adverse effect on what I am trying to accomplish), and can use each trick 1/encounter. So already we have a different resource schedule than spells (though I would be interested to hear other ideas on that subject - I want to differentiate this system). They'll probably be weaker than spells and contingent on a successful skill check, to compensate for their more frequent use. DCs would be based on the attribute that controls the skill used. Opposed checks might be relevant (say, if you lay a trap, your Craft (trapsmithing) check is the DC of the Spot check needed to see it).

I've come up with a few broad categories for them. I'd like each one to have in-combat and out-of-combat utility, but some lend themselves more readily to one or the other.

Stealth: Fairly obvious in use - how to hide from your enemies, get places you're not supposed to be, the art of misdirection.

Perception: This is where you might find skill tricks that allow you to see/hear things you normally could not or find new uses for your senses, perhaps use ranged weapons more effectively.

Acrobatics & Athletics: Running on walls, flipping and leaping over your opponents' heads, holding your breath for ten minutes, that kind of thing.

Gadgets & Traps: This is your James Bond category, with whatever the D&D equivalent of laser watches and pen guns might be. Cool mechanical stuff, deadly traps, will probably draw on my Inventions subsystem heavily.

Alchemy & Poisons: Here you might see stereotypical ninja/assassin stuff like smoke bombs, tranquilizer darts, poisons that are semi-useful in combat rather than having to wait ten rounds.

Guile: Social proficiency. The art of convincing someone that you're their long-lost cousin and in need of a temporary loan. Learn how to con and know when you're being conned. Make friends, influence people, and persuade that rampaging orc barbarian that you're an avatar of Gruumsh.

Lore: The art of knowledge, spellcraft, et cetera. Knowing that an illithid's left knee joint is particularly fragile, or that a certain spell was transcribed by a wizard with a thick accent (so most people will pronounce it wrong). Healing herbs and medical techniques might also have a fit here. Monstrous knowledge, occult lore, et cetera.

Larceny: The more hands-on applications of stealth - manipulating objects like locks, picking pockets, using misdirection. Would cover feinting, stealing, feats of manual dexterity or legerdemain. Probably also disguise and forgery.

Underhanded Tactics: This one is less skill based and more just about fighting dirty. Hitting below the belt, cheap shots, sucker punches. This would probably hinge more on combat maneuvers and attack rolls than anything else, and may be a better fit in the Tactics system (albeit still accessible by rogues).

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Criticisms? The idea is still germinating and taking shape in my head, so I appreciate any insight offered.

Realms of Chaos
2013-01-11, 10:07 PM
The 2 skill point cost probably won't work if you want a skill class to gain multiple skill tricks per level (unless you are giving out pretty insane skill points). At most, maybe 2 skill points to get the ability to learn skill tricks using a specific skill might be fair.

I'm also curious about the Skill check DCs you'd be using (for non-opposed rolls, of course), seeing as so many skills in 3.5/PF eventually reach the point of automatic success (and therefore an at-will ability). If you haven't already, you may want to consider something like the law of resistance in truenaming so that having a higher modifier gets you more uses but not endless ones (unless that's what you're after). If they're still per encounter, feel free to ignore this second paragraph. :smalltongue:

Edit: I've actually been working on a class somewhat like this so I'd be willing to lend a hand if you have problems filling in any of the blanks.

Morph Bark
2013-01-12, 04:34 AM
Perhaps make them cost 1 skill point, but instill different limits for different classes? For instance, high-skill classes (6 or 8 skill points/level) can get an amount of skill tricks equal to their class level, others only half that.

2013-01-12, 04:57 AM
Well, my plan was to have this limited only to skills-based classes. Say, at first level you learn 2 level one skill tricks, another two at second level, etc. So that you'd end up with four skill tricks per level. There could be an option to buy more by spending skill points, so that if you really wanted to invest in the system (at the cost of having more skill or maxed skills), you could.

Given that this would operate in an E6 format, I'm not terribly worried about insane skill checks. Still, obscene results are possible even in E6.

Realms of Chaos
2013-01-12, 12:37 PM
The worry, rather than being about insane skill modifiers, is the fact that setting any static DC means either that optimizers are going to get the ability at will with no chance of failure ever (which may not be your intention) or that nonoptimizers won't be able to use them at all if you set the DCs with optimizers in mind.

2013-01-12, 03:09 PM
Well, let me show you an example of how I thought the skill checks might be used.

Spike Trap

By cobbling together some basic mechanical parts, you can create a small contraption that thrusts sharp spikes at anyone who steps on it.

Prerequisite: Craft (trapmaking) 4 ranks

Benefit: As a full-round action, you may lay a spike trap in one unoccupied five-foot square. Make a Craft (trapsmithing) check as part of this action. Anybody who comes within 30 feet of the trap is entitled to a Spot check to notice it and may deactivate it with a Disable Device check - the DC of both checks is equal to your Craft (trapsmithing) result. Anyone who moves into this square while the trap is active, whether they've noticed it or not, takes 1d6 damage per trickster level. A successful Reflex save halves the damage (DC equal to 10 + the trick's level [in this case, probably 1] + the trickster's Intelligence modifier)

A rough sketch of a basic trap trick. That would be a situation in which an opposed check would come into play. Not all tricks would require opposed checks (some might not even require checks at all), but I think you're right in that static DCs are to be avoided.

2013-01-14, 04:05 AM
What would you think of the following for distribution out to the classes?

Using the generic Rogue (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=13624564&postcount=11) (replacing the Sage and Artificer with the Monk and Ranger, in an attempt to remain as close to core as possible), we have five archetypes that roughly correspond to the "skilled" classes - the Monk doesn't really qualify normally, but for the purposes of this experiment let's call it "skilled," as there's already competition for a divine-themed combat class. I split up the Rogue into Assassin and Swashbuckler for various reasons (sense of symmetry, order, separation of "power sources," others).

So we have five "classes": the Assassin, Bard, Monk, Ranger, and Swashbuckler. Each one would get access to a unique skill trick "discipline" or "school," and then could choose two or three others from a common pool.

In this system, you'd have the following:

Common Skill Trick Disciplines


Unique Skill Trick Disciplines

Alchemist's Art - poisons, toxins, bombs, powders, disguise kits. Batman's utility belt if he were a jerk. Lots of Craft (alchemy), Craft (poisonmaking), Disguise, Forgery.

Bard's Tales - Perform tricks up the wazoo. Probably a few Spellcraft, Knowledge (arcana), Use Magic Device ones as well. Special applications of bardic performance or bardic lore, perhaps.

Monastic Training - I'm torn on this one, because part of me wants to make the monk a psionic combat class, and another part of me wants to turn it into more of a divine skilled class. Let's assume the latter. Here, you'd probably have a good amount of Knowledge (religion), Heal, and Sense Motive checks, perhaps sprinkled about with some tricks that would allow the monk to draw on the power of the gods.

Scoundrel's Luck - luck tricks, ones that allow you to influence the rolls themselves, a special aptitude for not dying. Hard to pick skills here that aren't already covered in some way by the generic disciplines.

Way of the Wilds - probably a lot of Knowledge (nature), Survival, Handle Animal, and Craft (trapmaking) tricks, as well as some ranged combat ones.

Also, I need a better name than "discipline" - that's already taken by ToB.

Schools of magic, martial disciplines... got nothing for skill tricks. Bailiwick? Legerdemain?

2013-01-14, 05:05 AM
Call it a "Bag".