View Full Version : Original System Skills and rolling a "happy medium"

2014-02-26, 11:57 AM
Mostly a random thought, here. D&D's old, old roots had a d20 to tie to its 3-18 stats because they used a "roll under your stat to succeed" resolution system on all the things that we now tend to lump under "skills."

This proposal is not specific to D&D, but using the D&D d20/3-18 stat spread is a good reference point.

So, how well would a skill system work wherein you add your skill ranks and other modifiers to your die roll, but your die roll failed if you rolled higher than your stat? You'd also have target numbers (difficulty classes or whatever) that you had to reach to succeed. This makes rolling a range between "too low" and "too high" necessary to succeed, if you have enough skill to even have a chance to succeed at all.

The drawback is that this means low stats will be even more of an impediment than under "classic" skill systems such as d20's. If you have a 3 in d20, but you invest heavily in a skill, you can overcome the -4 to your skill from your low stat. If you fail if you roll 4+ so that your highest possible successful roll is, not d20+skill-4, but 3+skill, you're much more severely limited.

But are there benefits, from a mechanical design perspective, to this sort of system? Could it be made useful? Has it any interesting consequences that could be exploited?

2014-02-26, 12:53 PM
In general, if you have a binary result, (success vs failure), you only want to check two things. Whether that's a stat and a roll or roll+buffs and DC or whatever, that's what you want. If you have more than two possible results, you need something more complicated. For example, a version of your idea could work if the possibilities are "failure, success, great success". That said, you're proposal only has three possible results: over, under, and sweet spot. If you have more than two results, you almost always need an arbitrary number of possible results. This is where you get various "degrees of success" mechanics, such as S = 1 + (R - DC)/5, where S is the number is successes, R is your d20 + buffs result, and DC is the DC of the task. Generally, you want some kind of formula like that for generating multiple degrees or instances of success.

2014-02-26, 02:55 PM
So generally something where success/failure is mostly a function of stat, but how much you accomplish on a success is a function of your total final result. Like distance you can climb, or number of gold pieces you earn, or other somewhat arbitrary-value numbers like that.