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View Full Version : I need help with skill system. Please.



Philemonite
2014-09-18, 06:10 AM
I am currently making a game using 8 attributes (think ability scores):

Strength
Vitality
Dexterity
Agility
Intelligence
Wits
Presence
Wisdom

This is my first time designing a full system (I usually stick to battle systems) so I want the skill system to be simple. I want every attribute to have two skills based on it, so that each attribute contributes the same outside of combat. Here is what I have so far:

Strength
-Force
-Intimidate

Vitality
-Endurance
-Athletics

Dexterity
-Thievery
-Mechanics

Agility
-Stealth
-Acrobatics

Intelligence
-Knowledge
-Arcana

Wits
-Bluff
-Perception

Presence
-Diplomacy
-Streetwise

Wisdom
-Religion
-Insight

It is mostly inspired by 4e skill list, and I want to make it relatively similar. Some skills might be too broad, some might be too specific and some might be missing. So, what can I change to make it better?

nonsi
2014-09-18, 07:09 AM
.
I've tried it long enough and enough times in the past to know without a shadow of a doubt that it is practically impossible to achieve satisfying results when your primary agenda is symmetry.

You'll have to come to terms with the fact that there will never be a workable symmetry between ability scores, classes, spells, feats or skills.

You can find out the hard way as I did (and you most definitely will find out) or the easy way by taking my word for it and letting the matters drop.

Philemonite
2014-09-18, 07:46 AM
.
I've tried it long enough and enough times in the past to know without a shadow of a doubt that it is practically impossible to achieve satisfying results when your primary agenda is symmetry.

You'll have to come to terms with the fact that there will never be a workable symmetry between ability scores, classes, spells, feats or skills.

You can find out the hard way as I did (and you most definitely will find out) or the easy way by taking my word for it and letting the matters drop.

I'm not looking for perfection, I just want to cover all the basics.

nonsi
2014-09-18, 09:25 AM
I'm not looking for perfection, I just want to cover all the basics.

If the aim is just for the sake of creationism liberty, then I guess it's fine.
If you're looking to make a practically playable and fun game, I'm guessing you're gonna find yourself futilely chasing your own tail (but maybe that's just me).

ATM, I can't see what "all the basics" should be.
Vitality more or less substitutes Constitution, so I don't see how Athletics fits in there.
Stealth is definitely more about subtle movement (or the patience not to move) than one's agility, so it doesn't seem to fit either.
These things just don't add up for me.

Philemonite
2014-09-18, 09:34 AM
If the aim is just for the sake of creationism liberty, then I guess it's fine.
If you're looking to make a practically playable and fun game, I'm guessing you're gonna find yourself futilely chasing your own tail (but maybe that's just me).

ATM, I can't see what "all the basics" should be.
Vitality more or less substitutes Constitution, so I don't see how Athletics fits in there.
Stealth is definitely more about subtle movement (or the patience not to move) than one's agility, so it doesn't seem to fit either.
These things just don't add up for me.

Vitality represents stamina, and your physical capabilities are depend on it.
Agility represents movement and reaction, while Dexterity represents hand-eye coordination. It makes sense to have Stealth and Acrobatics as Agility based while Thievery and Mechanics are based on Dexterity.

Mark Hall
2014-09-18, 10:37 AM
Overall, it looks decent; I have a couple questions, and a couple comments.



Strength
-Force
-Intimidate

What is "force"? How is that skill used?



Dexterity
-Thievery
-Mechanics

What is Thievery, and what is Mechanics? Is disarming a trap thievery? Or is it mechanics?

A good gauge is to sit down and watch a movie or something similar, and say "Ok, that's a thievery check. That's a Perception check. That's an Insight check." Note when you can't decide what kind of check a given action would be. Likewise, sit down and actively try to break the system, and come up with things that are reasonable to occur in the game you're planning, and don't really seem to fall into the skill system.

For example, you might not need to come up with what kind of check you'd use to run a computer search, because your setting doesn't have computers. But can you tell me what kind of check it is to identify a monster? What about to ride a horse in combat? To make some tools when stripped naked and dropped in a forest? To hunt food once you've made those tools? To hide a knife on your person? To leap across a chasm? To swing across a chasm on a rope? To improvise a trap?

Think about the places your skill system FAILS. Give it to other people to break, and let them tell you where it's not going to work.

Philemonite
2014-09-18, 10:55 AM
Overall, it looks decent; I have a couple questions, and a couple comments.

It was mostly taken from other systems.:smallbiggrin:


What is "force"? How is that skill used?

I couldn't think of a better name. It should be display of physical force. Mostly breaking stuff.:smallbiggrin:


What is Thievery, and what is Mechanics? Is disarming a trap thievery? Or is it mechanics?

Manipulating contraptions (like disarming traps) would be mechanics. Stuff like pocketing would be thievery.


A good gauge is to sit down and watch a movie or something similar, and say "Ok, that's a thievery check. That's a Perception check. That's an Insight check." Note when you can't decide what kind of check a given action would be. Likewise, sit down and actively try to break the system, and come up with things that are reasonable to occur in the game you're planning, and don't really seem to fall into the skill system.

For example, you might not need to come up with what kind of check you'd use to run a computer search, because your setting doesn't have computers. But can you tell me what kind of check it is to identify a monster? What about to ride a horse in combat? To make some tools when stripped naked and dropped in a forest? To hunt food once you've made those tools? To hide a knife on your person? To leap across a chasm? To swing across a chasm on a rope? To improvise a trap?

Think about the places your skill system FAILS. Give it to other people to break, and let them tell you where it's not going to work.

Now that is a helpful advice.
Computer search could be used as Knowledge, or just a straight Intelligence check.
Monster identification would fall under Knowledge.
Horse riding would be Acrobatics (although I would allow Athletics).
Making tools could be mechanics. Or maybe just Dexterity check.
Hunting could be combination of Athletics/Acrobatics, Perception, Stealth and possibly some kind of Knowledge check.
Hiding a knife would definitely be Thievery.
Jumping-Athletics.
Rope swinging-Acrobatics.
Making a trap-Mechanics+Knowledge.

AttilaTheGeek
2014-09-18, 11:12 AM
Hunting could be combination of Athletics/Acrobatics, Perception, Stealth and possibly some kind of Knowledge check.
Hiding a knife would definitely be Thievery.
Jumping-Athletics.
Rope swinging-Acrobatics.
Making a trap-Mechanics+Knowledge.

Do you have mechanics to resolve checks that are a combination of two skills?

Philemonite
2014-09-18, 11:21 AM
Do you have mechanics to resolve checks that are a combination of two skills?

Not really, but it could be done like multiple skill checks in a row. Or something more complicated like skill challenges.

DoomHat
2014-09-18, 01:20 PM
Personally, I've always preferred skill systems that that aren't hard locked to specific attributes. That way you can cover a lot more situations.

For instance, Dexterity/Thievery covers slight of hand and lock picking, but Wits/Thievery could be used to 'case' a building to identify good entry points, escape routes, hiding places, and pitfalls. Intelligence/Thievery could tell you anything from the reputation of local law enforcement to how big a cut the local thief's guild demands and what protections they offer in exchange.

Though I can understand if that's not your cup of tea.

-As far as what skills to incorporate in the first place, here are two best practices that have served me well.

1) Consider what it is you want your players to be doing most often. Highlight your priorities by including them in your skill list and leave out things you don't feel are necessary to roll.

For example, I notice that you didn't include Weapons or Brawling on your current list, probably because it's assumed that everyone is capable of, and expected to, fight. I also notice that you didn't include Fishing or Cobbling, which I assume means that the stories you expect your game to tell will never hing on whether or not someone is able to catch a good haul of fish or craft an exceptional piece of footwear.

I own two RPG's set in ancient China and they both contain a skill called "Pillow Arts", because in those settings special significance is placed on the concept of sexual prowess as both a means of controlling others and cultivating good health. In any other setting, how good a lay you may or may not be has no significance what-so-ever and thus does not require a roll and thus does not require a skill on your character sheet.

Similarly, if you games is about thieves, and all the PC's are assumed to have some knowledge of thieving then Thievery shouldn't be a skill. All PC's should have something like a BaseAttackBonus, but instead a BaseTheftBonus.

2) Just throw some words at a page then figure out what's missing or superfluous through play testing. The end.

Philemonite
2014-09-18, 01:38 PM
Personally, I've always preferred skill systems that that aren't hard locked to specific attributes. That way you can cover a lot more situations.

For instance, Dexterity/Thievery covers slight of hand and lock picking, but Wits/Thievery could be used to 'case' a building to identify good entry points, escape routes, hiding places, and pitfalls. Intelligence/Thievery could tell you anything from the reputation of local law enforcement to how big a cut the thief's guild there demands and what protections they offer in exchange.

Though I can understand if that's not your cup of tea.

I actually never thought about it. It would be much easier to work with, but then I would have the problem of how broad/specific to go. I am planing to skip skill ranks and just give a flat bonus for trained skills. Making the skills flexible would let you get more out of your skills.



-As far as what skill to incorporate in the first place, here are two best practices that have served me well.

1) Consider what it is you want your player to be doing most often. Highlight your priorities by including them in your skill list and leave out things you don't feel are necessary to role.

For example, I notice that you didn't include Weapons or Brawling on your current list, probably because it's assumed that everyone is capable of, and expected to, fight. I also notice that you didn't include Fishing or Cobbling, which I assume means that the stories you expect your game to tell will never hing on whether or not someone is able to catch a good haul of fish or craft an exceptional piece of footwear.

Combat is completely separate from skills, it uses a different mechanics.
I don't put basket weaving on skill list.:smallwink:
That's mostly done through RP, no need for check.


I own two RPG's set in ancient China and they both contain a skill called "Pillow Arts", because in those settings special significance is placed on the concept of sexual prowess as both a means of controlling others and cultivating good health. In any other setting, how good a lay you may or may not be has no significance what so ever, and thus does not require a roll and thus does not require a skill on your character sheet.

Similarly, if you games is about thieves, and all the PC's are assumed to have some knowledge of thieving then Thievery shouldn't be a skill. All PC's should have something like a BaseAttackBonus, but instead a BaseTheftBonus.

Pillow Arts are not on my list, that is too specific. It's more suited for a specialization.


2) Just throw some words at a page that you assume are good enough then figure out what's missing or superfluous through play testing. The end.

The problem with that is that my opinion is not enough.:smallbiggrin:

nonsi
2014-09-18, 05:32 PM
Where do skills like Escape Artist, Survival, and Use Magic Device go?
And how do you intend to model all Knowledge skills into one?

Amechra
2014-09-18, 05:50 PM
Have you considered a more freeform system? For example, what if you had your Strength attribute, which would cover what you currently have for Force and Intimidate...

...and then just let people pick up a Perk (or Emphasis, or Non-Combat Proficiency, Merit, Aspect, Feat, Move... whatever else it is you kids are calling them these days) that gives you a boost when you use Strength in that way.

Also, I'm wondering - what kind of systems have you looked at? Shopping around for cool ideas is pretty great.

For example, I'm going to going to do something a bit weird: I'm going to take one of your attributes, and I'm going to make it look all Apocalypse World:

Intelligence:
Remembering Vital Information: Whenever you attempt to remember important information, roll +Intelligence.
On a Critical Success: Your GM tells you something interesting and something useful about the topic.
On a Success: Your GM tells you something interesting about the topic.
On a Failure: Your GM tells you something about the topic; it doesn't necessarily have to be either interesting or useful, though.

Identifying Spellcraft: Whenever you attempt to analyze a piece of spellcraft, roll +Intelligence.
On a Critical Success: Ask three of the following questions; your GM must answer truthfully.
On a Success: Ask one of the following questions; your GM must answer truthfully.
On a Failure: Ask one of the following questions; your GM is not obliged to be truthful. Also, the GM may choose to trigger the spell's Backlash against you.



[*=1]Who cast this spell?
[*=1]What does it do?
[*=1]How can I get rid of it?
[*=1]How could I duplicate it?




I hope that this is helpful, and that you don't think this a jerk-ish thing to do.

Philemonite
2014-09-19, 08:58 AM
Where do skills like Escape Artist, Survival, and Use Magic Device go?

Escape Artist is part of Force (breaking restrains) or Acrobatics.
Survival depends on which aspect.
I don't really see the point of Use Magic Device, it is either useless or game breaking.


And how do you intend to model all Knowledge skills into one?

:smallconfused:



Have you considered a more freeform system? For example, what if you had your Strength attribute, which would cover what you currently have for Force and Intimidate...

Not enough structure.


...and then just let people pick up a Perk (or Emphasis, or Non-Combat Proficiency, Merit, Aspect, Feat, Move... whatever else it is you kids are calling them these days) that gives you a boost when you use Strength in that way.

Probably Talents.:smallwink:
That is a great idea.


Also, I'm wondering - what kind of systems have you looked at? Shopping around for cool ideas is pretty great.

Mostly D&D, specifically 4E.

For example, I'm going to going to do something a bit weird: I'm going to take one of your attributes, and I'm going to make it look all Apocalypse World:


Intelligence:
Remembering Vital Information: Whenever you attempt to remember important information, roll +Intelligence.
On a Critical Success: Your GM tells you something interesting and something useful about the topic.
On a Success: Your GM tells you something interesting about the topic.
On a Failure: Your GM tells you something about the topic; it doesn't necessarily have to be either interesting or useful, though.

Identifying Spellcraft: Whenever you attempt to analyze a piece of spellcraft, roll +Intelligence.
On a Critical Success: Ask three of the following questions; your GM must answer truthfully.
On a Success: Ask one of the following questions; your GM must answer truthfully.
On a Failure: Ask one of the following questions; your GM is not obliged to be truthful. Also, the GM may choose to trigger the spell's Backlash against you.



[*=1]Who cast this spell?
[*=1]What does it do?
[*=1]How can I get rid of it?
[*=1]How could I duplicate it?




I hope that this is helpful, and that you don't think this a jerk-ish thing to do.

Very helpful.:smallwink:
Now I am leaning towards general skill groups with flexible attributes.

Taking a social skills as example.
Social+Strength=Intimidate
Social+Wisdom=Insight
Social+Wits=Bluff
Social+Presence=Diplomacy