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Kurald Galain
2015-03-11, 06:56 AM
I have a design question about RPGs with skills.

In certain systems, such as D&D, skills are tied to an ability score; for example, stealth is based on dexterity, and linguistics is based on intelligence.

In certain other systems, such as Whitewolf, there are skills and ability scores but they aren't tied; for example, the GM may ask for a dexterity + stealth roll, but could also ask for e.g. charisma + stealth.

It strikes me as obvious that the advantage of the former is faster resolution, whereas the advantage of the latter is versatility. I'm curious what people's preferences and experiences are with these two methods? In the latter case, is it common that a GM asks for unusual combinations, or are most skills almost always used with one particular ability score anyway?

Cazero
2015-03-11, 07:31 AM
Nothing stops you from using both.
In Mutants & Masterminds 3e, wich uses the d20 system and have skills very similar to D&D, the expertise (something) skill uses the intelligence ability by default but explicitly states that the extremely broad spectrum that can be covered with expertise in very different things can require to use a different ability.
Similarly, D&D skills are usually tied to a specific ability score, and both the skill value and score bonus are specified on most sheets to allow the unusual situation where a skill uses a different ability to work smoothly.

NichG
2015-03-11, 07:33 AM
Generally I think the linkings tend to be pretty uniform, with a few notable exceptions that are usually sort of humorous when they come up (which has a value in its own right, though).

If you have both stats and skills, the question is what kind of contrast you will have between what they do. There are many answers to that question, so it comes down to what you're trying to accomplish in your particular system. For example, different things that the separation has been used for in games I've seen:

- One can be increased over the character's life, while the other is static barring exceptional events.
- One is broad but expensive (one stat applies to many different skills), the other is specific and cheap
- One tends to act as a prerequisite, the other as an active element (not a huge fan of this one personally)
- One scales numerical outcomes, the other scales success rates/what may be attempted
- One controls the width of the distribution of outcomes, the other controls the mean

... and so on.

Ashtagon
2015-03-11, 07:47 AM
I have a design question about RPGs with skills.
In certain systems, such as D&D, skills are tied to an ability score; for example, stealth is based on dexterity, and linguistics is based on intelligence.

D&D officially allows the GM to call for a different ability score to be used as the modifying ability score if the situation warrants it. Most people are unaware of it, that's all.

Kurald Galain
2015-03-11, 07:49 AM
D&D officially allows the GM to call for a different ability score to be used as the modifying ability score if the situation warrants it. Most people are unaware of it, that's all.

Of course. My question is not "can the DM do that" but "what are people's experiences and preferences with this".

Mr.Moron
2015-03-11, 08:00 AM
When I've played the WoD games (and I've only played not GM'd), I've found that skills/attributes wind up fairly linked. For any given skill it'd have an attribute that was asked for 75% of the time, another one that got the other 20% of checks and everything else added together was like 5%.

In terms of preference I generally like systems that either don't have separate attribute/skills, or where they're not really used together.

AxeAlex
2015-03-11, 08:31 AM
Hello there,

Mr.Moron is right.

I use a homebrew system that works kinda like WoD, and the same stat/skill pairings are almost always used.

Perception and Investigation, Strength and Athletics...

BUT, whenever I call something really weird, like Vigor+Linguistics (To speak very vast and very well without losing his breath, for example), it's an awesome moment, the players cheers and joke around and it's almost guaranteed to end up as some kind of running gag. :smallbiggrin:

And just for that, I prefer to have skills and stats being independent of each other.

JeenLeen
2015-03-11, 09:09 AM
I prefer the White Wolf way for versatility, but I think it might be because of how they are displayed. How modifiers work also matters.

In most D&D character sheets I've seen, it is at least a front-and-back sheet if not multiple sheets, and the skills are not on the same page as the attributes. It would be annoying to have to look on page 1 to see my different ability scores, then add them to the skill levels. This is more complicated if there are various modifiers that effect certain things, and I think also harder mentally if you have to add several numbers and as the numbers increase in size. (I'm not bad at math, but 3 skill ranks + 2 stat bonus + 1 racial + 2 resistance takes more time than 3 Str + 2 Athletics.) In cases like this, I prefer the stat + skill to be solidly linked (like D&D 3.5).

In the oWoD games I've played, the attributes (stats) are above the skills. It's easy to look at them and add them together. If you have modifiers, they are usually simple +1 or +2, and you have space to clearly write that on the character sheet. (For example, if I have magic boots that create less sound, I could write '+1 boots' next to stealth, in the spot for specialties. At least, that's what I chose to do.)

I imagine in the end, it would take more mental energy (and thus more time) to have a 'soft' link in D&D than it does to have a 'soft' link in White Wolf games.
I do agree, though, that usually the White Wolf links are pretty solid, though I do like how sometimes it allowed for some rather humorous stat + skill combinations. (One not funny one but confusing one I got was Appearance + Streetwise. I'm still not sure what I was rolling for exactly.)

Beta Centauri
2015-03-11, 09:11 AM
As a player, I prefer to roll with the linked ability score. That way there's no question that I'm happily following the rules, rather than trying to get around the GM's challenges. I can usually justify the linkage in my own mind.

As a GM, I let players do pretty much what they want. If someone is ticked that Intimidate is a Charisma skill and they'd rather link it to Strength or their ability to cast Disintegrate, I'm fine with that. It's not worth the player feeling like the game is ridiculous.

Rondodu
2015-03-11, 09:38 AM
I’m a huge fan of system which combine stats and skills, although it might be because the game I played the most in my teens and early twenties used such a system, and it was both simple1 and flexible. I must admit, though, that quite a few skills were used with the same stat. That mainly include combat (apart when creating a show or trying to intimidate someone, there is little sense to use the 1-handed sword skill with anything other than the Mêlée skill), physical feats (although you could use it to distinguish sprinting, which is a feat of Strength with endurance running, which depends much more on Constitution) and theoretical knowledge (although, once again, knowing everything — which depends on Intellect — about a plant and being able to find and recognize the plant — which could very well depend on Sight). Masonry, on the other hand, could be used with various stats depending on wether you are conceiving a building, drawing a building, eyeballing it’s stability, studying how it’s holding up thoroughly…


Albeit a bit heavy from time to time — but for other reasons.

Knaight
2015-03-11, 09:58 AM
I've generally seen most systems which are theoretically of the second paradigm mostly be of the first, with occasional statistic substitution. I would say it's enough to still be relevant however. People end up using their skills about tool use to evaluate tools in particular.

With that said, I've found that I really prefer systems where you just flat roll the skills, where stats aren't necessarily attached at all - or they're attached in such a way that skills are easier to improve up to them or something.

Segev
2015-03-11, 10:47 AM
The biggest issue I run into in games with both stats and skills, but where they're neither tied to each other nor combined to form the resolution pool/bonus/whatever is that one or the other winds up being superfluous.

Palladium is a particular culprit, here; they ahve a load of skills...but barring a GM house ruling it, rarely do your stats actually matter, barring you having stats considered by the game designers to be "extremely good" or particularly bad.

The game I'm in right now, the GM will default a lot of skill checks to stat checks (roll under on a d20, d30 if your stat is 20 or higher...and yes, I complain about how that makes a 19 better than a 20), but that's her house rule. And she doesn't ALWAYS default something, just if she's trying to find something to roll to check if you can do something and either can't think of a skill or thought of one but the character doesn't have it.

Dire Moose
2015-03-12, 09:51 AM
I have often called for Strength-based Acrobatic checks in Pathfinder when someone has tried to jump a certain distance, as Jump was Strength-based prior to being sunk into Acrobatics.

Mark Hall
2015-03-12, 10:44 AM
(One not funny one but confusing one I got was Appearance + Streetwise. I'm still not sure what I was rolling for exactly.)

"You don't look like you belong in this part of town, [insert derisive name for speakers group about the group of the person addressed]."

Mr. Mask
2015-03-12, 11:17 AM
I always thought it was to describe physical talent vs. learned skill. Like an ogre has a really high strength score, so they do better in strength-based athletics challenges, even if they are a less skilled athlete than a weaker person. Theoretically, you could do that just by giving an ogre a +2 bonus to all the relevant skills or whichever, but it's faster and easier to give a strength bonus.


I have often wondered about the mechanical aspect of stats vs. skills for accomplishing a task. Where someone with high stats tends to have a more jack of all trades aspect, while others focus their skills. Often, I feel stats get overemphasized because there are simply too many options for investing skills and you won't know what to invest in without a specific idea of what the GM's planning. This is part of the reason DnD has skill points given to the player that can only be used on skills.

Arbane
2015-03-12, 01:25 PM
There's also systems where stats have a very weak effect on skills, like Basic Roleplaying (Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, etc), where your stats determine your starting skill percentage but but it's otherwise all training, or games like Savage Worlds FUDGE where skills aren't affected by stats at all.

Mark Hall
2015-03-12, 04:05 PM
There's also systems where stats have a very weak effect on skills, like Basic Roleplaying (Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, etc), where your stats determine your starting skill percentage but but it's otherwise all training, or games like Savage Worlds where skills aren't affected by stats at all.

In SW, skills are linked to stats in that your skill gets a lot more expensive when they exceed the linked stat.

Arbane
2015-03-12, 04:18 PM
In SW, skills are linked to stats in that your skill gets a lot more expensive when they exceed the linked stat.

Oh? Shows what I know. FUDGE, then. Or games like Over the Edge or RISUS that don't _have_ skills & stats as different things.