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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    I would like to know what is really needed in a skill system to make it good, if not great.

    The only skill systems I really know are from D&D, but I'm not looking for mechanics just yet. But once I get the core needs down I'll work on different mechanics to try and fit the concepts into them.

    I would like to know what fundementally makes for a good skill system.

    Some stuff I've come up with...

    PC's ability scores/modifier matter.

    PC's are capable of actually performing a task easily to some degree but other tasks are harder to perform. When you get better at a skill the harder stuff should become easier.

    Not everyone can use the same skill at the same proficiency. (Perhaps even with the same modifier and skill training they get different results due to their background)

    Skills should be useful in context to the game, in every aspect of the game. If your game has combat, social situation, and adventuring then you should have skills that work for each aspect with some overlap.

    Die rolls should not grossly overshadow the PC's abilities and the PC's ability should not overshadow the die roll. There may be some exceptions to this (very easy/very hard tasks) but for a normal or hard task they should weigh roughly the same.

    Skill system should be flexible. The skill system should be flexible.

    Skills should be tied to a background or theme and not to a class.

    Depending on level of skill, the mundane use of the skill will become an extraordinary use.

    The skill system mechanics can but don't have to be the same mechanics for battle or any other aspect of the game. Along with this, different type of skills don't have to have the same mechanics as other skills. Thinking about something is not the same sort of skill as jumping over a hole in the ground and CAN be treated differently.

    So what else is needed for one to create their own skill system? Again I mean core concepts of the skill system and not mechanics quite yet.
    Last edited by Perseus; 2013-10-31 at 06:07 PM.
    [/opinion]... Usually.

    Weapon Skills (Rough Draft 1)
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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    One thing I'd add is the ability to take the skills you really want. For example, in D&D if a dragon-hunter wants to know about dragons, he needs to take knowledge(arcana) and learn all sorts of stuff about spells. It really ought to be possible to take knowledge(dragons).

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Quote Originally Posted by Perseus View Post
    I would like to know what is really needed in a skill system to make it good, if not great.

    The only skill systems I really know are from D&D, but I'm not looking for mechanics just yet. But once I get the core needs down I'll work on different mechanics to try and fit the concepts into them.

    I would like to know what fundementally makes for a good skill system.

    Some stuff I've come up with...

    PC's ability scores/modifier matter.

    PC's are capable of actually performing a task easily to some degree but other tasks are harder to perform. When you get better at a skill the harder stuff should become easier.

    Not everyone can use the same skill at the same proficiency. (Perhaps even with the same modifier and skill training they get different results due to their background)

    Skills should be useful in context to the game, in every aspect of the game. If your game has combat, social situation, and adventuring then you should have skills that work for each aspect with some overlap.

    Die rolls should not grossly overshadow the PC's abilities and the PC's ability should not overshadow the die roll. There may be some exceptions to this (very easy/very hard tasks) but for a normal or hard task they should weigh roughly the same.

    Skill system should be flexible. The skill system should be flexible.

    So what else is needed for one to create their own skill system? Again I mean core concepts of the skill system and not mechanics quite yet.
    While the current 3.X skill system is decent enough base mechanical wise the big thing you need to stay away from is the idea you can only do mundane things in extraordinary situations. This has what rendered so many skills useless in the mid to high levels. For example you could have a total Climb bonus of 40 but at most you could only climb at half your speed while losing your dexterity bonus. Ultimately the only things the check does is hand climb in areas where no common person could. The skill tricks system I think provides a good avenue to break these kind of restrictions while diversifying what you can do with skills.
    Last edited by Amnoriath; 2013-10-30 at 11:57 AM.

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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Quote Originally Posted by dspeyer View Post
    One thing I'd add is the ability to take the skills you really want. For example, in D&D if a dragon-hunter wants to know about dragons, he needs to take knowledge(arcana) and learn all sorts of stuff about spells. It really ought to be possible to take knowledge(dragons).
    Oh hell yeah, divorcing spells from classes is something that is a must for me.

    I'll add it to the list.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amnoriath View Post
    While the current 3.X skill system is decent enough base mechanical wise the big thing you need to stay away from is the idea you can only do mundane things in extraordinary situations. This has what rendered so many skills useless in the mid to high levels. For example you could have a total Climb bonus of 40 but at most you could only climb at half your speed while losing your dexterity bonus. Ultimately the only things the check does is hand climb in areas where no common person could. The skill tricks system I think provides a good avenue to break these kind of restrictions while diversifying what you can do with skills.
    I agree complete. One of the additional ideas with be...

    Depending on level of skill, the mundane use of the skill will become an extraordinary use.

    This will help get rid of the idea that non magical classes are mundane and thus limited to what a normal person can do.

    Thanks to both of you!

    I'm going to create a better read list and make a Google doc so that once I make my skill system I can have people go through and QA/QC it.
    [/opinion]... Usually.

    Weapon Skills (Rough Draft 1)
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...-Weapon-Skills

    Coming soon! Some 8 Bit Sub-Classes!
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Check out Legend for an example of skill system where the skill continue to be useful at high levels.
    It's not really that hard fundamentally, it's just like the epic skill uses in d&d 3.5 are better and become available earlier.
    A neat custom class for 3.5 system
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94616

    A good set of benchmarks for PF/3.5
    https://rpgwillikers.wordpress.com/2...y-the-numbers/

    An alternate craft point system I made for 3.5
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...t-Point-system

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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Quote Originally Posted by zlefin View Post
    Check out Legend for an example of skill system where the skill continue to be useful at high levels.
    It's not really that hard fundamentally, it's just like the epic skill uses in d&d 3.5 are better and become available earlier.
    I'll be sure to give it a look through.

    I'm actually looking at different systems other than just D&D.

    I'm actually open to using a skill system that doesn't mirror the mechanics for battle.

    Which a rule I might add might sound like...

    The skill system mechanics can but don't have to be the same mechanics for battle or any other aspect of the game.
    [/opinion]... Usually.

    Weapon Skills (Rough Draft 1)
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...-Weapon-Skills

    Coming soon! Some 8 Bit Sub-Classes!
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...ings)-(WIP!!!)

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    I like how 4e deals with skills. I don't mean mechanics, but grouping skills in broad areas to reduce the number of skills. If you add some kind of specializations it's even better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xhosant View Post
    This is evil, evil GMing. Brilliant, good sir!

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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Quote Originally Posted by Asteron Questar View Post
    I like how 4e deals with skills. I don't mean mechanics, but grouping skills in broad areas to reduce the number of skills. If you add some kind of specializations it's even better.
    One thing I hated about grouping skills is that just because you can hear insanely well doesn't mean you aren't blind.

    I wouldn't mind a general skill and then sub skills. The general skill never becomes higher than the sub skill (specialty as you said) .

    Hmmm
    [/opinion]... Usually.

    Weapon Skills (Rough Draft 1)
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...-Weapon-Skills

    Coming soon! Some 8 Bit Sub-Classes!
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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Quote Originally Posted by Perseus View Post
    One thing I hated about grouping skills is that just because you can hear insanely well doesn't mean you aren't blind.

    I wouldn't mind a general skill and then sub skills. The general skill never becomes higher than the sub skill (specialty as you said) .

    Hmmm
    True, but if you know how to focus your hearing it will be easier for you to focus your sight. If you are blind that is a disadvantage and any check automatically fails.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xhosant View Post
    This is evil, evil GMing. Brilliant, good sir!

    LGBTAitP
    Philemon avatar by the awesome Morbis Meh.
    Suikoden Tabletop-Work in progress

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    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Well, one skill system I always liked was Robotech's (Which also was the basis for RIFTS). Known for being ungodly broken... but I found most "broken" characters I dealt with, skill wise, also had a problem where they ignored prereqs. For example in order to have Pilot: Mechs, you needed to have Read Sensory Instruments. Which required Advanced Math. Which required Basic Math. Which required Literacy. And suddenly when you reminded them of that, they were out 4 "pure combat" skills and thus more in check and not having 12 attacks per melee and +30 to hit and dodge.

    But that aside, basic, simple system. Skills on a D100 basis, or flat static modifier skills. Kind of liked the idea that the same skill slot that was taking up say, Drive Ground Vehicles (Percentile rolls for stunt maneuvers and such) could also be taken up by something like Boxing (Flat hand to hand combat bonuses).

    I wouldn't necessarily suggest ripping out the Robotech/RIFTS system, particularly if you're going for a fantasy base as they are very modern/sci-fi. But it provides an interesting idea on how to approach design. Characters who have magic have less skills. A few "Fixed" skill lists per classes, like a Mage will have Spellcraft and Know: Arcana, and have at least 3 of the following five: Know: Plane, Know: History, Know: Local, Decipher Script, Profession (Any). Then give them something like 3 that they can pick of a wider scope like "Any non-combat, non-technical skill".

    Very much the sort of thing RIFTS/Robotech did. Would require you creating skill categories. And probably, if you were working off a DnD base like it seems to be, changing most feats into "Skills". E.g: Two-Weapon Fighting feats becomes a skill, Hand to Hand Combat: Two Weapon. Which provides you with static bonuses that scale with level.

    Eh. It's a way to go. I don't really know what you're looking for, so all I can do is toss out options. Granted a system like that is a bit more hard numbers than you seem to want. You seem to want kind of a fast, loose system from what I can gather. Seems like you also want a fairly low luck system. I like luck myself, I feel that Randomosity can create more interesting scenarios than planning alone necessarily could. But it sounds like you want to quash that and make it so that a PC can be fairly certain of what exactly they can accomplish at any time by looking at their ranks and modifiers, know what will happen before they even declare it. I can't really think of a system that does something like that. Wouldn't be too hard to do. Heck DnD already has somethign of a basis for that with taking 10 and 20. Just needs more allowance for when you can. And perhaps tightening up the modifiers. That first level rogue searching is getting more of a boost from taking 10 or 20 than from their skills. But if you eliminated the dice entirely, and reduced DCs by about 5-10 you might get something close to what you want.
    Currently sick as a dog and unable to focus properly. Will heal soon.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    This is something I've been thinking of on and off. My suggestion would be to build skills the same way you'd build a class. Think in terms of class abilities, and then assign them to various ranks in the skill. If you have enough ranks, you have the ability, and it just works (the same way that a wizard can cast Magic Missile and it just works). At the same time, vastly reduce the number of things that grant skill modifiers or limit them to being strictly for 'opposed checks' and have them not influence these mechanics.

    The trick is though, you can attempt to temporarily use abilities that belong to higher ranks by succeeding on a die roll. Even if the ability gained from the skill would normally be passive, this always costs at least a standard action. For things that are passive, the duration over which you can maintain this 'above normal' level performance before having to roll again is one minute.

    The roll is something like a raw 1d20+Attribute against a DC equal to 10+rank gap, where the rank gap is how many ranks between what you have and what you want.

    For the actual skill raising mechanics, everyone gets, say, 6 skill points a level and one extra skill point per game session. Skill caps are controlling attribute plus level. Every rank of a skill gains a new ability.

    So lets take something like Climb for example:

    Spoiler
    Show

    Climb 1: You can automatically climb ropes and vines.

    Climb 2: You can climb trees.

    Climb 3: You can climb irregular rocky slopes.

    Climb 4: You can climb at 1/2 movement speed instead of 1/4 if you double the required rank.

    Climb 5: You can climb brickwork

    Climb 6: You can climb one-handed (allowing you to fight/etc while climbing)

    Climb 7: You can catch yourself on a surface you could normally climb to stop your fall or interrupt forced movement (e.g. when being knocked back by an effect)

    Climb 8: You can climb a creature of larger size category than you to render it flatfooted against your attacks.

    Climb 9: You can climb a sheer surface, or a slick surface with holds.

    Climb 10: You can climb at your full movement rate if you triple the required rank.

    Climb 11: While climbing your defenses are not affected negatively. In fact, if climbing a flexible surface (rope, etc) you can sway away from attacks, giving a Dodge bonus to AC.

    Climb 12: You can briefly climb the air itself, but you lose your grip at the end of each round (either you make it to a stable surface or you fall)

    Climb 13: You can help others make difficult climbs. Every person you include reduces your effective rank by 1 for determining what sort of surface you can (collectively) scale.

    Climb 14: If you quadruple the required skill rank, you can actually climb at twice your normal movement speed.

    Climb 15: You can climb waterfalls or other fluids.

    Climb 16: You can use climbing stunts to flourish, doing things like riding down a sail with a dagger. This gives allies who witness the feat a small morale bonus to their attacks and saves. This can be done as part of normal movement.

    Climb 18: You can climb things with your 5ft step.

    Climb 19: You can climb the air indefinitely now so long as there is any form of mist, smoke, or other visible vapor, effectively flying.

    Climb 20: While climbing, you are immune to effects that forcibly move you, including teleportation effects - you know how to 'make the wall' part of your possessions to exceed the weight limits, basically.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Quote Originally Posted by Asteron Questar View Post
    True, but if you know how to focus your hearing it will be easier for you to focus your sight. If you are blind that is a disadvantage and any check automatically fails.
    What I was getting at is that say Perception skill covers all forms of detection. Not everyone is as good at hearing as they are seeing. It isn't that they are blind per say but you don't always train both.

    The same thing is for Athletics, just because you can climb insanely well doesn't mean you can jump all that well.

    I could see general skills just being a Ability Check for when you don't have training in a sub skill. However the difference would be that skills would have more than one ability that you can use. When you go to bluff someone and you don't have ranks or training in actually bluffing people then it could be a Charisma Ability Check or Intelligence Ability Check. Some people are smart enough to say the right thing to get you to believe them and other people are just savvy enough that you believe them.

    So I could see...

    Bluff (Intelligence/Charisma): 1dX + Ability Score
    Lies
    : When you are lying. 1dX + Cha/Int + Ranks
    Truths
    : When you are telling the truth but people won't believe you. 1dX + Cha/Int + Ranks
    Feint
    :Distracting words or action in combat. 1dX + Cha/Int + Ranks

    Of course I'm not sure if it will be a roll dX + Ranks type of system just yet, but this is what I'm used to.

    Quote Originally Posted by ArcturusV View Post
    Well, one skill system I always liked was Robotech's (Which also was the basis for RIFTS). Known for being ungodly broken... but I found most "broken" characters I dealt with, skill wise, also had a problem where they ignored prereqs. For example in order to have Pilot: Mechs, you needed to have Read Sensory Instruments. Which required Advanced Math. Which required Basic Math. Which required Literacy. And suddenly when you reminded them of that, they were out 4 "pure combat" skills and thus more in check and not having 12 attacks per melee and +30 to hit and dodge.

    But that aside, basic, simple system. Skills on a D100 basis, or flat static modifier skills. Kind of liked the idea that the same skill slot that was taking up say, Drive Ground Vehicles (Percentile rolls for stunt maneuvers and such) could also be taken up by something like Boxing (Flat hand to hand combat bonuses).

    I wouldn't necessarily suggest ripping out the Robotech/RIFTS system, particularly if you're going for a fantasy base as they are very modern/sci-fi. But it provides an interesting idea on how to approach design. Characters who have magic have less skills. A few "Fixed" skill lists per classes, like a Mage will have Spellcraft and Know: Arcana, and have at least 3 of the following five: Know: Plane, Know: History, Know: Local, Decipher Script, Profession (Any). Then give them something like 3 that they can pick of a wider scope like "Any non-combat, non-technical skill".

    Very much the sort of thing RIFTS/Robotech did. Would require you creating skill categories. And probably, if you were working off a DnD base like it seems to be, changing most feats into "Skills". E.g: Two-Weapon Fighting feats becomes a skill, Hand to Hand Combat: Two Weapon. Which provides you with static bonuses that scale with level.

    Eh. It's a way to go. I don't really know what you're looking for, so all I can do is toss out options. Granted a system like that is a bit more hard numbers than you seem to want. You seem to want kind of a fast, loose system from what I can gather. Seems like you also want a fairly low luck system. I like luck myself, I feel that Randomosity can create more interesting scenarios than planning alone necessarily could. But it sounds like you want to quash that and make it so that a PC can be fairly certain of what exactly they can accomplish at any time by looking at their ranks and modifiers, know what will happen before they even declare it. I can't really think of a system that does something like that. Wouldn't be too hard to do. Heck DnD already has somethign of a basis for that with taking 10 and 20. Just needs more allowance for when you can. And perhaps tightening up the modifiers. That first level rogue searching is getting more of a boost from taking 10 or 20 than from their skills. But if you eliminated the dice entirely, and reduced DCs by about 5-10 you might get something close to what you want.
    Yeah I want something simple and easy to use. I don't want to have to go into a lot of details unless the party wants to be more involved. So while "Two Weapon Fighting" would be a class/job feature it wouldn't really just be a skill anyone could pick up unless they climbed up the job/class tree.


    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    This is something I've been thinking of on and off. My suggestion would be to build skills the same way you'd build a class. Think in terms of class abilities, and then assign them to various ranks in the skill. If you have enough ranks, you have the ability, and it just works (the same way that a wizard can cast Magic Missile and it just works). At the same time, vastly reduce the number of things that grant skill modifiers or limit them to being strictly for 'opposed checks' and have them not influence these mechanics.

    The trick is though, you can attempt to temporarily use abilities that belong to higher ranks by succeeding on a die roll. Even if the ability gained from the skill would normally be passive, this always costs at least a standard action. For things that are passive, the duration over which you can maintain this 'above normal' level performance before having to roll again is one minute.

    The roll is something like a raw 1d20+Attribute against a DC equal to 10+rank gap, where the rank gap is how many ranks between what you have and what you want.

    For the actual skill raising mechanics, everyone gets, say, 6 skill points a level and one extra skill point per game session. Skill caps are controlling attribute plus level. Every rank of a skill gains a new ability.

    So lets take something like Climb for example:

    Spoiler
    Show

    Climb 1: You can automatically climb ropes and vines.

    Climb 2: You can climb trees.

    Climb 3: You can climb irregular rocky slopes.

    Climb 4: You can climb at 1/2 movement speed instead of 1/4 if you double the required rank.

    Climb 5: You can climb brickwork

    Climb 6: You can climb one-handed (allowing you to fight/etc while climbing)

    Climb 7: You can catch yourself on a surface you could normally climb to stop your fall or interrupt forced movement (e.g. when being knocked back by an effect)

    Climb 8: You can climb a creature of larger size category than you to render it flatfooted against your attacks.

    Climb 9: You can climb a sheer surface, or a slick surface with holds.

    Climb 10: You can climb at your full movement rate if you triple the required rank.

    Climb 11: While climbing your defenses are not affected negatively. In fact, if climbing a flexible surface (rope, etc) you can sway away from attacks, giving a Dodge bonus to AC.

    Climb 12: You can briefly climb the air itself, but you lose your grip at the end of each round (either you make it to a stable surface or you fall)

    Climb 13: You can help others make difficult climbs. Every person you include reduces your effective rank by 1 for determining what sort of surface you can (collectively) scale.

    Climb 14: If you quadruple the required skill rank, you can actually climb at twice your normal movement speed.

    Climb 15: You can climb waterfalls or other fluids.

    Climb 16: You can use climbing stunts to flourish, doing things like riding down a sail with a dagger. This gives allies who witness the feat a small morale bonus to their attacks and saves. This can be done as part of normal movement.

    Climb 18: You can climb things with your 5ft step.

    Climb 19: You can climb the air indefinitely now so long as there is any form of mist, smoke, or other visible vapor, effectively flying.

    Climb 20: While climbing, you are immune to effects that forcibly move you, including teleportation effects - you know how to 'make the wall' part of your possessions to exceed the weight limits, basically.
    Love it and have thought of this myself.

    The Mundane to Extraordinary ability for climb is great, I'm not sure how extraordinary I want the players to become as I haven't set a power level or anything like that but this is something I would put in.


    However


    One thing I have been thinking of is to group skills into different lists. One would be Contests, one would be Passive, and one would be Active.

    Passive skills would be skills that give you abilities that you don't have to roll for, you automatically can do something. Many times these can be used as part of another action.

    Active skills would be skills that give you abilities that you must roll or perform a specific action to use. These will have action tags along with them.

    Contests skills will be skills that set DC's in order for another creature to oppose what you are doing.

    Example

    Passive: Insight (Sense Motive?): With ranks in this skill you increase the likely hood of your character automatically knowing when they are duped or something is wrong. This is a "defense" of sorts so when someone rolls a skill versus your Insight they would roll something like 1dX + Bluff (Lying). You never have to take an action for Insight.

    Active: Thievery (lock picking): With ranks in Thievery (lock picking) the PC may take an action to pick a lock, if they have the proper tools or improvised tools.

    Contest: Stealth (hide/move silently): The person trying to hide rolls 1dx + ranks + Dex (not sure of a good second ability here) and compares the result against any creature's Perception scores. With this contest the person using stealth would have to beat the creature's Perception (Hearing) and Perception (Sight).

    (Note: My view on stealth is that it is both moving silently and quietly so I wouldn't split those two skills up again. However I could see someone who wants to use Acrobatics (Move Silently) as a skill or Acrobatics (Hide) if they wanted to as Contest skills)

    So the three types of skills work completely different but are connected at the same time. Once I get this fleshed out I'm sure it would be easier to follow.

    Some skills can be two types. A Passive/Active skill would be Knowledge. Depending on your ranks in Knowledge or in a specialty knowledge such as Knowledge (Arcana) you can get a certain level of information when it comes up. 5 Ranks may let you identify (without action) what creature you are looking at, whereas if you are researching a cult or knowledge in a library you would need to take so many actions and roll versus a DC to see if you obtain the knowledge you need.

    I'll work on a list of these as an example but I'm going to try and stay as close to the rules that were made as I can.

    thanks everyone :)
    [/opinion]... Usually.

    Weapon Skills (Rough Draft 1)
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...-Weapon-Skills

    Coming soon! Some 8 Bit Sub-Classes!
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...ings)-(WIP!!!)

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Before you start fiddling with details, you need to do some research. If you're only familiar with D&D's skill system, look at how other RPGs do skills. White Wolf's Storyteller System took a very different approach. Robotech/RIFTS was also mentioned, and though I don't know that system very well, I suspect it has its own quirks. Figure out what you like and don't like from each system before trying to create a new one from scratch; that way, you won't struggle to reinvent the wheel and you can focus on developing something that nothing else has done before. Or you may find that your objectives are already met by another implementation that you just didn't know about.

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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Quote Originally Posted by Vadskye View Post
    Before you start fiddling with details, you need to do some research. If you're only familiar with D&D's skill system, look at how other RPGs do skills. White Wolf's Storyteller System took a very different approach. Robotech/RIFTS was also mentioned, and though I don't know that system very well, I suspect it has its own quirks. Figure out what you like and don't like from each system before trying to create a new one from scratch; that way, you won't struggle to reinvent the wheel and you can focus on developing something that nothing else has done before. Or you may find that your objectives are already met by another implementation that you just didn't know about.
    Oh yeah, I'm not even close to choosing a mechanic yet, I'm using D&D Rank + Die Roll + Ability Modifier in my example just because I'm used to it.

    Though I still want to make Passive, Active, and Contest skills.

    Perhaps I should ask the Roleplaying section what the top 5 skill systems are in the RPG world. I think I'll go do that now...
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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    My main advice would be to keep in mind the general structure you would want for the skill system (like attribute + ranks and so on) but to not define it too much until you have settled on a solid mechanic.

    So much of a skill systems viability, especially long term, is tied to the system and how its TN's are set and the scope of #'s the TN's can range between.

    For instance, if you use a D20 system, you need to consider how your TN's are set vs. the total range of a skills possible bonus over a PC's playable life + 20.

    If you sytem sets a maximum TN (or whatever equivalent you call it) of 20 when all possible factors or factored, then D20 + ranks + modifiers and ability just wont work. you would exceed your max TN very quickly in a characters life and everything would be very easy.

    Consider how difficult you would want a skill action to at both ends of the spectrum. How super easy could and action be and how super hard?
    Last edited by Myrik; 2013-11-01 at 03:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    So I may have stumbled upon the mechanics for the skill system while showing a friend this and the other thread.

    I'm going to try putting it together and then put it up here to see if it follows the concept rules that have been worked on during this thread.

    Thanks everyone, this has been a huge help :)... Though I know I may not be done and it will take a bit longer... But hey first drafts are exciting!
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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    D&D Combat is a better engine than their skill system. So steal from combat.

    In Combat, you have two checks. First, "did you progress" towards solving your problem. And second, "how much did you progress" towards solving your problem.

    To port this to skills, you'd have a Skill Check roll and Skill Result roll.

    When climbing a wall, you'd first check to see if you can advance. Then you'll roll dice to see how far you climbed if you succeeded. If you fail your first check, you cannot see a way forward.

    The wall can then "attack back", as problems worthy of attack prove their worth by hitting back. A "hit" by the wall could make you fall, make you retreat backwards as the way forward is impassible, or something else.

    The basic idea is that any task where you can repeat it infinity until it is defeated is just an exercise in rolling dice. The artificial "you cannot reroll on a lock until you gain a level" is just an artifact of that base assumption.

    Skill Checks only make sense when there is a consequence of failure. And in general, failing should be no worse than doing nothing, with rare exceptions (a bias for action).

    Unlocking a chest or a door isn't a skill check if there is no time pressure. It is just something that happens.

    Now, in a dungeon or a keep there will be enemies who patrol, and they provide time pressure to your skill checks.

    By making that explicit -- that a skill check consists of (A) a difficulty to advance, (B) a distance to advance, and (C) complications that "attack back", we can create a realistic system where skill checks only occur *if they generate story*, instead of being a sequence of meaningless rolls.

    Even knowledge checks on monsters can be viewed in a similar way. During a fight, you might make a knowledge check to see if you recall/learn something. If successful, you roll to see how much -- and earn "knowledge" about the target by rolling how much. You might even accumulate such "knowledge" and get another check after defeating foes and searching them, or when they use some special ability. Over time, your knowledge of these critters might generate accumulated bonuses in future interactions, or facts about them that aren't obvious.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    IMO the mechanic is the least relevant part of a good skill system. Its more important that the skills themselves be evocative, generally equal in utility (or with some way to separate the more general and more specific skills), and make the player 'want to use them'.

    Whether you roll XdYe or 1d20+mod or Xd10>6 or 1d20<X, if the skills themselves are poorly chosen or not useful or are too easily made obsolete (as it is in D&D with Spiderclimb making Climb useless), the skill system feels like something tacked on to 'the real game'.

    So I'd personally focus on coming up with a list of things that you want characters to be able to do, as well as ways in which doing those things can actually be interesting, and only then worry about the details of how the dice will work.

    For example, bringing up D&D combat, the thing that makes combat interesting isn't that its split up across multiple rolls, but that a given action can do more than just move towards or away from the goal. This is because you have things like relative spatial positioning and ranges, so movement is important; you have abilities that can counter, block certain sub-abilities, remove conditions, impose conditions, etc.

    If you could have something that complex with regards to other sorts of scenarios, it could make for a very interesting skill system indeed. In that kind of situation, a given skill would be more like a spell or a maneuver than the sole gatekeeper of success; rather than outright determine success (or linear progress towards success), many skills could serve to modify the parameters of the challenge so that it can be succeeded at rather than outright determine the outcome.

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Quote Originally Posted by Perseus View Post
    I would like to know what is really needed in a skill system to make it good, if not great.

    The only skill systems I really know are from D&D, but I'm not looking for mechanics just yet. But once I get the core needs down I'll work on different mechanics to try and fit the concepts into them.

    I would like to know what fundementally makes for a good skill system.
    There's nothing fundamentally good or bad about a skill system (or any other system or mechanic for that matter) except in so far as it meets your design goals and intent.

    The DnD skill system is historically an afterthought, in 1e and 2e it was a way for characters to be able to do rather mundane things consistently across games without arguing with each different DM about it.

    In 3.0 it got turned into a more robust subsystem to do utility stuff in general, complete with a line about how DC 40 stuff or exceeding the DC by 20 should just be fantastic awesome results (or something along those lines, I can't be bothered to go get the book off the shelf atm). There are problems with doing that in the 3.x framework though (see: really large skill bonuses in magic items + crit fishing), so by the time the Epic book was written they'd pushed the more fantastic utility stuff back to really high levels (or really high item bonuses). 3.5 took that position and codified it a bit more, and so we've had rather mundane skills since.

    There's nothing wrong with that position though. It's fine if you want skills to be basic mundane things and for people to get their real utility powers out of class features (either explicit ones or spells), feats, or rituals (like 4e, though Vadskye's Rise seems along this path as well). But if you want skills to be the method of acquiring fantastic utility stuff (not just the trigger for rituals), then you need to do something else.

    Until you talk about what you want to get out of the system though, you can't talk about a fundamentally good one. So let's see if I can glean what you want out of the system from your other comments...

    Quote Originally Posted by Perseus View Post
    Some stuff I've come up with...

    PC's ability scores/modifier matter.

    PC's are capable of actually performing a task easily to some degree but other tasks are harder to perform. When you get better at a skill the harder stuff should become easier.

    Not everyone can use the same skill at the same proficiency. (Perhaps even with the same modifier and skill training they get different results due to their background)

    Skills should be useful in context to the game, in every aspect of the game. If your game has combat, social situation, and adventuring then you should have skills that work for each aspect with some overlap.

    Die rolls should not grossly overshadow the PC's abilities and the PC's ability should not overshadow the die roll. There may be some exceptions to this (very easy/very hard tasks) but for a normal or hard task they should weigh roughly the same.

    Skill system should be flexible. The skill system should be flexible.

    Skills should be tied to a background or theme and not to a class.

    Depending on level of skill, the mundane use of the skill will become an extraordinary use.

    The skill system mechanics can but don't have to be the same mechanics for battle or any other aspect of the game. Along with this, different type of skills don't have to have the same mechanics as other skills. Thinking about something is not the same sort of skill as jumping over a hole in the ground and CAN be treated differently.
    Okay then. You want skills to offer actual utility functions, and want to grow them into at least extraordinary. Depending on how you define that, you'll either have a system that parallels the progression of spellcasters you consider acceptable or one that falls less behind them than the default system. Not really sure what you want out of it there, so just make sure that you define

    Mechanics don't seem to matter to you much, which is fine. You've got a lot of options to choose from:

    Dice vs. DC systems: This includes the standard d20+stuff vs. DC, but also percentile systems (roll under or otherwise), XdY+stuff vs. DC systems like the WEG Star Wars system, and lots and lots of other things. Because there are so many ways to grow your DCs, dice, and other bonuses you can hit the "die roll on par with ability" requirement in a number of ways, but you need to be careful of dice with large swings (d20) and low DCs because it can encourage crit fishing to get a success.

    Dice pool systems: This includes World of Darkness (Vampire, Werewolf, etc.), Shadowrun, and maybe even Fate and its derivatives (I think it does, but I don't remember their mechanics as clearly off hand). The basic idea is that you roll a bunch of the same type of dice (Xd10, Yd6, etc.), count the number of them that show a value of # or better, and that's your result. DCs for these tasks are in the low single digits, like easy tasks are 1 success, hard tasks might be 5 (though these vary based on what # counts your die as successful). Again, easy to hit your requirements but it's very different from the DnD model, and the games that use these systems use them for every aspect of the game (because everything in the game is a skill and there are no levels).

    Proficiency ability systems: This is something that 5e was toying with for a bit (and might still be, I stopped following along), in that you either have a "skill" or you don't. And if you do have a skill, you get to make a check or gain an ability for it or whatever. There are no ranks in the traditional sense (though you could have advanced proficiencies I guess), it's all binary. I think it's a poor fit for your goals, but I'll mention it anyway in case you wanted to split skills into two sets. It might be a decent fit for professions and knowledge, for example.

    Which is a really long way of agreeing with NichG's comment about the mechanics being the least important part. Not because they're not important (they REALLY REALLY are), but because there are so many ways you can do them. It probably will be better to decide what skills you want, what you want them to do, when you want them to do those things, and then go back and figure out which mechanic best achieves those goals. Which leaves you with an outline of powers and acquisition levels to write I think.

    And then you get to go deal with all of the other subsystems that feed into skills. For example, you're going to need to deal with items. There's a comment further up about how skills in legend matter, and a big part of how they could get away with that has to do with their changes to item bonuses (and spells and a bunch of other things). You get to do similar stuff, or all of your changes will fall apart.

    If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. I'll plug my own skill revision (a sample of which is linked in my sig, or the full version that I'm editing again is on the wiki), as doing a bunch of the things that you say you want in a skill system. It may well be more extraordinary than you're looking for (though it's not too far off from NichG's climb example) and it may not use mechanics that you want, but it's an example of the completed process. And worst case you can loot it for ideas, just like the epic uses or Legend.

    If it seems like too much, you can do much smaller changes to squeeze some utility out. For example, you could keep the existing skills, DCs, and mechanics and ust add in a "for these skills, 1 rank = +3, for these skills 1 rank = +2, for these skills 1 rank = +1, and for these skills 1 rank = +1/2" line. Then you get epic access and fantastic uses accelerated for some skills and avoid weird stuff in ones that don't make sense to advance like that or result in annoying behavior. It sort of works anyway, in conjunction with some spot fixes.
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    I prefer higher powered games, do not consider magic to be "special", and want non-casters to have similar levels of utility. If you haven't clearly said what your balance goals are, my suggestions generally reflect that. I'm pretty good with other balance points too though, so if I'm offering OP advice, let me know and I'll fix that.

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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Speaking of mechanics...

    Backgrounds give initial skills that give level 1 rank in each. When you have a rank in a skill you gain a d6, you roll that and add the relevant ability modifier. Athletics at rank level 1 is 1d6+Strength Modifier. Each additional ranks give an additional 1d6 to roll.

    For each rank you gain in certain skills (perception) you gain 3.5*#Ranks + relevant modifier. So having one rank in Perception (sight) would allow you to make sight checks at 1d6 + Wis Mod. Your passive perception would be 3.5+Wis Mod (round down).

    Advantage = +3
    Disadvantage= -3 (these numbers are subject to change)

    Upon reaching certain ranks in a skill you no longer need to roll for certain abilities. When you reach this rank you may choose a speciality ability (that is not a contest). For example a person with two ranks in athletics can pick up jump speed, climb speed, or swim speed. The rate will be determined later.

    Each class will give out ranks at certain intervals, however they will be grouped together so a Thief may gain two level 1 skill ranks which may go into any skills in the sensory (perception, insight, knowledge skills, etc) or thievery group (acrobatics, thievery, bluff, etc). Every so many levels or xp the PC will gain a rank in any skill they wish to use it on. These ranks go slower than the job ranks but will allow customization so not every Knight or Mage has the same skills as the other Knight or Mage.

    This gives flexibility and yet some form of structure within the class/job. A Knight wouldn't really be training in thievery after all.

    I'm on my phone right now so I'll post a more thorough example later.
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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    That sounds interesting.

    Are some skills gonna belong to multiple skill groups?
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    Default Re: Help Me Make a Skill System (Part 1: Concept)

    Quote Originally Posted by Asteron Questar View Post
    That sounds interesting.

    Are some skills gonna belong to multiple skill groups?
    Yup, though depending on the group you take it from will determine what you can take as a special ability.

    So a Knight and Samurai may both take Athletics, each gaining rank 2. The Samurai would be able to chose X Y Z as their special abilities while the Knight may be able to choose A B Z.

    Of course with ranks gained from character level and not job/class you can take any special ability... This continues to make each class special but gives you a way to represent your skills based on job/class and your skills based on personality or hobby.

    Like a Thief whose job doesn't give him Knowledge Arcana (spell craft) but is interested in the art. They won't be able to dedicate a lot of time to it like job/class skills but are free to pick them up at a slower rate.

    Edit: one rule is that the skill and combat system doesn't need to work the same way. However I'm wondering if this skill system would work for the combat system.

    Offense
    Weapon Ranks (group given by job), Magic Ranks (black or white or arcane and divine given by job or class).
    Gain 1d6/Rank + Mod to attacks.

    Defense
    Vitality Ranks (by job/class)
    Evasion Ranks (by job/class)
    Mind Ranks (by job/class)
    +3.5/Rank + Mod to each defense.

    So at low levels your modifier can be your only defense against attacks but with ranks you gain a +3.5 to that defense.

    Vitality: Defends against secondary weapon effects (push/trip/etc) and magical effects.

    Evasion: Defends against weapon attacks and magical effects.

    Mind: Defend against feints, charms and magical effects.


    Not sure I'm ready to deal with this part of the game but it gave me something to think about.
    Last edited by Perseus; 2013-11-04 at 12:35 PM.
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