Friday, 29 May 2015

Classes as Skills, Part One

As I posted here and here, it is a tricky path to create any skill/class system. You can't please everyone, and my first few attempts didn't please even me - but they clarified what I liked and what I didn't! Then I tried writing my own multi-classing rules for D&D, but couldn't resolve what to do when you got a fighting or hit point bonus from two different classes. I resolved that by removing any such bonus from all classes except the Fighter, with the only way to improve in these being to multi-class in Fighting. At the same time we were playing Star Frontiers, and appreciated its points system and the concept of broad skills (though the way they are split is awful). This melting pot of ideas resulted in the following system.

Spending Points
For every 10 XP you get to spend 1 point on skills.

You start with 100 XP and 10 skill points to spend.

Skills cost 1 / 1 / 2 / 4 / 8 / 16 / 32 / 64... points for 1st / 2nd / 3rd... level.

Thus for example, third level costs you 1+1+2 = 4 points. You don't have to add this up as when you cross them off:

1 / 1 / 2 / 4 / 8 / 16 / 32 / 64...

The total cost is the first number not crossed off.

Total Bonus
Each level gives you +1 bonus.
Each skill has a single stat which gives a bonus.

All the possible skills are printed on the character sheet, with the name of the stat, and a space to fill in that stat bonus, so updating or checking the bonus is simple.

Skill Resolution
You roll 2d10 (open) and add your bonus. The standard difficulty is 11.
If you want your new character to be good at a skill, then you'll have +1 in the attribute and spent 4 points on getting +3, for a total of +4. Thus for an 11 you'll need to roll 7+, which is 85% chance of success. For a difficulty 20 this is reduced to 16%.

Combat Skills
There is Melee (AG), Unarmed (AG), Thrown (AG), Bows (IN), and Parry (REF).
Melee covers all melee weapons, Thrown covers all thrown items, Bows cover all ... bows.
Parry is about parrying with any weapon, or shield, or chair, or just plain dodging.
Note that Bows rely upon Intuition since they're all about judging the shot, whereas Thrown is more about hand-eye co-ordination so is Agility.

General Skills
There is Acrobatics (AG), Thief (IN), Scout (IN), Ranger (IN), and Healer (ME).
Acrobatics covers Climbing, Swimming, Diving, Tumble, Balance, Catch, Juggle, Escapology etc.
Thief covers Pick Locks, Disarm Traps, Disable Device, Pick Pockets, Sleight of Hand, Disguise etc.
Scout covers Move Silently, Hide, Tail, Covert Observation etc.
Ranger covers Track, Navigate, Ride, Animal handling, Survival, Foraging, Trapping etc.
Healer covers Herbs, First Aid, and Surgery.
By choosing one of these you are good at a whole swathe of loosely related things, so they are liable to be useful frequently.
These obviously map to my concept above of "class but without the fighting skills".

Spell Lists
There are 16 spell lists divided into 4 categories: Elementalist, Wizard, Enchanter and Sorcerer. You choose one as your primary area. You can learn a spell list in another area, but only if your primary spell lists are already at that level.
For example, an Elementalist can only take a level of Summoning (from Sorceror) if they already have Earth, Air, Fire, and Water at first level.
Spells cost you twice as much as other skills - i.e. 2 / 2 / 4 / 8 etc.
Details of spell lists and spell points are for another day.

That's it for the basic system. Next time I'll cover remaining skills such as Athletics and Perception. In part three I'll cover a character class system that is 100% compatible with the skill system - players in the same campaign can choose either system for their characters.

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