Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Today I Hate Skill Systems Because...

A Clarification due to comments I received on these two posts:
 A lot of people fall into either the "I hate classes" camp or the "I hate skills" camp, whereas I love the good bits of both and am frustrated by the downsides of both. So before presenting my own system (where classes are just pre-packaged sets of skills), I listed the pitfalls I'm trying to avoid in two tongue-in-cheek posts heavily influenced by the fantastic
 The classes post is obviously about D&D, but for the skills post there is no system that has all these irritations, they change with the system you’re using. For example, Old school D&D Thieves has #9. D&D3/3.5/Pathfinder has #1, #2, #5, #10. D&D5E has #10. Star Frontiers has #6, #9, #12. Rolemaster has #1, #2, #3, #5 (it happened, I did that), #6, #7, #9, #10, #11. Runequest/BRP/Call of Cthulhu has #1, #2, #9. #4 and #8 are things I've observed in other systems on the net.

Roll d12.

1. Spending points in swimming, then it never ever, not even once, being needed.

2. Going to dive into the pool and discovering that you can't as you have "Swimming" but not "Diving".

3. Hunting around for ages looking for what to spend that last point on.

4. Character sheets which go onto a second sheet of paper.

5. Spending two weeks writing a computer program to make character creation easier, then realising that's two weeks of my life I'll never get back.

6. Being the world's greatest swordsman, but being unable to swing a mace without dropping it on your foot.

7. Realising that I spent points on something that I'll never use, and the which annoys me every time I see it on my character sheet as I could have used those points for X.

8. Weird dice rolling systems that make it completely unclear how likely you are to succeed at anything.

9. Percentage systems that make it really clear how good you are at things. That is, clearly rubbish at everything!

10. Bribing persuading the town guard being resolved with a dice roll against "bribery 55%".

11. Having a big budget of points to spend, then having to spend half of them on boring things like Perception, Body Development (!), or Armour (!!).

12. Why on earth to be Stealthy do I also have to learn "Finding Directions" and "Analyzing Samples"?


  1. I'm taking it by "skill systems" you mean Rolemaster, as I recognise a bunch of those specific complaints. It didn't stop it from being my game of choice for many years, but looking back I'm surprised at my tolerance for crap like this!

  2. Indeed it is mostly my former game of choice for many years - Rolemaster!
    A lot of them apply to other games like RQ/BRP and D&D3.5, but the two which don't relate to Rolemaster are #8 and #12. #8 is a whole load of modern systems, #12 is Star Frontiers.

  3. I see other people commenting that this is a Rolemaster-specific complaint. I came to comment (from my The Old Reader feed) just to check whether this list was tongue-in-cheek or sincere... if the latter, let me just suggest that what is being hated on is *poorly-designed* skill systems. If the former... um... have fun setting up and knocking down parodic straw men, I guess? [srhugs]

  4. Yes, this is a tongue-in-cheek post about skill systems that I've used in the past, followed by a tongue-in-cheek post about class systems, followed by my own attempt at solving the problem. A lot of people fall into the "I hate classes" camp and a lot of people fall into the "I hate skills" camp, whereas I love the good bits of both and am frustrated by the downsides of both.