February 3, 2017
Here we are, part 3 of however many on resolution mechanics and I’m finally going to get into some nuts and bolts ideas I have for improving skills in the rewrite. The first thing we’ve got to look at is exactly how these rolls work. Right now you roll and you just have to hit a number – that’s it, once it’s hit you’re good. Any potential changes are added to the difficulty before the roll, and you can’t adjust your technique if you notice something’s not working.
So, to remind you our analogies are equipment, maneuvering, and abilities. And we’re looking at how to emulate resolution mechanics for skills which represent expending time and energy in crafting something, whether it’s a seductive song, a rousing speech, or a sturdy dagger. This goes for every skill, by the way. They’re all about crafting something if you think of “Craft” as an abstract, analogous concept.
So lets craft a better rule.
First, I want to turn this on its head. Instead of rolling and hopping to hit a target number, lets say you roll and you get that many “points” to spend on a victory.
As a running example we’ll talk about two situations; a Viking crafting an axe and an Elven warrior navigating his tribal bureaucracy. In both cases we’re going to have a simple set of mechanisms;
The Skill: This is an ability tracked on the character sheet with a name and corresponding number. Unlike other editions where there’s “infinite” ranks or a flat bonus based on other things, this is going to have a set number of ranks. We’ll start with 5; Amateur, Apprentice, Expert, Artisan, Master. Without a rank, a character is considered “untrained”.
The Ability: This is the ability score (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma) used in this particular roll. These are not coded to any Skill inherently; while most of the time Wisdom or Intelligence is used for weaving a basket, teaching about weaving a basket is a Charisma application of the same set of skills. Which Ability Score to use is declared by the GM when a skill attempt is made.
The Tools: While the enterprising middle aged white man can make a fine meal from just his own urine, most craftspeople use tools to more easily accomplish their goals. These are our “equipment” – they provide either flat bonuses or unique abilities when making a Skill Check. Those abilities might be granting Advantage in certain situations, smoothing out difficulties, granting flat enhancements (like a magical pen making Forgeries always look official), or making it more difficult for another that might be “combating” someone (like a really good lute making it harder in a Battle of the Bards for anyone else to compete with how good a song is).
Wow, this is longer than I thought it would be. I’ll do a followup tomorrow on the axe v bureaucracy step by step. Lets finish up this idea though.
When the attempt takes place, instead of setting a Difficulty the traditional way, the GM will explain that a “simple” success requires x number of points, and how many points it will cost in addition for additional attempts (and when a failure happens because of too much work, too much time spent, etc). This allows for a craftsperson to adjust their work as they’re going or a debator to have a “conversation” with their opponent through multiple rolls and adjust their strategy. There will be a list of suggested “enhancements” published that can be used to modify the object of the skill as well – things like Masterwork items, a better outcome, or donations at the end of a song.
In certain circumstances, other players may Assist. Assistance can either provide points directly to the primary roller or can be used to give them benefits such as Advantage or removing penalties.
Tomorrow we’ll look at this in action.
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