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Friday, November 28, 2014

Abilities and Time

I like to think of the abilities Intelligence and Wisdom as quick recall or insight: not how much you know or how wise you are, but how fast your mind works. This not only helps avoid the “Oh no! I rolled an 8! I must be unable to speak or take care of myself!” trap, but it also avoids getting hung up on bonus mania. But what’s a good way to set speeds for various mental actions without forcing us to consult a table?

Well, let’s start with a table, anyways, then get rid of it.

Ability Score Dice Roll
3 to 5 1d6
6 to 11 2d6
12 to 17 3d6
18 4d6

The pattern: You roll 1d6 for how long something takes, and add one die for every full 6 points of your ability score. However, you only use the best result, so higher scores means lower rolls are a little easier to get. It should be easy to remember this rule now, without relying on the table.


You are trying to find a mechanism that opens a secret door. If you have a 3 Intelligence, you roll 1d6 for the number of turns it takes. If you have a 12 Intelligence, you roll 3d6 and keep the lowest d6 rolled.

If you are trying to do something that doesn’t take a full turn, exact time doesn’t really matter unless you have a time limit, for example untying a knot on a prisoner before a guard checks on the prisoner. In that case, roll a d6 for how long the guard takes and compare it to your lowest d6 roll to see which happens first.

In combat and with very short actions, a 1 to 4 means you finish on the round you start and can still move or attack. A 5+ means you don't finish until the next round.

In cases where longer is better, such as how long a quickly tied knot will last, pick the highest d6 result. Or, for potentially very long times, such as how many hours or days an impromptu raft will hold together, add the dice instead of keeping just the best roll.
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