Abilities and RollsAssuming we are using situation rolls instead of skill rolls -- rolls to see what happens in a situation, rather than whether an action succeeds or not -- we eliminate a lot of useless rolling. It is assumed that if anyone could do something, like tie a knot or open a door, then the character can, too. If a person can do something with proper training, like sail a ship, a character with that training can do it, too. And if there is something no one can do, even with training, like walk on water, then the character can't do it. No rolls are needed to see if a character can do any of these things. What we want to test for are two things:
- Things that go wrong in iffy situations, like a frayed rope breaking during a climb. Call this a risk.
- Improving an already bad situation, like catching a ledge as you fall. Call this a save.
An Average risk is something that might go wrong for an average person. For example, crossing a slippery ledge. An above average person doesn't need to roll; so, we just need to decide what ability applies (Dexterity) and skip rolling for anyone with a score of 13+. Everyone else rolls.
A High risk is likely to go wrong for anyone. For example, climbing a crumbling cliff face. Everyone needs to roll, except for those with a High score (15+); the High Dex characters can grab another handhold as the first gives.
A Low risk is unlikely to go wrong for most people. Most of the time, you wouldn't even note a Low risk, but if a character has another problem, like limping on an injured leg, you might call for a roll when crossing a rope bridge if the character also has a below average score (8 or less.) This is more likely to matter with puzzles (Low Int or Wisdom means a clue might be missed) or social situations (making an etiquette blunder.)
You could, of course, roll 3d6 to rate any given situation, either during play or when designing an adventure, and then test anyone whose score was less than or equal to that rating. But in practice, you really only need High, Average, and occasionally Low. Keeping the number of options small makes the decision easy:
- Do you want almost everyone to complete this challenge, unless they have some other disadvantage? Then it is Low risk.
- Do you want almost everyone to be at risk, except for a lucky few? Then it is High risk.
- Anything else is Average risk.
Background AbilitiesHow do characters get training? They start out with some from the culture they were born into, and the profession they start with. A Viking sailor knows anything a Viking or a sailor knows. For judging when to make rolls, you can substitute the number of years a character has been in a culture or profession in place of an ability score (using age for experience in your first profession, until you switch professions.) There's still no skill roll involved, just another method of eliminating risks. A sailor with 20 years experience on the sea is not going to roll to avoid capsizing a boat, although an attack or magic spell might still capsize it.
If something goes wrong, having the right experience may allow a save. If a longship is damaged in a storm, a Viking sailor's makeshift repairs might keep it from taking on too much water. Again, keep the decision down to two choices: is it an Average risk (Int 9 or 9 years experience gives a chance of saving the ship) or a High risk (score or experience of 13+ needed to give a chance of saving the ship.)
Experience also matters in competitions between professionals. Having more experience than an opponent gives you an edge in a bake-off, singing contest, or other professional exhibition. If a player figures out some way to apply a professional skill in combat or to some other adventuring situation, it can provide a mild bonus. For example, 15 years as a gladiator might mean a +1 bonus to attack rolls when wrestling opponents with Strength or Dexterity below 15, or +2 if the opponent's scores are half that (8 or less.)
Next, I will talk about revamping the classes.
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