D&D Task Resolution
More on Tasks
More Old School Skills; the Claws of Kalis
OD&D Tasks/Abilities/Skills Revisited (again)
Jeff Rients said in his blog post that it was "..the least offensive skill system I've seen in D&D." but he still doesn't quite like this system. Which is understandable, and many of you who play older editions feel this way. I am not going to tell that I made a better D&D because I added abilities to the Majestic Wilderlands. Even you don't like parts of what did; I think you find the process of how I wrote it useful.
Basically this was an area I felt I had to get right. I knew just throwing in a skill system like a zillion other RPGs wasn't going to cut it. But I wouldn't let it go either because classes that were good at stuff other than combat and spells were an important part of the Majestic Wilderlands.
The first step that was in from the start was the idea that any character could do anything. Most games interpret skills as what limiting what you can't do as well as what you can do. As many pointed out this is not how the oldest campaigns of D&D were run and was eloquently pointed out in the Old School Primer by Matt Finch.
What I did was make a long list of stuff D&D character commonly do in my campaign. And because I had the good fortune of a license deal with Judges Guild, I threw in a bunch of stuff I found in the Dungeon Tac Cards, City-State, and other products. I then categorized everything and named the categories so I can assign bonuses in the Rogue classes. I called the categories abilities.
For resolving abilities I needed some guidelines. When I combing the Judges Guild much of it was using a d100 roll low. Probably the first universal task resolution system. But I didn't like roll low and I don't like using d100.
For while I was going with a 3d6 + attribute roll high system. Basically beat a target and succeed. I liked because it emulated the feel of GURPS. Several issues sunk it. While it well at the cons I used it nobody understood it. All they knew that there was some number they had to beat and they added their attribute to the roll. Everytime I explained it people looked at me like I had three heads. In computer programming we call this the smell test and the 3d6 system was starting to smell like three day old gym socks. More serious that it was the fact I was using Swords & Wizardry. Attributes don't count for much in OD&D or S&W and attributes dominated my 3d6 system.
So finally I just went with a 1d20 roll high you need to roll a 15 or higher. There are modifiers based on what you are trying to do for example -5 for climbing a shear wall. Classes got bonuses with certain abilities. A burglar has a +2 to climbing at 1st level. Every ability had an attribute associated with it that you could use to give a small bonus. If the attribute was 13+ you get +1, 8- you got a -1.
Because you can this process for your campaign and get something better for how you run your setting then what I did for the Majestic Wilderlands
What I recommend is that
- Take all the rulings you can think of and make a list of them. Swinging on chandeliers, leaping over a lava pit, making a move on a barmaid all go on the list.
- Note the dice you use to resolve them.
- Categorize them however you like.
- Look for related rulings that differ by the degree of success. For example if you make your roll by 5 you get to leap 20 feet but by 10 you get to go 30 feet.
- See if you can use the same roll system for everything in the same category. For example all climbing is resolved by a d100 roll but hiring and firing hireling uses a d20.
- Type it up and print it out and keep it in your notes.
With this list you can do some interesting thing. Even you don't have Rogue or thief classes you can use to make a magic that give a +10% bonus to climbing. A helm that confers a +2 to hiring hirelings and so on. As your campaign develops you may find that, like me, you want classes that do things better other than combat or spells. In which case your list of rulings can help in creating these classes.
P.S. Jeff I am not trying to pick on you. You just gave me an opening for a good post.