Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Scoundrel, Part 6: A Skill System

I'll cut straight to the chase with this post: we're going to make a skill system.

I'm basing this skill system off of the d12. Any die type will pretty much do, but I like d12s, they don't get a lot of use and I think they'll provide about the right level of probability jumps for the feel I'm going for.

I would probably record these skills on a character sheet by listing the skills and having 12 open circles in lines after each skill. Players can fill these in as their skills improve. I'm going to call the circles that players fill in to represent the chances of success in a particular skill "pips."

Grouping the pips in fours like this makes it easy to tell at a glance how many pips you have.

Much like James Raggi's skill system, low rolls will mean success and high rolls will mean failure. Each character will start off with a 1/12 chance of success in each skill. (If the referee feels this is too harsh, characters can start off with 3/12 or 6/12 chances. I haven't play tested this, so I don't know if this is too harsh for my tastes, but I doubt it will be.)

Whenever a character rolls to use a skill and rolls a natural 1, the player makes a tally for that skill. When five tallies for that skill have been tabulated, the character receives another pip. In this way, characters improve their skills slowly as they use them. (This idea is stolen from Sham's skill system.)

Each first level character gets three "pips" to allocate to any skills their player chooses. In this way, then, the party magic user or fighter may very well be a better lockpick than the party scoundrel, which keeps the scoundrel from monopolizing skills.

Whenever a character levels up, they receive two pips that they may allocate to any skill.

The Scoundrel will be a class with many abilities to choose from. One of these abilities will be to receive an extra pip during character generation (so, four pips at level one instead of the standard three) and whenever leveling up (so, three more pips at level two instead of two more pips at level two). This ability can be chosen more than once, so it is possible, say, for a Scoundrel to have few other abilities, but to receive six pips at level one and five pips each time he levels up.

Variant: The Scoundrel chooses one skill for each non-skill ability not chosen. The Scoundrel allocates one pip to that skill each time he levels up. This is in addition to the standard two pips that can be allocated to any skill whenever he levels up.

Variant: The Scoundrel chooses one skill for each non-skill ability not chosen. The Scoundrel allocates five extra pips (bringing the chance for success up to 6/12 = 1/2) to that skill during character generation. After character generation, these skills can only be improved by adding regular pips earned by leveling up and by using them and rolling natural 1s, the same way skills are improved by every other class.


  1. That's not a bad way to increase skills, the tally idea. How many, and what sort, of skills were you thinking of?

  2. Yeah, I really like it too! Full credit goes to Sham on that one.

    How many and what kind of skills to use is what I'm going to work on next. I'm not sure how many skills I'll include right now. I'm planning on going through a lot of the thief classes that have been posted around the OSR and seeing which ones fit my "this is something that can't be easily roleplayed out at the table so we should abstract this to a die roll" test.

    Depending on just how many skills I actually end up including, it might be necessary to tweak the number of pips that become available, as the current numbers could make progression too quick if there are not many skills or much too slow if there are a lot of skills. I'm probably going to aim for something between 5-10 skills, but we'll see what happens.