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Dice-less Skill Checks


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew

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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This idea has seen some traction in other threads and on other sites, so this is an opportunity for thoughts and ideas about a dice-less skill check system.

As an example, you have an 8th level Rogue using his or her Perception check to Detect Traps based on his or her Wisdom modifier. Let's say the Rogue's Wisdom is a 10, but let's also say that Perception is a Rogue class skill and they can use their level to increase the score. In the example the Rogue would have an 18 Perception (10 Wisdom + 8 level). In addition there could be class based feats, like a Detect Trap feat that gives a +4 bonus. With this the Perception check specifically for Detecting Traps then would be a 22. The DM would automatically reveal all traps that would require a 22 or less to overcome. There would be no luck involved. This check would be fully based on the PC's natural abitliy (Wisdom 10), experience (Level 8), and additional training (Detect Trap feat +4).

Personally, I would prefer that Detect Trap be its own skill check and not a part of Perception, but that may be for another thread.

In the above example an 8th level Cleric with an 18 Wisdom would be just as skilled as an 8th level Rogue with a 10 Wisdom. The Cleric would not be able to use its class level as Perception would not be a skill trained by Clerics, but could use its ability score for the check. Also, the Detect Trap Feat could be class specific to Rogues only, or Rogues and Bards as an example.

This would truly make the ability scores far more meaningful.

Again, I believe Perception to be too broad a category. With this system Perception may need to be split up between functions that are more class specific skills like Detect Trap being a Rogue skill, or Detect Enemy being more of a Ranger skill.

So what are your thoughts and ideas?

Later,

Mazra


Wouldn't it be simpler just to leave the skill system in tact as is and just make all rolls either 10 (immediate) or 20 (with enough time)? That way the ability score bonus still adds in, and the skill points will take care of level increases.

I mean, in your example, your rogue is going to have a 22 to detect traps. But if you go with RAW and just take 10, the same rogue is going to have (8 ranks + 3 for class skill = 11) + 10 = 21. Seems like a lot of extra effort to go to creating special feats etc when RAW gives you basically the same result.

For another example, let's use wizard Spellcraft check. A 10th level Wizard with a 20 Int will have a 28 by taking 10 (assuming he actually puts a point into spellcraft every level). Your system would give a 30. Once again, you're only off by 2 points, and you don't even have to rework the system, just say everything is either take 10 or take 20, and get rid of any rules that say you can't take 10 in a given situation.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Passive, Inattentive (playing dice while on guard duty) = 0 + Skill Mod.

Passive, Attentive (typical exploring) = 10 + Skill Mod.

Active, Focused (watching for hidden enemies) = 10 +1d10 + Skill Mod

Time is not a factor (taking 20) = 20 + Skill Mod.

Preserves a player's investment of skill points, feats, traits, racial abilities, etc., while cutting don on the number of rolls and the "something's up because the DM wants me to roll Perception" effect.

-Skeld

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It is interesting that the two systems come out similarly. Your system is also dice-less. The system I suggest would have no need for buying points toward a list of skills. The skills would be inherent in the ability scores, levels, plus any additional feat related bonuses. There are many feats in the current system to improve skill checks also; so in that there is no difference. Adding skill points through Feats is just an option, and could just as easily not be available.

Raising level would not require a skill point purchase system. This alone would greatly simplify the process of raising level. This is the main difference between the two systems.

And there would be no take a 10 or take a 20. The skill level would be a fixed number purely based on the abilities of the PC (score), their experience (level), and additional feats (training). With training being totally an option to the system.

But thanks much for your input. I like your idea too. As any system that simplifies game play without losing the essence of the game is a good thing.

Later,

Mazra


I think since your system seems to come out so close to mine, and mine is a very minor tweak of RAW, yours is probably good to go as suggested. It certainly won't change the balance too much to use just as you wrote it, IMO. Good luck.


Skeld wrote:

Passive, Inattentive (playing dice while on guard duty) = 0 + Skill Mod.

Passive, Attentive (typical exploring) = 10 + Skill Mod.

Active, Focused (watching for hidden enemies) = 10 +1d10 + Skill Mod

Time is not a factor (taking 20) = 20 + Skill Mod.

Preserves a player's investment of skill points, feats, traits, racial abilities, etc., while cutting don on the number of rolls and the "something's up because the DM wants me to roll Perception" effect.

-Skeld

I like this, though I'd imagine it would be better to use the attribute instead of the skill for passive checks, because if I'm not trying to do something, I'm not using a skill, only my raw natural propensity. This would mean adjusting the rates:

Passive/Inattentive = 5 + Attribute modifier (chillin', not on guard duty)

Passive/Attentive = 10 + Attribute modifier (on guard duty)

Active/Attentive = 10 + Attribute modifier + skill (on guard duty, strongly suspicious that something is afoot)

Double the bonus numbers on all those for ongoing or extended circumstances.


HawaiianWarrior wrote:
Skeld wrote:

Passive, Inattentive (playing dice while on guard duty) = 0 + Skill Mod.

Passive, Attentive (typical exploring) = 10 + Skill Mod.

Active, Focused (watching for hidden enemies) = 10 +1d10 + Skill Mod

Time is not a factor (taking 20) = 20 + Skill Mod.

Preserves a player's investment of skill points, feats, traits, racial abilities, etc., while cutting don on the number of rolls and the "something's up because the DM wants me to roll Perception" effect.

-Skeld

I like this, though I'd imagine it would be better to use the attribute instead of the skill for passive checks, because if I'm not trying to do something, I'm not using a skill, only my raw natural propensity. This would mean adjusting the rates:

Passive/Inattentive = 5 + Attribute modifier (chillin', not on guard duty)

Passive/Attentive = 10 + Attribute modifier (on guard duty)

Active/Attentive = 10 + Attribute modifier + skill (on guard duty, strongly suspicious that something is afoot)

Double the bonus numbers on all those for ongoing or extended circumstances.

So you're saying that someone that's better at perception and worse and sense motive have the same modifier when they're not paying attention? Because that doesn't make any sense.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Why not just use the take 10/take 20 rules as is?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Personally I am not a fan of the Passive and Active criteria. My players are quick to tell me they are always active. And often such issues can end up in needless debates that rob valuable game time for killing monsters and role playing.

I envision a dice-less system something like this:

A new 1st level party has come across a set of very steep stairs broken and weathered in parts. You will need to carefully climb up these steep stairs to continue looking for the missing villager taken by a group of Goblins. The ability check for the stairs is a 12. Climb is a Strength based check. Barbarians, Fighters, Rangers and Paladins have Climb as a class ability. The Fighter has a 15 strength + 1 for 1st level for a 16. He easily navigates up the stairs. The Rogue comes up behind with his 13 strength and manages the stairs. The weak Wizard with his 9 strength would fall after ten feet for a preset 4 points of damage. But if the party pulls out their rope, there would be a +5 bonus for all party members. Even the weakling Wizard with a Strength 9 plus 5 for the rope (14) manages the climb. No rolls, no luck , just the simple abilities plus the use of an item by a 1st level party to overcome a hazard. Simple! Efficient!

As in all situations the DM needs to make the challenge doable for the party with at least some minimal amount of ingenuity depending on level.

Every point in every ability score become important well beyond combat, and knowing how many extra spells you can carry, etc..

We can argue about whether the Rogue should have Climb as a class ability too. And I could see arguments both ways for this. I would tend to give Rogues Climb as a class ability.

Later,

Mazra


Robespierre wrote:
So you're saying that someone that's better at perception and worse and sense motive have the same modifier when they're not paying attention? Because that doesn't make any sense.

Well, not quite. I see see skills as learned, and attributes as inherent; using a skill in an intentional act, where one's attributes are "always on" as basic functions of their physical or mental selves. That's why I would switch it around. You can't turn off your wisdom, but you can not be using your ability to sense motives.


i do happen to think search should be removed from perception, and should be based on int rather than wisdom. but then that screws with the amount of skill points vs amount of skills balance very slightly.

but yes, i agree with dudemeister on the T10 T20 rules.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
st00ji wrote:
i do happen to think search should be removed from perception, and should be based on int rather than wisdom.

I think a lot of things should be removed from Perception. It is way too broad and covers too many issues that could be Wisdom, Intelligence or even Dexterity driven. I see your point about Search though. I think of Sherlock Holmes, was it Wisdom or Intelligence that gave him remarkable deductive powers? I would lean toward Intelligence. It was his great capacity to learn and use what he learned to help him solve crimes. Wisdom on the other hand is more the knowing right from wrong. Noticing a slight deviation in a book case that reveals a small switch underneath that happens to open a secret door has really nothing to do with right and wrong.

Later,

Mazra

Lantern Lodge

Mazra wrote:
st00ji wrote:
i do happen to think search should be removed from perception, and should be based on int rather than wisdom.

I think a lot of things should be removed from Perception. It is way too broad and covers too many issues that could be Wisdom, Intelligence or even Dexterity driven. I see your point about Search though. I think of Sherlock Holmes, was it Wisdom or Intelligence that gave him remarkable deductive powers? I would lean toward Intelligence. It was his great capacity to learn and use what he learned to help him solve crimes. Wisdom on the other hand is more the knowing right from wrong. Noticing a slight deviation in a book case that reveals a small switch underneath that happens to open a secret door has really nothing to do with right and wrong.

Later,

Mazra

First Perception is fine as is. Wether you are looking through someones pockets, looking looking at a wall for a trap, or looking down the river to see the boat coming, you are still looking. Perception is just 5 things:

Scent - Smelling Things
Sight - Seeing Things
Sound - Hearing Things
Taste - Tasting Things
Touch - Feeling Things
All which are the five major senses. Really non of which are based off of any form of ability score except maybe Constitution as that is your physical health. But for balance and the fact that Wisdom is supposed to be your mental health attribute (as seen with Will saves) I think that it works fine.

Now "Searching" as some may put it, is just Sight based perception along with Dexterity based manipulation and Intelligence based deduction, which can be represented with Sleight of Hand and Knowledge Skills, possibly even Appraise.

Sherlock Holmes would have had a large amount of his skills placed in Appraise, Knowledge Skills, Perception, and Sense Motive, with other skills being secondary skills. Those 4 (actually much more with the number of knowledge skills he had) would have made him the detective he was/is (since he didn't actually exist).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Your argument is straight from the book. Perception is just the five major senses, so if it is not a Constitution check then why not Wisdom. The books argument would say that Wisdom is as good as any other ability to base Perception upon. You argue that Wisdom is used because of ones Mental Health like in a Will saving throw. But I do not believe that Wisdom being used as a modifier for the Will saving throw is based entirely on Mental Health. I see the Will save based on Wisdom because of the PCs ability to know or perceive truth, to see past deceptions, or to find an inner strength that comes from a divine knowledge. I would think that most PCs Mental Health would be stable and similar to one another. Though there are exception with a few insane PC or NPC characters.

Perception in my honest opinion, and where I disagree with the PF Core Rule Book is more than the five senses which all PCs without abnormalities would have. It is more than just using the five senses, but using these senses with knowledge based on ability, experience and sometimes training. Otherwise, all PCs would have the same exact skill check, since most everyone possess the same five senses.

To me finding a Hidden Trap is very different than noticing the stench of rotting garbage. As a result, I would definitely move finding a Hidden Trap away from the Perception skill. Finding a trap is a skill that would be part of a Rogue's training. Where hearing the sound of battle would seem more of a Fighter's ability. Neither of these skills really has much to do with Wisdom. As much as I respect and enjoy the PF system, IMHO their ideas of Perception is broken.

This thread is primarily about a dice-less skill check system, possibly used in a homebrew setting, or in some future version of the game. To make this work, a PCs ability needs to make sense to the skill being used. Finding a trap would likely be more of an Intelligence based skill for non-Rogues. And as a class feature, Rogues could use their Dexterity score for this skill check, due to a trained ability to possibly avoid the trap before setting it off. Now detecting an Invisible creature I could see as a Wisdom based skill. Because you are seeing the truth in a situation because Invisibility is an Illusion. Each item in the Perception list, IMHO needs to be broken out by a more logical ability check. Sense of smell based checks may very well be a Constitution check instead of Wisdom. Finding a Concealed Door may be based on Intelligence. Perception in PF became a hodgepodge. it did not need to be so.

In my current campaign I am using the pure PF rules, whether I like them all or not. For the sake of a dice-less skill check system, IMHO it would need to be revised.

Later,

Mazra


Actually the perception skill is noticing things; that's why having a high perception skill doesn't give characters better senses (such as low-light vision, darkvision, scent, or blindsense). That's the whole basis for it being wisdom base. Though I can see why actually actively searching something out would be intelligence based.


It's not what you see/hear/taste/touch/smell, it's how well you interpret that incoming data and reach accurate conclusions about it. Some people are just naturally more astute than others at reading what their senses are telling them.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Again, why aren't you just using the take 10/ take 20 rules?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Again, why aren't you just using the take 10/ take 20 rules?

Because in a dice-less skill check system you wouldn't need either one.

Later,

Mazra


Does this system mean you can't choose which Skills you have? So Fighters could never get better at Perception? What if you want to make a Wizard that is good at Stealth?


Ion Raven wrote:
Does this system mean you can't choose which Skills you have? So Fighters could never get better at Perception? What if you want to make a Wizard that is good at Stealth?

I could see this as a great opportunity for class archetypes. Personally though, I think fighters should have perception as a class skill by default.

I don't know if you did this unknowingly, but this actually fixes a lot of the perceived issues with charisma, intelligence (for skill points), and distribution of skill points. It also creates a better class niche while making leveling much simpler.

Even if you can get similar scores via take 10 and take 20 rules, there's a lot more work that changes behind the scenes and isn't inherently noticeable if you just take a look at one particular skill and don't look at it as a whole.

The one thing I might question is how to handle the extreme high scores, for example: Wizard has 18 Int, Level 10 wizard has 28 in any particular knowledge. Or are you fine with that. I would not allow feats to boost class skills in such a case.

I think this system is semi brilliant.

Grand Lodge

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Skill checks in this system are ability based and all PCs have ability scores. Certain skills receive a class bonus for each level of the related class. Then there are Feats that can increase skill rolls that a PC can choose. So a Wizard could obtain greater Stealth by adding a Feat, or by taking a Rogue level. Since Stealth is a skill where Rogues can add their level. Stealth is a Dexterity check, so having high Dex would help.

Later,

Mazra

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ragnarok Aeon wrote:

The one thing I might question is how to handle the extreme high scores, for example: Wizard has 18 Int, Level 10 wizard has 28 in any particular knowledge. Or are you fine with that. I would not allow feats to boost class skills in such a case.

Think about it, a 10th level Wizard with an 18 Intelligence should know a lot. But who is to say at that level the Knowledge check may require a 30. Which would mean if that Wizard did not take a Feat in that particular Knowledge, they would not know something that required a 30 Knowledge check. I like the idea of using Feats to add to the score. This gives the player the ability to specialize in a skill.

In this system, I may be tempted to award more Feats for level advancement. May have to play test this a bit to see if that makes sense.

BTW - Perception in this system would need a complete overhaul. Certain parts would be in the Fighter class, where other parts may be more for the Rogue and other classes.

Later,

Mazra


HawaiianWarrior wrote:
It's not what you see/hear/taste/touch/smell, it's how well you interpret that incoming data and reach accurate conclusions about it. Some people are just naturally more astute than others at reading what their senses are telling them.

pretty much this.

i do agree that a lot of things got rolled into perception, but im mostly ok with that. just the searching thing irks me a little. i dont see why say, a rogue for example, with a low wisdom score, couldnt be methodical and thorough in his trap searches.


I prefer a bit of random chance.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
st00ji wrote:


i dont see why say, a rogue for example, with a low wisdom score, couldnt be methodical and thorough in his trap searches.

Which would mean if Search was a Rogue class skill, it would be based on their Dexterity and not Wisdom. All other classes would use Wisdom, or it could be a pick 'em between Wisdom and Intelligence, which ever is higher. I could see Rangers with Search as a Class skill depending on either Wisdom, Intelligence or Dexterity which ever is higher. Or it could be just one of the three. Search is one of those skills that could use different abilities depending on the individual. All Class skills are trained skills that increase with class levels. All other skills are based on ones abilities. PCs could choose a Feat to obtain additional in Class or out of Class training.

You may say what does ones Dexterity have to do with Search? Dexterity is more than manipulating things with your hands, or carefully moving in an environment. A key element to great Dexterity is vision. And someone could be trained to use their Dexterity to sense their surroundings and see things hidden.

Later,

Mazra

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ciaran Barnes wrote:
I prefer a bit of random chance.

Cool! To each his own.

I like the idea that my ability, experience and training determines an outcome more so than rolling a 1 or a 20.

Cheers,

Mazra


How would this system handle trained only skills? What about skills like Craft and Profession that can actually generate money without needing any training at all?

With your system, it seems that all characters become experts in a lot of things that they would normally not know anything about at all.

The way I handle skills is simple:

1) Is the check opposed or is the character unable to Take 10 or 20? Then roll.
2) Can the character simply Take 10 and succeed? Success
3) If Taking 10 isn't good enough, and the character has time, can he Take 20? Then success but it took time. If not, then he will need to roll.
4) Is the skill bonus enough on it's own to succeed if the character rolled a 1? Success

It's not completely diceless but it reduces the die rolling considerably.


I'm not opposed to the idea of dice-less skills, but I'm not sure I like this approach. It changes the balance of skills pretty drastically.

Two primary issues:
Especially at low levels attributes absolutely dominate over any training in skills. It's probably not until around 10th level that training from class levels and feats would catch up to someone untrained with a high stat. I want stats to matter, but that seems extreme. Raw ability matters, but training and practice help to.

I also don't like the idea that you're fully trained in all class skills and can't get any better at other skills. Especially with some of the grouped skills. Everyone is equally good with all craft skills? Bards are equally skilled with all performance skills? But even with the regular skills, some classes have access to many skills, but only a few skill points, while others may get almost as many skill points as class skills. Basically I like variety and choice with skills.

If your goal is just to do away with dice, what's the problem with just using the current skill system with a flat bonus? Much like always Taking 10, it's just as predictable as your idea and requires much less jiggering with everything around it.


The problem that I see with this is that if I'm the GM writing the adventure, I am basically decided what the players will succeed and fail at ahead of time.

The players have X climb scores
I give the wall Y DC

If Y > X they are now required to find an alternate method. In the words of Yoda, do or do not, there is no try, except in this case it's very literal.

The reason someone is recommending the Take 10 rule, is that it basically achieves what you are looking for without changing anything, because it's already a rule. There is no die roll, you can climb a rock wall while taking 10, if your skill + 10 is high enough, you succeed, if not, you fail.

I personally also dislike d20's and prefer 3d6 variants, just seems I can never convince everyone else of their statistical superiority.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Bob_Loblaw wrote:
How would this system handle trained only skills? What about skills like Craft and Profession that can actually generate money without needing any training at all?

There are many ways this could be added to this system. My suggestion would be to give one trained Craft or Profession at 1st Level. This Craft or Profession would increase with Level advancement. You could have a Feat to add additional trained Crafts or Professions. In times like the game is played you usually grew up learning a Craft or Profession, but rarely if ever two. Your parent wasn't both an Armorer and a Carpenter.

Bob_Loblaw wrote:
With your system, it seems that all characters become experts in a lot of things that they would normally not know anything about at all.

You could only become expert in your Class skills without using Feats. However, you should rise to levels of expert for those skills within your Class. Now everyone would have some basic ability to try to accomplish task. But as the levels increase the challenges should too. The DM or module designer would need to balance skill checks with level. But that is no different than the current system.

Bob_Loblaw wrote:


The way I handle skills is simple:

1) Is the check opposed or is the character unable to Take 10 or 20? Then roll.
2) Can the character simply Take 10 and succeed? Success
3) If Taking 10 isn't good enough, and the character has time, can he Take 20? Then success but it took time. If not, then he will need to roll.
4) Is the skill bonus enough on it's own to succeed if the character rolled a 1? Success

It's not completely diceless but it reduces the die rolling considerably.

Yes. This is the system I currently use. And when a character does make a roll, he could roll a 1 or a 20. The variable in that is so great to totally take away from the characters ability, experience and training.

As is any new system, the details would need to be play tested and worked out. But I could see a dice-less ability based skill check system as a way to simplify and speed up game play without taking away from the feel of the game.

Later,

Mazra

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:

I'm not opposed to the idea of dice-less skills, but I'm not sure I like this approach. It changes the balance of skills pretty drastically.

Two primary issues:
Especially at low levels attributes absolutely dominate over any training in skills. It's probably not until around 10th level that training from class levels and feats would catch up to someone untrained with a high stat. I want stats to matter, but that seems extreme. Raw ability matters, but training and practice help to.

That is a good point. But think about it. At first level all you have is your abilities. You aren't really trained in anything yet. And remember the adventures will be tailored with this in mind according to the level of the adventure. This is no different than the current system. Do you find the same DC lock on a chest in a first level dungeon as in a 10th level dungeon?

This is still a work in progress. And your questions is exactly what I was looking for when I started the thread. To work out the "what ifs" and flesh this idea out. This question gave me an idea: What about two types of Feats? You could have Skill Feats provided at various levels in addition to the other Feats. Some Classes may get more of these Skill Feats than other Classes.

thejeff wrote:


I also don't like the idea that you're fully trained in all class skills and can't get any better at other skills. Especially with some of the grouped skills. Everyone is equally good with all craft skills? Bards are equally skilled with all performance skills? But even with the regular skills, some classes have access to many skills, but only a few skill points, while others may get almost as many skill points as class skills. Basically I like variety and choice with skills.

This could be where Skill Feats come into play. That would allow a Bard to be a step better than another Bard in a certain Skill. But all Bards should have the basics. All Rogues should have the basics. Everyone can try to pick a lock. This is where establishing the Skill Check required comes into play. If the Open Lock Skill Check for a Door is a 17 at 1st level, and this check is based on Dexterity then it is unlikely that anyone that is not a Rogue will be able to Open the Lock. Unless that character has a 17 Dexterity. Well this is not a particularly difficult lock, so even the Wizard with his 17 Dex managed to pick the lock.

I could see in this system that Bards and Rogues, maybe Rangers, maybe other Classes too, could get two Skill Feats at 1st level. Let's say the Rogue picks Open Lock and Disable Device. Immediately that Rogue would get +4 on their Skill checks. At 1st level against 1st level locks and traps the Rogue should be able to get through OK.

thejeff wrote:


If your goal is just to do away with dice, what's the problem with just using the current skill system with a flat bonus? Much like always Taking 10, it's just as predictable as your idea and requires much less jiggering with everything around it.

Because in the current system there are always situations when you have to roll the dice to determine the outcome. You can't just take a 10 or a 20 in every situation. And to me rolling the die is a far greater imbalance with skill checks with a 1 to 20 swing. it totally takes away from ability, experience and training.

Thanks again for your input.

Later,

Mazra

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Irontruth wrote:
The problem that I see with this is that if I'm the GM writing the adventure, I am basically decided what the players will succeed and fail at ahead of time.

And how is this any different than the current system? DCs are level based within adventures. A lock in a first level adventure is far more simple to pick than in a 10th level adventure.

Irontruth wrote:


The players have X climb scores
I give the wall Y DC

If Y > X they are now required to find an alternate method. In the words of Yoda, do or do not, there is no try, except in this case it's very literal.

Oops! The Jedi rolled a one in his attempt to slice open a door and cut his own arm off with his light saber. This system looks purely at ability, experience and training. No more oops. And just like in Yoda's case they either DO or they DON"T DO. They either have the check required to overcome the task or they don't. And if they don't, then just like in the current system, they have to work with their own ingenuity to overcome the task.

Irontruth wrote:


The reason someone is recommending the Take 10 rule, is that it basically achieves what you are looking for without changing anything, because it's already a rule. There is no die roll, you can climb a rock wall while taking 10, if your skill + 10 is high enough, you succeed, if not, you fail.

I personally also dislike d20's and prefer 3d6 variants, just seems I can never convince everyone else of their statistical superiority.

The current system is only half measures. I applaud that they tried to move to a more dice-less system. But in the end, as I have experienced, the die gets picked up an rolled. The matter becomes fate more so than ability, experience and training. The system I propose takes the die or dice out of every situation when using Skills.

Later,

Mazra


Mazra wrote:
thejeff wrote:
If your goal is just to do away with dice, what's the problem with just using the current skill system with a flat bonus? Much like always Taking 10, it's just as predictable as your idea and requires much less jiggering with everything around it.
Because in the current system there are always situations when you have to roll the dice to determine the outcome. You can't just take a 10 or a 20 in every situation. And to me rolling the die is a far greater imbalance with skill checks with a 1 to 20 swing. it totally takes away from ability, experience and training.

I didn't say, "Just use the current system". I said, and other people have said, use the current system to determine skill points and always Take 10. Change that part. Never use the dice. Take 10 in all situations. Just write your skill down with the 10 included so you don't even have to do the math every time.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:

I didn't say, "Just use the current system". I said, and other people have said, use the current system to determine skill points and always Take 10. Change that part. Never use the dice. Take 10 in all situations. Just write your skill down with the 10 included so you don't even have to do the math every time.

In the system I propose, ability scores have greater meaning than in the current system. In the current system the skill check is a calculation too. Most people write it down, and then some people forget how many ranks they have in a particular skill. There is no skill purchasing in the system I propose. The calculation is fixed based on ability and level. There is a purchase element when Feats are added to the mix. But Feats come far more rarely to the process. Just like most have in the current system a list of their Skill check scores, this system would have that too for in Class Skills or Skills that the PC has taken a Feat to boost. But the calculation is far more simpler for checks that are out of class. It would be a simple look at your ability score. In most cases in class skills will be ability score plus level. That is a very easy calculation.

Adding Feats to the mix does complicate it some, but IMHO this is necessary to allow PCs to specialize in certain Skills.

Later,

Mazra


I like the idea of decreasing (or removing) dice rolls.

I'm NOT a fan of making all characters of the same class have the same skill level (barring ability scores) and relegating bonuses to feats means classes that are reliant on skills as is will have an enormous feat tax.

It pigeonholes the classes and means that a character _is_ it's class; that's it's role in society, or it won't make sense. For example, all fighters are good at handling animals (or they're completely unsociable with sentients), riding and swimming. A 5th level merfolk fighter will be a better rider than a 5th level human rogue, even if the rogue is from a desert society where everyone rides from age 3.

The speed gained from not buying ranks, compared to just using the "take 10" rules all the time, is negligible and also, most of the time, it's "away from the table"-time.

If you want it simpler, but not remove all customization, instead you could just use the take 10 rules, and instead of spending skill ranks, the character knows (no of skill points per level) + int skills with maxed ranks.

Not purchasing skills means characters are FAR less customizable, and honestly, customizability is one of the main reasons I play PF rather than, say, 4th or 2nd.

It seems like a lot of house ruling, having consequenses throughout the whole system, that removes a lot of options; meanwhile, there's a simple house rule that doesn't affect as much outside of what it's supposed to and that doesn't reduce the amount of options.


Mazra wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I didn't say, "Just use the current system". I said, and other people have said, use the current system to determine skill points and always Take 10. Change that part. Never use the dice. Take 10 in all situations. Just write your skill down with the 10 included so you don't even have to do the math every time.

In the system I propose, ability scores have greater meaning than in the current system. In the current system the skill check is a calculation too. Most people write it down, and then some people forget how many ranks they have in a particular skill. There is no skill purchasing in the system I propose. The calculation is fixed based on ability and level. There is a purchase element when Feats are added to the mix. But Feats come far more rarely to the process. Just like most have in the current system a list of their Skill check scores, this system would have that too for in Class Skills or Skills that the PC has taken a Feat to boost. But the calculation is far more simpler for checks that are out of class. It would be a simple look at your ability score. In most cases in class skills will be ability score plus level. That is a very easy calculation.

Adding Feats to the mix does complicate it some, but IMHO this is necessary to allow PCs to specialize in certain Skills.

I do understand how your system works. What I'm not sure of is what your goals are. It seems your approach is aimed at fixing multiple problems, not all of them clearly stated.

One is removing randomness. Another is boosting the effect of ability scores. Those are fairly clear.
You could achieve close to the same effect by using the current system to determine base skill, including ranks, traits, feats, racial bonuses, etc, but adding the ability score instead of the ability modifier. Use that score instead of rolling dice. It would have mechanical outcome as Taking 10 with a doubled ability modifier.
This comes out close to your proposed system when you compare your class skills to maxed out skills. The difference would be the +3 ranks for a class skill, meaning training is a bit more important, especially early on.

Your system also reduces the complexity of the current system by reducing character choices, as others have said. Then adds it back in by introducing special Class feats to allow some customization. (I assume these feats would be separate from regular feats or at least that some classes would get bonus feats that could only be used for these.) This removes some complexity from character generation, but at the expense of having to rebalance the whole skill system.

I'm not sure how much of that is actual goal and how much is unintended consequence.


Problems:

1. Ability scores increase too rapidly, too quickly. It would be too easy to sky-rocket your ability score, then add your level in all your class skills, and basically make the DCs of the game meaningless.

2. How about skills that interact with other game mechanics. Especially against Combat Maneuvers. Will these need to be changed now? Combat maneuvers use combinations of ability scores (CMD is Str and Dex), and they both use benefits from weapons or various ACs (deflection, sacred/profane, luck, morale, dodge, etc).
How now do we resolve Acrobatics for moving through space or tumbling through reach, or escape artist vs grappling?

3. Are you going to go through every monster and edit their skills to match? While a CR determines how strong a creature is, their HD can be wildly varying. There are plenty of monsters that have much lower or higher HD than CR.
Ability scores are even worse. A stone giant (CR 8) has 12 HD and 27 strength. That's now a 39 for his check before any outside modifiers. If you change combat maneuvers for issue #2, now you have a truly horrifying stat to beat.

Mazra wrote:
Yes. This is the system I currently use. And when a character does make a roll, he could roll a 1 or a 20. The variable in that is so great to totally take away from the characters ability, experience and training.

See, if this is ultimately what the problem is, then it's a lot easier to just scale everything back.

Reduce all fixed DCs by 5, and make everyone roll a 1d10. The "E6" of skills, so to speak..

Ranks + Class bonus + Decent ability score (16) + minimum focus (say a +2 from a feat, class feature, or tool) gives you a modifier of +9 at 1st level.
Modifier of +9 vs a 1d10 roll. Ability would be as valuable as random chance starting right out at 1st level, and it only gets better with focus.

.

However, the main complaint of higher level gaming is the fact that "random chance" takes too much of a back seat to the modifiers. Such that those that focus on something are practically guaranteed to succeed, while those that don't are guaranteed to fail. Any attempt to change the DCs to fix one, makes the other problem worse.

Reducing/removing chance makes this issue more readily apparent at even lower levels.
I'd say that the 1d10 suggestion I made might work best if you intended to play in an E6 game, but didn't want random chance to make things too swingy.


Bob_Loblaw wrote:

How would this system handle trained only skills? What about skills like Craft and Profession that can actually generate money without needing any training at all?

With your system, it seems that all characters become experts in a lot of things that they would normally not know anything about at all.

The way I handle skills is simple:

1) Is the check opposed or is the character unable to Take 10 or 20? Then roll.
2) Can the character simply Take 10 and succeed? Success
3) If Taking 10 isn't good enough, and the character has time, can he Take 20? Then success but it took time. If not, then he will need to roll.
4) Is the skill bonus enough on it's own to succeed if the character rolled a 1? Success

It's not completely diceless but it reduces the die rolling considerably.

The Loblaw method is exactly the one that my table uses as well. Why roll at all if you don't have to? But when there is a chance for failure, of course you let the dice decide the outcome.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
Mazra wrote:


I do understand how your system works. What I'm not sure of is what your goals are. It seems your approach is aimed at fixing multiple problems, not all of them clearly stated. One is removing randomness. Another is boosting the effect of ability scores. Those are fairly clear.

GOALS (Including the two you mentioned)

1.) To simplify the Skill check system in a way that ultimately does not jeopardize game play or the overall feel of the game.

2.) To eliminate luck from at least this element of the gaming experience. Personally I prefer Chess to Yahtzee.

3.) To put more emphasis on one of the most key elements of the game, the ability scores.

4.) To speed up game play.

5.) To fix some current elements of the Skill check system that honestly doesn't make sense for either Classes or Abilities.

6.) Remove the point buying system for obtaining skills to something more standard across all Classes.

7.) Eliminate the boost Intelligence gives to skill points. This does not make sense when you are dealing with skills that does not use Intelligence as a modifier.

thejeff wrote:


You could achieve close to the same effect by using the current system to determine base skill, including ranks, traits, feats, racial bonuses, etc, but adding the ability score instead of the ability modifier. Use that score instead of rolling dice. It would have mechanical outcome as Taking 10 with a doubled ability modifier.
This comes out close to your proposed system...

This is actually a very good idea. It doesn't address some of the other issues like, most importantly, finding a simpler system.

Later,

Mazra

Grand Lodge

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stringburka wrote:

I like the idea of decreasing (or removing) dice rolls.

I'm NOT a fan of making all characters of the same class have the same skill level (barring ability scores) and relegating bonuses to feats means classes that are reliant on skills as is will have an enormous feat tax.

So you are saying that two 1st level Rogues both having a 17 Dexterity should have different Skill levels? I will have to respectfully disagree with you here. If in this proposed system you give additional Skill Feats then there would be no tax on the current Feats available. It is the Skill Feats that would allow for specialization.

stringburka wrote:


It pigeonholes the classes and means that a character _is_ it's class; that's it's role in society, or it won't make sense. For example, all fighters are good at handling animals (or they're completely unsociable with sentients), riding and swimming. A 5th level merfolk fighter will be a better rider than a 5th level human rogue, even if the rogue is from a desert society where everyone rides from age 3.

There is nothing in this proposed system that would say you couldn't have race or culture related Skills or Skill bonuses. I am running RotR now where each PC has special culture related advantages. But a Rogue is a Rogue, and a Fighter is a Fighter. What the PC chooses as their Skill Feat will give the PC some uniqueness.

stringburka wrote:


The speed gained from not buying ranks, compared to just using the "take 10" rules all the time, is negligible and also, most of the time, it's "away from the table"-time.

The overall process is simpler. If a player looses his Character Record Sheet you will not need to reinvent the wheel. The formula is far more basic.

stringburka wrote:


If you want it simpler, but not remove all customization, instead you could just use the take 10 rules, and instead of spending skill ranks, the character knows (no of skill points per level) + int skills with maxed ranks.

Personally, I really don't like the Intelligence bonus given for adding skills. Many skills have nothing to do with Intelligence.

There may be a trade off. The greater you customize the rules the more complicated the rules become. In the system I propose, you would loose some customization for a simpler system that looks first and foremost at the PCs abilities, and secondly at the PCs level. The two most basic components of a PC. However, with the addition of Skill Feats, the PCs will get some level of specialization, but not at the free-for-all level in the current system.

stringburka wrote:


Not purchasing skills means characters are FAR less customizable, and honestly, customizability is one of the main reasons I play PF rather than, say, 4th or 2nd.

Hey, a lot of people didn't like 4th Edition. I know a guy still running a 2nd Edition Dragonlance campaign. Personally, I have played 1st, 2nd, 3.0, 3.5, 4th and PF in that order. All of these systems had their pros and cons. I am always looking for improvements in the overall game. The purpose of this thread is to flesh out the good and the bad of a simpler dice-less system. I believe it is very possible. But like any new system, it could use some tweaks; and maybe a lot of tweaking before it is over. But I do honestly believe that basing Skills first on Abilities, and then on Level is a good start.

stringburka wrote:


It seems like a lot of house ruling, having consequenses throughout the whole system, that removes a lot of options; meanwhile, there's a simple house rule that doesn't affect as much outside of what it's supposed to and that doesn't reduce the amount of options.

The thing about house rules, is that you can keep them in the house. No one is saying you have to use them. However, what I am proposing, and this idea is really not new, is a new overall system, a 5th edition if you will. A system that has the flavor of 3.5 or PF, but is simpler to learn for new players and simpler to play for everyone.

It is still in its infancy. But I believe it is obtainable.

Later,

Mazra


Mazra wrote:
That is a good point. But think about it. At first level all you have is your abilities. You aren't really trained in anything yet. And remember the adventures will be tailored with this in mind according to the level of the adventure. This is no different than the current system. Do you find the same DC lock on a chest in a first level dungeon as in a 10th level dungeon?

This may illustrate the break in thinking between you and the majority of people here, including me.

At first level, you have more than your ability scores. Fighters have trained in a dizzying array of martial drills- swords, spears, axes, shields, armor drills. They've become purpose-driven soldiers, stout bodyguards, stalwart night-watchmen. Their statistical makeup is given via their class abilities and feat/skill choices, and sure, they'll get better with their weaponry and reach levels of skill worthy of epic narratives. Wizards have passed through their apprenticehood, and no longer fail in casting cantrips when not pressured. They can actually read magical writings now, and even make their own scrolls without any difficulty. They are hardly "not really trained in anything."

You seem to perceive 1st level as being barely away from a "tabula rasa" state. If you are looking at all of the possibilities that 20th level can offer, then sure, 1st level may seem like hardly anything. Truth be told, though, many see 5th level as the break with mortality into "epic saga" material. Skills and the relative boost in success that their bonuses provide go a long way into distinguishing this.

If you are looking to remove the randomness from skill checks, are you looking into a similar system for attack rolls or other combat functions? If not, why? Attack rolls and combat functions are essentially weapon and defensive skill checks. By streamlining skills in this way, it simply makes the warrior caste retain the mechanically-induced incompetence everyone else has magically shed.

I'm really partial to the amount of concepts one can encompass with a class and a few skill selection, even before archetypes. The occasional failure at skill checks is part and parcel to a story- I have searched for upwards of half an hour for keys that were in my hand or glasses I was wearing before. It's not heroic to have it happening constantly, I agree. If it is happening too often for you, try adopting an "action point" mechanic that lets you re-roll to help normalize things, and have the pool refresh every session instead of on an in-game schedule.

As far as Intelligence boosting skills, it really comes down to a factor of book learning or capacity for making skills more technical than others do. I always read about things before I try them, and don't usually make rookie mistakes as a result. I learn about even non-technical skills like climbing this way ("three points of contact" and similar techniques) and this sometimes gives me an edge over people with more practical experience (though not often- ranks reflect practical experience better).

(On a side note, on your goals- I personally prefer Go to Chess, both to Yahtzee, and Munchkin Cthulhu to all of the former. Random chance can be usefully controlled by player skill, and adds a lot to a good game.)


Skeld wrote:

Passive, Inattentive (playing dice while on guard duty) = 0 + Skill Mod.

Passive, Attentive (typical exploring) = 10 + Skill Mod.

Active, Focused (watching for hidden enemies) = 10 +1d10 + Skill Mod

Time is not a factor (taking 20) = 20 + Skill Mod.

Preserves a player's investment of skill points, feats, traits, racial abilities, etc., while cutting don on the number of rolls and the "something's up because the DM wants me to roll Perception" effect.

-Skeld

I also have a house rule for

Time is kinda a factor (taking 15) = 15 + skill mod. Takes 3 times longer than normal.

This comes from the idea that if you roll a d20 3 times, the average result is a 15.


Your system does not seem simpler to me. You're adding a second type of feat, which would be tracked and earned apart from normal feats.

In addition, you're talking about rewriting several combat maneuvers, some skill checks and making ability scores apply different in different areas. A Fighter applies his strength score differently depending on what he is doing now. On attacks, his 18 Strength gives +4, but on climb checks it gives +18. If you're trying to help new players, rules need to be more similar, not less.

If your overall goal is simplicity, I would recommend the following games to read/play to learn some ideas:

Dungeon World - it's unfinished, but my favorite game for dungeoneering right now. The basic mechanic is awesome, 2d6+ability, 10+ you succeed, 7-9 you either partially succeed or something bad happens as well. It does all the classic tropes very well, plays very fast and I've had a lot of fun with it. You can get the PDF for $5, the final version is planned for release at GenCon.

Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies - what you get when you combine Final Fantasy, The Princess Bride and The Three Musketeers. A very simple skill system, everything is rolled the same way and even combine beautifully. If you're fighting, your Fighting skill obviously applies, but if you're fighting on a tightrope, your Acrobatics skill does too, solution? Add them together and roll. The downside to the simplicity is that things can feel the same if you don't narrate how they are different. Hitting someone with something like Lightning Magic +2 is exactly the same as Archery +2, the only difference is the description. It uses the PDQ system, which has been used for several other games as well (Jaws of the Six Serpents, Questers of the Middle Realms being a couple).

Dragon Age - has a lot of similarities to basic D&D (70's version). Your Strength is the biggest determinant of your ability to climb and at level 1 ranges from -2 to 4. If you have the Strength (Climbing) focus, you get a +2 to the roll.

My advice would be to check out these games for ones that are easier to teach new people because they are much less intricate systems. They are well designed games that might help.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Parka wrote:
Mazra wrote:
That is a good point. But think about it. At first level all you have is your abilities. You aren't really trained in anything yet. And remember the adventures will be tailored with this in mind according to the level of the adventure. This is no different than the current system. Do you find the same DC lock on a chest in a first level dungeon as in a 10th level dungeon?
This may illustrate the break in thinking between you and the majority of people here, including me.

Well, I have never been one to follow the crowd much. I am always looking for ways to improve. And sure there is a lot of trial and error in getting there.

Parka wrote:


At first level, you have more than your ability scores. Fighters have trained in a dizzying array of martial drills- swords, spears, axes, shields, armor drills. They've become purpose-driven soldiers, stout bodyguards, stalwart night-watchmen. Their statistical makeup is given via their class abilities and feat/skill choices, and sure, they'll get better with their weaponry and reach levels of skill worthy of epic narratives. Wizards have passed through their apprenticehood, and no longer fail in casting cantrips when not pressured. They can actually read magical writings now, and even make their own scrolls without any difficulty. They are hardly "not really trained in anything."

I agree here. You have gotten through basic training.

Parka wrote:


You seem to perceive 1st level as being barely away from a "tabula rasa" state. If you are looking at all of the possibilities that 20th level can offer, then sure, 1st level may seem like hardly anything. Truth be told, though, many see 5th level as the break with mortality into "epic saga" material. Skills and the relative boost in success that their bonuses provide go a long way into distinguishing this.

Let me tell you what I perceive. That way you will not have to guess at it. If you create a character and most of your ability scores are below 14 in everything but Charisma. And in Charisma you have an 18. I doubt seriously the player will be creating a Fighter or Rogue, or much of anything except a Sorcerer or Bard. It is the high Ability score at the beginning that defines the PC as being exceptional. The average bloke covered in $(!# is lucky to have a 10 or 11 in anything. There are a lot of 1st level NPCs in the game, but few of them have that something extra that a PC has. And that something extra is Ability. It is the defining scores of the PC and the kick start of what they will become. And it is simple enough since you already have this score not to base the PCs skills on these same numbers.

I understand that 3.5 and PF are loved systems by many here and particular on this board. And I am not here to take away your love. Many have posted pros and cons about what I am proposing. And there are some great ideas out there. I believe an ability-based dice-less system to be a good enough idea worthy of further pursuit. It will not be for everyone. 4th Edition wasn't for everyone. And there will ultimately be a 5th edition.

Parka wrote:


If you are looking to remove the randomness from skill checks, are you looking into a similar system for attack rolls or other combat functions? If not, why? Attack rolls and combat functions are essentially weapon and defensive skill checks. By streamlining skills in this way, it simply makes the warrior caste retain the...

I thought about a dice-less combat systems too. But that may be taking the game too far away from its roots. No. My main goal here was to come up with a simple dice-less system for Skills. A system that will allow the game to advance through many relatively mundane task like Swimming or Climbing or Tracking or whatever in an easy to learn, easy to referee system. Yet at the same time allows some level of specialization for the PC.

Later,

Mazra

Grand Lodge

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Irontruth wrote:
Your system does not seem simpler to me. You're adding a second type of feat, which would be tracked and earned apart from normal feats.

A few extra feats is much easier than keeping up with ranks after ranks scattered all around the various skill earned level after level. Where you have to go to a table that hopefully you have kept up with level after level to know what the modifier is that you will need to do whatever skill you are trying to accomplish. And then hopefully not roll a one. But if you think that is simpler, I guess that is your prerogative.

Irontruth wrote:


In addition, you're talking about rewriting several combat maneuvers, some skill checks and making ability scores apply different in different areas. A Fighter applies his strength score differently depending on what he is doing now. On attacks, his 18 Strength gives +4, but on climb checks it gives +18. If you're trying to help new players, rules need to be more similar, not less.

Yes. Ultimately, I may be talking about changing Combat too. You could have ability, plus level, plus weapon, plus magic bonus vs. monster's AC. A system could be made that could make combat much simpler too, even dice-less. But I don't believe most of you are ready for this. Like I said to Parka, I am not here to take away your PF. I am here for ideas. And looking at other game systems is a good idea. But D&D is at the core; and that is where I am looking first.

Cheers,

Mazra


Mazra wrote:
You have gotten through basic training.

Part of the point of the link posted is to point out that you have done a ton more than that. You have gotten through everything that 90% of the population of your race will ever do.

Mazra wrote:
The average bloke covered in $(!# is lucky to have a 10 or 11 in anything. There are a lot of 1st level NPCs in the game, but few of them have that something extra that a PC has. And that something extra is Ability. It is the defining scores of the PC and the kick start of what they will become. And it is simple enough since you already have this score not to base the PCs skills on these same numbers.

PCs have access to a rare resource: PC classes. NPCs usually do not have that luxury, making do with the lesser classes. The average guy covered in muck is a Commoner. That he has a Strength score of 8 or 12 makes a difference when he's chopping wood, pushing his livestock, or beating his wife- and that's about it. He's not been chosen by the hand of Fate to play a role in history, and that's why he's not a Rogue or Cavalier.

Attributes have a ton of influence on the character, but their biggest advantage is the fact that a player is "behind the wheel" and the backstory the player has invested. My girlfriend has played a Fighter with Int as its highest score, followed by Cha, Dex, Str and Con, in that order. Was it optimal? Obviously not. Was is worthwhile, even fun? Very.

Mazra wrote:
Let me tell you what I perceive. That way you will not have to guess at it. If you create a character and most of your ability scores are below 14 in everything but Charisma. And in Charisma you have an 18. I doubt seriously the player will be creating a Fighter or Rogue, or much of anything except a Sorcerer or Bard. It is the high Ability score at the beginning that defines the PC as being exceptional.

Doubtless the player chose their concept, then class, and wrote their backstory first. Ability scores are one more step in the middle of everything at tables I've been at. I really don't want to delve deeply into a "Roll-Play vs. Role-Play" argument, since I don't think they are mutually exclusive, but this particular statement... feels wrong. I've derived character concepts from mechanical interactions, and I've invented mechanics to fit character concepts that couldn't currently be realized. This... seems... limited, in its focus.

Perhaps I'm not seeing the end result of what you envision. In my games, failed skill checks are often a "feature," not a bug. If the rogue fails to disarm an easy trap, then it's not just "Well, my character's incompetent. Thanks, d20." It becomes 'the bloody kender misplaced my #6 alan key, and the rest of my kit's metric! Pelor's left buttcheek, I'll kill'em all- wait, maybe this will work...' as they retry. When a hulked-out Barbarian fails his check to move a heavy statue, and the good-but-not-great Ranger passes, the Barbarian goes "I loosened it for you." and the Ranger goes "Yes, and you forgot to clear the gravel behind it. Made it a ton easier to slide." They would usually Aid Another though, and just pass it anyway.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kaisoku wrote:

Problems:

1. Ability scores increase too rapidly, too quickly. It would be too easy to sky-rocket your ability score, then add your level in all your class skills, and basically make the DCs of the game meaningless.

You make a thought provoking point. Limiting how fast or how far a PC can raise their ability score may be needed in the system I propose. However, I do envision at high level the PC will be able to overcome almost any Skill in their class-related task. At very high level 15+, the PC is reaching well past super human levels and mundane task should be easy. The challenges at that level should be overcoming powerful enemies. But that is not to say that deity level traps or hazards could not exist and be thrown in the paths of the PCs. The Skill Check required could always be ever increasing as the skill levels are ever increasing.

Kaisoku wrote:


2. How about skills that interact with other game mechanics. Especially against Combat Maneuvers. Will these need to be changed now? Combat maneuvers use combinations of ability scores (CMD is Str and Dex), and they both use benefits from weapons or various ACs (deflection, sacred/profane, luck, morale, dodge, etc).
How now do we resolve Acrobatics for moving through space or tumbling through reach, or escape artist vs grappling?

These are the kinds of questions (problems) that I am looking for. Clearly what I am proposing is a radically revised system. Ideas for a system that takes the basic elements (Ability Score and Level) for which all the rest of the game is based around into a simple to understand formula. So yes, these interactive game mechanics may need to be tweaked or altered too, maybe even simplified further without losing their essence in game play. Let me ponder and play test escape artist vs grapple and Combat Maneuvers and see how this system I propose could work with these challenges.

Kaisoku wrote:


3. Are you going to go through every monster and edit their skills to match? While a CR determines how strong a creature is, their HD can be wildly varying. There are plenty of monsters that have much lower or higher HD than CR.
Ability scores are even worse. A stone giant (CR 8) has 12 HD and 27 strength. That's now a 39 for his check before any outside modifiers. If you change combat maneuvers for issue #2, now you have a truly horrifying stat to beat.

Yes. Some of the Monster stats will need altering too. I like simplicity. KISS formula! One of a very few things I liked about 4th edition was the pre-generated stat blocks in the Monster Manual. I didn't need to spend time creating the monster. It was done for me. Sure I could always create or modify the monster, but most of the time I just went with what was on the stat block. In the system I propose pre-generated stat blocks for Monsters would keep the game simple, and resolve issues with these giant-like stats by being a fixed scores for grapple, CMD or other. But saying that, a Stone Giant quite frankly should have a truly horrifying stat to beat for most PCs. Grappling with Stone Giants is not highly recommended, and really only very powerful PCs should be able to overcome a Stone Giant's grapple. But all kidding aside, these are additional issues that would need to be worked out in any new system.

Kaisoku wrote:


Mazra wrote:
Yes. This is the system I currently use. And when a character does make a roll, he could roll a 1 or a 20. The variable in that is so great to totally take away from the characters ability, experience and training.

See, if this is ultimately what the problem is, then it's a lot easier to just scale everything back.

Reduce all fixed DCs by 5, and make everyone roll a 1d10. The "E6" of skills, so to speak..

Ranks + Class bonus + Decent ability score (16) + minimum focus (say a +2 from a feat, class feature, or tool) gives you a modifier of +9 at 1st level.
Modifier of +9 vs a 1d10 roll. Ability would be as valuable as random chance starting right out at 1st level, and it only gets better with focus.

However, the main complaint of higher level gaming is the fact that "random chance" takes too much of a back seat to the modifiers. Such that those that focus on something...

All good thoughts Kaisoku. Thanks for them. I believe that ultimately simplicity is the greater goal. Taking some of the randomness out doesn't hurt, especially with many of the more mundane task in the skills list. Simplifying combat maneuvers or grapple even further would not be bad consequence either. Like I said earlier, the idea is in its infancy. It will need fleshing out in many areas. And you have given me many situations to ponder.

Thanks again,

Mazra


I think I get what you are trying to do now, and it eventually boils down to inventing a new, non-random game system with thematics from D&D. I don't think I'm going to be altogether too much help here, and doubtless I came off badly.

Last thing I could ask that might actually help- how would directly opposed checks work? Would PCs, NPCs, or other beings simply compare values and that's it? Social intrigues would become very predictable, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what they are meant to be like. Plenty of the memorable bits of stories are based on villains trapped in their own lies, over- or under-estimating their opponents, and the occasional Freudian-slip revelation. I suppose you could try to rely heavily on the player's RP for such things, but I've played with people who really need the numbers to help their case when it comes to Bluff, Diplomacy or Sense Motive checks... and sometimes, good players are just out of it for a session.

Grand Lodge

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Parka wrote:

I think I get what you are trying to do now, and it eventually boils down to inventing a new, non-random game system with thematics from D&D. I don't think I'm going to be altogether too much help here, and doubtless I came off badly.

Last thing I could ask that might actually help- how would directly opposed checks work? Would PCs, NPCs, or other beings simply compare values and that's it? Social intrigues would become very predictable, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what they are meant to be like. Plenty of the memorable bits of stories are based on villains trapped in their own lies, over- or under-estimating their opponents, and the occasional Freudian-slip revelation. I suppose you could try to rely heavily on the player's RP for such things, but I've played with people who really need the numbers to help their case when it comes to Bluff, Diplomacy or Sense Motive checks... and sometimes, good players are just out of it for a session.

Parka, this was a great question. And exactly the kind of question I am looking for. Should Social Intrigues be left to chance? Or could a Monster stat block include how a Monster reacts Socially as well as in combat. This aspect has often been missing in the game. In a dice-less system I could see a Monster having a fixed Bluff detect score, a fixed favorable Diplomacy score, a Deception score. All fixed scores opposed to a Characters scores. Once the score are determined it becomes a matter of role play. And then there could be role playing modifiers recommended for the DM to play out the scenario. DMs would have the discretion, as they should, to give a +5 or +10 bonus to a Diplomacy check or a Bluff based on the player's role playing of the PC.

Again great question. My goal is to build a better mouse trap. PF is fantastic. We can make it even better.

Later,

Mazra


Mazra wrote:

But I don't believe most of you are ready for this. Like I said to Parka, I am not here to take away your PF. I am here for ideas. And looking at other game systems is a good idea. But D&D is at the core; and that is where I am looking first.

Cheers,

Mazra

The game is designed to use dice as the outcome mechanic. With a diceless system you need something else to drive the conflict, there has to be a cost to success otherwise it means nothing. Right now the cost is the chance of failure. You can attempt to bribe the guard, but if he rejects it, there will be consequences. This helps create a little tension in the decision to do it or not. When you completely remove that tension you need to replace it with something else.

I don't mind diceless RPG's. One of my favorites is Penny for My Thoughts, which basically uses an improv acting exercise for it's core mechanic (people ask you questions and you have to respond "yes and..."). I think there are excellent ways to do it, but trying to start piecemeal will result in a more complicated system, not a less complicated one.

The first thing you do is to come up with an interesting resolution mechanic. Right now I see building a character who has Climbing X and the GM deciding how hard a wall is to climb and that's it. It needs to be more interesting than that. A resource players can spend, or a future penalty for a bonus now.

Here's an older version someone else came up with

Also, I stand by my earlier comments. Having something call Skill Feats and something else called Feats that are in completely different categories is more complicated, not less. All feats should be the same type of feat (or subtypes within it, not wholly new categories). Also, my Strength score should be calculated the same way for everything all the time. There can be exceptions to that, but they need to be just that, exceptions, not general practice. I've seen players get confused by how you calculate Strength for damage based on one-hand, two-hand and off-hand. That is an example of something being more complicated, not less.

Here's what I would say should be a goal.

My character has a +12 to his check. The DC is 14. This check is really important to my character and he really wants to succeed. Now make it interesting. Interesting can encompass a lot of things:

1) I have to give something up to succeed.
2) I succeed, but something bad happens
3) I succeed, but future resources are depleted
4) I fail, something bad happens, but a new opportunity is opened up

Another game I love, Fiasco. It still uses dice, but they are only rolled 3 times during a session. At the beginning, a pile of dice is rolled and these are used to establish connections and facts about the players. In the middle, a twist is added to the story and the dice tell you the theme of the twist. At the end of the session, you acquire some dice and their total tells you the general nature of the ending for your character. Also, the game is GM-less. (The game is designed to mimic a Cohen brothers movie)

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