Friday, January 24, 2020


Every time we game - and we've drifted through mashups of all kinds of D&Desque rules sets - from Black Hack and S&W, D&D B/X and AD&D 1st and 2nd ed, we've dabbled in fifth ed - as well as dropping in all kinds of house rules and other games' rules - critical hit/failure, DCC's magic system, the STUNT tables from Fantasy Age (using 3d6 for combat rolls no less...) and a million others.

For so many reasons, I want to go back to a fairly flexible, mostly rules-light system. I usually default to S&W with a bunch of house rules and that's okay. Most of what I been writing for publication has been in a houseruled S&W campaign world. 

So here's an idea for skills that keeps the idea of "rulings not rules" without getting too bogged down...maybe

On the character sheet are four columns with headings:

Very good at     Good at      Bad at     Very bad at

Maybe at the beginning of character creation could add one or two actions/skills in the good and the bad columns.  Like Good at swimming, running, bad at horseback riding, being quiet.

Good at skills come out at the player's discretion, bad at skills come out at the DM's discretion. 

When a roll is a critical success (Nat 20), the skill moves one column to the left, when a roll is a critical failure (Nat 1), it moves one column to the right. 

Being good or bad at something might make a +/-1 adjustment to the roll. Being VERY good or bad at something could use the advantage/disadvantage system. 

The DM might have a list of appropriate skills mapped out ahead of time or they could simply be the skills that come up during play. 

Say a character attempts to leap over a low wall and fails a dexterity check. No big deal, that's what we use the check for. BUT, suppose the player rolled a 1 on the check... then Bad at acrobatics or something could be added to the list (the player/DM would agree on the "skill" in question). Undaunted, the player tries the skill several more times (with a -1 penalty) and succeeds and fails a few times but eventually rolls a 20. He moves the skill over to "Good at". If he rolls another 20 he can become very good at the skill which gives him advantage and won't ever be reduced unless a double failure happens (two 1s) which move his skill back to the right (good at), etc. If you are very bad at something and you roll 2 20s, you shift it to the left, bad at...

Probably too complicated for a system that I want to be simple... 

But it'll be fun to playtest.

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