Thursday, July 21, 2011

Further Thoughts on Thief Skills and X-in-6

Taking cues from LotFP and from 5stone's comment in my previous post about a reworked Thief, my brain is considering the possibilities of thief skills as "adventuring tasks" or whatever, and restricting them not entirely to thieves. As many of you probably know, latter day iterations of D&D do this with skills; no longer are there "thief skills," but rather the rogue class, which simply has a bigger skill list and gobs more skill points than the other classes. Simply put, they are the class that are good at skills. (Or, if you prefer, skillz) Giving everyone the thief skills/"dungeon tasks", albeit at a lower probability and/or rate of advancement than the thief class, is just taking this approach and fitting it to the older versions of the game. (My idea for Feats of Strength/Skill/Will/Etc is another example of this, I guess.) So, here are a couple of approaches I'm thinking on:

1. The straight-up LotFP approach: every character, regardless of class, has 1-in-6 to do everything, but thieves have higher chances to do some things. There are obviously some restrictions here: you can't pick a lock without lockpicks, you probably can't sneak around in metal armor, etc. Now, I'm not well versed enough in LotFP to know how the skill advancement works exactly, but I see two further possibilities:
a. Only the thief ever gets better at skills. (Much the way that only fighters ever get better at combat in LotFP- a mechanic that I vehemently disagree with, by the way...) Everybody else is stuck at 1-in-6 on everything, forever.
b. As suggested by 5stone, everyone can advance at skills, but nowhere near the speed that the thief does. (He suggested 1 point every other level for magic-users, for instance) Other characters can develop talents as they desire, but nobody will ever out-thief the thief.

2. Certain classes get certain skills formerly attributed only to the thief. What I'm thinking:
Fighters- I'm thinking Climb Walls might be the extent of it. I'd be fine with fighters having no skills.

Clerics- See above.

Magic-Users- Read Languages.

Mystic**- Mystics already get thief skills.I'd also be inclined to turn their acrobatics option into an x-in-6 skill, probably starting at 1-in-6 and improved upon like any other thief skill.

Elf-Hear Noise. Option on Move Silently and Hide in Forests, which works like Hide in Shadows, but...well, you get the idea.

Dwarf-Find/Remove Traps. Feel free to make this limited to stonework traps, but I can see dwarves being able to find and disarm mechanical traps, too. On that note, consider giving them Open Locks.

Halfling- Move Silently, Hide in Shadows. I suppose you could add Pick Pockets if you want your halfling to be more Kender-like, but why god, why would you do that to the rest of the players?! If you want the halflings' hide ability to be replaced by thief skills but still rock out like it does in the Rules As Written, give them 4-in-6 or even 5-in-6, half chance in the dungeon.

All these skills start at 1-in-6. I'm thinking that the Fighter, Cleric, and Magic-User get one point every other level. Mystics get 2 improvement points to start and 2 points every level. Elves, Halflings, and Dwarves get one point every level. You can tweak these to taste. (Cyclopedic characters, for instance, can go to 36th level...so perhaps you want to slow the skill advancement down a little.)

**Yes, I know the mystic is in the Cyclopedia and not B/X D&D, and I know a lot of the old school crowd don't like the mystic, but I do.


...at any rate, you could even write up a quick and dirty skill system for each class, so that nobody feels left out. (Ain't I sweet?) Maybe check this out:

Fighter: Disarming Blow, Stunning Blow, Feat of Incredible Strength, Repair Weapons/Armor, Size Up Opponent

Cleric: Field Medicine, Demon/Undead Lore, Exorcism

Magic-User: Demon/Magic Lore, Herb Lore, Read Languages (Read/Speak Languages, maybe?), Spell Lore, Crazy Ass Forbidden Lore.

Mystic- Most of the fighter skills, plus maybe Zen/Mystical Philosophy (not sure how useful that would be...) Consider cutting back on the thief skills in this case.

Elf- Woodcraft, Track, Magic/Fey Lore

Dwarf- Detect Slopes/Grades/Passages, plus most of the fighter skills.

Halflings- Makeshift Cookery, Herb Lore, Remember Irritating Song That Goes on For a Goddamn Page and a Half.

With this system, we're leaving behind the wonderful simplicity of B/X and headed down a dark, dark road that culminates in there being a difference between "Riding Basic" and "Riding Advanced." Now, I do like a little mechanical complexity to my games now and then, so perhaps this is something I'd consider developing further. That will be another post, I suspect.

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