Thursday, June 2, 2011

7K - Check yourself before you wreck yourself

So, my last post was about how you gain skills in the system. You may also want to reference this post, where I gave a preliminary list of what the skills in the system would be.

To finish rounding out the topic, I want to talk about how to make skill checks. It's pretty straightforward, especially if you know d20. But, I do want to add in a couple more advanced types of skill checks.

The basic skill check is very simple. The GM assigns a target number, or DC. You roll a d20 and add all the appropriate modifiers (skill ranks, stat bonus, miscellaneous modifiers, and conditional modifiers). If your total is equal to or higher than the DC, you succeed.

It is important to note that natural 1 does not automatically fail, nor does a natural 20 automatically succeed. However, a natural one is an error, and can be activated as a critical failure. A natural 20 is a threat, and can be activated as a critical success. (The concepts of errors, threats, and activating them will be covered in a later post. For now, just accept that it's like a fumble or critical hit in typical D&D combat.)

Frequently, you will be using skills in opposition to another character. This is a contested skill check. Both characters roll a d20 and add all appropriate modifiers. Whoever has the higher result wins. If there is a clear "attacker" and "defender", then any tie goes to the defender. If there is not, then a tie is usually a "push", and neither side wins. If all else fails, assume that the PC wins any ties against an NPC.

Sometimes, you just can't make it on your own, and you need to make it a team effort. There are two types of "team" rolls, but they work basically the same way. In some rolls, such as being stealthy, the success of the team is only as good as the success of the weakest member. So, the weakest member makes the check. In other rolls, such as being perceptive, the success of the team is as good as the success of the strongest member. So, the strongest member makes the check. Any other member of the team may attempt to assist. To do so, that member must make a successful check against one-half the original DC. If the member is successful, then the person making the primary check gains a +2 bonus. (The GM may limit the number of people who can reasonably contribute to a check. In attempting to force open a door, it would require some ingenuity to get more than three people to get decent leverage.) However, there is the danger of too many cooks in the kitchen. If any of the assisting members scores an error (but not a threat), then that error is also counted against the primary check, and may be activated as normal.

Certain tasks are more a question of how long it takes, rather than a simple success or failure. Researching a topic in a library is the obvious example, but casting a spell with an invocation will use this mechanic as well. To represent this, you would use a complex skill check. (NOTE: Remainder of this paragraph has been gutted. And sacked. Replace complex skill check with 4e skill challenge mechanic. First step, read up on 4e skill challenge mechanic.)

Finally, you will run into tasks that are both complex and contested. With this, we have the dramatic conflict system. A full treatment will be a post in its own right. But, here's the thumbnail sketch: First, establish what kind of conflict it is, and what the stakes are. Lead is set at 0. Each side has a threshold based on defense, generally -5 for NPC and 5 for PC. Each round, each of the contestants chooses a maneuver. A maneuver has two basic parts: a type and an effect. Using the types of the two maneuvers, compare on a chart to determine a modifier to the checks. Roll your checks. The winner gets to move the lead a certain number of steps based on the difference between the checks (divided by 5 is the current standard). If the lead passes one threshold, the other contestant can now perform finishing maneuvers to win the conflict. Additionally, each maneuver applies a special effect to the contest (both maneuvers are applied, regardless of who wins). This can be things like increasing the lead change, allowing for a different skill to be used for that round, introducing a twist (like a crash in a car chase), or negating a modifier to the check.

So, that's a quick run-down on how you make skill checks. I fully intend that to be the meat and potatoes of the system. In fact, currently, I'm strongly considering turning combat into a dramatic conflict and changing saving throws into skills.

No comments:

Post a Comment