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View Full Version : Draft for a skill & action point system [Fate+3.x eldritch hybrid, PEACH]



Mighty_Chicken
2013-05-28, 03:53 PM
I know this is crazy and we don't know each other very well, but I have this great idea for skill points and action points, come with me and PEACH!

First, Skills!

All skill rolls are made with 2d10. A d20 can be rolled instead by spending a story point.

There are only 3 levels of training for skills: untrained, trained and expert. Being untrained costs nothing, being trained costs 1 skill point and being an expert costs 2.

The ranks in all skills advance as the character gains more levels, depending if the skill is a class or a cross-class skill.


{table=head]|
Cross-Class|
Class skill

Untrained|
+1 rank / 3 levels|
+1 rank / 2 levels

Trained|
2 ranks +1/2 levels|
3 ranks+1/level

Expert|
3 ranks +1/level|
4 ranks +1/level + mastery or trick

Expert+1|
- |
4 ranks +1/level + mastery and trick[/table]

Experts in class skills can choose between having mastery or trick in that skill. If they spend another point (3 points in total) they'll have both the mastery and the trick.

Skill Mastery: Any roll lesser than 11 is always treated as 11 when using this skill.

Skill Trick: Once per encounter and up to twice per day, the character can enhance the skill check with any of the options described in the "story points" chapter without spending story points. Whenever using a skill trick, the player should describe what the trick is (even if it doesn't make much sense). Spending a story point along with a skill trick allows the character to add two dice instead of one to the check.


Skill Points

Every character receives a number of skill points equal to 4+Int mod at first level, and an extra skill point every 5 levels. Humans get an extra skill point at first level. If the character's Intelligence score advances in the future, he may gain more skill points accordingly.

Rogues receive an extra skill point at every level, including the first. (this stacks with the skill points received every 5 levels)

Bards and Rangers receive an extra skill point at level first, and another one at levels 3, 8, 13 and 18.

The Open Minded feat gives you 2 extra skill points.

Class skills (and multiclass)

A character can have up to 8 class skills at first level. She choses from the class skills list of her class.

Everytime a character advances a level, she gets 2 more class skills from the list of the class she just took a level on.

For this ends, Craft, Perform and Profession count as a single skill each. Different kinds of Craft, Perfrom and Profession are still separate regarding skill point spending.

Example:

Tiberius, the sorcerer, has the following class skills at level 1st: Bluff, Craft, Concentration, Knowledge (Arcana), Profession and Spellcraft. He has 5 skill points to spend since he's human: he spends 1 point in Concentration, 1 in Knowledge (Arcana), 2 in Spellcraft (he becomes an expert and chsses Mastery for this skill), and 1 in Diplomacy, a cross-class skill.

When he goes up a level he becomes a Sorcerer 2. He gains no skill points or class skills.

When he goes up a level again, he multiclasses to Rogue. He receives an additional skill point since that's a rogue class feature, and spends that point in Bluff. He can also choose 2 additional class skills from the Rogue list. He choses Diplomacy and Hide.


Now, Story Points, I swear it is fun, and it's simpler than it seems

Every character starts the game with 3 story points.

One can spend their story points in the following ways:


for 2 points, add a dice to any roll. It would be a d4 from level 1 to 4, a d6 from levels 5 to 10, and a d8 from level 11 to 20.

for 1 point, roll 2d10 instead of 1d20 or the opposite. (this is important! see Skills!)

for 1 point roll with an advantage based on a Trait of yours. (more on advantagens and Traits bellow!)

for 1 point, add some detail to the story. For 2 points, add a more detailed element to the story.


One can get more story points in the following ways (each is worth 1 action point):


declare a disadvantage based on a Trait of yours.

do something bold or heroic, putting yourself in risk.

whenever the DM "cheats" to help an NPC to win or survive, he must give one action point to each PC that was in the scene

at the end of the session, all players and the DM will discuss the best moments of it - either the dramatic ones, the funny ones or both. Every great moment of cleverness, roleplaying, wit or (maybe) even genuine stupidity will make the party worthy of action points. The DM defines an amount of story points (usually around 2 per player) to be shared by the players, who, by an agreement, decide how many actions points will go to each character - preferably to the players who protagonized the forementioned moments.

at the beginning of every session after the first, every character gets 1 story point.


WHAT IS A TRAIT, AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Traits are how I call the "aspects" from Fate, but I want to make it less obvious that I'm stealing their idea.

Every character has 3 traits, defined by the player during the character's creation. A trait can later be changed if there's an agreement between all the players and the DM.

A trait is something that define the character's background or personality. It could be a single word, or a short sentence.

So let's say I just created a character whose traits are "Reckless", "Childhood at a Haunted Orphanage" and "Very Tall".


Advantages and Disavantages

When a character has an advantage, she rolls twice and gets the best result, and when she has a disavantage, she rolls twice and gets the worse result.

For example, I could spend a story point to get advantage to a Knowledge (religion) check on ghosts because of my character's childhood, or for a Jump check, because my character is Very Tall. Or I could gain more story points getting a disavantage at a social encounter, because of my character's Recklessness.

Advantages and disavantages can never be called for attack and damage rolls, spell resistance rolls or for saving throws.

Alternatively, advantage can be called to twist the story favorably for the character, at the DM's discretion; a disavantage can produce the opposite effect. This should have a meaningful weight on the adventure.

For example, any player could use use a story point to influence the story and say the jailor's pockets have a hole, making the keys easier to steal. But I could use my character's Reckless trait to say he made the jailor very angry, giving the rest of the party a chance to scape when the jailor finally decided to beat the crap out of me. Or I could say jail remembered my character of his childhood and he had nighmares all night, getting fatigued for the rest of the next day. If the DM decides this is relevant for the story and negative enough for my character, I get a story point.

"The same trick, again?": Some times, a player will use her traits in the same way over and over again. The rest of the players and the DM will decide if it makes sense or not.

For example, maybe the first time I used my "Childhood in a Haunted Orphanage" background to say an NPC was incidentally my childhood friend was fun, but the fourth time? Not so much. Maybe I should just drop using it. My friends won't allow me to do this anymore.

Always using it to get knowledge bonuses againt incorporeal undead, however, is pretty consistent. Also, those are my points I'm spending!

Using my "Reckless" trait to attack enemies in the middle of a negotiation is risky. It deserves a story point as a reward, as I surely ha an disavantage. But if I start to use it as a sort of loophole, a source of free story points, because I know most humanoid NPC's can't stand a chance against my party, I shouldn't be rewarded by the old trick anymore.

Fellow players and the DM should can be less restrictive about advantages than about disavantages, because disavantages are a source of power, and advantages are a limited way to spend this power.

Why I think those changes are cool:
2d10 for skills: players are often frustrated because they can't do trivial things with the skills they spent so many resources on. This also sets some "realism": outstanding or shameful performances are a little, but not much, more uncommon.

I don't think this would ever work for combat with the current combat rules of 3.5. I'd also like to point that 2d10 is still very random, and it is much closer to 1d20 than it is to 3d6.

I tested this and it works fine :) As in, people have fun.

Skill system: I believe sucking at everything you're not focused at isn't nice and that the skill point spending should be simpler. I think this system (that I stole from someone else (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=285654)) is much more "elegant" and functional than PF's.

It is a big change. But it is for the best; and no one gets less skill bonuses then before.

Class and cross-class skills: I believe a difference between cross and class skills should be mantained. I hope the limit on class skills known isn't too hard to understand, but people frequently complain about how cheap it is to 1 level dip into the Rogue class. A first level dip into Rogue is still somewhat imbalanced, but at least you don't automatically get access to all 30 skills at once...

Skill Tricks and Mastery: I felt this was the only way to compensante skillmonkeys without giving them boring uber bonuses. Skill Mastery is obviously stolen form 5th Edition's reviews and I based Skill Tricks in Complete Scoundrel (you could allow players to perform any of the related stunts described in that complete instead of the bonuses I exposed, btw).

I hope this is enough to "save" skillmonkeys. I mean, not making them Tier 2 or anything, just making them unique and useful.

Story points: I personally don't like how action points simply add dice to rolls. But I know sheer number-adding can be fun at times. So I still allowed it to happen, but at a higher cost. I also think action points should be more used for roleplay than for combat. Here's how I justify each of the story points uses:

You should turn an attack roll from a d20 into 2d10 when the foe is easy to hit, but you can't afford an unlucky roll. Adding a dice is more effective but it's twice as costy. I belive adding an option that is only powerful againt weak opponents adds strategy to the game. I hope I'm not making things too complex.

You should turn a skill check from 2d10 into a d20 when what you want to do is too "action movie" like; when getting a 15 is just as good as taking a 3. Im these occasions you only profit but making results above 15 almost twice as common. I believe great the "stunts" that are more common with d20 rolls should always be a part of D&D, but they shouldn't be so common.

(In a nutshell, making the roll more random is good for the weaker side; making it less random is good for the stronger side)

Players should have plenty of story points, and it should be up to them if they're going to use them to change the story, enhance exploration and encounters or to fight better. Mechanically, they work better for exploration and social encouters, but they can be powerful at the hand of creative players if the campaign is more roleplay focused.

The advantages, disavantages and traits are indeed tricky for a dice heavy game like D&D. There may be many forms to exploit it, which requires DM fiat to fix it, which gives less autonomy and fiat to the players... it's a risky move indeed. I believe the best way to hold the system's "destructive" power in D&D is the "democratic table management": some aspects of gameplay and story should not come just from the DM's will, but from an agreement of all the involved. The table should naturally find its own balance.

While it's risky, I believe the advantage/disavantage/traits are a much better way than Allegiances or Alligments to involve players with their characters. The idea here is to make character personality - not depth, or even consistency - a fundamental part in gameplay. I think it's worth the shot.

Another concept behind this madness is that just like players have mechanical rewards from killing achieving in-game goals - XP and treasure - they should have a mechanical reward just for making things funnier for everyone. And the rewards wouldn't be defined by the DM's taste, but by the player's taste.

Still, if you want to force a Sword and Sorcery theme, reward them for being brave; if you want to force a diplomacy theme, reward them with story points for being subtle; and so on. It's like the DM is the Senate, and players are Congress regarding story point rewards. Except the DM is also the Executive and the Judiciary power.

Finally, who never saved a dear NPC from certain death by ruthless PCs? You shouldn't use you power to deny the player's actions, but sometimes this will happen. In the very least they should be rewarded by defeating you. Stolen from Tormenta RPG.


I hope you people like this.

Mighty_Chicken
2013-05-29, 11:44 AM
No nothing? Come on! :)

Razanir
2013-05-29, 11:52 AM
No nothing? Come on! :)

Give them time... The server just recovered from an attack. That said, I'll be back shortly with a review

Razanir
2013-05-29, 12:18 PM
My opinion:

I like your version of skills. I feel like rogues and other skillmonkeys should get more than 1 extra skill. Maybe this:
*2+Int, 4+Int -> 4+Int
*6+Int -> 5+Int
*8+Int -> 6+Int

I'd also add a feat to get more skills.

Exotic Training
Prerequisite: 13 Int
Benefit: You gain an additional skill point
Special: You may take this feat multiple times

Story points seem like a good idea, but could use some work. First off, I wouldn't agency to determine story points. Just have the DM hand them out as he would XP. Also, players adding details to the story is never a good idea.

One additional use might be removing circumstance penalties. "My rogue doesn't have his thieves' tools, but he also had to deal with this in the war... *thousand yard stare*" Remove the -2 penalty for not having tools.

Finally, I might consider a rule where advantages are permanent, but must be specific. So you could say "My character grew up surrounded by girls, so he can impersonate one better" (permanent advantage, no -2 penalty for disguising as a girl)

Mighty_Chicken
2013-05-29, 11:32 PM
Thank you for coming by!


I like your version of skills. I feel like rogues and other skillmonkeys should get more than 1 extra skill. Maybe this:
*2+Int, 4+Int -> 4+Int
*6+Int -> 5+Int
*8+Int -> 6+Int

I like it too :) It was mostly stolen from someone else (I can't remember who).

Rogues really should get one more skill point at first level, but... I don't want to make them too dip-tastic.

About the feat, I think a feat should be worth 2 skill points. Why not?

This makes Skill Focus and the +2 to skill feats overshadowed by Extra Training/Open Minded, I know. So I suggest a solution la Pathfinder:

Skill Focus
Benefit: You get a +3 bonus on all checks involving the chosen skill. If you're an expert in said skill, the bonus raises to +4 in 6th level, +5 in 8th level and +6 in 10th level.


The +2 to skill feats would become +3 at 8th level and +4 at 10th level if the character was an expert.

Another one I thought about is:

Skill expertise
Prerequisite: Int 13
Benefit: choose one skill you are expert at. You now have skill trick or skill mastery with it.

It would obviously be for characters who are experts in a skill that's not a class skill.


I think a permanent advantage should have a permanent cost. But sometimes it will be just obvious that the character has a certain advantage at something, be it because of RP or background... in this case, you could rule every character has up to 3 "permanent minor advantages", that shouldn't be decided before the game starts, but after at least one session was played. The players and the DM together could give those permanent advantages to other players' characters. Once the character already has 3 of those, his colleagues could decide one of the advantages isn't so present at RP anymore, so it's gone on behalf of a new one.


I would agree with removing circumstantial penalties. It's a bit off numerically, but it does incentives the players to give their characters a background, even if it's on the move.


I think that giving players the opportunity to influence the story is very fun :) As long as the DM remains the judge of what can and cannot be done, I mean. And what do you mean with using agency?

ericgrau
2013-05-30, 03:18 AM
Skills
All the ones with flat DCs could often be done untrained so it would be pointless to invest in them. For the ones with scaling or opposed DCs pretty much the only way to go if you want to keep up is Expert+1. Trained and Expert very infrequently have a purpose.

So you either need all or nothing. Put in other words it's like have point buy on ability scores where spending 1 point always gives you +1 to an ability score. Every optimizer will have almost all 8s and 18s.

You could redo the cost curve and so on, but in the end most sweeping system rewrites tend to be too complicated to ever do it right.

Story Points
These can be really fun for desperate moments. There are a lot of systems like this and it makes players do extreme things followed by "... I'm spending my last story point". I'm not a fan of DM cheating though, and when he does it should be secret so that there's at least the illusion of a defeatable challenge.

Traits
Traits can be an excessive crutch for roleplay but they can also kickstart it whenever it is dying down. A limited number helps give the character direction without pigeon holing him too far.

Mighty_Chicken
2013-05-31, 09:09 AM
Thanks for the critique, ericgrau.

I appreciate your level of detail, but some things aren't very clear to me.


All the ones with flat DCs could often be done untrained so it would be pointless to invest in them. For the ones with scaling or opposed DCs pretty much the only way to go if you want to keep up is Expert+1. Trained and Expert very infrequently have a purpose.

You're talking skill points economics here, right?

I agree the cost curve is rewarding to those who invest everything in few skills. Specially for cross-class skills. But isn't the standard system like this, too? Except it punishes you for not spending a single point in Listen.

But maybe you think non-skillmonkeys have too many skill points? A non-skillmonkey will have around 6 ot 7 skill points at level 5. A rogue will have 12...

But why is Expert+1 that good? Expert +1 is good for classes that can go well without skills. A 20th level wizard can easily be Expert+1 in Concentration, Knowledge arcana and Spellcraft. She needs nothing else. But that's because wizards don't need skills. It's not my fault ;) Fighters, however, profit way more by spendind one point in Climb, one in Intimidation and one in Jump that three in Climb. I agree he profits WAY more from two points in Tumble than with one.

O rogue at 5th level will have 12 skill points. She can choose to focus in 4 skills. Her party may need more from her and it won't be that hard for the DM to get her out of her comfort zone. At 20th level will have 27 skill points. She can choose to focus in 9 class skills, and be half-good in almost every other skill. But that's because rogues use skills so much Skill Mastery and Trick pay out exceptionally. And 20th level Rogues should be awesome like this indeed!

You do have a point, though. For now, I'm doing the two slight bolded alterations:

{table=head]|
Cross-Class|
Class skill

Untrained|
+1 rank / 3 levels|
+1 rank / 2 levels

Trained|
2 ranks +1/2 levels|
3 ranks+1/level

Expert|
3 ranks +1/level|
3 ranks +1/level + mastery or trick

Expert+1|
- |
3 ranks +1/level + mastery and trick[/table]

Experts in class skills can choose between having mastery or trick in that skill. If they spend another point (3 points in total) they'll have both the mastery and the trick.

Skill Mastery: Any roll lesser than 10 is always treated as 10 when using this skill.

Skill Trick: (as before)

EDIT: also, if you're feeling "conservative", you could rule cross class skills never advance if they're untrained.

Another possible balance change would be stating that a character cannot have more Expert+1 skills than 1+Rogue levels or half Bard or Ranger levels

They aren't enough, are they?


I'm not a fan of DM cheating though, and when he does it should be secret so that there's at least the illusion of a defeatable challenge.

Me neither. And I believe in secrecy for the sake of the narrative, but sometimes (actually, I think most of times) the players outsmart you and know what you are doing. But it really depend on what kind of relationship you have with your folks in the table. This would be a very "meta" move and could kill immersion totally. Or it could help you to say, "in this game world, people just don't survive like that. I have to 'spend' a story point, too, to make exceptional things happen" and create a more consistent atmosphere.



There are a lot of systems like this and it makes players do extreme things followed by "... I'm spending my last story point"

That's the point of the system: to make players do extreme things. But this has really limited use in combat, and is fueled by roleplaying (like Willpower points in WoD).


Traits can be an excessive crutch for roleplay but they can also kickstart it whenever it is dying down. A limited number helps give the character direction without pigeon holing him too far.

How many is too much in your opinion? Vampire had only one. I think I'll tell people they can have "up to" three.

Mighty_Chicken
2013-05-31, 04:41 PM
I really didn't want to reply myself, but this felt important :)

This guy's idea (http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=243.0;msg=47079) is wonderful:


Degrees of Training

Untrained: 0 or fewer ranks in a skill. At this rank, many skills and skill uses are unavailable, and skill checks count only as ability checks, not skill checks (I think that last bit is actually, RAW, although it's a slightly odd reading and nobody plays that way anyways).
Trained: 1+ ranks in a skill. Skill checks are skill checks.
Practiced: 5+ ranks in a skill. Synergy bonuses get granted. Some special uses of skills become available, or existing uses are improved. You can always take 10 on anything that only requires you to be untrained.
Advanced: 10+ ranks in a skill. More skill uses and stuff. You can always take 10 on anything that only requires you to be trained.
Mastered: 15+ ranks in a skill. Still more skilling. You can always take 10 on anything that only requires you to be practiced.
Internalized: 20+ ranks in a skill. The ultimate skilling. You can always take 10 on anything that only requires you to be advanced.
Arbitrary Name Since Nobody Can Get This Without Skill Focus: Infinity+ ranks in a skill. I lied before. This is the ultimate skilling. You can always take 10 on anything that only requires you to be mastered.

Note: If something lets you count as trained, practiced, etc. in a skill, it doesn't make you count as having more ranks in the skill for your actual bonus, or for qualifying for things, or whatever. You just get the options that are made available by that degree of training.

Skill Focus: In addition to the usual +3 bonus on checks, you also count as one degree better trained with the skill. This will not be a laughing matter.

Items that grant competence bonuses of at least +5: Also lets you count as trained in the skill.
Items that grant competence bonuses of at least +10: Also lets you count as practiced in the skill.
Items that grant competence bonuses of at least +20: Also lets you count as advanced in the skill.

Jump

Works like normal when untrained.
At trained, um, stuff. (Something about not taking falling damage on a bad jump?)
At practiced, you can make standing jumps without penalty.
At advanced, you can jump down from any distance without taking falling damage. Scaling DC based on distance, (5 + 2/die of falling damage, maybe, caps at DC 45 for any distance).
At mastered, start making double-jumps.Cause by level 12, there ought to be some sort of mundane flight. For a higher DC, you can make more jumps before you fall.
At internalized, jump through planar boundaries. It's level 17, so it's late enough.
At uberlicious, find something to do that can claim to have to do with jumping and is appropriate for a level 7-8 spell. You've earned it.

Spellcraft

Untrained: Not a heck of a lot. Maybe DC 10 to notice that something with obvious effects is a spell (but not much more detailed than that).
Trained: The usual shtick.
Practiced: Stop just looking at magic and start using it a bit. Here are some cantrips to play around with, and maybe a 1st level spell.
Advanced: More magic. Start getting a caster level above 1, and a 2nd level spell or two.
Mastered: Did someone say magic? Up with the 3rd level spells, and you can use Spellcraft checks to start dispelling magic.
Internalized: 4th level spells, maybe 5th. Plus, you don't have to wait for spells to be cast to dispel the, you can try to counter them with a check.
Supa' Fly: 5th-7th level spells. And maybe a trophy for your mantelpiece or something.

Very good ideas. Specially fitting if you enjoy the notion of mundanes doing "magical" things.

A good concept here is that just having spent resources on skills should give you special abilities that don't necessarily need checks to happen.

Maybe this doesn't need that much adaptation to fit in my system? Maybe any skill point spent after Expert (in class skills!) could give you special effects like the above described, as long as you fill some prerequisites.

This could also help to differentiate genuine skill-monkeyry from buffs given by magic.