Adding Skills

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Vanguard
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Adding Skills

Post by Vanguard » Mon May 13, 2019 3:40 am

As my long term DCC RPG campaign comes to a close (1 year+ with the same group and mostly the same characters), there's a few core systems we would want to round out. One of them is skills.

The occupation system is great in its flexibility, but there are often skills that exist outside of what those cover, are not something that a reasonable adult could attempt trained, but are things that probably come up in the life of an adventurer. I want to make a system that:
  • Reflects what actually happened during play
    Is low bookkeeping
    Doesn't usurp Thief as the most skilled character
How It Works

Any time a character of level 1 or higher rolls a skill untrained, they note it on their character sheet.

Upon leveling up, the character may choose to become trained in one of those skills so long as the ability score it is rooted in has at a modifier of +1 or higher.

Characters may not learn more skills associated with a single ability than their modifier (ie, a character with an Intelligence modifier of +2 can only learn up to two skills associated with that stat).

If a character's ability score is ever reduced so that their modifier changes, they do not "lose" skills.

(optional rule) Specialty: the first skill any non-thief character learns in this way becomes their specialty. In addition to rolling the skill trained, that character adds their level to the roll as well.
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GnomeBoy
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Re: Adding Skills

Post by GnomeBoy » Mon May 13, 2019 6:08 am

While I have yet to enjoy the process of a long campaign, my approach would be simply 'adding on' to the Occupation of the character... "spent three seasons with the Tree People" ... "sailed the world" ... "mined trisillicate on Peladon" ... etc.

But I like that you've kept it simple.
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herecomethejudge
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Re: Adding Skills

Post by herecomethejudge » Wed May 15, 2019 8:35 pm

Sounds a little complicated and arbitrary to me. In particular, I don't see what relationship rolling an untrained skill would necessarily have with later learning that skill? Also, people do lose skills that are unused or if they get dumber (it happens), so I would actually support a system where characters did lose skills if their ability mods dropped.

Overall, I agree with GnomeBoy's approach and would tie skills in more directly to the character's experiences. To me, the bottom line is, did this character have an experience where they plausibly could learn the skill in a way that is similar to having dabbled in that occupation? Otherwise, I haven't seen a need for this kind of thing personally.

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Re: Adding Skills

Post by Vanguard » Thu May 16, 2019 4:15 am

herecomethejudge wrote:Sounds a little complicated and arbitrary to me. In particular, I don't see what relationship rolling an untrained skill would necessarily have with later learning that skill? Also, people do lose skills that are unused or if they get dumber (it happens), so I would actually support a system where characters did lose skills if their ability mods dropped.

Overall, I agree with GnomeBoy's approach and would tie skills in more directly to the character's experiences. To me, the bottom line is, did this character have an experience where they plausibly could learn the skill in a way that is similar to having dabbled in that occupation? Otherwise, I haven't seen a need for this kind of thing personally.
My thinking is rolling untrained is effectively practice for something the character is not yet proficient at. Your second paragraph is my exact reasoning for this approach - rooting the advancement in actual play experience.

The idea that they could add occupations from play experience is neat, but it feels a little airy and at the GMs whim which is not what I want for this. Noting untrained rolls on your character sheet is pretty low book keeping, so I'll disagree that it's complicated as the entire subsystem is effectively:

Character rolls skill untrained -> character notes that skill on their sheet -> character levels up and chooses one of those untrained skills to be designated as trained going forward
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herecomethejudge
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Re: Adding Skills

Post by herecomethejudge » Thu May 16, 2019 4:26 pm

Vanguard wrote:Character rolls skill untrained -> character notes that skill on their sheet -> character levels up and chooses one of those untrained skills to be designated as trained going forward
Right, but why? Why can that character just choose to suddenly be skilled in that, and why *only* that versus anything else under the sun that they could learn? If you're going to do a skills system, I say, do a skills system, but I don't see any sense personally in tying it into something they tried to do unskilled. But personally I don't especially want a skills system to begin with aside from what a player can convincingly say their PC learned in a pre-adventurer occupation or during an adventure.

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Vanguard
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Re: Adding Skills

Post by Vanguard » Thu May 16, 2019 6:35 pm

herecomethejudge wrote:
Vanguard wrote:Character rolls skill untrained -> character notes that skill on their sheet -> character levels up and chooses one of those untrained skills to be designated as trained going forward
Right, but why? Why can that character just choose to suddenly be skilled in that, and why *only* that versus anything else under the sun that they could learn? If you're going to do a skills system, I say, do a skills system, but I don't see any sense personally in tying it into something they tried to do unskilled. But personally I don't especially want a skills system to begin with aside from what a player can convincingly say their PC learned in a pre-adventurer occupation or during an adventure.
I’m kind of scratching my head over the question on why skills are being tied to untrained attempts. Maybe it wasn’t clear, but those attempts are effectively practice. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to say that characters would learn something they have tried, however unskilled their attempt was, before something they’ve never tried. Or, if that does seem arbitrary, it’s certainly no less arbitrary than a character who has spent their lives as a farmer suddenly becoming a thief because they went through a funnel.

I’m generally uninterested in GM fiat as a solution, but I’m curious how a player would successfully lobby for being counted as trained in something that happened in an adventure in your game. What is that decision based on? Can you give examples?
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Re: Adding Skills

Post by Jim Skach » Fri May 17, 2019 6:26 am

Vanguard wrote:I’m generally uninterested in GM fiat as a solution...
This right here might be the disconnect.

Let me be as clear as I possibly can. I would never tell you how you should play.

But I can say with some experience that DCC was kinda built on the idea that there are a lot of places (skills being one of them) that it's a table to table, Rulings Not Rules approach.

In our regular game that I run, our group of characters was traveling cross country. They were near-ish to one of the characters home towns. Random encounter came up and it was a pack of wolves. He had the Birth Augur of "raised by wolves" and was also a hunter as an Occupation. He said he would try to communicate with the pack using what he had learned in his youth and through his occupation. I asked him to make a Luck check. He rolled a 20. Hilarity ensued as he discovered that this was not his pack, but the sworn-enemy pack from his youth.

We have another character who is a thief. By happenstance, during various adventures crazy things/rolls would be explained by some sort of acrobatics she used to pull herself out of trouble (for example, she would miss a roll to leap a chasm - then apply Luck and describe it in such a way as to turn that failure into a graceful tumbling move she meant to do all along). This happened numerous times throughout first and second level. She now has a new thief skill and uses it to do things like jump out of second story windows and stick the superhero landing while everyone around her is flailing about.

As far as I can tell, there are no hard rules for these other than the existence of the underlying mechanics (Birth Augur, Luck, Occupation). These situations just grew out of those underlying mechanics, game play, and those around the table discussing it. The Thief didn't ask for a tumbling skill. IIRC, it was another player who said something like "Geez, if this being a thief doesn't work out you could be in the circus."

Don't even get me started on the fishing lures that they had carved for them in Ferryton...

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Re: Adding Skills

Post by Raven_Crowking » Fri May 17, 2019 9:21 am

Jim Skach wrote:
Vanguard wrote:I’m generally uninterested in GM fiat as a solution...
This right here might be the disconnect.
I suspect that you are correct.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Vanguard
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Re: Adding Skills

Post by Vanguard » Fri May 17, 2019 3:26 pm

Jim Skach wrote:
Vanguard wrote:I’m generally uninterested in GM fiat as a solution...
This right here might be the disconnect.

Let me be as clear as I possibly can. I would never tell you how you should play.

But I can say with some experience that DCC was kinda built on the idea that there are a lot of places (skills being one of them) that it's a table to table, Rulings Not Rules approach.

In our regular game that I run, our group of characters was traveling cross country. They were near-ish to one of the characters home towns. Random encounter came up and it was a pack of wolves. He had the Birth Augur of "raised by wolves" and was also a hunter as an Occupation. He said he would try to communicate with the pack using what he had learned in his youth and through his occupation. I asked him to make a Luck check. He rolled a 20. Hilarity ensued as he discovered that this was not his pack, but the sworn-enemy pack from his youth.

We have another character who is a thief. By happenstance, during various adventures crazy things/rolls would be explained by some sort of acrobatics she used to pull herself out of trouble (for example, she would miss a roll to leap a chasm - then apply Luck and describe it in such a way as to turn that failure into a graceful tumbling move she meant to do all along). This happened numerous times throughout first and second level. She now has a new thief skill and uses it to do things like jump out of second story windows and stick the superhero landing while everyone around her is flailing about.

As far as I can tell, there are no hard rules for these other than the existence of the underlying mechanics (Birth Augur, Luck, Occupation). These situations just grew out of those underlying mechanics, game play, and those around the table discussing it. The Thief didn't ask for a tumbling skill. IIRC, it was another player who said something like "Geez, if this being a thief doesn't work out you could be in the circus."

Don't even get me started on the fishing lures that they had carved for them in Ferryton...
The sentiment goes both ways. I’m not suggesting DCC NEEDS skills, merely looking for feedback on the system I proposed. Posts about how the game was not designed with this in mind or how others do not want this are not particularly helpful to that end.

That being said, I’ve thought on this a little more. If my initial idea was too fiddly/arbitrary/codified, it seems this could be simplified to say that, in addition to Occupatuon, a player could cite any in game experience they participated in to lobby for a trained check when necessary. This keeps the system based in that approach, while still achieving the goal of broadening what characters can be considered trained in based on actual play.
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Re: Adding Skills

Post by Raven_Crowking » Fri May 17, 2019 4:41 pm

Vanguard wrote:The sentiment goes both ways. I’m not suggesting DCC NEEDS skills, merely looking for feedback on the system I proposed.
Of course. Different strokes & folks etc.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Adding Skills

Post by BanjoJohn » Mon May 20, 2019 6:48 am

I do think the system you have come up with is a bit too complicated. I prefer the general idea of characters just adding a list of professions or notes on training. Like... maybe sometimes they do training or carousing montages that last a month or more, and could get some notes on what they did during that time that might reflect their knowledge or skill growth. Its also something that doesn't require a level-up in order for the characters to gain in ability.

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