Homebrew stuff

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Alternative Skills


Skill at a certain action increases the more you perform that action; so why then does D&D have you only be able to increase skill points when you level up? By that logic, you could be a complete novice at a certain skill, and then the next level suddenly you buy points in the skill, maybe even maxing it out in “between adventures” time. But this causes a major problem in some campaigns: ie, when does that time actually happen? D&D is designed on the model that characters complete separate adventures episodically, and although they’re stronger, tougher, more skilled and, depending on their actions, their foe is dealt with… it doesn’t matter next week, because everything’s back to normal (except that the characters are improved). It’s the golden rule of 90’s and earlier television series’: it’s all back to normal at the end of the episode (parodied hilariously in an episode of Futurama where the city is burning as Fry states this).


Skyrim and Oblivion are great proponents of a new way of thinking: that skills level up as you use them. Keeping it simple is vital, so some abstraction is likely. However, it’s a simple mechanic that D&D skirts around and basically avoids. It requires a different way of thinking, but it doesn’t seem hard to come up with a system for. So, here goes.


 



  • The number of ranks determines how many successes are required to advance or “level up” your skills. 5 ranks requires 5 successes, 10 ranks requires 10 successes, etc. Simple.

  • DC’s: players still roll to succeed, adding skill bonus + ability modifier, if any. I think the DC mechanic should remain.

  • Classes: remain the same, except they don’t get a certain number of points per level. A rogue’s strength is, by definition, their skills: hiding, sneaking, searching, disarming, spotting, hearing, lying, etc. The majority of their skills are class skills. A fighter on the other hand is mostly cross-class and thus levels less skills at a normal rate; for him it’s mostly double spending. But he has feats every even character level. A wizard or cleric has his spells, a barbarian his extraordinary abilities… etc.


That seems fairly simple and fair. Any questions?

I ask my allies to look for me. They grind spot while I grind stealth. 40 successes later, I'm basically unfindable, they're master spotters. The point of skills goes away.
Uh, gee, can we say RuneQuest?  Uh, gee, can we say a bunch more such systems (you mention Skyrim and Oblivion)?  In other words, such has been tried, and failed on tabletop (although other more immediate systems do work with computer games, such as Oblivion).

What happened with RuneQuest was that EVERY evening of the adventure EVERYBODY was going around doing stupid things just so that they could advance their skills.  It made no sense, but there was a pay off for doing it.  The end result was that game time kept being bogged down by this record keeping, and the joy of the game dissolved.

The way D&D handles it is not perfect, but keeps the focus on the adventure and not on book keeping.
Or there was WEG's D6 system, where you could only advance skills you used during the adventure, and only raise a skill by 1 pip (+1) per session or adventure. Naturally, the higher any skill was, the more costly it was to advance it.

It was great having 7d in both blaster and dodge...
But having to save up 7 skill points in order to advance to 7D+1... ug.

Oh, that system actually made sense...

and was successful until LFL pulled their license and gave it to WotC.
Or there was WEG's D6 system, where you could only advance skills you used during the adventure, and only raise a skill by 1 pip (+1) per session or adventure. Naturally, the higher any skill was, the more costly it was to advance it.

It was great having 7d in both blaster and dodge...
But having to save up 7 skill points in order to advance to 7D+1... ug.

Oh, that system actually made sense...

and was successful until LFL pulled their license and gave it to WotC.




Yes.  I loved playing WEG Star Ward d6.  We even made a new rule (I think it was ours..or maybe it was in the rules..can't remember) - We kept track of each "6" rolled on the wild die.  If any skill used accumulated the base number for the skill specialization (4d would need 4), we let the player add the pip at the end of the adventure.  This made using skills really exciting.

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Instead of getting rid of skill points, perhaps make your players defend their point expenditure for spending beyond 1. 
Any skill could be raised one point using the normal rules, but if you want to raise it 2 or more levels or start a new skill, there needs to be a reason or explanation.
New skill or more than one rank spent:  "I found someone (maybe Streetwise or Gather Info check to find someone)to tutor me in (blank) before we go out adventuring again, especially after that one situation (whatever happened in gameplay).  I would have loved to know how to do it back then!"  Then an amount of theoretical gametime is spent training.  The character comes back in a week or whatever trained 1 rank (or more, whatever you decided could be spent) of the new skill or a major enhancement of an existing skill.  Don't have time to stop adventuring?  Let the characters inform you what they are work on at the beginning of a level and advance it with the skill points at next level up.
Your rogue wants to raise Disable Device more than one rank:  I learned a couple of things disabling that ebony chest I rolled a nat 20 on this level.  
1e required you to find someone of greater skill to upgrade your weapon proficiency.  2e, my DM made me start studying for new spells during my level and the level up showed the results of my efforts.
 Anyway, just some ideas...
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