Monday, April 22, 2013

Musing About Skills

Art By Steven Belledin
Recently, I've had a lot of free time on my hands. So, to keep myself entertained so I don't die from boredom, I have been working on my very own fantasy "heartbreaker." Basically, I'm taking the different elements that I've liked from the different editions of Dungeons & Dragons and mixing them together to make my own personal edition of the game.

One of my goals with this project is to make the system as simple as I possible so the rules will get in my way as little as humanly possible. To satisfy this goal, I'm trying not to add anything that isn't absolutely necessary to the game.

After figuring out which races and classes I want in the game (for the time being), I've been sketching out the other elements I want to add as well and I believe I've hit a bump in the proverbial road. I'm wondering if I should add skills to the game or not.

On one hand, I've always liked skills. They are an easy way for players to further customize their character and allow two characters of the same race and class to have different areas of expertise. However, skills have a bad habit of contributing to the bloat of character bonuses and there is always the question of how many skills should there be and should they be broad or specific?

If I decide not to have skills in the game, I would probably put more emphasis on ability checks and would implement a simple "advantage/disadvantage" mechanic. Basically, if you are attempting an action that your race or class would be good at, you would receive a plus 2 bonus to the check. Since I'm also going to be implementing the 1/2 level bonus from 4th edition, I think the plus 2 bonus would stack rather nicely. Also, I think it would cause players to have to actually describe what they are doing instead of just saying, "I make a Diplomacy check."

While I'm leaning towards ability checks with an associated advantage/disadvantage system, I might end up adding a skill system later if I decide to add more "advanced" rules to the system to allow for more customization for characters. Only time will tell.