Skills and Experience
This skill system is adapted from the Ral Partha game Battlestorm. I wanted a game in which the players could gain skills as fast as they chose. Tying in skills to level advancement ensures that PCs will learn skills at almost precisely the same rate, unlike in real life. Instead, my system allows you to purchase skill slots by spending your XP. Indeed, you may have noticed that the level advancement charts looked a bit odd. This is because you must actively spend XP and train to go up in level. The XP cost is listed on the charts for each level. Once the XP is spent, you erase it from your character sheet and adjust your characterís level accordingly.
However, as I stated above, you can instead choose to buy skills with your XP. The skills are divided into different categories, and each class has a different price for the various skill categories. Fighters pay less to gain Fighter skills, for instance. When dealing with a multi-classed character or multiple categories, always take the cheapest price. In addition, each class has a certain amount of starting XP to spend on skills. You may choose not to spend it all, in order to put it towards level advancement or to save it to buy some expensive skills later, but you must divide the remaining XP in half before writing it on your character sheet. Thus, if you keep 1,000 XP unspent, you are actually only writing 500 XP down on your sheet. So, if at all possible, you should spend all your starting XP on skills immediately.
Now, skills have several levels of advancement: Rudimentary, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, Master, and Grandmaster. It costs the normal purchase price to buy a skill at Rudimentary level, but each further level of advancement doubles the price (x1, x2, x4, x8, x16, x32, x64). This means that all told, you will pay 127x the purchase price to advance the skill all the way to Grandmaster level (If a skill costs 300 XP initially, it costs 38,100 XP to buy it up to Grandmaster.) However, under this system, PCs can purchase a great number of skills at lesser levels of competency without too much trouble. If PCs spend too much XP advancing their skills, on the other hand, they will lag behind the rest of the party in level, and quite possibly get themselves killed. The key is learning to balance the two.
Starting XP by Class:
Skill Purchase Price Chart:
Skill Checks in General:Most skills work similarly. The DM asks for a skill check and may give the player a situational modifier. The player rolls a d100 and checks the chart below, adding any modifiers to the ROLL. If they roll less than or equal to the number indicated for success, the check is successful. If they roll less than or equal to the critical success number, itís a critical success. If they roll greater or equal to the critical failure number, itís a critical failure. Modifiers DO count towards critical successes and failures. Please note that a positive modifier (like +2%) is a penalty, while a negative modifier (like -4%) is a bonus.
|Level||Success||Critical Success||Critical Failure|
Standard Modifiers:There are two standard modifiers: attribute modifiers, and skill difficulty modifiers. These are only computed once and written on the character sheet (unless the relevant attribute changes somehow), and then added in with every skill check roll. Attribute modifiers can be found by looking at the skill to see which attribute is most important, and then consulting the chart below.
|3 or less||+4%|
Non-Standard Skills:However, some skills donít work normally. These are described in Appendix C: Skills.
Weapon mastery works very simply. The characters receive Ďslotsí to spend on weapon skills to start, and they also get new slots as they advance in level. There are 5 levels of mastery in my system: Basic, Skilled, Expert, Master, and Grandmaster (yes, just like the old Basic D&D Weapon Mastery system.) The number of slots each level of mastery costs is shown on the chart below, by class. If there is an X on the chart, it means that class cannot achieve that level of mastery.
Warriors gain one slot every other level starting at 3rd level.
Priests gain one slot every 3rd level starting at 3rd level.
Mages gain one slot every 4th level starting at 4th level.
Characters must be at least 7th level to purchase Master level proficiency in a weapon.
Characters must be at least 11th level to purchase Grandmaster level proficiency in a weapon.
The Basic level of mastery lets you use the weapon without embarrassing yourself. If you use a weapon you are not at least basically proficient in, you are -2 to-hit and deal Ĺ Basic damage. You cannot use any of the weaponís special abilities without Basic proficiency.
The Expert and Grandmaster levels of mastery each reduce your weapon speed by 1 with that weapon. Weapon speeds MAY be reduced to less than 0.
Other benefits are gained according to the Weapon Mastery charts, found in Appendix B.
Combat is run quickly and without mercy. If you are away from the table, sleeping, whatever, when itís your turn to go, your character either takes the obvious course of action (when in doubt, hack!) or stands around looking confused.
Battle Sequence of Events
- Initiative is rolled for combatants firing missile weapons (pistols or other alchemical devices, usually.)
- All missiles are fired, in order of initiative.
- Initiative is rolled for everyone who has not yet gone.
- Everyone else takes their actions, in order of initiative.
- Morale tests, if needed.
- Repeat steps 3-5 until the battle is over.
Inititiative Everyone rolls a d10, and you apply your individual modifiers to the number rolled. On the first round, missile fire has a separate initiative phase that occurs before any other attacks. (i.e., everyone firing a pistol rolls for initiative and attacks in order, then everyone else rolls for initiative and attacks in order.) After the first round, missile fire has to roll for normal initiative, just like everyone else.
A. Standard Modifiers Weapon speed, Dexterity initiative modifier, and the optional modifiers (stuff like +2 if slowed) are all used.
Called Shots To keep things simple, no to-hit locations will be used. It IS possible to do the following things with a called shot (which is at -4 to-hit and +1 to initiative.)
- Smashing Held Object The DM determines how many HPs the object has. If you inflict enough to reduce it to 0 or less, it breaks, with the appropriate response.
- Initial Carving You can carve one letter into an object or opponent. It only inflicts one point of damage, but may terrify low level NPCs into fleeing or surrendering. Higher level NPCs will be enraged and humiliated. You will have earned a foe for life.
- Cutting Buttons Off You may snip off one button, gem, brooch, etc from on enemyís outfit. It could also be used to flip a necklace off someoneís neck, spring the catch on a bracelet, etc. This can have the same effect as initial carving in certain instances.
- Grab If successful, you have grabbed the object/person you were after. You must now have a Strength contest with the original holder to take it away (or with the person grabbed to hold him.) If you are grabbing with only one hand, you are considered to be at -3 Strength.
- Hostage Taking Following a Grab maneuver, this places your weapon at the hostageís throat. After it is in place, you may drive it home for a backstab at any time.
- Parrying To parry, you must either save an attack for a parry (announced before any monster attacks are made against you, and before you attack) or you might have a free parry or two depending on weapon specialization. (See Appendix B: Weapon Mastery Chart.) In any event, you announce that you will parry, and make a to-hit roll with your parrying weaponís THAC0. If the AC is equal to or better than the AC your attacker hit, then you successfully parried the blow. No matter what the respective ACs hit are, a 20 is always needed to parry a 20.
- Two-Weapon Parrying If you are wielding two weapons, you can combine the parries of both weapons into a single parry for better odds by crossing the weapons. This must be announced prior to rolling the parry attempt. This action uses up both of your free parries for the round. You then use the parry rating of the better of your two weapons, adding +2 to your to-hit roll. This gives you better odds to avoid a single attack, if your opponent is only wielding one weapon, for instance.
- Disarming: To disarm, you announce which weapon you are attempting to disarm at the beginning of the round and take a +2 initiative modifier. Once it is your attack, then you roll to hit at -4. If you hit, there is a chance you will disarm your opponent. Your opponent will receive a free parry attempt, and if they succeed, your disarm attempt will be foiled. This free parry does not count against their normal number of parries.
Copyright © 1998-2006 Phillip Riley
Last Updated Sat Aug 11, 2007