Thursday, January 31, 2013

House Rule - Skills by Character, Skill Feats, and Skill Synergies

Skills by Character
Which skills are class skills, and which skills are cross class skills are not determined by character class. Instead, they are determined by the player during character creation. Each character has a pool of twenty class skill slots that they may use to define the class skills for their character. For most skills, choosing them as a class skill costs one slot. Specific Craft, Knowledge, Perform, and Profession skills can be purchased for one skill slot each. To purchase Craft: Any, Knowledge: Any, Perform: Any, or Profession: Any costs four skill slots. Players must define the skill list for their character during character creation, and once set, this is the list of "class skills" for the character for the remainder of his adventuring career.

Skill Feats
The various “+2 to two skills” feats such as Athletic, Diligent, Negotiator, and Self Sufficient are not used. Instead, the following feat replaces them all:

Skill Augmentation [General]
   You display an aptitude for certain skills.
   Benefit: Choose two related skills (subject to approval). You gain a +2 bonus on all checks involving those two skills.
   Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new pair of skills.

Synergy Bonuses
The following synergy bonuses are used. To gain a synergy bonus from a feat, one must simply have the feat. To gain a synergy bonus from a skill, one must have a certain number of ranks in that skill. Feats provide a flat +2 synergy bonus to the specified skill. Skills provide a bonus depending upon how many ranks in the skill a character has. If a character has 5 ranks in a skill that grants a synergy bonus, the character gets a +1 synergy bonus on checks involving the affected skill. When the character reaches 10 ranks in a skill, the applicable synergy bonus increases to +2, when the character reaches 15 ranks, the synergy bonus increases to +3, and finally when the character reaches 20 ranks, the bonus increases to +4.

The feats and skills in the left hand column provide synergy bonuses to the skills in the column on the right.

Brew PotionCraft: Alchemy
RunEvasion and Pursuit
Scribe ScrollProfession: Scribe

BluffDisguise (to stay in character)
BluffSleight of Hand
ConcentrationRitual Casting
CraftAppraise (related to the subject of the Craft skill)
Craft: AlchemyProfession: Cook
Craft: AlchemySpellcraft (when identifying magical oils and potions)
Craft: LocksmithOpen Lock
Craft: TrapmakingDisable Device
Decipher ScriptUse Magic Device (involving scrolls)
Disable DeviceCraft: Trapmaking
Escape ArtistUse Rope (when binding someone)
Gather InformationProfession: Guide (in urban areas)
Handle AnimalProfession: Farmer
Handle AnimalProfession: Teamster
Handle AnimalRide
Handle AnimalWild Empathy (class feature)
Knowledge: ArcanaSpellcraft
Knowledge: Architecture and EngineeringSearch (involving secret doors and compartments)
Knowledge: DungeoneeringSurvival (when underground)
Knowledge: GeographyProfession: Cartography
Knowledge: GeographySurvival (to keep from getting lost)
Knowledge: HistoryBardic Knowledge (class feature)
Knowledge: LawProfession: Barrister
Knowledge: LocalGather Information (in local area)
Knowledge: NatureProfession: Sailor
Knowledge: NatureSurvival (in aboveground natural environments)
Knowledge: Nobility and RoyaltyDiplomacy
Knowledge: ReligionTurn or Rebuke Undead (class feature)
Knowledge: the PlanesSurvival (when on other planes)
Knowledge: WarProfession: Siege Engineer
Open LockCraft: Locksmith
PerformProfession: Actor
Profession: ActorBluff
Profession: ActorDisguise
Profession: ApothecaryCraft: Alchemy
Profession: ApothecaryKnowledge: Nature (natural properties of animals or plants only)
Profession: BarristerKnowledge: Law
Profession: BarristerDiplomacy (when used to persuade or convince)
Profession: CartographerForgery
Profession: CookKnowledge: Nature (for plants and animals commonly eaten)
Profession: FarmerKnowledge: Nature
Profession: FishermanKnowledge: Nature (for fish, fish life, and coastal areas)
Profession: GroomHandle Animal
Profession: GuideSurvival (to keep from getting lost)
Profession: HerbalistHeal
Profession: InnkeeperGather Information
Profession: ProstituteBluff (when used to seduce or deceive)
Profession: ProstituteDiplomacy (when used to seduce or deceive)
Profession: SailorBalance
Profession: SailorUse Rope
Profession: ScribeForgery
Profession: ScribeDecipher Script
Profession: SoldierKnowledge: War
Profession: TeacherKnowledge (applies to one specific Knowledge skill)
Profession: TeamsterHandle Animal
Profession: WoodcutterKnowledge: Nature (in relation to plants)
SearchSurvival (when following tracks)
Sense MotiveDiplomacy
Sense MotiveProfession: Innkeeper
SpellcraftUse Magic Device (when using scrolls)
SurvivalKnowledge: Nature
SurvivalProfession: Farmer
SurvivalProfession: Fisherman
SurvivalProfession: Guide (in wilderness areas)
SurvivalProfession: Woodcutter
Use Magic DeviceSpellcraft (to decipher spells on scrolls)
Use RopeClimb (involving climbing ropes)
Use RopeEscape Artist (to escape rope bindings)

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Game Mechanics - Changing How Class Skills Are Allocated

I usually use the d20 system for my role-playing gaming. I sometimes dip into GURPS, and I have a couple editions of Traveller, and earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons, but once the 3rd edition rule set for  Dungeons & Dragons was released, that became my go to game of choice. Although I like the system, I am a rules tinkerer by nature, and I can't just leave it alone if I think something else will work even just a slight bit better. So I began tinkering with the d20 skill system.

House Rule: Skills by Character
Instead of the standard d20 trope of having a character's range of available skills be determined by a list taken from their character class, the "class skills" for a character are determined by the player, at character creation and remain fixed for that character through their adventuring career. Instead of looking at the class skill list for, say, the fighter class when taking a level of fighter, the character will look to their own individually defined array of "class skills" no matter what class they choose to level up in. The number of skill points a character has to spend at any particular level is still determined by their class: the fact that a rogue gets 8 skill points per level while a fighter or a cleric only gets 2 skill points per level is a balancing factor that preserves the parity of the various classes.

If we treat the Craft, Knowledge, Perform, and Profession skills as a single skill, there are thirty-six discrete skills in the d20 system (at least there are thirty-six discrete skills in the 3.5e Player's Handbook). The most diverse class skill list in the standard D&D rule set is the rogue, with twenty-five listed skills, which includes the skills Craft, Perform, and Profession, which are really a number of skills masquerading as one skill. The shortest skill list is the fighter's, with seven skills, although once again one of them is the multifaceted skill Craft. So these would be the parameters for determining how many skills a character should be allowed to select as "class skills".

Craft, Knowledge, Perform, and Profession raise an interesting question when considering how to construct class skill lists. Each of these skills is actually a collection of related skills - Craft: Armorsmith and Craft: Weaponsmith are different skills, but a class that has the skill "Craft" with no further specification would be able to select either of them as class skills. Some classes, such as the rogue and fighter, list these skills in their generic form. A rogue could expend skill points on any Perform subskill and treat them all as class skills. Some classes, such as the monk, which has Knowledge: Arcana and Knowledge: Religion on its class skill list, list specific subskills as class skills. While a monk could spend skill points on those skills at the reduced class skill cost, if he wanted ranks in another Knowledge skill, such as Knowledge: Nobility and Royalty, he would need to purchase those ranks at the double cost for out of class skills. In general, most classes that have specific skills drawn from these general skills, they have one or two, and once in a great while three specified skills. Based upon this observation, it seems reasonable to set the cost of individual subskills in these four generic skills at one skill slot, while choosing to purchase the general skill (i.e. Craft: Any or Profession: Any) costs four skill slots.

Using this revised cost, the rogue would have thirty-one total skill slots, and the fighter would have nine. Setting the total range of class skills available for characters at the midpoint between these two points would give a figure of twenty skills. Using this system, that would mean that during character creation, every starting character would designate twenty skills as "class skills", and that list would remain the same throughout their character's adventuring career no matter what classes they chose to take levels in.

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