Thursday, October 20, 2016

Skills part 2, a marriage of feats and ability scores

I've had many a long discussion about the difference between feats and skills. In the end, I always ended up being the only defender of the system, arguing feats were a subset of specific skills, essentially a skill within a skill. But it's always bothered me that I kept it the same way as D&D for the first version of Northern Realm and the longer I thought about it the more I agreed with my friends, it doesn't really make sense to have two different ways of getting bonuses for skills.

For version 2 of the Northern Realm, I did away with feats, figuring that class abilities would make each character unique. But after some testing, it ended up making character creation less unique. For months my friends and I have been discussing what to do with skills. First I added an aspect to skills where players can distribute skill ranks in-game (rather than during creation). It made for some interesting results. Then I added a few skills that essentially granted feats if you put enough skill ranks into them. Ultimately, it was after looking at a new character sheet for Northern Realm that it  hit me, take away skill ranks. Make all checks ability score checks. Then create a list of skills for each ability score. Whenever something pertains to that skill, like Stealth, use that modifier instead. It doesn't seem that terribly different, but after looking at it written down, it was much easier to follow. And not only that, simpler and for each character more unique. Here it is as described in the book:

Skills represent your ability to perform actions that you have trained, practiced, or studied for. At level 1, choose 3 skills. At level 2 and on, you may choose 3 additional skills, which you may select at any time before your next level. Once a skill is chosen it cannot be changed later.

Armed Grapple: While grappling, you can make 1 extra attack per round with a light weapon. Make grapple checks in place of attack checks and roll for damage with each successful check.
Blind-Fight: In a melee, each time you miss because of concealment, reroll the miss chance to see if you hit. Further, you are not automatically caught Flat-Footed against unseen targets (you can still be caught Flat-Footed when flanked or taken from the rear)......

Engineering: You know how to construct or disarm a trap, sabotage or build a mechanical device, pick locks, break lock combinations, and solve complex puzzles built into contraptions. With this skill, double your Intellect modifier on checks pertaining to engineering.
Heal: You've stitched wounds, you have knowledge of healing herbs, helped others recover from injuries and sickness, you can determine the cause of an affliction, antidotes, and create balms and remedies to treat patients. With this skill, double your Intellect modifier on checks pertaining to healing.
Incantations: Each time you choose incantations as a skill, select 2 from the following list: Arcane Mark, Clean Wound, Dancing Lights, Daybreak, Detect Magic, Divining Wand, Flare,... 

And so on.

Lastly, I made Knowledge and Perception their own metric.


Every character has knowledge that pertains to their skills. If a Knowledge check would relate to your class or background, roll 1d20 + Intellect modifier + class level; taken together is your Knowledge bonus).


Perception is your ability to notice objects, movements, sounds, or search for items. The GM should constantly roll secret Perception checks to notice things (we recommend rolling even when there is nothing to notice to keep players on their toes). A Perception check is 1d20 + Intuition modifier + Acumen; taken together is your Perception bonus).

So far it's worked out quite well. Thoughts?