RPG Design – Skill Systems IV, d20 Practical Redesign

   For a final example – and as per some requests – I’m going to apply these principles to rebuilding the 3.5 skills system while maintaining back-compatibility.

   Back-compatibility predetermines several things. The d20 system uses Abstract Learning with Linear Skill Advancement. To remain back-compatible, I want to footnote (or possibly add) skills, not rewrite them. Ergo, to handle Breadth and Applicability issues, I’ll have to modify costs to make all the skills reasonably attractive. To keep skill interactions back-compatible but allow for new skills and add options, I’ll add some general rules to make skills easy to add and some options from Eclipse so that each character can customize his or her skills. Finally, while I want to expand the range of possible results a bit, I want to avoid complicating things too much – so no multiple-roll systems, fractional-point costs, or awkward formulas.

   Skill Costs and Purchase Options:

   First up, I’ll split the skills into three Tiers, based on their Breadth and general Applicability. For simplicities sake, and to avoid complex formulas, Tier I skills cost one point per level, Tier II skills cost one point per two levels, and Tier III skills cost one point per three levels. Ergo, the skill point maximums are as follows:

Level

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Tier I

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

Tier II

2

2

3

3

4

4

5

5

6

6

7

Tier III

1

2

2

2

3

3

3

4

4

4

5

                       

Level

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

Tier I

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

Tier II

7

8

8

9

9

10

10

11

11

12

12

Tier III

5

5

6

6

6

7

7

7

8

8

8

  • Tier I Skills are quite often useful and are generally quite widely applicable. They include Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Int)*, Hide (Dex), Knowledge (Arcana, History, Nature, Religion) (Int), Martial Arts (Varies), Movement Skills (Land/Tumble (Dex)*, Air/Fly (Dex), and Water/Swim (Str)), Move Silently (Dex), Profession/Occult (Wis)*, Search (Int), Sense/Spot (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex)*, Spellcraft (Int)*, and Survival (Wis).
  • Tier II Skills are occasionally useful or relatively narrow, but are replaceable by special abilities or relatively low-level spells. They include Balance (Dex), Bluff (Chr), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Control Shape (Wis), Craft/Exotic (Int)*, Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha)*, Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Geography, Local, Nobility/Royalty, Planes, Psionics) (Int), Open Lock (Dex)*, Perform (Specify) (Cha), Profession/Complex (Wis)*, Psicraft (Int)*, Ride (Dex), Sense/Listen (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), and Use Magic Device (Cha)*.
  • Tier III Skills are either rarely useful due to their narrowness or lack of applicability or can be easily replaced by a first-level spell such as Comprehend Languages. They include Appraise (Int), Autohypnosis (Wis)*, Burrow (Wis)*, Craft/Mundane (Int), Decipher Script (Int)*, Disguise (Cha), Forgery (Int), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering, Dungeoneering) (Int), Profession/Common (Wis)*, Sense/Taste and Smell (Wis), Sense/Touch (Wis), Speak Language (Int)*, Use Psionic Device (Cha)*, and Use Rope (Dex).

   Skills marked with an “*” either cannot be used unskilled or suffer from an additional penalty if the non-proficiency penalty optional rule is in use.

   Like all skill divisions, these are somewhat arbitrary judgement calls, based on our local games. They’re also somewhat influenced by the fact that we use the Eclipse classless d20 rules for our d20 games – which means that, if a character really wants to be able to use Wands, to pick up the Healing Touch, or to get Comprehend Languages as an innate enchantment, they can do so without fooling around with prestige classes. They just spend a few of their points on that ability and continue on with their adventures. If you feel that a skill is in the wrong tier, go right ahead and move it. If you feel that there’s a compelling general reason to move it, go right ahead and comment. Additional insights are always useful

   Skill-enhancing Feats multiply their bonus by the Tier of the skill they’re applied to. Thus a character with “Skill Focus: Forgery” would be a master forger, gaining a +9 bonus on his or her Forgery checks. Virtually no one without a similar focus on spotting forgeries would be able to detect his or her work – and the feat is actually worth taking in an intrigue-heavy game.

   Optional Rules:

  • Limited Skill Aspects: Characters can take more-or-less limited aspects of a skill as a lower-tier skill. You only want to know how to follow tracks without taking the rest of the baggage that comes along with the Survival skill? That’s Tier I. If a character wants to stack a sub-aspect with a regular skill, that’s also allowable – but the base total cannot exceed +2 over a Tier I skill at maximum. Ergo, a level eight character with Survival +4 (Tier I, 4 SP) and a speciality in Tracking +9 (Tier III, 3 SP) would undertake most survival tasks with a +4 base, but can track at +13. In Eclipse, this simply means taking a few Specialized and/or Corrupted points in a sub-aspect of a skill.
  • Non-proficiency Penalties: Characters suffer a -5 penalty on all untrained skill checks. Characters attempting to use an ordinary “Trained Only” skill untrained take an additional -5 penalty, for a total of -10. Characters may purchase Familiarity with any three skills – gaining no bonus but negating the basic -5 penalty for being untrained – for one skill point. This will make the difference between being trained in a skill and not being trained worth noticing and, for converted characters, it will soak up some of the extra skill points they’d have left over after reducing the cost of their Tier II and III skills.
  • Relevant and Irrelevant Skills: There are no in-class or out-of-class skills. Characters buying skills that don’t fit their conception and background – perhaps a brutal barbarian buying Craft/Stained Glass – must pay a one-time surcharge of three skill points to do so. Thereafter they progress normally.
  • Everyman Skills: Common characters automatically gain +1 SP in Profession or Craft (whatever their parents did) and Perform/Their native Cultural Arts (see skill notes), +3 specialities in Sense Motive (their own culture), Handle Animal (those commonly used in their culture), Knowledge: Local Area (where they grew up), and Knowledge: (their) Religion, and are automatically Familiar with the skills of Bluff, Diplomacy Gather Information, Hide, Listen, and Climb. If it matters, this package has a total cost of eight skill points.
    • Creatures with unusual homelands or physiologies may be given substitute skills. For example, Monks raised in seclusion may not have Profession or Craft. Centaurs won’t have Climb.
  • Quite a few skill system revisions favor eliminating the level one skill-point multiplier in favor of simply granting a character who’s trained in a skill a +3 bonus – or sometimes doing so only if it’s a class skill – and setting the skill point limit equal to the character’s level. This really doesn’t work very well, after all, it says that every starting character who’s trained in a particular field starts off with the same base skill – and life generally doesn’t work like that. It also means that level zero characters such as children cannot have skills, and it takes away the options of investing in a broad spread of skills instead of specializing or of investing in several tricks. It also reduces the number of languages a character can start off with. Personally I prefer to add options rather than taking them away.

   Basic Skill Mechanics:

   Next up is the base skill mechanic. To get a bell curve and more reliable results while keeping the same average result and basic numerical range, I’ll use 3d6. That also has the advantage of allowing the incorporation of popular options such as automatic success and failure, and critical success and failure, into a single roll – and I suspect that most players are capable of both remembering that it’s 3d6 for skills and of adding up the total of three six-sided dice at a glance.

  • Roll 3d6 + Skill Total against the DC. As always, the game master may assign situational modifiers.
  • Without Rolling:
    • Characters automatically get a “5” on passive checks, such as when the game master wants to know if they spot a secret door in passing.
    • Characters may “take 10” normally.
    • Characters may “take 15” on checks where they could normally take 20.
  • Automatic Roll Results:
    • A roll of “3” is a serious failure.
    • A roll of “4” is an automatic failure.
    • A roll of “17” is an automatic success.
    • A roll of “18” is a superior success.
  • Comparative Total Results:
    • If no automatic result applies and the total equals or exceeds the DC – or the opposing roll, if any – you have a success.
    • If the total equals or exceeds the DC +10 you have a superior success. For example, “Aid Another” provides a +3 instead of a +2, you achieve your result with great style and elegance, you affect a small group with a social skill, you do something more quickly than expected, or you otherwise gain a better-than-usual result as determined by the game master.
    • If the total equals or exceeds the DC +20 you have an astounding success. For example, “Aid Another” provides a +4 instead of a +2, you achieve your result in a fraction of the usual time, you affect a sizeable group with a social skill, or otherwise gain a better-than-usual result as determined by the game master.

   Optional Rules:

  • Raises: A character voluntarily raise the base DC in advance – whether or not the GM has revealed it – to gain a better result. This only requires a +5 to the DC to achieve any result the game master feels fits as a superior success and +15 to achieve an astounding success result – but the check must be rolled, and if the character does not achieve the modified DC the entire check is a complete failure. Raises may also be used to allow two skills that require move, standard, or full-round actions to be used at the same time – if, say, a character wishes to pick a lock while using sleight of hand to make it look like he’s fumbling with the key, and thus keep the six guards from getting overly suspicious.
  • Skill Fatigue: Skills require focus, concentration, and effort to use. They’re tiring. Each time a character rolls a skill, reduce his or her effective skill rank by one. If they “take 5” with a skill, there’s no cost. If they “take 10”, it reduces their effective skill rank by one. If they “take 15” it reduces their effective skill rank by three. When their skill rank hits “0”, the next roll is untrained. After that, the character must rest before he or she can use the skill again. Quietly resting an hour will restore three points of a skill’s base value. A full nights rest will restore all of the characters skills to their base values.
    • Why use skill fatigue? Because this system makes many skills considerably cheaper, and so a compensating mechanism is in order, because doing the same thing over and over again is boring, because people – no matter how good they are – tend to get fatigued and slip up when they do the same thing over and over again, and because it allows the use of much more esoteric skills. If someone wants a low-grade “telekinesis” skill – perhaps the equivalent of having two or three unseen servants around but with the ability to attack through them using the user’s own actions – there’s no reason not to allow it.

   Synergies and Skill Benefits:

   Skill Benefits: A character may select one skill benefit at ranks 5, 15, 25, 45, and every 20 ranks thereafter. Each such benefit must be approved by the game master, but is permanent thereafter. Most benefits can be taken repeatedly. Possible benefits include:

  • Expertise; The user may reroll a skill check using the skill once per day. If this benefit is applied to a skill more than once, each additional selection provides two additional daily rerolls with that skill.
  • Guide: The user may either Aid Another with this skill once per round as a free action, provide a +4 bonus with Aid Another with the skill instead of +2, or assist all of his or her allies within 30 feet who can see or hear him or her instead of only one of them. If all three of these benefits have already been selected the user may opt to roll for all consenting members of the aided group instead of having them make their own checks.
  • Income: The user is a known professional and can live comfortably thereby, earning 3d10 SP/Day. If taken a second time, the user earns 1d10 GP/Day and is a respected expert. A third time makes the user a known master, and provides 1d10 GP/Day. Each selection after that provides an additional 3d10 GP/Day.
  • Quick: You may reduce the action required to use this skill by one level – from full round to standard, standard to move-equivalent, move-equivalent to free. Out of combat, each level of “quick” applied to a skill halves the required time.
  • Mystic: The user may select or invent two Cantrips or Orisons OR a single first level spell effect. Each is usable once per day as a spell-like effect at an effective caster level equal to the user’s number of hit dice.
  • Secret: The user learns how to produce three normally-impossible effects with a skill, such as using Heal to aid in the recovery of attribute damage or Craft to produce magical trinkets. Sadly, the DC of such stunts must be negotiated with the game master, and is unlikely to be low. This is the gateway to epic skill abilities.
  • Specialities: The user may select two free +3 Specialities related to the skill. As usual for Specialities, they only apply to a limited sub-aspect of a skill and only one Speciality may affect any given roll.
  • Substitution: The user may substitute a different attribute modifier for the one usually used with a skill.
  • Synergy: Add a +2 synergy bonus to another skill or to a related roll, such as Turn Undead, Caster Level Checks to Dispel Magic, Caster Level Checks to Penetrate Spell Resistance, or to some similar value. Synergy bonuses are unrestricted if applied to a skill on an equal or lower Tier, but – if applied to a skill on a higher Tier – only apply when the lower-Tier skill is relevant. Only two skills can provide synergy bonus to any one other skill or ability.
  • Trick: The user may pick a relevant Skill Trick (from the Complete Scoundrel) or – in Eclipse – take a free 2-point ability or set of Specific Knowleges related to the skill (Eclipse is available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE).

   Skill Benefits let characters customize their skills in a wide variety of ways and allow two characters with similar skill sets to offer very different benefits to the group – but place the bookkeeping burden squarely on the character who wants to use the system. Those who don’t want to be bothered can simply stick with the old Synergy system – which pretty well matches the Synergy option above. Simply assume that all those old NPC’s you don’t want to bother converting took this option.

   Skill Notes:

   Multiple characters can combine their efforts to succeed at a task. To aid someone else with a skill, make a DC 10 check. If you succeed, you grant a +2 circumstance bonus to the person you are helping. The Game Master decides the maximum number people can help on any given task – and on whether the skill or method you propose using to aid them is relevant; you don’t necessarily have to use the same skill that they are. Optionally, game masters who wish to encourage group tactics and cooperation can allow each character one free Aid Another check each round, to be made on or off their action.

   Movement Skills are used for normal movement in an environment and for special maneuvers: In general, DC 5/10/15/ for slow/normal/fast/pushed movement, +5/10/15 for difficult/very difficult/absurd conditions, +20/30 +2 per extra opponent for dodging attacks of opportunity when moving past/through enemy-occupied spaces. Creatures with a normal appropriate movement mode get a +8 racial bonus. Yes; this means that Tumble DC’s go up by 10 (and may simply represent evasive or cautious movement). Of course, all PC’s with a normal ground movement speed get a +8 racial bonus on their ground movement/”Tumble” skill, making it a bit of a wash. Burrow gets a special note; it’s for making traps, tunnel complexes that don’t fill with water, and tunnels that don’t fall in, not normally for maneuvering.

   Specific Skill Notes:

  • Appraise: Can also be used to shop for bargains, to pick the most expensive item out of a pile, give the rough value of a mass of treasure at a glance, or determine the likely general provenance and origin of an item.
  • Balance: A lot of games fold this into “Tumble”, and not without reason; it’s hard to imagine how someone could perform complex acrobatics without being good at balancing. In this system it should be treated as
  • Burrow: This is technically the Earth-based Movement Skill – but it’s mostly for digging out traps, making tunnels that won’t fall in, and keeping water out of your underground complexes rather than for maneuvering.
  • Concentration: This skill is also useful for going without sleep, remaining awake on guard or during an ordeal, reaching into fires, overcoming Fear and Charm effects, ignoring distractions and injuries, resisting persuasion and morale penalties, and so on. Active tricks can be used to enhance the use of various powers – raising the effective casting level, the save DC, or similar tricks. Making Concentration a simple Caster Level Check has been suggested in several places, but really doesn’t work; lots of spellcasters never learn to use spells in combat.
  • Control Shape: Anyone who can shapeshift through some means may learn this skill and use it to control the fine details of their forms and make variations in them. With sufficient control it can be used to take on most of the advantages of a half-animal form without visible changes.
  • Craft: Can be used to improvise equipment, salvage usable parts and materials from old gear, and fix things. It’s also good for associating with other craftsmen and getting information from them, evaluating related raw materials and goods, and for convincing guards that you’re a harmless professional, rather than a dangerous adventurer. Exotic Crafts are specialist jobs, like Gemcutter, Clockmaker, or Swordsmith. Mundane Crafts are things like Carpenter, Leatherworker, or Blacksmith, which can be found almost anywhere.
  • Decipher Script: Covers cryptography, interpreting pictographics, handwriting analysis, and identifying obscure languages and where a particular bit of writing might have come from based on style and dialect.
  • Disable Device: Disable device can be used to open locks and silence alarms – but it tends to be pretty obvious and generally leaves them obviously broken or jammed.
  • Disguise: Covers any form of hiding things – making your voice sound different or like someone else’s, setting up camouflage, making a weapon look like something harmless, finding a dish that covers up the flavor of a poison, or concealing information in the pictures in a book you’ve written.
  • Forgery: Can be combined with craft skills to counterfeit money, create phony artworks, and write fake epics and other works of literature, among other things.
  • Gather Information: Covers all kinds of research, such as searching a library, consulting diviners and getting a summary of the more reliable results, and knowing where to find people who may know something relevant. Basically useful for locating information on a particular topic or question that is available, but is not widely known.
  • Handle Animal: This is vital for characters with animal companions. Such creatures are NOT automatons. They’re living things which can and do get bored, wander off, strike back if poked at, and misbehave. As per the DMG, they may desert if the character keeps taking them to places they don’t like or mistreats them. They only know a limited number of commands (and obedience is not guaranteed). They aren’t normally welcome in on the streets or indoors, require special care, are expensive to keep, can severely injure people – including their owner – without even meaning too, are difficult to transport, and are notorious for making trouble. And yes, we’ve had plenty of Druids and Rangers who didn’t want to be bothered with an animal companion; they’re often useful in the wilderness and in dungeons, but they’re a sizeable nuisance elsewhere. Secondarily, Handle Animal is also useful for making baits, training slaves, and keeping small children from running amuck when you’re babysitting them.
  • Heal: Covers surgery, identifying poisons and diseases, treating attribute damage, evaluating the properties of herbs, installing cyberware, and mixing up cocktails of various drugs.
  • Hide: Also covers blending with a crowd.
  • Martial Arts: Are covered in detail in Eclipse. If you want details, it’s shareware, so it’s free to download and take a look at anyway. (Print VersionShareware PDF Version).
  • Open Lock: You can also open locks via Disable Device – but it’s obvious and you can’t close them afterwards; they’re broken.
  • Perform: Cultural Arts are an available subdivision here. They cover the etiquette, basic ceremonies, and expectations of a particular culture. A point or so is always worth having if you really want to fit into a particular culture without inadvertently giving offense, failing to recognize cues, or getting into trouble.
  • Profession: Common professions, such as butcher, innkeeper, and farmer, can be found in any village. Complex professions usually include a suite of subskills and tend to be found in larger cities or in villages that have specific needs to meet or resources to exploit. For example, “Sailor” covers quite a lot of shipboard repairs, handling sails, identifying shoals and water hazards, and handling both small boats and larger ships. Occult Professions cover those professions that require truly extensive special training and can usually only be found in major cities, such as siege engineers, spell scribes, and tax analysts.
  • Sleight of Hand: Also covers concealing your actions and casting spells without letting people notice your gestures – or disguising them as something else.
  • Speak Language: Each language is unique; Rank 3 covers normal conversation, Rank 6 covers true fluency, Rank 9 covers speaking sub-dialects like a native, and from there you get into ancient variants, technical vocabularies, and similar items. Rank 3 is generally quite enough to get along with.
  • Spellcraft: Also covers ritual magic, spell research, magical inscriptions, and various other magical activities. See: The Practical Enchanter (available as a Shareware PDF and in Print).
  • Survival: Also covers locating good places to camp and restricting access to them or setting up defenses, covering up the traces of your presence in the wilderness, and looking for good routes.
  • Taste/Smell: Covers detecting strange scents, identifying particular odors or tastes, spotting poison in food or drink, detecting gases, and attempting to determine the components of a mixture.
  • Touch: Covers detecting vibrations in the ground, finding tiny irregularities in surfaces by feel, and finding tripwires in the dark without setting off whatever they’re attached to.
  • Use Rope: Covers rigs for ascending and descending vertical areas, pulley systems, splicing rope, the various types of knots, making and fixing nets, untying knots, and rope tricks, as well as tying people up.

   Now, this does increase complexity slightly; it has variable skill costs and those modify some Feats. It also has a 3d6 rule to remember instead of sticking with the basic d20 rule. On the other hand, it’s a great deal more flexible and allows for far more character customization than the base rules, and I’m generally in favor of that. Adding options always adds complexity; the question is always whether or not it’s worth it – and the answer to that varies from player to player and from game to game.

   When I have a bit more time I’ll see about stripping out the commentary and setting this up as a .PDF download.

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6 Responses

  1. This link leads to a spam/advert site and the site has an internal 404 error to boot.

    Any ETA on that PDF you mentioned?

    • So it does. Got past the spam filters at some point… and manually killed now.

      I must admit that I’d forgotten all about the .PDF of this series. They’re easy enough to do however, and since you’ve expressed an interest I’ll see about putting one together.

  2. I’ve been mulling over your series and I’ve noticed some unclear areas.

    Firstly, the Tier stuff means that you need level 19 to reach rank 8 in a Tier III skill, compared to level 5 for Tier I?

    “Skill-enhancing Feats multiply their bonus by the Tier of the skill they’re applied to. Thus a character with “Skill Focus: Forgery” would be a master forger, gaining a +9 bonus on his or her Forgery checks.”

    Is this a static bonus? Someone with rank 8 and Skill Focus for Tier III (bonus +17) will be worse than someone investing always on SP into a Tier I skill (rank +22)? How does this fit in with the current Skill Emphasis/Skill Focus rules in Eclipse?

    I don’t see any explanation regarding the two automatic failure modes. Also, the explanation for the automatic successes should come once they are mentioned.

    Can you provide examples, how Control Shape would interact with e.g. Wildshape? Wildshape already states that it allows some minor variations within natural limitations. Would those applications require this skill? Can you push past those limitations? How does Control Shape interact with the Internal Modifications rules from Eclipse?

    “Balance: A lot of games fold this into “Tumble”, and not without reason; it’s hard to imagine how someone could perform complex acrobatics without being good at balancing. In this system it should be treated as…”

    Not a question, but a note: The sentence cuts off where I put the ellipses. I think that is an important detail which is missing.

    Otherwise, any ETA on the PDF?

    • Ah, questions… Given the number, I think it will be best to keep them organized

      “Firstly, the Tier stuff means that you need level 19 to reach rank 8 in a Tier III skill, compared to level 5 for Tier I?”

      This one’s easy; the table is listing the maximum number of skill points you can put into a skill at a given level – but skill points count double for a Tier II skill and triple for a Tier III skill. Thus investing 8 skill points in that Tier 3 Skill gives you a bonus of up to +24 – albeit capped at the normal maximum (not actually an important feature; it’s in there simply to remain fully compatible with the current maximums and to avoid those +3/+6/+9 jumps in the skill bonus – neither of which is really all that vital).

      “Skill-enhancing Feats multiply their bonus by the Tier of the skill they’re applied to. Thus a character with “Skill Focus: Forgery” would be a master forger, gaining a +9 bonus on his or her Forgery checks.”

      Is this a static bonus? Someone with rank 8 and Skill Focus for Tier III (bonus +17) will be worse than someone investing always on SP into a Tier I skill (rank +22)? How does this fit in with the current Skill Emphasis/Skill Focus rules in Eclipse?

      It is indeed a static bonus; the confusion is derived from the same misreading of the maximums table: as before, eight skill points in a Tier-III skill gets you a +22 to +24 (depending on the level cap) bonus – for a total of +31 to +33. The x2 and x3 modifier applies directly to the Eclipse skill enhancements – which does indeed mean that you can become horribly good at some Tier-III skill relatively easily.

      “I don’t see any explanation regarding the two automatic failure modes. Also, the explanation for the automatic successes should come once they are mentioned.”

      These are common enough house rules in games using the 3d6 variants that I didn’t think it needed explaining. That’s easy to fix though.

      Automatic Success and Failure: Unlike 1d20 skill checks – where you will succeed on a “1” with a high enough bonus, and can still fail on a “20” if your bonus is too low – using this optional rule when rolling 3d6 for skill checks will result in an automatic failure on a “4” and an automatic success – if the GM rules that the roll is possible at all – on a “17” (both occurring 1.39% of the time). If the odds are better than 98%, or worse than 2%, it usually isn’t worth spending the game time to roll at all.

      Rolls of “3” are automatic failures with some extra problem chosen by the GM. Not only did you fail that carpentry check, but you smashed your thumb. Perhaps you not only fell from the wall, but you hit your friend on the way down, and now he needs a recheck too. Fortunately, only one roll in 216 on 3d6 will result in a natural “3”.

      Rolls of “18” on 3d6 skill checks are automatic superior successes as long as the roll is possible at all – gaining some minor special benefit chosen by the GM. For example, “Aid Another” might provide a +3 instead of a +2, you might achieve your result with great style and elegance and impress any onlookers greatly, you affect a small group with a social skill, you may do something more quickly than expected, or you otherwise gain a better-than-usual result as determined by the game master.

      Both of those do put the burden on the game master to make things just a bit special – but it only come up on two rolls out of every 216 – on just under 1% of all skill checks. That’s usually not a problem.

      “Can you provide examples, how Control Shape would interact with e.g. Wildshape? Wildshape already states that it allows some minor variations within natural limitations. Would those applications require this skill? Can you push past those limitations? How does Control Shape interact with the Internal Modifications rules from Eclipse?”

      Control Shape is one of the rarer official skills: as far as I recall, the only place it really gets mentioned is under Afflicted Lycanthropes and chapter six of the Monster Manual under “Monster Skills”. It’s normally used to control involuntary shapeshifting.

      Wildshape, and the Eclipse shapeshifting abilties, being controlled and voluntary talents, don’t normally fall under the purview of Control Shape – but someone could certainly Specialize or Corrupt Eclipse shapeshifting abilities to require it.

      The skill notes are about expanded ways to use the various official skills; so yes, if someone wanted to use Wildshape to impersonate a particular animal, or display the sacred markings of the “white stag of the prophecy”, or to have some abnormal but still possible variations on a form – a black polar bear, or to control their hairdo, or some such – than it would be quite reasonable to use a “Control Shape” check. The “can be used to take on most of the advantages of a half-animal form without visible changes” function does refer to Lycanthropy and the Eclipse Hybrid shapeshifting ability – although, in these cases, the application would essentially be cosmetic; The only game-mechanic problems with Hybrid Shapeshifting are looking weird and having a hard time talking. You can either invest a few points in a special ability to remove the weird looks or buy this skill – at the cost of a few points – to get around it. The skill is more flexible, but it will cost more to make it as reliable as taking a special ability. Either works.

      “Balance: A lot of games fold this into “Tumble”, and not without reason; it’s hard to imagine how someone could perform complex acrobatics without being good at balancing. In this system it should be treated as…”

      Not a question, but a note: The sentence cuts off where I put the ellipses. I think that is an important detail which is missing.

      Well that is a bit that got lost somehow. Probably some interruption during editing… It should say “an aspect of Tumble – the land movement skill”. Sadly, WordPress has changed their interface; if I try to insert that now, it will eliminate almost all the current formatting. I may try it when I have a little more time; it’s doable – it will just require a lot of playing with the coding.

      Otherwise, any ETA on the PDF?

      Reminded again. Well, that’s enough interest to get to work on it again. Inside the next week or so most likely; it shouldn’t take THAT long to organize. I’ll try not to forget this time…

  3. […] Revised d20 Skills System: An option for making rarely-used skills more attractive by reducing their cost. […]

  4. […] enough ranks? Do ranks in all skills cost an equal number of CPs to purchase, or are some skills more expensive than […]

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