Thursday, November 11, 2010

Proposed Changes to the "Common Activities" Section of LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing

One of my goals with the skill system for Weird Fantasy Role-Playing was to get all of the "common activities" of the old games which have associated mechanics and get them together without really creating a proper skill system.

After reviewing some customer comments, I realize that keeping just about all the abilities and skills from the classic games is maybe a bit too faithful for a subsystem that changes a bunch of percentile skills to d6 skills.

I think it might be a good idea to do some changing around for the second printing in order to clean it up and clarify it a bit. Let me know what you think of each of the following possible adjustments:

  • Eliminating all the subskills. Do halflings really need separate "Stealth Indoors" and "Stealth Outdoors" markers? Just give them some plain stealth! Why would an elf find secrets doors better but not generally search better? etc
  • Eliminate "Detect New Construction" and "Detect Shifting Passages" since they're very limited and create a new skill in their place called "Underground Expertise" that could be used for such general engineering topics. By the same token, changing Foraging & Hunting to Outdoor Expertise as it basically was covering outdoor survival anyway and this changes a specific activity to a more general thing.
  • Eliminate Find Traps and have that function fall under the general Search. Why should the finding of traps be something different than the finding of other secret or hidden things? Extra emphasis that this isn't a generic spot check, that a player must be specific about what his character is searching and that this represents a thorough search and in-game time is always spent doing it, would be part of this.

Finding some better names to represent the skills than "Underground -" and "Outdoor Expertise" would be great too. :P


  1. We've been using the skill system and subskills for a few months. I agree Halfling is a little problematic.

    Based on the wording in the Halfling class, it seemed to imply halflings 'stay hidden' really well, whereas the stealth rules cover both moving quietly and hiding - so we've played it, Halflings are nary undetectable when hidden, but can't tiptoe from place to place so well. Based on what I'm seeing here, we put too fine a point on it.

    Rolling up search and find secret doors makes sense, as does detect new construction/shifting passages. (Stonework engineering? Detect Stonework?)

    I'm not as sure about eliminating find traps without a corresponding change to specialist skill points... we have two specialists right now, and I'm finding that they've diverged in choice between find traps and search and tinker, giving each areas where they're better than the other. Maybe separate open locks from tinker so the same number of skill points get distributed across the same number of skills?

  2. >>Based on what I'm seeing here, we put too fine a point on it.

    You're doing it right as it's written now, but I'm wondering on a system level if separating "Stealth While Moving" and "Stealth While Not Moving" is really a sensible design choice.

    Even if all of my ideas here were put into effect, Specialists would really just have one fewer skill to put their points into (10 total). I don't think that would be a real problem.

  3. I agree with the first two roll-ups, but I think that finding traps specifically takes a degree of familiarity and background experience that makes it different than just "searching" as anyone would. Especially for traps that are engineered to be hidden vs. snares set for animals or something. As an example, look at the reverse - for detecting engineering or direction underground, this is something anyone could do with the right equipment, but even if you had trap springing or setting tools, a non-skilled person would have no clue what to do.

  4. Tinkering deals with the "Remove" part of the classic "Find/Remove Traps," so detecting that something's there doesn't necessarily mean one knows how to get rid of it.

    Perhaps, based on your comment, Find Traps can be rolled into Tinkering, which covers that kind of mechanical knowledge?

  5. Mr. Raggi:

    Since I am running a game now using LotFP, I have indeed done some house ruling to the skills. I actually kept indoor and outdoor stealth separate, seeing them as requiring different skillsets.

    I changed foraging and hunting to Survival, to encompass all aspects of keeping oneself alive in the wild (food gathering, lighting fires, finding/creating shelter, etc).

    For Tinkering and Finding Traps I've determined that these skills need training, so starting players that are not specialists do not get a starting dot in these areas.

  6. I suggest changing "Underground Expertise" to "Underground Engineering" to make the skill's intent more explicit.

  7. If I recall right, 4e as a skill named Dungeoneering which work just like your Underground Expertise proposal. Anyway, I'm playing the game as it is and the actual skill system works great! I wouldn't touch that. Instead, I would really enjoy some expansions to equipment (particularly armors) and some more guidelines on monster creation (I know you already published a creature generator, but this would make the game work out-of-the-box way better than including pencil and graph paper). Sorry for OT

  8. Can we have an updated character sheet with these changes?

    It would also be nice to have a few blank "dice" on the character sheet for house ruled skills.

    Or maybe just a bunch of blank dice with a space for us to write the skill name for ourselves...

    I've added a couple of abilities that function, nominally, as skills. It would be nice to be able to use those on the character sheet.

    Thanks, James.

  9. I think these are reasonable changes.

  10. Once any changes are finalized, the character sheet will indeed be updated.

    Unlabeled dice graphics is a superb idea.

  11. Be careful of overloading a skill too much so that it's the "must have". If Tinkering covers find traps, remove traps, set traps, and open locks, it starts to minimize choice because a 3-in-6 in Tinker (or higher) would become a must-have for 1st/2nd level specialists.

  12. I like tinkering being used for removing or creating mechanical traps as well as picking locks and similar devices.

    Depending on the trap, I could see detection falling under different skillsets. For example, a pit trap in a dungeon would logically be detectable just as easily as a hidden door. It's basically a door in the floor, after all.

    I think maybe wilderness and hunting type traps might be better grouped with an outdoorsman kind of skillset.

    I know in D&D, it seems like for the rules, traps are traps are traps, but it seems like a guy who can set off the catch on a poison needle chest trap wouldn't necessarily be able to notice a boar snare set in the forest. Those don't seem to me like part of the same skill.

  13. You might want to mine Pathfinder for ideas;
    their skill system is streamlined and reasonable - although their mechanics differ from LotFP

  14. Removing a few of the skills sounds like a good idea. Just be careful you don't lump too much into any single one of them, making it some sort of uber skill.

    How about these translations:

    Underground Expertise - Spelunking
    Outdoor Expertise - Survival

  15. Stonecunning is the word we use for Dwarven stone sense, but I dunno where it comes from originally.

  16. I'm all in favour of generallising as outlined in the post. Perhaps use the term Wilderness instead of Outdoors or even just call it Survival?

  17. Underground Expertise: either Architecture, Engineering or Dungeonering.

    I'm not fond of "underground" because not all "dungeons" are underground. There are ruined cities, towers etc. where this skill is just as useful.

    Outdoors Expertise: either Outdoors Survival or Wilderness skill or something like that.

  18. I have a friend who would no doubt advocate for "Bushcraft" for your wilderness skill, but I'll second Hogscape's suggestion instead.

  19. I adopted your basic skill system for my B/X game but now I can't recall exactly what I changed (was finding secret doors different from search? If so I did collapse them into one skill).

    I rationalized making "Search" and "Find Traps" different by imagining that searching involves touching stuff, poking and prodding, and so on while Find Traps is more gentle, perhaps not touching anything at all.

    I just called the Halfling skill "Vanish" and left it distinct from Stealth, but I did give them less chance to do it indoors.

    The dwarf skills I made more automatic -- they can just tell how deep/graded/etc. an underground place is by concentrating on it and start with 2 on traps and search instead of 1.

    But I also wimped out a bit and allow all classes one skill point to assign to anything on every even level, although only Thieves can improve backstab.

  20. My basic skill set has been (for a while):

    driving (cariots, etc.)

    And a few odds and ends. With an emphasis on PCs being adventurers not 21st century dolts lost in an archaic world -- and skills beng used when practical/smart actions fail/cannot be used, not in place of them.