However, there are some things I don't like about it too. It's very inelegant when applying modifiers, for one, and ability score modifiers are something I very much want to include. The standard 3 to +3 ability score modifier is dwarfed by a 100point range. Sure, you can convert those to plus or minus 5, 10, or 15%, but you're still asking your players to crunch bigger numbers at the table, and either adding them to the base chance or subtracting them from the roll, which feels weird. Then there's the problem of looking up numbers in a table every time you want to do something. It's a lot easier to remember that you have a +5 bonus to your Stealth skill than it is to remember that you have, say, a 47% chance of success.
So, I'm considering a system using a roll of two dice, but adding them together in a rollover format. My first thought was 2d6, but the range just isn't big enough to accomodate both improving skill by level and modifiers. 2d10 has the range to work, but the "success" point would have to be at some wonky number like 16 in order to start with reasonable odds, and 2d8 has a similar issue.
2d12, now...that's interesting. (Go here and click on the "At Least" tab if you want to follow along with a visual aid.) There's a 10.42% chance to roll 20 or higher, which means that, if you set the target number at 20 (intuitive and easy to remember!) the average schmuck who has no bonus in a skill would succeed roughly 10% of the time. Start out with a +1 bonus, and you're up to 14.58%, which seems good enough for a dabbler in the skill. A more serious student of a skill might start at +2, for a 19.44% chance, which maps pretty well to the beginning percentages of most thief skills in B/X.
Add a bonus for a high ability score, and a character could start with 25%, 31.25%, or 38.19% odds  a meaningful bump, but not so much that it swamps the whole system. There's still lots of room for improvement, which is desirable because I want leveling up to mean something, and it doesn't if you're bumping against the 100% success ceiling too soon.
Rather than using a table of percentages, increasing at different rates for Basic, Good, or Elite skill progression, I'd use a relatively simple formula: Basic starts at +1, and gains an additional +1 at oddnumbered levels. Good starts at +2 and gains +1 at levels divisible by 2 or 3; thus at level 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, and so on. Elite also starts at +2, and gains +1 at every level. One interesting feature of this is that Good and Elite are essentially the same at beginning levels  all the way through 4th, in fact  but Elite slowly pulls ahead at higher levels.
Here it is in table form, so you can clearly see the relative progressions.

Level
Basic
Good
Elite
1
+1
+2
+2
2
+1
+3
+3
3
+2
+4
+4
4
+2
+5
+5
5
+3
+5
+6
6
+3
+6
+7
7
+4
+6
+8
8
+4
+7
+9
9
+5
+8
+10
10
+5
+9
+11
11
+6
+9
+12
12
+6
+10
+13
13
+7
+10
+14
14
+7
+11
+15
15
+8
+12
+16
If levels top out around 15 (and really, there's not much reason to go beyond that, is there?) then a Basic skill ends up succeeding 61.81% of the time, Good 85.42%, and Elite 97.92%, before any ability adjustments. That sounds about right to me.
Of course, we also still have easy access to the specialeffectondoubles mechanic. It's the degrees of success which get a little funky: something along the lines of subtracting half the larger die roll from 7, to generate a number between 1 and 5 (no 6  if neither of your dice are higher than 1, you obviously didn't succeed  snake eyes is always a failure) with higher levels of success reserved to those for whom lower dice rolls can succeed. (I could simply subtract the higher die roll from 13, but that generates a number between 1 and 11, but thats an awful lot of range. Some skills use the degree of success for the number of questions the player gets to ask of the GM, for instance, and any more than 5 or so seems like it would bog down the pace of the game tremendously.) Only a couple of skills, as I've written them, really make use of degrees of success, so this might not be a big issue anyway.
I'm still a little bit on the fence about this, so please weigh in: If you were running a game, which one would be easier, more fluid, more intuitive to use? Is this the respect the humble d12 deserves, or is 2d12 for one of the game's core resolution systems just too weird to stick? Would the moderate fiddliness of calculating degrees of success with 2d12 make you not want to use that particular mechanic? Is there something else that strikes you as broken or unworkable? Let me know in the comments!
I'm still a little bit on the fence about this, so please weigh in: If you were running a game, which one would be easier, more fluid, more intuitive to use? Is this the respect the humble d12 deserves, or is 2d12 for one of the game's core resolution systems just too weird to stick? Would the moderate fiddliness of calculating degrees of success with 2d12 make you not want to use that particular mechanic? Is there something else that strikes you as broken or unworkable? Let me know in the comments!
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ReplyDeleteThanks for your insights. I was pretty excited about the degrees of success, because it made a few things easy  how many rounds one can climb before rolling another check, or how many questions the player could ask of the GM in Lore or Tracking checks, or how much damage a Healing check could restore. I'm inclined to agree with you that the implementation of it as I've written it here is just too convoluted, though. I need to either find some more elegant way to do it, or scrap it.
DeleteI'm still trying to figure out if the early parallel between Good and Elite is a feature or a bug. In my rules so far, a character can gain Elite competency in one skill by reducing another to Basic, which would mean sacrificing immediate benefit for an advantage several levels down the road. I think most players probably wouldn't consider that a very good tradeoff. Your simple boost at 1st level would be enough to offset that, I think. It would sacrifice the lovely symmetry I've got going with the three tiers (8/12/16 is a lot more aesthetically pleasing to me than 8/12/17) but maybe that's not so important after all.
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