So, this skill system I’m working on.

I see skills as an extension of ability scores, with a bit of a twist. An “untrained Charisma check” might represent NPC interaction, and use a modifier provided directly by the ability score. They fall in a range of plus-or-minus one to four.

A character who’s received “training” in the use of Charm or Coercion will generally replace an ability score bonus with a “plus five” to the skill use.

Part of the idea is to illustrate a difference between characters who get by on natural ability — represented by the range of unmodified ability bonuses — and those who hone a skill. The training essentially displaces any natural ability.

Racial bonuses can still apply so where you’ll find that naturally charismatic individuals who happen to to an “intimidating” race can still compete in the “coercion” department based on natural talents and upbringing alone.

To express that all in game terms:

  • Ability modifiers range from -4 to +4
  • The average ability modifier is +/- 0
  • Skill training provides a flat +5
  • Note: Training replaces ability modifier
  • Racial bonuses provide +2 skill bonus
  • “Skill Focus” feat provides +3 skill bonus

  • And to provide some basic permutations:

  • Charisma 10 (no racial bonus): +0 Coerce
  • Charisma 15 (no racial bonus): +2 Coerce
  • Charisma 18 (no racial bonus): +4 Coerce
  • Charisma 10 (+2 racial bonus): +2 Coerce
  • Charisma 15 (+2 racial bonus): +4 Coerce
  • Charisma 18 (+2 racial bonus): +6 Coerce
  • Charisma 10 (training): +5 Coerce
  • Charisma 18 (training): +5 Coerce
  • Charisma 18 (+2 racial bonus, training): +7 Coerce
  • Charisma 18 (+2 racial bonus, training, “Skill Focus”): +10 Coerce

  • These will likely be the only modifiers available, unless for some reason it makes sense to provide magical bonuses from items. I just don’t see skills ever being that important, but I might change my mind later.

    Generally, skill use is automatically successful and contributes [1d6 + skill bonus] toward the resolution of whatever task is at hand. This makes skill use more about how long it takes to succeed, rather than whether it succeeds.

    I’m thinking around the idea of “risky skill use,” which amounts to an unmodified d20 roll against a “simple” target number of ten. If the risk check succeeds, the player gains an extra d6 toward overall task resolution. If they fail, no progress.

    Tasks will generally have a “resolution amount” — comparable to hit points — based on the party’s level. Say about thirty at 1st level, so completing any task will require an average of five to ten rounds for a character who’s “pretty average.”