Spiderwrangler's Dice Skill System

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Spiderwrangler's Dice Skill System

Postby spiderwrangler » Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:47 am

Background

I developed this skill leveling system after being inspired by Thinkslogically’s “Lair of the Mountain King”, wherein characters, through practice on relevant tasks, were able to gain experience in various skills that gave them a bonus on future related tasks. For example, a Novice Tailor would be able to complete fashioning a garment out of bear hide more quickly than someone completely unexperienced with sewing. After reading through the entire game log for LotMK, I eventually ended up joining that game, but still wanted to turn the concept of a skill leveling based game into something with more focus on the crafting and completion of tasks. This, along with suggestions of a setting within the Girl Genius universe, led to me starting Surviving Castle Heterodyne, where the players control sparks that have been ‘mind wiped’ before being dumped into a remote region of Castle Heterodyne to enact repairs.


DSS Basic Mechanics

Overview of Concept
The general idea is that using skills to complete tasks gains experience in those skills, eventually allowing the character to gain a level in that skill. After leveling, working on tasks with that skill will proceed more and more quickly, to reflect their increased proficiency with the task. Skills are potentially able to be combined, such that if a character has levels in more than one skill that all relate to a given task, they will be able to apply their expertise in both to more quickly accomplish the task.



Completion Points and Skill Points
The guts of the DSS is increasing skill levels resulting in increasing dice rolls (made by the GM) towards completing tasks (such as crafting, building, studying, etc). Each task is assigned a number of Completion Points (CP) needed to complete whatever that task is (as determined by the GM). Each turn, rolls are made corresponding to the skills applicable to that task (as determined by the GM), and added to any CP gained in previous turns. Once the number of CP needed has been reached, the character gains Skill Points (SP) in any skills used, as well as any skills that may be relevant to the task, but that the character did not currently have a level in.

For example, if a task can be completed by rolls in the relevant skills A, B, and C, if a character only has levels in A and C, once they gain enough CP , they will gain SP in A, C, and C. If a character has a level in any relevant skill, that is what they use (ie, this player gets to roll on A and C, but doesn’t get to roll as ‘Unskilled’ in B), but if a character has no levels in any relevant skills, they can roll a single skill as Unskilled (see ‘The Dice’ for more on skill levels).
As SP in a particular skill accumulate, eventually the character will gain enough to pass a leveling threshold, and gain an additional level in that skill, and thus be able to make greater rolls.


The Dice
In determining the die rolls for each level in a skill, I settled on choosing dice combinations that resulted in whole number average roll, with that average increasing by 1 each level. This results in many nonstandard dice rolls, so using a browser based rolling system is almost a requirement! I used Invisible Castle initially, but it occasionally goes down for extended periods, so I’ve mostly switched over to Coyotecode. Both allow you to input a dice roll string in the 1dX+2dY type format and generate output easily.


Dice per Level
Level - - - - - - - - - - - Dice - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - Average
Unskilled - - - - - - - - - 1d3 - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - 2 CP
Level 1 - - - - - - - - - - - 1d5 - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - 3 CP
Level 2 - - - - - - - - - - - 1d7 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 4 CP
Level 3 - - - - - - - - - - - 1d5+1d3 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 5 CP
Level 4 - - - - - - - - - - - 2d5 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 6 CP
Level 5 - - - - - - - - - - - 1d7+1d5 - - - -- - - - - -- - - 7 CP
Level 6 - - - - - - - - - - - 2d7 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 8 CP
Level 7 - - - - - - - - - - - 3d5 - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - 9 CP
Level 8 - - - - - - - - - - - 2d7+1d3 - - - - - - - - - - - - 10 CP
Level 9 - - - - - - - - - - - 2d7+1d5 - - - - - - - - - - - - 11 CP
Level 10 - - - - - - - - - - 3d7 - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - 12 CP
Last edited by spiderwrangler on Thu Apr 02, 2015 9:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
games I gm
Surviving Castle Heterodyne, a Girl Genius themed game where the players are sparks.

Fallout: Settlers, co-GM with Badge, set in the Fallout world as a vault of dwellers emerge into a changed world.

The Sundered Way, my 5e forum campaign.


games I play
Darfel Kroven, Human Cleric of Tempus in Theis2's "Shipwrecked!".

Splits Focus in Thinkslogically's Lair of the Mountain King

Korga in Dlover's Hunters of Letrua.

Laughs Creepily in "Goblin Adventurer's League".

Korbrok, the dwarven telekinetic blacksmith berserker in Quarg's "An Adventure in Aldra".

Korrik Tallpine, a halfling monk with a shady past in Thinks' "The Wandering Archipelago".
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spiderwrangler
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Re: Spiderwrangler's Dice Skill System

Postby spiderwrangler » Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:47 am

Balancing and thresholds
Many settings and concepts that this system could be applied to may have different needs, both mechanically and flavorwise, from what I have going in SCH, which is why I didn’t post above about various parameters and thresholds. Here I’ll layout how I have them in SCH, as well as suggestions for other GMs to make alterations to balance their games as needed.
CP to SP Ratio in SCH
I hold loosely to a 10:1 ratio, at least as a minimum, but it often may be closer to a 10:2+. This would mean that a task requiring 10 CP would result in a gain of 1 SP divided amongst relevant skills (I use decimal SP, but only to the first decimal place.
SP Needed per Level in SCH
Level - - - - - - - - - - - SP Needed
Unskilled - - - - - - - - - 0
Level 1 - - - - - - - - - - - 3
Level 2 - - - - - - - - - - - 6
Level 3 - - - - - - - - - - - 10
Level 4 - - - - - - - - - - - 15
Level 5 - - - - - - - - - - - 21
Level 6 - - - - - - - - - - - 28
Level 7 - - - - - - - - - - - 36
Level 8 - - - - - - - - - - - 45
Level 9 - - - - - - - - - - - 55
Level 10 - - - - - - - - - - 66

Turn Duration in SCH
Our turns are 15 minutes in length.
Starting Skills in SCH
Each character started with one Level 1 Skill.

This setup results in fairly rapid (game time) leveling, for example, as of the time I write this, the characters have spent less than 3 days in Castle Heterodyne, but are already rather skilled in many disciplines, such that they are able to take apart and build things in only a couple of turns. This may be suitable if your game concept and setting allows for your characters to have capabilities beyond normal humans, but other settings may require modifications. Below are some suggestions for GMs to tailor these thresholds to suit their needs… I doubt many will want or desire rates FASTER than this, though it is possible, so most of my suggestions will be for reigning things in a bit more.

CP to SP Ratio
Holding strictly to a 10:1 ratio would be the easiest way to make and adjustment to ratio to restrain power creep. Anything less would become more tricky to keep track of, so I’d say keep it to 10:1 and keep it simple.
SP Needed per Level
Greater spread could be added levels, but this may be best implemented by lowering the threshold for the 1st level and increasing it thereafter, so that your players aren’t toiling forever just to reach the first level.
Turn Duration
This would probably be the easiest way to alter the flavor from superhuman to more normal progression. Instead of 15 minute increments, making each turn 1 hour would make game time pass more quickly, without really changing the game mechanics or dynamics.
Starting Skills
Starting players with only one leveled Skill fit the ‘mind wipe’ theme in SCH, but may need some justification (amnesia, trauma, etc) in order to make it fit. Another option would be to start players with a broader suite of skills, which would help get them over the initial lag on skill levels, and would allow for higher leveling thresholds without crippling their progression.
Additionally the degree to which skills are split or lumped can greatly affect its application and utility to other tasks. Going one direction or the other on this may make more sense based on the setting of your particular game.
Another fun concept that can be applied to add flavor and mechanics would be to provide a boost in certain skill levels that the character was initially skilled in. This is something that Synch has implemented in his Children of Ash game based on this system.
Last edited by spiderwrangler on Thu Apr 02, 2015 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
games I gm
Surviving Castle Heterodyne, a Girl Genius themed game where the players are sparks.

Fallout: Settlers, co-GM with Badge, set in the Fallout world as a vault of dwellers emerge into a changed world.

The Sundered Way, my 5e forum campaign.


games I play
Darfel Kroven, Human Cleric of Tempus in Theis2's "Shipwrecked!".

Splits Focus in Thinkslogically's Lair of the Mountain King

Korga in Dlover's Hunters of Letrua.

Laughs Creepily in "Goblin Adventurer's League".

Korbrok, the dwarven telekinetic blacksmith berserker in Quarg's "An Adventure in Aldra".

Korrik Tallpine, a halfling monk with a shady past in Thinks' "The Wandering Archipelago".
User avatar
spiderwrangler
Game Master
 
Posts: 12663
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:21 pm

Re: Spiderwrangler's Dice Skill System

Postby spiderwrangler » Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:48 am

crafting example
Skill Leveling/Crafting

Players can attempt to accomplish a wide variety of crafting and building related tasks. In addition to any component or tool requirements, the task will be assigned a certain number of Completion Points (CP) needed to finish the task based on the complexity of the task (and at the GM's discretion). As such, the more descriptive the player is, the more engaging it will be in terms of the story, as well as making it easier to assign an appropriate number of completion points.
CP will be gained by rolling dice according to skills possessed by the player. The minimum dice roll would be 1d3 for a player attempting a task unrelated to any skill disciplines they have a level in. Many tasks may benefit from experience in multiple skill disciplines, as the dice rolled each round are additive for each level in relevant skills.
Upon completing a task, the player will gain Skill Points (SP) towards that skill discipline. After accruing a sufficient number of SP, they will level up in that skill, allowing them to make higher dice rolls on all subsequent tasks impacted by that discipline.
CP and SP levels will be determined on an ongoing basis, as I attempt to find a level of balance for the game that keeps it fun, challenging, and allows for player accomplishment.

For example, a player with no relevant skills wants to build a crude spear by sharpening a pointy end onto a stick. They are considered Unskilled, and are only able to make rolls of 1d3. Crafting the spear is determined (by the GM) to constitute a 6 CP task. Since they have no real understanding or skill related to the task, it takes the player 4 turns (rolling 2,2,1,1 = 6 CP / 6 CP needed) to complete the Crude Spear, and they gain SP in Weaponcraft and Woodworking.

Another player checks out the sweet spear, and decides they want one of their own. This player has done some carving and building, and reached Woodworking Level 1, and is able to make rolls of 1d5 on all Woodworking tasks. Her skill allows her to complete the spear in only two turns (4,3 = 7 CP/6 CP needed, any excess beyond the CP needed cannot be applied to other tasks and doesn't affect SP returned). She also gains SP towards leveling her Weaponcraft and Woodworking skills.
Last edited by spiderwrangler on Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
games I gm
Surviving Castle Heterodyne, a Girl Genius themed game where the players are sparks.

Fallout: Settlers, co-GM with Badge, set in the Fallout world as a vault of dwellers emerge into a changed world.

The Sundered Way, my 5e forum campaign.


games I play
Darfel Kroven, Human Cleric of Tempus in Theis2's "Shipwrecked!".

Splits Focus in Thinkslogically's Lair of the Mountain King

Korga in Dlover's Hunters of Letrua.

Laughs Creepily in "Goblin Adventurer's League".

Korbrok, the dwarven telekinetic blacksmith berserker in Quarg's "An Adventure in Aldra".

Korrik Tallpine, a halfling monk with a shady past in Thinks' "The Wandering Archipelago".
User avatar
spiderwrangler
Game Master
 
Posts: 12663
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:21 pm

Re: Spiderwrangler's Dice Skill System

Postby spiderwrangler » Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:48 am

Last edited by spiderwrangler on Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
games I gm
Surviving Castle Heterodyne, a Girl Genius themed game where the players are sparks.

Fallout: Settlers, co-GM with Badge, set in the Fallout world as a vault of dwellers emerge into a changed world.

The Sundered Way, my 5e forum campaign.


games I play
Darfel Kroven, Human Cleric of Tempus in Theis2's "Shipwrecked!".

Splits Focus in Thinkslogically's Lair of the Mountain King

Korga in Dlover's Hunters of Letrua.

Laughs Creepily in "Goblin Adventurer's League".

Korbrok, the dwarven telekinetic blacksmith berserker in Quarg's "An Adventure in Aldra".

Korrik Tallpine, a halfling monk with a shady past in Thinks' "The Wandering Archipelago".
User avatar
spiderwrangler
Game Master
 
Posts: 12663
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:21 pm


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