Combining Dungeon World attribute checks with LotFP skills, badly

by robdalexander

The Problem

As noted in D&D attributes, equal random generation, and skills, I’ve introduced Dungeon World -style 2d6+(attribute mod) rolls to my LotFP-based game.

Complication — LotFP already has a skill system. And it’s not clear how my attribute rolls should relate to it.

The LotFP skill system only covers a small set of activities…

lotfp_skills

… and most characters are terrible at them — their chance of success is a flat 1 in 6, regardless of level.

So I could just drop LotFP skills?

Complication — Skills are the main thing that distinguish thieves (“specialists”) from other classes. Compared to the other classes (that I am using, anyway), they get 4 extra dots at chargen and 2 more each level. Beyond that, they get +2 to sneak attacks and… nothing, really.

This matters because:

  • Of the ten or so active Immergleich PCs, one of the most-played is a Thief, and I want to maintain niche protection for it
  • I’m trying to maintain an interesting space of special abilities without doing much development work on it. I want to save my development effort for other things. So I don’t want to give up the set of such abilities provided by the Thief class.

Solution 1 — drop LotFP skills, give thieves abilities by level

This is viable, particularly as the thief players I’ve seen tend to favour stealth and  sneak attack over open doors or architecture (my renaming of specialist to “thief” may be part of that). But it sounds like work.

Solution 2 — create a continuum between attribute rolls and skill rolls

If we look at the LotFP Rules & Magic book, at least some of the skills are calibrated for very difficult situations. For example, Climbing “allows a character to climb walls and other sheer surfaces without obvious handholds” (p31). Success at Bushcraft allows a character in mountains or a swamp to turn a few hours of hunting into an average of 2.5 person-days of food (p34). So we could put them on a continuum of difficulties:

  1. Trivial — you automatically succeed and have extreme success
    • e.g. if climbing a gentle slope, you can basically travel as fast as you can walk
    • This include anything where there is plenty of time and negligible cost to failure
  2. Easy — you automatically succeed and make standard progress
    • e.g. if climbing a steep slope, you slowly make progress with no risk
  3. Risky — you roll 2d6+attribute and take the normal effects — 7+ you make standard progress, but 9- something bad happens
    • e.g. if climbing a rough cliff, there is a risk you will fall, or (7-9) make progress but end up stuck
  4. Extreme — you roll your LotFP skill. On success, you make standard progress; on a fail by 1, you make standard progress but something bad happens, on a failure by two or more, just the bad happens.
    • e.g. if climbing a sheer cliff, you’re not likely to do well unless you have specialist training and experience
  5. Impossible — you can’t do this
    • E.g. you can’t climb sheer stone with no handholds at all

Some possible further rules:

  • If you have 2 or more points in a skill, then you don’t make attribute rolls for merely-risky tasks — you automatically succeed.

NB just as in LotFP RAW, Sneak Attack is never rolled — it just unlocks a +2 attack roll bonus (at 2 points) and then acts as a damage multipler.

Problems:

  • We’ve got two subsystems, with different rolling mechanics, for tasks that we’re saying differ only by difficulty.
  • Only Climbing definitely meets my “very difficult situations” description — not clear that the others are meant to be that extreme.
  • Players may feel confused about the relationship between “having a relevant background” (+1 to DW-style rolls) and having a specialist skill.

Solution 3 — don’t roll LotFP skills; use them as enablers

We can use attribute rolls for everything (except attacks and saves), and have LotFP skills work as enablers to modify that. Perhaps:

  • Skill 1 — all related attribute rolls are as normal. “Extreme” difficulty tasks are impossible for you
  • Skill 2 — Extreme tasks count as Risky for you
  • Skill 3-4 — You make ordinarily Risky tasks at an extra +1 (which may put you at near-certain success, as modifiers to DW rolls have massive cumulative effects)
  • Skill 5-6 — Ordinarily Risky tasks are Easy for you.

If doing this, I’d probably change the scale to 0-3, with ranks 2 and 3 costing 2 skill points each.

Sneak attack can stay as LotFP.

Problems none of the above fix

  • Open doors is an oddity — the base chance is for opening a stuck dungeon door. (Based on the OD&D assumption that all dungeon doors are old and warped and prone to sticking). R&M p31 has some specific modifiers.
    • I’ve basically been ignoring this so far. Could just drop it.
  • Search is another one with very specific rules (R&M p39), which I have used but am not very happy with. Could just ignore.

 

 

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