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Alpha Test 1 – LCA

"LCA = FAE.  Fun, Awesome, Entertaining."

Had an third party Alpha test this weekend.  Some issues obviously with one major game mechanic confusion that caused some big problems.  The tester had read some earlier posts about the mechanic I'd started with, dice pools and the alpha doc doesn't have it explained in enough places for him to have caught the change.

But the rest seemed to go well, encounters were pretty quickly done which is what I'm shooting for. My ideal is to be able to have at least 4 combat or skill based encounters in any given gaming session with plenty of time left over for story based gaming.

In general some good feedback that will help me make the document clearer and more user friendly.   "It's like Savage Worlds 2.0" was an interesting comment which is what I am shooting for.  Ease of use, quick fast combats but with more tactical elements ala 4E DnD and more ways for a player to be engaged in what's going on and more ways to be Awesome.

I've re-written/expanded the various sections that deal with the basic mechanics, below is the start of the Skill Chapter -

Chapter 3 - Skills

A character’s ability to perform difficult tasks in the world or recall uncommon knowledge is defined by their skills or lack there-of.
Skills determine a characters chances at doing anything above a simple degree of complexity in the world.  Shooting a gun, uncovering clues at a crime scene, reading ancient Sumatran, swinging on a chandelier, sneaking through mansion at night, these are all based on Skills.
Each skill has an associated stat which provides a bonus as ‘raw talent’ when character has had no formal training in the use of the skill.

A skill check is made anytime the character wishes to do something non-trivial.  If an task or knowledge would be trivial to perform or know there is no skill check involved.

For example, Climbing a ladder does not require an Athletics check but climbing a Rope would. Putting on a band-aid does not require a First Aid check but applying a tourniquet would. Chit Chatting at a party wouldn’t need a Social skill roll but negotiating a peace treaty between two rival nations would.

This can be setting dependent.  Driving a car to the store would be trivial for most adults in a modern setting.  Driving a car while in hot pursuit would not be and would require periodic Driving skill rolls.

Many skills can be attempted by someone untrained in their use.  But without at least a modicum of training the character will suffer a penalty on any attempt to use the skill or recall knowledge.

Some skills though can only be attempted by someone trained in the skill, anyone untrained attempting to use the skill garners an automatic failure.

Each skill has a general description of what it covers which is generally a fairly broad category and where necessary is also broken down into more specialized information on specific tasks that the skill can be used for.

SideBar: Mention Stat Rolls which use identical methodologies but there is not untrained or trained stat.

Procedure -
To use a skill you need to follow a few simple steps.  The list looks fairly long but it’s really quite simple.  All skill rolls are based on 3d8 for everyone and then you add penalties or bonuses to see how well you did or didn’t do -

  1. Determine the correct skill to cover/use for whatever the task is at hand.
  2. Determine if you’re trained or untrained in the skill
  3. If you’re untrained then can the skill be used untrained?
  4. If you can use the skill then roll 3d8.
  5. If the dice can explode and they did, then complete the roll as necessary for explosions.
  6. Add any associated penalties or bonuses for skill or the lack thereof and situational bonuses/penalties to achieve a final skill roll.
  7. Compare the final result to a Target Number to determine success or failure.
  8. Apply the results.

Skill Coverage -
The skills list is more a guideline of some the more typical skills found in most settings and are intended to be pretty broad in scope.  Athletics covers all things that that are primarily strength or fitness associated while Acrobatics covers all things more graceful and dexterous in nature for instance.

If there’s not a listed skill that covers an area you’re specifically looking to know then you are encouraged to use the General skills as a catch all for anything that you can’t find another skill to fit.   General Knowledge skills are simply that, you have knowledge of a subject which should be fairly broad.  Knowledge: Egypt rather than King Tut.   Practical Skills cover more a ‘doing’ than a ‘knowing’ skill.  Practical: Demolitions would for instance cover everything dealing with explosives, how to blow something up, how to store, create and move explosives safely and the best way to take down a building or open a door or dig a mine shaft.

Players are encouraged to come up with ways that skills can be applied to any given situation and Directors are encourage to allow them.  Assuming a valid case can be made of course, off hand I have trouble seeing how a high Social skill would allow you to climb a sheer cliff face for instance.  But some player somewhere might be able to come with some reason it’s applicable. Don’t simply rule it out out of hand.

Training vs No Training -

Obviously you can’t know every skill in a normal situation.  This means that you are Untrained in some skills and Trained or Ranked in others.

Even characters who are Untrained typically have at least some chance, small though it might be of figuring out a problem, coming up with some trivia or shooting blindly and succeeding at many given tasks.

But training, possessing Ranking in a skill goes a long way toward increasing your success rates and there are several skills that you must have Ranking in in order to even attempt them.

Untrained - If the skill is Untrained, you have no Ranking with it at all then you need to check to see if the skill can be used without training.  Each skill has an Untrained: Yes/No note on it.  As long at it says Yes you can attempt the skill even without training.

Untrained skills have some limitations on them and associated penalties that trained skill checks do not.  To wit, they suffer a flat -5 penalty to the dice roll and the dice do not explode.  To offset that the character can add the skills linked stat as a form of ‘raw abilty’ as a bonus.

To make an Untrained skill, you roll 3d8 and total the dice.  If you get an 8 on one or more dice you do not get to re-roll it.  Subtract 5 from the total.  Add your linked stat as a bonus.  Add/subtract any situational bonuses/penalties to determine your final skill roll and compute your Degrees of Success from that final total (total - TN)/5 rounded up.

Trained/Ranking - If you have Ranking in a skill then congratulations you get to enjoy several benefits in  your skill attempts that someone who doesn’t have your training forgoes.

Firstly when you roll your 3d8 you get to use the exploding mechanic that’s in use for your setting. This will typically mean that one or more of any 8’s you roll on your 3d8 get to be reolled 1 or more times and all the dice are totaled.

Secondly there is no standard flat penalty (-5) associated with a trained skill check.

Thirdly you get to add your Ranking as a bonus to your total.

Once you’re reached that total you add/subtract any situation bonuses/penalties and then compute your Degrees of Success.  (Total - TN)/5 rounded up.

Target Number -
In general all skill checks are compared to a Target Number of 15.  The exception to this are Melee skill checks and and Attacks on a characters Sanity.

Melee skill checks are compared to the target’s current Evasion value.  Note that Evasion can be modified through several mechanics, being Off Balance, Immoblized and Defensive Stance among others.  So always check that you’re comparing apples to apples.

Sanity Attacks target a character’s Resilience and made by the Director when something so grisly, so other worldly or just disturbing is inflicted upon a character in some fashion and are treated exactly like any other attack skill check with a damage roll made against the targets mental defenses.

Degrees of Success -
When you make a skill check it’s always nice to know how well you did or didn’t if you know what I mean.

This has a fairly easy mechanic that we call Degrees of Success.  To determine your DoS first make your skill check (untrained or trained as necessary) and then subtract the Target Number from the total you rolled.

If your result is negative you failed.  You’re done at this point typically.

if the number is positive you succeeded. To determine how well you did, you get one degree of success for each full and partial unit of 5 you end up with.  Simply divide the left over amount after subtracting the Target Number by 5 and round up.

Example:  Bob has a roll of 16 versus TN 15.   16-15 = 1 / 5 = .2 rounded up = 1.   Joe has a final roll of 28 vs TN of 17.  28-17 = 11 / 5 = 2.2 rounded up to 3.  Bill has a roll of 12 vs TN of 15.  12-15 is -3.  Sorry Bill, you failed.

In many cases it doesn’t matter how well you rolled subject to Director intervention.  But in many other cases it does.  Ranged and Melee combat skill checks and some Powers for instance get bonus damage dice for excess degrees of success after the first.   Many powers have more potent effects when you roll well on your skill checks.

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