Ability checks

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Snarkythekobold
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Ability checks

Post Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:52 am

So, I just wanted to know if I am doing this right or if I am the only one doing this sort of thing with abilities in game.

Often times, when the players ask to do something, I try to determine what skill it would involve. For example, if a player finds a bow but it is not strung yet, I have them roll a Wisdom check to determine if they successfully string the bow (after they attain some bow string!).

They roll a d20 and must roll at or lower than their Wisdom score. The thought behind this for me is that a higher Wisdom score should mean that you have a better chance to do something that requires Wisdom.

If they fail, then there are consequences . . . the bow string breaks (loss of item), they cut their hand (loss of HP), etc.

I add in bonuses or subtract because of special factors. I explain the process to my players and they often help me think through what is going on. No one seems to think the process is unfair and everyone understands it.

Is this the right way to do things. I know that there is a Special Ability roll and I use that for special feats (doing something crazy or that takes a lot of luck).

I was just wondering if this is the right way to do things.
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orobouros
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Re: Ability checks

Post Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:57 pm

Page 153, Core Rule Book:
There will be times when a player character tries to do
something in the game that seems to have no rule
covering it. In some of those cases, the only attribute the
PC has that seems appropriate may be an Ability Score.
Here is a suggested method for making rolls against Ability
Scores that still gives better odds to higher level characters:
The player rolls 1d20 and adds his or her Ability Bonus for
the score the GM thinks is most appropriate, as well as any
situational bonus or penalty the GM assigns. Consult the
following table. If the total rolled is equal to or higher than
the given Target number, the roll is a success.
So, the PC's ability score is used as a modifier, but the table (not included here) is used for the roll. It starts at 17 for level 1 and goes down by one every two levels after that. I think it's a good catch-all method of doing an ability check that rewards higher stats and level progression. I'd generally allow situational bonuses of as much as +/- 10 depending on circumstances.

My philosophy is that an adventurer will have a basic set of skills. Even a magic user will understand how to string a bow. Outside of combat any character will have the time to concentrate on the task at hand and whether it takes a minute or two doesn't matter much. I wouldn't even require a roll. But *in* combat would be different, and there I'd let the dice roll determine the outcome, assuming the action needs to be taken quickly.

To answer your question, yes and no, that is/isn't the right way to do things. The table on 153 is the canonically correct way to do it. But you're doing something rather similar, and ultimately it's your game and being consistent with the rules is more important than using the "right" ones.
Snarkythekobold
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Re: Ability checks

Post Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:19 pm

You must have never strung a bow. It is not for the unitiated ;)

Honestly, I do not even know what to make of the portion of the rule book that you just quoted. I do not understand what it is saying (it's like a foreign language). I think that is the reason why I came up with my own method.

If any one would like to translate for me the quote in the rule book above, I would appreciate it. I may just too dense. I've heard that before.
Snarkythekobold
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Re: Ability checks

Post Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:47 pm

Nevermind. I went and read over the rule book a couple of times. I get it. It's not that hard to understand as it is printed in the rulebook (along with the table).

I like the way that the rule book does it. It gives bonuses both for level and for any special ability. I've learned something today. Whoopee
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Cryanhall
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Re: Ability checks

Post Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:34 pm

Another way to do it is use the general d6 door checks (open stuck door, find secret door, listen at door - pg. 37) as a guide, where you assign a DC on the d6 and apply the relevant ability modifier. The book uses a base 1 in 6 chance (16.667%), but you can easily make it a 2 in 6 or a 3 in 6 depending on the task. Like the example in the book with forcing locked doors and bending bars (also pg. 37), you can move up the dice chain for more difficult tasks so the ability modifiers don't have so much weight.

I usually ask the player to describe how they are searching for something, what they are looking for when they are tracking something, or how they are examining the ancient relic. If they can narratively describe their character's actions, that's good enough to bump their 1 in 6 chance to a 2 in 6 and add in an ability mod. If they do a good enough in-character description and they have a higher than average stat, I may not make them roll at all.
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Solomoriah
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Re: Ability checks

Post Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:46 am

One-die ability checks aren't written out in detail in the game, but I use them a lot.

Roll a 1 on 1dX to succeed; add your ability bonus to the range, so +2 = 1-3.

Die size of d6 is standard, but harder rolls are available by just requiring d8, d10, d12; I do "bend bars/lift gates" with a d20.

This works best for activities where the ability score is (a) the only relevant factor, and (b) very important, such that even a little bonus gives a large advantage. It's thus the opposite of the ability roll rule in the Core Rules, in that level is more important there than ability score.
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Snarkythekobold
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Re: Ability checks

Post Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:48 am

Thanks a lot Chris. I really like the idea of a one die ability check and then using the different die sizes to differentiate the challenge. I like that.
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Solomoriah
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Re: Ability checks

Post Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:01 am

The key takeaway here is that, in my opinion, one single mechanic for all ability checks is a mistake. What's appropriate for one task is not necessarily appropriate for another.
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Snarkythekobold
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Re: Ability checks

Post Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:53 am

Thanks. That's what I always try to do . . . think through the situation . . . with the players . . . to find out a process that seems right, fair, and suited to the situation.

I like the little table that is included in the core rule book in that it incorporates a player's level. But of course, if a scraggly old wizard is trying to lift a boulder through physical strength, it does not really matter what level he is.
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Dimirag
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Re: Ability checks

Post Fri Sep 21, 2018 4:57 pm

For competition rolls (arm wrestling for ex) a die + mod is a good mechanic, a d6 is a good base as it makes modifiers more important, for larger dice, like d10 or d20 the ability score could be use.

For yes/no rolls, either a "roll under ability" or the "x in 6 chances" are good options, I would avoid a "vs difficulty" roll as it adds more factors.

The optional ability roll rule is good for simulating adventuring skills that grow with the pc.

I like having a unified mechanic, but Basic Fantasy gives the chance of using whatever mechanic best fit to a certain situation, and that is an amazing feature.
Sorry for any misspelling or writing error, I am not a native English speaker
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