Skills?

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Rgmadd7
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Skills?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:43 pm

I'm sure this question has come up a bunch in the past, but if I'm playing a class other than a thief, how do I hide or move silently or pick a lock? Also how do things like jumping, swimming or riding get handled?
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Solomoriah
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Re: Skills?

Post Sun Jun 16, 2019 12:28 am

Rgmadd7 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:43 pm
I'm sure this question has come up a bunch in the past, but if I'm playing a class other than a thief, how do I hide or move silently or pick a lock?
If you are not a thief, you cannot Hide or Move Silently as a thief does; they are supernormally good at those activities, as well as all the other activities on their list. If you want to be quiet, you tell the GM how your character is being quiet, and he or she decides how to handle it; likewise for hiding, listening, etc.

If you are the GM, you must decide how to handle these things. A thief can hide in the shadows; a non-thief needs something more significant to hide behind, such as a curtain, a large piece of furniture, etc. Generally I give the non-thief a higher chance to surprise enemies, and if surprise is indicated, the character may choose to remain hidden or to leap out and attack. The normal chance of surprising an enemy is 1-2 on 1d6; a fighter who is hiding behind a huge throne and holding still would get +1 or +2 on that range (1-3 or 1-4, in other words) while hiding behind a curtain might never be more than +1. The point is, the GM must decide how convincing the player's stated method of hiding might be, taking into account the character's abilities and class, and the same procedure applies to all other actions that do not have specific rules, such as:
Rgmadd7 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:43 pm
Also how do things like jumping, swimming or riding get handled?
Anyone can jump. Jumping in a dangerous situation is another matter, and as above the GM must decide how to handle it. A common method is to use the Ability Roll rule in the back of the Core Rules, or sometimes the Death Ray saving throw, applying the character's Dexterity bonus or penalty to the roll. Whatever method seems appropriate to the GM is fine; a GM should try to be consistent, but does not have to be.

Swimming is likewise up to the GM, as is riding. It's assumed that almost everyone knows how to ride, and many people know how to swim, but as the setting and the character's background may affect this, the GM must make a ruling. Making a roll to do either would only be necessary in a dangerous situation, such as trying to swim a swift river or break a horse to ride, and again, the GM must choose a method. Ability Rolls, some kind of saving throw, or some other method entirely are all fine.

If you'd like a firmer set of rules for this, there are supplements that add "formal" skills to Basic Fantasy RPG. For example, the Background Skills and Secondary Skills supplements found on the Downloads page, and the Tiny Skills and X in 6 supplements found in the Showcase all do more or less what you're asking for.
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Solomoriah
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Re: Skills?

Post Sun Jun 16, 2019 12:28 am

Oh, yeah, and if you're not a thief, you generally pick a lock with a large hammer.
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Ironwolf
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Re: Skills?

Post Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:22 am

Rgmadd7 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:43 pm
I'm sure this question has come up a bunch in the past, but if I'm playing a class other than a thief, how do I hide or move silently or pick a lock?


Basic Dungeons & Dragons did not have explicit rules for such things, and neither does BFRPG. But Basic D&D did present a 1 in 6 chance of success for various adventuring tasks (such as Listening, and Searching for Secret Doors).

A popular D&D clone, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, actually spells out giving non-Thieves a 1 in 6 chance for pretty much all Thief skills. Some Basic D&D and BFRPG players use this rule in their games. If you think 1 in 6 is too generous for non-Thieves, you can always bump up the difficulty to be 1 in 8, or 1 in 10, etc.

Also how do things like jumping, swimming or riding get handled?
Basic Dungeons & Dragons suggested rolling under an ability score for things not covered in the rules.

BFRPG suggests using the Ability Roll chart for things not covered in the rules.

The 1st Edition Advanced D&D Dungeon Masters Guide suggested having the DM come up with a percentile chance for such things ("you have a 60% chance to jump over this chasm").

So there are various ways to handle such things in these types of games. Choose a method that works best for you.
Rgmadd7
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Re: Skills?

Post Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:29 pm

Ok. Rulings not rules. GM decides the method case by case. Thanks much. Another question, say i have a magic user that wants to learn to use stealth like a thief? Could she join the thieves guild and get some of the thief's % chance abilities? How would you handle it in your game?
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Dimirag
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Re: Skills?

Post Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:24 am

Multiclassing or letting a class learn abilities from other classes is a can of worms I prefer not to open.

Now, said that. Learning the first level in a class, to me, takes a lot of time and some aptitude. I would make the character require at least 9 in dex, earn the place in the guild, do some jobs for them, and then spend a lot of time training in order to get a little % chance in one skill. Increasing the XP required for the next levels couldn't be a bad idea either as a way of mechanically balance the character.

Another idea is to create some quasi-classes of the core 4 classes and let the characters purchase levels in them (up to their current class level), these qc should be really watered down versions of the originals.
Sorry for any misspelling or writing error, I am not a native English speaker
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Longman
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Re: Skills?

Post Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:06 pm

Hide and Move Silently and Climb are the only ones that I have to think about as a GM, because other characters can do 'mundane' versions of these things that are a bit like the thief skill, but not as good.

Swim, Ride, and other physical activities do not duplicate thief skills and can be covered by ability rolls. Pick locks, pick pockets and find / remove traps are thief only. Other classes simply can't do this stuff.

'Climbing' up a pre-laid rope on a cliff could be covered with an ability roll. Actually free-climbing a sheer wall is thief-only.

Hiding (in the trees or something) is something anyone can do and the DM could use ability rolls or just decide what happened. 'Hide in Shadows', as far as I am concerned, can let you hide in a situation where anyone else would certainly get caught - within 10 feet or so?

Just trying to move quietly is something anyone can do, and ability rolls could be used. 'Moving Silently', the thief skill, means sneaking by some guards who are 10 feet away and not having them hear you. It's uncanny.

It's important to distinguish the actual thief skill from stuff anyone can do. As a GM I always think "could I do this?" If I think I could possibly hide in a forest or climb a rocky hillside or move quietly in a castle, I will let non-thief characters do it, or have a chance to do it. If I think it would be impossible, then it's probably a thief skill.

Also, you could make the thief noticeably better at the general stuff that everyone could do. So when everyone is using ability rolls to hide in the forest, the thief gets a significant bonus on that, too.

YMMV.
Last edited by Longman on Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Solomoriah
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Re: Skills?

Post Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:05 pm

Longman has clearly explained the intent of the rules. I can add nothing, nor do I need to take anything away. Gratitude, sir.
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Longman
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Re: Skills?

Post Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:40 pm

Thanks, Solo.

(It's been a while since I was here. Still intending to do more blogging when I get a chance...life just keeps chucking stuff at me.)

One more thing to add on topic: in Old School games, part of the appeal for me is that people won't do too much stuff that's out of their character archetype. So the reason why a fighter in chain mail can't pick locks isn't just because the rules say he can't, but because the player inherently 'gets' that his character is a man-at-arms, not a thief. It's almost an unspoken deal between players and GM that thieves get to do that stuff, and fighters get other moments of glory.

When people come to the OSR from newer games they don't necessarily 'get' this in the same way. I've played with a lot of younger players who want their characters to be swashbuckling fighter thieves with a bit of magic ("jack of all trades") characters that can have a go at literally everything.

I'm always trying to persuade them that it's actually more fun to have characters who are really hopeless at some things, and only really good at a few. It makes for a better story and memorable events. Maybe it's just something people get as they grow older.
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killdefenses
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Re: Skills?

Post Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:08 am

Here is a great writeup on dealing with non-thieves using thief skills:

http://web.fisher.cx/robert/rpg/dnd/thief.html
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