Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Art of Delving

Here's another bit of Bleak Beyond material that might be of interest to some of my readers. It's basically a Delver-as-Subclass system. In a megadungeon campaign such as this, with no Thief class, the responsibilities of safely and carefully navigating the underworld are shared by all capable adventurers. Why not allow these intrepid spelunkers the chance to hone their skills the more often they use them?

A few disclaimers before I copy and paste: I still tend to not simply reduce these acts to straightforward dice rolls. The 5+ roll is a baseline suggestion, one which should be modified based upon how the characters are attempting them, the prevailing circumstances, and the difficulty of the particular endeavor. As a matter of fact, I am going to edit the new doc and add these notes! Be right back...

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The Art of Delving

A general purpose d6 roll is used for determining success or failure when undertaking various mundane tasks in the game. Refs can adjust the target 5 as needed, increasing it to 6 or lowering it to 4 or less as the game demands.

Note: It is suggested that Refs avoid simply reducing these acts to straightforward dice rolls. Encourage player reasoning and input, and reward or penalize them accordingly. The 5+ roll is a baseline suggestion, one which should be modified depending upon how the characters are attempting them, the prevailing circumstances, and the difficulty of the particular endeavor.

The 5+ Rule:
Roll 1d6
1: Absolute Failure
2-4: Failure
5: Success
6: Success and roll again. With a result of 6 on the roll again, the character denotes one pip above the relevant task.

Improving with Experience: When six such pips are earned the character gains a permanent +1 on all 5+ checks with that particular task. No further bonuses may be gained in this manner for that particular task. See Master Delver, below.

Ability Score Adjustment: Characters with a 15 or higher in the relevant Ability Score add 1 on their 5+ roll. Those with a 6 or lower subtract 1.

Race Adjustment: Characters of varying race will either add 1 or subtract 1 on their 5+ roll.

Core Tasks: Tasks which any character may undertake during the game.
Disarm Trap: Apply STR or DEX, determined by type.
Eavesdrop: Humankind -1.
Find Secret Door: Elf and Aelfar +1.
Find Trap: Dwarf and Dvergar +1.
Open Door: Apply STR. Hobbit, Doende and Irkling -1.
Unlock: Apply DEX.
Sneak: Hobbit and Doende +1.

Bonus Tasks: Bonus Tasks can be raised as well with the accumulation of pips, but may not be selected as a Master Delver's specialty.
Sense Direction: Irkling only.
Sense Secret Door: Elf and Aelfar only.
Sense Trap: Dwarf and Dvergar only.

Master Delver: Once a character has gained a +1 bonus to the first six Core Tasks (all except Sneak) through the accumulation of pips, he or she can claim the title of Master Delver. At that time the player shall select one, and only one Core Task with which he or she shall receive a further bonus of 1 on all 5+ rolls in that endeavor. For example, it is possible for a Dwarf to become a Master Delver with a Find Trap specialty, gaining a bonus of +3 on all 5+ rolls for that task.

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And there you have it. There's a PDF for dl in SHAM'S OD&D STUFF, or just copy, paste and edit for your own game. As with much of the Bleak Beyond material, some light editing will make it usable in any campaign.



-C said...

I'm more generous. I use Skills: the middle road system, which is *exactly the same thing* except I let the characters pick one 'skill' at character creation and every 3rd level after that, allowing them to use a d8 instead of a d6 for the rolls. I then vary the target number somewhat.

Christopher said...

I like this a whole lot, especially since one of the games I'm most interested in trying out is Pendragon, and this seems (to a guy who hasn't actually played Pendragon) a lot like a simplified version of Pendragon's traits system, except that you can only improve. Ok, so it's a pretty superficial and slight resemblance, but it reminded me of Pendragon and that made me happy. I also like this system because of the way PCs slowly improve their skills. I think I'll probably re-work this for skills in my campaigns. I've been thinking more about re-working my thief, working mainly with the skills. I think this is just the foundation I was looking for.


Sham aka Dave said...

-C: I'm a sucker for the d6, but using a d8 or dice with an even greater range allows for greater control by the ref. I considered something similar to what you describe, as well.

Staples: Your welcome! I am not familiar with Pendragon, but I am glad you like this approach.

I just enjoy the notion of delver as subclass and the mini-game/achievements aspect of this method. Sure it means a larger character sheet, or separate index card to track progress, but in the end it makes the old roll a d6 to Open Doors routine more interesting after the 100th roll and beyond.

-C said...

gah, blogger ate my comment.

I love the system - it's awesome and works very well.

It's not tied into level (because you can spend inordinate amounts of money and time to increase) and it's basic and doesn't prevent anyone from trying anything.

It's working great and I highly recommend it.

Lucas Kain said...

WEll, this sounds like a nice plan! :)

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