Mike Mearls Solves My Problems

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I’ve been musing about starting up my campaign again lately using the Iron Heroes ruleset — Iron Heroes solves the major issue I had last time I was running the campaign, namely, Magic. I’m not a big fan of high-magic D&D at all, but the core D&D rules don’t allow you to run anything else. Magic, of course, is intertwined with all kinds of other bad ideas, like Alignment, and it all becomes so complicated that it’s not even worth dealing with, in my opinion.

Iron Heroes, of course, is a system and pseudosetting where all of the characters are expected to function fully without the aid of hundreds of magical doodads or spellcasters constantly slinging about reality-altering effects.

Of course, since nothing I do is ever “easy” I’ve taken from thinking about Magic as a problem issue to thinking about Skills and player control over narrative. I really like the idea of The Pool to give players a sort of arbitrary resource that they can hedge to shape and change the game. I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate this sort of mechanic into D20 without completely throwing off my players. The natural inclination here is to give the players a certain number of D20 rolls per game session — But that wouldn’t really work, at least not with combat in the mix.

So lets throw out combat. Players can make all the attack rolls and whatnot that they desire — Lets face it, this is the core of D&D, so I don’t want to mess too much with that. However, things like my favorite least-favorite skill in D&D “Use Rope” or skills whose only use is out of combat (e.g. Diplomacy) could be done away with entirely and replaced with a Pool-like mechanic using D20 rolls instead of D6 rolls.

I got around to looking over at Mike Mearls’ LiveJournal and what do I see? An idea on how to really trim down D&D’s skills.

Ditch all skills that can be used untrained.

Everything that doesn’t match a remaining skill is now an attribute check. Cut every class’s skill ranks in half. When you buy a skill, you buy the right to make checks using its relevant attribute. Don’t keep track of ranks. You get access to a new skill at levels 5, 10, 15, and 20.

An attribute check is d20 + the relevant ability score (not the modifier; the entire score).

DCs range from 10 to 30 for most tasks, with 5 point increments. The (DC – the ability score + 1) times 5 is the chance of success. Some checks are opposed, just as per the rules now.

Everything else is up to the DM.

My thinking behind this is that a skill system is only as interesting as the players and DM want to make it. Adding more rules to the D&D skill system, such as for stunts, doesn’t make it more interesting. It just bloats the system. These rules allow a DM and players to find their own level of importance for skills.

These rules don’t tell you what you can do with them. They just provide a framework for doing stuff.

Probably will still need to devise my own system, but it’s a good starting point, I think.

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