Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Knacks and Skills in Pars Fortuna

I was thinking yesterday about the PARS FORTUNA stuff - mostly developing the race/classes and the idea of knacks and skills hit me. Nothing ground breaking, but they go like this ...

When playing a game of PARS FORTUNA, there is no limit to what your character can try to do. Please note that trying to do something and actually doing it are two different things. Many tasks a character attempts are easily accomplished and do not require you to dice for the results. In simple terms, if the average person could do it, your character can do it.

However, some tasks require above-average physical or mental abilities, or years of training to have a chance of succeeding - breaking down a bolted door, deciphering a lost language or climbing a sheer wall, for example. When a player wishes his character to attempt a task such as this, this game assumes that they have a 1 in 6 chance of success - in other words, the player throws 1d6 and, if they roll a "1", they succeed. This translates into a slim (17%) chance of success, so Referee's should only use this mechanic if the task the character wishes to undertake has a high probability of failure.

A high ability score (15+) in a relevant ability can extend this chance by +1 (to 1-2 on 1d6) if the Referee permits it. Referees might want to give other bonuses based on the situation and any clever ideas a player might have for improving his chances.

Some races have a knack for certain tasks, usually because of their physical or mental make-up. If a racial description notes a "knack", for something, that race accomplishes it on a roll of 1-2 on 1d6. Oraenca, for example, are stout and solidly built, and have a knack for busting down doors.

Some classes put a portion of their training into mastering certain tasks - the Kyssai, for example, train to move about silently. When presented with a task encompassed by one of their skills, a character's success or failure is determined by rolling a saving throw. In this way, the character becomes more likely to succeed at that task as he rises in levels. For example, to successfully sneak past some tower guards, a 1st level Kyssai must roll a 15-20 on 1d20 (i.e. a 30% chance of success), while a 10th level Kyssai would have to roll a 6-20 (a 75% chance of success).

To sum up, any character has a 1 in 6 chance of succeeding at a difficult task. Characters with a knack for something have a 2 in 6 chance of success. Characters who are skilled at a task roll a saving throw to determine success or failure.


I'd love to know what people think of this basic system for non-combat task resolution.


  1. I think it's a nice little system, though I'm uncertain whether I prefer it to a "ability check + bonus" d20-ish system.

  2. I was really trying to accomplish three things with it:

    1) Make something completely compatible with Swords & Wizardry - i.e., more a restatement of existing rules (i.e. 1 in 6 chance to find secret doors, 2 in 6 for elves) than a new system that would make the PARS FORTUNA races incompatible with the existing rules.

    2) Codify the existing rule, so instead of saying X can do Y on a roll of 1-2 on 1d6, I could just say X has a knack for Y. This "system" also explicitly expands the concept from a few examples in the existing rules - finding secret doors, listening at doors, busting down doors (the rules seem to be very door-centric) to "anything you want to do that would be difficult to do".

    3) Make sure that readers understand that none of these tasks are exclusive to any class or race, which seems to be one of the complaints about the introduction of the Thief class - he has X chance to climb walls, so everybody else must have a 0% chance to climb walls. I don't think the thief class really did that, but that's how some folks seem to interpret it.

    I think the above "system" is simple and does those three things, but I agree that it isn't any better than the d20 skill system or the C&C SIEGE engine.


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