Thursday, February 11, 2016

Blood & Treasure 2nd Edition - Skills

Part of cover illustration by David Williams
From now until the game is released, I'm going to do some weekly posts on how the 2nd edition of Blood & Treasure is shaping up.

Blood & Treasure was designed to be rules lite and options heavy, and that isn't changing in the new edition. My goal is to take nothing out of the game, but to, wherever possible, correct old mistakes and streamline old rules to make them easier to understand and play. That brings us to subject #1 - Skills.

Or tasks, as I prefer to call them. I thought the old system was pretty easy - to whit - if a character is unskilled at a task, roll 1d20, beat 18 and succeed. If a character has a knack (such as an elf searching for secret doors), roll 1d20, beat 15 and succeed. If a character is skilled, roll a saving throw to avoid failure at the task. That way, the skilled - such as thieves climbing walls - get better at tasks as they advance.

Apparently, though, it caused some confusion for people, specifically the saving throw idea. So, how do we adjust?

As follows:

To perform tasks outside of combat, one need only tell the Treasure Keeper (TK) what they wish to accomplish. If the TK thinks the task can be accomplished without much difficulty, he merely tells the player they were successful.

If success is in doubt, either because of the degree of difficulty of the task, or conditions that would make success unlikely, the TK can require a task check.

To make a task check, the player rolls 1d20 and adds to this roll the relevant ability score modifier (see table below) and any bonuses they might have for their race, class or other circumstances.

If the roll is 18 or higher, the task check is a success. If the roll is lower than 18, it fails, with the consequences of the failure determined by the Treasure Keeper.

If the task is one in which a character class is “skilled”, they add their level to the task check.

The ability scores associated with various tasks are as follows (though note that the Treasure Keeper may rule that under some conditions a task might be modified by a different ability score.) ...

What follow that is a list of possible tasks, and the ability score that modifies them, such as acrobatics modified by dexterity or swimming modified by strength.

Several tasks rely on using tools. Trying to perform these tasks without the proper equipment should be done at a -2 penalty.

The key thing to remember about tasks checks is that if it seems reasonable that a character can do it, there is no need to roll dice! Save the rolling of dice for difficult, dangerous or dramatic tasks.

Here's where the options kick in. For those who like the 3rd edition approach, I have an optional simplified skill points system:

Skill Points (Optional)

If your players would like more control over their character’s skills – and you want them to have that control – you can allow them to spend “skill points” on the various tasks in this chapter, each point spent giving them a +1 bonus to use those skills in play.

When attempting a task, the player rolls 1d20, adds their skill bonus, ability modifier, bonuses for race or circumstances, and attempts to roll an 18 or higher to succeed.
The number of skill points available to a character to spend at each level depends on the character's class. Multi-class characters add their class' skill point totals together.

For those who instead prefer the way old editions handled such things, I have a system inspired partially by the rules for finding secret doors and partially on the original (pre-Gygax) thief class that has been making the rounds in the OD&D blogosphere of late.

Simple Task Checks (Optional)

If you would like to keep task checks extremely simple, you may use the following system:

If characters attempt something at which they are untrained, roll 1d6. On a roll of 1, they succeed.

If they are attempting something at which they excel due to their race, such as elves finding secret doors, roll 1d6. On a roll of 1 to 2, they succeed.

If they are attempting something at which they are skilled due to their character class, consult the following table:

If the task is more difficult than usual, the TK can rule that it must be rolled on a larger dice, usually d8 or d10.

Note that this system does not take into account ability scores, which may disappoint some players.

So, three options on handling skills in Blood & Treasure taking up about a page and quarter in the rule book. As a game master, I would probably let the players use the standard system, and would use the simplified system for monsters and NPCs.

As always, I'd like to hear the opinions of the readership, especially those who are interested in Blood & Treasure.

Next time, I'll discuss what I might do with saving throws in 2nd edition Blood & Treasure


  1. I think you can trim down the words a little further. For instance, the parts in {brackets} aren't really making things clearer.

    "To make a task check, the player rolls 1d20 and adds {to this roll} the relevant ability score modifier (see table below) and any bonuses {they might have} for their race, class or other circumstances."

  2. So, I loved the task mechanic setup in B&T, and played it happily until The NOD Companion came along and blew me away with its nifty Task/Weapon/Spell Proficiency system, which is what I have used in all my OSR games ever since.

    Options are good. I like all three mechanics you have outlined above. I would also urge you to preserve the NOD Comp Proficiency system, still my favorite. Maybe as an Appendix, or in a 2nd Edition of the NOD Comp?

    1. It wasn't in one of the magazines, just the NOD Companion, which was sort of like the Unearthed Arcana of B&T - lots of classes and a race from NOD, and lots of alternate rules.

  3. Ah, I see. I thought the companion was a collection of articles from the magazine.

    1. Here's what your Lulu description says...

      This supplement for the Blood & Treasure RPG collects in one place articles that players will find useful from NOD Magazine,

    2. Most of it is, but there are a couple of other original bits in it.


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