Stuff you do in a dungeon

edited June 2010 in Story Games
I'm putting together an old-school D&D-ish hack for a game with some old friends, It borrows somewhat from Dungeon Squad and Microlite d20, but the main bit is a list of skills.

It should have ONLY things on it that are important for the average mid-level fantasy adventurer. (So, mostly dungeon stuff, some outdoors stuff - Red Box, plus a little Blue Box). It should also have EVERYTHING important for the average mid-level fantasy adventurer. There are no racial powers, no classes, no ability scores. So if its not on this list, the characters won't be able to do it.

This is the list so far. If I'm missing anything, let me know!

Arcane: Casting spells, detecting magical auras, turning undead and resisting curses.
Charisma: Haggling, commanding, giving speeches, sensing motives and making friends.
Lore: Knowing things, finding things out, monster-related facts, learning secrets, finding and disarming traps
Fighting: Smashing, punching, stabbing, shooting, blocking and murdering.
Survival: Jumping, running, climbing, tracking, carrying stuff, foraging and finding bears.
Stealth: Sneaking, hiding, stealing things, listening, picking locks and general subterfuge.
Traps: Finding, disarming and leaving traps.
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Comments

  • Listening, cartography.
  • Listening! Of course! I think I'll put that under one of the existing skills. Survival, I guess.

    Cartography is out. They get a map of the whole dungeon from the get-go. Otherwise, you'd totally get credit for that one too.
  • Turning undead! Curing wounds!

    Graham
  • edited June 2010
    Depending on your tastes about the tone/setting you could consider Holy stuff (blessings, invocations, turning undeads, that kind of stuff)

    --edit--
    Damn, Ninja'ed by Graham!
  • Ninja reminds me: picking locks! Backstabbing!

    Graham
  • Heh, I restrained myself from writing "oh yeah, and ninja stuff too!" :)
  • bookkeeping. treasure dividing. adhering to strange rules for no reason.
  • Intimidation. Swimming. Does throwing come under shooting?
  • Searching for hidden treasures or stuff
    Knowing or perceiving the weakness/stats of a monster
    Finding an healing herb
    Calming/training a wild animal (survival)
  • Ambushing
    Dodging a trap thing shooting out at you
    Taunting someone into a rash act
    Intimidating someone into spilling the beans
    Determine the guy is lying his ass off
    Bending the bars of the jail cell
    Running along the top of a narrow wall
    Determining how much that jewelry is worth
    Being able to lug the three tapestries to town
    Being willing to hold your hand in the flame
    Riding your horse to catch the bad guys
  • edited June 2010
    Great work, all. Thanks!

    The specifics listed after each skill aren't exhaustive, just examples. My wording was misleading!

    So picking locks and finding secret doors would be part of Stealth.
    Carrying stuff and riding horses and running and swimming would be part of Survival.
    Intimidating and taunting and sensing motives would be part of Charisma.

    Healing is a good one. That needs to be it's own skill, I think.

    Turning undead should be part of Arcane.

    EDIT: Added some of that stuff to the original list.
  • Backstabbing is a tough one. You have to have it in there, because its backstabbing, and backstabbing is totally important. But where?

    Since its a basic d20 mechanic (roll d20 and add your Skill modifier), I guess backstabbing could just be something you can do with your Stealth skill, with the payoff being that a thief-y type of character would have a higher Stealth than Fighting, and could thus get some mileage out of it.
  • Dying

    Oh, you mean utility stuff. ;)

    I love that you put Running under Survival.
    I'm confused that Traps is not part of Lore.
  • YES. Traps should totally go under Lore. Otherwise they're both kind of weak. Nice!
  • What about improvising? There's a lot of that when I play dungeon games. Or is that just something that you use as an approach for any of the above skills?
  • Yeah, I was thinking that when you do ANYTHING, you decide which skill it involves, and roll for it. So hopefully improvisation will be as easy to handle as the stuff actually written down.

    A short PDF of the game/hack is online is anyone wants to check it out.

    I kind of worry that, in attempting to put a spin on Microlite d20, I have just made a whole new game instead, but with no playtesting or careful thought, and it will end in flames and tearful recriminations. Ah well.
  • I think Marshall meant attempting something you're unskilled at?
  • Ah! You have all six skills on your sheet. Those six skills are everything that makes up a character - no abilities or feats or what have you. You get to rate them in order, from 0 to +5, so you'll be better at some stuff, but you'll still have all six skills. (So a wizard-y dude may have a Battle or Stealth skill of 0, but he can still roll).

    Thanks for clarifying. The question makes a lot more sense now.
  • Posted By: Brian MinterI have just made a whole new game instead, but with no playtesting or careful thought, and it will end in flames and tearful recriminations. Ah well.
    Funny, my games always end that way. . . :)

    Seriously, though, I see that (the whole new game, not the tearful recriminations) as a feature, not a bug. Give it a run around and work out the kinks and you should have something pretty cool on your hands.
  • I like it. What if the dungeon itself had scores in all the above skills? That'd really give the place "personality" - at least as much as the PCs have...

    The process for generating a dungeon would be similar to that for a PC - picking Backgrounds (enchanter dungeon!), Skills (survival dungeon!), and Gear. I'm thinking that Dungeon Gear are features which further enhance certain skills but are "turn-on-and-offable" - say, a magic statue which spews mist, shrouding the dungeon and making Stealth rolls more difficult, but can be disabled. Mind-affecting fungi which mess with your Lore, but can be burned away.
    A GM would make rolls against these scores to oppose the PCs' actions. A wizard's dungeon would be high on Arcane, Lore and Stealth whereas a romp through the forest might be more about Lore, Stealth, Survival and Fighting.

    Thinking again, I wonder whether each *room* (or at least, a number of distinct areas) shouldn't get its own set of stats like this. That means the Dungeon isn't a person... it's a party.

    It'd be reasonably easy to set up random tables for GM-less or solo play, too.
  • These sound more like archetypes than skills.

    Like, why does "Stealth" include looking for traps and backstabbing? Well "Thief" or "Assassin" includes both, quite easily.

    Which might give you something like:

    Thaumaturgist:Casting spells, detecting magical auras, turning undead and resisting curses.
    Bard:Haggling, commanding, giving speeches, sensing motives and making friends.
    Sage:Knowing things, finding things out, monster-related facts, learning secrets, finding and disarming traps
    Warrior:Smashing, punching, stabbing, shooting, blocking and murdering.
    Ranger:Jumping, running, climbing, tracking, carrying stuff, foraging and finding bears.
    Assassin:Sneaking, hiding, stealing things, listening, picking locks and general subterfuge.
  • Posted By: Brian Minter
    Arcane:Casting spells, detecting magical auras, turning undead and resisting curses.
    Charisma:Haggling, commanding, giving speeches, sensing motives and making friends.
    Lore:Knowing things, finding things out, monster-related facts, learning secrets, finding and disarming traps
    Fighting:Smashing, punching, stabbing, shooting, blocking and murdering.
    Survival:Jumping, running, climbing, tracking, carrying stuff, foraging and finding bears.
    Stealth:Sneaking, hiding, stealing things, listening, picking locks and general subterfuge.
    Just so you know, these nearly map to:

    Wisdom
    Charisma
    Intelligence
    Strength
    Constitution
    Dexterity
  • edited June 2010
    Posted By: Paul T.These sound more like archetypes than skills.

    Like, why does "Stealth" include looking for traps and backstabbing? Well "Thief" or "Assassin" includes both, quite easily.

    Which might give you something like:

    Thaumaturgist:Casting spells, detecting magical auras, turning undead and resisting curses.
    Bard:Haggling, commanding, giving speeches, sensing motives and making friends.
    Sage:Knowing things, finding things out, monster-related facts, learning secrets, finding and disarming traps
    Warrior:Smashing, punching, stabbing, shooting, blocking and murdering.
    Ranger:Jumping, running, climbing, tracking, carrying stuff, foraging and finding bears.
    Assassin:Sneaking, hiding, stealing things, listening, picking locks and general subterfuge.
    Note that almost every archetype here has something to do during exploration, during a fight, and during a conversation with NPCs. The odd man out is the warrior. This is dangerously close to "fighters can't have nice things" territory. Also, the magic-users are very broadly defined, while the martial types are narrowly defined.

    I think you'd be better off with a "pick two" setup, where you pick a "combat shtick" option like Warrior and an "Exploration" option like Sage.

    Warrior: murder with weapons
    Thaumaturgist: murder with spells
    Bard: murder with minions?

    Thief: explore with stealth, talk with cunning
    Sage: explore with magic, talk with knowledge
    Ranger: explore with experience (with minions?), talk with bears

    Okay, so Bard and Ranger are potentially swappable and need better definition - a ranger could easily be a "combat shtick" where you sic your pets on people (murder with minions), while the bard could be an "exploration shtick" where you explore with knowledge and talk with magic. In any case, no pair should be able to get "magic everything," and a guy who is good with a sword can also be sneaky, wise, or charismatic.

    Edit: yeah, I like this better

    Warrior: murder with prowess (physical skills and tools)
    Thaumaturgist: murder with spells
    Ranger: murder with bears (minions)

    Thief: explore with prowess (physical skills and tools), talk with cunning
    Sage: explore with magic, talk with knowledge
    Bard: explore with knowledge, talk with magic
  • edited June 2010
    Posted By: EricNote that almost every archetype here has something to do during exploration, during a fight, and during a conversation with NPCs. The odd man out is the warrior. This is dangerously close to "fighters can't have nice things" territory.
    Let's see:

    Exploration: Warriors are usually the buff guys, and that's good for running, climbing, jumping, swimming, etc. Give them some rope and let them lead the way for the rest of the party to follow.

    Talky: Warriors are intimidating, of course. If they're soldier-types, they might be good with military etiquette, acting formal in situtuations with their "betters", etc. Other kinds of warriors might be better suited with boasting/bragging skills. "I once slew a dragon this big."
  • Yeah, that's more like what I was thinking.
  • Mark ... I like your idea about the dungeon itself having scores, although I'm not sure I'm up for that for a hack one-shot. More importantly, I love the mind-affecting fungi that mess with spellcasters. That is totally going in.

    Paul ... You are totally right about the archetypes thing. In fact, this hack is a smooshing-together of Microlite d20 and Dungeon Squad (in my head, at least), and that's how Dungeons Squad does it. You have a Wizard score, a Warrior score and an Explorer score.

    Except if you swap the "Skill" names out for "Archetype" names, you don't get to pick classes, which I like. Also, I did away with stats and everything else, so picking classes is the only avenue left to give characters some niche protection and stuff like that (ie - barbarians get +4 to Battle, Enchanters get +2 to Arcane and Lore, etc).

    My goal is to have an old-fashioned dungeon crawl that works well for only two players, and doesn't give you low-level characters that can be killed by a lone orc.

    Adam ... You are also totally right. That would also be a lot more D&D-ish. Although I like my names better. They are funner.
  • Posted By: Thunder_GodI think Marshall meant attempting something you're unskilled at?
    Nah, I meant when you, like, try to slip your knife through the cracks between two bricks so you can pry one out in order to drop it on a goblin's head below.
  • Another way to handle the name thing is to make the names symbolic. Use, say alchemy terms, instead. So "Stealth" becomes "Quicksilver" and, thus, "quicksilver" means "whatever list of crap is in the quicksilver bucket". It lets you group stuff together in a way that makes sense in your head, but for which you can't find a great label.

    The list could be something like:

    Arcane -> Phlogiston
    Charisma -> Gold
    Lore -> Sulphur
    Fighting -> Steel
    Survival -> Wood
    Stealth -> Quicksilver

    Or whatever. Colors, maybe.
  • Posted By: Marshall BurnsNah, I meant when you, like, try to slip your knife through the cracks between two bricks so you can pry one out in order to drop it on a goblin's head below.
    I like that kind of stuff. Except it doesn't feel very D&D, you know? Like, in D&D, when you attack, you make an attack roll. Anything else you do to get there is just color.

    Although ...

    So I started out with Microlite d20, and then I started tweaking things to make it more like what I wanted. But I ended up changing it to be pretty far from basic d20. To the point where maybe we should just play Storming the Wizard's Tower or something.

    Similarly, a lot of the ideas in this thread sound good to me, and thus make me realize that maybe a d20 game is just not what I want to play after all. I feel like I should either just run a d20 game the way God intended it, or stop pretending and play something else I like better.
  • I don't think there's any issue with the original names.

    We're fiddly people, doesn't mean fiddling is necessary.
  • Yeah, I like the names.
  • Hear hear, the skill names are just fine. In fact, they may be great. I think your pdf had good vibe to it!
  • Posted By: Brian Minter
    I like that kind of stuff. Except it doesn't feel very D&D, you know?
    The only D&D I've played is the little brown books. Practically the whole game is like that. But, yeah, I'm given to understand that stuff went out the window little by little with later editions. You used to disarm a trap by locating the trigger mechanism and jamming it with a spike or something instead of making a "Traps" roll. I guess my point is that I'd like to see those kinds of descriptions remain, even when you're rolling dice for stuff. Ex:

    Player: I disarm the trap.
    GM: Ok, how?
    Player: [investigates the trap and formulates a plan to disarm it]
    GM: Ok, roll to see if you screw it up somehow.
  • Yeah, what Marshall said.
  • I've played most editions of D&D over the years - original Red Box, AD&D, AD&D 2nd ed and D&D 3rd ed. I guess the first one and the last one were the ones I liked most, but I haven't played it much in a few years.

    I got kind of into the idea of old-school D&D, but I played in a couple games this year, and - while fun - it wasn't quite what I had hoped.

    So, despite having fun working on my little hack, I think I'm gonna just run Storming the Wizard's Tower this weekend. It works more like how I want the game to work (despite being officially broken).
  • Storming... is only officially broken if:

    1. You have more or less than three players.

    or

    2. You use the "monster attacks all characters" modification, which can get you into trouble.
  • Wondering why you're there. Introspection.
  • Having gotten way too involved in making this hack, I can see why designing games is kind of the equivalent of designing campaigns or dungeons (ie - "lonely fun").
  • Posted By: Nathan H.Wondering why you're there. Introspection.
    This is totally unsuitable for a dungeon adventurer. Please turn in your keycard and your ten-foot-pole on your way out.
  • Oh man oh man. I know it isn't really what you're going for Brian, but I think the attack with / explore with / talk with divisions could be three separate categories, each person chooses one, for 27 possible options! Or, if you mapped them to something like Power Sources from 4E... even more. This is hot because it allows for non-stereotypical niche protection.

    Attack with: Weapons (Martial), Spells (Arcane), God (Divine), Animal Companions (Primal)

    Talk with: Intimidation, Knowledge, Conviction, Cunning

    Explore with: Boldness, Craft, Faith, Intuition

    I dunno. Something like that.
  • Posted By: Paul T.Storming... is only officially broken if:

    1. You have more or less than three players.

    or

    2. You use the "monster attacks all characters" modification, which can get you into trouble.
    Did Vincent say that explicitly? Because I only remember him saying that "the game has serious mechanical problems and needs to be reworked from ground up". Anyway, for having read the playtest book about a dozen times I'm 100% certain Storming is/was/will be a great game (even it seems impossible to outmatch AW right now).
  • Gregor,

    Pretty much! I can't find the exact quote right now, but, yeah, the current latest draft works as written, for three players + GM.

    After all, that's how he'd been playing it.
  • Posted By: DeliveratorI think the attack with / explore with / talk with divisions could be three separate categories, each person chooses one, for 27 possible options!
    Attack with: Weapons (Martial), Spells (Arcane), God (Divine), Animal Companions (Primal)
    Talk with: Intimidation, Knowledge, Conviction, Cunning
    Explore with: Boldness, Craft, Faith, Intuition
    I think you may have something here...though I'm not sure if it suits what Brian needs or not. But you may put that out there as an idea for people to mull over.
    The idea reminds me a lot of this one Japanese RPG I picked up years ago, "Bancho Gakuen" (Gang Leader Academy is a loose translation). Every character had four actions, and the player chose a description of how they accomplish such actions. I think the actions were Attack, Defend, Think, and Power (or something like that...hadn't looked through it in nearly a decade). You could have combinations such as Attack with Drill Arm, Defend with Gymnastics, Think with Luck, and Power with Stupidity.
    True, it was meant as a comedy fighting game, but this, combined with your thoughts, Matt, might lead to something interesting.
  • Matt, that sounds really cool. I would totally play that game! Srsly.

    Re: Storming

    I've played it a fair amount. A couple short campaigns and a few one-shots. I think it runs really well, and I played many games with 4-5 people. It requires a little fudging in spots, like combat encounters, which I guess means it's not ready. But it's a super fun game.
  • Brian,

    What kind of fudging did you find you needed to do?
  • Brian,

    Can I assume the points you assign to your six stats are equal to your level? How can you learn new spells? Can Healing Prayer be used to cure Arcane damage, or is it damage to the Arcane stat? If it is the stat, can you go negative?
  • Posted By: Paul T.What kind of fudging did you find you needed to do?
    I'm trying to recall. I was playing it a lot last year, but none this year. Mostly little stuff, like throwing a monster some extra white dice if it was obviously overmatched (and letting the players know what I was doing, of course). I had some trouble with terrain monsters too.

    Generally, I had to make tougher monsters than the rules seemed to suggest, but, like I said, I had 4-5 players.

    There was one scenario I ran for three different groups. That went really smoothly. I guess, like anything, you need to learn the rules well to have a good game.
    Posted By: Mark CauseyCan I assume the points you assign to your six stats are equal to your level? How can you learn new spells? Can Healing Prayer be used to cure Arcane damage, or is it damage to the Arcane stat? If it is the stat, can you go negative?
    All great questions. Since I wasn't intending to use these rules for more than one game, I didn't think about advancement.

    I had assumed Healing Prayer could only heal hit point damage. I threw in a potion to get back lost Arcane points.
  • Posted By: Brian Minter
    Generally, I had to make tougher monsters than the rules seemed to suggest, but, like I said, I had 4-5 players.
    Yeah, that's it: the monsters are balanced against 3 players, exactly.

    Some people seem to have just added some hit points and been OK; Vincent added the "monster attacks everyone" rule, but I take it there's been no perfect/clean solution that didn't create other issues.
  • Wasn't there also a tactical-shallowness problem with Storming where the best thing to do was almost always to have everyone roll Command to buff one character, who then got the maximum number of dice into one pool to overcome the monster's defensive roll?
  • One PC in my campaign had the Tactician ability (make a command role, then give out the hits as red/blue dice to others), which was really powerful. More powerful than most of the other abilities.

    But it made for a fun character and a fun game, so no complaints.

    It's like D&D - when you learn it really well, you know exactly what's coming at you and you can prepare for it. That's a level of "broken" that I don't mind so much.
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