Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Skyrim on the Tabletop, Pt 1

A Nord from Bethesda's Skyrim
The trouble with creating your own game rules is that creating a good game is much harder than it looks. My poor Friday night group has been subjected to several iterations of game rules, published and (mostly) unpublished, and yet they still turn out each month. I think I do a good-enough job of creating an interesting setting, and therefore they’re willing to put up with the eccentricities of my house rules.

My latest wild hair was inspired by the CRPG, Skyrim. Aside from the racial components, the characters are defined by three attributes and eighteen skills. This seems like an endearingly sleek setup, yet there are delicious complexities hidden within. Each of the skills has a tree of perks that may be unlocked, that give the character a unique flavor. I found myself wondering what a tabletop version of the game might look like. Green Ronin did it with Dragon Age, so why couldn’t something similar be done with Skyrim? (Keep in mind, this is all very sketchy at this point. More brainstorming than anything else.) What follows is influenced by Skyrim, 4e D&D, and my own house rules.

At 1st level you have 8 pts to distribute between the attributes of Health, Lore, Combat, and Agility (Strength, Constitution, and the other 4e attributes are not used). You may not put more than 5 points into any one attribute per level. After that, at each even-numbered level you gain 2 pts, and each odd-numbered level you gain 3 pts. That number becomes your bonus to d20 rolls for skill checks (and/or attacks) based on those attributes. In addition, you use those points in the skill trees to select specific talents or capabilities.

Example: A first level character might put 5 pts in Combat. Specifically, 2 pts in Block (unlocking the parry and small shield perks), 1 pt in Heavy Armor (unlocking the chainmail perk), and 2 pts in One-handed melee (unlocking d4 and d6 weapons such as daggers and short swords).

Fighting with a short sword (proficiency bonus +3), and adding the +5 for Combat proficiency, the player would add +8 when rolling to hit with a d20.

Combat (Combat Points) — AC
Health (Hit Points) Start with 20 — FORT
Lore (Magic/Knowledge Points) — WILL
Stealth (Stealth Points) — REFL


Athletics (Initiative +1, +2, +3, +4)
Block (Parry, shields, sm, md, lg)
Endurance (Defender Aura)
Heavy Armor (Chain +5, scale +6, plate +8)
Martial Arts
One-handed melee (Weapons, d4, d6, d8)
Ranged (Weapons: d4, d6, d8, d10)
Smithing (Make armor, 5, 6, 8, or weapons, d4, d6, d8, d10, d12)
Two-handed melee (Weapons, 2d4, d10, d12)

Alchemy (Make potions or poisons, d4, d6, d8, d10, d12)
Arcane (Conjuration, Arcana)
Crafting (Non-weapon item, non-magical, +1, +2, +3)
Divine (Restoration, Arcana)
Elemental (Destruction, Arcana)
Primal (Alteration, Arcana)
Psionic (Enchanting, Arcana)
Shadow (Illusion, Arcana)

Acrobatics (Agility, Balance)
Light Armor (hide +2, leather +3, studded leather +4)
Sneak (Including Move Quietly, Hide in Shadows, Back Stab, Sneak Attack)
Speech (Including Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, & Streetwise)
Thievery (Including Lockpicking & Pickpocket)

I've roughed in some basic perks above, but imagine extending those with some of the options from Skyrim, feats from D&D, or the combat options I derived from 4e that I use in my house rules. In my current system, players build their attack powers on the fly using the following menu of options and a point budget based on the character's level.

Weapon-based powers (1pt each):
The available attack powers are as follows ({M} indicates a melee power, {R} a ranged power, and {W} indicates a power useable both ways.)

All weapon users gain the following powers by default:
{W} 1 die damage (die-type based on weapon equipped)
{M} Grab (target restrained)
{M} Knock Prone (no move)

Additional attack powers may be selected from the following list:

{M} Back Stab — Minor Action
Trigger: You make a melee attack roll against an adjacent enemy using a light blade. The enemy must be granting combat advantage to you.
Effect: The enemy takes 1 die damage (weapon) + extra damage, based on level, if the attack hits.

{M} Blindside (gain combat advantage)

{M} Cleave (make a secondary melee attack against an additional target; target must be adjacent to attacker)

{M} Defender Aura — Minor Action
You project an aura 1 that lasts until you end it as a minor action or until you fall unconscious. While in the aura, any enemy takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls when it makes an attack that does not include among its targets either you or an ally of yours who has this aura active.

If an enemy subject to your defender aura either shifts or makes an attack that targets an ally of yours but not you or an ally who has an active defender aura, then you may make the following opportunity attack (range: melee 1):
Target: The triggering enemy
Effect: The target takes weapon damage equal to 3 + extra damage, based on level.

{M} Disarm (no attack)

{R} Favored Enemy — Minor Action
You can designate the nearest enemy to you that you can see as your favored enemy. You can designate one enemy at a time. The favored enemy effect remains active until the end of the encounter, until the enemy is defeated, or until you designate a different target as your favored enemy. If you can make multiple attacks in a round, you decide which attack to apply the extra damage to after all the attacks are rolled. If you have dealt Favored Enemy damage since the start of your turn, you cannot deal it again until the start of your next turn.
Target: The designated enemy
Effect: The target takes extra weapon damage if the attack hits equal to 3 + extra damage, based on level.

{W} Fusillade (no sense)

{R} Hit and Run (shift a number of squares equal to 1 + Wisdom modifier)

{M} Intimidating Charge (when you charge, target suffers -2 on next attack)

{M} Press (push target 1 square and shift into the space that the target occupied)

{R} Sneak Attack — Minor Action
Trigger: You make a ranged attack roll against an enemy using a light blade, a hand crossbow, a shortbow, or a sling. You must be hidden from that enemy (make a Stealth check opposed by the passive Perception of the enemy. If the Stealth check succeeds, you are hidden from that enemy until the end of your turn or until you attack.)
Effect: The enemy takes 1 die damage (weapon) + extra damage, based on level, if the attack hits.

{M} Switch Positions (exchange positions with adjacent target)

{W} Tumble Past (shift 1 square)

{R} Volley Fire (make a secondary ranged attack against an additional target; target must be adjacent to, or the same as original target. Special: You can use this option only once per round. Only useable with a “load free” weapon.)

{R} Vulnerable Prey (when target has no adjacent allies, target suffers -2 on next attack)

Of course, there are a lot of questions to be answered about how this might work, but I hope to expand on the idea in future posts. As always, your insights are welcome!

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