So, when I did my House Rules when starting up with the Barrow Downs game I decided that I needed to do something with Non-Weapon Proficiences (aka Skills) – I think I made a mistake. Now I essentially liked how Oriental Adventures introduced NWP’s into the game. It really made sense given the setting, and I even looked at the additions from the Survival Guides with a certain level of good humor.
These days, and even then, it was increasingly hard to think of a game without skills of some sort – I was used to games that were heavily skill-focused (Traveller, Cyberpunk 2020 for example) and that has certainly been the increasing trend of the industry. It is certainly the direction that 3E went in…
So I went in and tweaked the heck out of the NWP lists from the existing 1E books and a couple of Dragon articles and came up with a decent list that pretty much covered all the bases. Even decided to use the multiple d6 method for doing Skill and Stat checks that someone on the Internet suggested – I honestly can’t remember who it was.
But in any case I’ve now been kind of playing with that for a couple of months now and I’m not liking it. How many years did I play AD&D with no such system in place? There really isn’t any need, I’m certainly not really using it now save in vague and awkward ways when there is some sort of weird question as to what a character should be able to do but doesn’t have the NWP for it. And there are never enough NWP’s to start off with and you never get enough fast enough.
I used to base what a character would do on a four things – First, whatever their class is. Second, whatever Secondary Skill they rolled up. Then, what social class they were, and finally whatever culture/race they were. If we look at those four (or five if you count race separately) things then you will likely have a pretty unique set of things a character can do – plus adding in whatever sort of idiosyncratic thing a player might want their character to be interested in.
And just giving characters new skills or abilities was always a nice way to reward them with something other than a +X Doo-Hickie.
Other folks have talked about how the progression of D&D has been to protect players from bad DM’s by the institution and codification of rules to cover all of the things that used to be under the aegis of the DM. The more I’ve looked at various rule sets (including things like LOTFP: WFRP – of which I now own the Grindhouse Edition and am very happy with) with both a more critical and a more reflective eye, the more I think that is correct.
Here’s the deal, I am pretty confident in saying that I am not a bad GM. At my best, I had a regular gaming group of about ten people, at my worst I have always been able to muster two or three up, and even now I have seven people showing up to my house to play and two people Skyping in – and I’m pretty confident that if I wanted a couple more players I could get them with a minimum of effort.
So why am I trying to protect my players? What am I trying to protect them from? Me?
That’s nonsense. Why run a game that cramps my style and cramps the style of my players?
There are so many things that are actually broken about the OD&D and AD&D systems (Encumbrance anyone? or Initiative? Hell, even Surprise?) that I am kind of embarrassed that I even spent the energy on this. It is certainly a viable way to work a game system – it’s not a very D&D way to run a game system. Old School was “Yes, and” – the presumption was that unless it was something that was specific to another class you had a chance to do it, “Yes, and let’s see how well you do” instead of the “No, but” version of later editions. In these rules the assumption was that if it wasn’t written on your character sheet the answer was “No, but you can learn how at a later level”.
I don’t like playing “No, but” – I like my AD&D games to be heroic and four-colour (heck, I like most of my games to be like that) and “No, but” doesn’t really allow that until high levels (if ever). I suppose that this is what 4E was designed to address from what I can glean looking it over – but it certainly doesn’t have anything to do with D&D other than the name.
So, I guess I’m dropping the idea of anything more than Secondary Skills – and that’s pretty much a Middle and Lower Class thing. Nobles get all sorts of education, they don’t a Secondary Skill as well…