The Five Moons RPG playtest has been delayed because I’ve been fiddling with bits of the skills system.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Stealth in 3E/PF is a little wonky, and–because creatures are assumed to be looking in all directions at once–basically you can’t use Stealth if there isn’t cover or concealment.
In the Skills chapter of the playtest, the Sneak skill explains that to use it, you need at least one of the following: concealment, cover, or what I’m calling Inattention—taking advantage of your enemy looking in the wrong direction.
So unless there’s a really strange circumstance where an enemy absolutely cannot look away from where you are (like a motionless robot pointed at the door you need to go through), you probably have inattention against your opponent. If you pass the Sneak roll, you were able to move up while your enemy was looking the other way. If you fail the Sneak roll, your enemy happened to look in your direction and notice you.
I think I mentioned in an earlier blog that you get to pick which of your skills are class skills, and your class tells you how many class skills you can pick. So if you were a warrior who wanted Diplomacy and Spellcraft as class skills, you could, and if you were a wizard who wanted Climb and Perception as class skills, you could.
Then I got to thinking about why class skills are in the game.
In 3E, they were prebuilt into your class, based on the stereotypical example of what that class is supposed to do or be. So fighters were good at athletic things, wizards were good at magic and knowledge, rogues were good at lockpicking and sneaking, and so on. And the difference between class skills and crossclass skills was that crossclass skills cost more points to level up. But in 3E, you got x4 skill points at level 1, so had a lot of points to play with, and you could throw a few spare points into unusual/crossclass skills, even if you only got 1/2 value for it. And you could buy up to your level + 3 in a skill, so a 1st-level character could have a +2 (because your 4 points in that skill count for half, so 4÷2=2) (plus ability mod) in a skill.
In PF, they dropped the “crossclass skills cost double” setup, which meant investing in crossclass skills was a lot more effective. And they created the “if you have a least 1 rank in a class skill, you get a +3 on rolls with that skill” rule. So you could still be a 1st-level character with a +4 (plus ability mod) in a skill. But PF also reduced the number of skill ranks you got (only x1 at 1st level instead of x4), so you couldn’t build a character who had a little bit of training in a lot of skills.
[For example, a 3E fighter started with 2 x 4 = 8 skill points, and if that fighter wanted to put 1 in Diplomacy, Knowledge (arcana), Move Silently, and Open Lock (and put the rest in class skills), they could. But that same fighter in PF only has 2 skill ranks, which pretty much locks them into an essential skill like Perception and maybe another fighter-relevant one like Climb.]
And the PF fighter still has the same problem that the 3E fighter does: their class skills are whatever the designer decided the typical fighter should have. If you wanted your fighter (or wizard, or rogue, or whatever) to be like Indiana Jones, you’d have a hard time picking the necessary skills at level 1, and you’d have to spend some points on crossclass skills to get the proper training. (You could build an archeologist adventurer by using an archetype to change up your class skills, but there may not be an archetype that has the assortment for your character concept.)
[I mentioned the “running low on skill ranks” problem to Jason around the time the Core Rulebook was published, and he agreed it was a problem, and that we should think about putting a feat in the then-upcoming Advanced Player’s Guide that would give you more skill ranks (or at least let you choose 4 skills to get a +1 in), especially at level 1. But apparently we both forgot about it because I don’t think anything like it ever appeared in the core books.]
In Five Moons RPG, given that idea is to really broaden the flexibility of what characters are allowed to learn (in that any character can learn any cronk, spell, or stunt, regardless of class), and because I want a similar flexible setup for skills, I’m throwing out the concept of class skills and crossclass skills. So in the playtest you’ll see:
• Characters have a lot of skill points to spend, even at 1st level.
• There’s no concept of a pre-set “class skill” decided by your class. You put points into whatever skill you want, at a 1-for-1 cost.
The plan is that this will give characters the “small buy-ins to many skills” option of 3E with the “all buy-ins are +1 for 1 rank” option of PF. So if you want an athletic wizard, or scholarly rogue, or magic-dabbling warrior, you can create that, because you are deciding what skills are important for your character.
Ok, now back to work on this playtest document! It’s only 40 pages so far…