Skills as saving throws

 I read a really interesting post in Known World Old World about skill checks as saving throws. I must admit, I have always seen skills in the roll to accomplish way where if someone wants to do something, then they have to succeed at a skill check to do so, but Dr Bargle is right. If someone is a trained pickpocket, then why do they have to make a roll to pick every person’s pocket? What if you’re a trained blacksmith? Surely all those years of training means that you don’t need to make a roll to make your 5000th horeshoe. The other 4999 times have been plenty of practise to get it done without messing up. AFF2 and Maelstrom Domesday both follow the same rule in the sense that if you have x points in a skill then you don’t need to roll to accomplish certain things. If you have 4 points in Language – Common, then you speak fluent Common and you don’t need to make a roll every time you have a conversation with someone.

It got me thinking about my system. Sometimes, I do ability checks and sometimes I just go by whether you have the skill or not. The main reason for this was actually a game reason. If the consequences of the check were low, then I would just let you check whether you have a skill or not as I did not want you wasting time rolling over a few silver florins or 1 point of Will or Vitality. However, I will think carefully about when you need to do a roll now.

In book 3 of Legend of the Wayfarer, you are given the chance to find some treasure after beating some bandits. I made it an ability roll with the perception, but if you have enough time to search the clearing, then why bother rolling? Maybe, with enough time, you find it without any skill or maybe it is so well hidden that it doesn’t matter how long you take – if you don’t have Perception, you can’t find it. Maybe a roll is appropriate if you have little time to do the search.


I will think more carefully about where I place my skill rolls now. Maybe they should only be the result of bad decisions or sub-optimal conditions and this will reward good play more. For this reason, I need to make decisions meaningful and leave enough clues to make sure people can work out which decision is best.
Happy gamebooking!

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