View Full Version : Looking for comments on a Skills vs. Siege custom rule

July 7th, 2011, 07:08
My C&C friends, I have had a custom rule rolling around in my head for a while now, and I figured I'd bring it up here to get some feedback from other gamers like yourselves.

I have struggled with the skill issue forever in gaming - it seems like all the systems either are too exhaustive or not complete enough. Finally C&C comes along with the Siege Engine and simultaneously makes all of the base character stats more important, as well as gives a simple framework for resolving just about anything on the fly. Love it! But I find that I have an issue, which perhaps is my misunderstanding of how to use the C&C rules. I know the rules allow for the kind of fudging I'm going to describe, so perhaps what I'm really looking for is a codification of the fudging? See what you think.

My problems are two fold:

1) The rules are based around character classes and their related skill sets, are not geared towards NPCs or unrelated skills, like carpentry or seamanship - non-class skills are all treated generically;
2) The rules leave the issue of task difficulty pretty vague. Not a huge deal to fudge, but I'd like some consistency.

I don't like the idea that, theoretically, a tavern bouncer has the same chance of making a stat-based Sailing or Navigation or whatever roll as a trained sailor. Everything can be fudged back and forth, of course, but pondering all of this led me to come up with an alternate way of making SIEGE rolls.

There has been much fudging & smoothing to try and make it feel right in use & integrate much of the current SIEGE mechanic, with a really big YMMV thrown in, thus my request for feedback. This is what I came up with for my version of SIEGE.


1) The target roll for all Siege checks is 20 (which is always supposed to be success in normals SIEGE checks)

2) The appropriate Stat bonus is added (as per normal SIEGE).

3) If the check is being made with a Primary stat, +5 is added.

4) If the skill being checked is related to the Character/NPC's profession, then their level is added (as in normal SIEGE checks). However, if the skill is unrelated to their profession, even if it's related to another profession, the following Training Level table is used:

Untrained/No understanding: +0
Basic Understanding: +2
Adequate Training: +4
Advanced Training: +6
Master: +10

5) A modifier is added for the task's difficulty:

Routine: +10
Easy: +6
Moderate / Average: +2
Hard: +0
Very Hard: -5
Absurd: -10

6) Roll a d20 and add in all the modifiers: if the total is 20 or better it succeeds. I have included some definitions of my terms at the bottom.

I have included with this post a table I made up of the modified d20 roll needed to accomplish a task based on Training and Difficulty. This table does not account for any Stat modifiers, nor does it include any bonus for using a Primary stat.

(more in next post)

July 7th, 2011, 07:10
As you can see, the Training table is really just a labeled approximation of character class levels for the purpose of accounting for those people who don't have a class as defined in the C&C rules, or for those who have acquired training unrelated to their character class. Also note that since the base roll in my process is higher than in the original SIEGE checks, I have adjusted the Difficulty table to be a little more generous to make the math work out a bit closer to the original SIEGE results.

What I like about this system is that it means that I can account for any skill or training, no matter how broad or narrow the category, by simply describing the training and assigning it a training level like, "Basic" or "Adequate."

For instance, my son's Rogue has a background as a signalman in a Baron's navy. I look at that and figure he's a basic able seaman who has some decent signaling skills, so I give him a Navy Seamanship skill and a Signaling skill with a training level of "Adequate" (the equivalent of having a solid basic understanding of the necessary skills). I don't have to try to find an existing skill - or likely multiple skills - in an existing list, I just describe what the kind of training is and give it a level. In the case of the Rogue's background, his seamanship skill probably encompasses a number of related skills, and that's fine. If he needs to secure a load of crates to a wagon, I'm pretty sure he has done a lot of that & can apply his Navy Seamanship to that. If he is dealing with a chain of command issue, maybe I'll let him use his Navy Seamanship at the "Basic Understanding" level. I specifically call it "Navy Seamanship" just as a reminder that that's the kind of training he received, as opposed to learning to sail as a pirate, which would have it's own connotations for related skills.

BTW, I also really like that his ability to climb the ship's rigging is *better* with his Navy Seamanship skill than his Rogue's climbing skill until he's 5th level - for that specific maneuver, climbing rigging in rough seas, he's got a lot more experience at it than his general Rogue training conveys. Maybe if he had to climb a rope ladder in a dungeon, I'd split the difference between his Rogue climbing skill & his Seamanship skill, at least until his Rogue abilities caught up to his Seaman ship abilities.

Really the "skill" title is almost less of a skill title and more like a job title on a resume. It's a simple way of tracking a lot of skill-related info in a consistent and pretty simple way.

Some optional rules:

OPTION 1 - Rolemaster-like Maneuver Results: If you want to borrow a concept from Rolemaster's Maneuver table results, you can use how close the roll is to succeeding, over or under, determines how successful/unsuccessful they are. For instance you could say that every 1 over or under equals 10% over or under their goal of achieving 100% of their goal. So a roll that misses by 1 could mean that the Character achieved 90% of their goal. Someone who rolls over by 5 could be said to have achieved 150% of their goal, so maybe they either got more done of their task, or they got done with their task in half the time... however the GM wants to handle it. Of course, sometimes completing 90% of a task just isn't good enough :)

Personally, I really like this kind of result, because it often adds character/context to the results and leads to more role playing opportunities. It also can reward players for attempting something they're not likely to succeed at, instead of encouraging them to not even try.

OPTION 2 - Rolemaster-like Open-Ended Rolls: In Rolemaster, rolling the equivalent of a natural, unmodified 1 or 20 means that you "Open-End" either high or low. On a 1, you roll again and subtract the second roll. Likewise, on a 20 you roll again and add the second roll. You can open-end your roll multiple times, but for our purposes, we probably only need to be concerned with opening high for one roll. That way if a character is trying for a 20 with a -5 modifier, if they roll a 20, they can add a 2nd die roll: a 5 or better on that roll means success. This is definitely a bit of extra complexity, so you may just want to stay with SIEGE's current rule: a 20 always succeeds, a 1 always fails.

Any comments? I'm happy with it's complexity, but do you think it seems balanced?

July 7th, 2011, 07:28
Oh yeah, my notes:

The levels in the the training table are from the perspective of someone who would have some level of training in the occupation/skill. I'll use my son's Rogue Inorrisi with his Navy Seamanship skill as an example for the first few Training levels below.

Untrained/No understanding: This is somebody who doesn't have a clue. If Inorrisi was trying to bake a fancy souffle, he'd be pretty clueless.

Basic Understanding: This would be somebody who understands the basics of the task or subject at hand, but had no practical experience performing this task. If needed to navigate a ship to a location beyond the horizon, I'd think he would fall in this category, in that as an able seaman he'd at least have an understanding of what's involved, but he would be unlikely to have navigated a ship, especially based on instrument readings.

Adequate Training: This is someone who has a good understanding and some experience performing the task at hand. If Inorrisi were to need to perform any kind of basic seamanship skill, he'd get this bonus.

Advanced Training: This training level represents the equivalent of a Journeyman in a Guild - somebody who is pretty good at what they do, beyond the level of basic solid understanding.

Master: This is the equivalent of a Master Craftsman, a guild master.

July 7th, 2011, 13:29
thanks doc - very useful.

July 7th, 2011, 13:52
Your system looks viable, and if it works for you and your players that’s all that matters.

The only comment I will make on the specifics are that, generally speaking if the chance of failure is thought to be very low, then I would not make any roll at all. So for me modifiers for routine work are unnecessary.

Personally, although not explicitly written, I believe that NPC’s skills are generally covered by the siege engine – or at least I am interpreting them is such a way that it does.
Basically. The difference between a rogue trying to hide in shadows and a fighter is that the rogue gets a base challenge rating of 12 and gets to add his level to his dice roll, for the fighter the base challenge rating is set to 18 and he does not get to add his level to the roll.

This system can be extended to NPC’s – A baker can bake so his challenge rating is 12, but the Sea Captain would have a challenge rating of 18 (possibly after some minimal introduction). The sea captain can Navigate so the CR is set to 12, but the baker might be a land lubber, and so have no chance at all to navigate on the open sea.
You can obviously give bonuses and penalties as you see fit, but that’s about as much depth as I care to go into for the average NPC. Any NPC that might be hanging around long term, or might have plot implications tends also to have a class which makes there skill set more defined.

The CKG has a section on NPC skills, and about player secondary skills (a la AD&D), but I must admit I have not gotten round to reading that yet.
As I say it’s all a matter of preference. The Beauty of RPG is you can do whatever you want.

NPC sheets are very limited within the ruleset, and I did look at expanding them, but for the moment I decided that there were other priorities that needed addressed first.

If however people have specific ideas on how the NPC sheet's could be improved feel free to post your thoughts and we will see what comes out of the debate.

July 7th, 2011, 21:09
...as well as gives a simple framework for resolving just about anything on the fly. Love it! But I find that I have an issue, which perhaps is my misunderstanding of how to use the C&C rules.

...I know the rules allow for the kind of fudging I'm going to describe, so perhaps what I'm really looking for is a codification of the fudging?

My problems are two fold:

1) The rules are based around character classes and their related skill sets, are not geared towards NPCs or unrelated skills, like carpentry or seamanship - non-class skills are all treated generically;

2) The rules leave the issue of task difficulty pretty vague. Not a huge deal to fudge, but I'd like some consistency.

...Any comments? I'm happy with it's complexity, but do you think it seems balanced?

With how you have described your dilemma, I don't think you have any misunderstandings. It could just be that you like a bit more detail and direction while running a game?

There is nothing wrong with that, and as with any RPG it is your right to change the game to fit you and your groups needs.

C&C was created to be a rules "lite", if I am not mistaken. The more advanced kind of play can be found using the more hard core games. It's my opinion that once you use those rules, you go down a path that tends to involve more hack and slash than RP.

I agree with Sorcerer's assessment. The game itself does address how the Siege Engine challenges the players based on if their action is contested or or not, and the GM always has the final say since it is their job to do the story telling.

The CKG has included the secondary skill system that "The Crusader" magazine first introduced, but I do not believe these add the kind of control you are looking for in your rolls. This system is vague enough so that any GM could add to it with the use of house rules.

--> Is your system balanced? I think the best way to answer that is to play test it awhile, and tweak it as needed. You have put a lot of thought into it, and it does read very well. The most important thing is, does it work best for your group? If so, then the time you put into perfecting your house rule will be well worth it!

Sorcerer: I would like to see a few improvements to the C&C Ruleset Character sheet. I have mentioned before in a different post that since the CKG has come out, I have implemented a few things from it. It would be great to see some of the CKG options at least displayed on the character sheet. We use the the Mana system, as I have never agreed with the Vancian system. We also use the secondary skills.

Maybe because of the CKG, a poll could be posted to see what some of the more popular "options" are, as presented in the CKG?


July 7th, 2011, 21:46

I have not forgotten your comments on the Mana system, and I did put it on my "possible" list, but I have to admit that it is not currently near the top of it. It is certainly possible to do, although implementing it together with the current system might be a bit complicated - I also considered implementing it as an optional extension.

I don't know what the future will bring, but I have been trying to concentrate on updating the core features, which are still not perfect before moving on to the optional ones.

Just to check - I take it you are aware that by clicking the book next to the class name on the spell page that it puts you into spontaneous mode? which allows spells to be cast without memorization (you get the same number of spells per day, but you can choose from all the available spells).
This is, perhaps, not as elegant as a mana system (its a remnant of this rulesets d20 roots), but is not as restrictive as the memorization system.

July 7th, 2011, 22:36
Sorce, your suggestion caused me to go back and review the core SIEGE rules, and actually I think I'm closer to primary SIEGE than I realized... I'm just kinda rearranging a bit for my own clarity. In reassessing my idea laid out above, here's what I've changed:

1) I've de-emphasized the Prime Stat bonus by 2.

2) I made non-Prime stat rolls harder by 1.

3) Class-based rolls stay the same (i.e., Rogues doing Rogues stuff add their levels, etc.) I've added the alternative that if you're using a skill you're trained in, you get a generic "level" bonus based on a chart that assigns approximate class levels to training titles (for instance, in my example above, I've basically made my son's Rogue a 4th level Navy Seaman as far as his SIEGE checks go). In most cases the Character/NPC will have no training & get no level bonus, which is how original SIEGE normally works.

4) I had forgotten that the original SIEGE uses something called a Challenge Level (CL) - that's basically the same idea as my Difficulty table, so I actually did nothing new there. All I have done is add another option for coming up with the CL, like I did for level bonuses in #3 above. The CL is normally the level of the opponent you are rolling against (i.e., disarming a trap set by a 4th level Rogue has a CL of 4, etc.) That would still be the first choice for determining the CL. My little table may (or may not, actually) be useful for quantifying something that has no level, and is really just a version of core SIEGE again. In any case, however the CL is determined, the concept of task difficulty is already in place in SIEGE.

My Difficulty chart definitely skewed the numbers lower, making success 20% to 30% more likely than base SIEGE on the easier tasks

On one hand, I'm very pleased that what I though was a new idea is already mostly covered by SIEGE - I'd really rather not change the core rules more than necessary. But on the other hand, when I look at how the numbers for SIEGE add up, there is a much lower chance of succeeding at skill usage for abilities/skills that do not have a high stat associated with them, and a *much* lower chance if the stat is not a prime.

I guess that's what's bugging me - while I think D&D 4e makes everybody too powerful at Lvl 1, I don't like lower level characters to be so uber restricted from participating in the usage of skills. It seems like I either have to just grant them automatic success, or make them roll against often very tough odds. What I want is something in between.

Crowley72, you mention that the simple system encourages roleplaying, but I think that regardless of system complexity, when characters feel like there's almost no chance of success (like with a base 18 SIEGE check with average stats... an 85% chance of failure) then players are less likely to engage their characters as much as when they feel they have more options. I definitely don't want to bog down in number crunching (I've certainly done my share of that), what I really want is to give players some simple tools they can try to cleverly leverage into achieving their goals. I want to give them more opportunities for action that are based on the abilities of character they care about.

I very much appreciate your input, guys, as it's helping me work through this issue in my head!

I think that maybe I need to modify how/when I'm using SIEGE checks. Since it's the main mechanic for resolving stat-based issues, I think maybe I've been trying to use it too liberally. Again, I really want something in between just allowing characters to 100% succeed and making them perform really difficult rolls & thus be likely to fail. This makes me think of an old standard AD&D 1E house rule.

Since the beginning of forever my long-time AD&D 1e group has just used the ubiquitous "Roll under your Dex (or other stat) on a d20" to resolve simple movement maneuvers. If it's an easy task you might get a bonus, if it's hard you might get a negative. Much simpler than SIEGE and more generous to characters - a lvl 1 Fighter with a 12 Dex (non-primary) only has a 15% chance of making a SIEGE Dex check, but a 60% chance of rolling under their Dex on a D20. If I just use that for all simple stat/skill checks in C&C where the task is not a particularly taxing one, it gives me a way to engage characters in simple outcome rolls (and who doesn't like to roll to succeed) without burdening them with the tough rolling standards of SIEGE. Then I can use SIEGE for checks where there is a higher standard for Characters to live up to - where class & experience level really come into play.

As long as I modify when I use SIEGE rolls, I think I don't have to mess with SIEGE at all.

July 8th, 2011, 02:22

Ouch, I apologize if my last post came across as a nag. I did not intend it to be as such!

I thank you for keeping my suggestion on the list, and I will not bring it up again in the future. I am not used to people listening or being diligent with things.

The spellbook reminder helps, and will make sure my group knows about it. They seem to have it in hand, as their casting doesn't slow up the game.


July 8th, 2011, 08:16

Don't worry I didn't take it personally and I in turn was definately not having a go at you. Whenever I see an Idea or request, I try always to note it down and then later access how easy/difficult it would be to implement, alongside how much interest there is from others in the comunity. I then have to prioritize everything that needs (or people want) done. The list gets to be quite long and some stuff just does not get done.

I personally like the idea, and theoretically it should be doable, but I have to find a way to let the two systems coexist and thats usually the hard part, putting in checks to see what option has been selected and making sure none of the new code breaks the existing code. As you see from the "spontaneous mode" it is possible for more than one system to coexist- but retrofitting is often far more difficult that starting again from scratch.
anyway lets see how it goes - I have some Ideas I just need some time to work on them.


whatever works for you and your players is good.

with regard to difficulty at low levels, I would not want to make things too easy for the players, or they will lose any sense of achievement when they go up a level or two, but as you say they can become disheartened if they always seem to fail (particularly so with younger players). I deliberately have only set the ruleset to make the basic roll, with no automation to give plenty of opportunity for the GM to fudge things, or to add bonuses etc. There is still some room for improvement form my side, but that is really low priority at the moment...

July 8th, 2011, 08:36
I deliberately have only set the ruleset to make the basic roll, with no automation to give plenty of opportunity for the GM to fudge things, or to add bonuses etc. There is still some room for improvement form my side, but that is really low priority at the moment...

Well I suppose there's always room for improvement with everything, but I have no issue whatsoever with teh implementation of SIEGE rolls in the ruleset. In fact, those tables I listed above are easily created in the Modifiers window, and the whole thing can be pretty well automated. adding bells & whistles to the SIEGE implementation in my mind would be a pretty non-critical update.