View Full Version : Making skill check more meaningful

June 26th, 2016, 16:14
Opening a general discussion to make CoC skill rolls more meaningful; topic is general to CoC ruleset, not an FG-specific topic.

We play 6th Edition - and have no plans moving to 7th even when it's released -, and we've been toying with some rules for easy/easy/hard/extreme skill checks similar to 7th. Essentially we apply bonus or hindrance dies to such skill checks. While it works out ok and brings some realism into skill checks by GM's (my) ability to apply a task difficulty adjustment, it's cumbersome, technical, and slows the game.

An even easier system would be just to add/subtract 10/20/30 points based on the difficulty. But that would give a huge boost to someone with a skill of 20, and bring someone with a skill of 80 to unfailing territory. But perhaps that's actually a desirable feature!

As a related topic, I read an article How To Make Skill Checks Not Suck/ (http://www.gnomestew.com/game-mastering/gming-advice/how-to-make-skill-checks-not-suck/) which had a lot of good tips. One that really struck me was the option of having skill checks not be a win/fail scenario like they are in CoC.

For example, a "normal" skill success would be a success as intended, a critical hit (96-100) would be a spectacular success. Critical failure (01-05) would be a spectacular failure. But a "minor" failure close but not quite the skill level would be a success with consequences. So, for example, rolling 40 with a Fast Talk skill of 30 might get the characters into the library's closed section as fire inspectors, but after an hour the librarian would have second thoughts and come looking for the investigators, or would insist on accompanying them, thus hindering their efforts to steal the Necronomicon.

Benefits would be that the GM would be able to transparently fudge the results based on difficulty. This is much more organic way to to do skill checks, and not the frustrating "you fail to convince the librarian you are a fire inspector. You can try again tomorrow, or shoot the librarian in the face to get in."

I'm not sure how to define the "minor" failure, though. Should I take, say, any roll which is 20% or 20 points above char's skill as minor failure? Or use a sliding scale, so one point above is a success with the librarian comes looking for the investigators after an hour, twenty points above the librarian calls the police rather than come looking for them, and thirty points or more they outright fail.

Any thoughts?

June 26th, 2016, 19:08
I've always applied a modifier to their skill when I thought that something was more awkward or easier.

I get them to roll and tell me what they rolled (or I see myself) and then I check that against the PC's skill. I then make an informed decision. For example, it's raining and they've got a flat tyre on their car but they're trying to escape a following car of cultists. I get them to make a drive automobile and I've already applied a -30% to it for the rain and another -20% for the flat tyre. The PC has a drive auto of 80 and rolls, he rolls a 30 and that's above the 20, so he failed, but by only 10, so I decide he loses control of the car and crashes it, without hurting others. Now I didn't tell them it was -50, I kept it secret and told them the outcome on what they thought a good success.

It makes the game work better, and makes the players believe they were successful, when in fact they failed. Another example of this is Library Use, just because you rolled just under your skill, it shouldn't mean you found all the clues.

So the difficulty rating is done in % and by me, and the success of partial success is decided by me. Not very scientific, but it allows me to 'fudge' the odd roll and get the players where I want them without pushing.