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Every Day Dungeon Master: Skills

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Welcome back Tabletop Titans! We are gathering here today to talk something that has a tendency to be really boring. Skills. In a lot of ways, skills really define what a character of any game in any setting can do. If you are playing a Paladin in the Dungeons and Dragons setting of the Forgotten Realms it helps to know if your character is any good at swimming, which isn’t really covered by the special abilities of his race and class.

skillsNow, if you are making your own campaign and don’t want to spend a lot of time working on the nuts and bolts of skills that really isn’t a problem. Almost every system out there has a comprehensive list of skills that will cover just about anything. Take fifteen minutes to look it over to see if there is anything missing and you are good to go. Now, by missing, I mean if the game you copied from either has skills your players will never use, or are missing really obvious skills that you will need that weren’t in the original list. For example, say you are running a game and the setting is Frank Miller’s Sin City. If you chose the skill list from Dungeons and Dragons, you may want to think about replacing the skill use magic device with use computer.

It’s always ok to add a skill while you are playing, so don’t stress about the list. If there is a need, believe me, your players will find the hole. I can’t tell you how many games I’ve both played in or ran that we had to add Bind or use rope. For some reason, tying up hostages or, in my seedier campaigns, bank tellers, never enters the mind until it is being done. For games with a superhero element, I suggest the skill swingline. Trust me.

skillsNow if you are happy with the style of game where every skill attempt is rolling to reach a preset difficulty level, and many are, you should be about ready to move beyond skills.   However, if you want to have a more engaged style of game you may want to spend a little more time here.

Here is something to think about; more engaging mechanics can possibly slow down your game! If you feel that your group or the tone of your game needs to be moving fast like a John Wu gun battle, then you might want to just leave skills as general rolls, or possibly check out my article on stream lining game play. If you have a more patient group that can handle some Roleplaying, then by all means, follow me.

So how did your skills list come out? Anything you found you didn’t need? Did you try to get rid of swim only to find, despite all odds that you needed it? How about any specialized skills you needed specifically for your style or setting? Hit me up in the comments.

Check out previous editions of Every Day Dungeon Master!

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