Author Topic: What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?  (Read 1470 times)

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SneeR

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What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?
« on: September 17, 2011, 08:04:24 PM »
I have played D&D 3.5 for years. I know the whole thing inside and out, so much so that my friends actually check with me before they check with a rulebook.

I have been interested in other systems, though, lately because of listening to the Brilliant Gameologists podcasts. Recently I checked out GURPS. I know that the system isn't balanced, but it does have one feature that I am enamored by:
The self-contained Skill Check.

In D&D, the idea is to roll higher than the DC for a given skill. For attacks, the DC is their AC. For skills, the DC is given in a chart and can be modified by situational penalties like tumbling through underbrush. For opposed skill checks, the DC is the opponent's skill check.

The system for D&D has 2 parts: getting your DCs lower or getting your skills higher. For most, that is a no-brainer. Optimizing a skill is simple: make your modifier so high that it is impossible to fail, even on a natural 1 (if you deem they are -10 like I do).

GURPS has a fascinating system that combines the two aspects of the D&D skill system to make the entire things self-contained! You want to roll lower than the "DC," to start. However, you make an unmodified roll to do this! Instead, all of you skill is stacked up on the "DC," all of your situational bonuses are added to it, your base stat that affects it is added to it, and any penalties you get are subtracted from it. It covers both aspects of D&D without being open-ended. You never need to consult a book or chart. Just roll under your personal "DC" after all modifiers, and you succeed!
For opposed checks, the person who beats their own personal "DC" by the widest margin is the winner.

That system has an elegance that I find fascinating. I feel that that would speed up play quite a bit!

What are the downsides of self-contained skill checks?
What are the benefits of open-eneded skill checks that D&D employs?
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SneeR
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I don't know if the designers meant you to take Skill Focus for every feat.
Sounds a little OP.

The monk is clearly the best class, no need to optimize here. What you are doing is overkill.

It's like people who have no idea what a turn signal is. They ruin it for everyone else.
When another driver brandishes a holy symbol and begins glowing with divine light, seek cover or get spattered with zombie brains. I do not see what is so complicated about this.
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Unbeliever

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Re: What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2011, 08:51:41 PM »
Wait, how do you lower DCs?  They are almost always fixed by the circumstances.  Really, D&D is a lot like GURPS, there's really only one thing that you are affecting most of the time, your own skill modifier. 

Other things that come up are perhaps circumstance modifiers to the DC -- climbing a rope in rain or hail could be harder than climbing one on a sunny day -- and those would be figured into GURPS as a skill penalty (i.e., your skill would be lower, so it'd be harder to roll under the new target number).  They are very close to functionally equivalent, with things that would affect the DCs in D&D (though none spring to mind) being represented as pluses or minuses to your skills in GURPS (e.g., injuries).

Practically, speaking, I think the bigger differences are that in GURPS everything is nearly always a skill check in some form and in a fairly transparent way, and that rolling 3d6 has a much different character than d20 (bell curve v. linear). 

SneeR

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Re: What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2011, 09:01:35 PM »
Well, the problem I see with D&D a lot is that eventually the d20 roll doesn't even matter since the DCs remain the same and the skill modifiers creep up. Failing is almost impossible at higher levels.

While GURPS has the same sort of thing, yes, you never exactly get to the point where you need to roll 87 to succeed when you have a +137 modifier.

Also, you can lower the DC in D&D by doing simpler things. Climb a ladder rather than a rope or wall. Tell an easily believed lie rather than the mother of doozies.
The answer to everything:
[spoiler][/spoiler]
SneeR
[spoiler]
I don't know if the designers meant you to take Skill Focus for every feat.
Sounds a little OP.

The monk is clearly the best class, no need to optimize here. What you are doing is overkill.

It's like people who have no idea what a turn signal is. They ruin it for everyone else.
When another driver brandishes a holy symbol and begins glowing with divine light, seek cover or get spattered with zombie brains. I do not see what is so complicated about this.
[/spoiler]

Garryl

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Re: What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2011, 09:24:16 PM »
It's the same thing, only with the numbers shifted around, if I'm understanding you correctly. Please correct me if I've misunderstood.

D&D: Roll a die, add your modifiers (representing your skill at accomplishing the task) and compare to the DC (representing the objective difficulty of the task).
GURPS: Roll a die, compare to the DC (representing some fixed value plus the objective difficulty of the task and reduced by your skill at the task).

I prefer D&D's version. It gives you an objective baseline to compare multiple characters to (their modifiers) and to compare tasks to (their DCs). Also, I prefer systems where either bigger is better or smaller is better (either way, as long as it's consistent, but I do slightly prefer bigger to smaller).
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Unbeliever

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Re: What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2011, 12:00:53 AM »
As Garryl indicated, they really do become the same thing.  Although GURPS often does not have as high level of characters.  This is from 3rd Edition (NB:  I profess mostly ignorance towards the 4th edition), but Conan, King of Aquilonia is like a 250 point character and his Greataxe skill is like 26.  So, you can imagine how often he misses with 3d6 roll less than your skill. 

Now, of course, it works in the system b/c that lets him make head and neck shots with impunity, or fight when seriously wounded, while dangling over a cliff by his toes, in the rain, with a hangover.  But, you get the idea. 

veekie

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Re: What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2011, 05:07:51 AM »
It's the same thing, only with the numbers shifted around, if I'm understanding you correctly. Please correct me if I've misunderstood.

D&D: Roll a die, add your modifiers (representing your skill at accomplishing the task) and compare to the DC (representing the objective difficulty of the task).
GURPS: Roll a die, compare to the DC (representing some fixed value plus the objective difficulty of the task and reduced by your skill at the task).

I prefer D&D's version. It gives you an objective baseline to compare multiple characters to (their modifiers) and to compare tasks to (their DCs). Also, I prefer systems where either bigger is better or smaller is better (either way, as long as it's consistent, but I do slightly prefer bigger to smaller).
Indeed, its the same fundamental effect. Just in a different order. If you sum up all factors you're just taking Roll+Skill-Difficulty.

To compare, take a White Wolf roll mechanic.
You take Stat(1-5) + Skill(1-5) + Speciality(0-1) - Circumstance(+/- 3) - Difficulty(varies).
This is the number of d10s you roll. You need to get 8-10 on a d10 for a success, with 5 successes being a critical success.
The best racecar driver(5+5+1) is going to have a small but significant chance of having an accident while driving on normal roads in ideal conditions.
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weenog

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Re: What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2011, 12:23:31 PM »
The best racecar driver(5+5+1) is going to have a small but significant chance of having an accident while driving on normal roads in ideal conditions.

Which he will then proceed to emo about for the next six months.
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SneeR

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Re: What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2011, 09:57:25 PM »
True, the two have virtually the same efffect, but the DC system is more universal: The higher the DC, the more fantastic the maneuver and the fewer people that can do.

The self-contained, however, is personal. The only reason you couldn't do it was because this time was a failure. Sure, some things will be impossible because of the situational penalties making any roll a failure, but I do like the idea that there is no need to pore thorugh the book for the DC.

I don't know what I'm looking for. I guess I feel that since the self-contained is so personal, it is like a personal challenge... Perhaps it fosters better roleplaying? I don't know...
The answer to everything:
[spoiler][/spoiler]
SneeR
[spoiler]
I don't know if the designers meant you to take Skill Focus for every feat.
Sounds a little OP.

The monk is clearly the best class, no need to optimize here. What you are doing is overkill.

It's like people who have no idea what a turn signal is. They ruin it for everyone else.
When another driver brandishes a holy symbol and begins glowing with divine light, seek cover or get spattered with zombie brains. I do not see what is so complicated about this.
[/spoiler]

veekie

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Re: What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2011, 03:18:20 AM »
There is functionally no difference at all save for the curve of the dice mechanic. Other than ill defined DCs(some DCs have circumstantials included like climb and balance, some do not, like knowledges) the d20 roll mechanic is if anything, far faster to process.
D20:
Math needed:
-Once off: Roll modifier, you sum up everything, save for rare circumstantial bonuses. Player-side only
-Each time: Base DC + Circumstance if any. GM side only
-Comparison: Roll over DC. Anyone with both numbers can compare.

GURPS:
-Once off: Skill Modifier total. Player side only
-Each time: Base Difficulty(may be a negative number, GM side) + Skill(Player side) +circumstance(GM side). Sum of three d6s.
-Comparison: Roll under

Anything more or less is your own preconception imposed on the system.
The mind transcends the body.
It's also a little cold because of that.
Please get it a blanket.

I wish I could read your mind,
I can barely read mine.

"Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. At 2:15, it begins rolling up characters."

[spoiler]
"Just what do you think the moon up in the sky is? Everyone sees that big, round shiny thing and thinks there must be something round up there, right? That's just silly. The truth is much more awesome than that. You can almost never see the real Moon, and its appearance is death to humans. You can only see the Moon when it's reflected in things. And the things it reflects in, like water or glass, can all be broken, right? Since the moon you see in the sky is just being reflected in the heavens, if you tear open the heavens it's easy to break it~"
-Ibuki Suika, on overkill

To sumbolaion diakoneto moi, basilisk ouranionon.
Epigenentheto, apoleia keraune hos timeis pteirei.
Hekatonkatis kai khiliakis astrapsato.
Khiliarkhou Astrape!
[/spoiler]

There is no higher price than 'free'.

"I won't die. I've been ordered not to die."

Unbeliever

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Re: What are the advantages of the DC Skill System?
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2011, 04:55:37 AM »
Hate to break it to you but Veekie is pretty right.

The only possible benefit might be that you don't have to look up DCs. But you will often - perhaps almost always - be using the equivalent of circumstance modifiers. Or a lot of the rolls are opposed - which is the same as they would be in D&D.

That being said I sort of hate looking up DCs. I might just create a straightforward easy (10) skilled (15) and so forth system. Really crazy things that need DC 85 I can live with looking up.