Friday, August 28, 2015

Old School conversions 2: Acrobatics

This is useful for anyone writing adventures because even though it's phrased as a conversion handbook (which is why I'm writing it) it is also a plethora of methods to use if you're writing an adventure from scratch.

So, that said, I decided to start at the beginning of the various types of challenges, so I'm looking at both the Pathfinder and the 5e rulebooks, going down the skill lists, since these define a number of different discrete challenges. They make a useful pre-generated list of challenge types. Today: acrobatic challenges

Acrobatic Challenges
Both Pathfinder and 5e have an acrobatics skill, designed for staying on your feet or generally keeping your balance. What are various old-school methods for handling this type of challenge? This is the narrow path, the tightrope, and the shifting surface.

Old-School Elements
Character Sheet: The ability to handle situations like this is contained within a couple of different factors in the old school approach. (1) the dexterity score, without reference to any additional trained skill. (2) the thief class as opposed to the other classes. (3) Wearing armor or otherwise being encumbered, which is almost always used as a factor in situations involving dexterity. (4) Race: depending on the nature of the shifting ground, a non-human race might get a racial consideration in whatever method the Referee uses. Elves in trees, dwarves on shifting stone, something along these lines. Moreover, level is always a consideration in old school approaches, since it tends to be more emphasized than ability scores (depending on the edition). Level can be just the number, or can be reflected by saving throws.

Player Skill: All of the above factors are challenges to the character sheet rather than player skill. What additional elements of player skill might be involved in an acrobatic situation? Counterweights of some kind, like the way a tightrope walker carries a pole, are the only thing that occurs to me, but something might spring out in the description of the specific situation.

Success, Failure, and Sliding-scale success
Many successes aren't a yes-or-no proposition. There is the chance for partial success, or for degrees of success. On acrobatic situations, the various possibilities include (but aren't limited to) perfect success, freezing in place (can't proceed but no bad result), sliding, tumbling, looking stupid, falling to take lesser damage, making a noise but succeeding, and total failure (falling for full damage or whatever).

Example List of Resolution Methods
(Remember, the initial description probably already describes some bad results, but these may also need to be modified). The first 6 tests are automatic and fast, depending on a single number on the character sheet, or a single die roll. The seventh and eighth entries are more complicated methods for if the challenge is important in the adventure (otherwise it's not worth the time).

(1)  Simple Stand-Fall Challenge with Simple Result 1: Each character must roll 1d6. Rolling a 1 means the character falls.
(2) Simple Stand-Fall Challenge with Simple Result 2: Any character other than a thief will fall.
(3) Simple Stand-Fall Challenge with Simple Result 3: Any character wearing plate mail will fall.
(4) Simple Stand-Fall Challenge with Simple Result 4:Any character with a dexterity score lower than 13 will fall [that's a check where only the better-than-average will succeed. If it's an easier situation, use lower than 9 to catch only the characters with lower-than-average Dex]
(5) Simple Stand-Fall Challenge with Simple Result 5: Any character of level 4+ may remain standing, all others fall
(6) Simple Stand-Fall Challenge with Simple Result 6: Each character must make a saving throw [possibly with bonus or penalty depending on general difficulty]
(7) Ability Score Complex Stand-Fall Challenge: The characters must roll [3d6, 4d6, 1d20] and compare the result to the dexterity score. If the result is less than or equal to the character's dexterity, the character [describe total success]. Thieves do not need to make the check at all [alternatively, they get a -4 or so on the die roll to reflect greater skill]. Anyone wearing plate mail must add +2 to the die roll. [usually plate mail is the only victim of this sort of thing, but "metal armor" is a more wide-ranging penalty]
(8) Saving Throw Complex Stand-Fall Challenge: The characters must roll a saving throw or fall. Thieves get a +4 [or so] on the saving throw. Anyone wearing plate mail has a penalty of -2 [or so] on the roll. [usually plate mail is the only victim of this sort of thing, but "metal armor" is a more wide-ranging penalty]

Example List of Fail/Succeed Results
Only the Ability Score or the Saving Throw types of checks give you enough of a numerical spread to generate a sliding scale of failure and success.
(1) Simple: Fall and take damage
(2) Simple: Fall prone and cannot progress
(3) Simple: Fall and stunned for [time period relevant to this part of the adventure: rounds if in combat, turns if not]
(4) Simple: Fall and knocked out for [relevant time period]
(5) Complex (saving throw): If the saving throw succeeded by 2 or more over the target number ..., if the saving throw was exactly or only 1 above the target number, ...
(6) Complex (ability check): If the number rolled was 3+ points under the character's dexterity, then ...... If the number rolled was more than 2 points over the character's dexterity, then...

No comments:

Post a Comment