I love attribute tests. Players are always trying to do weird stuff, and the DMG says that everything, no matter how ignorant or seemingly impossible, should have a percentage chance of success, however they really don’t give you any ideas about how to arrive at these magic numbers.
Now then, the very first issue of Dragon Magazine Wesley D. Ives had written a marvelous article about how to arrive at these percentages, a system that is more time consuming, but at the same time, a bit more interesting then my current way.
My current way of determining if a character can do something or not is to have them roll an ability check. Say, a Player’s INT is 14, and their WIS is 12, if I wanted to find out how perceptive a character is, I’d have them add up their INT and WIS, then divide by 2. (14+12=26, 26 ¸ 2 = 13) Then we check this number against a d20. The chances of seeing cool stuff is way to good.
Ives’ system is a bit more complicated, but, like I said, it makes things somewhat more unsure then just having to roll under a 13 on a d20, especially since there are too many players that think that all of their stats need to be 18’s straight across the board.
STRENGTH: Any extraordinary physical activity.
CONSTITUTION: All questions of stamina; swimming, running, staying awake, going hungry, etc.
DEXTERITY: Manual manipulation of devices, balance and climbing, tying/untying knots, etc.
INTELLIGENCE: Discovering proper method of operating all mechanical devices, including all magical devices; Discerning patterns, deducing cause and effect, recognizing types of lairs, learning new languages and skills, etc.
WISDOM: Divining “correct path“ of action, recognizing functions of devices, etc.
CHARISMA: Believability, persuasiveness, morale of followers, etc.
IVES’ METHOD OF DETERMINING THE TARGET NUMBER
Whenever a character attempts to do an action that would tax his abilities, and isn’t covered by the NONE-WEAPON PROFICIENCY rules, we’ll have the character generate a number between 1 and 100, this number will be the Target Number, or what he needs to role below with a percentile dice.
The first thing that we need to do is: 1. Generate a number from 1-100, and consult the table below. We’ll roll the dice, and add the characters ability in question to the result.
2. Using the type of die called for, generate a number, and multiply this number by the amount of the attribute being tested. This number is the percent chance of success.
Lets try it out. Lardbutt is a barbarian who wants to smooth talk a saucy tart. Lardbutt’s CHA is a very stout 4, thus we’ll roll a d100 and we get a 24, adding his awesome CHA score will give us a 28. Checking the number against our handy dandy little chart, which tells us to roll a d6. Lardbutt roles a 2, so we will multiply 2 and his CHA, which gives us a 8% chance of Lardbutt being able to smooth talk the lady without getting slapped for his trouble.
Lets try it again. Lardbutt finds this cool contraption parked against the side of the road. He looks at it and he ponders its purpose. Now, Lardbutt the Barbarian has a WIS of 6. He rolls up a 45 on a 1d100, giving him a score of 51. The chart says to roll a d8, which he does and gets a 7. We multiply 6 and 7, thus our Target Number is 42. Lardbutt has a 42% chance of figuring out that the contraption that he is looking at is a Catapult, and somehow, the thing will throw the large rock that is loaded into the basket.
It’s that simple! Of course it isn’t perfect, especially with feats of Strength, you’ll still probably want to use the Open Doors, and Bend Bars/Lift Gate method of solving those riddles, but for all of those questionable things that we aren’t sure what will happen, this is a workable system!
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