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So, the most important piece of information I have to post here is that I finally got the call on the job I was hired for at the first of June. So, starting tomorrow, I’ll be gainfully employed. This has been big on my mind for a while, as one might expect if you knew that I’ve been unemployed since late January, 2011. Over two years. I’ll be glad to have some positive cash flow, finally.

As to the StarSea, I haven’t really given it much thought, except in finding images that fit the setting that might inspire something else. My focus in gaming has been on my current game (the PCs are about to enter the Elemental Chaos prior to leading an assault on the Abyss) and skills in 4e.

I pretty quickly put together an idea for converting 4e skills to percentages. While my PCs are in the Epic Tier, it’s still frustrating to have them completely smoke skill challenges. Last session included two rolls of 49. Admittedly, those were rolls of 19, but that meant, in each case, that the PC had a bonus of 30 at 23rd level. The High DC at that level is 37. This weekend’s was nowhere near as crazy, but the potential still exists. A couple of the characters have a bonus of 32 or better with one or more of their skills. When Hard DCs for their levels are only about 5 higher, it becomes difficult to challenge them, especially with the special rules for advantages for skill challenges. I think eliminating some of those advantages might be the simplest solution, but I’d like to reintroduce the percentile roll to the game in general. I won’t be changing my current game, but I might use a percentage system for the StarSea.

The thing is, I’m not sure the percentages I come up with are high enough. What I used, as a quick idea, was to start with the related attributes as a base for each skill, adding in level as a percentage, plus 5% for every +1 bonus or penalty the players have available to them (such as training, skill focus, or armor penalties). The percentages aren’t bad for Epic Level characters, but for lower level characters (which I have included for comparison) the percentages aren’t that great. I like the idea of competent PCs, and low percentage level skills don’t work with that. It’s something that I need to think about more. I’m also considering redoing the DC chart. If anyone has seen a better chart, (than even the revised chart from Essentials), please let me know. I’m also even considering… D&D 5th Ed! (Still won’t call it “Next.”)

I’ve also continued to think about Bare Bones Fantasy and Warrior Rogue Mage. I think the idea of classes as broad skills has an elegance and simplicity that is amazing. For BBF, I think I’d have to add a couple of skills, or redefine most of the “requires levels” skills, to make that system work for me. But it’s tempting, especially as BBF is Creative Commons. However, I think FATE could be used in a similar fashion. Even that dreaded 5e is going in that direction with the new Specialities and Backgrounds ideas.

Well, I’m pretty much out of juice, and I have to get up in the morning, for a change. See you next week.


About docryder

I'm an experienced table top gamer with an open mind to new game systems. I'm looking to explore ideas I've got. Some are pretty meta, some are pretty mundane. Welcome to my world.

Posted on June 10, 2013, in D&D 4e. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Sounds like what you want is the skills to increase at a larger rate when the characters are in their lower levels, but to increase at a lower rate in the upper levels. What come to mind is the bell curve, with level 1 being smack dab in the middle, level 6 (or so, I’m guessing) at one standard deviation and level 12 at two standard deviations.

    The way a bell curve works is that 80% of the population falls with the first deviation, and 96% the second. See the graph on this page (

    What I’m imagining is that level one starts at the center and works out towards one side. The only thing I wouldn’t be able to tell you is at which level you see SD1 and SD2. The skills a character earns when leveling up follow the curve, meaning there is a lot of benefit when moving from level 1 to level 2, but very little when moving from level 29 to 30.

    Make sense?

    • Yes and no. A bell curve would be nice, but it’s more that the swing of a d20 kills the way the game works. Unlike the days when we were playing in high school, now the d20s are marked 1 to 20, instead of the two dice we used to roll (unless you did like some of us and colored the die). Every number on the d20 has the same chance to come up, just like every other side of the die. So you’re as likely to roll a 20 as a 1.

      However, when you combine this with crazy bonuses to that d20, the game skews. So, that 37 Hard Difficulty Class means that the player needs a +17 (at least) to pass the challenge. But when skill bonuses are half level (so my players were sitting on at least a +11). Add in a stat bonus, some of which are as low as 0 but in their favored skills, they have a stat over 25, which is a +7 (meaning a typical bonus of +18), training bonus is +5, that 37 DC is beaten with a roll of 14. Both characters who rolled the 49s were seven higher than that, through use of powers and magic items.

      Writing this, the more I think about it, the more I think it’s just a matter of adjusting the charts, rather than the hoops of trying to develop a new system.

      Thanks for the ideas, as it got me to think about what my issues are: the designers didn’t really account for speed at which players acquire things that boost their rolls.

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