Tuesday 1 October 2013

Simple Cyberpunk Skills

So, after deciding to make the Cyberpunk adventure I'm writing DnD-compatible, I started thinking about how to do the skill system. PCs will probably want investigative skills, technological skills, etc. One option is to adapt the Stars Without Number skill system, but I'm not entirely happy with it and anyway I would have to adapt it a bit. So here's a draft of a simple, flexible, skill system for DnD-based Cyberpunk adventures.


Rather than giving a complete list of skills, I've decided to just give examples, loosely categorized. It seems to me that this gives the skills a more organic feel and greater flexibility.  In fact, there is certainly overlap between the tasks that a skill covers. There are no skill descriptions. Rather the DM should rule whether a skill applies to a specific situation.  Skills are distributed on a scale of 0-10:

  • Language Skills
    • English, Japanese...
  • Academic Skills(learned in University, private Corporate academy, etc...)
    • Architecture, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Literature, Medical Doctor, Nano-Tech, Nursing, Theology...
  • Career Skills(learned on the job)
    • Infantry Soldier, Jewellery Thief, Naval Mechanic, Police Detective...
  • Technical Skills(learned in practice)
    • Drive Automobile, Guitar, Gunsmith, Hacker, Pilot Fixed-Wing...
  • Physical Skills
    • Acrobatics, Distance Running, Swimming...
  • Martial Skills
    • Fencing, Handgun, Karate, Filipino Knife Fighting, Rifle, SMG…
  • Other Skills
    • Etiquette, Fashionable Dress, Gambling, Oratory, Interrogate, Resist Torture...

Using Skills

Skill checks are d20 based, modified by the relevant ability score bonus and and the relevant skill level. The DM should rule what ability score/skills are relevant for a given task. The roll is made vs. a target value. Rolls less than or equal to the target values are considered successful, with natural 20’s always denoting success and natural 1’s always denoting failure . Target values are generally:

  • 5 easy task.  Generally doesn't require a roll
  • 10 somewhat challenging task
  • 15 moderately challenging task
  • 20 moderately challenging skilled task
  • 25 difficult skilled task
  • 30 nearly impossible task

Example: Detective Hobbs uses is searching a crime scene for clues. The Target Value for him to find the 3 hairs under the recliner is 15. So he will need to roll 15 or more on 1d20+INT bonus+his Police Detective skill.

Example: Hacker Damien is trying to hack into a Megacorp's top secret accounts. There's tons of security, so he'll need to roll a 30 on a 1d20+INT bonus+his Hacker skill--not very likely! If he rolls a 25, then he'll get the data, but be detected. He kidnapped a corporate officer and has his passwords, so the GM ruled that this reduces the target value by 5. If he breaks-in and tries from the man's office then this will reduce them by an additional 10.

Opposed Skill Checks

Some skill checks are against another character’s skill. As such, the target value is whatever that character’s skill roll is.

Example: upon questioning a junkie who was at the scene of the crime, the man flicks out a switchblade and attempts to stab Detective Hobbs. The junkie rolls 1d20+DEX Modifier+ Knife Fighting skill vs. Hobbs’ 1d20+DEX Modifier+Karate skill(Karate being a martial art which practices weapon defence.)

Example: Detective Hobbs is interrogating the junkie he brought in for useful information. The junkie has no skill to resist interrogation, so Hobbs will roll 1d20+CHA bonus+Police Detective skill vs. the Junkie’s 1d20+CHA bonus.

Missile Attacks

Missile weapons are made against a character’s AC(using ascending AC). Note that the DEX bonus doesn't apply if a character is just standing there, unaware they are being targeted. Also note that the degree to which the character is concealed can raise AC by between 1 and 4 points.

Example: As a suspect charges him with a Monokatana, Detective Hobbs draws and fires his sidearm. He rolls 1d20+DEX bonus+Pistol skill vs AC 10+DEX bonus.

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