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The Skill Fix!

Here’s the fix:

Characters can have skills that do nothing mechanical, like say Persuasion for example, let’s say it does zip & nada for you dice-wise, you need to roleplay it out, but here’s the fix: when you do use it, you get an XP bonus. Max once per session or rather, every session where you have used one or more of your “the skill fix!” skills you get an XP bonus equiv to one tenth of a level (in addition to other XP you’re getting).


Y’all know how I hate skill checks in RPGs. Especially for things that are fun or scary to do at the table, like solving puzzles or making decisions or roleplaying social situations. Yes, I know that it’s scary but that’s also what makes it fun to attempt to do. Even after many years I’m still really bad at them but that’s part of the appeal & “danger” of them. I don’t mind skill check for things that are not fun to do at the table like fighting or lockpicking.

In our 5e game, we use the “Ability Check Proficiency” variant from the DMG, but before that came out we did use skills but we had just straight up banned Intimidation, Deception, Persuation and Investigation. Maybe there were more also. I was like “it’s better that you just know right away that these skills aren’t gonna be used”.

It led me to think that there were two ways of defining a character. One was to build ‘em up out of skills like Lego bricks. The other was to work from a completely capable baseline but add ideals, bonds, traits & flaws to chisel out a complex & real person by a subtractive process instead of an additive one.

Fair enough. But there are plenty of games out there that are otherwise good except for the fact that they have some of these skills. And sometimes for good reason; many players do respond well to the idea of building their character up additively from what they can do (what skills they have) rather than through what they can’t do (what flaw they have).

Hence “the skill fix!”. Use the system, just replace any skill you’d rather roleplay out to “this skill gives you no increased chance of success, no dice roll, no flowers no wedding dress, no nothing but if your character does the thing you get more XP that session”. They don’t stack but the more such skills you have, the greater the chance that you’d used one of them. And, this doesn’t or shouldn’t prevent any other player from doing the thing just as well. Anyone can fast-talk, but people who have invested in the fast-talk skill gets an XP bonus for doing it.

Is this inspired by keys in The Shadow of Yesterday? Yes, a it is, a little. And from the “exceptional skill use” rule in the Rules Cyclopedia. Exceptional skill use as in “you used a skill for something anyone could do without a skill”.