Skill Checks: DCC gets it rightPosted: June 11, 2011
Feeling a little wonky today, so laying low and resting. But this paragraph from page 53 of the DCC RPG gets it exactly right and “fixes” one of the things that drove me nuts in all of my time playing D&D 3e with all of the skill check rolls:
Skill checks are designed for use when a system of abstract rules is necessary to adjudicate a situation. Only make a skill check when practical descriptions by the players will not suffice.
The rules go on to give an example of players entering a room where a door is hidden by clay tablets against the wall. The book suggests that if the players say they remove or look behind the clay tablets, they find the hidden door without having to roll a dice.
Resolving actions ‘just through talking’ was a big part of my introduction to roleplaying games (first using the Holmes set in 1978) and was a big part of the ‘role’ in ‘roleplaying’ in those early days… and that was how we liked it. Talking like a pirate or saying, “My character wouldn’t do X because of some pre-determined personality trait” was NOT a part of my early role playing experience — even though that seems to be how many people define ‘roleplaying.’ My definition of ‘old school roleplaying’ was mentally inserting yourself into the situation that the DM described and attempting to reason out a good course of action using your own noodle and the information at hand. Confronted with a room full of tablets, instead of just saying ‘I search’ and rolling the dice, one could attempt to read any inscriptions on the tablets, move the tablets to look under or behind them, etc. If a treasure was hidden under the bed, you would find it if you thought to say, “I look under the bed” instead of rolling a 12 or better on a dice.