Perhaps it’d be nice to see what skills and special abilities I’m using in my 2d6 game of Just Halberds.
- fist-fighting, like boxing, useful in melee
- sword-fighting, same thing, melee
- archery, for ranged combat (I allow shooting into melee)
- legends, a knowledge skill which I’m going to use to dump setting info, knowing that I have at least one player that is interested; maybe also an indicator that they want to create some aspects of the setting; generally something I wouldn’t suggest you add to your skill list but I asked for player input and this is what I got so I’m going to roll with it
- smart, an even trickier skill selected by a child and inspired by a TV show; it’s tricky because I think smart play is what players do; for now I’m simply using it to give advice and warnings to the party; I guess you could think of it as a call for support and I’m totally willing to lend that support
In general, I think you can pick any skill list a game and it would work.
Special abilities are trickier. Let’s talk about spells, first.
- air control is a spell, but it’s hard to put to good use; I don’t mind but it does require some thinking outside the box; for now players have used it to collect giant mushroom spores and to deliver those spores into the noses of orcs...
- fireball is a simple spell that works as expected, except D&D players may expect it to be very powerful but if a newly created character is getting it, I feel it’s more like a flaming missile...
- icicle is a spell that deals damage, maybe pierces things, or shatters, or freezes water upon impact; no issue there
- protection is a bit harder to figure out: does it provide a +1 one for the entire fight, or just for defence? I haven’t decided
- talk with animals works quite well
- wave is a spell to wash people off their feet and displace them; might also deal damage if they are smashed into stuff; needs some water to be carried along, of course
As for other special abilities:
- guard is a special ability for fighters where they can interpose themselves between an attacker and a defender; a good idea if tough orcs are attacking your mages; the tricky part is deciding when your fighter is out of actions; I guess if the fighter keeps taking damage, no problem, and if the fighter wins the opposed role, regaining the initiative means they then get to nominate somebody else to act, so there’s no actual problem at the table
- sneaking is a straight forward specialisation; I’m not sure what sort of extra effect its use would have... perhaps this should be a skill instead of a special ability?
I’m also thinking of other skills and special abilities:
- hardened might be a skill (anybody can learn it) that just grants you an extra hit
If you can take every skill and special ability just once that also puts a kind of limit on the numbers because it sounds awkward if your profession is fighter and your skills are sword-fighting, blade-mastery, duelling, and agility, for a total of +5 when attacking with your sword. Then again, perhaps that’s what your players like? I think I wouldn’t like any bonus that goes beyond +3. Pick a profession, maybe a skill, and maybe a special ability, and maybe use a magic weapon, that’s how you get a maximum of +4. Sounds good to me! The rest should be special abilities that grant you special effects if you use them. I think that’s going to be more entertaining.
I guess what I’d suggest, therefore:
- pick a list of evocative spell names from some rules you like or make up your own (picking spells from a list you already know makes it easier to agree on the effects, I’d say – specially if you’re just starting); as for myself I’m going to use my Spellcasters in this campaign so that gives me a nice set of D&D-like spells to start with
- pick a list of skills from some rules you like; make sure these skills are appropriate for your setting and tone (don’t use administration unless bureaucrats are important for cool adventures in your setting); avoid super specific skills because you only get to pick a single one when starting out; also make sure that the skills aren’t something everybody can do (if everybody can ride a horse, don’t add riding as a skill); also avoid skills you want your players to have (lying, scheming, knowing, persuading, charming – I like people to act at the
Something like this:
- some languages
- some instruments
- first aid (get people back from zero hits)
- hardiness (gives you an extra hit)
- hunting (includes reading trails)
And if your players want to be a specialist of a particular weapon, maybe whips, or throwing axes, or staves, something more than what being young, fit, and hungry for adventure would give you, just add it to the list. Same for social skills or thievery skills.
Also consider something like jousting or duelling if your game is about chivalry or some other honour code in a society dominated by ritual violence. It’s useless in combat but super important at social occasions amongst knights or samurai, etc.
Tags: RPG Indie 2d6 Just Halberds