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AA RPG WiP: Skills & Backgrounds

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AA RPG WiP: Skills & Backgrounds

I’m currently working on an RPG… It’s not even in a playtestable form, yet. However, I have some ideas I’d like to share.

A bit of background: my working title for the RPG is AA RPG (Asmor’s Awesome RPG). I’ll change it when I come up with something better.

It’s sort of a hybrid of a class-based system and a point-based one. Each character will have three important choices to make; race, background, and class.

Today I’ll be talking about background. Background primarily affects your skills. So first, I’ve got to talk about skills…


Skill checks, like most things in the system, are d100 based. The GM assigns a difficulty, and you roll d100 and add your modifier. If you meet or beat the difficulty, you pass.

Most skills are categorized into one of 5 skill groups. There are also some combat skills which do not fall into any skill group.

  • Athletics: Running, Jumping, Strength, Climbing, Swimming, Balance, Block
  • Crime: Disable Device, Stealth, Pick Pocket, Sleight of Hand, Hide, Disguise
  • Knowledge: History, Science, Strategy, Religion, Arcana, Nature, Geography, Resist Magic
  • Social: Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Empathy, Detect Lies
  • Awareness: Spot, Search, Listen, Intuition, Detect Magic, Dodge
  • Special (not a skill group): Parry, Ranged, Melee, Initiative

Your skill modifier is the sum of the points you’ve placed in the skill, your mastery for that skill’s group, and any other bonuses, e.g. racial bonuses.

Skill Group Mastery

One important innovation in my skill system is that training any skill actually makes you better with a variety of related skills. You have a mastery rating for each skill group, equal to half the sum of the points you’ve spent in that skill group, rounded down. For example, if you’ve got 5 points in stealth and 10 points in hide, you’d have a Crime Mastery rating of 7 ([10+5]/2). Your total modifier for stealth checks would be 12 (7+5) and your modifier for hide would be 17 (7+10). For any other skills in the Crime skill group, you’d have a modifier of 7.

The special skills do not belong to a skill group and do not receive any mastery bonuses. It’s also important to note that only spent skill points grant mastery; other skill bonuses do not.


Your background gives you a number of skill points for certain skill groups, and a number of general skill points which can be spent as you please, per the table below.

  • Martial: Someone trained to fight. E.g. bodyguard, militia
  • Religious: Someone trained in the ways of the clergy. E.g. priest, temple maiden
  • Nobility: Someone from the noble courts. E.g. prince, vizier
  • Street: A poor peasant from an urban area. E.g. beggar, thief
  • Rural: Someone raised in the countryside. E.g. farmer, hunter
  • Merchant: “Middle-class” people with decent jobs. E.g. trader, cobbler
  • Entertainer: Someone skilled in giving others a good time. E.g. jester, courtesan.
  • Academic: Someone who’s spent a significant portion of their life studying or experimenting. E.g. student, professor.

A starting character may not put more than 10 points in any single skill, and not more than 40 points in any skill group.

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8 Responses

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  1. Machpants said
    Hey Asmor, looks interesting but I have 1 point and 1 query. Point: I would put Resist magic into special, that does not seem a result of academic knowledge to me. However I do not know the fluff behind how magic works in AARPG Query: Why do the entertainer and academic backgrounds get more points? Overall I like the idea, 4E did not go far enough to split and balance combat/non-combat class mechanics. I.e. Why (if the Rogue is a perfectly good striker) does he get more skills than ranger? How is this sort of out of combat stuff balanced, answer it is not. MP PS. I think you should change the name to Asmor's Roleplaying System (Experimental) until you can think of a better name ......
  2. Asmor said
    Resist magic is in there mostly for systemic reasons. Specifically, I like having dodge in awareness and block in athletics, but there was no elegant way to "balance" out magical defenses without giving them access to a mastery bonus as well.The short answer to your question about the extra points is that the two backgrounds give less control on their points than other backgrounds.The academic gets more points because it lacks versatility, and also because the knowledge skills are arguably less useful than most other skills.The entertainer gets more points to make up for the fact that you're being forced to spread your points around in a number of different areas. Note, for example, that the entertainer is not capable of "maxing out" any skill group, while the academic gets one maxed automatically and the other backgrounds can all choose to max either of two groups.
  3. Asmor said
    Oh, and regarding the name, very clever. :p
  4. Machpants said
    Ah that makes sense, I wasn't looking at the maxing out.As to my name idea, I think I am a wit but am often only half right ;-)
  5. Asmor said
    I've been thinking about your comment earlier, "Overall I like the idea, 4E did not go far enough to split and balance combat/non-combat class mechanics."That was in fact one of my primary motivations when I started thinking about designing my own system, quite a while ago... I'm glad that inspiration shows through, but now that I think about it, by integrating the combat skills in with the rest of them, I've kind of lost that purity.In my original vision, a "rogue" would always be as effective in combat as any other rogue, but depending on background would be better at different non-combat things. However, that is clearly not the case here...Thanks for the reminder. I'll have to give some more thought to this.
  6. I like it. Just dislike the d100. Why can't it work with d20s?
  7. Asmor said
    It can, but I like the granularity of the d100. For example, one problem with the d20 system in D&D is that if any item can give a bonus to any stat, those bonuses can be stacked and break the system... hence, for example, in 4th edition, your AC bonus only comes from armor, your other defenses only come from your neck item, and your attack bonus only comes from weapons/implements.With this system, I can give out lots of little bonuses with little worries about people stacking a particular stat.
  8. Asmor said
    So I've decided I'm removing the combat related skills entirely... Combat statistics will strictly be based on your class.

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