Sir Robilar wrote:
Have you seen this on page 66? It's an important little rule, and I always think about it when having to decide what die type I'll let them roll:
"Finally, if the skill is something that any adult could have a reasonable chance of attempting, then any character can make a trained skill check."
Regarding your examples I would rule that:
- Opening locks is d10 for anyone but the Thief (as are other Thief skills, or Spell checks if done by a non-magic user).
- Swimming is d20 since anyone would have a reasonable chance (just like other basic movement skills such as climbing, jumping, running).
- Catching Chicken - I would let them roll a d20, as anyone might have a reasonable chance at it, unless the chicken has to be caught in a special trained way, e.g. the ancient cyclopean tradition of catching chicken with a sling made from a giant's intestines. Latter would need any occupation with the word "chicken" in it.
As far as I remember the skill rules only let characters use trained skills depending on their occupation. I'd rule however that characters also have some basic skills from their class. So in my campaign a Wizard with a Wood Cutter Background would still roll a d20 to analyse arcane writings.
Good stuff there. Thanks.
I wonder about this however. I've never caught (or tried to catch) a chicken in my life, but I can only assume that I would have a hard time, at least on a first attempt. Whereas the farmer would probably catch it in a short moment's time, laughing at my incapacity. Likewise, I've never had to break a door down, shoulder first, but I can only assume that my first attemps would probably be somewhat clumsy. Inversely, although anyone can push on a soccer ball with his foot, but I probably could make the first-timer look like a dork because I've been playing for so long. My point being: training counts for a lot IMO, in many things, including the areas where anyone has a reasonable chance of success
In-game, there are two questions that regulate skill (or ability) use: (1) training and inherent skill (each PC has more or less of it) and (2) DC.
You could argue that anything that someone has a reasonable chance of succeeding at, simply has a lower DC. Say, DC 5. Rolling a d10 gives you fair chances of succeeding. If you're trained, it gets pretty easy for you (d20). I think catching a chicken would probably be something with a DC 5 agility check, with the farmer getting the training bonus and probably succeeding rather quickly
Swimming? Well, I think that the basic assumption is that the PC either knows how to swim or not. If he doesn't, he drowns. If he knonws how to swim, he can, well, swim. The skill check would only come about if a difficult swimming task appears. Again, I would probably approach this by assuming that the DC is easy (DC 5) for somethign not too complex, say, crossing a small-sized lake. However, if somethign complex crops up, say, not drowning in the Hellriver Rapids, then I would think that the sailor with the training bonus should indeed get a decent bonus (d20) as compared to the farmer who learned how to swim as a kid and did swim a few times in his life, but no more than that (d10).
I guess my point is mostly: for anything that "anyone has a reasonable chance of succeeding at", don't roll a skill check unless it's still hard enough for one reason or another. If it is (hard enough), then set the DC consequently. A DC 5 still requires a successful roll, it's not an auto-success by any margin. But training should make that easy for the trained PC, while the others might still find it easy, albeit not as much as the one with the training.
This kind of approach (using revendddak's suggestion as a basis) allows me to be relatively liberal with class/occupation bonuses also, since it means that anything else falls into non-trained, i.e. d10. I also need to keep in mind that DC 10 and higher means very tough stuff to accomplish.