A thread was going on over at the OD&D Proboards forum on the idea of “rolling under your ability to do XYZ” and it got me to thinking along two different tracks.

The original books of OD&D didn’t have a unified task resolution system as many modern games seem to have. There was combat, of course, and saving throws to avoid Bad Things. It wasn’t until Greyhawk came out with the thief skills that we started to see task mechanics.

I think, though, that there are existing mechanics within the LBBs that can be extended to attributes. So bear with me as I walk through these…

Situations that require strength as the primary attribute to be applied could use an adaptation of the open doors mechanic – with strong (13+) characters perhaps succeeding on 1-3, very strong (17) on 1-4 and super strong (18) only failing on a 6. Penalties apply in reverse (weak: 5-8 succeed on 1, very weak: 3, 4 can never force a door or pass a test of strength – go find help!)

Similar, one could apply a similar approach using the “find secrets” mechanic to situations requiring intelligence and/or wisdom (1-2, with similar approach to bonuses/penalties as above.)

Tests of dexterity could employ a similar approach using the “activating traps” mechanic.

All of these generally use 1d6 and a 1-2 to have things succeed or happen. Which, I guess, an approximate third of the time succeeding at something could make sense, with adjusting for strong attributes. I’d also award bonuses (and even forego the check) for players that prepare, that can come up with plans and resources to make the situation more favorable to them.

If I want a bit more granularity though … I might consider adopting/adapting a Classic Traveller system back to OD&D, something that OD&D players/refs are already familiar with – the 2d6 reaction table.

Combining the reaction table pattern with the concept of situational difficulties (either random or referee ruled) – I have a way to figure out how difficult the situation is, and assign a “test” roll.

Roll 2d6 against this table:
2: Extremely difficult situation – player must throw an 11+.
3 – 5: Difficult situation – Player must throw a 8+
6 – 8: Possibility of difficulty – Player must throw a 6+.
9 – 11: Easy situation – but failure is interesting: Player must throw a 4+
12: Automatic success. No throw needed.

Now what about applying bonuses/penalties based on attributes?
3: -3
4: -2
5-8: -1
9-12: 0
13-16: +1
17: +2
18 +3

What do you think?

13 thoughts on “Situations and Resolutions in the original game”
  1. Interesting idea to randomize the target number with the 2d6 roll. I can see using that sometimes. I’ve never been totally sold on the 1d6 skill systems. It works just fine, but my experience is that D% skill systems like BRP/CoC etc ups the drama of rolls with its greater range. There’s more euphoric highs and crushingly deeper despairs. I dislike the d20 resolution for the same reason. Its just flatlined probability as opposed to a curve. I’m curious to hear how 2d6 plays out.
    How did you decide on the attribute bonus numbers? That’s not from the LBBs.

    1. For me, and this is just me – I struggle with the gaps of the d100. If someone needed to roll under 50, and they got a 96 versus a 72, what does that mean? (without some sort of gradient chart like old FASERIP/MSH) I can interpret the results of a 2d6 better than a d100. But that’s just me.

      Oddly enough, the +1 to +3 *is* out of the LBBs, but not as anything related to attributes or bonuses, but rather for magic weapons. I looked at the range of bonuses for magic weapons and by/large, they run +1 mostly, then +2 and a rare +3. That seems to fit the likelihood of attribute scores, so I’ll run with it. The rare +3 will definitely tilt odds, but perhaps not so bad. I thought about +2 for 17-18, but I thought the rare 18 should get a very nice boost.

      I rarely do attribute checks anyway, so I don’t see any of this as seriously breaking the normal flow of my game.

  2. I think OD&D could use such a mechanic, and in theory I like the 1d6 method. But, I dislike that the modifier is such a big addition with the very small span. A bigger span than 1-6 would suit me better, but as there’s already the open door mechanic in the books, I think it’s the one most grognards would buy. If I were to adopt one of these two methods you post about, it would be the reaction table one, though. The bell curve and the Traveller heritage seal the deal for me.

    In the Dragons At Dawn game I run now, the semi-unified mechanic is 2d6-2 under the attribute and after a few sessions it has become a quite mechanic for me, so 2d6 it is, even though those rules also suggest a 1d6 method, I never even remember that option!

          1. Yeah, you need to do some tweaking of the result, as the idea is to have a 1d10 scale with the basic dice they would have had around in Twin Cities in 1970 or so.

            I find it works quite nice, as you get to be creative and argue for whatever ability you want to use when e.g. intimidate someone. It reminds me a lot of the way Saving Rolls works in T&T.

          2. I find it works quite nice, as you get to be creative and argue for whatever ability you want to use when e.g. intimidate someone. It reminds me a lot of the way Saving Rolls works in T&T.

            I’ve found this approach works great in Traveller! I’ve shied away from treating the Expertises as skill/task resolution because each one is a type of minigame and I only want to engage in that if there is truly a need – most like in cases of a very difficult situation. So I rely on the overall expertise level PLUS the attributes and if they are going good in both, most of the time, I assume they can do the thing and we proceed BUT they have to tell me how they do the thing!

            Extending this to OD&D is an ongoing effort, but my Dungeon23 players have been very willing to do that so far.

    1. I think it’s the utility of throwing one dice and looking at the results that makes 1d6 a popular choice. It fits with so many of D&D’s mechanics over the years (surprise, initiative, encounter check, trap activation)

  3. This looks a lot like what Kevin Crawford did with the ‘* beyond Number’ games, only he used the B/X stat adjustments. Works great. 🙂

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