In the classic d100 systems, the core mechanism by which characters improve is the “experience check”. When a character uses a skill successfully in a demanding situation, they earn an experience check against that skill. Then, at a point of the referee’s choosing, a test is made to determine whether the character learned anything through the successful use of the skill. This is done by attempting to roll more than the current skill percentage on 1d100. Success means that the character gains some percentage points in that skill. It’s an elegant system that reflects that inexperienced characters are more likely to learn something new from the successful application of a skill than grizzled veterans who have seen it all before.
In one of my earlier blogs, I looked at a selection of existing d100 systems – RuneQuest, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, OpenQuest, GORE and the BareBones Fantasy Role-Playing Game – in terms of the number of “characteristics” (e.g. Strength, Intelligence, etc.) and “skills” (e.g. Climb, Dodge, etc.) that they employ. In some cases, the answer was “a lot”. For example, the most recent version of RuneQuest has over 70 skills. A tendency for skill-inflation between successive versions of a game was also noted.
As described in the previous blog, one of the aims of this project is to develop a d100 system with a small number of character attributes and skills. To put this objective into a proper context, I thought I’d take a look at where some existing d100 games stand in this regard.
Below, I’ve summarised the number of characteristics and skills employed by several d100 systems. The list is not intended to be comprehensive. It simply represents some of the percentile-based games that I own.
As a regular feature on the excellent The Grognard Files podcast, host Dirk the Dice invites guests to talk about “Their First”, “Their Last” and “Their “Everything” role-playing game. It’s a neat format for understanding someone’s gaming tastes and influences.
My “First” was the 1981 edition of Basic Dungeons & Dragons by Tom Moldvay. At the time, I had no idea what I was buying, nor any concept of what a role-playing game was. I bought it on the strength of the name alone – “dungeons” and “dragons” – what’s not to like?