D&D 1E AD&D (yes, 2e too) players and referees, what do you think of rolling under for ability and NWP checks?

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
I had this thought in the Ascending AC thread. How do people feel about AD&D ability checks vs. WotC ability checks?

Just to summarize, in AD&D, the DM could call for an ability check, where you had to roll under your ability score on a d20. They could apply ad hoc modifiers, though I don't recall if there was any guidance for this- my DM occasionally asked for "roll under half" for very difficult rolls.

Non-Weapon Proficiencies were very similar, save that the base check was static, for example, making a Reading/Writing check, you had to roll under your Intelligence +1. Ad hoc modifiers could be applied to this as well. You could improve your chance of success by devoting additional proficiency slots (+1 per) but this was generally a terrible investment for PC's (especially once 2e exploded with the vast number of possible and occasionally overlapping NWP's).

Is the WotC system of d20+modifiers to reach a set DC better or worse, in your opinion? I think it's vastly better, but my AD&D DM naturally disagrees, lol.
 

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SableWyvern

Adventurer
If I'm running D&D, I'm most likely not interested in much in the way of a skill system at all. As such, if I was picking from ability checks, NWPs and 3e-and-onwards skills, I'd go with ad hoc, roll-under ability checks for situations when they're really required.

Godbound used what amounted to ability checks, and I did occasionally ask for such a check, but they were basically only used in situations where a character was attempting to do something at or near peak human performance, and which wasn't part of their godly portfolio.

I'm ok with thief skills, but treat them as supernatural abilities, not mundane skills.

If I'm going to ask for some kind of ad hoc check, and it's not just a fixed chance of success determined in the moment, it's most likely going to be based on saving throws.
 


James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
You should do it with 3d6.
While having a bell curve on checks is certainly better than d20, I think 1-20 maps a little bit better to the ability score spread most characters will have. If 18 on 3d6 is always a failure, an Elf with a 19 Dexterity might feel like they're being ripped off, lol.
 
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Jack Daniel

dice-universe.blogspot.com
I avoid using the mechanic entirely. I use secondary skills rather than NWPs to define characters' backgrounds and side-hustles, and I adjudicate miscellaneous actions by fiat if they aren't already covered by a rule.

I don't want ability scores to be so central to character competence, and I don't think that jumping to resolve miscellaneous tasks with a binary pass–fail roll makes for very interesting or thoughtful roleplaying.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
I don't want ability scores to be so central to character competence, and I don't think that jumping to resolve miscellaneous tasks with a binary pass–fail roll makes for very interesting or thoughtful roleplaying.
While I agree with this sentiment, the Thief says hi.
 


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