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Ability Checks versus Skill checks

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quaffeine
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Ability Checks versus Skill checks

Post by quaffeine » Fri Feb 11, 2022 9:01 am

Curious on thoughts on using m20 Skill Checks versus "straight" or "raw" Ability Checks. The question e.g. "Strength, or Physical?" has been asked in many sessions in the current campaign (shout-out to @squirewaldo :lol: ), and it's got me thinking on when you might use one over the other.

Specifically, the math that makes be thinking about this is that Skill Checks include that additional bonus (as written in most rulesets, d20 + LVL + Ability Bonus + Skill Bonus vs. DC), while a straight check wouldn't.

For those who use both, what's the difference of using, say, STR compared to Physical as noted above?

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squirewaldo
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Re: Ability Checks versus Skill checks

Post by squirewaldo » Fri Feb 11, 2022 9:44 am

Hmmmmm. It seems to me that in only a few instances you would use a 'simple ability check' vs a full blown 'skill check'. Not because it is inherently wrong, but because it is confusing (at least to me). There needs to be some justification for NOT just using the skill check. If the only justification is that you don't want it to be too easy, I would suggest increasing the DC (however I do understand that when you get higher level characters the DC may have to be ridiculous when you start adding ability, skill, level, and perhaps an additional modifier, but is that really the case? I suspect a 30 DC is going to be tough for even higher level characters.).

However... there are some instances when a simple ability check is more appropriate. So if the action is more or less a Will Save, I could see how a simple MIND check would be clearer and appropriately more difficult. How about saving for poison? STR. Dodging a trap? DEX. But even with these examples perhaps a skill check would be better or at least no worse? How did you do the Will Save? Could a skill be used in combination? How about the poison, was there knowledge of an antidote that helped reduce the effects? Even dodging a trap could involve physical, subterfuge, or knowledge. And of course increasing the DC when you add the level and the skill.

Part of the fun of Microlite20, IMHO, is that you get to improvise what the Skill Check involves, and how the Character actually does it. There is no one right way of doing any skill check.

Again there is nothing wrong with using a simple ability check vs a skill check (and in fact there are situations where it makes a lot of sense), but I do ask why? How is it better than just using the standard mechanic of the game? In the absence of a reason I would avoid it. Life is complicated enough, why make it more so? I have a hard enough time remembering the rules to my own games I have written.

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Re: Ability Checks versus Skill checks

Post by squirewaldo » Fri Feb 11, 2022 10:31 am

I think your exorcism during the last game was a great opportunity for a simple or raw ability check. It made it simpler, not more complicated. It made a lot of sense (which skill would be used for that???? and why???). And most important it made it more fun since the process was expedited.

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Re: Ability Checks versus Skill checks

Post by quaffeine » Sat Feb 12, 2022 6:19 pm

Yeah, I've been kind of leaning the same way, that "Saves" or "Resistances" are the appropriate use for "straight" ability checks, where anything a PC does intentionally they'd probably want to do with skill (or even Skill).

Since Abilities confer bonus to other stats, I think we've convinced me that only in extraordinary circumstances would a "raw" Ability check be appropriate.

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