Getting the Most Out of Your Skill System, Part One
Players can only ask questions or declare actions, and they should never have to refer to skill names to do it. Only ask for a roll if the PC can succeed, can fail, and there is a risk or cost for failure. One roll is sufficient, unless that roll changes the situation. Of course, you can roll multiple times if there is a ticking clock the party can see, but don’t overdo that. And when designing complex encounters, focus on approaches and make sure each approach has at least one reason to prefer it and one reason to avoid it.
With a few corollaries and a lot of explanation and rambling, those are my five rules for getting the most out of your skill system. With those to serve as a general framework, I’m going to explore a variety of topics related to skill-based adventures and encounters, mysteries, investigations, and interaction scenes. Hopefully, folks will find my advice useful, either to write engaging mystery adventures and campaigns or to improve the flow in the non-combat portions of the game or just to start fights with me in the comments section because I appear to have an upper extremity lodged into a lower orifice. After all, I did tell you it was perfectly okay to hinge the climax of your adventure on one lock-picking check.