FANGS: Using Skills

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File:FANGS-Basic Fangs Logo (small original).gifWelcome to FANGS, the Fantasy Adventure Networked Gaming System. The goal of this roleplaying system is to offer rules that allow for fun, dramatic play without losing too much realism, simple and yet elegant rules, and balanced for different styles of players who wish to game together.

Using Skills

This section explains how skills work in FANGS.

Skill Ranks

Each of your character's skills is represented by a number. The higher the number, the better the skill.

A skill of 0 means the character has no knowledge of, talent for, or any experience with that particular skill. In fact, a character with a skill of 0 doesn't even know where to begin!

Skills ranked from 1 to 4 are that of a raw beginner to that of an apprentice. The character knows the basics of the skill just enough to perform it, or be dangerous with it!

A skill between 5 and 8 means that the character has learned a basic competency with the skill. However, their use of the skill would still be considered below average of that of someone who uses that skill daily, or in their profession.

Skills ranked from 9-11 are just average for a professional or performing this skill on a regular basis -- most folk never exceed this amount of skill.

A skill of 12 to 14 means that the character shows some talent with the skill, though nothing that might be considered extraordinary.

Someone with a skill between 15 and 17 would be considered an expert at that skill, and occasionally shows extraordinary ability or flashes of insight when using the skill.

A character with a skill of 18 or 19 would be considered a master of that particular skill. Those that know of that skill might seek the character for service and instruction.

A 20 represents a skill that has been learned to the level of a grand master. There ae few, if any, with greater skill.

A skill of 21 or higher would be considered legendary, or even mythical. Though still within mortal bounds, tales of the character's prowess in that skill might live long after he is gone.

The Skill Check

In order for your character to succeed in a skill, roll a 20-sided die (abbreviated 'd20') and add your character's skill plus any bonuses, penalties and difficulty modifiers-- if the total is greater than or equal to 20, then your character has succeeded in his Skill Check.

It is possible to have a skill greater than 20, but this does not mean that your character automatically succeeds. (See the sections on Skill Modifiers, Failure & Fumbles below.)

Example: If Gru wishes to climb a tree, you would roll against his Climb skill. Gru's ability to climb is 9, a low average. Thus if you rolled an 11 or greater, adding the skill of 9, Gru would succeed in climbing the tree.

A Skill Check under 20 means that Gru did not succeed -- however, lack of success with a roll less then 20 does not mean that Gru failed! (See the sections on Failure & Fumbles below.)

Skill Modifiers

Multiple Rolls -- Depending on the situation, the GM may require multiple rolls, or assign a bonus or penalty to a Skill Check.

Example: For instance, the GM may decide that the tree is tall, and require that Gru roll against his Climb skill twice. Gru would have to roll 11 or better two separate times, to succeed in reaching the top of the tree.

Skill Bonus -- The GM may assign a bonus to the Skill Check.

Example: If instead, Gru desired to climb a tree with many branches within reach, and having many large limbs, the GM may decide to give Gru a +4 bonus to his Skill Check for the comparative ease of the task. In this case Gru would have to roll 7 or higher (7+4+9 = 20) to climb the tree.

Skill Penalty -- Or the GM may assign a penalty to the Skill Check:

Example: If Gru wished to climb a tree that is so bare of branches as to be almost a telephone pole, the GM may decide to give Gru a penalty of -4 to his Skill Check due to the difficulty of the task. Gru would have to roll 15 or higher (15-4+9 = 20) to succeed in climbing here.

Difficulty Modifiers

The GM may apply the following difficulty modifiers if a situation is particularly easy or difficult.

Difficulty Skill Modifier
heroic -10
hard - 7
difficult - 4
moderate - 1
average 0
easy + 1
very easy + 4
extremely easy + 7
trivial +10

Combining Skills

In some cases, two or more skill rolls may be required to perform a task. The GM can decide the skills are independent and must be rolled independently, or that the skills are linked and must be rolled in combination.

Independent Skills -- Some skill checks do not depend on the success of other skill checks.

Example: Gru decides that he want to climb silently, he rolls independently for Climb and Stealth. If he succeeds at his Climbing roll, it does not help his Stealth roll. If Gru did not succeed at his Climb roll, it does not affect his Stealth roll either (unless he Fumbled!)

Linked Skill -- Other skills checks depend on the success of another skill check first.

Example: Gru decides to take a running start to able to jump easier across a wide crevasse. The GM rules that Gru should first check his Run skill. Each point that he exceeds his Skill Check by 20 he gets to add as a bonus to his Jump skill.

If Gru rolled 13 on his Run Skill Check (needing at least a roll 11 or better,) he gets to add a modifier of +2 (13+9=22, 22-20=2) to his Jump Skill Check. Thus normally also requiring a roll of at least 11 for his skill of 9 to succeed, now he needs to roll at least an easier 9.

If Gru had rolled a 10 on his Run skill roll (needing to roll 11 or better to beat 20 with his skill of 9), he would not get any bonus to his Jump skill, thus succeeds only if he rolls a 11 or better on Jump alone.

In some tight situations, the GM may even give a penalty when a linked skill is not successful.

Example: For instance, in the above situation Gru may have a penalty subtracted from his Jump roll, giving the subsequent Jump roll a penalty of -1 (20-19=-1), making it a much more difficult 12 to succeed.

Specials & Skill Marks

If you roll particularly high you may have a success that is considered Special. This means that you have performed the skill as cleanly or as smoothly as possible, and may be entitled to bonus.

For a unmodified skill of 9 or under, only a natural roll of 20 is considered a Special success. If the skill is an unmodified 10 through 20, a roll of a 19 or a 20 is considered Special. I.E. if the skill has a single digit, a roll of 20 is a Special success; and if the skill has two digits, a roll or 19 or 20 is a Special success.

Example: If Gru rolls a 20 on his Climb skill of 9, he has earned a Special. In this case the GM may rule that the Gru does not have to roll again to climb further, or has climbed particularly fast.

Skill Mark -- If the Special occurred during a life-threatening or stressful competitive situation, your character could earn a Skill Mark which may be used later to see if he can increase his ability with that skill. You may never have more then one Skill Mark in a single skill. (See the section on Increasing Skills & Experience below.)

Example: After his climb, the GM consider if Gru may have learned something from his Special success, since Gru's climb was a possible life-threatening situation as Gru was being chased by a bear. The GM desides that Gru earned a Skill Mark on his Climb skill, allowing him to possibly increase his Climb skill at a later date.

Specials with Lower Skills -- Obviously, a success when using an unmodified skill ranked from 0 to 4 (typically a rank beginner or apprentice) is more likely to be a Special success than with a higher skill because a natural 20 is needed more often to have any success at all. In these cases, the GM should rule that the character gets a Skill Mark, but no other bonus.


In critical situations, a character who has earned a Special may also be allowed by the GM to test to see if the success is a Critical one. A Critical means that the character has been extremely successful, and may be entitled to some type of bonus.

To see if Special success is also critical, roll again. The success is Critical if your roll and your unmodified skill are 20 or better on this second roll.

A roll of two 20's in a row is always a critical, no matter how little skill your character has (unless the skill is negative through modifiers!) This means that there is almost always one quarter of 1% chance of miraculously succeeding at a skill. A "Critical" of 2 rolls of 20 can even turn an impossible skill roll (where the skill is a negative number) into a “just barely” success.

GMs Choice -- It is entirely up to the GM if he allows a Special success to be tested to see if it is Critical. Many situations are not deserving of a Critical success.

Example: If Gru rolls a 20 on his Climb roll, he has earned a Special. The GM then allows Gru to test for a Critical success. If Gru then rolls a 11 or better on his Climb skill of 9, he has earned a Critical.

Like a Special success, the GM may rule that Gru does not have to roll again to climb further, or that Gru has climbed particularly fast. However, if Gru was also trying to climb silently using his Climb and Stealth Skills at the same time (which would normally be considered two unlinked skills,) the GM could rule that Gru gets to add +4 bonus to his Stealth Skill roll. Or something even more spectacular could happen!

GM Option -- As a roll of 20 followed by a roll of 20 is extremely rare (1 in 400), the GM may consider allowing the player to roll a further Skill Check, allowing for even more spectacular successes and even more interesting things to occur.


Lack of Success -- Lack of success to roll under your character's skill does not necessarily mean that he has failed. It depends on the situation.

Example: If Gru rolled 5 on his second Climb roll, he does not fall to the ground, he just does not climb further without trying again.

Failure -- Most situations, however, lack of success to roll under your character's skill means failure.

Example: If instead Gru had rolled 5 using his Jump Skill to cross the deep crevice, it is a Failure (but not a Fumble.) In this case the GM will usually allow Gru the opportunity to use one of his other skills (such as Climb) to grab the other side before falling down, or use a Luck Roll to see if a limb, vine, or friendly hand helps him up the other side.

Roll of 1 -- A natural roll of 1 is never considered a success, no matter how high the character's skill, though, as described above, such a roll not always a failure.


If you roll particularly low, your character may have Fumbled. This means that he may have messed up and have seriously failed.

For an unmodified skill between 10 and 20, only a roll of 1 is possibly a Fumble. Unmodified skills of 9 or less may be a fumble on a roll or 1 or 2. I.E. if the skill has a single digit, a roll of 1 or 2 is a potential fumble; and if the skill has two digits, only a roll of 1 is potential fumble.

To test if one of these rolls could possibly be fumble, roll again. This second roll determines if it is fumble if your Skill Check fails, i.e. your roll plus your unmodified skill is 19 or less.

A roll of two 1's in a row is always a fumble, no matter how much skill your character has (even 20!) This means that there is always at least one quarter of 1% chance of miserably failing a skill roll.

Fumble with a Lack of Success -- Because a lack of success does not automatically mean failure (see the section on Failure above,) when a Fumble occurs in a situation with a with Lack of Success, the GM may, or may not, allow the character to use another skill or his Luck attribute.

Example: If during Gru's climb you roll a 1, then, testing for a Fumble, you roll a 5, then Gru falls to the ground, but he does have a chance to roll against his Luck to prevent himself from falling to far. However, if Gru rolled a 1 followed by another 1, there is nothing he can do -- no skill or Luck can prevent him from falling!

Fumble with a Failure -- A Fumble in a more dangerous situation is much more serious.

Example: In the case of Gru's jump across the crevasse, a failure occurs at any roll under a 11, but an ordinary failure would possibly allow him to use another skill or Luck to survive. However, a Fumble means that there is nothing Gru can do to prevent himself from falling. A 1 followed by a 1 is worse, and in this case could mean that Gru may take maximum damage, or in fact there are spikes or other nastiness at the bottom!

GM Option -- As as a roll of 1 followed by a roll of 1 is extremely rare (1 in 400), the GM may consider requiring the player to roll a third Skill Check to prevent an even greater disaster from occurring!

Taking 10, Taking 20

Taking 10: If your character has a plenty of time and is not distracted, you may choose for him to "Take 10". This 10 replaces the roll of d20 in the Skill Check -- thus any character with a skill of at least 10 automatically succeeds. If you "Take 10", there is no chance of a special or critical success, nor a fumble.

Taking 20: If your character has ample time, is rested (has at least half of his FP) and is not in a rush (has all morning, all afternoon, all evening, all night, etc.) and the skill attemped is has no penalty for failure, you may choose for him to "Take 20". This 20 replaces the roll of d20 in the Skill Check, thus automatically succeeds. If you "Take 20", there is no chance of a special or critical success, nor a fumble.

Time Check: With both "Take 10" and "Take 20", the GM may still request that you do a Skill Check -- the amount you fail or succeed by may affect the amount of time before you complete your success, but you will eventually succeed.

Skill vs. Skill

If two skills are pitted against one another, the GM must decide if the skills are independent or linked.

Independent -- Most skills are independent. If two characters throw rocks at each other, their success or lack of it does not affect the other players roll.

Linked -- However, sometimes two skills are linked. The GM first decides which skill is rolled first. This roll determines if the other skill roll gets a bonus.

Example: Gru decides to hide to avoid a passing troll, so he rolls using his Hide Skill of 4. If he is successful (total is 20 or greater), then he is hidden -- but this does not mean the troll can't see him. If Gru's total was 22 (2 greater what he needed,) the troll has -2 modifier on its Perception Skill to see Gru.

If Gru's Hide Skill roll did not succeed, that does not mean that the troll saw him -- nor does it add to the chance that the troll can see him (unless Gru fumbled!)

Specials and Fumbles -- The only exception to this method of linked skills is with Specials and Fumbles.

Example: If Gru fumbles, the troll does not have to roll to see Gru. If Gru has a Special with his Hide Skill, he cannot be seen unless the troll has a Special also.

Criticals and Specials -- A Critical always succeeds against against a Special, as if the Special was a failure.

Example: If Gru has a Critical, he cannot be seen even if the troll has a Special -- the troll utterly fails to notice Gru.

Ties -- In the case of a tie, or where there is some question as to which skill is performed first, ties always fall in favor of a player, or the player with the highest luck if both are players.

Example: If Gru has a Critical, he cannot be seen even if the troll has a Critical -- the troll need not even roll!

Characteristic & Attribute Checks

Sometimes you are asked to check against a particular Characteristic or Attribute. These checks are treated just like Skill Checks, the roll plus the Characteristic or Attribute must be 20 or greater for success. Criticals and failures are calculated in the same fashion as with Skill Checks.

Characteristic Roll -- A roll may be checked against a characteristic.

Example: Gru did not succeed (but did not Fumble) his jump across the crevasse. The GM rules that he was close, and allows him to check against Agility of 12 to catch the edge of the other side. Gru succeeds (rolling 8 or better) so GM then asks Gru to roll against his Strength of 15 to pull himself up. Gru succeeds (rolling 5 or better), and pulls himself up onto the ledge to the other side.

Attribute Roll -- A roll may be checked against an attribute.

Example: During Gru's climb up the tree the GM thinks that one of the limbs might break. The GM rules that there is a only small chance this will happen, thus asks Gru to roll his Luck +5. Gru's Luck Attribute is below average (only 8,) but with a +5 modifier it should be an easy 7 on the Luck roll. Gru only rolls an 2 however, and the limb breaks. If Gru had rolled a 1 followed by an 3 (a Fumble!) the GM could judge that the whole tree fell down! On top of Gru!

Characteristic vs. Characteristic

In many cases a Characteristic is pitted against a Characteristic. Again, the GM must determine if the rolls are independent or linked, and a third possibility; resisted.

Independent -- If the characteristic rolls don't depend on each other, they are "Independent" and rolled separately.

Example: if Gru and Saul were trying to seduce a comely tavern wench. The GM asks them both to check vs. their AP. If they both fail, the wench chooses neither of them. If they both win, well...

Linked -- If the characteristic is applied directly against another active characteristic, they are "Linked" and rolled together.

Example: Gru arm wrestles with Saul for the tavern wench. The GM asks both for checks vs. ST. The player with roll highest over what is they need wins. When Saul tries to strike Gru with his fist in anger another linked roll is made. Gru rolls his Dodge, and if successful subtracts the difference from what was rolled vs. what was needed from Saul's roll vs. ST.

Resisted -- If an active characteristic is applied against a passive characteristic, they are "Resisted" and only one roll is made.

Example: Gru tries to pick up a SZ 13 anvil to hurl at Saul. The difference between Gru's ST (15) and the anvil SZ is +2 (15 - 13 = +2,) which Gru gets as a bonus to his roll vs. ST -- this means Gru has to roll 3 or better (a roll of 3 + ST 15 + 2 bonus = 20) to be able to hurl the anvil without hurting himself.

If Gru tried to pick up SZ 20 stone, the penalty to his roll would be -5 (15 - 20 = -5,) requiring him to roll 10 or better to succeed (roll of 10 + ST 15 - 5 penalty = 20). If Gru tried to pick up a SZ 27 boulder, his penalty would be -12, meaning he could only succeed if he rolled two 20's in a row (a 0.25% chance!) However, if Gru rolls a 1 he automatically fumbles! If Gru tried to move a SZ 28 boulder the modifier to his roll would be -13, meaning that his modified roll could never be greater than 19, an impossible feat with no criticals allowed. If Gru tries anyhow, he can still Fumble!

GM Option -- If a player rolls three 20's in a row on a modified negative roll, you may want allow him a miraculous success.

Example: If Gru rolls three 20's in a row, Gru picks up the anvil and throws it through the door and into the street. The wench is quite impressed.