Shatter a Shield
2021-03-25

Shatter a Shield

Among its common combat actions, Worlds without Number has "Shatter a Shield" and it reads:

To shatter a shield, the attacker must be using an axe, a mace, a Focus-improved unarmed attack, or some other crushing or hewing attack. The maneuver requires a successful hit roll and then an opposed STR / Stab skill check between the attacker and the defender, with the defender gaining a +1 bonus on their check. No damage is done, but if the attacker wins then the shield will be broken. Magical shields cannot be broken this way.

Patching a damaged shield takes a scene’s work and Craft-0 skill.

I love this last sentence.

The vanilla way to do a skill check in SWN or WWN is to pick an attribute whose modifier is combined with the skill level. If you have a +2 in INT and Craft-1, the referee might decide to give you +3 against a difficulty level of 6 or more to fix an item or some similar Craft task.

Skill Levels
Level-0 The proficiency of an ordinary practicioner
Level-1 Veteran of the skill, noticeably better than others
Level-2 Veteran and talented, one of the best in the city
Level-3 Inspirational master, one of the best in the kingdom
Level-4 Touching greatness, one of the best in the world

What I like about "Patching a damaged shield takes a scene’s work and Craft-0 skill" is that it introduces another way of using a skill level.

After all, if you look at the table provided by Kevin Crawford to describe the skill levels, the label is "level" not "modifier".

The shield patching "threshold" indicates a minimal level (0 here, the lowest skill level) and a time cost. There is no dice roll involved. I am sure many Traveller and SWN referees already use skill levels in this way.

No time pressure, so it devolves into "To perform this task successfully, you need a level of L in skill S, and it will take a time T"

As many other referees, I feel tempted to "grow" yet another rule on top of that.

I could ask the player "What is your level in skill S?" and then reply "It takes time T and you fail" or "It takes time T and you succeed". I might want to warn the player before their attempt: "You feel you might fail" or "You feel confident". After the failed attempt, I can reveal the threshold level, after all, the character paid the time cost to learn about the task.

A facetious referee might play on characters over-estimating themselves, "So you have Craft-0... Yes, you are quite sure you can fix this foreign bow in an hour" and then you tell them the bow is ruined and it took five hours (and a roll on the encounter table).

comments:

2021-03-25 08:24 UTC, Alex Schroeder wrote:

@jmettraux you could also meta game an improvement rule: “to be honest, your skill level is not good enough; nearly there, but not enough. If you want to risk it, we can roll for it. If you make it, your skill improved and you make it; otherwise you ruin the thing.”
Getting a bit of a Burning Wheel vibe, but I also remember Musashi attempting some wood crafting and failing. It’d be an interesting roll, for sure.