Aachen Abilities Skills

Aachen Abilities Skills

Aachen is the name I gave to my set of house rules. Aachen was the "imperial" city of Charlemagne, so it targets an Europa between Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, sparsely populated, with a Church not yet split and plenty of room for paganism (and some magic).

Here is a sample character sheet. One might oppose me "the answer is not on the character sheet", but I somehow went against that and built this iteration around the character sheet, trying to lay in it all the tools necessary during the exploration, fighting, and logistics mode of a session. Well, maybe not for logistics.



Yes, it's B/X oriented. The six abilities are Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and you roll 3d6 to determine the score, which is incidentally a "DC" as well.

By "DC", I mean that the ability score may be used as the difficulty class for rolls against the character. Those DCs thus range from 3 to 18 and are written in lozenges on the character sheet. To each DC there is a corresponding "TC", a target class, and this may be used as the difficulty class for checks that are "self-referential", for example, rolling against one's own Strength TC.

Abilities and "Means", as DCs and TCs

Thus DC = 21 - TC and TC = 21 - DC. A Strength DC of 17 goes with a Strength TC of 4. Your opponents roll against the 17 DC in strength contests, while you yourself roll against the 4 TC when trying to leverage your own strength.

The inspiration of going from a classical 3-18 "score" to a 18-3 "TC" comes from Gallant & Bold along with its "1d20 roll high" stance, but I noticed than some of the players of the french version of G&B were complaining about having to roll low with the 3d6 when building their characters, so for Aachen, it's "roll high with the 3d6 then invert".

The Physical, Evasion, and Mental TCs correspond to the mean (rounded up) of a pair of ability TCs (for example, Physical TC = (STR TC + CON TC) / 2). This is inspired by the save system in Stars Without Number. I then generalized with Body TC and Soul TC, each the mean of three ability TCs and then I wanted to have Learning TC and Impulse DC. Then, why not, have the mean of all ability TCs in "all TC".

Each TC has its DC. The DCs fit in lozenges because they're similar to ACs, which fit in shields on the character sheet, and like ACs, one rolls against another character's AC or DC. TCs fit in circles and one rolls against their own TCs.

(The Impulse DC is used as a modifier when rolling for initiative)

All is well, you roll 1d20 ≥ some DC or TC or AC to succeed, but how is a character supposed to be better than another in some aspect?

General Skills, Magical Skills, and Fighting Skills

One could just add the level of the character or the hit dice of the creature, that'd be simple but bland. Aachen for now lets characters acquire skills on creation and on levelling up. A skill with no "effort" attributed to it defaults to -2, the lowest "competency" level is +0. The maximum is character level + 1.

The Aachen referee then turns skill checks into 1d20 + skill ≥ TC, attack checks into 1d20 + fighting skill ≥ AC, or "passively" opposed checks into 1d20 + skill ≥ other character's DC.

(Incidentally, ACs in Aachen are computed by adding a skill modifier to a base AC)

Of course, 1d20 + skill ≥ static DC (à la 5e) are possible too, "actively" opposed checks 1d20 + skill ≥ 1d20 + skill (potentially other skill) or 1d20 + Ability DC ≥ 1d20 + Ability DC are possible as well.

I wanted a flexibility similar to the one given in Stars Without Number where skill and ability modifier are coupled for a skill check. But like Gallant & Bold, I want to have all checks (skill, attack, save) 1d20 roll high.

I am trying to limit skills to, let's say, "skill domains". I do not want to have a "Perceive" or "Perception" skill, I want to have "Scout" or "Spy", because you can't get someone to teach you "Perception", you get the skill by training or operating as a scout or a spy. My current idea would be to use skill domains as "Build" when searching for traps, the player could declare they're scanning for irregularities and the referee could say to roll 1d20 + Build ≥ WIS TC.

I hope to build myself a toolkit with a wide spectrum to help me run Aachen sessions, not just looping between Perception checks, and to have players tuning up their character by choosing what skills to polish.

This latest iteration went through two test sessions, with the Omicron hopefully fading soon, it'll get more scrutiny.


Work in progress and CC BY-SA 4.0.