Monday, July 19, 2010

House Rule : Feats of Strength

In my RPGnet review of Doctor Who : Adventures In Time and Space, I noted that the game did not include any system for resolving feats of strength - such as lifting or pushing heavy objects etc. Since no skill clearly applies to such situations (unless you have a very broad interpretation of Athletics), using (Strength+Resolve) might seem an obvious solution - but this would make Resolve as important as Strength, which does not feel quite right - even though willpower and "inner strength" may play an important part in such situations, I don't think a puny but determined character with, say, 2 in Strength and 4 in Resolve should be given the same weightlifting ability than a strong guy with a mediocre force of will (or, in game terms, Strength 4 and Resolve 2). In my review, I suggested using (Strength x 2) as the character's total, to reflect the supreme importance of Strength in such situations - but this also took Resolve completely out of the picture, which was somewhat unsatisfactory, so I devised the following system.

Rather than attempt to measure a character's lifting capacity in kilograms or pounds, the Gamemaster should simply determine the amount of effort needed to perform the feat on the following scale :

Effort............................Strength Req.





If the character has the required Strength, he can perform the feat automatically (no die roll needed). Thus, a character with a Strength of 4 will be able to perform Challenging feats of strength without needing to roll the dice. If, on the other hand, the character's Strength is lower than the required score (which is almost always the case with Spectacular feats and beyond), the character will have to push the limits of his Strength to have a chance of success - which requires a dice roll.

To push the limits, roll Strength+Resolve versus a difficulty of 18 (Hard). This difficulty may be adjusted by the GM to reflect particularly favorable or unfavorable circumstances. Each level of success on this roll allows the character to boost his effective Strength score by 1 point for this particular feat : +1 for a simple Success, +2 for a Good roll and +3 for a Fantastic result.

Thus, a character with an already exceptional Strength of 5 could succeed at a Colossal feat by rolling a Fantastic result on his (Strength+Resolve) roll.

Since the highest possible Strength for a human is 6 and the boosting roll cannot add more than +3 to this score (for a maximum of 9), truly Herculean feats (which require an effective Strength of 10) are beyond the possibilities of human strength - and can only be attempted by aliens or other creatures with superhuman physical strength.

Note : As can be seen, Strength is the most important factor here, since it comes into play twice; this follows the same logic as the Chase rules, in which a character's Coordination defines his basic Speed (with no die roll involved) and is also used for the rolls which allow him to "push" this basic movement rate. The abstract treatment of weights here was also suggested by the abstract treatment of distances in the Chase rules, favoring in-game units (attribute scores) over real-world physics or measurements.

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