Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Morning Thought: Easy Ability checks

My buddy Tim Shorts came up with a really great, and easy peasey, way to do ability checks for his B/X game. We have been using these for quite a while now and I can say I really like them. The rule is brilliant in it's brevity, and the fact that it changes nothing in the rules, it simply slaps on to what we are already using.

Attribute/Contests Rolls: 

When asked for an Attribute or Contest rolls use the following formula: d20 + level + attribute bonus/penalty = result. Results are compared to the challenge rating I’ve assigned to the task. There are levels of failure and success.

That's it. Quick and easy. I like it because it takes into account the character's level (thus they get better the higher their level) but also takes into account high/low ability scores as well. The added bonus with this method is that it still allows a certain level of GM Fiat in the game and still leaves the GM squarely in control of their game. 

I am sure that will ruffle some feathers among the more sensitive players out there, but as a GM with almost four decades of experience, I say your minor quibbling is moot. The GM runs the game and is nice enough to let you play around in their world.


  1. Okay, the the use of level as a modifier is really freaking clever and fits very well with the feel and style of old school D&D. With 3x, 4, and 5e you receive skills points to increase, say, Stealth. Without that kind of system in, say, White Box, a level bonus substitutes nicely.

    1. I thought it was so brilliant, I quickly stole it for my game. Having been a player for about 10 sessions now, I can say that it works perfectly, scales well without being overpowering, and gives that little extra boost of 'experience' that other ability checks I have seen are lacking.

    2. Yeah, Tim's been running a game with our Wednesday group and using this rule as well. I like it too.

  2. What are the typical challenge ratings you use?