Skill systems revisited

After taking a hard look at Let Thrones Beware’s skill system, we decided that the roll-under-difficulty system wasn’t sufficient. After all, one of the main features in the game is a break from the roll-to-hit-armour-class that’s so ingrained in the industry. After much contemplation, a new skill system was born!


A Brand New Skill System

The basic mechanic in Let Thrones Beware is the contest. There are two basic types of contest: combat and non-combat. Combat contests are resolved using Combat Maneuvers, and non-combat contests are resolved using Skill Actions. Both types of contest are resolved in similar ways, though each has its own peculiarities.


Resolving non-combat contests
To win a non-combat contest, a player will need an Action Score that is higher than the Action Score of the GM. An Action Score is a combination of the roll of a Tier Die, an attribute score, and a Skill Action. The GM’s Action Score is calculated by adding a Tier Die with an Obstacle Score.

Players have access to three types of Skill Actions: <SkA>, <SkC>, and <SkI>. These actions are roughly analogous to Obstacle, Wrinkle, and Setback actions in the GM’s inventory. At the beginning of a non-combat contest, the initiator (be it player or GM), leads with a SkA (or Obstacle). The second party in the contest may follow by playing a valid response, so long as the action score of the response is higher than the initiator’s action score. At the end of the exchange, the party with the highest Action Score wins the contest. Ties go to the initiator of the contest.



  • An SkA/Obstacle can be countered by an SkC/Wrinkle action, or by an SkI/Setback action.
  • An SkC/Wrinkle action can only be countered by an SkI/Setback action or an SkC/Wrinkle action of a higher tier (e.g. an Adventurer tier SkC may be countered by a Champion tier Wrinkle).
  • An SkI/Setback action can only be countered by a SkI/Setback action of higher tier.


  • Contact – Usable once per Long Rest. Force GM to redraw the last Obstacle. Played when Obstacle revealed. The number of Contacts you can maintain depends on your charisma, and once used, a Contact is exhausted until a long rest ( Presence + 1 ).
  • Inventory – Used once, then discarded. Removes +1 from Obstacle Score. Can be played at any time. Rewards from adventuring, but you can only carry so many ( Strength + 2 ).
  • Research – Used once, then discarded. Adds +1 to Action Score. Must be played on player turn. Regenerated by Wit on Long Rest ( Wit + 2 ).



Resolving combat contests
Combat contests are resolved in a similar way, though there are differences (for example, while fighting we refer to the Action Score as a Force Score to keep things separated cleanly). The principle difference between combat and non-combat contests is that winning a combat contest does not mean the fight is over. Rather, it means that you will inflict some amount of damage on your target. This may be enough to incapacitate your foe, but oftentimes you will need to win several exchanges before the enemy is defeated. Another difference between combat and non-combat contests is that unlike non-combat tests, where it’s usually someone else’s turn after a contest is resolved, in battle, each combatant has several moves which she or he may expend in a row; a character can initiate several contests in a row, or might choose to forgo a contest in order to move to a more advantageous position before or after attacking.


In addition to an Action or Force Score, most Skill Actions and Combat maneuver have attached effects. Effects trigger when the action to which they are attached is used to win a contest. For the most part, only the last action played will trigger effects, but certain keywords will modify this rule (such as Stackable, which triggers an effect whether or not it is attached to the last maneuver played, and Determined, which triggers an effect whether the character won or lost the contest).


Constructive Failure – Losing a contest
Should a a player non-combat contest fail, this doesn’t mean that the player did not accomplish the chosen task. Instead, the task is completed, but some misfortune befalls the instigator. If the same door is being unlocked, it trips an alarm, causing guards to rush to the scene.

Players shouldn’t make more than one check for the same action; it’s no fun to roll 13 times before discovering that the innkeeper holds the only clue to the Black Knight’s true identity.
Should a player lose a combat contest, his or her character will suffer damage as indicated by the adversary’s attack, but the character will remain in the fight until incapacitated at zero hit points.

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