The Advanced Edition Companion to Labyrinth Lord comes with a short table of Secondary Skills that players can either roll randomly for or choose for their character. Some seem more useful as flavor, but some could have some practical use for an Adventurer. However, the DM is left to their own devices to determine when and if these secondary skills are useful during the PC’s careers. The system I’ve implemented into my game allows player to make use of the more useful of these skills to create items and make a bit of money on the side.
Every skill, with the exception of the Language skill, is meant to be used in the creation of items, a useful non-combat skill, or simply to make money. If a PC chooses something like Baker, Mason, or Butcher there isn’t much that can be added to that, but they can be used to make money.
Each skill is divided into four Ranks of skill.
Each Rank provides certain benefits or allows the player to craft particular types of items.
Every character starts with at least one Secondary Skill and the Language Skill. The starting Secondary Skill begins at Rank 3 (Expert) because this is something he or she was taught as a child or young adult as part of their training in whatever their primary Class is.
As a general rule, the Language Skill includes each of the languages he or she knows and are considered Rank 3, but I’ll write more about Languages in a later post.
Making a Skill Check:
Skill Checks are made if a player wants to make some money doing their profession, crafting an item that requires a Skill Check, or performing an action that requires a Skill Check.
A Skill Check is made using a d8 and works similarly to a stat check in Labyrinth Lord. The normal range of success is 1-2 on the d8 roll.
Each Rank in a skill after the first adds 1 to the range of success. For example, Rothgir is an Alchemist (Rank 3), so his range of success is normally 1-2, but his Ranks add another +2, bringing it to 1-4 on a d8.
The success of each skill also relies on the character stats to improve it. Each skill has a Major (or Primary) and a Minor Stat. For example, the Animal Trainer’s Major Stat is Charisma because having a forceful personality is important to making an animal act a certain way. The Animal Trainer’s Minor Stat is Strength because being able to physically bully an animal into submission may also have limited success.
If the character has a bonus in his skill’s Major Stat, it increases the range of success by the appropriate amount. So if Hashin the Barbarian is an Animal Trainer (Rank 3) and has a 16 CHA, he’d add +2 to the range of success, increasing the range from 1-4 to 1-6 on d8.
If the character only has a bonus in his skill’s Minor Stat, it increases the range of success by half that amount, rounded up. Essentially: if the stat is 10-12 is no bonus, 13-17 is a +1, and 18 is a +2. So, if Bork is an Animal Trainer (Rank 3), but his Charisma is terrible, but his Strength is 18, he’d add +2 to the range of success, increasing the range from 1-4 to 1-6 on d8.
Some complications arise if the character has low scores in his stats, particularly penalties. If his Major Stat would give a penalty, but his Minor Stat would not, use the Minor Stat. If both the Major and the Minor Stat would give a penalty, use the smaller penalty. The point is that the character will use whichever method is going to be more effective. For example, Nogg the Pitiful is a terrible Animal Trainer; he’s an Animal Trainer (Rank 1), but his Charisma is 5 and his Strength is 9. His Rank gives him no bonus, his Charisma would give a -2 penalty, but his Strength score would provide no bonus, so he relies on his sub-par Strength to help him. His range of success remains at the baseline of 1-2 on d8.
The range of success can be no more than 7 and no lower than 0.
- Start with a d8, which normally succeeds on a 1 or 2
- Add your Rank Bonus and your appropriate Stat Bonus together
- Add that to 2 to see what the range of success is. (ie. 2 + 1 (Rank 2) + 2 (Stat bonus) = 1-5 succeeds)
- If the range is 0 or less, it is impossible. If the range is more than 7, it stops at 7.
Characters who wish to work and make some money using their skills do the following:
- Make one Skill Check to find someone willing to hire the character. The character is hired for a minimum of one week, but they can stay on as long as they wish. If the Skill Check fails, there are no jobs available, but it can always be tried again next week. This check only needs to be done once per period of work. The character can decide to stop working anytime.
- Roll a d20 at the end of the week.
- Multiply the value by some arbitrary amount to get the character’s profits in GP. An ordinary profession like Baker or Butcher might be x5, an Animal Trainer might be x10, or a Jeweler might be x15.
- Rolling a 20 on Step 2 means a boom in business: double the amount gained.
- Rolling a 1 on Step 2 means business has dried up or they’ve been fired; gain no profit and cannot find work again for a while.
Crafting or repairing items:
- The DM must determine if the item can be made using your skill.
- If the item or repair is simple and straight-forward, it likely doesn’t require a Skill Check to accomplish.
- If the item or repair is decided by the DM to be complex or very durable, the DM may rule that it requires a Skill Check. Failing the Skill Check means that the time and materials are wasted.
- Creating the item is done for the half the price it would take to purchase it. Repairing an item requires a fourth of the price. The item is created or repaired at a rate of half a week (3 or 4 days) per 250gp of value, rounded up.
Examples: A suit of plate mail costs 225gp and half a week to create. Horse barding costs 75 gp and half a week to create. A spyglass costs 500gp and 1 week to create.
Very inexpensive items can be made in batches of 100gp, 50gp, 25gp, or 10gp per week, depending on the size and complexity of the item. If only one item needs to be made, it will always take at least one day of work.
Examples: 6x large iron boxes cost 90gp and 1 week to create. 5x brass lanterns cost 22gp 1ep and 1 week to create. 2x silver holy symbols cost 25gp and 1 week to create. 240x iron spikes cost 10gp and 1 week to create. One set of Theives’ Tools cost 15gp and 1 week, 3 days to create.
A Hunter might go out an forage for food, a Jeweler might appraise an item, or an Animal Trainer might train one of his animals in a behavior.
- The DM must determine if the task is complex or risky enough to require a Skill Check.
- The DM also determines the length of time required to perform the task. It might require anywhere from a minute to a day to a week, depending.
- If a Skill Check is required and it fails, the time and effort are wasted.
This introduction to my system for using Secondary Skills should be enough to implement it immediately into any Labyrinth Lord game. It effectively covers every Secondary Skill in the AEC book, but the DM will have to do a bit of work to expand what each skill can do.
Next week, I’ll write on how to improve a character’s skills and how to learn additional skills.
Each week after that, I’ll write about two Skills and what can be accomplished at each Rank. If there’s enough interest, I’ll write about what the more common skills can do (like Baker and Mason).