Ability Checks

Perhaps I just missed it, but I was surprised to not find a resolution system for actions not covered in the rules. The type of thing that is typically in the realm of ability score checks.
Because ACKs specifically calls out two types of rolls, neither of which mirrors the typical roll under ability score normally seen in this area, I am wondering how people are handling arbirary actions not covered by proficiencies or other rules.
I am very impressed by ACKs, after years of reading and ultimately dismissing one persons heartbreaker after another, this game actually has me truely excited. I only wish I had not missed the original kickstarter (please tell me the Domain War rules will be available for purchase soon!)
Thanks in advance.

For arbitrary actions I’ve mostly just been saying yes. For avoiding hazards, or when doing something really needs a test I’ve been so far semi-randomly using three systems:
A. saving throw with ability modifier
B. d20 + ability modifier + situational modifier >= difficulty
C. d20 <= ability score + situational modifier (ie. the classic roll-under)
While not matching the “Throw” mechanic, I like C as it makes ability scores inside the same modifier range differ.
…but yeah, it irks me a bit. :slight_smile:
One thing I’m contemplating is using ability scores as thresholds.
Call this an Ability Throw: d20 + ability modifier >= target number. If your ability score is >= target, then you automatically succeed. Eg. Crossing a chasm on a beam requires a DEX throw of 10+, or 13+ when running or in combat. Anyone with DEX 10+ can cross the beam at walking speed when not in combat. Anyone with DEX 13+ can cross the beam at a run, or during combat. Anyone else needs to make the throw.

For acts of dexterity (not falling of a cliff, balancing on a ledge, etc) I usually use a Rods & Wands or Paralysis save. For feats of strength I use the door breaking throws. For general knowledge checks, I use a throw of 11+ or 14+, depending on if the knowledge falls under the character’s broad concept.

I like using save for things like not falling off a cliff. Using ability checks (even saves modified by ability bonuses) places too much emphasis on ability scores, in my opinion.

I look at the result and then request a saving throw off of that. Like, if it’s not clear if you manage to jump over a chasm it’s save versus death. If it’s not clear if you can free yourself from the quicksand it’s a save versus paralysis. If it’s not clear if you can drink your rival under the table it’s a save versus poison. The upside apart from being easy to judge and scaling with level is that it’s consistent.
Like if you jump a chasm that is too short, will you manage to grab the ledge and pull yourself up? Is it DEX because grabbing is the important part or STR because pulling yourself up is the important part? I risk scewing the odds based on the stats of the character with an attribute check.

The Introduction provides the general framework for rolls and throws. Anything not covered by the rules directly can be improvised within this framework…
During the course of play, many situations will arise in which there are a range of possible outcomes. The players or Judge will make a roll of the dice to see which of the possible outcomes occurs. Thus, when a character meets a monster during an encounter, the Judge will make a surprise roll to see if either or both sides are caught off guard and a reaction roll to see how the monster reacts to the character, with results ranging from friendly to hostile.
Likewise, when a character is in combat, the player will make an initiative roll to determine when he gets to act, with results ranging from last to first. When a character hits an opponent, the player will make a damage roll to determine how many hit points his target loses. When monsters begin to lose a battle, they will make a morale roll to determine if they flee, surrender, or stay and fight.
To make a roll of the dice, you follow these steps:
• Roll the appropriate die for the given situation.
• Add any relevant modifiers to the number generated by the die.
• Apply the total as required by the given situation.
Sometimes a roll will be applied for an absolute result. For example, a damage roll is applied directly against the hit points of the target hit. Other rolls are relative to each other. For example, a character’s initiative roll is compared against the initiative rolls of other characters to determine who goes first during combat. An initiative roll of 6 has no absolute meaning other than being faster than an initiative roll of 5. Other rolls are compared to a table.
One very common type of die roll is called a throw. A throw occurs whenever a character or monster is taking an action that will either succeed or fail. For instance, when a character attempts to strike an opponent in combat, his player makes an attack throw. When a character tries to avoid a catastrophic event, his player makes a saving throw. When a character attempts to open a lock or bash down a door, his player makes a proficiency throw. Most throws are resolved with 1d20.
To make a throw of the dice, you follow these steps:
• Throw the appropriate die for the action chosen.
• Add any relevant modifiers to the number generated by the die.
• Compare the total to a target value for the action, usually expressed as #+ (such as 12+).
If the total equals or exceeds the target value, the outcome is favorable to the character. If the result is lower than the target value, the outcome is unfavorable to the character. The value required to succeed at different throws is usually based on the character’s class and level. For instance, fighters have easier attack throws than other than characters, while thieves have easier proficiency throws to sneak around.
EXAMPLE: Marcus has an attack throw value of 6+. When he makes an attack throw, he will roll 1d20, add any relevant modifiers to the die, and compare the total to his attack throw value. If it equals or exceeds 6, he will hit.
If a particular throw is subject to a modifier that will always apply, it is often easier to record this modifier as an adjustment to the target value for the throw. Bonuses reduce the target value required, while penalties increase the target value required.
EXAMPLE: Viktir has an Open Locks proficiency throw of 16+. However, he has a Lockpicking proficiency that gives him a +2 bonus to Open Locks. For ease of play, Viktir can record his Open Locks proficiency throw as 14+, applying the +2 bonus as a 2-point reduction in the target value instead of modifying the die roll. Throwing the die and aiming for 14+ is mathematically identical to throwing the die with a +2 bonus and aiming for 16+.
The kind of die used for the various rolls depends on the riskiness and randomness of the situation character is facing. The rules will detail which die is used in each situation; below is some general explanation that will help frame the rules to come.
In general, situations where the outcome is strongly influenced by both skill and fortune are resolved by using a twenty-sided die (1d20). Most throws use 1d20, with the usual target value for the throw being in the range of 10 to 20. When throwing 1d20, a modifier such as +2 or -3 has a significant but not overpowering impact on the outcome.
Sometimes, the outcome of a situation will be heavily influenced by factors of skill or innate ability, with less scope for random chance. These situations are usually resolved by throwing or rolling a six-sided die (1d6). Surprise rolls, initiative rolls and many damage rolls use d6s. With a range of numbers of just 1-6, a modifier such as +2 or -3 makes a very big difference.
Where a wide range of outcomes is possible, but some are much more probable than others, a roll of two six-sided dice (2d6) is used. A roll of 2d6 will generate a bell curve with common results centered on 6-8, and rare outcomes at 2-3 and 11-12. Reaction rolls and morale rolls both use 2d6. Monsters will generally react cautiously to adventurers, and generally stay and fight with moderate resolve, but may occasionally be very friendly or very hostile, fight to the death or flee in terror.

I readed exchange but i do not find definitive answers on how to manage ability check in ACKS.

Usually for common activities (climb a tree, sneaking, listening) i ask an ability roll. For ACKS i imagined a 11+ modified by difficulty level and ability bonus/penalty.

Another weird point is about profiencies. Some profiencies throws are 11+ but it seems that no ability bonus/penalty is not added. Some profiencies have rank but i do not see how to reduced the 11+ to 10+

As for climbing a tree i would use the Adventuring proficiency (all Pcs have it). Adventuring cover the things listed hereafter, but you may allow it to cover similar, simple actions like these:

Activities covered by the adventuring proficiency are scattered throughout the rules and include:
Action/Actions Throw
Bash down doors: 18+
Fish at sea: 14+
Hear noises: 18+
Hunt in the wilderness: 14+
Ignite burning oil without hurting oneself: 2+
Notice traps: 18+
Spot secret doors: 18+

Adventure for 5 turns out of 6
Avoid getting lost in the wilderness and sea at the chances listed on the Terrain Navigation tables
Evade opponents in the wilderness at the chances listed on the Wilderness Evasion table
Ride on a mount for long distances without being hurt
Treat own wounds sufficient to heal 1d3 hp/day

As for some proficienciy throws being 11+ and proficiencies with rank: each additional rank lowers the throw number by 4 points (usually).

Seems excellent. Adopted!
But i still has a question : do you use ability modifier for this profency roll ? (Str for bashing, Wis for notice, etc.)

I do not adjust the throws by ability modifiers. This would place too much emphasis on abilities. Since monsters do not have listed abilities, what modifier do you use for a gnoll, an orc, a kobold, if such a creature would attempt such a task?

But that is merely my personal preference/taste. Others adjust throws by ability scores and it dosn’t seem to unbalance/hurt their games.

The use of abilities for character allows more personalization. I do not have the same need with monster

do you adjust a thief’s special skills or saving throws, also?

In case you didn’t see this thread on a similar topic:


As far as ability checks, if you don’t want attributes to matter too much yet have some effect on certain activities you could always just grant a flat +1 or +2 bonus to checks in which your character has a 13 or higher in the applicable attribute.

In the tree-climbing example, I’d simply let a thief-type, explorer, elf, lightly armored warrior (like a bladedancer) or similar character to simply climb the tree, and may require the mage or heavily armored paladin to make a check or rule that it takes them more time to climb. I guess it depends on circumstances.