Thoughts about tiered skill checks at various levels of difficulty

In my current game I use a tiered system where higher skills net better results, though lesser skills -can- still be used (even if they aren’t the most efficient). Most times, this is via the use of four *if sections of C-Script with typical checks (in the first chapter) being 50, 40, 30 and < 30 (all others >= ).

With this being the case, is this something useful to do? Or am I making extra work for myself since it’s very unlikely a player will choose a skill they’re not as good in (compared to whatever their primary skill is) unless forced to do so (if a skill in question for a given scene is irrelevant)?

Edit for greater clarity:

Most skills the player has in this instance are set at 30. Their primary skill is 50 and secondary at 40 with their last skill being 20. There are five total skills (Command, Combat, Engineering, Navigation and Medical).

A skill at 40 used to complete a skill check will usually (in most cases) have negligible consequences that are easily remedied (light ship damage, small wounds, etc.).

Some skill checks (though not all) of 40 will have more dire consequences though this is not the normal result.

Other Edit:

Thanks @Gower for the title change. I swear I have the intellectual capacity of a potato peel.

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I think the key here is that you can make it tempting for a player to choose a skill they are not as good in.

So, for example, you can suggest that sneaking up on people may allow the player to overhear a few snippets of conversation even if they will certainly be caught (because they have a lowish sneak skill).

Or that punching that one robot with their lame fight skill will nevertheless really impress that one guy for your sheer gall (even if it ends up getting you thrashed by the robot).

Or that you want to eat the entire pizza in spite of you having a really low “digestion” skill because you want to prove that jerk wrong who bet you that you couldn’t (so you suffer the indigestion in exchange for the money you make off the bet, and also you sure showed him, but now he’s going to get you back for showing him up in chapter six.)

This, I think, is the real secret to interesting choice design with skill checks. If you’re just playing pick the highest skill you have, it’s not very interesting. But if you can make several of them tempting to choose in spite of the fact that you are testing a range of skills, that’s super fun.


Definitely agree with @Gower about tiers. As a writer, I try to create tiers because it feels more dynamic and realistic. Is it extra work? Yes, but I think it’s more than worth it because…

As a player, I want to be able to do what my character would do, within situational context, and develop them rather than pick one stat, feel arc-static, and be “trapped” into only punching my way through every single situation (or whatever stat it is). It’s just much more enjoyable and satisfying and immersive to actually be able to choose from the choices presented than to start a game and say “welp, guess I’m Stabby MacShiv this time and next time I’ll be Larry Diplomat.” If a game is good, I’m gonna replay it anyway, I don’t need to be “trapped” into replaying by being trapped into a stat type.


Thanks @Gower and @levviathan . These were my sentiments as well. I just wasn’t quite sure about the player side of things. There’s quite a number of players in roleplaying games (I don’t really understand the difference between IF, MCG and RPG; they’re all the same to me) that will only play to their strengths as much as possible. Wasn’t sure if that was the case with the player base for COG/HG games.

Well, I do think that’s a Thing that people have gotten used to doing and some people enjoy it that way. And that’s fine. If they wanna power up just fireballs and fireball every chance they get, obviously they can do that whether you do tiered consequences or not. But I think also that we have the tools to create more complexity and if we can, why not, you know? It’s like leveling up as creators.

Gracias. I think I’ll devote more time towards this aspect of my writing. I started doing it in my WIP at first and then stopped when I had a “what’s the point” sort of moment.