Expertise: A new experimental Stat



I present to the shiel wall a thing for which no one has clamored, but for which a few (especially those missing proficiency bonuses from 5e, or so I’ve been told) might find utility.

Expertise is easy to implement, but it is not like other stats. You put points into it at character creation, and can increase it with loot or milestones. The points in the stat are applied to any attempts or effort rolls related to the PC’s type - so spell casting for wizards and priests, fighting and intimidating for warriors, tracking and sneaking for hunters - you get the idea. The player then gets to add their Expertise score to either the attempt roll, the effort roll, or the crit range. Some DMs for simplicity sake may demand that these choices be set when the points are allocated to the stat. Other DMs may allow the points to float, and be applied as the player sees fit in the moment.

This allows warriors to feel dangerous without being the physically strongest person in the room, is an easy way to reflect professional knowledge without having to be the party brain, or allows more combat oriented folks a better chance of noticing danger before the priest does. It’s a different kind of power outside of the standard stats, and mostly I think changes the fiction of the game more than the mechanics. The important thing to remember is that this stat gets applied only on those actions which the DM determines would be related to a character’s type.

This is still very much an experiment. If you decide to use it like this, or some variation, please let me know how it goes.


isn’t this partly what the Easy mechanic is for?

  • My thief has knowledge of ancient elven traps. Great give me an Easy INT vs room target!
  • Oh you are an expert in orc tactics? CHA roll to negotiate this treaty are Easy.

etc etc


I actually really like this idea. I’m not sure I would use it in the mine run of ICRPG games (as noted, easy/hard could cover this), but I really like the premise.


I actually hadn’t thought of EASY and HARD as like that, but that could work. This is a little bit different, though. Let’s players decide, and could be used to differentiate highly skilled veterans from highly talented beginners. Ya know, more tools - blah, blah, blah.


Thanks! It was an idea that has been pretty sticky in my head, even if it’s mutated around a bit.


I was thinking that this is what the easy/hard mechanic was addressing. I’m not totally against the idea though. Would be interested to hear from anyone that tries this out in their games.


Does anybody really use EASY/HARD to say every attack by warriors is EASY? Every spell cast by wizards is EASY? Every stealth roll by a shadow is EASY? Because that hasn’t been my experience at all.

Maybe I’m an outlier, but I feel like Expertise and EASY/HARD do different things, for different fictional reasons, and can coexist without overlap.


I am reminded of what backgrounds are for in 13th Age (although there is more back and forth between player and GM to narratively make sense of applying the background-bonus to a skill roll).

Player: “My character was part of the Nemesian Guard that prides itself on quick combat reflexes, so when rolling DEX, I should get my background bonus of +5.”
GM: “Yeah, you are right. Roll DEX plus your background.”

I would probably try to cover expertise with tags, instead of having separate stat. Those tags can also be focused on narrative rather than mechanic by not having a clear rule attached to them so what the tag “Nemesian Guard” means, can be decided in play.


I normally let players roll EASY if its something their character had in their background or profession TAG, but I am really intrigued by the floating stats that lets the player choose what they like to boost in a particular situation; better chance to hit, do more fixed damage, longer range. I think I’ll give it a shot at our table and see how it goes.


I did talk about something similar, before: Proficiency for Effort?

And Five Torches Deep did something along those lines, if you’re interested in reading, I recommend that book.



Oh, that seems like a very similar idea. And you were proposing a list of skills that would define the actions that got the effort bonus? And I guess each PC gets a set number of skills?


Something along those lines, related to their classes, with additional tags for them to add their bonus to if they want!

Instead, we could split the proficiency bonus for checks & attempts, so you’d have two, and one applies to Effort?


Yeah, you could have it floating, able to be applied to either, or separate boxes, and the player simply checks the box for applying to the attempt or the effort; that feels to me like a really easy way to handle taking the same skill twice.


Or three times, since you also wanted it to apply to the critical range which is a pretty cool thing to have as well!


So to be clear, you aren’t giving players more power, you’re giving them a more specialized outlet for their power.

My initial criticism was that giving characters a +2 proficiency bonus to use just means I’m gonna end up ramping up the TARGET by 2. I recall another person on here saying they assume all characters are proficient, and that’s why the TARGET stays at 12.

If I’m understanding correctly though, you’re not giving anyone an “Expertise” bonus, you’re giving people a way to invest in “class” features instead of STAT features.

So I could build a fighter by putting 3 points in STR, or by putting 1 in STR and 2 in EXP. Same “attack” roll, but the first fighter is also good at smashing down doors, while the second is gonna be better at something like repairing armor.


Exactly! You got it.


One could be called Proficiency or Mastery and the other Impact.

You apply Proficiency to appropriate D20 rolls and Impact to the Effort rolls of the right category. Some categories are specific to D20 rolls, others to Effort rolls, but tags can be assigned to whichever so the system remains flexible.

Then you play with this: Effort and The Single target - Rule alternative?

What do you think? :smile:


I worry a little about the number of terms and what they mean; now you have two different terms basically relating to different categories of bonus, and an indeterminate number of tags which seek to define when those bonuses apply. I personally like to keep tags separate from mechanical rules to keep them in the realm of a fictional descriptor, and away from the code name of a rule set.

As for defining the target based on the kind of action being undertaken, I just think about the discussions of whether or not GUN effort was a good idea, or if we should have just kept it to TOOL/WEAPON and MAGIC/ENERGY. Like is swimming across a river a survival action or a physical action? Is a political debate, even an impromptu one, a social action or a proficiency action when debating a professional politician? It’s a really cool idea, by the hierarchy is just less intuitive, and as I see it more prone to debate - but that’s armchair game design. Have you played this way? How has it gone?


I have so many thoughts about this that my head has been spinning all day!

It bothered me so much that all melee weapons were STR based when I first picked up ICRPG. The fact that you can’t build a guy who’s a hand to hand fighter without also building a guy who is good at breaking down doors seems really weird. Why is it STR to swing a 5 pound, balanced sword, and DEX to draw a 150 pound Warbow?

I finally figured out that it’s because it’s a game. You need a melee stat and a ranged stat, STR and DEX are tradition. Now, I’m actually thinking about simplifying even further, but that’ll have to wait for another post.

I think this is a really cool way of solving some of the weirdness that results from the standard DnD stats trying to cover all possible actions. I’ll definitely be thinking about this idea for awhile, I’ll try to let you know if I have any useful thoughts!


EFFORT POINTS are the only bit of the ICRPG rules that I am not fancy too much.
During the character creations, giving bonuses to dice by “size” rather than by what they represent in-game seems a very video-gaming thing to do to me.

And I think this Expertise stat really has the potential of fixing this. The Exp bonus to Effort gives the feeling of the payoff of the character training, and it is extremely easy to use as Merlitron proposed.

We are testing this with a different set of stats that is also interesting in the Merlitron’s game. So there is still tests to do. The first trial of the EXP stat wasn’t convincing me, but this current version seems very promising.

My take on this for character creations with the usual ICRPG/DnD stats would be playing with 7 Stat (STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA, and EXP) and 7 Points (or 8 if an odd number feels strange) to give them.
Then no Points for efforts, but instead list 4 simple words (or 3 or 2, again, it depends from balancing) where the characters can apply the EXP bonus to them. I might call them Expertise Tags.

I.e. for the fighter before the four Tags might be Fencing, Armor crafting, Tactics, and Survival. And it would get the EXP bonus in any action related to those with GM approval.

And if 7 Stat feels weird, the Exp might get into WIS, substituting WIS to EXP at all or just giving this additional Expertise’ use to the WIS.