First, the D&D old school thief needs a quick fix. Instead of lousy percentile skills, give the thief a 2 in 6 chance to do thiefy things at first level (non thieves will have a 1 in 6 chance), and raise that chance by 1 for every two levels gained. All “skill” chances for all classes will max out at 5, BTW.
The Fighters and Magicers get skills now too though. They also start with a 2 in x chance (not necessarily 2 in 6, as you will see) to their idiomatics, and other classes get 1 in x.
Fighter skills are always checked for as part of an attack. When you roll the weapon’s damage (roll it at the same time as yer d20), the die used for that doubles as a skill check (only use the first die in cases where a weapon does multiple dice). The fighter’s player announces what they intend their skill to be after a successful roll. For instance, a called shot is a common skill. A cleave is another. Maybe use an ax to pull away a foe’s shield, making their AC or damage reduction retroactively lower. Basically, if your attack hit, you probably announce some inimical effect on the foe. If not, maybe you do a fancy stunt.
So now low damage weapons are more accurate, if you want to use them. Incidentally, I would have backstab be allowed to thieves or fighters.
So magic-using guys. I think the game judge can adjudicate whether they are doing is using a class skill or not. A wizard is probably good at spouting lore or alchemy. A cleric probably knows who that demon lord mentioned by the scroll is.
Maybe use the skills for bending the rules as written for spells. You want to cast hold person on a dragon? Okay, if you make your skill check, it happens. Wanna use Turn Undead on rabbits? Skill check, but only if they are really evil rabbits.
Incidentally, I just found this old post with a similar idea that some wizard wrote.----
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