Skills in Whitebox20

Whitebox20 is a system where level matters, but not too much. Skills are more important.


Each starting Whitebox20 character starts with a few skills depending on their Mind (called Wits in Gangs & Bullshit). For example, Melee, Missile and Sneak. The skills improve with use and with training, so you can be low level and good at melee, or high level and bad at it.

That’s the point, actually. I was bothered by how bad low level warriors are at fighing in D&D. I was bothered by having a single dial for level-hitroll-saves. I was bothered by having a system where being competent means having oodles of hit points. Despite being aware of rule zero, I felt constrained in how my games felt. So I went for a skill system, of the roll under but roll high variety.

Let’s generate a character. Your PC has usually 3 stats, Body, Mind, Soul, determined with 3d6. [roll roll roll, 3d6 each of the three stats]

Geeno the Goon – Body 12 Mind 9 Soul 14

At chargen you pick a skill for every four full Mind points. Each of these skills has a base stat and starts at stat/2 + 3. There’s a list of skills for inspiration, but only the Referee will know what skills are relevant to the game. We want Geeno to be a backalley thug. Record skills like this, with the base stat in brackets:

Melee 9 = [B] 6 + O O O

Threaten 10 = [S] 7 + O O O

So Geeno’s hit roll is 9 or less on a d20, and will threaten successfully on an 10 or less. Why the three pips? Because you start at stat/2+3. And because every time you roll in a critical situation, and you roll a 1, you get an extra pip (with a maximum of 1 pip per scene, and only if the Referee deems it ok), and you get better at the skill. Training behaves similarly

If you don’t have a skill, you roll under the relevant stat/2 if the Referee thinks it’s ok to make you roll untrained. Some skills let you pick what’s the relevant skill, for example threaten, which can have Body or Soul, or Barber/Dentist/Surgeon which is Mind or Soul. Saves are skills too, can improve too, and get always the character’s level as a bonus.

Oh, I forgot to mention that if you roll successfully and get a 7 or more, that’s a good success. And a 14 or more, a great success. In general if there’s a contest and both characters succeed, the one that rolled highest will prevail, and better successes have increased effect.

Now Geeno needs only their hits, which start at body/2, and since Geeno’s got a big heart (Soul > 10), gets a Karma Point [temporary name]. Karma Points [temporary name] can be used to reroll dice, to cast spells, activate abilities, etc etc.

Level: 1 Hits: 6/6 Karma [temporary name]: 1/1

That’s it. Some Whitebox20 game sttings let you pick a class, or more skills, or more perks, or have 6 stats like Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, etc, and probably your Cleric will start with Exorcism [S] as an extra skill, and your Fighter will get Combat Reflexes as a perk, and your Jedi Mystic Knight can spend a Karma Point [temporary name] to make sure that their next melee attack is automatically successful, unless another Jedi Mystic Knight decides to spend a Karma Point [temporary name] to block.

But Geeno is done, because we are running an incredibly light version of Whitebox20.

Geeno the Goon – Body 12 Mind 9 Soul 14

Level: 1 Hits: 6/6 Karma [temporary name]: 1/1

Melee 9 = [B] 6 + O O O

Threaten 10 = [S] 7 + O O O

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