The Any-System Key

The Any-System Key describes character skills and task difficulties in terms that easily translate into different game systems. These terms do not link into any one game engine, but serve as general guidelines to give readers an overall sense of how they fit within their own game’s stat and difficulty scale. Any-System Key publications provide settings, characters, adventures, and other source material you can easily adapt to your favorite roleplaying game.

Scroll down to see how the Any-System Key works, or download the free Any-System Key PDF, complete with sample stats for characters in several genres. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this PDF file.

Roleplaying game material from Griffon Publishing Studio uses the Any-System Key, making it useful for whatever game system you use. You can test drive the system using a free medieval-era adventure, The Village War, you can download for free.

How Does the Any-System Key Work?

Adapting Any-System Key stat and difficulty descriptions simply requires some comparison between the descriptions and norms within your favorite game system.

Character Stats

Assume characters have the average rating in most skills, with several rated at the level of a competent professional, a few considered expert in their field, and sometimes one signature skill for which the character is renown.

Skill Levels
Competent Skills: Displays a professional level of training
Expert Skills: Possesses specialized knowledge
Signature Skill: Ranks among the best in the world
Three character levels further describe their abilities. Henchmen do not possess Signature skills and only have one Expert skill. Bosses have the usual complement of skills. Masterminds boost all their skills by one level; their Competent skills have the same value as Expert skills normally possess, Expert skills have values equivalent to the Signature level, and Signature skills increase by one increment beyond their maximum game value.

Character Levels
Henchman: No Signature Skill, only one Expert Skill
Boss: Normal skill levels
Mastermind: Skills boosted one level, Signature Skill gains bonus
An equipment category defines a character’s possessions (or an animal’s natural weapons) gamers can easily look up for damage, cost, and other stats in their preferred game.

ORC (Henchman)
Competent Skills: archery, brawl, carouse, climb, intimidate, track
Expert Skill: fight
Equipment: leather armor, sword

Task Difficulties

Any-System Key publications use four levels to describe the degree of difficulty for tasks undertaken by a person with professional training and proficiency in relevant skills.

Task Difficulties
Routine: Low chance of failure (25%)
Challenging: Moderate chance of failure (50%)
Hard: High chance of failure (75%)
Improbable: Almost certain chance of failure (99%)
The characters must leap across a chasm to reach safety. Doing so successfully requires a Challenging jump roll; they have a moderate chance of failure, but also a moderate chance of success. If flames leaped out of the chasm, the difficulty might increase to Hard; not only must they jump the chasm, but they must withstand intense heat.

Higher Level Games

Running a setting or scenario with heroes who seem to waltz through encounters? Simply raise the gamemaster character levels and the task difficulty levels. Nothing turns Henchman-level mooks into challenging opponents better than upgrading their Expert skill into a Signature skill.

Fits Your Favorite Games

Game character skills have different degrees of competence defined by stats. Simply figure out which stats best represent the levels of Competent, Expert, and Signature skills and use those values when integrating Any-System Key material into your game.

The same applies for difficulties. Just match the Any-System Key difficulty descriptions with the corresponding values for rating tasks in your own game.