In my overview of the character creation process, I indicated that I would be using skills in these suggestions. In essence, a skill check is simply an ability check, with a bonus for being trained in the use of the skill. It's the same system as I currently use in MyD20 Lite, which is:
Skill Check: d20 + CLM + Stat Mod + 5 (for being trained) >= Difficulty
CLM (Class Level Modifier) is equal to half your character level, rounded down. Since I'm effectively making 3rd level characters into 1st level, that translates the CLM for Sword & Planet games to equal one plus half your character level, rounded down. I'll put that on the chart next to XP for easy reference.
The Difficult ratings for MyD20 allow for a lot of variety, but I think it can be simplified a little more for a Sword & Planet game.
Table: Skill Difficulties By Task Description
Description Difficulty Simple 10 (or Auto) Average 15 Difficult 20 Very Difficult 25 Nigh Impossible 30
Of course, we will need to consolidate the skill list to only those things that a "man of action" should need. Any skill that requires downtime without leading to potential adventure needs to go, and such can be assumed by the GM based on character background and ability checks. Let's focus on stuff we can use that makes adventures move forward. With that in mind, I present the following short list of skills to choose from.
Some of these could be collapsed even further, but I think I'm good with the list above. One of the biggest changes I've made, as you can see, is to move Survival from a Wisdom-based skill to a Constitution-based skill. Most Survival situations tend to deal more with endurance than insight, and I wanted to have at least one skill that was based on Constitution.
I've also shrunk all of the knowledge-type skills into one overriding skill called Lore. In most of the Planetary Romance novels I've read, those that had a lot of knowledge tended to be well-educated in many things, not just one topic in particular. In other words, if the author needed someone to provide information, it was the same character each time, even if the topics weren't really related except that they required extensive book-learning to pick up.
I've combined flying, sailing and land-based vehicle control into the single skill of Piloting, because most settings tend to emphasize one over the other two, and so one skill killed three birds, so to speak. Again, if a character (such as the hero of the tales) were talented in one, he was often talented in them all. Alternately, you could combine land-based vehicles such as wagons and chariots with Riding, and keep Piloting for water and air-based craft, since both typically use similar navigation techniques.
Intimidation, taunting and diplomacy all fall under the general category of Persuasion. Streetwise is kept separate to reflect the general ability to carouse and gather information, as well as "street smarts", which I think is distinctive enough in terms of character concepts to deserve its own skill. You could always combine the two if you feel differently, though.
I figure that I'm going to give skills out as follows:
Table: Number of Skills by Character Class
Class Skills Expert 4 + INT modifier Mystic 2 + INT modifier Warrior 2 + INT modifier
Bear in mind that, at the moment, I'm looking at having one of the skills being selected when a character takes a Profession. Alternately, I can allow the Profession to give a bonus skill and still allow more customization for characters with an extra skill option. So long as it doesn't take forever to build a character. It always seems that the more choices a player has, the longer it takes to create a character. I think every group has that one guy who agonizes over every choice and takes forever. I hate to aim such that I take that guy into account, but I think it's a good goal to keep in mind if I want this to be quick and easy, so we can get to gaming that much more quickly.
At any rate, this is the Skills section, briefly covered. Next up, I should probably go over the classes in a little detail, as well as the Professions I envision adding to them as options. Then I'll cover some basics regarding Equipment (including firearms of various sorts), cover Powers for Mystics and then jump in with some World of Samardan background pieces to cover the races as a lead-in to the mini-setting. At least, that's my intentions regarding rules.
Or should I just jump into the world, and cover the rules as I need them?