Today's post is a repost since I have a pretty busy schedule lined up today.
What follows is an extremely simple system for "stunts" in OSR games.
This is very similar to the "heroic abilities" system I have previously presented here and the two can be used together or individually.
Any time a character uses a class related ability, he may attempt to be heroic. This succeeds on a 1 in 6 chance.
For spell casters, this permits the character to get some sort of additional benefit. Examples might include unusual spell parameters (such as an oblong fireball blast), increased range or duration, a small penalty to saving throws (-2 versus a simple target might be reasonable), increased accuracy and precision or similar benefits.Another option may be to permit the caster to retain the spell in memory.
Note that if the roll isn't heroic, the spell must still be cast, though it could be aborted part way through the casting. In this case, the spell is still lost.
A heroic use of a thief skill would permit a particularly death-defying act to be carried out. Note that since the heroic chance is almost always going to be lower than the actual thief skill, a heroic roll will probably negate the need for testing the thief's regular skill chance. Note however, that if the thief is not heroic, he is still committed to the action, unless it's lengthy enough to abort part way.
Examples of thief heroics include scaling an almost completely sheer and featureless wall, picking a magical lock or disarming a trap so complex no mundane thief could do it.
Warrior types (and based on DM decision, other characters) may attempt stunts in combat. Examples can include pushing, disarming, changing position during a fight, inflict a critical hit and similar.
Characters with ability scores of 14 and above may also attempt heroic achievements for those ability scores. Examples include a superhuman feat of strength, memorizing a long text (intelligence) or feats of acrobatics for dexterity.
The system can be extended to other features as well, and is ultimately up to the DM to adjudicate. The chance of success is intentional kept low, to keep this from dominating the game.
I deliberately shied away from assigning a "failure" aspect. On a roll other than a 1, the heroic attempt simply does not work. Alternatively, you could make it a gamble by assigning "something bad" on a roll of 6.
Comments always welcome!