Krendel Options - Expertise

I haven’t posted a lot recently (and I owe folks a post about winemaking in Georgia), but I wanted to share some thoughts on Krendel between lesson plans and designing projects.

Time and distance has let the brain run wild, even if there haven’t been enough moments to type it all up. This is a good thing (well, maybe not the time part), and, fortunately, Krendel was designed from the ground up to allow for this. One of the best parts of Krendel is its modularity. You can toggle just about any part of it on or off or change something about entirely and it still works as intended.

As ideas putter about, I also see things that I could have done better and things I would have preferred had I flipped them around.  

All of this means that I’ve been doing some tinkering. I’ll be sharing many of the rules I’ve been flipping about. Where they may lead to a new edition eventually, just consider them options you can use to better tailor your game. Up first are some options for expertise.

As I’ve mentioned before, expertise is perhaps the trickiest part of the Krendel system because it operates in an opposite manner to most games. This is also why there’s a “No Expertise” optional rule. Beyond this, it also has a very big impact on your character since you may feel encouraged to buy a skill up to level two and then just let it sit.  Of course, this also means that the rules for expertise are ripe for play. With that in mind, here’s four new options for expertise that I came up with.

  • Expertise - Only Training: Without expertise your effective skill level is zero, but you are considered trained so long as you have any level in the skill. When you first purchase a skill (aka an actual trained skill level of one), you get your free expertise for that skill.
  • Expertise - Minimal Level: Your maximum effective level is one, but expertise removes this limitation normally. When you first purchase a skill (aka an actual trained skill level of one), you get your free expertise for that skill.
  • Expertise - Specialization & Mastery: If you have expertise, then your maximum effective level becomes 4, unless you have specialization in that area of focus. Likewise, with specialization, your maximum effective level becomes 6, unless you have mastery. With mastery you have no maximum effective level. You automatically gain one free specialization when you skill reaches level 4 and one free mastery when your skill reaches level 6. Like expertise, both specialization and mastery grant +1 Strength for the purpose of meeting and exceeding requirements. The number of boosts is now limited to 1, 2 with expertise, 3 with specialization, and 4 with mastery.
  • Expertise - Progressive: Without expertise, your effective skill level is half your actual skill level, rounded down. When you first purchase a skill (aka an actual trained skill level of one), you get your free expertise for that skill.


Under the base approach, having a skill level of two opens the door to a lot of core powers since you don’t need to have an expertise to grab one of those powers, unless you have a negative trait like foolish. This changes with the first two optional approaches. Of course, this also gives you a 60% chance of success assuming no difficulty.

Only Training prevents access to any of those powers sans expertise or a species that grants a positive trait like robust, which you then also purchase as an elective trait. It also means that you only have a base 40% chance of success for anything not related to your expertise, which is the same as someone untrained. Though, unlike an untrained character, you have access to actions that require training, like identify, manipulate device, and disarm.

Minimal Level reverses the position of the base rule: you won’t have easy access to lesser core powers unless you have a positive trait, such as agile, which increases the value of those. The chance of success when skilled but not an expert hits 50%, which is a nice number.

Specialization & Mastery introduces a nice gatekeeping feature and a big XP sink, but it was removed during playtests for a few reasons: it’s a pain to track, players spent too much XP on them instead of powers, and it made things more complicated that most players could easily use at the table. This was also back when expertise, specialization, and mastery were all powers, not their own thing. Ultimately, they were just too much for too little gain. So I ditched them, but that doesn’t mean that other folks won’t find the approach a better fit for their table.

I’ll admit that of these four, the last one, Progressive, has my attention the most. The other approaches to expertise establish a paradigm whereby you set a foundation of knowledge and then focus your studies. Under the Progressive approach, you simply learn your area(s) of focus faster and better and your knowledge base spills over to other areas as you go. The former reflects how we usually learn in school whereas the latter reflects how we usually learn in life. The Progressive approach also preserves the ability to grab core powers without expertise, but it delays this benefit until you are really good (skill level 4), which helps ensure character differentiation.