Zweihänder‘s a fantastic game, but one of the aspects I’m less enamoured of is skill assists. When one PC wants to help another complete a task and has a relevant skill, the the latter PC rolls an extra d10 and can replace either of the numbers of their d100 roll. It’s a very simple system which, however, from my perspective suffers from a couple of weaknesses (apart from seeming very powerful):
Firstly, there’s no extra rolling and therefore no suspence as to whether the assist actually worked or not, or whether, indeed, the ‘helper’ ended up getting in the way.
Secondly, and more importantly for me, only one person can assist. There is, in other words, no mechanic for teamwork on a collective task. (With crafting, teamwork only reduces the amount of time required.)
This bothered me when it looked like I was going to be running a maritime campaign with Zweihänder. One of my favourite teamwork mechanics is in the brilliant, but little-known Napoleonic naval game, Beat to Quarters (available as PWYW on Drivethru here; and I can also recommend its infantry big brother, Duty & Honour: here). In BtQ, naval combat is resolved by a single roll (or card draw in this case), just as it is in the Zweihänder naval supplement, Maelstrom. But BtQ allows everyone to participate in whatever way they narratively want: you decide what cool thing you’re doing that round, and every success adds a bonus to the final draw. And it could be anything: maybe you are using your craft skills to repair damage to the ship, or your charm to calm the lady passengers. You tell the story and, if you succeed, your side gets a bonus.
So I started to look at other d100 games to see how they did assist mechanics.