Sunday, 11 August 2019

Static Weapon Damage: A Problem, and a Solution

If you've read my posts on D&D Without Damage Dice and Ascending Damage, you'll know I use a sort of "wound counting" or "hit counting" system, which by definition has static damage - every hit with a weapon is just "one hit". The design goal is to make combat simpler and faster, but ideally, it should still be interesting and have some variety.

What is static and variable damage?

In the olden days of Chainmail, monsters and men took a certain number of hits to kill, regardless of weapon. The effectiveness of different weapons was modeled by their ability to score a hit against each type of armor, as presented in the dreaded MAN-TO-MAN MELEE TABLE. Then came Original Dungeons & Dragons, which introduced hit dice - instead of 1 hit-to-kill, men could take d6 points before death. LIkewise, all weapons dealt d6 damage. The damage roll introduced some variety to the outcomes of attacks. However, this system is still typically called "static weapon damage" in the sense that weapons were not differentiated.


The Greyhawk supplement introduced the "alternative combat system" with its "damage done by weapon type", or what we would call variable weapon damage. Daggers dealt d4 damage, spears d6, and swords d8, as they do to this day. This was wildly popular and was carried over to Moldvay's Basic - though it should be pointed out that it was presented as an optional rule. The default in Moldvay was still the fixed d6 damage rule.

So, the main ways of differentiating weapons are:
  • variable damage (die size, flat bonus, roll and keep...)
  • damage adjustments against different foes (e.g. bonus against large creatures)
  • adjustments to hit (e.g. against different armor or weapon types)
  • critical hit range (20, 19-20...) and damage (2x, 3x...)
  • secondary special features (spears can attack from 2nd rank, crossbows must be reloaded...)
  • number of attacks
  • tertiary properties such as weight, price, initiative adjustments, durability, social status...

What's the problem with static damage?

I'm not really a simulationist. I'm not aiming to represent historical combat faithfully. But I still want a little mechanical differentiation to support the difference in fiction, obvious to anyone, between stabbing with a dagger vs. swinging a greataxe. And, honestly, combat without damage rolls might end up feeling a bit sterile, so making weapon choice and tactics a meaningful decision will help spice it up.

In my B/X-hack-via-OD&D-and-Blackmoor (name pending), I obviously cannot vary weapon damage, since I'm not using dice for it. Certain weapons doing 2 or 3 hits (or "Wounds" as I'm calling them) instead of 1 would be far too large a difference, when most low-level monsters like skeletons and orcs can only take a single Wound.

I don't usually like double-damage critical hits in D&D, and prefer a natural 20s as simply automatic hits. But when playing with Wounds, I would consider including criticals just to add some variety to the proceedings. However, when facing monsters that always die in a single hit (HD 1 types like orcs), doing "double hits" on criticals does not matter at all.

Is there some solution, some system of differentiating weapons while keeping fixed damage? Ideally, any solution would include a minimum of three "tiers" of weapons in terms of weight/effectiveness: simple weapons like daggers, martial weapons like swords, and two-handed weapons, at least. (If spears don't have their own tier between daggers and swords, then they will have to be combined with either, becoming strictly superior in that damage tier, due to their additional property of reach.)

One possibility is to do something like what Chainmail does: give the weapons different to-hit adjustments against different armors. But that sort of thing is part of the reason I wanted to get away from LotFP in the first place. I don't want to remember what bonus which weapon gets over what AC threshold, and doubtfully do my players either. (Maybe if the LotFP adjustments were stated in terms of "against targets in metal armor" and so on, rather than AC numbers, I would've hated them less.) I don't want "weapon vs. AC" lookup tables. If my goal is to make combat fast, having to consult a table is not going to help.

Weird Tales, Jan 1946 p5.png

The solution: Variable Critical Hit Range by Weapon + Overkill

Yes, there is a solution to all this!

First, the solution to critical hits not mattering against mobs of orcs is the Overkill rule: Whenever your attack kills an enemy with Wounds left over, you can carry over the excess Wounds to another target (as long as its AC is equal or worse than the killed target's.) Thus, when you score a critical against an HD 1 orc, you now kill two of them in one blow.

Secondly, and far more importantly: Critical hit range now depends on weapon type. Variable crit range, in other words. For example, daggers never score critical hits. Spears score them on a natural 20. Greatswords score critical hits on a natural 18-20.

Weapons Critical Range Other
Dagger - Riposte
Club - -
Staff - Two-handed
Rapier 20 Riposte
Spear 20 Reach
Axe/mace/shortsword 20 -
Sword 19+ -
Polearm 19+ Reach, two-handed
Greatsword/greataxe 18+ Two-handed

Sling - -
Shortbow 20 -
Longbow 19+ -
Crossbow 18+ Reload

Thirdly: Fighters score 3 Wounds on critical hits. Everyone else scores 2 Wounds.

Fourthly, a minor point: Specialists/Thieves, when landing a Sneak Attack, automatically deal a critical hit (even if the weapon is not normally capable of critting).


Note, firstly, that weapons fit neatly into four tiers. Moving one step down in critical range will usually give you one positive feature, and vice versa: rapiers and spears aren't quite as damaging as standard swords, but they have interesting secondary features. Axes and maces, likewise, have their own situational benefits over swords. Shortswords are strictly worse than standard swords - but hobbits can wield shortswords in one hand, while they require two hands for an axe, mace or sword.

A polearm has reach, and that's why it's not quite as devastating as the undisputed king of damage, the greatsword. If polearms and greatswords were equally damaging, polearms would be the strictly superior option - which may be a historically accurate rendition, but not one I want to adhere to in my swords-and-sorcery inspired campaign.


In every case, players will have to choose - do they take axes to chop down doors or spears for reach? Or do they forgo these benefits, focusing on damage? In this aspect, the system works very similarly to one with variable damage dice.

However, critical hits are automatic hits, which means they have interesting interactions with AC that must be analyzed. The number of attacks that critically does not depend on target AC. But the number of regular hits does. Thus, the higher the target's AC, the larger the contribution of criticals to average damage.

The table below shows the relative damage increase from using a critically-hitting weapon, compared to a common baseline. The assumed baseline is a weapon that cannot critically hit for double damage - a dagger, in our case.

Relative improvement over non-crit damage vs. Required d20 roll to hit.
Crit range/damage 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
20 / 2x 8% 8% 9% 10% 11% 13% 14% 17% 20% 25% 33% 50% 100%
20 / 3x 15% 17% 18% 20% 22% 25% 29% 33% 40% 50% 67% 100% 200%
19+ / 2x 15% 17% 18% 20% 22% 25% 29% 33% 40% 50% 67% 100% 200%
19+ / 3x 31% 33% 36% 40% 44% 50% 57% 67% 80% 100% 133% 200% 400%
18+ / 2x 23% 25% 27% 30% 33% 38% 43% 50% 60% 75% 100% 150% 300%
18+ / 3x 46% 50% 55% 60% 67% 75% 86% 100% 120% 150% 200% 300% 600%

Note a couple things.

Firstly, a critical range/damage of 19-20/3x is better than 18-20/2x. In my system, this translates to: a Fighter deals greater (average) damage with a sword than a Thief does with a greatsword. The Thief still gains a benefit from using a greatsword, but the gain is smaller than for a Fighter. This is perfect for me, since I'm not using any class-based weapon restrictions. I want even Magic-Users to use swords if they want to - they just won't be as effective with swords as Fighters or Thieves.

Secondly, the benefit of using a heavier weapon is relatively more important when the required to-hit roll is higher - that is, when target AC is higher. In practical terms: it turns out greatswords and polearms "penetrate" armor better in this system. This may not be entirely realistic, but it's good enough for me. When you're fighting fleshy unarmored peasants, an axe or dagger will do; for dragons or armored paladins, consider bringing something heavier.

I think this system could be incredibly powerful - effectively, it is a "weapon vs. armor type" system without requiring any table lookups, nor any secondary rolls. You simply note the crit range on your sheet when you pick up a new weapon, and it stays the same no matter what foe you're fighting - though it results in different outcomes. The baked-in math does all the magic. I think this counts as following the philosophy which the GLOG states as: "Consolidate ruthlessly. Turn two rolls into one, turn one roll into none. Turn tables into formulas, turn formulas into static numbers."

How does it stack up?

So within the new system, the weapons seem to work great relative to each other. But what about the damage increases overall? Aren't those percentages a bit high, you ask? To compare this to the original games, let's look at how much of a boost variable weapon damage in B/X gives you. Let's choose the d4 as the baseline for comparison, since our earlier copmarison used a non-critting dagger/staff as the baseline.

B/X weapon equivalent Die Average Improvement over d4
Unarmed d2 1.5 -40%
- d3 2 -20%
Dagger d4 2.5 0%
- d5 3 20%
Spear d6 3.5 40%
- d7 4 60%
Sword d8 4.5 80%
Greatsword d10 5.5 120%
- d12 6.5 160%
In our new system, let's say a 1st level PC (+1 to hit) is attacking an enemy in plate (AC 17, roll needed to hit = 16). In the variable crit range system, how does your choice of weapon affect your damage, and what damage die does it correspond to in the variable damage system?

Crit range/damage Damage improvement Example attacker Example weapon Equivalent variable damage  Equivalent bonus to-hit
 20 / 2x 20% Thief spear d5 +1
20 / 3x 40% Fighter spear d6 +2
19+ / 2x 40% Thief polearm/sword d6 +3
19+ / 3x 80% Fighter polearm/sword d8 +4
18+ / 2x 60% Thief greatsword d7 +5
18+ / 3x 120% Fighter greatsword d10 +6

So, against a plate-armored opponent, a Fighter's benefit (in terms of average damage) for grabbing a spear, sword or greatsword is exactly the same as in B/X variable damage! Thieves and Magic-Users are free to use swords and greatswords, but they'll effectively be using a smaller damage die - d6 or d7 - in a system without any damage rolls!

That's for 1st level PCs against a plate armor. Of course, if the enemy's armor is worse, or the attacker's to-hit is better, then weapon choice becomes de-emphasized compared to B/X. That is, greatswords give smaller improvements over daggers than they would under variable damage. Vice versa, if the target is better armored than a human in plate, then bringing a big weapon becomes even more important under this variable crit range system.

Pros and cons of Variable Crit Range

In summary, the pros of using critical hit range to differentiate weapons and critical hit damage multiplier to differentiate classes:
  • The player-facing mechanics work exactly the same regardless of the foe being fought 
  • It a sort of "armor penetration" effect without any need to consult charts
  • There is no need for weapon restrictions by class, yet Fighters still gain more of a boost
  • As a caveat, one should be extremely careful about implementing "advantage" rolls into this system. Effectively doubling the chances of a crit can have quite massive effects when coupled with triple-damage crits.

Minor caveats

(Just to pre-empt a minor point: Daggers not being able to critically hit may go counter to expectations. However, the special-case rule that "any sneak attack that a Specialist/Thief lands is a critical hit regardless of weapon" means that sneak attacks with daggers are just as effective as those with greatswords. If you used variable weapon damage, and doubled damage on sneak attacks, then Thieves would be incentivized to use greatswords. Unless of course you implemented class-based weapon restrictions, which I don't want to do.)

As a side bonus: in addition to, or instead of, +to hit magical weapons, you could have "keen weapons" that have a greater-than-normal critical range - keen rapiers that crit on 19-20, and so on. If you really wanted to get into the weeds incentivizing genre faithfulness, you could even give dwarves an increased critical range with axes and hammers (bringing them up to par with the sword), etc. etc.

By the way, in case you're wondering how a +1 to crit range compares with a +1 to hit, see the last column in the previous table. 20/2x is equivalent (in average damage improvement) to a +1 to hit, 20/3x and 19+/2x to a +2 to hit, and so on. So, if you're not a Fighter, each point of critical range is worth +1 to hit (+1/+2/+3). If you are a Fighter, then each point of critical range is worth +2 to hit (+2/+4/+6). Generally, +2 to hit is equivalent to +1 damage.

Monday, 29 July 2019

OSR Idea: Random Backgrounds as Consolation Prizes

TL;DR: Have several tables of backgrounds; characters with low ability scores roll on better tables.

Rolling for stats

Sometimes it can feel like the OSR has a love-hate relationship with the 3d6 down-the-line method of generating ability scores. Lamentations of the Flame Princess allows swapping one pair of scores, which I think is great - sometimes you just want to play a fighter. It also lets you reroll everything if the sum of ability modifiers is negative. 41% of B/X characters have a negative total modifier. In other words, in LotFP, after you've rolled up scores, marked the modifiers, and added them all up, 4 out of 10 times you have to do it all again. (Well, you don't have to - it's entirely optional - but why wouldn't you?)

Stars Without Number, in lieu of swapping scores, allows you to replace one score with 14 (+2). That seems more reasonable - it ensures that whatever kind of character you want to play, there will be at least one thing you're not entirely terrible at. It's also self-limiting - if you already rolled kickass scores across the board, bumping one to 14 isn't going to make as much difference. (SWN also shrinks the modifier range from ±3 to ±2, which seems like a good idea.) There's also the option of taking an array (14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 7) instead of rolling.

But somehow, these methods - particularly the "total do-over 41% of the time" one - seem a bit like admitting defeat. Why do we roll scores again?

Because we like the variation in characters - that jolt to the imagination that something completely human-planned cannot deliver. Also, because it's much faster than having everyone minmax which number to place where. This is a game about interacting with a world, not about deckbuilding. Roll roll roll, pick a class, go. Discover who your character is during play - don't agonize over it in the pre-game.

Maybe there's something we can hack up to keep the straightforwardness of rolling scores (no do-overs) while softening the blow of crappy ones?

Random backgrounds

Backgrounds can help give flavour to characters that can otherwise feel a bit like blank pawns, and act as a seed for roleplay. A background can be tied to a (pre-adventuring) profession, and have minor mechanical bonuses: some extra starting items, a skill increase, or perhaps a "mini-feat".

The problem with entirely random backgrounds is that the more backgrounds you write, the more difficult they are to make roughly equivalent in power. Vice versa, if you follow a restrictive formula such as "all backgrounds get +1 to one skill", you're both going to run out of suitable ideas, and will be unable to fit many setting-appropriate backgrounds to this mould.

And if you don't make them strictly equal? What if one background gets +1 to CON modifier while another can... tell when it's about to rain? It isn't game-breaking in itself, but can feel a bit unfair - even more so if the characters that rolled awesome scores also happen to land on the best backgrounds. Meanwhile, the poor sod with a -5 total modifier gets to be Background: Dirt Farmer. (Or a mudlark, which is a child that scavenges among the mud and gets pelted with coins and laughed at as they dive into the mud to catch them.)

Consolation Prizes

Here's an idea for a solution: tie background table rolls to ability scores, but give them an inverse relationship - the worse your scores, the better backgrounds you can roll, as way of a consolation prize. Now the designer no longer needs to balance backgrounds by making them all equally good - they're freed to deliberately design a power continuum, and it will be offset by ability scores. Now even players who rolled terribly can look forward to playing their new character.

(As a guideline to designing these backgrounds, they should never affect ability scores or ability modifiers. Those have already been rolled for, so a "Background: Strongman - +2 to Strength score" does not make sense; it's redundant. However, a mini-feat that affects a secondary stat is totally fine: for example, shepherds can get a +1 to attacks with slings.)


To divide generated characters into tiers, we need a mathematical benchmark to estimate their intrinsic value. One possible (albeit naive) benchmark is to simply sum up all the character' ability modifiers. When six stats are generated by 3d6 each, their ability modifiers per B/X summed up have a normal distribution with the average at +0 total modifier:

The possible results can be divided into an arbitrary number of bins of manageable probability, such as:

Total Modifier %
-4 or lower 5.8 Tier 5
-3 to -2 19.1 Tier 4
-1 to +0 34.1 Tier 3
+1 to +2 28.1 Tier 2
+3 or higher 12.9 Tier 1

We can give each bin a tier. The higher the ability score total, the "better" the character inherently is. (In actuality, not all abilities are of equal worth, and their worth does not scale identically with modifier or score. For example, in my game, each point of Strength score gives you an item slot and each point of Constitution score makes you less likely to lose consciousness, whereas with Intelligence only the modifier matters. The benchmark I'm using here ignores such considerations. You could also look at highest scores, lowest scores, or whatever. If your game is one of those weird roll-under-stat ones with no modifiers, maybe use sum-of-all-scores as the benchmark.)

So 5.8% of randomly generated characters will have very bad scores, putting them into Tier 5, and so on. Now, we can write a different table of backgrounds for each tier of character, with intrinsically "worse" characters rolling on cooler, weirder, and more powerful background tables.

Tier 1:

These characters have great scores - they don't need an impactful background. They are the unskilled professions as well as those skilled professions whose craft has little to no impact on the game: porters, farmers (dirt or otherwise), bakers, coopers, chandlers, calculators, mudlarks... even for their bonus starting items, the best these people can hope for is a single tool (with no immediately obvious use in the dungeon) and a bag of turnips.

Tier 2:

The professions that have a small game impact, mostly during downtime. For example, blacksmiths could make their own armour for half price. These are unlikely to come up very often, but are not utterly useless, either. They could be skills that any character can learn in your game, given enough investment. You could also put backgrounds that have no skills but very good starting items into this tier. Some may have dungeon-applicable tools.

  • Noble: No skills or mini-feats. Starts with 200 gp and a bottle of fine wine.
  • Blacksmith: During downtime, can craft armour, melee weapons, and other metal items. Material cost is half of the item's listed price. Work takes one week per 10 gp of listed price. Starts with a hammer and a bar of iron. Anvil sold separately.
  • Bowyer: As Blacksmith, but can craft bows, crossbows and ammunition.
  • Miner: Count as two people for excavations (three if you're a Dwarf). Starts with a pickaxe and a lodestone.
  • Masons: +1 Architecture. Starts with a sledgehammer.
  • Scribe: +1 Languages. Starts with  parchments, quills, and ink.

Tier 3:

These are professions whose skills have a clear impact on the game - for example, anything that boosts lockpicking/Tinker, Bushcraft or Search. Situationally useful (not just during downtime) mini-feats may also be placed into this tier. Often, these are combined with useful tools.

  • Actor: +1 to reaction rolls with humanoids. Starts with a mask and makeup.
  • Officer: +1 to follower morale. Starts with ceremonial rapier.
  • Falconer: Has a trained falcon that follows commands. Starts with a falcon and a mail glove.
  • Barber-surgeon: +1 Medicine. Starts with razor and leather strap.
  • Brawler: Improvised weapons count as regular weapons.
  • Bounty hunter: +1 Bushcraft. Starts with a hound and rope.
  • Bear-leader: +1 to reaction rolls with beasts. Starts with rope and animal feed.

Tier 4:

Backgrounds with mini-feats that give a boost to combat capability or survivability. Rare and expensive tools may be given as starting items. For example:

  • Shepherd: +1 to hit with slings. Starts with a cane and a bag of wool.
  • Poisonmaker: +1 to saves vs. Poison. Starts with 4 vials of poison.
  • Diviner: Can cast detect magic once per day. Starts with crystal ball and deck of cards.
  • Occultist: Can cast summon once per day (as Caster Level 0). Starts with curved dagger and black candles.
  • Lumberjack: +1 to hit with axes. Guess what starting equipment.
  • Acrobat: Fall damage is reduced by 20'.

Tier 5:

Go wild here. These characters have crap scores, so give them something surprising. Something that makes a big impact on the way the character plays. Got a class that's a bit more gonzo than the others (like the Skeleton Adventurer or Half-Troll) that you're not sure is entirely balanced and don't want players to be able to pick freely? Stick it here. "You're a skeleton in a hooded cloak, that's your background."

You can populate this tier with backgrounds that are plot hooks in themselves, or unique things that can only be rolled once.. Hell, put some superpowers here. "Dragonsoul: once per day, you can use a breath weapon that deals [Lvl]d6 damage." The stuff that a WotC game would let anyone pick willy-nilly, spoiling the mystique: those descended from the lines of elementals or gods! The insect-folk from two towns over! Soulless people who are invisible to the undead! Werewolves! Wielders of a runesword that grows stronger with every soul it eats! Weird mutants! Their low stats will mean they might not survive that long anyway. And hey, awesomely powerful individuals being physically weak is very swords & sorcery.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Comparing Dyson's d6 Thief and LotFP's Specialist

TL;DR: give LotFP Specialists 8 skill points to invest, not 4.

The celebrated Dyson Logos has a post on thieves that's nearly a decade old now. In the post he takes the B/X Thief skill table, which was given as percentile rolls, and converts them to their d6 (X-in-6 chance) equivalents.

(There was very little reason to present Thief skills as percentile rolls in the first place. All of them were in 5% increments, bar Climb Sheer Surfaces which ranges from 87% to 99%, and Hear Noise, which was given as an X-in-6 chance.)

Lamentations of the Flame Princess, famously, also uses the d6 for skills. They give all characters a 1-in-6 base chance at succeeding, and allow Specialists (Thieves) to invest 4 skill points in any of them, and a further 2 points on each level up.

Converting Dyson to LotFP

So what would Dyson's numbers look like in LotFP? In the table below I've taken his numbers, changed the skill names to their LotFP equivalents, and removed Hear Noise. I've also merged Pick Locks with Find or Remove Traps, and Move Silently with Hide in Shadows, always choosing the higher odds of the two merged skills. Sneak Attack is a skill in LotFP, but originally was a class feature fixed at 2x, so I've set that at 2. The new LotFP skills not based on Thief features are omitted.
Dyson conversion vs. LotFP
Level Tinker Sleight of Hand Stealth Climb Sneak Attack Total skill points LotFP Specialist skill points
1 1 1 1 5 2 5 4
2 1 1 1 5 2 5 6
3 1 2 2 5 2 7 8
4 2 2 2 5 2 8 10
5 2 2 2 5 2 8 12
6 3 3 3 5 2 11 14
7 3 3 3 5 2 11 16
8 4 4 4 5 2 14 18
9 4 4 4 5 2 14 20
10 5 5 5 6 2 18 22
11 5 5 5 6 2 18 24
12 6 6 6 6 2 21 26
13 6 7 6 6 2 22 28
14 6 7 6 6 2 22 30

Dyson agrees with most people that the starting values are much too low. In the post he also presents a conversion to 2d6, and a houseruled version of it to boost the skills. The houserule even includes choosing one "favoured" skill - could this post be present in LotFP's DNA? Here, I won't be looking at the 2d6 tables. Instead, let's find out how the d6/LotFP skill conversion of the (famously stingy) B/X table compares to the LotFP ruleset. Starting from a base value of 1, the above table has 4 points invested into Climb, and 1 into Sneak Attack. That makes for a total of 5 skill points - more than the 4 that LotFP grants to first level Specialists.

The two rightmost columns of the table show that the B/X Thief is overtaken by the Specialist in skill points at 2nd level. To be fair to LotFP, we chose the higher of two skills when merging them, instead of taking their average. It may also be argued that the bump to a d6 hit die, and the ability to choose which skills to improve, offsets this loss.

A Little Boost

If, then, we agree with Dyson and others that these numbers need a boost, particularly at low levels, what would it look like under LotFP rules? Since all classes have skills at 1-in-6 in LotFP, the smallest reasonable buff we can give the Thief/Specialist is to start all Thief skills at 2-in-6 instead of 1.

Boosted Dyson conversion vs. LotFP
Level Tinker Sleight of Hand Stealth Climb Sneak Attack Total skill points LotFP Specialist skill points
1 2 2 2 5 2 8 4
2 2 2 2 5 2 8 6
3 2 3 3 5 2 10 8
4 3 3 3 5 2 11 10
5 3 3 3 5 2 11 12
6 4 4 4 5 2 14 14
7 4 4 4 5 2 14 16
8 5 5 5 5 2 17 18
9 5 5 5 5 2 17 20
10 6 6 6 6 2 21 22
11 6 6 6 6 2 21 24
12 6 7 6 6 2 22 26
13 6 8 6 6 2 23 28
14 6 8 6 6 2 23 30

Now, the score at 1st level is a whopping 8 points to 4. The Specialist only overtakes the Thief at 5th level. However, in my opinion, the levels below 5th are far more important to the game than the ones above it, so the LotFP skill point allocation seems lacking.
My conclusion is to keep LotFP Specialists otherwise as they are, but try giving them 8 skill points at 1st level instead of 4. (I won't limit the amount of skill points invested into any one skill, at least to start with. If there turns out to be a problem allowing one to max out one of their skills at 1st level, then we'll deal with that as it arises.)

Or, for a super simple rule: start Thieves at 2-in-6 for all skills (except Climb at 5-in-6), and increase this on levels divisible by three: to 3-in-6 at 3rd, 4-in-6 at 6th, and 5-in-6 at 9th level. Then, if playing beyond name level, bump everything to 6-in-6 at 10th.

Below is a comparison of the skill point equivalents of our various conversions with LotFP rules-as-written, as well as LotFP with a buff of 2 or 4 additional skill points at 1st level.

Comparison of skill point equivalent totals
Level Dyson Boosted Dyson Dyson Boosted Smoothed Super Simple LotFP LotFP+2 LotFP+4
1 5 8 8 8 4 6 8
2 5 8 9 8 6 8 10
3 7 10 10 11 8 10 12
4 8 11 11 11 10 12 14
5 8 11 12 11 12 14 16
6 11 14 14 14 14 16 18
7 11 14 16 14 16 18 20
8 14 17 17 14 18 20 22
9 14 17 18 17 20 22 24
10 18 21 21 21 22 24 26
11 18 21 21 21 24 26 28
12 21 22 22 21 26 28 30
13 22 23 23 21 28 30 32
14 22 23 23 21 30 32 34

I suggest you try out giving this higher number of skill points to Specialists/Thieves - whether your taste is to allow them to invest the points freely, or make a rigid progression resembling the B/X originals with Climb being far ahead of the others. See if that makes Thieves feel too overpowered and breaks the game - I doubt it will.

One caveat: starting Specialists with 8 points does mean that Thief skills are maxed out at 10th level, and only Sleight of Hand (which is modified by the target's level, and thus a base value higher than 6 still makes sense) increases beyond that. But that's only if you invest in Thief skills and nothing else; LotFP has other skills such as Architecture and Bushcraft to soak those points in. And honestly, I don't plan on playing beyond 10th level anyway.