... it kinda looks like the Marvel Super Heroes Universal Action Resolution Matrix:
Which got me to thinking, could the Turn undead ability resolution system be used as a universal Cleric action table? Which is to say, what if cleric spells functioned not like MU spells--i.e. guaranteed success--but more like the turn undead ability, with a chance of outright failure but also a chance of super-extra success?
Back to the Marvel Super Heroes (MSH) table: what do the different colors mean? For turning undead, they could represent the different levels of undead to be turned; but what for spells? Enter this recent post on Magic disciplines by Brendan over at Untimately wherein he basically establishes how shocking grasp could be a prerequisite to learning lightning bolt in a discipline-driven magic system; if I may oversimplify his thesis liberally.
Now what if we did something similar for clerics: stacking related spells into disciplines? All the cure wounds spells, for instance, could be piled into a single discipline. To accommodate the seven spell levels available to clerics, we could expand the 3 degrees of success of MSH--green, yellow, red--to 7 colors.
Here's a rough draft of what the universal cleric ability matrix might look like:
For this prototype, I've kept the original AD&D turning undead granularity intact--odds improve in leaps of 3 (15%), with the same level progressions across the top as on the DMG matrix--but this could easily be modified to suit tastes/statistical appropriateness. It does show that eventually lower level abilities would be automatically successful--can you fumble at turning undead?
As an example of how a cleric ability might work: Rhonda the Rogue (apprentice) has contracted a bad case of rot grub, and her good friend Arnie the Acolyte (1st level cleric) is hoping to save his comrade-in-arms. Cure Disease is the poor slob's only chance, but that's a 3rd level spell, available to 5th level clerics or higher. But with this table, third level abilities are represented by the light red band of color. Cross reference the table and we see that a first level cleric with knowledge of the sacred discipline of Curatives would need to roll a 20 to achieve success with a (light) red ability--I gotta' change those colors. That only gives Arnie a 5% chance to save Rhonda's bacon; not great odds but still a better chance than the 0% chance the ol' spell system gives him.
At the other end, if Arnie were trying to use his healing ability to mend Gordie the Gallant's light wounds, he would have only a 55% chance of success; a marked depreciation from the 100% chance even 1st level AD&D clerics are used to.
Or, alternatively, you could eliminate the entire line of sequential hit-point restoration spells. Instead, a cleric would just roll a d20 against his or her Healing ability and the color associated with is or her result would determine how many or what sized dice of healing were achieved. Say, green scores you heal a d6 worth of HPs, yellow 2d6, etc.
One problem that this table presents is that it no longer works for its original purpose: Turning Undead. Seeing as there are 13 levels of undead to turn as opposed to only 7 levels of spell ability, determining affect on undead would result, I think, in an overly prissy-looking matrix.
Another problem: How do I finagle it to handle thief abilities too?