D&D 5th Edition What should the skill list look like?


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  1. #1

    What should the skill list look like?

    Since they've mentioned that the skill list is still under heavy revision, how do you guys think it should look?

    I'd start with the 4e list as a basis:

    Acrobatics
    Arcana
    Athletics
    Bluff
    Diplomacy
    Dungeoneering
    Endurance
    Heal
    History
    Insight
    Intimidate
    Nature
    Perception
    Religion
    Stealth
    Streetwise
    Thievery
    Versus the last playtest list (additions italicized):

    Animal Handling
    Bluff
    Diplomacy
    Find/Remove Traps
    Insight
    Intimidate
    Open Locks
    Sleight of Hand
    Spot (now same as 4e Perception)
    Stealth
    Streetwise
    Survival
    (Various Lore skills)
    First big change: they've unpacked Thievery back into its 3e constituent skills. This makes some sense because if they kept the 4e skills intact, every rogue would be trained in half the skill list. But I'd still get rid of Find and Remove Traps because it's weirdly specific. Make it a standard Spot check to find a trap and straight Int to disarm it.

    Second change: a bunch more Lore skills. I'm not sure if I like this so much.

    Now, I'm guessing they've taken out Athletics, Acrobatics, and Endurance to refocus the game a bit on ability scores. I think the question is, "Can you imagine someone with high [key stat] who sucks at [skill]?" If not, it shouldn't be a skill.

    So bye bye athletics and endurance. If I've got a good Con that MEANS I can run far and hold my breath and so on. But I'd like to see Acrobatics come back in its constituent parts. All rogues are dextrous, for example, but not all rogues can walk a tightrope or (more to the point) tumble across a battlefield. So bring back Jump, Climb, and Tumble.

    I also would rename Bluff to Deception so that it can take in some related things like forgery and disguise.

    As for the Lore skills... I think they're trying to be open-ended with these to some degree, but I'm not sure how successful it is. /shrug.

    Also, Animal Handling should be part of Nature Lore.

    So here's my proposed list of skills:

    Climb
    Deception
    Diplomacy
    Insight
    Intimidate
    Jump
    Open Locks
    Sleight of Hand
    Spot
    Stealth
    Streetwise
    Survival
    Tumble
    (Various Lore skills)
    What do you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    Also, Animal Handling should be part of Nature Lore.
    It seems to me that it should be entirely possible (as it certainly is in the real world) for someone to know a lot of facts and figures about animals without having any skill at the practical applications.

    Just because someone can tell you what breed of dog you have at a glance, doesn't mean they can make your dog sit.

    However, things like that are somewhat of an inevitable tension in the system, as no simple and intuitive system will ever accurately model how real-life skills work.

    There's always going to be a balancing act between a skill that does too little or is too specific and one that is too broad and creates odd ramifications.

    --

    One thing I quite liked in the first playtest package, which has been abandoned in the second, is the idea that skills aren't necessarily tied to a specific ability. While that was tied to the more open-ended skill list, I think it might still be workable with the closed list approach. Intimidate, for one, is something I've always felt was an awkward fit. Sure, it's easier for people with more force of personality (one interpretation of Charisma) to intimidate others, but surely the guy with the strength of an ogre who can crush stone with one hand is pretty intimidating, even if he has the charisma score of... an ogre, I guess.

    ---

    As is, Jump is gone because jump distance doesn't even need a check anymore. It's not even a Strength check, it's a straight-up "If you're this strong, you can jump this high/far", like encumbrance.
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    I like the list the current playtest packet presents, though I do wonder why they've kept Insight when they've ditched Endurance and Athletics as skills. Makes no sense.

    I'm also fine with mostly free-form skills, which is something that was alluded to earlier in the playtest. Basically, have some mechanism for determining *how many* skills a character gets, but then just use the name of the skill as the guideline for when it applies.

    Also, I'd like to see a bit more on how to use knowledge/lore skills, and come up with some way to restrict who can make lore checks. Nothing more annoying than being the know-it-all wizard of your group and when you roll a knowledge check, suddenly one or two other players decide to roll "just because." Then you roll a 1, and they roll a 19 and *somehow* Clud the Barbarian knows more about the magical whatzit than your know-it-all wizard.

    5e needs to address that problem.
    Last edited by Quickleaf; Friday, 28th September, 2012 at 02:23 AM.

  4. #4
    Well, they'd rather reitnroudce all of the fun skills they left out on 4e. Perform, sing, disguise, forgery, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiiLurker View Post
    Well, they'd rather reitnroudce all of the fun skills they left out on 4e. Perform, sing, disguise, forgery, etc.
    God no.

    Lemme say that my character has a great singing voice without making me pay actual skill points that will be used on actual things in game.

    3E skill list spat on roleplaying then turned around and took an enormous dump on it.

    At least 4E just kinda made no sense but didn't get in the way too much.

    On the skill list, if you're going to do Acrobatics, Climb, and Jump... don't. Just put them all together. Skills need to be broad enough that characters can have a wide base, otherwise there's just entire scenes a character is sitting out (the Fighter, in any edition, etc.). It's okay if a player isn't useful in some scene or another, but worthless in most any scene that's outside of a very narrow skillset is bad.

    Removing traps can be rolled into slight of hand, call it "Nimble fingers" or something.

    "Deception" just sounds eviler than "bluff" leave bluff alone.

    Animal Handling has to be in for some specific class thing, at least it's not separate from Ride anymore so you have two marginal skills you never roll (GOOD IDEAS HO)
    Last edited by GreyICE; Friday, 28th September, 2012 at 02:32 AM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by GreyICE View Post
    God no.

    Lemme say that my character has a great singing voice without making me pay actual skill points that will be used on actual things in game.

    3E skill list spat on roleplaying then turned around and took an enormous dump on it.

    At least 4E just kinda made no sense but didn't get in the way too much.
    But if it doesn't have a mechanical significance, it becomes only fluff. I could say that my 4e bard is a good singer, but if it never comes up, then it is devoid of any significance beyond pure empty flavor, musical instruments become costly and weightly pieces of fluff, entirely useless without a skill tied into them, a wizard coul easily outmatch a pure bard when conducting any of the bardic rituals. Very simialr stuff happens with disguise and the others, if it doesn't have a mechanical basis, then there is no risk associated and as a result no reward, and lack of reward makes it come up even less often.

    And seriuosly if I have to make up everything that is not combat, then I'd be better up having no system. If I'm going to play using a system, then it should rather support extense areas of the game, not only the small part that only comes up from time to time.
    Last edited by KaiiLurker; Friday, 28th September, 2012 at 03:05 AM.

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    My communities:

    I am all for the current list +
    Dragon Lore
    Fey Lore (knowledge about the Feywild and its creatures)
    Spirit Lore (totem spirits, shamanic spirits, disease spirits, ancestral spirits, noncorporeal undead, elemental spirits, the spirit realm),
    Climb
    Jump
    Ride
    Swim

    However, I want to see characters starting with more skills and the following existing skills renamed
    Heraldric Lore-->Nobility Lore
    Societal Lore-->Culture Lore
    Spot-->Perception
    Find and Remove Traps--> Traps
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiiLurker View Post
    But if it doesn't have a mechanical significance, it becomes only fluff. I could say that my 4e bard is a good singer, but if it never comes up, then it is devoid of any significance beyond pure empty flavor, musical instruments become costly and weightly pieces of fluff, entirely useless without a skill tied into them, a wizard coul easily outmatch a pure bard when conducting any of the bardic rituals. Very simialr stuff happens with disguise and the others, if it doesn't have a mechanical basis, then there is no risk associated and as a result no reward, and lack of reward makes it come up even less often.

    And seriuosly if I have to make up everything that is not combat, then I'd be better up having no system. If I'm going to play using a system, then it should rather support extense areas of the game, not only the small part that only comes up from time to time.
    Ugh, no, wrong. I don't see any other way to put it. Skills for everything is terrible with the way D20 works.

    Lets say you want to make a village blacksmith (or maybe his apprentice) who picked up a forge hammer and fought back against orcs attacking the village. And when everyone around him died, he started adventuring, but still remembers his blacksmithing roots.

    A player wants to make this character in 3E. So they... well, lessee. They're a fighter. They don't see this guy as a genius, but he's not dumb. So they put a 13 into Int. They pump 4 points into Craft (Smithing). Oh wait, that's not a craft skill. They put 4 points into Craft (Weaponsmithing) and 4 points into Craft(armorsmithing). They then beg the DM to let them use Armorsmithing as kind of a general smithing for things like nails, horseshoes, y'know, things people use in day-to-day life. The DM being kind, agrees.

    So the armorsmith decides to try and figure out what he can do. A suit of banded mail costs 250 GP. That's 2,500 SP. The DC on banded mail is 16. So if he succeeds, he will score around 16*(16-25, average 20.5) points, or 328. So on average he will take 7.6 attempts. Of course the odds of him failing and wrecking everything are failing by 5 or more, so 11 or below. That's a 30% chance of failure.

    So he can take a feat to get +3, but he still fails 15% of his rolls, and that's highly likely to screw him in 1 out of 2 armor suits he makes or so. So he jimmies things around and puts a 16 in Int, and now he can make a reasonably basic suite of armor.


    Of course he's basically screwed his entire character over in multiple ways to pick up the ability to be a blacksmith who can make a goddamn suit of armor at the first level.

    How many 3E characters have a background like "studied all my life at a wizards school?" Or "Wandering farmboy who made good?" How many of them actually have an intricate background that shows up on the skill sheet?

    Very few, because you PAY A PENALTY for having an interesting character history.


    The 3E skill system ACTIVELY DISCOURAGES roleplaying, by making players who take skills that reflect their background suffer in comparison to those who do not.

    At least the 4E skill system is neutral on the entire matter, besides the idea that the master wizard in the tower who has studied arcane phenomena his entire life probably has around the same check as the guy who just graduated, because all skills are +5. That's not quite as destructive to roleplaying as rewarding people who take interesting skills with gimp characters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiiLurker View Post
    Well, they'd rather reitnroudce all of the fun skills they left out on 4e. Perform, sing, disguise, forgery, etc.
    No on most of those. I shouldn't have to give up competence to sing well.

    Perhaps disguise should be an aspect of bluff or deception (or whatever they end up calling it), and forgery should be another use of sleight of hand.

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    It's interesting, the idea of "siloing" skills has come up several times in this and other threads about 5e skills. I wonder if a combination of background and trained only skills could work for most of us?

    As in, let's say you play a rogue and get the bonus "Thief" background in addition to your "Commoner" background. But your backstories has your character recruited as a sort of medieval detective, so you want to be able to perform forensic medical exams. There might be a feat/skill which gives you Treat Injury training (or perhaps you could take the Jack-of-All-Trades specialty and use it to get training. Just spit balling.

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