D&D 5th Edition What should the skill list look like? - Page 3




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  1. #21
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    I initially loved all skill developments throughout the editions, but am now an advocate for no list at all.

    Simply let Backgrounds indicate when you get some sort of bonus (like the first playtest). I am no longer keen on a list tied to a specific Ability Score.

    4E went too far. I mean why bother with skills like Athletics - it is a Strength check - there were no other skills for Strength.

    3E was to finicky for sure. I agree that taking Dancing did not seem right for adventuring, even though a noble elf should probably do this. (We introduced a system of Background Skills).

    Anyway, Noble should cover that now. Yes, add +3 when at a masquerade, but not tribal rain dancing. I am all for Backgrounds just indicating areas for bonuses.

    I can understand others saying this isn't specific enough (and there have been sev threads on this already), but it suits my GM style very well. Even 3-4 years ago, I would have argued against removing skill list, but I have finally seen the light of all those that used to state tacking a skill system to a class system doesn't work so well.
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  • #22
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    I think people should simply stop seeing skills as a requirement, and start seeing them as an opportunity.

    Having the climb skill trained means that you get a useful +3 bonus on climbing.

    Always thinking in terms of "not having the climb skill means I suck at climbing" is not understanding that all that matters is the relative effectiveness between different characters in different scenarios.
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  • #23
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    I think the initial idea behind skills in Next was a very good one. Rather than have a long list of skills the players should state what they plan to do and the dm chooses an ability to roll against.

    I abhorred skills in 3e. I don't want to have to track dozens of them ever again.

    Giving players a list of skills means they will be trying to use that list to the exclusion of anything else. Even proficiencies in AD&D took some of the spontaneity away from the game.

    Perhaps instead of a listing of skills players could instead choose to focus on being more charismatic or wise or intelligent and gain bonuses to those things related to them such as bluffing or being more perceptive or athletic.

    Some things probably should have some established focus such as lock picking and trap removal but most of the things people call skills are more general than the skill description would allow which makes an exhaustive list that much more necessary.

    I'd just as soon do with out them.

  • #24
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    For me, the requirement that something be a skill is not:

    Can you imagine someone with high [key stat] who sucks at [skill]?
    It's more:

    Could training and practice allow you to be better at [skill] than your [ability] might otherwise suggest?
    I am in favour of a larger, semi-closed skill list rather than an open system or tightly closed list. That is, I think free reign to come up with any skills you like will lead to more debate at the table as to whether a particular skill applies to a situation or not (I have knowledge engineering, that should let me disarm traps!). A say semi-closed because I have no objections to new skills being created where necessary, but the core should try to list everything sensible.

    Something that is absolutely essential, however, is to detach specific abilities from specific skills. When you get a +3 to do something, it depends on the context of what you're doing as to which ability is most relevant. For instance, +3 to Perception says that you are alert - it should apply to Wisdom checks to notice you're going past a secret door and to Intelligence checks when you're actively searching for traps.

    I'm not a fan of the current system of 4x +3 either, I would rather see more things you are trained in at a lower bonus (so 6x +2) or a free-to-spend points system with a list of things you may have picked up in your background (with some points being completely free). I suppose I wouldn't object either to separating 'useful in adventuring' skills from 'background' skills, but I'd much rather see the 'background' skills given uses that come up during adventuring. Sure, Perception will always be relevant, but Blacksmithing could be used whenever manufactured metal objects are involved (weapons, armour, large mechanisms).
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  • #25
    I would like them to trim the Lore skills, almost going into Pottery Lore territory.

  • #26
    Quote Originally Posted by GreyICE View Post
    How about we use a really basic skill list, and then give each player 3 unique traits. The effects of these traits would be situational. Sometimes +2 to skill checks, sometimes something completely different. The effects would be always out-of-combat, and be based on the features picked.

    So for my scarred rogue, how about I pick the following three features:

    Voice of an Angel
    Scarred Face
    Pawn of the Spymaster

    A farmhand could pick these three features, if he wanted:

    A deft hand with animals
    Farmboy
    Soft-Spoken Innocent

    Maybe it lets him connect with another person in an inn - both far from home, both reminisce about farms. Maybe he's able to sooth a wild horse when no one expects him too. Maybe his gentle innocence catches the eye of an elven maiden who is traveling and she offers the party some advice and travels with them for a time.

    See, this is a system that ENCOURAGES roleplay by rewarding people for being interesting and thinking outside the box.
    I like this, but think this kind of open-ended floating system requires experienced players and DM, and a willingness to play these traits story-first, not as mechanics hammers (I might get annoyed with a farmhand player who "spammed" Soft-Spoken Innocent to try and get a +2 in every bluff attempt - "but he sounds innocent, so they won't think he's lying!").

    I think this is fairly close to the Hero Quest traits system? Which is so extensive it even covers combat . . .

    I think D&D Next will not go this far, but might stretch to a floating skills system, with a (hopefully short) base skill list for the published backgrounds.

  • #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by slobo777 View Post
    I like this, but think this kind of open-ended floating system requires experienced players and DM, and a willingness to play these traits story-first, not as mechanics hammers (I might get annoyed with a farmhand player who "spammed" Soft-Spoken Innocent to try and get a +2 in every bluff attempt - "but he sounds innocent, so they won't think he's lying!").

    I think this is fairly close to the Hero Quest traits system? Which is so extensive it even covers combat . . .

    I think D&D Next will not go this far, but might stretch to a floating skills system, with a (hopefully short) base skill list for the published backgrounds.
    There are ways to handle people who try to stretch their Abilities to cover things they probably shouldn't. Heroquest has a specific "Stretch" rule; Fate makes you pay to activate Aspects; and in both games, the GM can use things against you. The "Soft Spoken Innocent" isn't going to be taken seriously by the ruthless crime lord; the "Farmboy" shouldn't know how to behave around the elven maiden. I agree, it takes an experienced GM (and probably players) to make it work.

  • #28
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    To me the soft-spoken thing sounds like a great character development opportunity--the innocent who continually "spams" lies ceases to remain innocent...

  • #29
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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
    I don't think this is true. There are ways that something can matter to action resolution without being a skill. The colour of one's cloak is, in D&D, not a formal attribute of a PC, but it can still matter to resolution: if there is an NPC who hates red, for example, then when my PC meets that person while wearing a red cloak, I might suffer a penalty to the reaction check.

    My bard's singing ability can play a similar sort of role.

    Quote Originally Posted by slobo777 View Post
    the reductio ad absurdum of your argument is when I want a wizard who was also the world's greatest swordsman, but the game system doesn't allow me to do it. I'm being "punished"?

    Whether or not a "skill" (or in fact any character ability/description) is part of game mechanics or part of open-ended RP surely depends on how often the mechanical use of the skill would actually turn up in play

    <snip>

    A game world or campaign where "Bardic Voice" has regular impact outside of colour - there are multiple performances, competitions where success/failure is of interest, and changes the path of an adventure - benefits with a skill for it
    This is all true, but is bardic voice going to matter like that in D&Dnext? Almost certainly not. At the moment the only action resolution rules there are pertain almost entirely to combat (there is the barest gesture at social skill checks; there are some simple trap rules).

    The game has to make a choice as to the sites of action resolution that it will support, and how they will be handled: the "three pillars".

    If they want to make musical talent matter, rather than a skill it might perhaps be a trait: anyone can be a musician, but only some with the "jongleur" background can automatically get gigs in pubs, invited to nobles' feast halls, etc.

  • #30
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    I've gone back and forth on how I want skills in D&D to be. I slightly prefer the 4e way to the 3e way (mostly because of the binary nature of skill training), but both leave me dissatisfied. I always assumed I'd like broad skills better (because I tend to prefer broad skills), but I've come to the realization that narrow skills would probably work better because of the vague nature of D&D ability scores.

    It's that pairing of broad and unfocused ability scores with broad and unfocused skills that drive me up the wall.

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