D&D Next (5E) What should the skill list look like? - Page 4




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  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_Nightwing View Post
    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.
    The first sentence made me cringe. Then I read the rest and it got me thinking...

    I absolutely hate when detaching abilities from skills leads players to pick their highest ability possible for every skill check. The famous example is the barbarian player that pretends every single time to Intimidate using Strength instead of Charisma and starts breaking wooden boards and bending iron bars, then the wizard player pretends to Intimidate using Intelligence as in "I come up with a clever logical argumentation on why he should crap his pants off", then the Rogue pretends to Intimidate using Dexterity as in "I just show off how fast I can twirl my nunchakus", then the Dwarf pretends to Intimidate using Constitution as in "I chuggle down a pint of poison in front of him, I am immune anyway, it'll scare them all that not even poison can kill me".

    They might all sound imaginative, but it's only fun the first time. The bad side is that it becomes a method for getting a constant benefit (high Intimidate score) without paying the price (spending some ability points in Charisma).

    BUT your post got me thinking that if instead this idea is meant the other way around, then it's pretty good. "The other way around" meaning when the player cannot choose what ability to use, but still gets the skill bonus.

    Let's take Climb.

    Instead of just letting each PC freely choose Str or Dex (i.e. the highest, obviously), it would be interesting if the DM calls which one depending on the circumstance, for example:

    - you're pushing yourself up a vertical rope with a backpack full of treasure: Strength check with your Climb bonus
    - you're walking up a steep hill with thorns and rocky spikes: Dexterity check with your Climb bonus
    - you're on a forced march for hours on a slanted terrain: Constitution check with your Climb bonus
    - you want to know which spot is best on this cliff to lure your enemy to, and then try to make him fall: Intelligence check with your Climb bonus

    So in other words, not so much "allow applying different ability modifiers to a skill check" but instead "allow applying a skill modifier to different ability checks".

    I don't know if this is what you mean, but I like how it sounds
    Last edited by Li Shenron; Friday, 28th September, 2012 at 01:02 PM.
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  • #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
    Let's take Climb.

    Instead of just letting each PC freely choose Str or Dex (i.e. the highest, obviously), it would be interesting if the DM calls which one depending on the circumstance, for example:

    - you're pushing yourself up a vertical rope with a backpack full of treasure: Strength check with your Climb bonus
    - you're walking up a steep hill with thorns and rocky spikes: Dexterity check with your Climb bonus
    - you're on a forced march for hours on a slanted terrain: Constitution check with your Climb bonus
    - you want to know which spot is best on this cliff to lure your enemy to, and then try to make him fall: Intelligence check with your Climb bonus

    I don't know if this is what you mean, but I like how it sounds
    You're spot on - that's exactly what I meant. It works slightly differently, but still well with the intimidate example too:

    - you're trying to get a street thug to tell you who hired him: not Strength, he's used to being beaten up.
    - you want the thief to tell you where the gold is hidden: not Intelligence, he's a cunning fellow who'll tie you up in half-truths.
    - you want to get the deaf beggar to tell you what he saw that night: not Charisma, all the talking in the world won't help!

    It all comes down to the DM's impression of how the situation can be resolved, there are definitely times when no amount of table-smashing will get someone to confess a crime. Good cop, bad cop is about more than just being nice or nasty, it's using charisma vs. using strength to get them to talk, or wisdom vs. intelligence to figure out if someone is lying.

    The paradigm of skill checks as presented in the playtest rules is 'test this ability because it specifically is relevant', so skills should add to relevant ability modifiers, rather than the other way round. A caveat though: it requires a bit more careful definition of abilities, or a description of which abilities a skill works with (charisma never helps climb, for instance).
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  • #33
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    That's how I treat 4e skills. We've dislodged skills from ability scores.

    1. The player describes the action.
    2. The DM (that would be me) decides if there's a need for a roll.
    3. I call for an ability check.
    4. The player chooses a skill to use, unless I veto it.*

    * I'll usually allow a skill to be used if it fits the description of the original action, which it usually does. We have a pretty simple rule: If you can't justify the skill use in a single sentence, it's a no-go. No convulated explainations.

  • #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
    The first sentence made me cringe. Then I read the rest and it got me thinking...

    I absolutely hate when detaching abilities from skills leads players to pick their highest ability possible for every skill check. The famous example is the barbarian player that pretends every single time to Intimidate using Strength instead of Charisma and starts breaking wooden boards and bending iron bars, then the wizard player pretends to Intimidate using Intelligence as in "I come up with a clever logical argumentation on why he should crap his pants off", then the Rogue pretends to Intimidate using Dexterity as in "I just show off how fast I can twirl my nunchakus", then the Dwarf pretends to Intimidate using Constitution as in "I chuggle down a pint of poison in front of him, I am immune anyway, it'll scare them all that not even poison can kill me".

    They might all sound imaginative, but it's only fun the first time. The bad side is that it becomes a method for getting a constant benefit (high Intimidate score) without paying the price (spending some ability points in Charisma).

    BUT your post got me thinking that if instead this idea is meant the other way around, then it's pretty good. "The other way around" meaning when the player cannot choose what ability to use, but still gets the skill bonus.

    Let's take Climb.

    Instead of just letting each PC freely choose Str or Dex (i.e. the highest, obviously), it would be interesting if the DM calls which one depending on the circumstance, for example:

    - you're pushing yourself up a vertical rope with a backpack full of treasure: Strength check with your Climb bonus
    - you're walking up a steep hill with thorns and rocky spikes: Dexterity check with your Climb bonus
    - you're on a forced march for hours on a slanted terrain: Constitution check with your Climb bonus
    - you want to know which spot is best on this cliff to lure your enemy to, and then try to make him fall: Intelligence check with your Climb bonus

    So in other words, not so much "allow applying different ability modifiers to a skill check" but instead "allow applying a skill modifier to different ability checks".

    I don't know if this is what you mean, but I like how it sounds
    I definitely prefer adjudication:

    - Player describes attempted action in character
    - DM decides mechanic to use

    to the "skill button push" approach I get in 4E from some players. "I use my History skill to determine the best course of action."

    However, you will still get creative attempts to use the best bonus available. And there is a limit to how much I want to sit in arbitration of descriptions of in-game activities. It can get into "mother, may I?" territory, and may penalise players who aren't getting your personal view of how a scene is set up, or who don't have a natural talent for communicating and describing activity (this is more noticeable when you have major differences in these skills within a group - one player can suffer because other players are "roleplaying better" in the DM's head).

  • #35
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    That was definitely one of the things about Playtest 1 that I agreed with. A player doesn't say "I'm going to make an X check" (and by extension usually choosing a check they are really good at)... but instead says "I'm doing X" and then the DM selecting which ability score applies.

    THAT'S the way I think it should be. Because it opens up the game more.

    But as far as skills are concerned... the problem I feel with the skill lists (both in 3E and 4E) are that they are TOO BROAD. They apply TOO OFTEN. If the purpose of the game is REALLY to make ability checks be the primary function and be the BROAD check for things... then the bonuses from skills should be applied infrequently enough that they become a very special bonus... a much more FOCUSED knowledge or ability, and not an expected part of the game.

    So no... I don't want to see Athletics as a skill. I don't want to see Arcane Lore as a skill. I most certainly do not want to see Perception as a skill. Because all of those "skills" pretty much REPLACE the ability check that they are meant to modify.

    In my opinion... any skills you get from a Background should be narrow enough that getting to use it is a special case and a special bonus, and that +3 (which is HUGE!!!) is a time for celebration. That +3 should not be an expected part of any ability check. Because when players expect +3s on most of their checks... it renders the actual ability score modifier moot by comparison.

    To me... Commerce is an AWESOME skill. Because it doesn't cover EVERY situation like Diplomacy does (thereby rendering Charisma checks virtually moot), it only applies to a small segment of interactive situations that a PC will find himself. And so when it happens, getting that +3 is a BIG DEAL. And on top of that, Commerce doesn't apply to just ONE ability score. Haggling with a shopkeep (a CHA check), appraising the value of some item found (an INT check), knowing if a fence is lying to you (a WIS check), etc. etc.

    But now, we have to ask ourselves... what is Commerce? It's actually THE BACKGROUND itself. It's the Commoner - Merchant Background. Which is basically what I've stumped for in the past. In my mind... there's NO NEED for an actual skill list... all you need is your Background, which will tell the DM all he needs to know about when you should get a +3 to a particular ability check. If you're a Noble... you would get a +3 to a CHA check (ie Diplomacy) when interacting with the king. But you WOULDN'T get a +3 to the CHA check (ie Diplomacy) when interacting with a member of the Thieve's Guild. Why would you? It makes no sense. But unfortunately, with a Skill List... that Noble PC gets Diplomacy as a skill, and thus it applies to EVERY situation, even though the Background itself shouldn't really apply.

    If your Background is Pirate... I'd give you a +3 to your STR check for climbing ropes and rigging. But I wouldn't give you a +3 to your STR check for climbing a rock face without ropes, because rope climbing and rock climbing are two different skills. Athletics would have of course merged them together... but all that does is render the STR check moot because Athletics would get layered over it in almost every situation.

    If your Background is Artisan... you'll get +3 bonuses from me for various types of perception checks much more often than you would if you were a Knight or a Thug. You'd also get that +3 to recognize various images or pictures of things like heraldic banners or deity symbols... because you've got a trained eye to remember those kind of pictures (which otherwise would have only fallen under Skills like Historical Lore, Heraldic Lore or Religious Lore). As an Artisan, you'd get that +3 from me for CHA checks to impress a nobleman, or to pretend to be someone else (especially if your artistic expression was theater). But does that artistic eye give you a special +3 to find a secret door? If the door was hidden by being painted to look like the surrounding wall, maybe... but if its blocked by a moving bookcase or something, nope, not at all.

    To me... your ability scores are paramount. THEY should rightly be the primary bonus modifier to any d20 check. But as soon as Skills become so broad and widespread that a PC rolls more than half of his checks GETTING the +3 bonus... the ability score checks have LOST whatever it was that was making them special.
    Last edited by DEFCON 1; Friday, 28th September, 2012 at 04:03 PM.

  • #36
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    Ignore kerleth
    I want my skills narrow enough that I can differentiate between characters. Being experienced/trained in swimming shouldn't automatically come with climbing, so no 4E athletics. That said, I also don't want skills so narrow that they rarely come into play. That makes my choices of skill during character creation seem unimportant. So no rockclimbing, ropeclimbing, treeclimbing, and scaffoldclimbing. I also don't want skills to be "whenever my background applies" as the default. Some players and DM's want a more binary/codified experience than that. I think that defcon's idea could simply be an alternate rule at the end of the skill chapter. If the fluff of each background is described well than it would require only a paragraph or two to explain how to apply a system like Defcon is proposing. That way both groups can be happy without a 3 million page rulebook. Seems like the perfect place for the modularity and adaptability that Next is pushing for.

  • #37
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    I think between class, specialization, and background, that's enough character variation right there that Next doesn't need a skill system. In fact, I tend to think it would be better for it.

    You have a Blacksmith background? Good! You know how to do Smithy-type things and can evaluate metals. You have a merchant background? You're great at haggling and probably know trade-routes and appraisal. You're a Fighter? Well, you know a ton about weapons and armor and probably some military tactics, too. Ranger? Survival, tracking, and hunting. And so on.

    These can be tied to rolls under whichever attribute seems appropriate. With bonuses, if need be, or penalties to stuff you shouldn't know.

    None of these need to be codified into specific skills with specific rules, IMO. A general section should be sufficient.

    -O

  • #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
    The first sentence made me cringe. Then I read the rest and it got me thinking...

    I absolutely hate when detaching abilities from skills leads players to pick their highest ability possible for every skill check. The famous example is the barbarian player that pretends every single time to Intimidate using Strength instead of Charisma and starts breaking wooden boards and bending iron bars, then the wizard player pretends to Intimidate using Intelligence as in "I come up with a clever logical argumentation on why he should crap his pants off", then the Rogue pretends to Intimidate using Dexterity as in "I just show off how fast I can twirl my nunchakus", then the Dwarf pretends to Intimidate using Constitution as in "I chuggle down a pint of poison in front of him, I am immune anyway, it'll scare them all that not even poison can kill me".

    They might all sound imaginative, but it's only fun the first time. The bad side is that it becomes a method for getting a constant benefit (high Intimidate score) without paying the price (spending some ability points in Charisma).

    BUT your post got me thinking that if instead this idea is meant the other way around, then it's pretty good. "The other way around" meaning when the player cannot choose what ability to use, but still gets the skill bonus.

    Let's take Climb.

    Instead of just letting each PC freely choose Str or Dex (i.e. the highest, obviously), it would be interesting if the DM calls which one depending on the circumstance, for example:

    - you're pushing yourself up a vertical rope with a backpack full of treasure: Strength check with your Climb bonus
    - you're walking up a steep hill with thorns and rocky spikes: Dexterity check with your Climb bonus
    - you're on a forced march for hours on a slanted terrain: Constitution check with your Climb bonus
    - you want to know which spot is best on this cliff to lure your enemy to, and then try to make him fall: Intelligence check with your Climb bonus

    So in other words, not so much "allow applying different ability modifiers to a skill check" but instead "allow applying a skill modifier to different ability checks".

    I don't know if this is what you mean, but I like how it sounds
    This would be optimal for me as well. But I do expect that the skill descriptions would have to outline what attributes to use in what typical situations (if for no other reason than a new DM might not immediately infer that spotting stuff involves "wisdom" or that running a sprint requires "strength" and running a marathon "constitution").

    So the Climb skill might explicitly say, "Climbing typically requires a Strength check, but a climb over exceptionally slippery or difficult terrain might take Dexterity instead, and an extended climb that takes more than a round requires Constitution." And Intimidate might say, "You can use other skills or abilities to show off for your opponent in hopes of gaining advantage on your check, but an Intimidate check itself is almost always Charisma-based." (That's how I'd DM that situation, at least: go ahead and roll a Strength check to smash a chair and scare the merchant, which will give you advantage on your Cha-based Intimidate.)

  • #39
    I think, after considering the various arguments, that I prefer a hybrid.

    There should be a short, set list of adventuring skills for the most common rolls to which training matters. This is for speed of play and fairness.

    In addition, characters should get a bonus whenever their background applies to a situation that isn't covered by the set skill list.
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  • #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Carlsen View Post
    I think, after considering the various arguments, that I prefer a hybrid.

    There should be a short, set list of adventuring skills for the most common rolls to which training matters. This is for speed of play and fairness.

    In addition, characters should get a bonus whenever their background applies to a situation that isn't covered by the set skill list.
    I think the latter part of this should really be a part of good DMing even with the current playtest.

    Let's say I'm a fighter who's been working as a mercenary for the local baron for a decade. I take the "Soldier" background because that's an obvious fit. Now, I'm not trained in Local Lore or Heraldic Lore, but if I'm rolling to see if I know a sleazy pub in the town I've lived in for a decade, or what the banner of a neighboring barony is, I'd expect the DM to give me advantage on those Int rolls.

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