Confused about how skills work?
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  1. #1

    Confused about how skills work?

    Ok, I am very new to 5e and I don't really get how skills work. If I understand correctly, you don't train skills or the like and instead just use a certain ability and say you are using a related skill (e.g make a strength check and say it's athletics). Also how do skills for monsters work?

  2. #2
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    You gain proficiency (training or what have you) in certain skills from your race, background, class, or feats. This allows you to add your proficiency bonus to ability checks to which the skill is relevant. Monsters can also be proficient with skills.
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  3. #3
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    Also, anyone can use any skill by rolling with your ability modifier, but only skills you are trained in adds your proficiency bonus. This means that a fighter can try and pick pockets by making a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check. Typically fighters are not trained in this and have low Dexterity so things are against them. However, if you have a Dex-build and take criminal background you could be trained and have a good Dex modifier so your chance of success if much better. But, anyone can try.

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    As you are new, it’s worth pointing out that the player is not the one who calls out “I want to make a Nature check”, for example. Instead, the player describes what the PC wants to accomplish: “I want to see if I can identify the strange plant”. And then the player describes how the PC plans to accomplish it: “I pluck a leaf and inspect it closely, referring to my botany journal”. The DM then let’s you know if you succeeded (“yeah, you grew up with one of these in the woods behind your house”), if you failed (“this is some alien plant that no one has likely ever seen in this part of the world”), or if there is some uncertainty (“please roll a Nature check to see what you know... and to see if you are poisoned or not!”).
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bootlebat View Post
    Ok, I am very new to 5e and I don't really get how skills work. If I understand correctly, you don't train skills or the like and instead just use a certain ability and say you are using a related skill (e.g make a strength check and say it's athletics). Also how do skills for monsters work?
    The player describes what he or she wants to do. The DM decides if the character succeeds, fails, or if there is an ability check.

    If there is an ability check the DM may or may not say a skill proficiency applies. Alternatively the player may ask if a skill proficiency applies.

    Monsters may make ability checks at the DM's discretion if and when the DM decides the monster's approach to a goal has an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure. In my experience, this will mostly be for resolving contests called for specifically in the rules such as grappling, shoving, hiding, searching, or determining surprise.
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  6. #6
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    If you're new, I highly suggest listening to a few episodes of the Critical Role, a podcast/video where voice actors play D&D. It is a great example of a successful, fun and engaging D&D game run by an excellent DM. It is the best way to learn D&D these days...
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  7. #7
    Ok so...

    First thing is look at skills as a sort of go-by. The list of skills shows each skill with an ability like Perception as wisdom and stealth as Dexterity. Those are a great go-by to tell you "what I use Dexterity for? And "What is Wisdom for?.

    Second thing, most anytime your character tries to do things like climb, spot sneaking bad guys, hunt for food, etc your gm is gonna call for an ability check (exceptions if it's just impossible or so easy you csnt fail.)

    You will roll a d20 and add the modifier for that ability.

    This is where skills hit - if your character has proficiency in a skill that applies you also add the proficiency bonus.

    That's it, barring special cases proficiency in skills add bonus to those checks.

  8. #8
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    It is important to note, that you never* require proficiency in a skill to attempt an action. Sometimes, however, you need a tool proficiency, such as for crafting or disabling traps.


    *According to the Rules As Written (RAW), but as always your DM has final authority
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