5E Changing Expertise, Adding Double Proficiency
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  1. #1
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    Changing Expertise, Adding Double Proficiency

    We played yesterday and discussed things about proficiency bonus, expertise, etc. We tried some new house-rules and for the most part worked okay, but I am presenting them here for further consideration and discussion:

    Our proficiency bonus progression ranges from +2 to +9. We are currently at 5th- or 6th-level and use +3 and +4, respectively.
    RAW it would be +3 anyway, so only two characters at 6th-level get the extra +1 for now.

    Expertise
    You choose one skill in which you are proficient. You gain advantage when you use that skill.
    If you roll a natural 20 on your check, you automatically succeed even if the DC is higher than the result of the check.

    Double-Skill
    By selecting a skill twice, you can apply double your proficiency bonus to checks made with that skill.

    Personally, I love the new Expertise for my Rogue/Cleric/Wizard, but the other Rogue/Fighter player wasn't keen on it until the DM decided to try out "Double-Skill". I didn't select any, but he did for all four skills he has expertise in (cost him using a Skilled feat). Seems OP to me to have double proficiency with advantage!

    During one part I cast Pass Without Trace, and the other player got a 40 for his Dexterity (Stealth) check! (+8 "double-skill" proficiency, +3 DEX mod, +10 pass without trace bonus = +21 and he rolled a 19 on one of the two d20's).

    Anyway, I like the increase proficiency progression and expertise rules, but the double-skill option seems like overkill and too prone to abuse.

    So, my questions are this:

    1. I don't think the +9 max prof bonus is game breaking by any means, especially since our game is magic-item poor. At higher levels, getting another +2 or +3 over the RAW +6 will make up for that. Can you think of other ways this could be game breaking?

    2. Does granting advantage instead of double prof bonus, along with the natural 20 always succeeding, create any issues or situations you can think of that could be exploited beyond what can be done with double prof bonus (for RAW expertise)?

    3. What other options could exist to reflect a level of specialization above normal prof bonus for double-skills instead of simply doubling the prof bonus?

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by dnd4vr; Monday, 6th May, 2019 at 05:21 AM.

  2. #2
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    Your double-skill is no worse than your advantage on check or your increased proficiency bonus table when each of them are taken individually. But when you merge all three together into one system... yes it's going to be rather ridiculous.

    If the reasoning for these house rules is to just widen the gap between people who can do things and people who can't... at a certain point it doesn't really matter how high someone can go.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dnd4vr View Post
    We played yesterday and discussed things about proficiency bonus, expertise, etc. We tried some new house-rules and for the most part worked okay, but I am presenting them here for further consideration and discussion:

    Our proficiency bonus progression ranges from +2 to +9. We are currently at 5th- or 6th-level and use +3 and +4, respectively.
    RAW it would be +3 anyway, so only two characters at 6th-level get the extra +1 for now.

    Expertise
    You choose one skill in which you are proficient. You gain advantage when you use that skill.
    If you roll a natural 20 on your check, you automatically succeed even if the DC is higher than the result of the check.

    Double-Skill
    By selecting a skill twice, you can apply double your proficiency bonus to checks made with that skill.

    Personally, I love the new Expertise for my Rogue/Cleric/Wizard, but the other Rogue/Fighter player wasn't keen on it until the DM decided to try out "Double-Skill". I didn't select any, but he did for all four skills he has expertise in (cost him using a Skilled feat). Seems OP to me to have double proficiency with advantage!

    During one part I cast Pass Without Trace, and the other player got a 40 for his Dexterity (Stealth) check! (+8 "double-skill" proficiency, +3 DEX mod, +10 pass without trace bonus = +21 and he rolled a 19 on one of the two d20's).

    Anyway, I like the increase proficiency progression and expertise rules, but the double-skill option seems like overkill and too prone to abuse.

    Thoughts?
    "Thoughts?"

    You made changes.

    That's about it.

    Without knowing what the goals were other than "making changes" there is not much to think sbout.

    Rules serve a purpose, they aim towards a goal or they are pointless.

    But since you did not say why these were made or what they were meant to change, no problem, no goal, no prefer its etc...

    You made changes.

    Thsts all I got.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
    "Thoughts?"
    Since you need more info here you go:

    Increasing the proficiency bonus range to +9 maximum creates a greater gap between lower and higher level characters. Our table finds a change from +2 to +6 in RAW too little to really represent the improvements 20 levels of experience could bring. At any rate, the difference between RAW +6 and the higher +9 is typically nothing in the first tier, a +1 for most of the second tier, a +2 for much of the third tier, and +2 or +3 for the highest levels. I would like it to be greater, but beyond +9 and the increases it creates, there is too much imbalance with the other aspects of the game (monster stats, DCs, etc.). It would require way too much work to make those changes, and the +9 progression works well enough while maintaining the confines of Bounded Accuracy.

    Expertise, especially at higher levels, even with normal RAW proficiency bonuses, can strain Bounded Accuracy. Even at lower levels, using double the proficiency bonus can result in totals high enough tat difficult tasks become routine. I've seen our DM's frustration when the Rogue with expertise in Stealth typically rolls so high that creatures literally have no chance to notice him. An answer to this is to change it to advantage. This allows a more likely higher result, but nothing beyond the bounds of 20 + the skill check modifier, while restraining the maximum possible result. Allowing a natural 20 to automatically succeed regardless of the DC also reflects an edge available to Rogues and Bards not normally available to other classes without expertise.

    Why should only Rogues and Bards (I could understand bards I suppose) be the only classes normally with access to expertise (other than archetype exceptions)? The DM's answer to this was the Double-Skill rule. Sure, you can get twice your proficiency bonus, but at the cost of losing another skill. Personally, IMO it simply creates the same problem RAW expertise does and he pretty much added it on the fly because another player (the other rogue) didn't want to lose double proficiency bonus in stealth, perception, investigation, and thieves' tools. The player opted to switch a feat to Skilled, and also ditched Deception, for the extra skill cost for those four skills to make them all Double-Skills.

    Unfortunately, coupled with Expertise (which the rogue obviously stills gets), it is even worse because now those expertise skills are also Double-skills! So not only does he get twice the proficiency bonus, he is also getting advantage. YIKES! :O

    I've edited the OP to pose specific questions/concerns.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dnd4vr View Post
    Since you need more info here you go:

    Increasing the proficiency bonus range to +9 maximum creates a greater gap between lower and higher level characters. Our table finds a change from +2 to +6 in RAW too little to really represent the improvements 20 levels of experience could bring. At any rate, the difference between RAW +6 and the higher +9 is typically nothing in the first tier, a +1 for most of the second tier, a +2 for much of the third tier, and +2 or +3 for the highest levels. I would like it to be greater, but beyond +9 and the increases it creates, there is too much imbalance with the other aspects of the game (monster stats, DCs, etc.). It would require way too much work to make those changes, and the +9 progression works well enough while maintaining the confines of Bounded Accuracy.

    Expertise, especially at higher levels, even with normal RAW proficiency bonuses, can strain Bounded Accuracy. Even at lower levels, using double the proficiency bonus can result in totals high enough tat difficult tasks become routine. I've seen our DM's frustration when the Rogue with expertise in Stealth typically rolls so high that creatures literally have no chance to notice him. An answer to this is to change it to advantage. This allows a more likely higher result, but nothing beyond the bounds of 20 + the skill check modifier, while restraining the maximum possible result. Allowing a natural 20 to automatically succeed regardless of the DC also reflects an edge available to Rogues and Bards not normally available to other classes without expertise.

    Why should only Rogues and Bards (I could understand bards I suppose) be the only classes normally with access to expertise (other than archetype exceptions)? The DM's answer to this was the Double-Skill rule. Sure, you can get twice your proficiency bonus, but at the cost of losing another skill. Personally, IMO it simply creates the same problem RAW expertise does and he pretty much added it on the fly because another player (the other rogue) didn't want to lose double proficiency bonus in stealth, perception, investigation, and thieves' tools. The player opted to switch a feat to Skilled, and also ditched Deception, for the extra skill cost for those four skills to make them all Double-Skills.

    Unfortunately, coupled with Expertise (which the rogue obviously stills gets), it is even worse because now those expertise skills are also Double-skills! So not only does he get twice the proficiency bonus, he is also getting advantage. YIKES! :O

    I've edited the OP to pose specific questions/concerns.
    So, you again tend to describe "what it does" a lot more that "what it was needed to do". But it seems like some of the multiple changes work against the goals of others? Huh?

    Did your group in play find at levels 17-20 too many cases where the differences in play between +6 proficiency with say +5 ability score was key? Where another +3 was needed?

    How did the feats the give you proficiency and expertise play into it for those races?

    So, was the goal to produce from even low tier 1 *more* cases of excessive skill totals while giving characters more narrowly defined skill scopes? Cuz that seems what you are creating?

    Are the "base" DCs for tasks (the few defined by RAW on monsters, tasks at least but also the basic scores for easy-medium-hard) going to change to reflect the new norm or stay as is?

    Already in the game there us a strong push to focus on "only the best tries". This is created by the gaps between ability+prof for those with both as part of their build and those with neither as their focus.

    Now, this seems like it will drive most everyone to go for at least one doubled skill in an area that they find key.

    Most strength fighters can find greater use by doubled athletics from day 1.
    Most anyone can benefit from doubled perception. Especially if the base scores got NPCs are not changed, this seems to raise passive perception to much stronger levels for PCs than enemy scores will have much chance to overcome.

    One of the strengths of the core system is that the degree to which most characters can benefit from more and more over-stacking is limited - especially at lower levels. That leaves a wider scope of builds more useful.

    This seems to push towards a much more favorable concentrate ftom the beginning push and it's not readily

    Right now, most any character build can have between 4-6 skills for everyone but practically speaking only a couple of those at most key to skills with high ability scores as well. Seems obvious that double up will be the key so everybody is doubled up - for PCs.

    Also, did you have a problem with tools being too good?

    It's a lot harder, or rather more restrictive, to get yo two tools than it is to get to two skills. Most classes offer no tool proficiencies. Most races off no tools.

    So, did you want tools reduced compared to skills? Was your goal to really promote custom backgrounds with 2 skills and two tools allowing doubled up tools - driving out the language options?

    These are the kinds of questions one gets when you have presentations like "here are a bunch of changes, see what they do" instead of "we want to do this thing here, fo these change get that without doing a lot more stuff wrapped up in it too."

    If a goal was "remove the out of reach npc vs stealth expertise" problems we have seen in play" that brings in a narrow set of changes. That would say also "dont do changes that expand it.", right?

    Additionally, the lack of thinking beyond the plus in these issues seems a missing key component?

    For example, the DMG rules for auto-success - are they in play? One of the bigger ones is the auto-succeed on DC 10 or less for proficient checks without disadvantage. That creates even at low levels a significant edge for proficiencies and a factor that makes having more proficiencies matter, not just higher numbers.

    Just like we see with reliable talent, the rules that allow you to avoid making checks seem big.

    But to me I have one serious problem at a play level that steps outside of the "what are the goals and fo we meet them and only thrm with these changes"...

    Any change that just hands default advantage automatically for a class of checks removes the IMO major gain from advantage - it requires some degree of in-scene engagement by requiring actions and choices and plans that *create* advantage by interacting in the scene. The more "expertise" is available and granting auto-advsntsge, the less that becomes a drive for interaction, planning and engaging the scene and the more it becomes a matter of build.
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    One part of 5e's clever Bounded Accuracy design is to give powers that make low rolls unusual, rather than make super high rolls common. So rather than handing out easy Expertise, especially on top of +9 Proficiency, IMO you should use stuff like:

    Advantage
    Reliable Talent (qv Rogue) - checks below 10 counts as a 10.
    Reliable Attribute (qv Barbarian) - checks use the higher of the roll or the raw attribute number

    I particularly like the last of these, there are several high level Barbarians IMC and my son loves playing an Epic-20 dragonborn demigod Barbarian with boosted STR 30 - he always gets at least 30 on his Athletics checks, and rolls at +16 with Advantage, but yesterday he still unexpectedly lost an arm wrestling bout to an Efreet wrestler in the City of Brass who rolled 19 with a +12 Athletics bonus.

    Edit: I'm guessing the purpose of the original change was to make 5e feel more like 3e. This seems like a really bad idea to me, the best approach IMO is to make sure highly skilled characters have high floors to their checks, not ridiculously OTT ceilings to their checks.
    Last edited by S'mon; Monday, 6th May, 2019 at 12:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    One part of 5e's clever Bounded Accuracy design is to give powers that make low rolls unusual, rather than make super high rolls common. So rather than handing out easy Expertise, especially on top of +9 Proficiency, IMO you should use stuff like:

    Advantage
    Reliable Talent (qv Rogue) - checks below 10 counts as a 10.
    Reliable Attribute (qv Barbarian) - checks use the higher of the roll or the raw attribute number

    I particularly like the last of these, there are several high level Barbarians IMC and my son loves playing an Epic-20 dragonborn demigod Barbarian with boosted STR 30 - he always gets at least 30 on his Athletics checks, and rolls at +16 with Advantage, but yesterday he still unexpectedly lost an arm wrestling bout to an Efreet wrestler in the City of Brass who rolled 19 with a +12 Athletics bonus.

    Edit: I'm guessing the purpose of the original change was to make 5e feel more like 3e. This seems like a really bad idea to me, the best approach IMO is to make sure highly skilled characters have high floors to their checks, not ridiculously OTT ceilings to their checks.
    Some good ideas. Like I said I like the improved prof bonus progression and expertise, IMO the double-skill thing is too much. I like the idea about "reliable" features.
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    I already thought about 3 levels of proficiency.

    0.5
    1
    2

    Half, full, double prof bonus. Also possible would be 1.5 times prof bonus.

    You get skillpoints and can spend them. You get two skillpoints per proficiency. You get 0.5 proficiency bonus on a skill per skillpoint spent.
    Normal characters have 8 skillpoints.
    You can only use 2 skillpoints to increase skills above 2 skillpoints.
    If you have expertise, you get 2 skillpoints per expertise and may spend them as you like.
    If you get a skill like bard's jack of all traits you get all skillpoints back from skills with only 1 skill point. If you want to increase such a skill you have to spend 2 skillpoints to get 1 times prof bonus.

    Sounds complicated but it allows you to gain abit more granulary and depth.

    Other proficiencies work equally, a single skillpoint in a language only allows you to understand and speak them.
    3 points in a single language makes you sound like a native speaker and allows for common dialects. 4 Points also gives you knowledge about dialects and gives knowledge about everything a native speaker usually knows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UngeheuerLich View Post
    I already thought about 3 levels of proficiency.

    0.5
    1
    2

    Half, full, double prof bonus. Also possible would be 1.5 times prof bonus.

    You get skillpoints and can spend them. You get two skillpoints per proficiency. You get 0.5 proficiency bonus on a skill per skillpoint spent.
    Normal characters have 8 skillpoints.
    You can only use 2 skillpoints to increase skills above 2 skillpoints.
    If you have expertise, you get 2 skillpoints per expertise and may spend them as you like.
    If you get a skill like bard's jack of all traits you get all skillpoints back from skills with only 1 skill point. If you want to increase such a skill you have to spend 2 skillpoints to get 1 times prof bonus.

    Sounds complicated but it allows you to gain abit more granulary and depth.

    Other proficiencies work equally, a single skillpoint in a language only allows you to understand and speak them.
    3 points in a single language makes you sound like a native speaker and allows for common dialects. 4 Points also gives you knowledge about dialects and gives knowledge about everything a native speaker usually knows.
    Something like that would be a return to earlier editions, but I don't see a problem with that. The problem before was you could spent 1 point per level and end up with +20s and such to skills. If you limit it to something akin to years or levels of study, maybe have it range from +1 to +6 (RAW) or even higher, it would work well IMO. With our progression going to +9, it is the same as 1.5 times prof bonus you might like.

    Another option if you do a skill point system is to make it progressive. The cost to go to a higher modifier is equal to the new modifier. E.g. to go from a +2 to +3 would cost 3 points. Give characters so many points per level so at 20th they might have 2-3 skills at +6 (or whatever your max is), but most will be lower.

    One issue with 5E that to me stretches the realms of logic is when characters gain a skill at higher levels and suddenly get a full proficiency bonus to it!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dnd4vr View Post
    One issue with 5E that to me stretches the realms of logic is when characters gain a skill at higher levels and suddenly get a full proficiency bonus to it!
    yes, a bit. But with +6 it is not too bad.
    I have hoped that some skill point option would be available in a splat by now or better in the DMG. I dont know if Id use it, but that is ok.
    In the other Thread I proposed proficiency increase at 3,6,9,12,15,18 to go up to 8 and I still believe this would be a good option. I could imagine that if you like expertise capping at +12, you could have it be x1.5 instead of x2.

    When I spoke about skill points in my post above, you would not get any when yu level up, instead you are just able to have different kinf of proficiencies. I would love to have a default method to gain new proficiencies when you level up, and fortunately there is already one:
    In the DMG under alternate treasure you can allow characters to train with someone who is exceptional at a skill to gain a new proficiency in a skill, which transfers to spend downtime in special circumstances. Difficult, but possible.

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