D&D 5E A Rogue Proposal:Skill Synergy


Given the design goals for and challenges with the rogue I have a proposal.

A new class feature I'm calling skill synergy and a change to too other features, sneak attack and skill mastery.

Skill Synergy basically allows the rogue to make a context related skill check in a trained skill to grant advantage to either his/her next attack or skill check.

Example A rogue wants to use diplomancy to negiotate a peace treaty, but a murder is a major obstacle to negiotations. The rogue makes a bluff check to convince the aggrevied faction that the guilty faction is innocent. This one lie gives the Rogue advantage on his diplomacy check to hash out a peace treaty.

Another example, a rogue is about to pick a lock when she notices how old it looks. She does a history lore check and discovers it ancient Imaskarian, which gives her a better idea how to unlock it. She gains advantage on her pick locks skill check.

Its even extends to combat skills. Maybe when she unlocks the lock and opens the door, undead swarm out. She has no wear to hide, so instead she makes an undead lore check and remembers the vulnersble points on this type of undead and gets advantage for her next attack.

This combines nicely with my changes to sneak attack and skill mastery. Instead when a Rogue have advantage on a skill check he can add skill mastery dice on it.

First off replace taking ten in skill Mastery. Then instead of 1d6 to sneak attack at every level and starting with 2d6 sneak attack, split the 2d6 between skill mastery and sneak attack. After that every level the Rogue gets to add 1d6 die to either his skill mastery or sneak attack.

This allows for a less combat more skills focused Rogue, a more killer type rogue, or a more mixed rogue, while making both skills and fighting more interesting and creative, the style of the rogue more unique.

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First Post
So first off,
best typo ever. ;)

I kind of think the basic skill synergy thing should be built into the default rules: if you can think of a viable way to relate a second skill to a check, you can use both skills to gain advantage. The catch is that in combat, each roll counts as an action, so it'll take two rounds to get that advantage - and maybe if you fail the secondary roll, you get DISadvantage. ("My word, this lock looks exactly like the work of the Duskminers of Azur! All I have to do is twist counterclAGGGH POISON NEEDLE").

Now, the skill mastery bonus sounds cool but would probably need to be balanced more carefully. A 5th-level rogue with +5d6 to skill checks would be fairly ridiculous. That would mean a result of 9+mod to 53+mod on a trained skill. It would also probably result in a lot of stretching attempts to gain advantage on skill checks, which gets into annoying "mother may I" territory for some players. ("Crap, I need advantage on this lockpicking check... uh, my rogue uses Survival to see if this lock reminds him of natural rock formations? Diplomacy to see if he's every been able to wheedle a locksmith into explaining them?") While no skill system can completely avoid these edge cases, this system might go too far in almost requiring them.

EDIT: It's also worth noting that the current Skill Mastery has the benefit of not changing your MAX die roll, so it doesn't screw up the expected skill checks for the bounded accuracy system. That is, a trained thief rogue might ALWAYS unlock a DC15 lock, but non-rogues and/or non-thieves also have a shot. A DC 20 lock is an equally difficult challenge for a thief rogue and a thief non-rogue, and DC30 is all but impossible. Under your system, as I mentioned, a skill-focused rogue could hit very high DCs, which would have serious consequences for setting DCs.
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I'd rather not see a rogue, or any other "base" class, that has to roll a whole lot more dice during its turn and make a whole lot more decisions than other characters. If you give the rogue the option of rolling skill checks to improve other checks, it becomes in the players best interest to use that as often as possible. Now, every time they want to walk 12 feet and then stab a goblin, they come up with 3 different ways that their skill list tenuously relates to the situation at hand, then roll 3 different checks involving 3 sets of dice and 3 bonuses which determine the set of bonuses that applies on top of the normal bonuses which modify the roll that they were going to make to resolve the action in the first place!

Much better to move 12 feet, roll a d20 and add the normal modifiers, and attack the goblin.

I'm not against new and innovative ways to make rogues feel more "sly" and skill-oriented, so that a rogue that say focuses on knowledge skills actually plays quite differently from a rogue that focuses on stealth and deception skills. I just think that this particular suggestion sounds like a bit more trouble than it's worth. YMMV, etc.

I'm agreed with [MENTION=54843]ZombieRoboNinja[/MENTION] about the +dice to skill checks. Part of the sweetness of skill mastery is that it doesn't make you better at tough tasks, nor does it allow you to accomplish tasks that are beyond your competence. It just makes you fail less (not at all!) at simple and moderate tasks, and makes your failures less severe (if that is a factor). And adding potentially +1d6/level to skill checks gets out of hand real fast.

In general I also think that you shouldn't force a player to choose between improving his ability in combat or improving his ability out of combat. The combat choice will almost always be optimal, leaving those who chose the out of combat choice feeling cheated for their desire to explore other parts of the game. It also leaves the vast majority of players feeling like they are forced to choose the combat option by its sheer effectiveness, even if they sometimes wish they could give the out of combat subsystems a spin. Let everyone do both, and let combat resources be traded out for different combat resources and skill resources traded for other skill or interaction resources.

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