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5E Adding Additional Skills to the game

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Has anyone added new skills to their game?
I was pondering adding new skills, adjusting, backgrounds, and adding to class skill list for a new campaign if my players keep walking into the TPK I telegrapghed that would TPK them.

The 5e Skill list is one that I feel is missing a bit. I was thinking about adding

AD&D's Endurance (Constitution)
AD&D's Etiquette (Charisma)
AD&D's Law (Intelligence)
3e's Nobility (Intelligence)
4e's Dungeoneering (Wisdom)
4e's Streetwise (Charisma)

The first part is separating the lore, names, and history of the upper class and the lower class. Since D&D's settings are usually rather feudal with different classes, I think it knowing information about the nobility and royalty be different from knowing information about the commoner's experience and the world on their level.

Another is Law and Etiquette to know the laws and mannerism of different areas. It would reward players by informing them ahead of them the consequences of their action in society and minimize errors and failure.

All of them together would make player race and background matter more as I would increase DCs or impose (dis)advantage based on how close the nobles, commoners, law,and etiquette are is to the PC. A dwarf would recall obscure dwarven laws and how to dress when meeting a dwarf better than an elf or a tiefling.

Endurance is just a to have a Constitution skill. The PC trains their organs to last longer. I pondered Pain Tolerance or Drinking but I know all my players would take them

Dungeoneering is to create a subculture of adventurer knowledge in the world. Feels very D&D to have Dungeon lore.

Law goes to clerics. paladins, and rogues
Nobility goes to paladins
Dungeoneering goes to rangers
Endurance goes to barbarians, fighters. rangers, and paladins
Streetwise goes to rogues
Etiquette goes to clerics, fighters, and paladins
Note bards have every skill on their list.

As for background changes, I'd:
  • For Spy, I'd swap Stealth for Etiquette
  • For Folk Hero, I'd swap Survival for Streetwise
  • For Noble, I'd swap History for Nobility
  • For Outlander, I'd make a variant called Delver that is Athletic, Dungeeonerring, thieves tools and a language
  • For Soldier, I'd make a new variant called Officer that is Law and Etiquette and a language and a gaming set.
So has anyone added new skills to their games. What have been your experiences?
 

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I did recently a new skill list for my upcoming campaign. Unlike you, my approach was somewhat opposite, I mostly merged skills instead of adding new ones. I also got rid of tool and language proficiencies and baked them into the skill system. I considered adding Endurance though, but eventually decided against it. It would be very narrow skill and in most situations you can just use Constitution saving throw instead. I see the logic of most of your additions though. The official knowledge skill list is rather weirdly divided and there are many tasks where it is not clear which one should be used. History often ends up doubling up as general knowledge skill. Personally I don't mind that, except for that it is confusingly named. I can certainly see the argument for separating things like law and knowledge of traditions and customs from it. Of course these are rather setting dependent things, and in some campaigns such a level of differentiation is not necessary. I definitely wouldn't have 'nobility' and 'etiquette' as separate things though, these can easily be the same skill. Also one thing to bear in mind that if you increase the number of skills a lot, you might want to give characters one extra skill proficiency.

STRENGTH
Athletics

DEXTERITY
Acrobatics
Stealth
Thievery (Contains sleight of hand and the use of thieves tools.)

INTELLIGENCE
Arcana (Now contains areas of religion skill that deal with metaphysics and supernatural, instead of mere cultural things.)
Craftship (General crafting and tech skill. Replaces tool proficiencies. Specialists can have 'expertise' for specific facets of crafting.)
Investigation
Linguistics (Measures your skill in different languages, the ease you acquire new ones as well as ability to decipher ancient scripts etc.)
Lore (General 'sage' skill. For knowing stuff that doesn't fall in any other category. Now contains some uses of religion skill.)


WISDOM
[Animal Handling (Now contains aspects of nature that directly relate to animal behaviour.)]
Insight
Medicine
Perception
Survival (Contains most uses of nature skill.)

CHARISMA
Intimidation
Performance (Now contains the use of musical instruments.)
Persuasion (Now contains deception)

EDIT: after further consideration I nixed Animal Handling too. Most uses of it can go into Survival.
 
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Hriston

Hero
An approach that some games take is to allow players to write a Skill proficiency that's basically an "Ability specialty", a particular type of situation or circumstance in which they could apply their proficiency bonus to a type of ability check, rather than having a discrete list beyond the six basic abilities.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I try to attempt the same goals by mixing and matching as makes sense and encouraging different uses of proficiency. So instead of endurance it's a con check using your athletics proficiency modifier. Nobility is history, but you get advantage on the check if you have the noble background. Same with any other check - if a background feature applies you get advantage on the check (or potentially it's just automatic).

Although I think I actually agree with @Crimson Longinus, I might start eliminating skills. Acrobatics and athletics to me are both quite similar, it's just a matter of focus so either acrobatics gets subsumed into athletics using dexterity. On the other hand, I do reserve straight-up climbs to a strength/athletics check unless I think you can parkour your way up.

Same way with deception and persuasion. They're both sides of the same coin. Might even make an option for social skills based on wisdom and get rid of insight because if you can read people you know how to respond.

I'll have to think about it more, and whether I want to hassle for my next campaign. House rules are fun to think about but I tend to be careful before implementing them since there are always trade-offs.
 

Vael

Hero
I don't see the need for more skills, because I put a lot of that into background. As a DM, I'm fairly liberal with giving players proficiency if they can give me a reason and especially if it's in the purview of their background. Like, rather than put streetwise in the game, urchins and criminals (and rogues) naturally get proficiency in those kind of checks.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I did recently a new skill list for my upcoming campaign. Unlike you, my approach was somewhat opposite, I mostly merged skills instead of adding new ones.

Well I see it as 2 possibilities really.
You either narrow the skills but let multiple ability scores and circumstances apply to them OR you expand the skills, expand the fields, and lock the abilities to them.

I considered adding Endurance though, but eventually decided against it. It would be very narrow skill and in most situations you can just use Constitution saving throw instead.

Well as a DM I force a lot of long distance running. And At least 25% of players I've played or DM with roleplay drunks or masochists.

The official knowledge skill list is rather weirdly divided and there are many tasks where it is not clear which one should be used. History often ends up doubling up as general knowledge skill. Personally I don't mind that, except for that it is confusingly named. I can certainly see the argument for separating things like law and knowledge of traditions and customs from it. Of course these are rather setting dependent things, and in some campaigns such a level of differentiation is not necessary.

Yeah. I was tempted and still am to add a general Academics or Sage skill for general high education.

I definitely wouldn't have 'nobility' and 'etiquette' as separate things though, these can easily be the same skill.

Well half of the reason I am using both is that they'd use different ability score.

The other is that Etiquette would range from upper class etiquette, business appropriate actions, military culture, and lower class customs. Ettiquette tells you howto act at a ball, when to eat at a dwarven family dinner, and not to wash a halfling cast iron skillet.

Also one thing to bear in mind that if you increase the number of skills a lot, you might want to give characters one extra skill proficiency.

That's the other thing. Between background, class, subclass, and race, I think PCshave too many skills already and the game needs more skills to make having a proficiency in a skill feel more unique. This makes players rely on their party members more.

Especially since the game already lets you swap skills at creation.
 

Draegn

Explorer
I have added skills. There are 80 active skills, 120 occupational/background skills, and language skills which are dependent upon the campaign. This allows my players more creativity in writing up their characters.
 

I'd be very careful adding new skills to the game. You don't get that many skills, and the skills themselves are somewhat imbalanced (perception). I took the approach of adding new tools, which are easier to acquire and generally less powerful. A few things I had a hard time finding a "tool" for, and just called them minor skills. The exiting kill can include a lot of things, so not everything is necessary.

The 5e Skill list is one that I feel is missing a bit. I was thinking about adding

AD&D's Endurance (Constitution)
AD&D's Etiquette (Charisma)
AD&D's Law (Intelligence)
3e's Nobility (Intelligence)
4e's Dungeoneering (Wisdom)
4e's Streetwise (Charisma)

The first part is separating the lore, names, and history of the upper class and the lower class. Since D&D's settings are usually rather feudal with different classes, I think it knowing information about the nobility and royalty be different from knowing information about the commoner's experience and the world on their level.

Another is Law and Etiquette to know the laws and mannerism of different areas. It would reward players by informing them ahead of them the consequences of their action in society and minimize errors and failure.

Endurance is just a to have a Constitution skill. The PC trains their organs to last longer. I pondered Pain Tolerance or Drinking but I know all my players would take them

Dungeoneering is to create a subculture of adventurer knowledge in the world. Feels very D&D to have Dungeon lore.
  • Endurance is part of Athletics, you just need to make it a Constitution/Athletics check. It's easier to incorporate using alternate abilities than to add an entirely new skill.
  • For most settings, Etiquette is best handled by Wisdom/Insight, as it's just about avoiding social traps. In a setting dedicated to crucial social etiquette, such as Rokugan or Kura-Tur, then Charisma/Performance seems more appropriate.
  • Dungeoneering is currently used under Survival. I can understand the incorporation of this if you want to make a significant difference between wilderness survival and underground survival.
  • Law and Nobility are a bit tricky, because they're nowhere near a good as a full skill. Arguably both could be used under History. My suggestion to handling this is to create a minor skill called "Cultural Lore." All characters are automatically proficient for their race or region they were raised (not both). It can be chosen and learned during downtime like a tool. Racial proficiency gives more broad information about the race as a whole, while the region gives very specific information, but only for that region.
  • Streetwise can be handled in a couple of way. You could make it a minor skill, like Law and Nobility, but I'm not a huge fan of this. My method breaks it into separate options based on what the character's do. If the players are just trying to overhear gossip, it's Wisdom/Insight, and it will grant some vague information that might be followed up on. If they socialize with the locals to pick up information, it's Charisma/Persuasion, and it'll give information about a specific topic, but probably not detailed information. If they're trying to track down specific information about a specific topic, it's Intelligence/Investigation to put together the clues of everything they've overheard. The DCs for each are going to vary based on the information desired and the availability of it, but in general Insight is easier than Persuasion, which is easier than Investigation.
 

humble minion

Adventurer
I always used to view the Bureaucracy skill in Exalted with a bit of a raised eyebrow, but I do feel the lack of something similar in 5e. Something Int-based that covers law, politics, administration, current events, commerce, running one's own castle or lands or trading company, etc - otherwise all this stuff tends to come under 'History', which has never really rung true to me. Given the 5e 'as few skills as possible' approach, I'd probably put these all under the same skill. I know it's not going to be something that comes up in every game, but it really is a significant gap.

As for some of the others, I'd again take a leaf from the White Wolf book and simply decouple proficiencies from their single ability score in some cases. So Endurance is Athletics, but using your Con modifier. Etiquette is Bureaucracy (yep, i'm still pushing for it!) using your Cha modifier. Or possibly Persuasion using your Int modifier if you're trying to recall the appropriate behaviour for a particular occasion. Streetwise i don't think needs its own skill, various combinations of Insight, Perception etc should do the job - perhaps certain background features might give +2 or something. Or if you wanted to get a bit abstract, you could decide it's done with Sleight of Hand using your Cha modifer...
 

So far, I have been reducing skills.

• Folding Acrobatics into Athletics.
• Folding Insight, Animal Handling, and Intimidation into Persuasion.
• Folding Investigation into Perception.
• Folding Survival and Medicine into Nature.
• Folding Religion into Arcana.



Possibly, I might add Alchemy as a new skill, including metallurgy, stonework, construction, gems, and other things related to chemistry and material sciences.
 






DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I always use the 'Alternative Ability Score' variant rule, where I ask for an Ability Check and the player can then possibly add a skill they are proficient at. By doing this, and seeing what usually got applied... I was able to determine which skills were unnecessary in this system, and what categories of stuff felt like they were missing. Thus I merged some skills and added new ones.

Animal Handling was merged into Nature; usually a Wisdom (Nature) check.
Acrobatics was merged into Athletics; usually a Dexterity (Athletics) check.
Intimidation was merged into Persuasion; usually a Strength (Persuasion) check.
Medicine was merged into Survival; usually a Wisdom (Survival) check.
Sleight of Hand was merged into Deception; usually a Dexterity (Deception) check.

New skills included:
Commerce (for interacting with merchants, appraising, haggling, and anything money related)
Dungeoneering (for everything related to spelunking, dungeoncrawling and the Underdark)
Etiquette (for interacting with things related to nobility, high society, castles and the like)
Folklore (for interacting with commoners, low society, and stories/lore that the common folk might know)
Mechanics (for things related to architecture, engineering, tinkering, and took the place of Thieve's Tools proficiency)
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
And my list of skills to merge or add can change depending on what the setting is like. For instance my Eberron game found Mechanics to be wholy important, but I didn't use it for my Curse of Strahd game. Likewise, as I prep a potential Theros campaign, I'm putting in a Warfare skill, as battle and war between the poleis is an important part of the setting. Yes, I could just use the Soldier background (and I have for other settings), but in Theros the knowledge of all facets of warfare is just too important in my opinion to not let other potential characters have access to knowledge and study of the art of war.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
I've been through a few list variants myself.

I would most likely remove animal handling and medicine and just put them under nature.

I'd actually remove deception and add convince as a skill. Then you can use convince (usually with INT) if you're trying to sway someone with logic, or persuasion of with emotion.

If you need to disguise yourself as someone, I'd use performance instead of the removed disguise.

I'd roll theives tools into sleight of hand.

Otherwise i wouldn't change to much for a generic setting.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I'd be very careful adding new skills to the game. You don't get that many skills, and the skills themselves are somewhat imbalanced (perception). I took the approach of adding new tools, which are easier to acquire and generally less powerful. A few things I had a hard time finding a "tool" for, and just called them minor skills. The exiting kill can include a lot of things, so not everything is necessary.

Again that that is my point, there are too few skills and PCs get too many as is.

There are only 18 skills and it's easyfora PCto be proficient in in 5 by level 3 via race, class, background, and subclass. The classic 4 PC party can easily cover every skill and have some overall.

I think parties having holes and knowing what they are in the skill side is as important as them covering gaps.

  • Endurance is part of Athletics, you just need to make it a Constitution/Athletics check. It's easier to incorporate using alternate abilities than to add an entirely new skill.
  • For most settings, Etiquette is best handled by Wisdom/Insight, as it's just about avoiding social traps. In a setting dedicated to crucial social etiquette, such as Rokugan or Kura-Tur, then Charisma/Performance seems more appropriate.
  • Dungeoneering is currently used under Survival. I can understand the incorporation of this if you want to make a significant difference between wilderness survival and underground survival.
  • Law and Nobility are a bit tricky, because they're nowhere near a good as a full skill. Arguably both could be used under History. My suggestion to handling this is to create a minor skill called "Cultural Lore." All characters are automatically proficient for their race or region they were raised (not both). It can be chosen and learned during downtime like a tool. Racial proficiency gives more broad information about the race as a whole, while the region gives very specific information, but only for that region.
  • Streetwise can be handled in a couple of way. You could make it a minor skill, like Law and Nobility, but I'm not a huge fan of this. My method breaks it into separate options based on what the character's do. If the players are just trying to overhear gossip, it's Wisdom/Insight, and it will grant some vague information that might be followed up on. If they socialize with the locals to pick up information, it's Charisma/Persuasion, and it'll give information about a specific topic, but probably not detailed information. If they're trying to track down specific information about a specific topic, it's Intelligence/Investigation to put together the clues of everything they've overheard. The DCs for each are going to vary based on the information desired and the availability of it, but in general Insight is easier than Persuasion, which is easier than Investigation.

To me a 5e DM must either decouple skills and ability scores or add more skills.

The current skill(ability) couples are too few. Hard Skill(Ability) with less than 20 skills total should not be the default. The game skill system suffers too much with less than 20 hard skills.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
As far as I’m concerned, adding Streetwise, Culture, Bureaucracy and Dungeoneering feels essential to the Exploration pillar.

I'm tempted to change Etiquette to Culture and add Bureaucracy and Academics.
To me, BaseD&D will have PCs dealing with the movers and shakers of the world eventually as adventurers are often used as spec ops in would with standing or levied armies. Once you get into Tier 2, it shuld cost effort to not be at least a subject in local or national politics and bureaucracy.

3-6 super killersroaming around. You think tons of folk with titltes won't want to be involved with ya?
 

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