5E Changing Expertise, Adding Double Proficiency


Orcus on a bad hair day
Here's how it looks like it differs from base 5e.

1. Bounded accuracy takes a big hit at higher levels. This is the to hit/DC portion of this. This will make foes very easy to hit / affect because AC and non-proficient saves don't get proficiency. At my table I'd want to balance that out ... but probably by not doing it instead of introducing an offsetting mechanic.

2. Expertise is a mechanic for skill monkey classes to strut their stuff.

2a. Anyone can get double proficiency, so the classes that rely on that as part of what they bring to the table are no longer special.

2b. It grants Advantage which is also pretty easy for others to get.

2c. It also means that skill monkey players can never improve by getting Advantage - they already have it - so they are hurt in that they can't benefit from cleverness, help, tools (using the XGtE expanded rules) and the like.

2d. This is made worse by increasing the proficiency range by 50%. +18+ability vs. +0+ability, with only a d20 to cross them.

Taken together, these really water down the classes designed to be high skilled. You've taken a class feature, replaced it with a weaker one, and required an additional investment for the original class feature (so skill monkey classes need to be either wide or deep, not wide with some deep), and diluted it that anyone can do it. This weakens those classes by taking out a big thrust of what they can do that others can't in other pillars of play.

3. Either DCs go up and those who don't have double proficiency just can't do it, or DCs stay the same and it's no longer a point of interest because there's not a reasonable chance of failure. This is part of breaking bounded accuracy - it makes the gap so large. This was a major issue in earlier editions that they purposefully designed away from.

3a. This also means that the characters who use backgrounds to be interesting, like the thief who is a non-rogue but has a positive DEX mod and took the Criminal background could be useful - they wer'e as good as a real rogue with maxed DEX and possibly (original) Expertise, but they could manage so the party didn't need that. But with needing multiple skills / tool they now would need to either not be good enough to fill the role as the DCs go up faster, or give up half of what they would get before to double take skills.
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So how would people get better than? [Without a scaling proficiency bonus]
I don't actually want to derail you're thread so I'm gonna keep this short and ask that nobody bother debating this. It really is just my preference, and I should have put this post in your poll thread, not this one. But onward . . .

. . . Apart from Expertise and in-game rewards or boons that provide a small buff, they wouldn't get better at their skills. I find that players narrow their focus to just those skills they have high numbers in and hesitate to attempt things that are outside their box. It's a result that works for a lot of people, I know, but not for me, so I want the difference between non-Proficiency and Max-Proficiency to be be smaller than it is now, not larger.


Orcus on a bad hair day
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).
This is a textbook example of a design fail.

Think of the non-combat pillars of play.

Some classes are better at accomplishing tasks using mundane abilities. They have skill enhancers like expertise and possibly other class features to make them good at it.

Some classes are better at accomplishing tasks using magic. They have enormous flexibility, enough that they could step on the toes of several other PCs, but are constrained by spending slots.

But when you combine them such that you get characters that can be good mundanely, and good with spells, and functionally unbeatable when combining them, you make a type of character that can always succeed, and is out of reach of any character that doesn't combine mundane plus magic.

The bard has some of this, but they have a strictly limited spells known.


When I DM if I decide a check is ridiculous or literally has no chance of success, I wouldn't even allow a role. No matter what you role, the king won't "abdicate his throne on the grounds that you are The Moon."
The tool which lets you decide something is impossible is just that you can set the DC to an impossible value, but then you're adding a rule that makes any impossibility achievable on a 20. You could add an extra rule, that says a 20 won't succeed on otherwise-impossible checks when you arbitrarily say so, but that's very sloppy from a design standpoint. The rules should be clear for the player at the table.

I'm just saying, you could avoid complications by getting rid of that line. Give them Advantage, and the chance of them failing after they roll a 20 is very low, because they've already rolled at least a 25. The exception -where the DC is higher than 25, but lower than where you would arbitrarily decide it's impossible - is not worth writing an entire rule to address.

Contested rolls so far have been the greatest source of frustration when I discuss this with the DM. The aforementioned rogue character typically makes Stealth rolls high enough that even if the DM rolls a natural 20, the creatures Perception is too low to ever notice him. I mean, many times there is not even a chance at all! The character might as well be magically silent and invisible quite a bit of the time.
The problem here is with the DM, and their misplaced frustration. So, the rogue always succeeds on their Stealth checks. Why get all bent out of shape about that? If anything, that makes the DM's job easier, since it's easier for them to predict what's going to happen.

There are already several rules in the book which place limits on Stealth, particularly in regards to combat. It doesn't break anything if the rogue always succeeds at sneaking behind guards out of combat, when there's plenty of cover to hide behind. It's still impossible for them to hide when there is no cover.


If I go with d20+11 vs d20+5 it looks like your definition of "with impunity" is a tad under 3 out of 4. That does assume doubled prof at +3 getting +6 and 20 in stat for the pally.

Or was to there more magic and superheroic stats stuff involved? Or was this with the house rule?

Cuz normally, 11 out of 12 is a bit on the unlikely side at the normal odds.

Also, the MM has traits (was it sure footed or some other name) which does give creatures the advantage against shoves snd the like, so, if in your game you felt it was appropriate for the gorgon to have it, why didnt you give it to them?
I don't recall why, but I do remember the character was getting advantage on his checks. I'd have to ask either the DM or the player why they got it, but it was there and what helped make the odds worse (or better, depending on how you look at it).

As far as the sure-footed feature, the DM could have done that but seemed content not to. I certainly would have run things differently but I just got to sit there an laugh to myself.


I don't recall why, but I do remember the character was getting advantage on his checks. I'd have to ask either the DM or the player why they got it, but it was there and what helped make the odds worse (or better, depending on how you look at it).

As far as the sure-footed feature, the DM could have done that but seemed content not to. I certainly would have run things differently but I just got to sit there an laugh to myself.
Its entirely possible if it was a barbarian it was raging, the mystical ability that gives it a wide array of superhuman capabilities. But, of course, if one was operating under the power of such a powerful mystic effect, its unlikely that glorified cow tipping would be so easily seen as a ridiculous stretch of the game. I mean at lower level than the, a wizard could be levitating the gorgons.
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Advantage/disadvantage is circumstantial. And that is how it should be.

It should not be given as a all-around-bonus.

I.E. feat "Track" could give advantage on Survival checks for tracking only. Not on all Survival checks.

But I do like some suggestions for 1/2 bonus 1+1/2 bonus and 2+1/2 bonuses(this should be extra rare, maybe one skill per character)


Thanks all for the feedback. I'm leaning towards pitching the following right now:

We'll use the +9 maximum proficiency bonus progression (+2,2,3,3,3,4,4,5,5,5,6,6,7,7,7,8,8,9,9,9)
Our house-rule makes the maximum ability score bonus +4 (9-12 = 0, 13-14 = +1, 15-16 = +2, 17-18 = +3, 19-20 = +4).

Expertise: you gain a +2 bonus to your proficiency in the selected skill, kit, or tool. This bonus increases to +3 at 7th-level and to +4 at 15th-level.

Get rid of the Double-Skill idea, add:

Background Skill Focus: you can choose to gain Expertise in one of your background skills, but you do not gain proficiency in your other background skill.
(You may still select the other skill as one of the skills chosen by your class if it is in your available class list of skills.)

As others have suggested, I removed advantage and the nat 20 always succeeding from Expertise. This also allows Expertise to function closer to RAW, but without as big a boost at higher tiers.

Overall, with Expertise the maximum modifier is still +17, but this makes the proficiency bonus weighed more heavily compared to the ability score modifier and keeps expertise a bit more reined in.

For anyone who's interested, here are the probabilities of success for different DCs given a total modifier with options for disadvantage, straight checks, or advantage: