D&D 5E D&D is a drag race, think of climbing as a cantrip, and the rogue would be better at lock picking if it could only pick a few locks per day.

Alice: "Why are there spells that allow casters to do things better than non-casters?"
Bob: "Because spells are a limited resource and as such they must be more powerful"
Alice: "How many times per day do you typically need to pick a lock?"

Meditate on the above and you will soon reinvent D&D "The Wheel" 4E.

I don't think the typical rogue really needs the ability to pick any amount of locks per day, and so it seems like an unfair restriction to argue that the rogue must be inferior at their natural shtick just because it has an at-will that is a rarely useful one at that.

At least let them swap out this base cantrip for something more interesting when they don't need it, but this is a digression. Let's get back on track...

I am willing to bet that it would be an improvement to the rogue in general if we took away from them the ability to pick locks at will and gave them a limited use, "once per day you can pick any lock with no risk of failure" ability. There might be a middle ground here, as surely there will be objections to the above along the lines of "This is too gameist. It doesn't make sense they can't pick more than one lock per day".

At which point I refer to the caster classes which make very little sense with their nine sets of separate pools of limited use abilities, but this is another digression... (casters should use spell points, seriously)

The easy way to fix the above objection is to relax the constraints. Think about casters. Casters have an expendable resource and then at-will cantrips to fall back upon. Even the most cantrip reliant caster, the warlock, has access to abilities above the base cantrip that they use.

So let us think of the basic ability of the rogue to pick locks with a chance of failure as being an at-will cantrip. From here, the next step is obvious: We give the rogue the ability to boost their lock picking by spending a limited resource, call it Excellence or something like that. Finesse? Unlike expertise, which increases the chance of success, this ability allows the rogue to do things which are beyond the basic capabilitis of skills and at no risk of failure.

In terms of mechanics this is completely in line with Superiority Dice, Second Wind and Action Surge et al. A basic at-will ability, attack, enhanced by spending a limited resource.

In terms of power this is completely in line with spells as they currently exist.

"Objection! This sounds overpowered!"

That's certainly possible. If it is, try to nerf the cantrip rather the main attraction. The rogue is supposed to be, you know, actually good at lock picking and whatever it is they do.

The system can be extended to every class that has mainly at-will powers cough I mean at-will abilities and shouldn't be limited to lock picking. You could give the rogue the ability to pick any pocket too. Give the fighter an incredible boost in climbing or jumping potential or even just movement speed. The possibilities are endless.

As long as non-casters are prevented from having access to limited use abilities the argument will always be that they must be worse at their main thing than a caster, because a caster has to pay to do X and the specialist does not have to pay.

Martial damage is a bit of an exception here, because it is so blatantly obvious what's going on that it's pretty much impossible to be even unintentionally biaised in favour of spells.

TLDR: Martials are limited because they are forced to rely on "cantrips", and cantrips "must" be limited because they can be used without restrictions. The only cost is the opportunity cost. The fix is obvious: Make their abilities into limited use abilities. Doing this invalidates any arguments about the ability being overpowered (as long as it is equally or more limited than a spell with the corresponding effect).
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I just find it easier to ask the player of the Wizard character "Why are you bothering to prepare Knock if you have a Rogue in the party with Expertise in Thieve's Tools?" There's usually a better spell the Wizard could prepare instead.

Not to mention that I think most Wizard players do not go into sessions deliberately thinking "What ways can I supplant the actions of my teammates today?" So while they do have Knock in their Wizard spell list... they aren't looking to "take over" things nearly as much as the Wizard-haters out there think. Yes, Wizards have the potential to supplant the usefulness of every other player... but how often does that actually happen when actual players play the Wizard at the table?

And if the answer from someone is "All the time!"... then that's their biases showing with their hatred of Wizards. They hate Wizards because the Wizard players at their table are being jerks, not that this is an issue with Wizards and Wizard players altogether.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
First, Knock isna Cantrip, it is a Level 2 Spell. That's a serious resource investment for a worse way to pick locks than...juat picking the lock. It lacks stealth.
 


Horwath

Legend
So let us think of the basic ability of the rogue to pick locks with a chance of failure as being an at-will cantrip. From here, the next step is obvious: We give the rogue the ability to boost their lock picking by spending a limited resource, call it Excellence or something like that. Finesse? Unlike expertise, which increases the chance of success, this ability allows the rogue to do things which are beyond the basic capabilitis of skills and at no risk of failure.
One solution can be:

1. you can do this untrained if you meet the DC
2. you can do this with proficiency if you meet the DC
3. you can do this with expertise if you meet the DC
4. If you beat DC by 5 you can get this additional benefit
5. if you fail DC by 5 or less you do not suffer all negative results.

other can be a pool of additional points you can add after the roll

I.E. to use your suggestion

Excellence pool:

you get 1 point for every tool proficiency
you get 2 points for every skill proficiency
you get 3 additional points for every expertise you have

after d20 roll of proficient skill/tool check, you can add a number of points up to 2×proficiency bonus.
total result cannot be higher than you would get if you rolled 15 on your d20 for that check.
 

You picked the worst example possible, Knock has been the bottom of the barrel option for picking locks since 4th edition, when they triple nerfed it into oblivion. Even just bashing down a lock is better most of the time.
Of course Knock is a bad spell, that doesn't make it a bad example. It doesn't matter if the spell I compare with is trash or not, I'm bringing Knock up because it has "guaranteed instant success" written all over it. Sure there are two downsides to it: You have to use a spell slot and there's a loud noise.

Take Spider Climb instead. I just though lock picking was more fun as an obvious example, because it's such a rare thing to need.
 

Argyle King

Legend
I'm likely not the best person to answer some of that.

I tend to pick very different spells than most people do when playing a caster.

(I rarely focus on direct damage when playing a caster.)

FWIW, I typically do choose spider climb at early levels. Having another dimension in which to freely move is a combat multiplier.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I never said Knock was a cantrip anywhere in my post.
Then why conpare it to a Rogues abilities at all...? It is clearly worse.
Of course Knock is a bad spell, that doesn't make it a bad example. It doesn't matter if the spell I compare with is trash or not, I'm bringing Knock up because it has "guaranteed instant success" written all over it. Sure there are two downsides to it: You have to use a spell slot and there's a loud noise.

Take Spider Climb instead. I just though lock picking was more fun as an obvious example, because it's such a rare thing to need.
Picking locks us very common in Dungeons...?
 

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