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D&D General Do you prefer more or less Skills?

How many Skills?

  • A lot!

    Votes: 31 36.5%
  • A few!

    Votes: 54 63.5%

  • Total voters
    85

Slit518

Explorer
Do you prefer the game to have a huge amount of Skills or a small amount of Skills?

An example of a few Skills would be combining Jump; Swim; Climb into Athletics.

An example of a lot of Skills would be dividing Athletics into Jumping; Swimming; Climbing; Running, etc.

If a game has more Skills for your character to learn, such as Fishing; Hunting; Farming; Animal Husbandry, etc, does that effect your interest in the game?
 

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I'd rather have fewer skills. So many times I wanted more skills on a character, and often wanted non-class skills (dependent on the edition), such as taking Perception as a 4e fighter. Bodyguards need to see and evaluate threats, after all!

The number of skills has generally declined from 3e onward while the number of "skill slots" haven't, although there's no longer bonus skills for having high Intelligence. Generally this had made it easier for characters to get wanted (or needed) skills.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I voted a few, but it's technically none. I'd prefer they make it simple. Race, class, and background give you advantage on any checks that would reasonably fall under the assumed training of those categories. Maybe add in a culture category as they're splitting race from culture. Drop specific skills and proficiencies entirely.
 

Composer99

Explorer
I would like 5e to have something around 2 or 3 more skills than it currently has. But not really any more than that. So probably more along the lines of few skills. And I could see merging Athletics and Acrobatics, along with merging many Intelligence skills into a single "Lore" skill for non-magical stuff and "Arcana" or "Dweomer-craft" for magical stuff. (If I were making an OSR-like 5e adaptation, I would do something like that, along with maybe even merging Stealth and Sleight of Hand into "Thievery" - or maybe even folding them together with Deception into "Trickery"!)

All that's to say my inclination is towards fewer skills.
 



In general, fewer, although I think 5e may have gone a little too far. I like Level Up's addition of "Culture" for knowing about what various peoples are like, for example. I think a good rule of thumb is that you don't want to split up a relatively simple activity into multiple different skills. If you're trying to avoid being noticed, it's better to have a single Stealth skill rather than separate Hide and Move Silently, both because it's really rare that you'd do one without the other, and because Stealth can also cover other senses. If you're trying to get by in the wilderness, it's better with a single Survival skill than also having Hunting, Fishing, Make Shelter, Make fire, Foraging, and so on. Hunting and Fishing being different might be realistic, but it's not really fun.

It also depends on what sort of game it is. A class-based game can manage with fewer skills than a skill-based game, because a lot of the things that would be skills can instead be baked into class stuff (like fighting ability or spellcasting). But in general I like fewer skills, but with abilities that either enhance particular uses of skills, or allow you to use skills in novel ways (e.g. Pathfinder 2's skill feats).

As an example of an entirely skill-based game that I think has a pretty good skill list for a modern-ish game (60s), I'd use Troubleshooters with its list of 28 skills. These include some things that in D&D are ability scores or adjacent to them, like Agility, Strength, or Willpower. You also have some things that aren't really learned but still work the same way, like Credit or Contacts. In addition to these 28 skills, there's also a set of binary abilities that you can use for more differentiation – both the race car driver and the pilot has good Vehicles skills, but one has the Born Behind the Wheel ability and the other has Pilot (and maybe even Fighter Pilot).
 

Ixal

Adventurer
More skills as having few skills completely devalues any form on non-combat gameplay as characters are automatically experts in a lot of fields, possibly even in nearly everything.
Great if you want simple hack&slash games, but the system will never be able to adequately do anything else.
 
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guachi

Adventurer
I agree with some of the above posters who say that even more skills could be consolidated, such as Athletics and Acrobatics, as well as consolidation of some of the knowledge skills. On the other hand, I'd like a knowledge skill such as Streetwise that existed in the WEG SW RPG. I'd like a skill that enabled a Rogue to find the best hive of scum and villainy.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I prefer fewer and broader skills. Why? Because I think that's a great place for players to explore their characters, one little bit at a time as they come up with a piece of fiction to rationalize skill X in situation Y.
 

It depends on the game & how skills are handled. Fate has gobs & gobs of skills, but the system is so different it's not really even possible to make a comparison to d&d/pf. 3.5 had some that were overly niche but a good number if you ignore that. 5e by comparison however went too far in its zeal to streamline & simplify at all costs creating a different problem. I'm looking forward to seeing levelup's full skill system
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
For D&D? Some skills, but not a huge number.

For other games, more or less, depending on what they game is going for.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!
Do you prefer the game to have a huge amount of Skills or a small amount of Skills?
Hmmm...
An example of a few Skills would be combining Jump; Swim; Climb into Athletics.

An example of a lot of Skills would be dividing Athletics into Jumping; Swimming; Climbing; Running, etc.

If a game has more Skills for your character to learn, such as Fishing; Hunting; Farming; Animal Husbandry, etc, does that effect your interest in the game?
Ahhh....ok, based on your examples, for D&D 5e, I'd go with "Lots".

Of course, I wouldn't do it that way. I'd have Skills and Specialities or Focuses. So there would be one skill, "Athletics", but a PC could specifically develop some area of Athletics to get an additional bonus. I would also make a distinction between "Trained" and "Untrained".

Athletics, for example, would have an "Untrained" and a "Trained" description. In the Trained one, it would say something like "Someone Trained in Athletics knows how to swim, tie specific rope knots for climbing, and the value of stretching before and after strenuous physical activity". So if you didn't choose Athletics, you wouldn't know how to swim or tie specific knots.

What I wouldn't do, is have a BUNCH of 'related' skills be separate (re: "Athletics, Jumping, Running, Swimming, Climbing, Tumbling, Dodging, Juggling, Balancing-Spoons-on-your-Nose, etc").

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 


Minigiant

Legend
An example of a few Skills would be combining Jump; Swim; Climb into Athletics.

An example of a lot of Skills would be dividing Athletics into Jumping; Swimming; Climbing; Running, etc
The key is total amount of skill a typical party has vs the total skills in the game.

D&D, I could go for about 3-5 more than what 5e has.

I believe the game is more fun when a standard party is missing a few skills. Risk of utter failure and pure gambling.

So a party of 4 with 4 unique skills a piece except for a skill user with 5 unique skills that gives you 17 skills in the party. So the game should have 5 skills.

Basically a standard 4 person group should have 25% of skills uncovered. You should need a 5 man party to cover almost everything.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Hmm. Something that just occurred to me. If you decouple straight skill-stat relationships then I think you can a lot more done with less. There are lots of games that, for example, have an action called something like Act Under Pressure (although I'm not specifically calling out AW here) and when you take that action plus a stat appropriate to what the PC is trying to do, it actually covers the ground of a whole lot of skills that are usually written up separately.
 

Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
D&D needs fewer skills. I'd be happy with a simple proficiency check based on ability score, not unlike Castles & Crusades. Give classes special abilities that make them better at doing class-related things.
 

I think I prefer too few skills rather than too many. The number of skills in 5e seems about right to me, though i do have some minor quibbles (there should be a skill that covers law/administration/management/rulership etc, there's too many tool proficiencies compared to the number PCs will ever be able to learn, and some magic items and race/class features make it obnoxiously easy to get proficiency in whatever you need, which trivialises the whole thing)

For me the problem with large numbers of skills (in a D&D context, at least - different genres work differently) is that it all ends up being too granular and you end up with skills on the list that have a limited application, and then you have the whole additional complexity with 3es concept of synergy bonuses between related skills and so on. Shouldn't i get a bonus to Search because I'm good at Spot? Or to Disable Device because I have Craft (trapmaking)? Or to Knowledge (politics) because I have Knowledge (history)? It all gets a bit fiddly.

Of course accumulating related skills also has its downsides, there's no mechanical way in 5e to represent the big athletic bruiser who can run, jump, climb etc etc but is deathly scared of water cos he can't swim. Cos it's all Athletics. But I'd like to see 5e make much more use of the Inspiration mechanic, and this sort of exception-based case seems like a prime way of doing that. Give your PC the flaw 'can't swim' (I cordially hate the way 5e assumes 1 flaw per PC - PCs with more flaws are more interesting!) and then whenever you need to make an athletics check to swim, you roll with disadvantage and don't get your proficiency bonus, but get a point of inspiration. Or maybe you get that point if you refuse to go into the water in the first place.
 



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