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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

Mustrum_Ridcully

Adventurer
I think overall prefer less skills, though would still like it if there was a way to specialize (or anti-specialize) further when needed.
Too many skills can cause you miss something that would be important to a character concept.
But as others pointed out - sometimes you might want to declare that your athletic character can't actually swim, or that you're really a specialist on Nerathi history or really good at shadowing people. So having a way to express that would be cool.

So maybe skills should come with specialties.
After you picked your skills, you may pick two specialties from your skills that you have a focus on.
If you wish, you can gain focus in a third speciality, but you must also take a shortcoming for one speciality.

Trained in a skill: Proficiency Bonus.
Knack in a speciality: If you roll for the speciality and the die comes up 10 or less, you may reroll the check and pick the better roll.
Shortcoming in a speciality: If you roll for the speciality and the die comes up 10 or more, you must reroll the die and pick the worse roll.
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
As far as D&D is concerned... I'm happy with the three changes regarding skills that I have now playtested over time and now finalize for my upcoming campaign:

1) Use the Alternate Ability Score variant rule.

I always use this rule, because it allows me to not see skills as small, concrete things-- which usually result in feeling like you need more skills to accommodate more uses. The game includes for instance both Athletics and Acrobatics because they both are attributed to a single ability. But all that does is cut down the number of times it gets used (Acrobatics being the one that usually gets short shrift.) By using the variant rule, I can have just a single 'Athletics' skill, but each character can choose to add it when making a STR * or * DEX check depending on what they are doing. Likewise... a skill that at least at my tables barely gets used... Sleight of Hand... I can remove the skill from the game and instead I let players make DEX (Deception) checks when they try and sneak stuff like that. It makes Deception much more worthwhile a skill and because most characters only get like 4 or 5 skills total... it gives them more chances to "spread out" what they know instead of being stuck in the standard "Well, I'm a urchin, so I guess I'll take the same Stealth, Deception, Sleight of Hand, and Perception as always."

Making the specific skills have a much wider opportunity and allow you to assign it to any of your six ability scores as the times come up just increases their use and has more application.

2) Create setting-specific skill lists.

Every setting has specific activities and knowledges that are going to be important to them and oftentimes aren't what the standard skill list gives. So I always now cultivate my skill lists to add or subtract those skills that do or do not have a real place in the setting (or whose use could be merged into another skill.) For my Greek-styled Theros campaign I knew that seafaring was going to be much more important to these people... so I added a Seafaring skill to the list (and in case you are wondering I don't like Tools or the Tool proficiency system at all, and replace them with skills almost always.) I wanted philosophical debate to be a specific thing in the game and the skill related to it more thematically connected ...so I changed 'Persuasion' to 'Rhetoric'. And then adjusted 'Intimidation' to become 'Presence', making it more indicative that the skill is not meant to just frighten or cow people, but rather is to be how awe-inspiring you are (positively or negatively, which is important for characters and people who are potential demigods or oracles for the gods themselves.)

In certain games... Trade or Commerce might be an important theme and you'll want a skill for it. A heavy military campaign might want a Warfare skill. A campaign that takes place underground a lot of the time might want to make Dungeoneering its own skill, rather than part and parcel with Nature. Some setting might not find enough use for both Nature and Survival as discrete skills and might want them combined into one. Same perhaps with Nature and Animal Handling. I myself (again due to my distaste for the Tools system) add Mechanics to the skill list pretty often, which covers not only anything that Thieve's Tools did, but also adds in knowledge about engineering, mechanical systems and the like.

3) Give every Background an Expertise

A frequent complaint we've seen over the years with 5E is the "Every cleric is perceptive!" idea-- because Clerics have WIS as their primary ability and Perception uses WIS standard... Clerics are oftentimes the ones who can spot more things than any other party member, which doesn't make real thematic sense (as far as that class is concerned.) Rogues can overcome that by taking Expertise in Perception if they want, but they still end up oftentimes only equal to the cleric even with the Expertise. But this also doesn't help all the other characters who have taken a background and thus storywise should be really good at something in particular... but because the ability score doesn't line up correctly they still are pretty poor compared to others in the party. To help ameliorate this... when I redid the Backgrounds for my latest campaign I gave the primary skill for that Background Expertise. Now, if you for instance are an Acolyte, you have Expertise in Religion and will be stronger at it, even if you don't have great INT. The Scout gets Expertise in Perception. The Sailor has Expertise in Seafaring; the Soldier in Warfare; the Philosopher in Rhetoric; the Epic Pet in Performance; the Craftsman in Mechanics; and so forth.

Expertise won't guarantee that the character whose background is a specific thing will be the absolute best at it (at least not until the Proficiency bonuses jump to +3 / +6 for Expertise)... but it's a start. And the players seem happy with it. (And in case anyone is wondering, the Rogue and Bard still get their additional Expertises on top it.)
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
I prefer less skills, but what skills are there is more important than how many there are of them.

I'd get rid of Perception, as it's a stupid skill, and:
  • Combine Investigation and Insight into one
  • Combine History, Arcana, Nature and Religion into Lore or something, maybe separate it into Mundane Lore and Forbidden Lore
  • Instead of Performance, Deception, Persuasion and Intimidation, I'd prefer to have Reason, Provoke and Charm.
  • Probably add a separate skill for tracking/stalking a target
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I may be in the unpopular opinion here, but:

I want lots of skills!

I love skills!

I love lots of skills and lots of points to put into those skills, and lots of things to do with those skills!

In my dream D&D, a character would invest in something like Athletics, which would then give them a base proficiency in things like Climb, Balance, Throw, Lift... Then they could invest further in those subskills.

Oooo, then the skills have actual effects in combat! Like thrown weapons can be thrown further by characters with a high Throw Skill!
 

Arilyn

Hero
I may be in the unpopular opinion here, but:

I want lots of skills!

I love skills!

I love lots of skills and lots of points to put into those skills, and lots of things to do with those skills!

In my dream D&D, a character would invest in something like Athletics, which would then give them a base proficiency in things like Climb, Balance, Throw, Lift... Then they could invest further in those subskills.

Oooo, then the skills have actual effects in combat! Like thrown weapons can be thrown further by characters with a high Throw Skill!
I do miss skill points, but I don't think I want all those subskills you're talking about! 😊

I'm mostly replying to your post because I'm sensing that you too miss Use Rope? I always liked that skill and I don't know anybody else who does. Who wouldn't want to be a master of knots? A chance for our inner Samwise Gamgee to shine.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
You’re not playing action heroes in Call of Cthulhu, though. You’re playing survival horror investigators.
Thank you for deciding that my concept at a table you don't sit at is BADWRONGFUN. We're doing a pulp version of CoC, and the idea of an Indiana Jones type who can be physical is more than acceptable.

And you know what - the game gives you all those skills so it must think you should be able to do them, so you're just wrong.

And you know double what - you're attacking the wording of an example as opposed to discussing the matter at hand. You're not contributing to the contribution, it seems you are trying to dismiss someone's point without ever engaging it.

You sir are entirely out of line.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
We're doing a pulp version of CoC, and the idea of an Indiana Jones type who can be physical is more than acceptable.
Ah. Why didn't you say so? That's a horse of a different color. Yes, of course it's jarring and weird to have swim, jump, climb, etc as different skills when playing a pulp hero. That's because CoC isn't built for that. Pulp Cthulhu is like slapping a band-aid on a full-body burn. It's like mixing oil and water. CoC is great for survival horror but it's rather terrible at action-adventure, even with Pulp Cthulhu. There are dozens of systems that will do pulp infinitely better than CoC.
You sir are entirely out of line.
Not including vitally important information, like playing the action-adventure pulp variant of CoC is certainly bad form.

If you want recs for games / systems that do pulp better than CoC, try one of these. Achtung! Cthulhu, the new 2d20 one. Adventure! Amazing Adventures. Atomic Robo RPG, Fate Core, Fate Accelerated, Fate Condensed. FGU Daredevils. GURPS. Hollow Earth Expedition. Justice Inc. Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes. Pulp HERO, the single best pulp sourcebook even if you don't use the system. Pulp Heroes d20, from Polyhedron (Jan 2002). Rocket Age. Rocketship Empires. Savage Worlds. Space 1889. Thrilling Tales. Two-Fisted Tales. Pulp gaming is very much my jam.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Ah. Why didn't you say so? That's a horse of a different color. Yes, of course it's jarring and weird to have swim, jump, climb, etc as different skills when playing a pulp hero. That's because CoC isn't built for that. Pulp Cthulhu is like slapping a band-aid on a full-body burn. It's like mixing oil and water. CoC is great for survival horror but it's rather terrible at action-adventure, even with Pulp Cthulhu. There are dozens of systems that will do pulp infinitely better than CoC.

Not including vitally important information, like playing the action-adventure pulp variant of CoC is certainly bad form.

If you want recs for games / systems that do pulp better than CoC, try one of these. Achtung! Cthulhu, the new 2d20 one. Adventure! Amazing Adventures. Atomic Robo RPG, Fate Core, Fate Accelerated, Fate Condensed. FGU Daredevils. GURPS. Hollow Earth Expedition. Justice Inc. Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes. Pulp HERO, the single best pulp sourcebook even if you don't use the system. Pulp Heroes d20, from Polyhedron (Jan 2002). Rocket Age. Rocketship Empires. Savage Worlds. Space 1889. Thrilling Tales. Two-Fisted Tales. Pulp gaming is very much my jam.
No, it was not bad form. It was an example, a valid example with the system. You decided to attack a word choice I made for describing a valid character in the system instead fo actually engaging what this post is about, and then you dare to try to turn this back on me because I didn't go into a high level of detail of the type of game we were playing in the example.

You still aren't engaging about few or many skills. You are threadcrapping now with suggestions for different systems to do something for an example, without even discussing what the example was about - too many fragmented skills. Please stop trying to show how smart you are, or how it's definitely not your fault, and instead contribute to the topic of the thread about number of skills.
 

I would like more skills. I prefer situations where not every PC has a chance to roll for a particular skill check.

It's not a hill I would fight for though, just a small personal preference.
Just honing in here on the part I bolded: it seems we already have that in 5e for ability checks. A DM can rule that a particular task requires proficiency in a particular skill - any non-proficient PC trying it will autofail.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
No, it was not bad form. It was an example, a valid example with the system. You decided to attack a word choice I made for describing a valid character in the system instead fo actually engaging what this post is about, and then you dare to try to turn this back on me because I didn't go into a high level of detail of the type of game we were playing in the example.

You still aren't engaging about few or many skills. You are threadcrapping now with suggestions for different systems to do something for an example, without even discussing what the example was about - too many fragmented skills. Please stop trying to show how smart you are, or how it's definitely not your fault, and instead contribute to the topic of the thread about number of skills.
You're complaining about a mismatch in the system (and skills) in the game you're using and the style of game you wanted to play. You want to use a car to move your house, that's on you. Trucks do a better job. If you insist on using a car to do a truck's job, that's on you. Someone pointing out that trucks are better for that job isn't an attack on you and it certainly doesn't make them a jerk. You have a problem and want to complain about it, not actually do anything to solve the problem. Got it.
 

Just honing in here on the part I bolded: it seems we already have that in 5e for ability checks. A DM can rule that a particular task requires proficiency in a particular skill - any non-proficient PC trying it will autofail.
IME trying to force those into play at the table is an uphill battle with how o5e & its tools are written
  • For example...
    1633889492462.png
    Players are going to ill in every one of those ___ lines with the stat mod & proficiency bonus added as they apply
  • ,Go on dndbeyond & roll the wisdom (stealth) or de(medicine check with a character... Imagine a table full of players & a gm staring at you fiddling fruitlessly with your phone flipping between sections of a sheet trying to do a thing it probably shouldn't have done to begin with & then trying to gather the individual parts needed to do it manually from different screens of your sheet...
  • Look at page 175-180 in the phb where the "Using Each Ability" section resides... First take note of how short the blurb is on the abilities themselves then second notice how basically every skill listed describes how it works for DefaultAbility(skill)
For all the show of changing from skill checks to "Ability checks" the only real support for it is in a sidebar that lists them as "Variant:Skills With Different Abilities" and anywhere it can be done things are setup to reinforce skill checks with a default ability.

Even trying to take the examples pf dex(medicine) & wis(stealth) that I mentioned... I have an idea what they are,. do you?.... It turns into an unknowable calvinball with the blind leading the blind
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I prefer less skills, but what skills are there is more important than how many there are of them.

I'd get rid of Perception, as it's a stupid skill, and:
  • Combine Investigation and Insight into one
Investigation and insight are almost polar opposite skills. Investigation is logical and calculated, and insight is intuitive. It's why they use different abilities. Like oil and water, they don't combine well.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I may be in the unpopular opinion here, but:

I want lots of skills!

I love skills!

I love lots of skills and lots of points to put into those skills, and lots of things to do with those skills!

In my dream D&D, a character would invest in something like Athletics, which would then give them a base proficiency in things like Climb, Balance, Throw, Lift... Then they could invest further in those subskills.

Oooo, then the skills have actual effects in combat! Like thrown weapons can be thrown further by characters with a high Throw Skill!
Almost 40% of us want more skills, so the opinion is not unpopular, even if it is the minority opinion.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Just honing in here on the part I bolded: it seems we already have that in 5e for ability checks. A DM can rule that a particular task requires proficiency in a particular skill - any non-proficient PC trying it will autofail.
I do that. Many rolls of my are only for those with proficiency. Even when I do allow rolls for those non-proficient, I usually up the DC by 5 for them. The exception is for rolls where the knowledge is so easy that just about everyone will know it.(DCs of 5 or 10), then I just let everyone roll and add whatever their numbers are.
 

schneeland

Adventurer
If we are talking specifically about D&D:
The general number of skills in D&D5 is fine, a) I'm not sure if I like how they are cut, and b) with broad skills like "Athletics", attributes feel vestigial and should rather be factored into a more refined skill system. Or dropped completely and being skilled just gives you advantage on your attribute roll or something like that.

If we are a bit broader:
Year Zero systems with their 4 attributes and 12-16 skills work quite well for me, as does Broken Compass (6 attributes/areas of expertise, 18 skills); I'm fine with mostly skill-less systems like DCC, too, though.
 

Greg K

Hero
If you want recs for games / systems that do pulp better than CoC, try one of these. Achtung! Cthulhu, the new 2d20 one. Adventure! Amazing Adventures. Atomic Robo RPG, Fate Core, Fate Accelerated, Fate Condensed. FGU Daredevils. GURPS. Hollow Earth Expedition. Justice Inc. Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes. Pulp HERO, the single best pulp sourcebook even if you don't use the system. Pulp Heroes d20, from Polyhedron (Jan 2002). Rocket Age. Rocketship Empires. Savage Worlds. Space 1889. Thrilling Tales. Two-Fisted Tales. Pulp gaming is very much my jam.
For Savage Worlds pulp, I would go with Thrilling Tales 2e (Adamant Entertainment). For d20 Modern pulp, I would go with the original version of Thrilling Tales (Adamant Entertainment). They are similar to Pulp Hero in topics
 
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I do that. Many rolls of my are only for those with proficiency. Even when I do allow rolls for those non-proficient, I usually up the DC by 5 for them. The exception is for rolls where the knowledge is so easy that just about everyone will know it.(DCs of 5 or 10), then I just let everyone roll and add whatever their numbers are.
That's pretty much the opposite of how 5e is intended to work. 5e doesn't really have skill checks. It just has ability checks, some of which can get a bonus if you have the right proficiency. PCs are intended to be broadly competent at things. That's why it's always written as an "Intelligence (History) check" and not a "History check" – it's an Intelligence check where you might get a bonus if you've studied History.

I'd be more inclined to do the reverse, and have someone with the right proficiency just succeed. You have proficiency in Arcana? You know that's a dragon and you're pretty sure the green ones breathe poison gas. If you don't, you get to roll for it.
 

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