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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

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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 understand that, but I'm not really down with some of the oversimplification that is 5e. I run skills like that because it makes more sense to run them that way than the simplified way. Everybody being able to know or do everything competently isn't my cup of tea. Heck, even tea isn't my cup of tea. Foul, foul beverage.
 

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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I like more skills... but also broadly applicable skills.

So no, I don't want Climb/Jump/Swim when Athletics can exist, but I would like -more- skill types.

How about a specific Monster Lore skill that is separate from the various Knowledge Skills that can be used to learn about monsters, but applies -specifically- to Monsters, their weaknesses, legends about them, and how much their various pelts and magical elements are worth? Sure you could just take 3-4 other skills for that one function, but the same could be said about Deception, Persuasion, and Intimidation...

Y'know? Stuff that allows for different character structures, narratively speaking.
 

I like more skills... but also broadly applicable skills.

So no, I don't want Climb/Jump/Swim when Athletics can exist, but I would like -more- skill types.

How about a specific Monster Lore skill that is separate from the various Knowledge Skills that can be used to learn about monsters, but applies -specifically- to Monsters, their weaknesses, legends about them, and how much their various pelts and magical elements are worth? Sure you could just take 3-4 other skills for that one function, but the same could be said about Deception, Persuasion, and Intimidation...

Y'know? Stuff that allows for different character structures, narratively speaking.
The Witcher TRPG does this. Each monster entry has a common lore DC which reveals some superstitions and general knowledge of the monster in question, and there is a separate paragraph with a Monster Lore DC (which is a witcher class skill) which talks about the creatures typical behaviours, where they're found, any particular weaknesses, etc.

It's a really cool feature I think.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
I'd prefer a few more skills (especially a couple more Knowledge skills), with Tool Proficiencies turned into skills as well. Also, have the ability to gain more Skill Proficiencies/Languages baked into the leveling process like 1e/2e's NWPs.
 

d24454_modern

Explorer
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 feel like that would be too restrictive. Using skills allowed for characters with the exact same class to be differentiated more.
 

cbwjm

Hero
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.
This is what I do, it's a nice bonus for people proficient in the skill, even if cleric with 10 intelligence only has a final religion skill of +2, they still know a lot more than someone without, allowing them to just know things without requiring a roll. I think I normally do this for anything with a DC of 10 or less but I'm probably a little inconsistent with how I do it.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
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.
Reading people seems quite logical and calculated to me.
 


loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
It's used for more than reading people, and a lot of reading people is intuition. Hell, the word insight itself definitionally deals with deep intuitive understandings.
Well, you can Study someone using cold, calculated analysis, thus rolling Intelligence (Study) check, or you can rely on your intuition, experience and street smarts and make a Wisdom (Study) check.

Regardless, someone who is good at spotting little details and incongruences while investigating a room should also be good at spotting little details and incongruences while talking to someone.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Regardless, someone who is good at spotting little details and incongruences while investigating a room should also be good at spotting little details and incongruences while talking to someone.
And yet more often than not, they aren't. I've known many, many smart, detailed people(good at investigation) that couldn't read a stump(read people) and very few who could.
 

teitan

Legend
I am currently in the process of designing a goblin based RPG and opted for a low but broad skill option. I've found it encourages more role play over rule play in other games. RUle play gets things into video game mode where they just want to keep plowing forward, rail road players I call them as opposed to rail road DMs.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
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?

Skills are always a tricky subject...

In my opinion having a too short skills list defies the whole purpose of a skill system, which is always about specialization. It doesn't makes sense to specialize in something broad. There is already a system of 6 ability scores, having a second-order system of 12 is too close, in such a case it is not worth the extra rules and I'd rather just use ability scores. I think even the core PHB skills list of 18 is a bit on the short end, in fact many times you get the feeling that you're choosing always the same skills for the same general type of character. Combining them even more sounds counterproductive.

OTOH, if you make the list of skills specializations too long (like the 3e list of 40+ skills), there is a higher risk of some skills being too poor (relatively to others), and being largely ignored by players (remember Use Rope?). IMHO it is always up to the DM to work towards making different characters specialties equally shine in the adventures, but at least the rules should provide a good balance to start from.

If I had to choose, I'd go with my general rule of thumb of "at least 4 options for every choice" which usually makes me feel diversity is guaranteed. With 6 abilities, it would mean at least 24 skills, without changing the number of proficiencies per characters. Although I would always prefer too many than too few.
 

Minigiant

Legend
If I had to choose, I'd go with my general rule of thumb of "at least 4 options for every choice" which usually makes me feel diversity is guaranteed. With 6 abilities, it would mean at least 24 skills, without changing the number of proficiencies per characters. Although I would always prefer too many than too few.

I think the number of skills per character is the real key.

The real issue with some of the Many skill systems is that your character didn't get enough skills.

This is why the 3.0 ranger went from 4 base skills to 6 in 3.5. The problem wasn't the skills but the skill points. You'd have to make sure PCs got enough skill point/picks to make up for the uncommonly used skills.

Too Few skills systems have the opposite problem. Characters become too skilled. So you have to be very restrictive and PCs become stereotypes.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
You know what I think is the saddest part of all of this though? When it comes to the D&D game itself... what skills you know and how many there are doesn't actually matter. Because your abilities to do things is so small compared to just random chance. It doesn't matter how good you are or how well-trained... most of anything you succeed at is completely the result of one thing... the die roll.

The random d20 die roll for all ability checks can easily result in something like 4/5ths of your entire success in doing something. You could have a +3 in your stat and proficiency in some skill you are supposed to be fully trained and really good at... giving you a total of +5... but a roll of '20' on the die means that succeeding at a DC 25 check was a result of 5 points from natural ability and your training, and 20 points from complete and utter randomness. 4/5ths of your success had nothing to do with you as a character, it was just the fickle finger of fate this day that decided you remembered that historical fact or didn't lose your balance on the icy roof of the building. Heck... even a 20th level character that has Expertise in a skill (+12) and a maxed out stat (+5) for a total of +17... still sees 1/5th of their checks get HALF (or more) of their result from complete chance (rolls of 17-20). Doing virtually the impossible on a DC 35 check says 17 points comes from skill and training, and 18 points just from luck. Doesn't that seem odd? That even the very pinnacle of human endeavor in Dungeons & Dragons can see any accomplishment be at best only 50% of it coming from who you are and what you've done? When you look at it from the top-down meta view of the game system... that ain't great.

The game through that prism really drives home the idea that the entire skill system in D&D doesn't actually matter. Most of a character's success or failure across the board will be completely due to the random d20 roll and more often than not have little to nothing to do with your ability scores or proficiencies. The system on the whole might as well not even be there for all the good it does, LOL.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Well, you can Study someone using cold, calculated analysis,

If you live in the modern era, and have access to the data gleaned from rigorous study and quantification of human behaviors, sure. When researchers have spent thousands of hours of video recordings watching thousands of people interact, to build a dictionary of body language, yes, you can do calculated analysis.

Most D&D worlds are not like that.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
If you live in the modern era, and have access to the data gleaned from rigorous study and quantification of human behaviors, sure. When researchers have spent thousands of hours of video recordings watching thousands of people interact, to build a dictionary of body language, yes, you can do calculated analysis.

Most D&D worlds are not like that.
I don't know.

To put it this way: who is good at reading people, understanding their intentions and emotional state? A coldhearted manipulator. Someone like Dr. Hannibal Lector or Walter White.

Whether they can do it because they've studied tons and tons of modern-day data on human behaviour or not, I don't really care.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don't know.

To put it this way: who is good at reading people, understanding their intentions and emotional state? A coldhearted manipulator. Someone like Dr. Hannibal Lector or Walter White.

Whether they can do it because they've studied tons and tons of modern-day data on human behaviour or not, I don't really care.
Hannibal likely used an intuitive understanding. I can read people like a book and have many time literally told a girlfriend what she was thinking at times. It's an intuitive understanding, though. I've never studied or learned which facial ticks or eyebrow movements mean what.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
I like more skills... but also broadly applicable skills.

So no, I don't want Climb/Jump/Swim when Athletics can exist, but I would like -more- skill types.

How about a specific Monster Lore skill that is separate from the various Knowledge Skills that can be used to learn about monsters, but applies -specifically- to Monsters, their weaknesses, legends about them, and how much their various pelts and magical elements are worth? Sure you could just take 3-4 other skills for that one function, but the same could be said about Deception, Persuasion, and Intimidation...

Y'know? Stuff that allows for different character structures, narratively speaking.
I like each skill to have a distinct use (which can be a broad use, but should be distinct from other skills). As an example, the social skills, in my campaign each have distinct requirements and trade offs.
  • Persuasion needs something they want. Persuaded creatures act freely and usually in good faith (they may have their own agenda). They seldom feel umbrage if the attempt fails.
  • Intimidation needs something they fear. Intimidated creatures do exactly as you demand, while seeking opportunities to escape or undermine you.
  • Deception needs false promises or threats. Tricked creatures behave according to your approach (i.e., persuaded, or intimidated). They are frequently hostile if they discover the truth.
  • Performance needs props or devices, and is used to attract, distract, or imitate. If seen through, common reactions are repulsion or expulsion.
So the advantage with deception is you don't need anything (real) to offer or threaten with seeing as you will lie about that part, but a tricked creature will realise your offer or threat was empty and might become hostile. In my campaign, deception isn't used to act like someone you are not - performance covers that.

I find this kind of ruling produces a more varied emergent narrative, because it means players can't just cover every situation with one approach.
 

Moorcrys

Explorer
My favourite way is what 13th Age does. Your chosen backgrounds determine what sorts of tasks you can tackle skillfully. For example "Lone Guardian of the Deep Wood." This could give you survival, nature and monster lore and the fortitude to stay awake during watches.

I'm in this camp - it requires more give and take from the players and the DM, but I think it not only differentiates character concepts that may have some skill overlap but in my experience it also tends to make for more active engagement with storytelling and skill use, rather than five characters with perception.

Maybe not for everyone but I like it alot.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I like each skill to have a distinct use (which can be a broad use, but should be distinct from other skills). As an example, the social skills, in my campaign each have distinct requirements and trade offs.
  • Persuasion needs something they want. Persuaded creatures act freely and usually in good faith (they may have their own agenda). They seldom feel umbrage if the attempt fails.
  • Intimidation needs something they fear. Intimidated creatures do exactly as you demand, while seeking opportunities to escape or undermine you.
  • Deception needs false promises or threats. Tricked creatures behave according to your approach (i.e., persuaded, or intimidated). They are frequently hostile if they discover the truth.
  • Performance needs props or devices, and is used to attract, distract, or imitate. If seen through, common reactions are repulsion or expulsion.
So the advantage with deception is you don't need anything (real) to offer or threaten with seeing as you will lie about that part, but a tricked creature will realise your offer or threat was empty and might become hostile. In my campaign, deception isn't used to act like someone you are not - performance covers that.

I find this kind of ruling produces a more varied emergent narrative, because it means players can't just cover every situation with one approach.
They have distinct requirements and tradeoffs... but their overall function is the same:

Person A wants Person B to do something, a dice is rolled, and if successful Person B does the thing.

And it -absolutely- creates different narratives, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you're doing it wrong -at all-. You're doing it the right way. I just want more ways to do things. And more narratives for -how- the thing gets done.
 

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