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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

delericho

Legend
Say more… what number would be better for 5e and why?
My view is that 5e has too many skills to really be lightweight (especially once the tool proficiencies are counted), but it also has both some awkward gaps and some overlaps (notably Athletics/Acrobatics, Perception/Investigation, and Perform/musical instrument proficiencies).

But the weakness that really bugs me are the Charisma-based skills. Because either a character has one (which means all interactions follow a fixed pattern) or they have more than one (in which case there's no meaningful difference); and also because in most parties one PC will specialise in these skills and so gain an effective monopoly on one pillar of the game. I'm inclined to think that it would be better if each (and every) PC was proficient in talking to some groups of people, with Expertise being granted in various social circumstances. That at least spreads the fun out a bit.

As for a better number...
  • Six. One very general skill for each ability score.
  • Twelve. Each ability score is split into two (as in the really old Player Option days). A PC can be proficient in either side, but never both skills for any given ability.
  • Twenty-ish. About the same number as now, but a revised set.
  • Fifty-ish. Lots of very little skills, with an attempt to be comprehensive.
  • Undefined. PCs just declare any skill they want, with the details left intentionally vague (and no attempt to be comprehensive). They then apply their Prof Bonus if any of their 'skills' apply.
  • Undefined II. As above, but each PC only declares one or two - they're also assumed to be proficient in anything related to their race, class, or background.
Edit: I forgot an option:
Zero: The game doesn't actually absolutely require them, of course...
 
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payn

Hero
I voted lots, but what I really want is more ways to engage the skill system. I miss interacting with the skill system every level via points in 3E/PF1. 5E is Ronco "set it and forget it." Once you choose your set up at level 1 you never really look back. In PF2, Paizo decided to take the feat system "cool, but too specific vs. mundane, but total utility" dynamic and apply it to the skill system. Modern games have really been a miss for what I want out of a skill system.
 

MGibster

Legend
But the weakness that really bugs me are the Charisma-based skills. Because either a character has one (which means all interactions follow a fixed pattern) or they have more than one (in which case there's no meaningful difference); and also because in most parties one PC will specialise in these skills and so gain an effective monopoly on one pillar of the game. I'm inclined to think that it would be better if each (and every) PC was proficient in talking to some groups of people, with Expertise being granted in various social circumstances. That at least spreads the fun out a bit.
I've been beating the "Every PC should be good at talking to people" drum for a while now. They don't all have to be good with the same groups or in the same way, but each player should be confident that they can contribute to interactions with NPCs. Far too often I see players opt out of participating fully by saying, "My character isn't good at talking to people."
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I've been beating the "Every PC should be good at talking to people" drum for a while now. They don't all have to be good with the same groups or in the same way, but each player should be confident that they can contribute to interactions with NPCs. Far too often I see players opt out of participating fully by saying, "My character isn't good at talking to people."
That's why roleplaying matters in my game. Rolls only happen when the outcome is in doubt, and aren't always difficult when they do happen. If the PC says something that makes sense to the NPC, there isn't going to be a roll. As a result all of my players have their PCs talk to NPCs
 

But the weakness that really bugs me are the Charisma-based skills. Because either a character has one (which means all interactions follow a fixed pattern) or they have more than one (in which case there's no meaningful difference); and also because in most parties one PC will specialise in these skills and so gain an effective monopoly on one pillar of the game.
One of many things I like about FFG's Star Wars is that you have multiple social skills spread out over three different stats. Presence is the primary social stat with Charm, Leadership, and Negotiation, but you also have the Cunning-based Deception and the Willpower-based Coercion.

Another cool idea is from Trinity Continuum, where you can use a social stat (of which there are three, but one is mostly passive) combined with a skill to do social stuff in the appropriate context. The 5e equivalent would be Charisma (Arcana) checks to deal with mages, Charisma (Nature) checks to deal with farmers, and so on. This works better in Trinity than in D&D because D&D skills are more binary, whereas they're rated on a 0-5 scale (similar to stats) in Trinity.
 

Say more… what number would be better for 5e and why?
For D&D in particular, I think the skill proficiencies that exist are mostly "right-sized", but they do leave some annoying holes. The most obvious one is knowledge of the human (or maybe sapient) world – history fills some of it, but I'm thinking things like heraldry, geography, who rules where, what are proper ways to act in a particular town/culture, and so on. I'd also include thieves' tools in Sleight of Hand and possibly rename it Thievery. I could also see combining Nature and Survival, and maybe bake Animal Handling into one or both of those – any time you have a player asking "What's the difference between skill X and skill Y?" you should consider whether those might not be better off as a single skill.
 



SkidAce

Legend
... 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.
Statistically I hear you, but the character isnt actually rolling a die. So to them its an overall average tendency to be better than someone else with a lower score.
 

MGibster

Legend
That's why roleplaying matters in my game. Rolls only happen when the outcome is in doubt, and aren't always difficult when they do happen. If the PC says something that makes sense to the NPC, there isn't going to be a roll. As a result all of my players have their PCs talk to NPCs
This is probably a subject onto itself, but I'm trying to gently nudge my players in that direction. On the flip side I don't want to treat social skills as if they're mind control. So when to roll versus when to just role play isn't always an easy decision to make.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
This is probably a subject onto itself, but I'm trying to gently nudge my players in that direction. On the flip side I don't want to treat social skills as if they're mind control. So when to roll versus when to just role play isn't always an easy decision to make.
I think, using social checks with abilities other than CHA and generally taking PC's fictional positioning works quite well for avoiding faces.
 

Statistically I hear you, but the character isnt actually rolling a die. So to them its an overall average tendency to be better than someone else with a lower score.
While true, the result is that you lack the creativity & flavor shifting that players employ to leverage systems with fewer skills & the reliability between gaps that still require the creaivity from the player & party to work around gaps that goes with systems that have a wide array of skills leaving 5e with downsides of both approaches
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think, using social checks with abilities other than CHA and generally taking PC's fictional positioning works quite well for avoiding faces.
I've found that just treating NPCs as if they are people works well for avoiding the party "face." NPCs aren't just going to sit there and ask one person what everyone thinks. If the party was hired to enact plan X, the lord is going to ask each PC what they think about his plan, not just the bard. In many situations it will also be quite rude for only one person to do all the talking for the group.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Statistically I hear you, but the character isnt actually rolling a die. So to them its an overall average tendency to be better than someone else with a lower score.
No, you are absolutely right in that from an in-game point of view, characters don't know one from the other. They either are able to do really cool stuff or they can't so higher is always better. My post was really from the meta-view in relation to the posts about what players want for skills and skill systems.

From our outsider perspective looking at the mechanics, we can all get into arguments about the pros and cons of this or any other skill system: whether we should have more or less skills... whether we should add proficiency or Expertise bonuses to ability checks... whether the system should be skill-point based... whether there should be different levels of proficiency... whether there should be specializations within skills... so on and so forth. But all those questions are the ones whose answers get wiped away once we realize that the bonus from the d20 roll pretty much supercedes whatever bonuses we might try and apply in whatever skill system format we push. So our arguments ends up essentially pointless. It's like arguing about where is the based place to stand around a bulldozer to help push it as it drives forward. The bulldozer's actually doing all the work, so what we decide doesn't actually matter in the least. ;)
 

Stalker0

Legend
I'd prefer a short list of skills that see regular use rather than an exhaustive list with skills that rarely see any use.
Nailed it. What's the point in a skill if its going to be used once in a blue moon?

If a player noted that they were a circus tamer in their background, and the players go to the circus....then I'll just give them a bonus. They don't need to have a "circus taming" skill that will only be relevant for this one adventure.


This also feeds the notion that PCs are "Renaissance people", they are just good in a lot of different things that NPCs aren't. So I don't need super detailed skill lists. Does it make sense that an npc is a good running but not a swimmer?....sure, and I might adjust it in the event both things came up in an npc encounter. Do I really need players to divy things up that granularly....no I do not.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I voted lots, but what I really want is more ways to engage the skill system. I miss interacting with the skill system every level via points in 3E/PF1. 5E is Ronco "set it and forget it." Once you choose your set up at level 1 you never really look back. In PF2, Paizo decided to take the feat system "cool, but too specific vs. mundane, but total utility" dynamic and apply it to the skill system. Modern games have really been a miss for what I want out of a skill system.
I think PE 1 did it best for me.

A rank in a "class skill" gives you a +3 base. So you don't need so many points to be decent, encourages a range of skills, still allows for tailoring. Also removes all the old 3e synergy bonuses and the cross-class stuff as that was a complexity that was not needed.

I think that is my "sweet" spot in terms of ease of use vs customability, although it still scales to absurdity at high levels. Rogues in my current 16th level pathfinder game gets 40s on many skills regularly, and my Paladin can generate 40 diplomacy checks commonly.

I probably would prefer a max rank of 8 or so, and then every 4 levels after 8 you get a +1 to all skills you are maxxed. So again the skills improve but at a slower rate to curb some of the high level crazy.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I admit I haven't read much of the thread.......my desire is for two kinds of skills: untrained (like athletics and things anyone can try to do) and trained (like arcana or picking pockets....things you have to learn to do). How that works, without it being silly long lists, I don't know.
 

Stalker0

Legend
The bulldozer's actually doing all the work, so what we decide doesn't actually matter in the least. ;)
I get the point but I think you give it too much weight. Its true that for a person with a +5 vs a person with +0, that the D20 has a bigger impact on who gets a 15 on a particular roll. But if you need a 21 there's only one person to call....and as soon as you add in die adjustments like take 10/20, or advantage (aka roll 2, keep best), then die becomes less swingy and the stat more important.
 


Horwath

Hero
Little fewer skills.

5E has about the right number, but;

Sleight of hands combined with thief tools into Thievery(just need the gear to open locks/traps), like in 4E
Investigation removed. Any mechanics involving finding something is folded into Perception. What you find is then on players to come up with solution, not a roll.

Animal handling merged into Survival.

So, now we have 16 instead of 18 skills.
 

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