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Giving a bit more variance to skills

jgsugden

Explorer
One thing I do not like so much about the skills in 5E is the fixed nature of skills. I don't like how the only two modifiers are proficiency and one ability score. It gives you sort of a binary differential for skills that modify a particular abilty score. Deception, persuasion, intimidate... you can't be more persuasive than deceptive and more deceptive than intimidating at the same time.

To that end, I decided to add a little variance to the skills in 5E in my games during character creation. I have used it once and I liked the results.

There are 18 skills. I number them 1 through 18 (alphabetically). I then ask each player to roll a d20 and 2d4. The d20 determine which skill is being modified and the 2d4 is added to the skill before we subtract 5 from the skill. You repeat these modifications until either the d20 shows a number that has been rolled before, a 19 or a 20. At that point, you ignore the 2d4-5 modifier for that d20 roll and you're done. You'll end up with some small number of skills that are less than or higher than the 'baseline' by up to 3 points (although actually getting a +/-3 to a skill would be fairly rare). Generally you'll get a few skills (often somewhere between 2 and 6) that are modified by 1 or 2 up or down. It gives you a slight bit of variance.

I liked the results as the PCs seemed to have a lot more character and diversity, even if mathmatecially th differences were no really that significant.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
A simpler option you could use is to set a number of variant proficiency skills (rolled with the d20, ignoring 19 & 20), with half getting +1 proficiency and half getting -1 proficiency. In either case, you might want to perform this before the character is created.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
At character creation you can end up with a modifier bigger than your entire proficiency. That would suck if a negative to a skill your envision for your character, perhaps picked your background with it in mind. Odd against that happening are really low though, and it is just as likely (literally!) to have a +3 bonus instead. Perhaps if it rolls a skill the player has chosen proficiency with they have the choice to skip once - missing out on the good as well as the bad. (But if it later gets chosen again, oh well, the dice gods have spoken and you've already used your skip.)

But does a variation that centers in the +/-1 range (62% of the time) really have enough impact on play to warrant it? That's not a suggestion not to do it, it's a suggestion to make it more meaningful. Sort of if you feel this is an important add, make it a meaningful one.

How about choose which skill as you suggest but for the modifier roll two different colored d4s (say red and white) and pick the highest. If it's white, add it. If it's red, subtract it. If they are the same ignore it. Actually, that's slightly over a 75% chance for a 3 or 4 modifier, that's might be too much for what you want.
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
So 62% of the time it's +/-1, and 12% of the time it's +/-3.

So 2 of your 18 skills are likely to end up with a +/- 3 modifier, one of each lets say.

I don't know, I guess. Not going to really break anything though each character will has a good chance of being exceptionally good and bad at a skill. But then again, that's only a 15% change in the success factor, so your not really making a big change in game play itself. Well, expect for perception, a +3 to perception could have a significant impact on passive Perception DC's. If it bothers you that a PC might never miss a clue etc.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
One thing I do not like so much about the skills in 5E is the fixed nature of skills. I don't like how the only two modifiers are proficiency and one ability score. It gives you sort of a binary differential for skills that modify a particular abilty score. Deception, persuasion, intimidate... you can't be more persuasive than deceptive and more deceptive than intimidating at the same time.

To that end, I decided to add a little variance to the skills in 5E in my games during character creation. I have used it once and I liked the results.

There are 18 skills. I number them 1 through 18 (alphabetically). I then ask each player to roll a d20 and 2d4. The d20 determine which skill is being modified and the 2d4 is added to the skill before we subtract 5 from the skill. You repeat these modifications until either the d20 shows a number that has been rolled before, a 19 or a 20. At that point, you ignore the 2d4-5 modifier for that d20 roll and you're done. You'll end up with some small number of skills that are less than or higher than the 'baseline' by up to 3 points (although actually getting a +/-3 to a skill would be fairly rare). Generally you'll get a few skills (often somewhere between 2 and 6) that are modified by 1 or 2 up or down. It gives you a slight bit of variance.

I liked the results as the PCs seemed to have a lot more character and diversity, even if mathmatecially th differences were no really that significant.
Uhh...

Ok so, first, when is this random determination made? Is it first in chargen so that the character could have seen its aptitudes snd lacks and went into or avoided certain career paths? Is it before or after player-side choices like race and player-side/character-side choucesvlike ability scores, class, background?

Its make a big difference whether this random strength and weakness thing is dome mystical whammy thst gets applied later in life or something they grew up with and could choose around.

Second, "actually getting a +/-3 to a skill would be fairly rare)" - my armchair analysis would point to about 1/4 to 1/3 getting a +3 or -3.

Generally not a fan if randomly generated chsracter traits myself, I find there is already plenty of randomness in resolution for 5e, but depending on when in the chargen this occurs and how much it then gives the player choices I dont necessarily see this as a negative outright.
 

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