D&D (2024) How would you change skills in 5.5e

Davinshe

Explorer
Medicine: The big one, by a large margin. Occasionally this acts as a sort of knowledge: biology or autopsy skill but even a DM actively looking to make it relevant has a hard time finding uses for this. If this is going to stick around, it probably needs to actually interact with hit points in some way, perhaps by allowing some limited use of healing surges outside of a short rest.

Perform: We do not need instrument proficiency and this skill. Moreover, performing on an instrument is too niche to be worth it. If you dig a little, it becomes clear that this skill at minimum is also meant to cover acting giving it some overlap with deception.
My solution would be to replace this with an "Impress" skill that is used whenever you wish to affect an NPC's attitude or emotions. Performing an instrument then just becomes one particular way to impress someone.

Intimidate: Perhaps it ought not be so, but Intimidate is just a worse form of persuasion -- most DM's instinctively treat this skill as riskier to use than persuasion, and seldom create situations where Intimidate can work when persuasion can not. This skill could be rolled into the above "Impress" skill.

Animal Handling: Too niche. I suppose this can be rolled into knowledge nature. Technically this could still be a charisma check, though very few DM's seem to make use of alternate attributes on a skill check.

Investigation: Part of me wants to go back to calling this "search" like in 3rd, just because when something is an investigation or a perception check seems an endless source of confusion for new DM's.

Streetwise | Gather Information: I'm not sure why this skill was dropped from earlier editions. Next to persuasion / diplomacy, this used to be one of the most common social skill checks I'd ask for at my table.

Thieves' Tools, Disguise Kit
: It's not good for some tool proficiencies to be mostly background flavor and others to be regularly useful during adventuring.
 

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Perception: passive perception should either be at -5 or disadvantage. Distractions, darkvision, less than bright light, etc all impose disadvantage, and the "passive" perception is impacted by those far more often than not. What percentage of time a character would need to are a passive perception test are they sitting idly in a well lit area, doing absolutely nothing else?
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
get rid of the "pick two A & S class skills if you are simply offered the same skill twice" going back to 3.x style skill restrictions. I'm tired of seeing players excited to have a skill niche that fits their character getting drown out by a chorus of "Oh I'm proficient in that too [dice clatter], can I try?" with me as the GM expected to either shrug & ignore that it doesn't make sense for some of them or be the pointman for enforcing niche protection in a system that does everything it can to erase it. I'd also go back to dc neg10 to dc43 range rather than the current farce where players trivially exceed the system's upper bounds & get bored of being unable to fail or outraged when the GM "cheats" by giving reasonable DCs for high level specialists performing tasks that should require high level specialists.
 

In Pathfinder 2nd edition, some feats grant you a proficiency in a particular skill. But if your class and background grants you the same skill proficiency, you are free to pick another skill to be proficient in.

Ex. Elemental Lore feat

You've devoted yourself to researching the secrets of the Inner Sphere. You gain the trained proficiency in your choice of Survival and either Arcana or Nature. If you would automatically become trained in Survival (from your background or class, for example), you instead become trained in a skill of your choice.
 

Perception should not exist as it currently does. I'd be fine with some sort of Danger Sense that helps you realize invisible creatures are present or to prevent being surprised, but other than that... GM, just give the players information about the environment.

I have a mega-high passive Perception character I'm playing right now just so I can avoid the inane 'hey can everyone roll Perception please' parts of the game, and instead I am just told what is there.
 

Animal Handling is such incredible trash. I think it exists so that Rangers and Druids aren't the absolute worst at that stuff, just because Nature(lore) uses Int. You're not dealing with a regular animal in a potentially peaceful environment that often, and if you're fighting, say, wolves, they're commanded by a worg or something anyway.
 

Medicine: The big one, by a large margin. Occasionally this acts as a sort of knowledge: biology or autopsy skill but even a DM actively looking to make it relevant has a hard time finding uses for this. If this is going to stick around, it probably needs to actually interact with hit points in some way, perhaps by allowing some limited use of healing surges outside of a short rest.

Perform: We do not need instrument proficiency and this skill. Moreover, performing on an instrument is too niche to be worth it. If you dig a little, it becomes clear that this skill at minimum is also meant to cover acting giving it some overlap with deception.
My solution would be to replace this with an "Impress" skill that is used whenever you wish to affect an NPC's attitude or emotions. Performing an instrument then just becomes one particular way to impress someone.

Intimidate: Perhaps it ought not be so, but Intimidate is just a worse form of persuasion -- most DM's instinctively treat this skill as riskier to use than persuasion, and seldom create situations where Intimidate can work when persuasion can not. This skill could be rolled into the above "Impress" skill.

Animal Handling: Too niche. I suppose this can be rolled into knowledge nature. Technically this could still be a charisma check, though very few DM's seem to make use of alternate attributes on a skill check.

Investigation: Part of me wants to go back to calling this "search" like in 3rd, just because when something is an investigation or a perception check seems an endless source of confusion for new DM's.

Streetwise | Gather Information: I'm not sure why this skill was dropped from earlier editions. Next to persuasion / diplomacy, this used to be one of the most common social skill checks I'd ask for at my table.

Thieves' Tools, Disguise Kit: It's not good for some tool proficiencies to be mostly background flavor and others to be regularly useful during adventuring.
Skills should not be sources of special actions themselves.

However, the playtest is introducing new Actions that use the variety of skills.

Like the "Influence" action being a Charisma check, and your tactics are informed by the skill you might choose to use. Animal Handling lives here. It's fine.

And the "Search" action being a Wisdom check, letting you use the Wisdom skills most relevant to the act, to perceive things that are not obvious. I believe that finding Secret Doors and Traps now falls solidly into this Wisdom-based action because of the "concealed object" clarification of "Perception."

And the "Study" action being an Intelligence check, letting you use the Intelligence skills most relevant to Deduce or Remember something. Solving Puzzles and Traps fall under "Study" with an Intelligence/Investigation check.

"Streetwise" is a weird one because you can justify using Cha to convice people to tell you something, using Wis to use Insight to find hidden truths, or using Int, to "Investigate" the area.

Perhaps there should be a "Manipulate" skill that uses Dexterity for physical tools that require Finesse? They have not broken out Sleight of Hand to be a specific action, but it is generally used for picking locks and disabling traps.
 

Regarding Animal Handling: I've allowed a ranger to use their Action during combat to make a Animal Handling check to stay a hellhound's attack for that round. They succeeded the first round, the second round they weren't so lucky and the hellhound unleashed their breath weapon. It was the player's idea to use Animal Handling, and I thought it was an interesting use of the character's skill and it made perfect sense in the fiction - ranger encounters this fiendish looking canine, attempts first to try calm/stay its aggressiveness.
So, I allowed the use of the skill with an escalating DC for subsequent rounds.

But to answer the thread's question
1. I'd remove Perception all-together. It is an unnecessary Skill IMO (especially when you have Insight and Investigation). Alertness is a feat, you do not need a Danger-Sense.
2. I'd create sub-skills within each major skill. For instance Athletics would have Jumping, Running, Swimming, Climbing etc
3. I'd change the way Expertise works. Instead Expertise grants you Advantage on a particular sub-skill (specialities) of a skill you are proficient in. That would help the ridiculous breaking of Bounded Accuracy with the current Expertise rules.
4. I'd uncouple, attributes from checks. Just let the DM select which is more appropriate in a particular situation.
5. I'd split the "Skill" section into how VtM runs the system with a Skills and Knowledge section (talents are unnecessary) and include the combat section into that (archery, spellcasting, various weapon groups - think 2e's Broad Weapon Groups, grappling...etc). They all deal with the same proficiency anyways what is the point of separating Skills from one's skill with weapons?
 
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Jahydin

Hero
Ooh, let me get my old houserules for you...

Medicine: Can be used to make non-magical "potions" of sorts with the "right" ingredients. Think minor healing/poison items.
Perform: This skill replaces a lot of Proficiencies since I dropped that concept.
Intimidate: Very useful as is I think. It's used in situations where persuasion wouldn't work and the outcome should be different.
Animal Handling: Whenever a PC takes this skill they get a free animal companion!
Investigation: Besides actual investigating, I use this skill in place of Perception for any type of active searching.
Perception: Noticing potential danger instinctively. Not everything can be puzzled out with your brain, sometimes you have to trust your gut. Success might be more difficult and cryptic compared to Investigate, but its near automatic making it useful in its own right.
Thieves' Tools/Disguise Kit: Both separate skills for me since I dropped Proficiencies.

Also of note, I always tied skills directly into the adventures for fun. For instance, Medicine could be used to find the right herb to cure the villager's mysterious illness. Failure meant the PCs would have to travel and search for a Wiseman. Just make sure the checks are for meaningful situations and failure results in a setback, never a dead-end.
 


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