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

renbot

Adventurer
I almost always give PCs a few skill options when they are trying to accomplish something or figure something out. If they come across the corpse of something killed by a poisonous plant creature they haven't encountered yet, I'll say something like "anyone proficient in Nature, Survival, or Medicine can describe how they are examining the body then give me a check." I also lean hard into the "anyone proficient in XXX can give me a check..." because I got tired of playing wizards who have studied magic their whole lives regularly not knowing something the fighter did because of bad rolls!

Regarding the specific issue mentioned several times of Acrobatics vs. Athletics, in many (most?) cases I allow the PCs to use either. Forcing open a door might always be strength, but remaining standing on a ship buffeted by a storm can be either (core and leg strength are key to balance after all, and most "athletes" train in how NOT to be knocked over).

Of course, my gaming group and I have been DMing since the 70s (me) and the 80s-90s (most of them) and together on/off for 20+ years so that probably plays into it.
 

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That's the point.

As @tetrasodium stated, the OS the skill system was basically whatever the GM said it was. And what are the only skills that have core clear rules of what they do

  1. Stealth
  2. Perception
  3. Dexterity checks with thieves tools
  4. Medicine

Everything else was basically whatever the GM said it was. You could play 5e core and ignore every skill or tool but those "4". They were the only skills with hard core mechanics. Everything else was optional, variant, or in the DMG. Nothing else had core mechanics, DCs, or obstacles.

This mean the skill list could be anything because outsideof these 4, everything was determined by the DM.

This was, if unconsciously, why LNO characters ended up being built from Skills up. Every skill will have explicit mechanics and every skill matters as they're what drives progression and class resources.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
  1. Stealth
  2. Perception
  3. Dexterity checks with thieves tools
  4. Medicine

Everything else was basically whatever the GM said it was. You could play 5e core and ignore every skill or tool but those "4". They were the only skills with hard core mechanics. Everything else was optional, variant, or in the DMG. Nothing else had core mechanics, DCs, or obstacles.

This mean the skill list could be anything because outsideof these 4, everything was determined by the DM.
And many of us are quite happy this is how the game is.

I for one do not need nor want huge lists of DCs for every single thing that every single skill can do... nor need specialized rules for all the different "things" you can do. That's just a giant PITA and a waste of my time... having to think "Hmm... vaulting over X number of objects of Y size changes the DC on Athletics checks by some amount and requires a certain combination of checks for each part of it... let me go grab the book and flip through it to look up just how those numbers gets calculated." We had something like that in the 3E Grapple rules... and almost everyone seemed to agree that those rules were way more trouble and complicated than they were worth.

No thanks. Instead, I'll just listen to what the player says they wish to do, I'll make a judgement call about whether a check might be required, and then just improvise a DC off the top of my head for them to roll an Athletics or Acrobatics check on and we move on. The story keep moving and we don't get bogged down trying to gamify every single aspect of every single skill.

I won't deny that some people might like or prefer that... but I'm personally glad it doesn't seem like WotC agrees.
 

renbot

Adventurer
The disadvantage is that you wouldn't be able to run a PC whose "skills" are associated with different ability scores.

Like the traditional ranger is skilled in

Athletics (Strength)
Stealth (Dexterity)
Survival (Wisdom)

That's not counting
Nature (intelligence)

How many DMs will give a ranger proficiency in all Strength, Dexterity, and Wisdom checks?
Ha! That's funny because I had the opposite reaction: this system is simple and elegant because the "expert" classes can just be given another ability score in which to become proficient. As has been suggested elsewhere, you get one from your class, one from your background, and then eventually rogues/rangers/bards get another from a list that makes sense: "You choose an ability score from X, Y, Z in which you aren't already proficient."

Those classes could also just give proficiency in two different ability scores instead of one right away, but you probably don't want this to be a first level benefit if we are trying to cut down on one-level-dips a bit.
 

And many of us are quite happy this is how the game is.

I for one do not need nor want huge lists of DCs for every single thing that every single skill can do... nor need specialized rules for all the different "things" you can do. That's just a giant PITA and a waste of my time... having to think "Hmm... vaulting over X number of objects of Y size changes the DC on Athletics checks by some amount and requires a certain combination of checks for each part of it... let me go grab the book and flip through it to look up just how those numbers gets calculated." We had something like that in the 3E Grapple rules... and almost everyone seemed to agree that those rules were way more trouble and complicated than they were worth.

No thanks. Instead, I'll just listen to what the player says they wish to do, I'll make a judgement call about whether a check might be required, and then just improvise a DC off the top of my head for them to roll an Athletics or Acrobatics check on and we move on. The story keep moving and we don't get bogged down trying to gamify every single aspect of every single skill.

I won't deny that some people might like or prefer that... but I'm personally glad it doesn't seem like WotC agrees.

I don't think its that black and white of a spectrum. Having more codified mechanics tied to skills doesn't mean ir has to be a lot of repetitive minutia rules. That honestly defeats the point in my opinion.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
And many of us are quite happy this is how the game is.

I for one do not need nor want huge lists of DCs for every single thing that every single skill can do... nor need specialized rules for all the different "things" you can do. That's just a giant PITA and a waste of my time... having to think "Hmm... vaulting over X number of objects of Y size changes the DC on Athletics checks by some amount and requires a certain combination of checks for each part of it... let me go grab the book and flip through it to look up just how those numbers gets calculated." We had something like that in the 3E Grapple rules... and almost everyone seemed to agree that those rules were way more trouble and complicated than they were worth.

No thanks. Instead, I'll just listen to what the player says they wish to do, I'll make a judgement call about whether a check might be required, and then just improvise a DC off the top of my head for them to roll an Athletics or Acrobatics check on and we move on. The story keep moving and we don't get bogged down trying to gamify every single aspect of every single skill.

I won't deny that some people might like or prefer that... but I'm personally glad it doesn't seem like WotC agrees.
But that caused the skill system to break.

Because the skills that the group that played 5e believed that mattered were not given rules nor mechanics.

The skill system's importance and mechanics were determined by people who ended up not not playing the game.

You don't need a mechanic for everything, just what the group believes that matters. That's why D&D has a lot of combat rules. Combat matters to D&D players. But when it comes to noncombat, the importance differs depending on edition and generation.

And the 5e skill system doesn't do that. 5e still pretends it is 1980.
 


tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
And many of us are quite happy this is how the game is.

I for one do not need nor want huge lists of DCs for every single thing that every single skill can do... nor need specialized rules for all the different "things" you can do. That's just a giant PITA and a waste of my time... having to think "Hmm... vaulting over X number of objects of Y size changes the DC on Athletics checks by some amount and requires a certain combination of checks for each part of it... let me go grab the book and flip through it to look up just how those numbers gets calculated." We had something like that in the 3E Grapple rules... and almost everyone seemed to agree that those rules were way more trouble and complicated than they were worth.

No thanks. Instead, I'll just listen to what the player says they wish to do, I'll make a judgement call about whether a check might be required, and then just improvise a DC off the top of my head for them to roll an Athletics or Acrobatics check on and we move on. The story keep moving and we don't get bogged down trying to gamify every single aspect of every single skill.

I won't deny that some people might like or prefer that... but I'm personally glad it doesn't seem like WotC agrees.
Except 5e was designed with a full set of skill DCs on DMG238 and it covers a range that PC's quickly outmuscle as they move out of tier 1 or 2 of play. The rules as written & designed only serve to give players a reason to be frustrated if the GM says no or sets it high enough to meet PC skills as a result.
I almost always give PCs a few skill options when they are trying to accomplish something or figure something out. If they come across the corpse of something killed by a poisonous plant creature they haven't encountered yet, I'll say something like "anyone proficient in Nature, Survival, or Medicine can describe how they are examining the body then give me a check." I also lean hard into the "anyone proficient in XXX can give me a check..." because I got tired of playing wizards who have studied magic their whole lives regularly not knowing something the fighter did because of bad rolls!

Regarding the specific issue mentioned several times of Acrobatics vs. Athletics, in many (most?) cases I allow the PCs to use either. Forcing open a door might always be strength, but remaining standing on a ship buffeted by a storm can be either (core and leg strength are key to balance after all, and most "athletes" train in how NOT to be knocked over).

Of course, my gaming group and I have been DMing since the 70s (me) and the 80s-90s (most of them) and together on/off for 20+ years so that probably plays into it.

That's where almost using but the collapsing the 3.x skill tree into a smaller range of skills (over 30 to under 20) that collapse comes with the skills themselves being far less restricted than before to cause further problems. If the skill is likely to be at all important it's almost certainly going to have a lot of overlap across PCs who sunk no meaningful opportunity cost in obtaining it. You wind up with the worst of old school pre-3.x and worst of 3.x with a design that provides elements & omissions to simultaneously thwart both playstyles.

If you say "anyone proficient in x" you aren't going to get a set of thematically appropriate PCs. Instead it's going to cast such a wide net that you might as well have just told everyone & skipped the attempt to make skill choices matter.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I think we have a differing opinion on the word 'break'.
Well that's true.

The 5e skill list and system fill the purpose almost exactly what the 5e designers designed to. The purpose however is not what the majority of the customer base wants.

A steak and burger can be made of the same food. But you wouldn't focus on your burger recipe if the majority of your customers want steak.

Or designing a screwdriver for people who want hammers.
 

I would remove 6 of them, or not, just feels like too many now, they can be smooshed together especially after you do the next thing. I would decouple the remaining from Abilities. I would double the proficiency bonus effect as a replacement for better backwards compatibility to published adventures DCs.
 

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