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

mhd

Adventurer
Going back to the clarity example, if the basic rules fighter is a basic STR fighter: That fighter needs to be able to do things with their STR outside of combat.
Is there a chance we'll get outside of this increasing focus on characters mostly depending on one ability? I guess this would be hard to fix if one would just concentrate on the skill system, as everywhere else it's perfectly fine to base everything you do regularly on CHA/INT/WIS etc.

Or are we talking about "needs to be able to do things, and be the BEST at it"? That's slightly different, as even with a "secondary focus" (INT for the tactical fighter, CHA for the leader etc.), you'll have people in your party who are better at that than you. But assuming the fighter is the best at STR, they could get more spotlight with non/combat skills/actions based on that.

I'm just not sure we could do that without redefining the meaning of e.g. STR and CON…
 

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Is there a chance we'll get outside of this increasing focus on characters mostly depending on one ability? I guess this would be hard to fix if one would just concentrate on the skill system, as everywhere else it's perfectly fine to base everything you do regularly on CHA/INT/WIS etc.

Or are we talking about "needs to be able to do things, and be the BEST at it"? That's slightly different, as even with a "secondary focus" (INT for the tactical fighter, CHA for the leader etc.), you'll have people in your party who are better at that than you. But assuming the fighter is the best at STR, they could get more spotlight with non/combat skills/actions based on that.

I'm just not sure we could do that without redefining the meaning of e.g. STR and CON…
5e (maybe 4e?) Kinda created a that focus to a not insignificant degree. Back in 2e you didn't really have skills or get +/-1 till like 15 &6, attributes obviously mattered a lot less as a result. In 3.x everyone needed some int for skill points and a ton of PCs needed a few points in this or that skill to meet the prerequisites on various feats/PrCs. 4e was 4e... But 5e keeps the 12&8 threshold and enough defined skills of 3.5 while doing away with all of the reasons and mechanics to make skills for non-primary abilities matter. Gms wind up expected to fight the very situation 5e encourages players to charge against while doing (or omitting) everything it can to ensure it really doesn't matter even when done
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Is there a chance we'll get outside of this increasing focus on characters mostly depending on one ability? I guess this would be hard to fix if one would just concentrate on the skill system, as everywhere else it's perfectly fine to base everything you do regularly on CHA/INT/WIS etc.

Or are we talking about "needs to be able to do things, and be the BEST at it"? That's slightly different, as even with a "secondary focus" (INT for the tactical fighter, CHA for the leader etc.), you'll have people in your party who are better at that than you. But assuming the fighter is the best at STR, they could get more spotlight with non/combat skills/actions based on that.

I'm just not sure we could do that without redefining the meaning of e.g. STR and CON…
It's more that I said how a STR based fighter can barely leverage their Strength and level to overcome more difficult obstacles. Or a CHA or INT secondary fighter.

It's like @tetrasodium said, other editions had built in design, class features, or subsystems to make their skill systems act the way the designers and fans wanted. 5e due to it's low bonuses, small skill list, and reliance on DM interpretation, characters who lack expertise or a matching ability-skill combo and just throwing up d20s and running on luck rather than being "good" at anything.

What is a total +2 to a DC 15. You are just throwing dice and pleading to a higher power. So players end up working hard to use their +6s and +7s over their piddly +2s and +1s.

And this is where the "I want to use Intimidation with Strength" keep getting repeated.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
It's more that I said how a STR based fighter can barely leverage their Strength and level to overcome more difficult obstacles. Or a CHA or INT secondary fighter.

It's like @tetrasodium said, other editions had built in design, class features, or subsystems to make their skill systems act the way the designers and fans wanted. 5e due to it's low bonuses, small skill list, and reliance on DM interpretation, characters who lack expertise or a matching ability-skill combo and just throwing up d20s and running on luck rather than being "good" at anything.

What is a total +2 to a DC 15. You are just throwing dice and pleading to a higher power. So players end up working hard to use their +6s and +7s over their piddly +2s and +1s.

And this is where the "I want to use Intimidation with Strength" keep getting repeated.
this is why i think expertise (and single proficiency reliable talent) ought to be more available in the skill system rather than being consigned to a few specific classes and feats, if you factor in expertise as part of the standard DC target difficulty curve it helps reduce the swingyness of the d20 roll being such a massive part of your result, expert classes are still going to get more expertise than everyone else but more classes get to dip their toes into the deep end of skill checks without only relying on a gamble and a prayer.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
It's more that I said how a STR based fighter can barely leverage their Strength and level to overcome more difficult obstacles. Or a CHA or INT secondary fighter.
I don't agree with this point, because it assumes the player is playing with an unthinking Dungeon Master who doesn't put any effort into determining DCs and it just selecting them by rote... basically nothing more than computer game.

Any DM with a knowledge of the game (and I think we can all agree that DMs should be learning the game they are running) knows that a skill check will normally give a PC 2-6 higher points than an ability check alone (the proficiency bonus). The DM can take this into account when they set a DC for a check. An ability check that does not have an applicable skill attached can have a different DC given to it than a skill check for which a proficiency could be applied.

A climbing check that would be STR (Athletics)? The DM could make it DC 15. A bend bars check for which it would be STR alone? DC 12. And this ability for DMs to select DCs as appropriate for their tables is the hallmark of the game (in my opnion.)

You know who are the people who don't like this though? Those players out there who keep wishing for a much larger chart of DCs that cover almost every single thing there possibly is to do. As though the thought is that the world has a set definition for what doing every single thing is for every character across every single campaign across every single setting. They want and need a "universal system" of Difficulty Classes.

But to me... that just removes any need for a Dungeon Master! At that point yeah, you could just use a computer. "Climb a 17 foot wall with 1/2 inch handholds one hour before sunrise after a light rain in October on the south side of the cliff face..." tick tick tick... modifier modifier modifier... checking... checking... checking... DING! DC 18.75."

That game is in my opinion a waste of time. Instead... an actual thinking DM can just look at the baseline chart of DCs... decide what the action ultimate is in the gradient of easy-moderate-hard-very hard... know whether they are asking for an ability check by itself or an ability check with possible skill application... and then just select a DC out of thin air that they think might best fit. And it doesn't have to be any sort of "exact", because the check is going to come and go immediately after its rolled and will forgotten about 10 seconds from now once the story progresses past that point anyway. So what the DC was will not be remembered and not be concerned about after that... so why go nutso trying to create the perfect one?
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I don't agree with this point, because it assumes the player is playing with an unthinking Dungeon Master who doesn't put any effort into determining DCs and it just selecting them by rote... basically nothing more than computer game.
But that's RAW


Any DM with a knowledge of the game (and I think we can all agree that DMs should be learning the game they are running) knows that a skill check will normally give a PC 2-6 higher points than an ability check alone (the proficiency bonus). The DM can take this into account when they set a DC for a check. An ability check that does not have an applicable skill attached can have a different DC given to it than a skill check for which a proficiency could be applied.

A climbing check that would be STR (Athletics)? The DM could make it DC 15. A bend bars check for which it would be STR alone? DC 12. And this ability for DMs to select DCs as appropriate for their tables is the hallmark of the game (in my opnion.)
That's not RAW.

If this should be the rules then it should have been the rule.

The assumption should be that DMs use the rules and alter when the rules hit rare times where it doesn't work.

If the DM altering the rule is default, then the rule does not work.
 
Last edited:

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
But to me... that just removes any need for a Dungeon Master! At that point yeah, you could just use a computer. "Climb a 17 foot wall with 1/2 inch handholds one hour before sunrise after a light rain in October on the south side of the cliff face..." tick tick tick... modifier modifier modifier... checking... checking... checking... DING! DC 18.75."
is this really so different to "Attack a bandit in Half-Plate with 12 dex, wearing a Shield, Defense fighting style, No Flanking... Not Prone... tick tick tick... modifier modifier modifier... checking... checking... checking... DING! AC 19."

or should we be improvising stats for enemies on a gradient of easy-moderate-hard-very hard too?
 

shadowoflameth

Adventurer
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.
Most of the complaints I see center around skills either not regularly being useful or being poorly defined as they are written. Perception and Investigation can be part of the same thing. If they are not, then Investigation should have a specific use that perception doesn't cover (directly examining something). Animal Handling is niche but if you're mounted becomes better. Perform can include proficiency with an instrument or a particular kind of performance. Medicine should interact with the changes being proposed to dying. i.e. a medicine check can make you 1hp. and still unconscious, give you a successful save against disease or poison, etc. Intimidate can just be one of the things that Persuasion can do. Most tool proficiencies need to be a lot more useful or thieves tools will continue to be the only one that many players want.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
You know who are the people who don't like this though? Those players out there who keep wishing for a much larger chart of DCs that cover almost every single thing there possibly is to do. As though the thought is that the world has a set definition for what doing every single thing is for every character across every single campaign across every single setting. They want and need a "universal system" of Difficulty Classes.

But to me... that just removes any need for a Dungeon Master! At that point yeah, you could just use a computer. "Climb a 17 foot wall with 1/2 inch handholds one hour before sunrise after a light rain in October on the south side of the cliff face..." tick tick tick... checking... checking... checking... DING! DC 18."
I don't think many asking for this.

The issue is that the designers chose bounded accuracy but made the DCs too high because they didn't realize high ACs and high DC are treated differently.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
I don't agree with this point, because it assumes the player is playing with an unthinking Dungeon Master who doesn't put any effort into determining DCs and it just selecting them by rote... basically nothing more than computer game.

Any DM with a knowledge of the game (and I think we can all agree that DMs should be learning the game they are running) knows that a skill check will normally give a PC 2-6 higher points than an ability check alone (the proficiency bonus). The DM can take this into account when they set a DC for a check. An ability check that does not have an applicable skill attached can have a different DC given to it than a skill check for which a proficiency could be applied.

A climbing check that would be STR (Athletics)? The DM could make it DC 15. A bend bars check for which it would be STR alone? DC 12. And this ability for DMs to select DCs as appropriate for their tables is the hallmark of the game (in my opnion.)

You know who are the people who don't like this though? Those players out there who keep wishing for a much larger chart of DCs that cover almost every single thing there possibly is to do. As though the thought is that the world has a set definition for what doing every single thing is for every character across every single campaign across every single setting. They want and need a "universal system" of Difficulty Classes.

But to me... that just removes any need for a Dungeon Master! At that point yeah, you could just use a computer. "Climb a 17 foot wall with 1/2 inch handholds one hour before sunrise after a light rain in October on the south side of the cliff face..." tick tick tick... modifier modifier modifier... checking... checking... checking... DING! DC 18.75."

That game is in my opinion a waste of time. Instead... an actual thinking DM can just look at the baseline chart of DCs... decide what the action ultimate is in the gradient of easy-moderate-hard-very hard... know whether they are asking for an ability check by itself or an ability check with possible skill application... and then just select a DC out of thin air that they think might best fit. And it doesn't have to be any sort of "exact", because the check is going to come and go immediately after its rolled and will forgotten about 10 seconds from now once the story progresses past that point anyway. So what the DC was will not be remembered and not be concerned about after that... so why go nutso trying to create the perfect one?
Have you not read the dmg, specifically page 238 where they still have a DC ladder? 5e removed the subsystem that allows the gm and players to agree on how DCs should be set and adjusted. That didn't get rid of the example DC list, it just made it so no table uses a similar method to adjust it & that the table itself is incapable of even carrying PC abilities.

As noted, the DC table you disparage exists in 5ebut it only serves one purpose now. That purpose is to give RAW justification for why a player will feel justified at being outraged enough to bully the GM into stepping back should the GM actually "put any effort into determining DCs" as you note. Worse still the frayed remnants fail on both sides of the GM screen with literally any single instance of advantage or disadvantage nullifying any hypothetically infinite number of reasons why the other should be present.... That nullification only works if mary sue & GM's girlfriend style results are the primary design goal.

For good measure they even put that DC scale on PHB 174 to ensure that the players know without question that the GM is making up new DCs if the GM dares to "put any effort into determining DCs".
 

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