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D&D 5E How Would You Implement Skill Deficiencies in D&D 5e?


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MarkB

Legend
I think there is a simpler solution to this - gating things behind proficiencies.

If you want there to be tasks that can only be performed by trained individuals, and not by trained individuals plus anyone who rolls a 20, just don't allow characters without the relevant proficiency to roll.
And likewise, if it's something easy that any trained individual should be good at, don't require anyone with proficiency to roll. They just straight-up succeed.
 


77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
When we played Tomb of Annihilation we all got skill subspecialites like Fishing, Foraging, Cooking, Navigating, etc. so that the wilderness-travel stuff wasn't just always being handled by the guy with Survival. The specialty would give you a +2. The system worked reasonably well.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
. . . This thread is about how skills are simplistic. . .

My first idea was pretty simple and obvious: have characters subtract their Proficiency Bonus (or possibly half your proficiency bonus) from ability checks using skills that they are deficient in. However, this quickly comes up with a strange conundrum; why would you get worse at the skill as you leveled up? Why would a barbarian that's bad at Arcana have a worse bonus to Arcana at level 20 than they did at level 1?

Any thoughts? I'd appreciate some feedback, and any experiences that DMs/players have had with similar features. Do you think that this is a good idea or a bad one?
Skills are supposed to be simplistic. It's fifth edition.

Disadvantage on skill deficiencies is an idea that I saw earlier and would have to agree with, but...

5e already has a rule for deficiencies; they're called Flaws. But, since no one seems to use Flaws, why would anyone use Skill Deficiencies? Also, you shouldn't be rolling for something your character can't do. You only roll if there's a chance of success. So Skill Deficiencies don't need more of a rule than, "come up with an interesting way to stink at this, and you gain Inspiration."
 

Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
Skill deficiencies are represented by low ability scores and not being trained; adding in additional penalties is superfluous and punitive.

In my own games, there are a number of skill checks that I only allow for trained characters. If you are untrained in Arcana, you cannot identify spells or scrolls. Likewise, if you are untrained in Animal Handling, you can probably guide your horse in dangerous or tense situations, but you cannot handle anything more exotic (or do fancy horseback tricks).
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I think there is a simpler solution to this - gating things behind proficiencies.

If you want there to be tasks that can only be performed by trained individuals, and not by trained individuals plus anyone who rolls a 20, just don't allow characters without the relevant proficiency to roll.

In any case, it's worth remembering that it's not the players who decide what and when to roll. They just describe their actions and the DM requests rolls from whoever he wants, all of them, none of them, only a few of them, etc.

So, taking this into effect, there is absolutely no need for additional rules. As a DM, you can gate some rolls behind proficiency, other behind other circumstances, etc.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
That no one is good at everything in reality, while in the game a know-nothing on a topic can get a great roll?
Many of us have done the swapover to ability checks being 2d10 + modifier/proficiency, rather than 1d20. That has curved the bell and made the modifier/proficiency bonus (IE the "skilled" characters) be more important. If most dice rolls end up falling in the 8 to 13 range... the characters with the higher bonuses will succeed more often versus the ones that don't.

I have used it successfully in several games-- mainly the ones that have a large number of players. The more players at the table, the more checks get made on any one thing, and the greatly likelihood that someone with a bad modifier still rolls a '19' or '20' and beats the so-called trained characters, making it feel weird when it happens too often. Obviously it can still happen when rolling 2d10 as well... it just happens much less frequently and thus becomes a fun anomaly in the story, rather than a depressing state of affairs.

For smaller tables (4 players or so) I've usually just stuck with 1d20 because those anomalous "poorly-skilled character beats strongly-skilled character" happenings occur much less often.
 

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