Is expertise badly designed?

Expertise is a substantial part of what these classes get. It is much of what they contribute to the party. Rogues, in particular, have pretty one note play outside of skills (I sneak attack. Next turn: I sneak attack),
OK, yes, there is that. It's as much a comment on the class as the mechanic, tho.
and it is the main time that Bards get the spotlight rather than being the person in the back buffing and debuffing for the glory of others.
A partial selection of Bard spells that might not be seen as strictly sitting in back buffing & debuffing for others' glory (not that there's anything wrong with that!): Vicious Mockery, Thunderwave, Heat Metal, Shatter, Stinking Cloud, Polymorph, Animate Objects, Dominate Person, Eyebite, Irresistible Dance, Mass Suggestion, Arcane Sword, Symbol, Dominate Monster, Feeblemind, Power Word Stun, Power Word Kill, True Polymorph.
Then, y'know, sometimes utility spells aren't strictly for others' glory, either.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
This is one of those issues where I think the theoretical doesn't match the experiential.

I think on paper people look at expertise and believe there will be a meaningful number of instances where the ability violates the principals of bounded accuracy in a way which would harm their games.

But in experience, after a lot of people have used this ability in practice, I've almost never seen anyone state they found it messed with their fun, with their assumptions about a challenge's difficulty, or any other aspect of the game.

I think the gap comes down to the fact this game has much more forgiving tolerances built into it than is assumed. The bounded accuracy numbers, particularly for skills, just are not that firm. There is enough room at the top and bottom end of the challenge charts to handle a bump like this without it blowing any built-in protections.

_

An example: The idea that the rogue who focuses on Arcana with expertise in Arcana outshines a Wizard with the Arcana skill.

First, the instances of this coming up are extremely rare. Rogues alone are somewhat rare (many consider them lower in power overall, particularly relative to the Wizard), choosing a high intelligence for a rogue would be rare and choosing one that is AS HIGH as a Wizard would be rarer still. And then choosing Arcana as one of their very few skills to apply expertise to (instead of something like perception, which everyone wants, or rogue-like skills such as slight of hand or acrobatics or the charisma based skills) is even more rare.

The combination is so rare that the effect on the game becomes fairly meaingless as Arcana checks will never be set so high as to assume a rogue, with a high intelligence, proficiency in arcana, and expertise in arcana. Sure, they could, in theory, have a +15 in Arcana. But the tolerances of the game were already set expecting a Wizard with a high intelligence and proficiency to be able to hit those challenges already (which will max out around a DC 30). So what, the rogue is hitting those challenges "even more"? In-game, it essentially isn't a big deal.

The assumption that you have a DC 35+ for something just...isn't a good one. 5e isn't like 3e. The DCs don't continue to go up like that over levels. They max out at DC 30 (nearly impossible) on a fixed chart which applies for all levels, 1-20, and most checks will be DC 20 (hard) or lower throughout the game.

Your 13th level Wizard will have probably a +10 bonus. Your rogue with expertise in Arcana who decided to not dump intelligence will probably have around a +12 bonus (because who are we kidding - you didn't max out intelligence and it was probably your third-highest stat).

OK, and? Most of your checks are at a DC 20 (hard) or lower. Both of you will make the check most of the time anyway. Your rogue might make it slightly more often than you, at the sacrifice of their precious expertise ability use for that skill...which is fine. You're likely playing up this aspect of your rogue in-game because the role-playing aspect would become meaningful if you're a rogue with expertise in arcana. The wizard didn't sacrifice nearly as much to get to nearly the same achievement.

Both of you can potentially make even the most nearly impossible check with luck, so in-game this just isn't breaking anything meaningful and you should be having fun with your arcana-focused rogue who probably has a penchant for Indiana Jones type tomb raiding for arcane objects of power without stepping on the toes of your Wizard who is regularly breaking the laws of physics with their spells. Both of you can make most Arcana checks, and the Wizard is probably happy he has someone else in the party able to make these checks if he or she happens to fail one because most parties don't have that kind of backup for that particular skill. I doubt the Wizard's player will feel like their being outshone. After all, it's not a counterspell check or a fireball - it's mostly just figuring stuff out concerning arcane things, which helps the adventure move along.
It's not just niche protection. I've run into difficulties in my games because of an arcana expertise wizard(who made the artificer look a fool), a stealth expertise AT rogue who never left Sharn* before the campaign (and made the ranger's stealth even in favored terrain look pointless), & a persuade expertise bard(constant "these aren't the droids your looking for" & worse) during different games. All three had 20 in their base stat & all three could expect automatic success against all but plot armor level aided NPCs. People use the arcana expertise example because niche invasion does cause hurt feelings at the table, but it's not the only problems it causes & people have brought up some of them in this thread.

*A place where "nature" basically doesn't exist
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
... Arcane Sword?

Really?

Spritual Weapon's slow cousin?

(Less damage than Spiritual Weapon would have at about that level, takes an action to activate, requires concentration, otherwise identical. Missing the best features of Spiritual Weapon (no concentration). Cannot be upcast further (even if you wanted to)).

A bad choice for "having spotlight".
 

MwaO

Explorer
shakes head You can't just quote parts you like.

Here's the rest of that ...

"This means that characters, as they gain levels, see a tangible increase in their competence, not just in being able to accomplish more amazing things, but also in how often they succeed at tasks they perform regularly."
Ok...not sure why you think generic boilerplate that could apply to any game system, including any other edition of D&D overcomes the direct explicit parts of Bounded Accuracy where they say level-based numerical bonuses to everyone's to-hit score, PCs and monsters, such as Proficiency won't exist?
 
... Arcane Sword? Really?
SRD for Mordenkainen's.
It's not buffing or de-buffing, FWIW.

All three had 20 in their base stat & all three could expect automatic success against all but plot armor level aided NPCs.
There really should be no expectation of automatic success in 5e. The DM decides success/failure/uncertainty, only if that last does he then set a DC, presumably with full knowledge of the PC's bonus, so should not be setting it at something that can't fail (nor can't succeed).

People use the arcana expertise example because niche invasion does cause hurt feelings at the table, but it's not the only problems it causes & people have brought up some of them in this thread.
Niche protection has mostly been abandoned by 5e, and it seems like Expertise is get'n out there, more characters having access to it or the equivalent...
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
It's not just niche protection. I've run into difficulties in my games because of an arcana expertise wizard(who made the artificer look a fool), a stealth expertise AT rogue who never left Sharn* before the campaign (and made the ranger's stealth even in favored terrain look pointless), & a persuade expertise bard(constant "these aren't the droids your looking for" & worse) during different games. All three had 20 in their base stat & all three could expect automatic success against all but plot armor level aided NPCs. People use the arcana expertise example because niche invasion does cause hurt feelings at the table, but it's not the only problems it causes & people have brought up some of them in this thread.

*A place where "nature" basically doesn't exist
I'd point on the bard Obi-wan is using the Star Wars equivalent of a Charm spell on the storm troopers; it's not being good at lying, he's affecting their minds with "magic".

You can't use persuade to convince an NPC if the DM decides they aren't convinced. As pointed out no amount of persuasion is going to convince Elminster Mystra isn't real, the player can rolls D20s until the cows come home but the DM ultimately decides that NPCs will accept or not.

As for the rest, sneaking around a city isn't that different than a forest. You stick to shadows, watch your step, and keep out of the line of sight of anything you want to avoid as best as possible. The principles are identical, the only difference is what you want to use as camouflage if that's the goal.

For the Arcana expertise rogue there's usually a reason the players do that: because they want to succeed regularly on that check. Which for some reason has come up in their game as a failure frequently enough to warrant investing resources into it instead of something else.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I've run into difficulties in my games because of an arcana expertise wizard(who made the artificer look a fool),
...
People use the arcana expertise example because niche invasion does cause hurt feelings at the table, but it's not the only problems it causes & people have brought up some of them in this thread.
(Bolding mine)
How is Arcana not in a wizard's niche? If you have two characters who specialize in arcane magic... they're going to get in each others niches....

Or am I missing something?
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
I'd point on the bard Obi-wan is using the Star Wars equivalent of a Charm spell on the storm troopers; it's not being good at lying, he's affecting their minds with "magic".

You can't use persuade to convince an NPC if the DM decides they aren't convinced. As pointed out no amount of persuasion is going to convince Elminster Mystra isn't real, the player can rolls D20s until the cows come home but the DM ultimately decides that NPCs will accept or not.

As for the rest, sneaking around a city isn't that different than a forest. You stick to shadows, watch your step, and keep out of the line of sight of anything you want to avoid as best as possible. The principles are identical, the only difference is what you want to use as camouflage if that's the goal.

For the Arcana expertise rogue there's usually a reason the players do that: because they want to succeed regularly on that check. Which for some reason has come up in their game as a failure frequently enough to warrant investing resources into it instead of something else.
Noooo... moving about unnoticed in a crowded urban environment is an incredibly different skillset that relies heavily on things like SEP, social engineering, & more.... None of which is applicable to sneaking into say the den of a mother bear & is largely irrelevant to sneaking into a military fort. Obiwan did the equivalent of casting a charm spell & persuade can't go that far sure, but it can go to absurd levels when you have an absurdly high skill in a sandbox

... Arcane Sword?

Really?

Spritual Weapon's slow cousin?

(Less damage than Spiritual Weapon would have at about that level, takes an action to activate, requires concentration, otherwise identical. Missing the best features of Spiritual Weapon (no concentration). Cannot be upcast further (even if you wanted to)).

A bad choice for "having spotlight".
umm.... fyi I think you may have replied to the wrong thread?
(Bolding mine)
How is Arcana not in a wizard's niche? If you have two characters who specialize in arcane magic... they're going to get in each others niches....

Or am I missing something?
Arcana is in the wizards niche yes, but with too many things that used to be individual skills crammed into arcana, it made the wizard better at knowing stuff that is related to artificer. It was the equivalent of a computer programmer who knew more about EE than the specialized EE he worked with.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
(Bolding mine)
How is Arcana not in a wizard's niche? If you have two characters who specialize in arcane magic... they're going to get in each others niches....

Or am I missing something?
Arcana, the skill, is knowledge of magic and how it works.

A Rogue can become an academic, like Dr Jones, who knows everything about how magic works, but can't do any of it.

They might know more magic theory than the Wizard, but they cannot cast a single spell.

The Wizard is the applied magician.

As an applied magician they have picked up a pile of magical theory. But not as much as Dr Jones over there.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Arcana is in the wizards niche yes, but with too many things that used to be individual skills crammed into arcana, it made the wizard better at knowing stuff that is related to artificer. It was the equivalent of a computer programmer who knew more about EE than the specialized EE he worked with.
I don't see how it is a flaw in expertise when you make two characters you know are going to overlap.

And this, I say as I am running an Artificer. Yep, there's people out there with greater knowledge. So long as it is thematically appropriate for them to be really good... that's not a design problem.
 

Anoth

Explorer
The problem
Expertise isn't the best designed system ever. It's limiting towards classes that have no access to it, and it's just a number increase, which is effective, but can be a bit boring.
It's not bad though, there are much worse offenders of bounded accuracy in 5e, several of which were mentioned by previous posters.
ths problem is when they set DC for someone with expertise. Set the DC for a proficient person to pass. I personally am very happy with expertises being limited to rogues and Bards. That’s their feature. I don’t think it is driving people away from the game. It may be driving them towards the rogue and bard which is good. That is what they are designed for.
 
If automatically succeeding on class skills is unappealing to you, choose different skills for your expertise as a rogue. My rogue took expertise in perception and insight because he has a 10 wisdom. I used expertise to shore up areas of weakness rather than to further increase areas of strength.
 

Anoth

Explorer
Expertise is well designed.

Shoving and Grappling aren't. They should have been Saving Throws vs 8+Prof+Str.
I will add this is an example of little things I would like fixed if they ever make a 6E someday. Don’t throw out the system. Just fix the little things that are broken
 

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