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D&D 5E Let us "fix" Expertise!

Xeviat

Hero
A "Fix" I suggested way back when was to have double proficiency replace ability score. This way, expertise can be used for being goof in a skill you're not naturally talented in.

For O5E, advantage is a fine trade instead of double prof. It doesn't raise the ceiling.

Level Up is handling things differently, in a way that doesn't exactly stack, so it is reined in. I'm not sure if it's been previewed yet.
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Pretty much dead on what I was thinking. :) If Expertise always gave Advantage...even if you normally would be 'incapable of having it' (due to opposition, situation, whatever...), you get it. That would be one of those things where the Player could feel cool and say "Oh? What's that? NONE of you get Advantage right now for that? Oooo....geeeeeezzzz...man. That sucks! I guess I'll have to do it... WITH Advantage. Step aside and let the expert do it...". ;) It's nice to be able to brag unconditionally every now and then in a game. :)
Yeah, and then the player proceeds to roll a '6' and a '3', thus still failing. LOL.

To me... the only way to get the real feeling of "the expert gets to brag" is for the DM to not require a check at all from someone proficient in the check in question. If there's a History question to be answered, all the PCs without proficiency have to make INT (History) checks to remember the answer... whereas if one of the PCs is proficient in History then the DM just gives the answer without even needing to roll. That way there's no chance for the PC to screw it up by even rolling with Advantage.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Yeah, and then the player proceeds to roll a '6' and a '3', thus still failing. LOL.

To me... the only way to get the real feeling of "the expert gets to brag" is for the DM to not require a check at all from someone proficient in the check in question. If there's a History question to be answered, all the PCs without proficiency have to make INT (History) checks to remember the answer... whereas if one of the PCs is proficient in History then the DM just gives the answer without even needing to roll. That way there's no chance for the PC to screw it up by even rolling with Advantage.
This is pretty much where I've ended up, too.

3E had something like this with the idea of "trained" vs. "untrained" tasks--some things, if you aren't proficient*, you don't even get to try. No matter how lucky and dextrous you are, you can't pick locks if you don't know how. But there was nothing that went the other way; tasks where the untrained person could roll, and the trained person just succeeded with no questions asked. The latter is much more fun IMO. If you've invested in the skill, you get to step up and confidently say, "I got this." If you haven't, you can still try and hope to get lucky.

The problem with D&D skills is that they lay two whole pillars of the game--exploration and social interaction--on top of a mechanic (the attack roll) that was designed to be one small element of combat. Combat power scales along many different axes: Attack bonus, hit points, number of attacks, damage modifier, special abilities. A combatant's prowess is made up of all these factors multiplied together. So each individual factor must be kept within careful limits. With the attack roll, this takes the form of bounded accuracy.

But when you take the attack roll and make it stand on its own, while keeping those tight limits in place, what you get is a situation where the distinctions between characters are practically invisible. And so the designers put in hacks like expertise, and Reliable Talent, and various ways to get advantage on skill checks, so that the really skilled characters could stand out at least a little bit. But those hacks weren't available to most characters for a long time, and even now you have to pay an exorbitant price (half of a feat) to give your wizard a modest bonus on Arcana checks.

*In 3E, substitute "having skill ranks" for "proficient."
 

A concept I used with in my Star Wars homebrew was something called "Affinity". The goal was to make characters better at a skill, but still keep the top value range close, so you even values that challenge experts can be tried for non-experts. Also, I liked to make "easy" routine tasks notably simpler, without affecting the ceiling as much. Overall it should lead to more reliability for a very skilled (affine) character.

So my take back then was you could have Affinity or High Affinity. Affinity meant if you rolled below 10, you could reroll. High AFfinity meant if you rolled below 15, you could reroll.

In hindsight I think I would change some things about this. My current idea is to set the threshold at rolling below 5 (or rolling below 10), but also saying that any roll below 5 (or 10) would be treated as 5 (or 10). So you get a smaller possible spread of results. Routine tasks can potentially become auto-success, but even difficult challenges can be attempted by non-experts.
One could theoretically also try to o without the reroll mechanic, and just say you can't roll below 5 (or 10). That would mean a skilled and an affine character woudl find really difficult (anything that requires more than a natural 10) tasks equally difficult, but routine stuff could be considerably easier for the affine character.
 

Dausuul

Legend
One could theoretically also try to o without the reroll mechanic, and just say you can't roll below 5 (or 10). That would mean a skilled and an affine character woudl find really difficult (anything that requires more than a natural 10) tasks equally difficult, but routine stuff could be considerably easier for the affine character.
This actually exists in 5E. It's called Reliable Talent, an 11th-level rogue ability: "Whenever you make an ability check that lets you add your proficiency bonus, you can treat a d20 roll of 9 or lower as a 10."

Unfortunately, a feature that doesn't come online until 11th level won't show up at all in most campaigns, and even when the campaign does reach that level, it's only open to rogues. It's a shame, because (having played a high-level rogue) it transforms the experience of playing a skill monkey. Suddenly you have a bunch of stuff that you can just do, instead of rolling the dice every time to not fall on your face. You feel like an expert instead of an unreliable klutz.
 

pming

Legend
Yeah, and then the player proceeds to roll a '6' and a '3', thus still failing. LOL.

To me... the only way to get the real feeling of "the expert gets to brag" is for the DM to not require a check at all from someone proficient in the check in question. If there's a History question to be answered, all the PCs without proficiency have to make INT (History) checks to remember the answer... whereas if one of the PCs is proficient in History then the DM just gives the answer without even needing to roll. That way there's no chance for the PC to screw it up by even rolling with Advantage.
Since we are moving into the realm of "How do you handle Skill checks?"... there have already been some good threads on various modifications or interpretations for them.

For me, if you "have" the skill, even if another PC rolls higher, your PC "does it better. In a nutshell, if you don't have the skill and succeed...you did it. Barely or not impressively, or "it will pass" (call it 50% to 65%). A PC that HAS the skill and succeeds, does it AT LEAST "it will pass" even if they fail by a couple points (usually I cap that at 5; so a roll of 7 with a DC 12 will still have the skilled PC "pass", but only "minimally"). If he makes it...it's easily better than the non-skilled PC. For truly amazing successes, with the Skill, well, that's how you get, "Masterwork", "Exquisite" and "Legendary" items/successes.

So yeah. "Who has History?", the PC that does is the one who knows the basics and some specifics. Obscure history reference? Only the PC with the actual Skill will be able to accurately recall the info if he succeeds; the others are going to get "commoner info"....misplaced dates, messed up names, wrong city names, incorrect familial or fealty ties, etc...but still generally "correct"...to some degree.

Yes, this means in my game success/failure of a roll for something "unusual/obscure/difficult" doesn't tend towards the absolute side of things; everyone can get some things wrong....even an expert.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

ECMO3

Hero
I again must disagree. Many monsters do not get proficiency bonuses to many skills. Athletics is a common one, I had a grapple barb that could grab all sorts of things because they didn’t have proficiency, perception is the same.
High CR monsters often have high statistics too. A Pit Fiend for example has four abilities that are 22 or higher (and the other two are an 18 and a 14).

Your 20 strength expert 15th level grappler (+15) is still going to fail a grapple contest against a Pit Fiend quite often, 30% of the time to be exact. That of course assumes you make your save against being frightened, fail that save and your chance is actually below 50%.
 
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This severely nerfs the Rogue class. The difference between expertise and proficiency in tier 2 goes from +3 to +1.
This is really a big part of the issue.

If the Rogue class didn't need expertise, then it wouldn't really be needed at all.

Personally I'd prefer to rejig the class somewhat so that they get reliable talent earlier, and give them something else at higher levels. (Perhaps give them reliable talent in two skills at level 1 rather than all). This actually probably serves the purpose better as it makes the Rogue reliable at the things they should be good at (which Expertise has never done very well).
 

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