D&D 5E "Make a Strength (History) roll."

I prefer things done this way, but always expect the player to sell me on it. This usually isn't super hard, I am very motivated by the Rule of Cool and/or the Rule of Interesting.* History+Strength is obviously hyperbolic, so that one seems unlikely barring a truly impressive explanation, but even relatively out-there ideas like Constitution+Investigation or Intelligence+Athletics can make sense.

*"Interesting" does not strictly need to be "cool," just something that gets my mental wheels turning.
 

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Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
My pre-3e homebrew system allowed freeform Skills and Knacks, everything was an ability check (including combat) with players able to define their own skills or knacks (feats) to add a bonus.

So the idea of Str+dwarfish+history to allow a Dwarf to open a sealed vault in an old dwarf mine was perfectly valid.

Str+ dwarf+architect* gives architecture advantage to the roll
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Except in 5e there is an explicitly allowed, possible additional step: the player making the case for a proficiency after the ability check has been called for. It isn't an optional rule and while whether the proficiency applies is up to the GM, the asking is NOT up to the GM.
Again, I don’t think there’s really any value in arguing whether it’s RAW or not. Assuming for the sake of argument that it’s a house rule, I still think it’s one that there’s good reason to consider using, which I have provided previously in this thread.
 

cbwjm

Legend
One of the tools available to GMs and players in 5E is non-standard combinations of ability scores and proficiencies. It doesn't come up very often in my experience, but sometimes odd pairings make for interesting moments in play -- or, rather, interesting moments in play call for the odd pairings. I remember having PCs make Charisma (Athletics) checks to entertain a crowd in the arena, and have sometimes let them make things like Intelligence (Stealth) to try and surmise how an assassin or thief infiltrated a crime scene.

Relatedly, I sometimes let players make checks with proficiency based on their backgrounds or their class (and choosing an appropriate ability score). The 5E proficiency list is narrow and specific and sometimes it is easier to lean on "secondary skills" from the AD&D days.

What are your thoughts on non-standard proficiency and ability scores?
I definitely use them, Charisma (Investigation) to represent a "streetwise" skill. I did start a thread asking for ideas on different ability/skill usage a while back (apparently all the way back in september 2020) people had a lot of ideas for intelligence.
 


Larnievc

Adventurer
I really like them. I’ve had players make a history constitution check to do a bit of archeological digging and then an intelligence history check to date the bracers he found then a charisma history check to sell them to a collector.

I think of it like the Story Teller system’s abilities + attributes (or what ever it’s called).
One of the tools available to GMs and players in 5E is non-standard combinations of ability scores and proficiencies. It doesn't come up very often in my experience, but sometimes odd pairings make for interesting moments in play -- or, rather, interesting moments in play call for the odd pairings. I remember having PCs make Charisma (Athletics) checks to entertain a crowd in the arena, and have sometimes let them make things like Intelligence (Stealth) to try and surmise how an assassin or thief infiltrated a crime scene.

Relatedly, I sometimes let players make checks with proficiency based on their backgrounds or their class (and choosing an appropriate ability score). The 5E proficiency list is narrow and specific and sometimes it is easier to lean on "secondary skills" from the AD&D days.

What are your thoughts on non-standard proficiency and ability scores?
 


Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
The benefits creativity outweigh any costs in time, imo.

Oh…that’s an interesting twist. So far the position I’ve understood is “both paths get you there so I like the one where you talk more.” I didn’t realize (maybe from reading on my phone) that you thought the iterative one results in more creativity.

I feel the opposite (of course!). One version is “here is this problem your character faces; using all the tools in your toolbox, come up with a plan at which your character is most likely to succeed.”

The other is (at least in my experience) “throw something out there and see how the DM reacts. If it looks like they may let you do it, add some more detail to improve your odds. Repeat until success seems likely.”

So, yeah, I guess either gets you there but IMO those are two different "there's", and I just prefer the storytelling and problem solving of the first one. It feels more intentional, and less of a fishing expedition with the DM. YMMV: you may imagine/experience a very different dynamic.
 

Reynard

Legend
Oh…that’s an interesting twist. So far the position I’ve understood is “both paths get you there so I like the one where you talk more.” I didn’t realize (maybe from reading on my phone) that you thought the iterative one results in more creativity.

I feel the opposite (of course!). One version is “here is this problem your character faces; using all the tools in your toolbox, come up with a plan at which your character is most likely to succeed.”

The other is (at least in my experience) “throw something out there and see how the DM reacts. If it looks like they may let you do it, add some more detail to improve your odds. Repeat until success seems likely.”

So, yeah, I guess either gets you there but IMO those are two different "there's", and I just prefer the storytelling and problem solving of the first one. It feels more intentional, and less of a fishing expedition with the DM. YMMV: you may imagine/experience a very different dynamic.
As usual, I don't think that binary choices really cover the breadth of possibilities and there is so much missing context in these things, the fact is it really isn't a choice between "all information before" or "always make post declaration adjustments." Real play almost never works out so cleanly. As such i am just speaking in generalities and preferences, and that comes down to this: by leaving the door open for the player to make some request or argument after I call for a Strength check, there is the potential for creativity in that space of action resolution as well. That isn't to say there isn't creativity prior to that, or even that i don't see the value in clear communications between and by players and GM so that a post declaration negotiation isn't necessary. And obviously, in most cases, it won't even be necessary since everyone knows what the circumstances and stakes are. My argument is very narrowly limited to this: I don't shut the door on continuing the conversation just because I called for the check.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
As usual, I don't think that binary choices really cover the breadth of possibilities and there is so much missing context in these things, the fact is it really isn't a choice between "all information before" or "always make post declaration adjustments." Real play almost never works out so cleanly.

Agreed; I’m only describing the tilt of the scale to the side I prefer.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Which part is common in your experience? Players coming up with non-standard Ability-proficiency combinations or players trying to game the system?

You weren’t asking me, but:
a) Non-standard ability score:skill pairings are great. Is an opposition to that what is being conveyed here?
b) I don’t see either approach encouraging their use more. If that’s what is meant by “more creativity” then I definitely disagree. What encourages their use is…encouraging their use. Once players realize that’s on the table they get more creative.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I respect that but disagree. The benefits in creativity outweigh any costs in time, imo.
Why do you think announcing the creative approach after the roll is called for is more creative than doing so before? If anything, I would think it would more likely reduce creative thinking because they don’t have to come up with an approach that will allow them to apply an unorthodox skill on actions where a roll doesn’t end up being called for.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I really like them. I’ve had players make a history constitution check to do a bit of archeological digging and then an intelligence history check to date the bracers he found then a charisma history check to sell them to a collector.

I think of it like the Story Teller system’s abilities + attributes (or what ever it’s called).
You forgot the dexterity history check to clean them properly without damaging them. That's step 2! ;)
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I’m starting to think the difference is between interaction with the environment as described by the DM, versus interaction with the DM to suss out how they are going to rule. And I suppose the choice between the two depends on the DM and the overall dynamic at the table.

This bit about the latter being “more creative” makes me suspect we are starting from very different experiences around the table. Which would explain why the two sides seem to have so much trouble making sense of each other.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
You forgot the dexterity history check to clean them properly without damaging them. That's step 2! ;)

I know you meant it in jest but:

I'm 100% FOR using alternate stats for ability checks;

I'm 100% AGAINST roll until you fail type challenges. For ex. to recover the document requires 4 skill checks all using different abilities and if you fail even 1 - document is destroyed - boo! That's just setting up for failure.

Now, that doesn't mean I dislike properly structured skill challenges, with possible failures, successes, success with a cost/setback etc. Those can be great.

Just a thought.
 

I think the former is pretty common. I’m not sure what you mean by the latter.
I’ll quote your initial post (and the post it was replying to):
I think it is important to note that these situations are, by their very nature, uncommon and thus the extra negotiation will be likewise uncommon. Generally speaking i agree with them about the process, I just don't don't have any problem with allowing the player to apply some creative problem solving prior to the dice being rolled. And I think the rules support and expect that kind of thing.

Again, I disagree. In my experience it’s pretty common.
There are two ways of interpreting your statement.

One, if players are permitted to ask to add a proficiency after the DM calls for a check, it will be common for players to ask rather than to describe how they execute the task in the first place. I don’t think there is any dispute that this is the case, but @FitzTheRuke , @Reynard and me consider this a feature, not a bug, whereas you and @iserith consider this the opposite.

The second way to interpret the statement is that if players are permitted to ask to add a proficiency after the DM calls for a check, it will be common for players to game the system by “throwing everything and seeing what will stick”. In this case, I don’t think there is a dispute that this is generally negative, but there is a dispute about how common it is.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The second way to interpret the statement is that if players are permitted to ask to add a proficiency after the DM calls for a check, it will be common for players to game the system by “throwing everything and seeing what will stick”. In this case, I don’t think there is a dispute that this is generally negative, but there is a dispute about how common it is.
If the rules are interpreted the way some are looking at it (clearly I don't agree with that interpretation), then the players really aren't "gaming the system" in this instance. That interpretation means the players are not only expected to do that, but should do it since that's a reliable path to success. It would seem weird to me to write a rule the players are expected to follow, then view it as negative that they actually do it. If an interpretation of a rule is leading to a "generally negative" outcome, it starts with the interpretation in my view. The way @Charlaquin and I are looking at it, this can't actually happen.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I know you meant it in jest but:

I'm 100% FOR using alternate stats for ability checks;

I'm 100% AGAINST roll until you fail type challenges. For ex. to recover the document requires 4 skill checks all using different abilities and if you fail even 1 - document is destroyed - boo! That's just setting up for failure.

Now, that doesn't mean I dislike properly structured skill challenges, with possible failures, successes, success with a cost/setback etc. Those can be great.

Just a thought.
Totally agreed.
 

Reynard

Legend
If the rules are interpreted the way some are looking at it (clearly I don't agree with that interpretation), then the players really aren't "gaming the system" in this instance. That interpretation means the players are not only expected to do that, but should do it since that's a reliable path to success. It would seem weird to me to write a rule the players are expected to follow, then view it as negative that they actually do it. If an interpretation of a rule is leading to a "generally negative" outcome, it starts with the interpretation in my view. The way @Charlaquin and I are looking at it, this can't actually happen.
I don't think it is going to be as common a result as you seem to be saying. Players, by and large, play in good faith and aren't out to break the game and make it less fun for themselves. But many are, in my experience, kind of scattered and spontaneous. The benefit of explicitly allowing them to ask about proficiency after the roll has been called for (as, again, the rules do) is to not punish them because it took them a sec or because they missed something or because the lightbulb went on after the fact. And it allows the GM to clarify and embellish the situation as necessary. No one at the table is a computer. The creativity is the point.
 

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