D&D 5E Messing with Skills - Martial, Arcane, Religion and specializations


A for-thought idea (that needs further roughing out) to put some extra value on skills.

For this, each class selects 1 additional starting skill from their skill list. A class’s skill list is modified as noted below:

Barbarian: Add Martial to skill list
Bard: Add Martial to skill list
Cleric: Add Martial to skill list
Druid: no change to skill list
Monk: Add Martial to skill list
Paladin: Add Martial to skill list
Ranger: Add Martial to skill list
Rogue: Add Arcane, Martial, Performance and Religion to skill list
Sorceror: no change to skill list
Wizard: no change to skill list

Special Rules: If a race would gain proficiency in a skill, it gets a specialization in an equivalent skill or specialization.

Proficiency in a skill. Proficiency in a skill allows you to use your proficiency bonus when making attack rolls or skill checks. In the case of spells, proficiency in the appropriate spellcasting skill allows you to add your Proficiency bonus to the spell DC. Thus, a fighter with proficiency in the Martial skill at 1st level adds +2 to attack rolls with Simple or Martial weapons, whether they are melee, thrown or ranged weapons. Likewise, a Wizard with the Arcane skill would calculate their spell DCs as 8 + Int modifier + proficiency bonus.

Expertise & Specialization: Instead of the normal rules, Expertise grants a +2 bonus to a specific subgroup of a skill, known as a Specialization. Specialization bonuses from overlapping specializations (ex., Martial (Slashing) and Martial (Swords)) do not stack - simply use the better bonus.

Every 4 levels, you gain two free specializations. You may only expend these specializations on class skills, either to gain a new specialization, or to increase the bonus from an existing specialization by 1. The bonus on a specialization cannot at any time exceed your Proficiency bonus.

Martial skill: This skill covers proficiency in all simple weapons and martial weapons used in melee, thrown or as ranged weapons. Specialties are Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing, Thrown, Ranged, Weapon Group (Axe, Club, Sword, Bow, Crossbow, Polearm, Unarmed, Natural) and Weapon (specific).

(Optional) Armor skill: This skill covers proficiency in all armors. You add half your proficiency bonus (and any Specialization or Expertise) to your AC when wearing the appropriate armor. Specialties are Unarmored, Light, Medium and Heavy. (Double optional: Shield (buckler, small, kite, wall) specialty).

Arcane skill: This skill is expanded to cover proficiency with “Arcane” magic, covering spellcasting for Wizards, Sorcerers, some Bards and some Warlocks. Specialties are Alchemy, Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, Transmutation and Runecasting.

Nature skill: This skill is expanded to cover “Primal” magic, covering spellcasting for Druids and Rangers. Specialties are Animals, Environment (specific), Fungi, Plants, Oozes, Seasons and Weather.

Religion skill: This skill is expanded to cover proficiency with “Divine” magic, covering spellcasting for Clerics, Paladins, Totem Barbarians, Monks and some Warlocks. Specialties are Animism, Diety (patheon or specific), Enlightenment, Domain (specific), or Patron (specific).

Performance skill: This skill is expanded to cover proficiency with Bardic/Performance magic, covering spellcasting for some Bards and exotic magical performers, such as Bladedancers. Specialities are Chant, Dance, Drum, Oratory, Song, Strings, Woodwind or Instrument (Specific).


Animal Handling: Animal (specific), Domestic, Training, Wild
Acrobatics: Balance, Dodge, Escape or Tumble
Athletics: Climb, Break, Grapple, Lift, Jump, Push or Swim
Deception: Cheating, Cons (specific), Rumormongering, Manipulation or Lying
Endurance (new Con skill): Force March, Hold Breath, Resist (Cold, Heat, Hunger, Poison, Thirst) and Wakefulness
History: Group (specific), Individual (specific), Location (specific), Mythical, Regional (specific), War (specific)
Insight: Body Language, Motive, Need, Social or Weakness
Intimidation: Blackmail, Implied, Physical or Verbal
Investigation: Forensics, Hidden, Observation, Research or Rumors
Medicine: Autopsy, Disease, First Aid, Poison, Prevention, Surgery or Taxidermy
Perception: Observation or Sense (specific)
Persuasion: Command, Empathy, Diplomacy, Gossip, Oratory, Philosophizing or Preaching
Sleight of Hand: Manipulate, Palm or Theft
Stealth: Hide, Silence, or Shadow
Survival: Delving, Foraging, Environment (specific), Firebuilding, Hunting, Shelter, Tracking or Tracking

Of course, there could be additional specialization to add (if you think of one), combined or dropped as the DM/group prefers.

Monster stat blocks do not change, and they are considered proficient with any weapons, skills, tools or gear they possess, unless specifically stated otherwise. Monsters with built-it expertise are considered to have a “general” specialization unless the DM wants to modify the stat block to a specific specialization.

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