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5E On meaningless restrictions

I don't see any reason to remove class skills. Given that you can RAW create a background that gives you any 2 skills you want, their is no need for changing the rules to accommodate the desire for a skill proficiency.

And, as others have said so effectively;
1) there are no meaningless restrictions, and
2) don't change things until you understand the implications and you have a clear goal in mind.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I’m generally in favor of lessening class restrictions, but to endorse Mephistopheles just a bit, I think it’s less about preventing abusive builds and more about keeping class identities separate (or “niche protection” if you prefer). YMMV on how much that matters, but I would say there comes a point where you might as well just do away with classes all together.
Niche protection is an important concept IMO. However, skill restriction doesn't add any Niche protection because there's already a RAW way to get any 2 skills you desire on a character (using background rules).

By the way, I've noticed a trend in this thread and you are guilty of it as well - where you argue against removing "meaningless restrictions" by bringing up what happens when "all restrictions, both meaningful and meaningless" are removed. I guess I just find it odd to see so many people arguing against a position that was never taken by me or anyone else in this thread.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Niche protection is an important concept IMO. However, skill restriction doesn't add any Niche protection because there's already a RAW way to get any 2 skills you desire on a character (using background rules).

By the way, I've noticed a trend in this thread and you are guilty of it as well - where you argue against removing "meaningless restrictions" by bringing up what happens when "all restrictions, both meaningful and meaningless" are removed. I guess I just find it odd to see so many people arguing against a position that was never taken by me or anyone else in this thread.
That’s a fair critique. I imagine part of the reason you’re seeing that is that the topic is “meaningless restrictions” instead of “class skill restrictions.” The discussion of class skills in your opening post comes off as an example, rather than the core of the topic, and since everyone is going to have different opinions on what constitutes a meaningful restriction, the result where a lot of people respond “well, you need SOME restrictions!” is almost predictable.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I guess it depends on your group and their affinity for min/maxing. Regarding skills, guess what most people will choose first once skills are FFA? Perception.
Perception is overrated IMO. I rarely choose it any more and I don't miss it at all. Sure it's important for one or 2 characters to have (especially high wisdom characters) - but I find minimal benefit from the 3rd or 4th party member having perception.

Saving throws might work well, I suppose. I guess the classes all got 1 major/minor and 1 mental 1 physical, but yeah...
IMO, saving throws currently have meaningfulness in the restriction due to concentration - but really shouldn't have that dependency in the first place.

I also don't see any reason why cleric spontaneous spellcasting should be alignment-based
No idea what this means.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
That’s a fair critique. I imagine part of the reason you’re seeing that is that the topic is “meaningless restrictions” instead of “class skill restrictions.” The discussion of class skills in your opening post comes off as an example, rather than the core of the topic, and since everyone is going to have different opinions on what constitutes a meaningful restriction, the result where a lot of people respond “well, you need SOME restrictions!” is almost predictable.
To be fair, this thread isn't just about class skill restrictions.

I see two camps of opposition to the idea
1. Removing any restriction is bad
2. Removing all restrictions is bad

I've seen both argued here. So to those in camp 1: What makes removing a restriction like class skill restrictions bad?

For those in camp 2 (a camp I'm myself in): Why aren't you mentioning that some restrictions can be removed without issue?
 

jmartkdr2

Adventurer
I generally don't remove restrictions overall, but I do ease up on a lot of them. This has a lot to do with having players I trust to not ruin the game with their OP build. Because I know these people and I know they wouldn't do it on purpose and would work with me to fix it if it did become a problem.

For class skills: yeah, sure, whatever. I don't see the niche protection argument as having much weight once you're looking at a specific, normal-sized group of players. So long as you're not stepping on another player's toes, it's cool.

In an open table type of game (AL, or just a large shared game) I'd take a very different tack: character creation as strict RAW, both to protect niches and avoid confusion.
 

You can already by core RAW effectively take any starting skills you want in almost every instance.

1) Background skills are officially just suggestions. By RAW you need DM permission to play a half-elf, but you don't need DM permission to take any 2 skills you want (and otherwise customize every part of your background other than making up a new background Feature). If you don't have Perception, it's because there were at least 2 other skills not on your class skill list you wanted more.

2) Class skills lists are rather generous. Really, the only ways they should be a problem at all is if you are ignoring RAW on #1, or you are making a character that is taking all skills that are weird for their class. I suppose if you were leveling dipping at 1st for mechanical reasons and your class concept was based more on your second class, that might possibly come up.

You can almost always just pick the starting skills you want from the whole list, without looking at the class list, and then go back and look at the class list and see that your build is valid. I have never seen a character not get exactly the skills they want RAW. So sure, maybe that's a reason to remove the rule--since it basically almost never comes up. I expect it's there to help new players.

So I see about 2 situations where there is an actual limitation. If you aren't playing by RAW and can't pick whatever skills you want for your background (way too many people miss that rule for some reason--it seems like more people miss it than know it!), or if you are mechanically dipping first level in a class themed completely incompatibly with you character concept.

So here's a challenge for anyone: Think of 5 or 10 character concepts you or a friend might want to play who wasn't trying to make this not work, write down which starting skills you want them to have, and then crack open the book and see how many of those characters aren't completely legal already. I'm guessing that you'll get all legal options unless you are intentionally trying to make a non-legal character (and depending on your memory of the books, you might still make a legal character when you're trying not to!)
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I find that a lot of things my table does not do, others would do regularly. Tracking things like arrows and components does not get done along with food and water unless it becomes important or the game moves to a desert or something.
I typically ignore those things as well.

I don't think we should do away with classes or races over just having a list of things you pick from.
I don't either. I'm glad that settled.

Character concept is good, but if I want to pick a elf to play I should accept their restrictions and not want him to have +2 strength and be able to reroll 1s.
Racial benefits are either genetic, cultural or a combination of both.

If they are viewed as genetic then they should not be open to choice - and maintaining that restriction is not meaningless because it's being to correspond to the fiction.

If they are viewed entirely as cultural then they should be open to choice - an elf could be raised by half-orcs etc.

If they are a combination then we don't have enough information to separate what is genetic and what is cultural and so the best answer would be either a case by case basis or to just treat them all as if they are genetic.

IMO, Race restrictions really depend on the source of the restriction and being true to that source - which may mean you keep the restrictions or that you don't.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
So I was thinking today. What restrictions in the game could we remove because they aren't really adding anything but instead just restricting choice for no good reason.

Take for example class skills. Why not open up every character to picking any skills. What harm does that do? It certainty helps with character concept.

Take for example saving throws. Why can't a player just choose 1 major (dex, con, wis) and 1 minor (str, int, cha) to be proficient in? What does that hurt? It certainly can help with character concept IMO.

Thoughts?
I'll forego the general discussion and just address these:

"What restrictions in the game could we remove because they aren't really adding anything but instead just restricting choice for no good reason."

"Good reason" is entirely subjective of course. What might be a great reason to one player is complete and useless nonsense to another.

"Take for example class skills. Why not open up every character to picking any skills. What harm does that do? It certainty helps with character concept."

Now, this is just my take of course. Class skills are selected because they represent the skills accessible to the character in the course of acquiring the rest of their features associated with their class. Background skills are separate because they represent the skills learned earlier in life. Usually, if a particular skill is desired, choosing an appropriate background will grant it. I've yet to encounter a class/background combination that didn't lend itself to a particular character concept.

Given how 5E is not an a-la-carte system, I personally have no issue with the system as is. Would it hurt anything? Well, not much at all really except for Bards. One of their unique features is that they can choose any skill. It is a minor there, but there you go.

"Take for example saving throws. Why can't a player just choose 1 major (dex, con, wis) and 1 minor (str, int, cha) to be proficient in? What does that hurt? It certainly can help with character concept IMO."

The same idea holds for saving throws with the class granting the features. The only strange thing about saves is some classes have saves which will follow their strengths (such as a Barbarian--likely high STR and CON--gaining proficiency in STR & CON saves) while others might only have one (such as Monk--likely high DEX and WIS, but STR & DEX saves). Personally, I like having proficiency in saves where my abilities aren't as likely to be high, to balance things out.

The choice of one strong save and one weak one is fine, of course, and I don't think it would hurt much of anything. We have toyed with the idea at our table, but found 90% of the time the choices would just have been the default anyway. One option I thought about was offering a strong save and two weak saves or two strong saves.

Other than the aforementioned Bard and have any skills, the options you purpose wouldn't hurt much of anything IMO. I agree with many that much of the skill choices would likely be the same as a skill list or background anyway but allowing it should be fine.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
You can already by core RAW effectively take any starting skills you want in almost every instance.

1) Background skills are officially just suggestions. By RAW you need DM permission to play a half-elf, but you don't need DM permission to take any 2 skills you want (and otherwise customize every part of your background other than making up a new background Feature). If you don't have Perception, it's because there were at least 2 other skills not on your class skill list you wanted more.

2) Class skills lists are rather generous. Really, the only ways they should be a problem at all is if you are ignoring RAW on #1, or you are making a character that is taking all skills that are weird for their class. I suppose if you were leveling dipping at 1st for mechanical reasons and your class concept was based more on your second class, that might possibly come up.

You can almost always just pick the starting skills you want from the whole list, without looking at the class list, and then go back and look at the class list and see that your build is valid. I have never seen a character not get exactly the skills they want RAW. So sure, maybe that's a reason to remove the rule--since it basically almost never comes up. I expect it's there to help new players.

So I see about 2 situations where there is an actual limitation. If you aren't playing by RAW and can't pick whatever skills you want for your background (way too many people miss that rule for some reason--it seems like more people miss it than know it!), or if you are mechanically dipping first level in a class themed completely incompatibly with you character concept.

So here's a challenge for anyone: Think of 5 or 10 character concepts you or a friend might want to play who wasn't trying to make this not work, write down which starting skills you want them to have, and then crack open the book and see how many of those characters aren't completely legal already. I'm guessing that you'll get all legal options unless you are intentionally trying to make a non-legal character (and depending on your memory of the books, you might still make a legal character when you're trying not to!)
If the restriction is avoidable in practice then that's just further evidence it can be removed completely. If nothing else it allows you to pick a background based on your character rather than the skill benefits it provides you. That's a win in my book.

I think your challenge is a bit biased because we are so used to certain standard d&d characterisms that we are prone to pick skill combinations that are going to work anyways.

My first: a fighter that's a diplomatic spy. Important characteristics, talking to and reading other people to get what he wants. Being able to pick locks to see what people are hiding when he finds an opportune moment. He's a trained fighter as a last resort.

To me the most important skills for him would be:
Persuasion
Deception
Insight
Thieves Tools

And I know the accusation will be that this is a character that I designed to not work - but the thing is I can design 100's of such characters - and they are all characters I never think about because I know they won't work in the 5e system. So whatever inspiration I may have had is getting instantly filtered out.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I disagree. The movement restriction makes the Druid feel weird and arbitrary as hell, especially the swim speed restriction.

Even for flying, it’s weird. Turning into a bird isn’t the same as gaining flight.
At most, it should be gates behind level 5, when wizards can get Fly.
Something can be an arbitrary restriction from a fictional perspective and still have a reason for existing from a game balance perspective.

Consider that you've already accepted the argument on it's face by your admission that turning into a bird is okay to restrict to level 5+. Once you've done that you've accepted a purpose to such restrictions - even if you disagree about the exact level the restrictions get lifted.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I wouldn't remove anything just because I saw no reason not to remove it. I would only remove something if I saw significant positive benefit in doing so.
You don't see significant benefit in allowing a character to take whatever compliment of skills works best for the character concept? I do.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
It's a social game played by several people at the same time. Different classes having different defined roles allows groups to play together in a functional manner with minimal coordination, ensuring that each character is likely to have a different concept and shine in different areas, thereby forming a group that is stronger than the individual parts.

If you removed the "unnecessary" restrictions that differentiated the classes, then you'd create an incoherent design that pitted individual optimization against party dynamics. Almost invariably there are different choices that are just straight up better than other options. With complete freedom of choice, you'd be under pressure to choose the most obvious choices - the skills, saving throws, etc. that were most likely to be beneficial to you. This pressure would be in tension with your role in a party. By giving different archetypes different areas of weakness and strength, this tension is removed and the overall game improved.
Why are you arguing against complete freedom of choice when no one has taken the position that you should have complete freedom of choice?
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
You don't see significant benefit in allowing a character to take whatever compliment of skills works best for the character concept? I do.
I think that one can probably choose a background that works, and many DMs (I'm one) will work with a player to slightly alter the backgrounds in the PHB.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I think that one can probably choose a background that works, and many DMs (I'm one) will work with a player to slightly alter the backgrounds in the PHB.
Sure, but maybe I want to play the inept thief that turned to adventuring because he sucked as a thief. In which case my background would be thief, but I wouldn't have any skills from that background. Perhaps my real talent was patching myself up after the skirmishes (medicine) and knowing about valuable historical artifacts (history).

That is - just because it's my background that doesn't imply I was any good at the background.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Sure, but maybe I want to play the inept thief that turned to adventuring because he sucked as a thief. In which case my background would be thief, but I wouldn't have any skills from that background.

That is - just because it's my background that doesn't imply I was any good at the background.
You mean the thief background, not the thief class? Pick a different background and reskin it. There are pretty generic backgrounds for urban and rural life, at least.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Why are you arguing against complete freedom of choice when no one has taken the position that you should have complete freedom of choice?
I believe I said, "With complete freedom of choice, you'd be under pressure to choose the most obvious choices - the skills, saving throws..."

If the point of removing restrictions on which skills a character may have isn't to give the player complete freedom of choice to choose the skills they prefer, what is the point?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I believe I said, "With complete freedom of choice, you'd be under pressure to choose the most obvious choices - the skills, saving throws..."

If the point of removing restrictions on which skills a character may have isn't to give the player complete freedom of choice to choose the skills they prefer, what is the point?
One can have complete freedom of choice in the skills they prefer and still be restricted by class and race abilities. That would only be partial freedom of choice in my book. Maybe not what you intended though?
 

Celebrim

Legend
One can have complete freedom of choice in the skills they prefer and still be restricted by class and race abilities.
Yes.

That would only be partial freedom of choice in my book.
No, because you just called it complete freedom of choice in your book. If it was only partial freedom of choice, why didn't you call it partial freedom of choice?

Oh?

Maybe not what you intended though?
What I intended is what I wrote. You "confusion" about it is not reasonable.
 

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