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5E Professions in 5e

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think I'd just codify the Advantage thing to only apply to Ability Checks, to avoid the oddity of the Soldier and combat. If you're worried about in-combat things other than attack rolls, maybe limit it to out-of-combat--or unopposed, I guess, but that eliminates the benefits for your example of passing as a soldier.
Yeah, ability checks only. Yikes. I wasn't implying that the bonus should apply to combat (at all, ever), only that the purview of the profession was combat-oriented and might seem on the surface to lack ability checks to use it on.
 

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Yeah, ability checks only. Yikes. I wasn't implying that the bonus should apply to combat (at all, ever), only that the purview of the profession was combat-oriented and might seem on the surface to lack ability checks to use it on.
Oh. I see it's time to take the Reading Comprehension Module into the shop. Maybe they can adjust my Sarcasmometer while they're working.

I think a PC with Soldier Background is likely to have more relevant checks arise than someone with, say, Hermit Background. Depends on the campaign, of course (and on the Hermit).
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Oh. I see it's time to take the Reading Comprehension Module into the shop. Maybe they can adjust my Sarcasmometer while they're working.

I think a PC with Soldier Background is likely to have more relevant checks arise than someone with, say, Hermit Background. Depends on the campaign, of course (and on the Hermit).
Oh yeah, for sure. Although there's enough overlap with soldier and other skills that the advantage thing would need to be used sparingly. For Hermit, I can some situational uses attached to survival and maybe even perception in natural settings. The idea is pretty flexible.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So, from what people are saying and what I'm reading, maybe the best way to handle more professions in 5e is to expand the list of tool proficiences and be a little more open minded and flexible about what constitutes a toolkit.

So, for my Soldier example, a "Soldier's Tools" which would be things like a uniform, rank insignia, standard or guidon, regulations. . .things a Soldier might be issued or carry other than weapons, armor and camping supplies, and that proficiency with those items would be the game system's way of saying someone would have the core skill-set of a soldier.

Or Farmer's tools of a hoe, shovel, plow, wheelbarrow, seed bag etc. being for a farmer.

Or Lawyer's tools being a collection of law books.
My suggestion would be to play thr game without changes FIRST, doing your best to adapt to the new game, before you start writing house rules.
 

nomotog

Explorer
In cases where the profession skill might heavily overlap with an extant skill, say Lawyer and History for something to do with legal history I'd allow advantage on the roll. That gets a little bit trickier to adjudicate for something physical and combat related like Soldier, but even then I can think of examples, like giving advantage on deception checks to pass as a soldier, or advantage on attempts to persuade a soldier of something.
When it comes to overlap I would just not do anything extra. Just add proficiency if you have 1 or 10 that apply.
 


dave2008

Legend
I'm just trying to wrap my mind around a very different mindset of D&D.
In 5e everything is an ability check (mostly) that is then modified by any applicable proficiency you may have. That proficiency can come from different sources (skill, feature, background, tool, etc.) Is is both simpler and more complex.
 

I only read the first half of the thread, but I've noticed multiple people claim that sometimes only those who are proficient in a skill are allowed to attempt certain ability checks.

Where are you getting this? I'm pretty sure it's not in the PHB, and it doesn't sound like a variant or discussion in the DMG that I recall.

That is, in fact, the standard rule for tool proficiencies (even if it doesn't always make sense), but I'm curious where this rule is coming from regarding skills.

I'm just trying to wrap my mind around a very different mindset of D&D.

So, for example, if it's someone's background, letting them add their proficiency bonus to related tasks/knowledge from their background (that aren't already covered by other skills/proficiencies)?

Maybe letting players learn a profession (equivalent ability to being able to doing the checks with their background) with the same time/training rules for learning a language or a proficiency in a set of tools?

Like with my soldiering example, if it wasn't their background, but if during the campaign if someone spends 250 days in a regular army, let them gain essentially "proficiency" with soldiering and be able to use their proficiency bonus on appropriate checks?
I recommend thoroughly reading the DMG. It doesn't provide exactly what you're asking for, but it does provide some alternatives to the standard skill rules, and it provides a little bit of discussion about the ramifications of using them.

It's also worth noting that there has been some advice given more than once on here that is not part of the RAW. The DM has a lot of leeway in their immediate interpretation, but some people have interpreted more leeway into it than the books grant. Some of the additional leeway is found in the variant rules in the DMG as alternative ways to set up your campaign, not as options to use alongside the standard rules.

So, for instance, using the standard rules for skills but having the DM allow you to use your proficiency because it makes sense for your background isn't following the rules in either the PHB or the DMG. There is no provision for that in the RAW. Those are two different systems for handling proficiency bonus to ability checks out of about three or four (one in the PHB, the rest as alternatives in the DMG), of which you choose one.

I'm also not aware of any rule for granting Advantage as some sort of "super-proficiency", other than in Xanathar's Guide to Everything which suggests it as a reward for having both a tool proficiency and a skill that applies to the same task. It should be noted that Xanathar's Guide to Everything provides some alternate systems that are incompatible with the ones in the PHB or DMG, so you have to analyze the alternate rules in it and decide which you want to use and how that relates to the core rules--it isn't just plug and play with the core.

I bring all that up because I'm a stickly for accuracy, and because you're coming from editions where RAW is very important and needs to be understood to play. I want to make sure you know what RAW (or at least where to find it) in 5e so you can interpret everything.

All that being said, most of those suggestions are pretty good. For what you're looking for, I think your own suggestion I quoted is possibly your best option. It makes one simple change that allows you to add back in everything you want.

One thing that is important to remember is that skills and weapon/armor proficiencies are worth more than tools/languages. The former are harder to get and are based on character advancement--you can't get them with downtime. Tools and languages are more limited and can be acquired through downtime outside of the character advancement system. You might consider using that as a standard for this sort of thing. Ask yourself, "is this something that I want to be able to be acquired outside of class advancement?" and if so, it might build into the tool/language mechanic space. Just make sure it compares properly to the stuff that is normally gated that way.

Background Features are interesting because they provide an automatic success or benefit at something--and it must be something that isn't combat relevant. They don't grant you proficiency, they don't allow you to make rolls you couldn't, and they don't grant you Advantage. They just say this thing is true regarding your character. You have retainers. You can find food for a few people. Commoners will help you if it isn't problematic for them to do so.

That is cool from one perspective (I'm a fan of auto-powers like that), but it can be problematic from a rules perspective because sometimes the DM has to decide if something qualifies for automatic success. I can automatically find food for (I think it's 6, but I can't recall) people; what happens if I try to find food for 7 of us? I'm asking the commoners for help with something, and the DM is iffy on whether it's putting them at risk. What happens then? Well, the DM has to decide. You might reasonably say that in those cases you get a roll with Advantage. That works okay with the commoners, but not as well with the food (since you could get none). Or you might say you get the 6 people worth of food free and then roll to see if you get extra. The DM might determine what the maximum level of help you get from the commoners is, and then you can make a Charisma check to see if you can get it any higher. Those are probably better ways than just letting your roll with Advantage because they preserve the automatic benefit element of the background.

As far as just a random suggestion of something that I do in my group that might not fit as well but is relevant for the topic, I allow characters to learn a new Background Feature with downtime the same as they would learn a tool/language. It seems to fit better in that build space than the skill/weapon/armor space, and it's reasonable that you might pick this stuff up (in fact, if someone becomes a noble they should pick up that feature where people treat you differently, even if it takes some downtime to practice presenting themselves properly).
 

Parmandur

Legend
I only read the first half of the thread, but I've noticed multiple people claim that sometimes only those who are proficient in a skill are allowed to attempt certain ability checks.

Where are you getting this? I'm pretty sure it's not in the PHB, and it doesn't sound like a variant or discussion in the DMG that I recall.

That is, in fact, the standard rule for tool proficiencies (even if it doesn't always make sense), but I'm curious where this rule is coming from regarding skills.
Admittedly, it's only implied in the section of the DMG about setting DCs. This is something where performance practice comes into play, looking at the Adventure books that WotC produces as examples. Trained-only Skill checks are a tool Perkins makes frequent use of in these campaigns.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Admittedly, it's only implied in the section of the DMG about setting DCs. This is something where performance practice comes into play, looking at the Adventure books that WotC produces as examples. Trained-only Skill checks are a tool Perkins makes frequent use of in these campaigns.
In the DMG section about dealing with dice, I interpret the "middle path"--where sometimes you roll and sometimes you don't, and the DM decides which is which--as implying that any proficiency can be a basis for that decision. I mean, per the book anything can be the basis for that decision, and at least proficiency is something on the character sheets.

If you're doing that as DM, you should probably make it clear to the players, so they don't think their proficiencies aren't mattering.
 



prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I think one of the hardest lessons a new DM has to learn is when not to roll dice. Not rolling is, IMO, far more often the correct or useful ruling than new DMs might think.
Interesting results if they fail, interesting results if they succeed, chance of failure; or, I need an extent; or, I want to know who succeeds, for narrative reasons. Otherwise, I don't really want to roll.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Interesting results if they fail, interesting results if they succeed, chance of failure; or, I need an extent; or, I want to know who succeeds, for narrative reasons. Otherwise, I don't really want to roll.
For sure, if there are no consequences for failure that matter, then there's no need to roll. I do think it takes some practice to think along different vectors in these cases. A lock might not be a tough one, but maybe its rusty. Then the challenge then is opening it quietly (assuming that matters). Adverbs are a useful tool there - doing something quickly, quietly, unobtrusively, or whatever - those are all places where I'd call for a roll. Sometimes an auto success has it's own unintended consequences, but that's a different story.
 


dave2008

Legend
Okay, as I'm trying to learn 5e, and coming from a 2e and 3e heritage, I'm seeing a HUGE gap as I read through the Player's Handbook.

Are there no skills/proficiencies at all for a character to know a profession?
Things like this are primarily handled by backgrounds. The knight and the Soldier backgrounds come to mind. You can of course create a custom background.

To clarify @wingsandsword , if you need to do soldier things, a character or npc with the Soldier background (see the description in the PHB) can just do them. If the DM feels some soldier-like task needs a check, the DM should ask for an ability check and the player could add its proficiency bonus to that check. In addition, a character with the Soldier background can add its proficiency bonus to any ability check that the Athletics and Intimidate skills apply to.

The same basic principle is true for any other background (profession). It is a simplified way to cover a wide range of professional "skills."

EDIT: In addition, the assumption is that once your are an adventurer - that is your "profession." However, you can customize your character outside their profession with feats to pick features, skills, and proficiencies in other areas. Though I don't think there is a specific feat that allows a character to have the full profession of a background, I think it would be easy enough to work one up that give most if not all of the benefits of a background profession without making it OP for a feat.
 
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Remathilis

Legend
If there isn't a rule for it to quantify it, it doesn't exist in the game world. Points, scores, ranks, levels etc. are the basic nuts and bolts under which the game is built. A vague "describe it to the DM and roll" isn't a rule, it's barely a game.
I don't usually badwrongfun, but this the worst possible take on an RPG ever. To take a juvenile example; there is no rules for needing bathroom breaks in D&D, therefore no creature in D&D ever urinates or defecates. They also can't get pregnant as there is no rule in D&D for fornication and conception. Yet somehow, children and chamber pots keep appearing in D&D modules.

(As an aside: Children & Chamber pots was the worst D&D knockoff ever)
 

Hriston

Adventurer
So, from what people are saying and what I'm reading, maybe the best way to handle more professions in 5e is to expand the list of tool proficiences and be a little more open minded and flexible about what constitutes a toolkit.

So, for my Soldier example, a "Soldier's Tools" which would be things like a uniform, rank insignia, standard or guidon, regulations. . .things a Soldier might be issued or carry other than weapons, armor and camping supplies, and that proficiency with those items would be the game system's way of saying someone would have the core skill-set of a soldier.

Or Farmer's tools of a hoe, shovel, plow, wheelbarrow, seed bag etc. being for a farmer.

Or Lawyer's tools being a collection of law books.
I think this misses what a tool is in 5E. A tool (in 5E) is an object that's necessary to perform certain tasks. I think you'd have to talk about what tasks a character is trying to do before it could be determined whether a tool is needed or if it's a task that could be accomplished without a tool.

IMO, the best way to handle character "professions" is to use the background system, and if you don't see one that fits, use the background customization rules that are part of that system.
 

nomotog

Explorer
I don't usually badwrongfun, but this the worst possible take on an RPG ever. To take a juvenile example; there is no rules for needing bathroom breaks in D&D, therefore no creature in D&D ever urinates or defecates. They also can't get pregnant as there is no rule in D&D for fornication and conception. Yet somehow, children and chamber pots keep appearing in D&D modules.

(As an aside: Children & Chamber pots was the worst D&D knockoff ever)
Rules help define what matters in a game. If a game doesn't have a rule about chamber pots it's likely because they don't matter and most of the time they won't be included.

It's weird because when you pop away from D&D you can find a lot of rules for a lot of weird things in other RPGs because the RPGs value different things and put their rules into the different things they value.
 

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