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5E Professions in 5e

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Page number.
I don't have the book handy. How's D&D Beyond for a reference?

"Each of a creature's abilities has a score, a number that defines the magnitude of that ability. An ability score is not just a measure of innate capabilities, but also encompasses a creature's training and competence in activities related to that ability."

 

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DMG, p. 236 "The Middle Path" Specifically talks about deciding on success/failure sometimes, rolling sometimes.
"Many DMs find that using a combination of the two approaches works best. By balancing the use of dice against deciding on success, you can encourage your players to strike a balance between relying on their bonuses and abilities and paying attention to the game and immersing themselves in its world. Remember that dice don't run your game-you do. Dice are like rules. They're tools to help keep the action moving. At any time, you can decide that a player's action is automatically successful. You can also grant the player advantage on any ability check, reducing the chance of a bad die roll foiling the character's plans. By the same token, a bad plan or unfortunate circumstances can transform the easiest task into an impossibility, or at least impose disadvantage."

I don't see anything about proficient vs. unskilled characters.
 


prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
"Many DMs find that using a combination of the two approaches works best. By balancing the use of dice against deciding on success, you can encourage your players to strike a balance between relying on their bonuses and abilities and paying attention to the game and immersing themselves in its world. Remember that dice don't run your game-you do. Dice are like rules. They're tools to help keep the action moving. At any time, you can decide that a player's action is automatically successful. You can also grant the player advantage on any ability check, reducing the chance of a bad die roll foiling the character's plans. By the same token, a bad plan or unfortunate circumstances can transform the easiest task into an impossibility, or at least impose disadvantage."

I don't see anything about proficient vs. unskilled characters.
It's a basis on which the DM can decide. I don't see how this can be difficult, other than by choice.
 



Parmandur

Legend
Exactly. Which means its very easy to become an expert Arcana scholar compared to an expert athlete. As an Arcana scholar, I can be infinitely better than the untrained historian, but as an athlete, I can only be 10% better than an acrobat.

That doesn't strike you as odd?
No, there can be Athletics checks that would be outside the scope of untrained characters, like competing in the Olympic games or something.

But I can say from experience that you don't need to be LeBron James to hot a 3 pointer once in a while.
 


Parmandur

Legend
Looks as though he's adding on the logic of Background Proficiency (DMG, p. 264) to the core skill/tool Proficiency system. At the least, it seems like a reasonable approach.
Yeah, best way to approach declared actions outside of the normal purvue of High Fantasy Adventure.
 


prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Yeah, best way to approach declared actions outside of the normal purvue of High Fantasy Adventure.
It was easy to see what you were doing--finding it was the tricky bit. I don't apply Proficiency for Background--at least, I haven't been--but it's really pretty clever and not objectionable at all as an add-on.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Well, Let's take two character. LeBron Jameison and Incompetent Carl.

Both have equal ability scores (18) and are level 6. We're comparing training, not genetics.

LeBron Jameison has +7

Incompetent Carl has +4.

If the DC is 8, LeBron Jameison will autosucceed and Incompetent Carl will succeed 85% of the time.

If the DC is 22, LeBron Jameison will succeed 25% of the time, whereas Incompetent Carl will succeed only 10% of the time.

In effect, LeBron Jameison is either not a professional athlete, or else Incompetent Carl is nearly as good as a professional athlete.
OK, a few problems with this example: 22DC don't exist, they go in 5s. Incompetent Carl can't even attempt a 25 DC. However, a Level 17 Wizard with a Strength of 10 who happens to be trained in Athletics (an Outlander Wizard, say) can make that roll.
 

Parmandur

Legend
It was easy to see what you were doing--finding it was the tricky bit. I don't apply Proficiency for Background--at least, I haven't been--but it's really pretty clever and not objectionable at all as an add-on.
I don't usually, but if a player really wanted to do something like that...I have the tool.
 

wingsandsword

Adventurer
Soldiery is not a 'skill'. No profession is a single skill. It is a series of skills put together to give you an aptitude to perform the duties of your profession.
Except in 5e, the skill system is so broad that a single skill often covers things that would be 2 or 3 skills in other editions of D&D. If Athletics can cover swimming, climbing and jumping. . .if proficiency with Thieves's Tools can cover picking locks and disarming traps. . .if Arcana can cover both knowledge of magic and other planes of existence. . .if Stealth can cover both hiding and moving silently. . .there can be a single proficiency for the various professional knowledge of a field that isn't covered by other things and might fall under multiple similarly related fields of knowledge.

Remember that 3e didn't have 'Backgrounds' so they had a profession 'skill' that allowed you to make money by rolling skill checks. Now making money from your profession is often covered under your Background special ability.
Except, as I've pointed out repeatedly, there's no option, in the RAW, to learn or gain another set of professional knowledge. The idea that once you've learned your initial trade before your adventuring life, and this is the ONLY profession you can know seems rather limited.

Backgrounds DID emerge into d20 in the 3e era, they were originally from d20 Modern, but they weren't meant to be the ONLY thing a character could do as a trade or occupation, they were packages of background abilities to reflect learning and experiences that happened before the adventuring life.

5e didn't invent the backgrounds system, it just imported it from another source into D&D.

Backgrounds are something I don't mind about 5e at all. I'd often toyed with the idea of introducing them into my 3.5 games by adapting the ones from d20 Modern/Urban Arcana. The idea that someone's background is the ONLY profession they know how to do, and the only one they can ever learn, that is the part that's bothering me as a limitation on the system.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Except in 5e, the skill system is so broad that a single skill often covers things that would be 2 or 3 skills in other editions of D&D. If Athletics can cover swimming, climbing and jumping. . .if proficiency with Thieves's Tools can cover picking locks and disarming traps. . .if Arcana can cover both knowledge of magic and other planes of existence. . .if Stealth can cover both hiding and moving silently. . .there can be a single proficiency for the various professional knowledge of a field that isn't covered by other things and might fall under multiple similarly related fields of knowledge.


Except, as I've pointed out repeatedly, there's no option, in the RAW, to learn or gain another set of professional knowledge. The idea that once you've learned your initial trade before your adventuring life, and this is the ONLY profession you can know seems rather limited.

Backgrounds DID emerge into d20 in the 3e era, they were originally from d20 Modern, but they weren't meant to be the ONLY thing a character could do as a trade or occupation, they were packages of background abilities to reflect learning and experiences that happened before the adventuring life.

5e didn't invent the backgrounds system, it just imported it from another source into D&D.
Using Background as a source of Proficiency is valid, and your suggestion to allow people to add a background in downtime is likewise valid. It's mentioned in the DMG as a replacement for skill and (I think) tool proficiencies, but I wouldn't do that in my own game and I don't think that would work for you, either.

I played and ran a lot of 3.x, then burnt out at least a little, dabbled in Fate and stuff, got into 5E because my wife did, and 5E clicked for me and renewed my TRPGer soul. Obviously, YMMV, but I think if you give it a chance--and treat it as something other than 3.x--you might find it enjoyable.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Except in 5e, the skill system is so broad that a single skill often covers things that would be 2 or 3 skills in other editions of D&D. If Athletics can cover swimming, climbing and jumping. . .if proficiency with Thieves's Tools can cover picking locks and disarming traps. . .if Arcana can cover both knowledge of magic and other planes of existence. . .if Stealth can cover both hiding and moving silently. . .there can be a single proficiency for the various professional knowledge of a field that isn't covered by other things and might fall under multiple similarly related fields of knowledge.


Except, as I've pointed out repeatedly, there's no option, in the RAW, to learn or gain another set of professional knowledge. The idea that once you've learned your initial trade before your adventuring life, and this is the ONLY profession you can know seems rather limited.

Backgrounds DID emerge into d20 in the 3e era, they were originally from d20 Modern, but they weren't meant to be the ONLY thing a character could do as a trade or occupation, they were packages of background abilities to reflect learning and experiences that happened before the adventuring life.

5e didn't invent the backgrounds system, it just imported it from another source into D&D.

Backgrounds are something I don't mind about 5e at all. I'd often toyed with the idea of introducing them into my 3.5 games by adapting the ones from d20 Modern/Urban Arcana. The idea that someone's background is the ONLY profession they know how to do, and the only one they can ever learn, that is the part that's bothering me as a limitation on the system.
Actually, Xanathar's Guide to Everything ret does a deep dive on Tool Proficiency as equivalent to Profession, the way you are thinking of it here, for downtime professional activity and gaining new Tool Proficiency during downtime.

Boons are another tool that a DM could apply here, for games that involve a lot of detailed professional downtime.
 

Undrave

Hero
Actually, Xanathar's Guide to Everything ret does a deep dive on Tool Proficiency as equivalent to Profession, the way you are thinking of it here, for downtime professional activity and gaining new Tool Proficiency during downtime.

Boons are another tool that a DM could apply here, for games that involve a lot of detailed professional downtime.
Yup!

It's not that hard to add new Tool/Vehicle/Profession proficiencies that can be taken instead of the regular tools.

5e just wasn't design with the intent to fulfill every corner case. They gave us some trade and artisan tools, some specialist tools (cartographer, navigator, forgery kit, etc) and vehicles proficiency, but they didn't make a giant list of all possible job your character could have had.

Being good at military drill is just too niche for it to appear in the game rules, plain and simple. 5e expects the DMs to fill their own needed niche and use the more common rules as baseline.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
Except, as I've pointed out repeatedly, there's no option, in the RAW, to learn or gain another set of professional knowledge. The idea that once you've learned your initial trade before your adventuring life, and this is the ONLY profession you can know seems rather limited.
One of my big hopes during the playtest era fro 5e was that this would be the Rogue's niche -- that at first level you gained a second background (and the skills/proficiencies that went with it). All classes got the same # of skills, but ther rouge got more because of the extra background. The Charlatan-Sailor. The Noble Scholar. The Acolyte Folk Hero. The Outcast Guildsman. Almost every combination offered an idea that tickled my fancy as a rogue concept.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
...if Stealth can cover both hiding and moving silently. . .there can be a single proficiency for the various professional knowledge of a field that isn't covered by other things and might fall under multiple similarly related fields of knowledge.
You could, but...

PCs don't get a whole lot of skills. Do professions actually come up often enough to take one the few skill slots a character has? How far do you have to stretch the profession-skill to make it worthwhile for a PC? How many activities already covered by other skills do you have to pack into the profession to make it work out? Does "profession" become the minmaxer's dream of "select from a picklist of activities I want to be able to do with a single skill slot"? Or if it is left to interpretation what is covered, does it become, "how well can the player wheedle the GM into accepting an activity is covered by the profession"?

Except, as I've pointed out repeatedly, there's no option, in the RAW, to learn or gain another set of professional knowledge. The idea that once you've learned your initial trade before your adventuring life, and this is the ONLY profession you can know seems rather limited.
Perhaps. You say that as if that's a flaw.

Systems that try to cover with RAW every appealing thing anyone can think up quickly become unwieldy, hard to playtest, and often hard to adopt, among other problems. The core RAW should be limited to cover stuff that's pretty central to the play experience.
 

Ashrym

Hero
A character might need to make a roll at a bookkeeping profession to see if records have been altered. . .or to alter records to cover up something. They might need to roll as a candlemaker to make a particularly high quality candle (like if they were helping a mage make a candle-based magic item like candle of invocation). They might need to roll as a farmer or green grocer if they were trying to help a farmer or grocer turn their business around and help them out by doing a very good job on the farm or at the store.
Bookkeeping alterations are covered in INT (investigation) and helped by forgery kit proficiency per XGtE. A background related to bookkeeping might accomplish the same thing based on using backgrounds for proficiency.

There are rules for creating magic items in XGtE as well, and they do not include rolling to make high quality items. It's a given.

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?
The only thing the soldier background gives that isn't already available is the rank. A person can learn languages and tool proficiencies via downtime already, and a feat for skilled (or prodigy) adds the same skills if they are not already present. Recognizing military rank is something that takes very little time to learn.

A DM determines if the actions a character takes needs a check and what contributes to that check. IME, standard proficiencies plus situational background proficiency is pretty common. If a person wants to "add a background" then the skilled feat covers 3 skills instead of 2 while languages and tools can be learned. Any additional background feature "from a lifetime of..." becomes situation as a boon up to the DM.

Backgrounds are also examples. Make a custom background and use that to make your profession working with your DM.

In the real world, learning the profession of being a Soldier takes a few months, same for being a police officer. You can learn a lot in a few months of downtime.

D&D games I've played in have often had weeks or months of downtimes between adventures, especially between plot arcs.
Which explains why it's reasonable for someone with no training to make untrained checks if the DM warrants it getting back to PC's having seen military ranks and processions at some point as an assumption.

So, back to the lawyer example...
Which gets to another point -- what the profession actually does. INT (history) would cover precedent while CHA (persuasion) would argue the case. Make a lawyer background and use those as the proficiencies. A feature might be similar to the sage in knowing where to find the legal information.

4e had a Dungeoneering and Streetwise skill and I feel like both are somewhat missing... More so Streetwise than Dungeoneering. Streetwise allowed you to gather rumours in a city, get the lay of the land and navigate the city. It could easily have Commerce folded in and form some sort of Urban skill (opposed to Nature). Dungeoneering wasn't quite as well defined since it covered both natural caverns (which are now simply Nature), the Underdark and building exploration (architecture for exemple could be a Dungeoneering check).

Sailing would probably be best represented by proficiency in sail boats and other water vehicles. Folklore and Nobility could easily be folded into History, same with Military really, but I would give out advantage based on your background.
Some of those are examples of checks made without proficiency. Urchin enhances navigating the city while gathering rumors is a CHA check right on the list. I think most DM's just RP those out, however, ime.

OK, a few problems with this example: 22DC don't exist, they go in 5s. Incompetent Carl can't even attempt a 25 DC. However, a Level 17 Wizard with a Strength of 10 who happens to be trained in Athletics (an Outlander Wizard, say) can make that roll.
Minor correction. DC 22 does exist. Not all DC's go up by 5 such as spell DC's or opposed checks. The difficulty DC's step by 5's.

Mind you, that doesn't change the fact 5e checks work for me. All I need is to have my character perform actions. It works or it doesn't or the DM says roll (x proficiency applies). If I want to soldier or lawyer it's not hard to build something to concept. ;-)
 

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