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Proficiency die as a class feature

I'm trying to use the proficiency die variant rule (DMG 263) as a defining feature for a homebrew class (the Fool, to be specific). As written, the proficiency die variant only applies to rolls. Anything static that you use your proficiency for, like save DCs and passive ability scores, still uses the regular constant proficiency bonus. This is pretty safe and straightforward, but also a little disappointing. I kind of want to be able to say flatly, "You do not have a proficiency bonus", and roll the proficiency die for everything (because you're a Fool, and you're not actually good at stuff, you just get lucky). Now, for spells, it doesn't seem to difficult to have you roll the die every time you cast to set the DC of the spell. But for passive ability scores, I'm not sure how it should work, or even if it's possible.

So:

Do you have any bright ideas for how to handle this?

Are there any other proficiency-using game mechanics I'm not thinking of that might cause trouble for this feature?

Should I just play it safe and keep the constant bonus around for these effects?
 

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Li Shenron

Legend
Why not? Passive ability checks aren't necessarily frequent, as probably the majority of gaming groups uses them only for Perception, so there is no harm replacing the bonus with the die result. Although you could just also not use the passive check and roll the whole d20 for it.

I am a bit more skeptic about the spell save DC instead. Not only this means significantly more rolls at the table for the spellcasters, but the fact is that the target of the spell is already rolling their saving throw, and the result is merely success/failure (no degree of success). So why randomizing on both sides? It achieves nothing.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Once a Fool, always a Fool: Fools are lucky, their skill in providing both the most cutting of japes and the most spectacular of pratfalls leading them to a much more chaotic existence than others. Whenever the Fool's proficiency bonus is needed based on an action the Fool does or the Fool rolls, use the appropriate die on the chart in the DMG, pg 263 instead. This is not just for rolls the Fool makes such as an attack, but also for rolls others make in response to an action that uses the Fool's proficiency bonus, such as Spell Save DCs. Use the die based on character level - the proficiency die replaces the proficiency bonus regardless of multiclassing.

Discussion: The "any action, or any die a fool rolls" should cover all of the cases you want while leaving out any odd corner cases.

Does that cover what you want it to?
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
You could always just make their DC 8 + stat + proficiency die (if proficient). That will make things take a little longer to resolve, but it should be functional.

For something like passive perception, which I generally just ask for at the start of a session and roll against without querying the player, I would just use flat proficiency. You could roll it each time, but it doesn't seem worth it for a passive check IMO, and it's one extra thing for the DM to track.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Make the creature rolling against the Passive value roll the extra die. “Your spell save DC is eaual to 8 + your spelcasting ability modifier. Whenever a creature makes a saving throw against one of your Fool spells, that creature rolls your proficiency die and subtracts the result from their saving throw.”

Likewise with passive perception and other passive scores. “Whenever a creature makes an ability check and the DC is determined by your passive ability check and you would add your proficiency bonus to the check, that creature rolls your proficiency die and subtracts the result from their check.”

The wording could use some cleaning up, but I think the intent is clear.
 

So I've been playing around with this, trying to break it, and the most acute problem seems to be in a hypothetical effect that looks something like

"You constantly shed bright light with a radius of 5 feet x your proficiency bonus."

That is: You don't roll anything, nobody else is rolling anything against you, there is no discrete point to say "You should roll a proficiency die here". I don't think there's any real choice but to use a constant value here. I suppose it's possible to say you roll for it once per day, or whenever you finish a short rest, or whatever, but that feels forced.

For that constant value, the obvious option is to go with the standard proficiency bonus for a character of your level. But, like I said, that feels kind of disappointing to me: you still have a proficiency bonus, it's just hiding. So I'm currently playing with the idea of instead using the minimum value of your proficiency die (i.e., normally, 1). This doesn't seem too punishing to me because, unless I'm forgetting about something big, these effects are really rare. And it much better sells the flavor that, as a fool, you really are just bad at things whenever chance isn't involved.

As for defining when to use the proficiency die, I like @Blue's thinking a lot. I hadn't quite considered the problem in terms of actions vs. passive effects. The problem is passive ability scores. Technically they're, well, passive, in that you don't use an action to activate them, and so would use the static bonus. But conceptually, a lot of the time passive scores do seem to represent repeated or abstracted activity, as has been discussed on the numerous other threads about them. And if I go with my static-bonus-is-1 idea, then applying that to all your passive scores would be rather punishing. So my current draft looks more like a generalized version of what @Charlaquin suggested: the defining quality is whether or not somebody is rolling a die.
Roll of the Dice
As a fool, you live by the maxim "Better lucky than good" -- even if you don't realize it yourself. You do not have a normal proficiency bonus. Whenever you would add your proficiency bonus to a roll, instead you roll your proficiency die, a d4, and add the result.

If you would add your proficiency bonus to a DC, such as a spell saving throw DC or a passive ability score, you roll your proficiency die and add it to the DC each time a creature rolls against it. (If the DM wishes to roll in secret, he or she may instead roll your proficiency die and subtract the result from the creature's roll.)

If you would apply your proficiency bonus to an effect other than a roll or DC, use the minimum value of your proficiency die (normally 1).

If a feature would let you double your proficiency bonus, roll your proficiency die twice and use the total. If a feature would halve your proficiency bonus, roll once and divide by two, rounding down.

Your proficiency die increases in size as you gain levels, as shown in the Proficiency Die column of the Fool table. If you are a multiclassed character, your proficiency die is based on your total character level (and you do not get a proficiency bonus from any other classes).

(Oh, and Blue, I'm definitely not just referring players to the table in the DMG with this. If the fool doesn't have a "Proficiency Die" column instead of "Proficiency Bonus" right there in the class table, well then, what's the point? ;) )

Also trying to decide whether I can get away with calling it a "chance die" rather than a "proficiency die". I do still have to call your various skills and weapons and whatnot "proficiencies", so that might be stretching things too far.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
(Oh, and Blue, I'm definitely not just referring players to the table in the DMG with this. If the fool doesn't have a "Proficiency Die" column instead of "Proficiency Bonus" right there in the class table, well then, what's the point? ;) )

That was mostly me being too lazy to get my DMG and look up the dice at the time. :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I'm trying to use the proficiency die variant rule (DMG 263) as a defining feature for a homebrew class (the Fool, to be specific). As written, the proficiency die variant only applies to rolls. Anything static that you use your proficiency for, like save DCs and passive ability scores, still uses the regular constant proficiency bonus. This is pretty safe and straightforward, but also a little disappointing. I kind of want to be able to say flatly, "You do not have a proficiency bonus", and roll the proficiency die for everything (because you're a Fool, and you're not actually good at stuff, you just get lucky). Now, for spells, it doesn't seem to difficult to have you roll the die every time you cast to set the DC of the spell. But for passive ability scores, I'm not sure how it should work, or even if it's possible.

So:

Do you have any bright ideas for how to handle this?

Are there any other proficiency-using game mechanics I'm not thinking of that might cause trouble for this feature?

Should I just play it safe and keep the constant bonus around for these effects?
Don't use passive checks...?

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Generally having a variable spell save DC increases the power of that character, so yes, building a subclass around that feature seems valid.

I wouldn't call it "the fool", though.

The way you min-max power out of having a variable DC would be to choose spells where you can cast and recast until you roll well, and then enjoy a considerably higher DC than other characters of your level.

Everything about this suggests a cunning tactical planner of a character, which seems opposite to the idea of the lucky bumbler.

Just saying...

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
 

Don't use passive checks...?
I actually considered that, but they're a part of the core game and they're useful, and all things considered it's best if any new rules play nice with the existing ones.

Generally having a variable spell save DC increases the power of that character, so yes, building a subclass around that feature seems valid.

I wouldn't call it "the fool", though.

The way you min-max power out of having a variable DC would be to choose spells where you can cast and recast until you roll well, and then enjoy a considerably higher DC than other characters of your level.

Everything about this suggests a cunning tactical planner of a character, which seems opposite to the idea of the lucky bumbler.

Just saying...
What spells are you talking about, exactly? Why does trying something and failing repeatedly not seem like bumbling to you? And does the fact that the class does not have spellcasting alter your opinion at all?
 


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