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5E Proficiency vs. Ability vs. Expertise

dnd4vr

Explorer
For a while, since I've been into 5E really, I have been annoyed by the contributions relatively of proficiency bonus, ability modifiers, and expertise. To me, proficiency should trump ability and expertise in the long run, but RAW we see proficiency barely beat out ability score modifiers (+6 max vs. +5 max). And expertise, available only to two classes with some archetype exceptions, equal to proficiency makes it too good IMO.

We currently play with the house-rule that proficiency caps out at +8, ability scores at +5 (was also +4 but we reversed it for simplicity since monsters and such are based on +5 progression), and expertise at +4 (+2 at low levels, +3 a mid, and +4 at higher). The potential maximum is still +17, so it works with the current system. I would like to see proficiency progress up to +11 or 12 even, lower ability scores to +4, and maybe make expertise a flat +2 bonus, and I might do this but I wonder if it would mess things up...

Now sure, the game plays fine RAW and with a practical cap at 30. So, I understand the purpose for bounded accuracy and all, but it makes me wonder if they bounded it too much?

Has anyone else had issue with the +6 vs. +5 vs. +6 system? Do you think it should be weighed differently? I am sure a lot of people haven't, and that is great for you, so I am more interested in people who do have issues with it. ;)
 

Esker

Explorer
Rogue nerf week continues! :)

Why can't people just let rogues just have their nice things, man?
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
Rogue nerf week continues! :)

Why can't people just let rogues just have their nice things, man?
Love rogues, my character is part rogue (so, I would be taking a hit in some ways with this)!

I would prefer to see Rogues have something OTHER than expertise (or at least in addition to a limited expertise as I am thinking of).

Honestly, the concept of Rogues getting expertise is purely a game mechanic. There is no reason why otherwise they would potentially be better than the other classes at the skills they do. I can at least understand why a Bard might have it... but even that is a stretch as Jack-of-all-trades fit bards better than expertise IMO.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Rogue nerf week continues! :)

Why can't people just let rogues just have their nice things, man?
July 24- july 31 WCN present Rogue week. Learn the in and outs of being a rogue. This is a Waterdeep Cable Network production. Contact your local weave network to get WCN!
 

mortwatcher

Explorer
Idk, to me rogues were always skill monkeys and they continue to be so. I have no issues with the system as is. Proficiency allows your paced progression for everyone, you ability helps with the relevant skills and expertise makes the 2 classes amazing at a few things.
 

Myzzrym

Villager
I agree, I have somewhat of an issue with this as well. My main problem is that the difference between Proficiency and Expertise is just too high - there's no in-between. You're either good at something or godly - I'd like some middle-ground options.

In the same vein, I also dislike the fact that Ability factors so much. Your god ugly terrifying level 13 warrior with 8 in Cha has the same modifier in Intimidation than the level 1 Bard with 18 in Cha? Get ouuuut.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
Idk, to me rogues were always skill monkeys and they continue to be so. I have no issues with the system as is. Proficiency allows your paced progression for everyone, you ability helps with the relevant skills and expertise makes the 2 classes amazing at a few things.
I like Rogues being good at what they do, but think about this for RAW:

A 20th-level Rogue (INT 10) with expertise in Arcana is +12. A 20th-level Wizard (INT 20) in Arcana is +11. HOW THE *BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP* DOES THAT HAPPEN? Makes NO sense.

With what I am thinking if doing, the two would be +13 (11 prof, 2 for expertise) and +16 (11 prof, 5 for INT 20). Experience (i.e. level) counts for a lot, and expertise can help make up for a lower ability score (or boost a skills associated with a good one). +13 vs. +16 is still close, but at least odds are the Wizard will do better...
 

Esker

Explorer
In the same vein, I also dislike the fact that Ability factors so much. Your god ugly terrifying level 13 warrior with 8 in Cha has the same modifier in Intimidation than the level 1 Bard with 18 in Cha? Get ouuuut.
That's an issue with intimidation being tied by default to CHA, though, not an issue with the contribution of ability scores per se to the check. Allowing Strength (Intimidation) checks is definitely a thing; it's even called out in the DMG as the example of mixing up which abilities go with which skills.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
I like Rogues being good at what they do, but think about this for RAW:

A 20th-level Rogue (INT 10) with expertise in Arcana is +12. A 20th-level Wizard (INT 20) in Arcana is +11. HOW THE *BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP* DOES THAT HAPPEN? Makes NO sense.

With what I am thinking if doing, the two would be +13 (11 prof, 2 for expertise) and +16 (11 prof, 5 for INT 20). Experience (i.e. level) counts for a lot, and expertise can help make up for a lower ability score (or boost a skills associated with a good one). +13 vs. +16 is still close, but at least odds are the Wizard will do better...
This isn't a formal houserule, but what I do is that overall character concept is extremely important in determining DCs, and the overall narration of the success or failure. A wizard is going to deeper and more useful information from an Arcana check that's about spells or spellcasting, and the overall DC to accomplish a task is much less. (Maybe DC 10 versus DC 20 for a non-caster.)

That being said, a rogue who chooses to spend a precious Expertise slot on Arcana probably has a conceptual reason to do so, and that would certainly weigh on my adjudication. If anything, I would say proficiency is overvalued (every character has 4-7 proficient skills at least, and getting more isn't that difficult), whereas Expertise is undervalued (it's a rare and expensive class feature, and should be treated as such).
 

Esker

Explorer
Love rogues, my character is part rogue (so, I would be taking a hit in some ways with this)!

I would prefer to see Rogues have something OTHER than expertise (or at least in addition to a limited expertise as I am thinking of).

Honestly, the concept of Rogues getting expertise is purely a game mechanic. There is no reason why otherwise they would potentially be better than the other classes at the skills they do. I can at least understand why a Bard might have it... but even that is a stretch as Jack-of-all-trades fit bards better than expertise IMO.
I mean, a big part of Rogues' class identity is being skill monkeys, isn't it? Expertise is what describes them being able to be great at sneaking around, picking locks, figuring out a scene, reading people, lying their asses off... I guess I could see limiting their expertise choices to the skills on their class list, to deal with the weirdness of them being better at arcana than a wizard, but if you take away expertise, they wind up being no better at sneaking around than a fighter archer that took stealth proficiency, which doesn't seem right. And for skills not tied to their main stat, it lets them be good at those things without having to invest in off-abilities. I want a rogue with moderate CHA who likes to lie to be able to be better at it than a sorcerer, even if the sorcerer has deception proficiency. Or to be a better scout than a cleric with perception.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
Hmm. Well, expertise doesn't have to be a third modifier. It could be advantage, a smaller straight mod, or even something like treat rolls of lower than X as X. You could shift proficiency over to half your level +1 or something, for a top end between +10 to +12, and just leave the abilities as +5.

I'll admit, the expertise thing does bother me. The edge math there doesn't pass the smell test, even though at lower levels it works just fine. If it were limited to class skills it would clear that up. That's not a bad idea.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
For a while, since I've been into 5E really, I have been annoyed by the contributions relatively of proficiency bonus, ability modifiers, and expertise. To me, proficiency should trump ability and expertise in the long run, but RAW we see proficiency barely beat out ability score modifiers (+6 max vs. +5 max). And expertise, available only to two classes with some archetype exceptions, equal to proficiency makes it too good IMO.

We currently play with the house-rule that proficiency caps out at +8, ability scores at +5 (was also +4 but we reversed it for simplicity since monsters and such are based on +5 progression), and expertise at +4 (+2 at low levels, +3 a mid, and +4 at higher). The potential maximum is still +17, so it works with the current system. I would like to see proficiency progress up to +11 or 12 even, lower ability scores to +4, and maybe make expertise a flat +2 bonus, and I might do this but I wonder if it would mess things up...

Now sure, the game plays fine RAW and with a practical cap at 30. So, I understand the purpose for bounded accuracy and all, but it makes me wonder if they bounded it too much?

Has anyone else had issue with the +6 vs. +5 vs. +6 system? Do you think it should be weighed differently? I am sure a lot of people haven't, and that is great for you, so I am more interested in people who do have issues with it. ;)
I'm not concerned with the bonuses so much as what they represent. Proficiency represents training. A stat bonus represents natural talent. And expertise represents higher education. If the PCs encounter something that doesn't really require training, it's all good. Sometimes, however, the PCs will come across a situation where natural talent isn't going to give you the information and will be auto fail unless you have the training(proficiency). I suppose I could further refine it to occasions where higher learning(expertise) is required to even roll(or perhaps auto succeed), but that's a bit too complicated and realistic for my taste, so I keep it to trained/untrained.
 

Esker

Explorer
What would you think about giving every character expertise in one skill from their starting class's skill list? Wizards could have arcana expertise then, rangers could have survival, barbarians could have athletics, clerics could have religion (as it is, it's really hard for clerics to be good at religion checks, which is weird), ... Then rogues (and knowledge clerics) would get to be really good at three things at level 1, but restricted to things on their class list. Then maybe arcane trickster would get arcana proficiency and can choose to use one of their 6th level expertise picks on it; sort of like the scout gets extra expertise in survival and nature (which aren't on the rogue list), except it's not an extra pick, just an extra option.

As for bards, maybe they should just be able to add their JoaT half-proficiency bonus to all skills, including those they're proficient in.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
A simple house rule, limit expertise to dex or cha skill and tools.
What about Rogues who want to be expert climbers? And don't say acrobatics. A curated list of some kind would work though. Maybe even just the old fashioned thieves skills list with some SI skills tacked on. And a different curated list for the Bard.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
For a while, since I've been into 5E really, I have been annoyed by the contributions relatively of proficiency bonus, ability modifiers, and expertise. To me, proficiency should trump ability and expertise in the long run, but RAW we see proficiency barely beat out ability score modifiers (+6 max vs. +5 max). And expertise, available only to two classes with some archetype exceptions, equal to proficiency makes it too good IMO.

We currently play with the house-rule that proficiency caps out at +8, ability scores at +5 (was also +4 but we reversed it for simplicity since monsters and such are based on +5 progression), and expertise at +4 (+2 at low levels, +3 a mid, and +4 at higher). The potential maximum is still +17, so it works with the current system. I would like to see proficiency progress up to +11 or 12 even, lower ability scores to +4, and maybe make expertise a flat +2 bonus, and I might do this but I wonder if it would mess things up...

Now sure, the game plays fine RAW and with a practical cap at 30. So, I understand the purpose for bounded accuracy and all, but it makes me wonder if they bounded it too much?

Has anyone else had issue with the +6 vs. +5 vs. +6 system? Do you think it should be weighed differently? I am sure a lot of people haven't, and that is great for you, so I am more interested in people who do have issues with it. ;)
This seems entirely driven by the perspective of not ever seeing ptoficidnch or expertise on z non-prime ability score. Since I see those with some frequency, that seems to be an oversight.

One of the keys with bounded accuracy is that it's not going to drive as hard to "triple max" a few skills as opposed to getting "really good" at more. So, spending z proficiency on a secondary skill do thst it grows into "strong" over time dvfn with only ssy a +1 or +2 score to feed it remains sn option worth considering.

But in answer to your question, I have no aesthetic disagreements eith the values between ability, training and expertise being moderately close to each other. I would prefer that to one where say a single choice of those three was substantially better than the others.
 

Esker

Explorer
What about Rogues who want to be expert climbers? And don't say acrobatics. A curated list of some kind would work though. Maybe even just the old fashioned thieves skills list with some SI skills tacked on. And a different curated list for the Bard.
Athletics is on the Rogue list. Seems like just saying you have to pick your expertises from there would work pretty well. Bards can pick any skills, so if there's a problem there it needs a different solution. I'm not sure it is a problem for bards to be able to pick freely though: you can certainly make a bard that's essentially a wizard in all but class mechanics, so getting expertise in arcana for example seems just fine to me. But I would like to see some more differentiation from the rogue; I'm thinking about something like, at 3rd Bards get one expertise pick rather than two, lore bards get one more, but restricted to knowledge skills, plus Peerless Skill at 3rd instead of 14th (not sure what I'd replace it with at 14th). And at 10th, JoaT stacks on top of full proficiency.

(In terms of intra-bard subclass balance, I'd also give different benefits to the other subclasses, but that's maybe best left for another thread. In brief, valor bards should really be combat casters, not weapon-users, so they would no longer get martial weapon proficiency (give that, as well as shield proficiency, to swords bards instead), and would instead get one damage cantrip from any class at 3rd, and magical secrets at 6th like lore bards, instead of extra attack like swords bards. Glamor bards could get an ability at 3rd allowing them to give themselves advantage on a certain number of CHA checks per day. This needs some tweaking, since collectively it all amounts to a buff to what's already a strong class, but I've long felt that the allocation of subclass abilities across bard archetypes is off.)
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
I mean, a big part of Rogues' class identity is being skill monkeys, isn't it? Expertise is what describes them being able to be great at sneaking around, picking locks, figuring out a scene, reading people, lying their asses off... I guess I could see limiting their expertise choices to the skills on their class list, to deal with the weirdness of them being better at arcana than a wizard, but if you take away expertise, they wind up being no better at sneaking around than a fighter archer that took stealth proficiency, which doesn't seem right. And for skills not tied to their main stat, it lets them be good at those things without having to invest in off-abilities. I want a rogue with moderate CHA who likes to lie to be able to be better at it than a sorcerer, even if the sorcerer has deception proficiency. Or to be a better scout than a cleric with perception.
Even with expertise a flat +2, the will be likely as good or better than the non-rogues at things that are important to them. Our current +2 to +4 expertise rule works okay, I was thinking more of a flat bonus to keep it simple. I toyed with half proficiency but if I boost proficiency to +11, then expertise would max at +5... I am not sure about that.

Hmm. Well, expertise doesn't have to be a third modifier. It could be advantage, a smaller straight mod, or even something like treat rolls of lower than X as X. You could shift proficiency over to half your level +1 or something, for a top end between +10 to +12, and just leave the abilities as +5.

I'll admit, the expertise thing does bother me. The edge math there doesn't pass the smell test, even though at lower levels it works just fine. If it were limited to class skills it would clear that up. That's not a bad idea.
We played for a while that expertise gave you advantage on checks instead of a bonus. The rogues in the group revolted. ;) (Except myself, I wasn't a rogue then...)

I'm not concerned with the bonuses so much as what they represent. Proficiency represents training. A stat bonus represents natural talent. And expertise represents higher education. If the PCs encounter something that doesn't really require training, it's all good. Sometimes, however, the PCs will come across a situation where natural talent isn't going to give you the information and will be auto fail unless you have the training(proficiency). I suppose I could further refine it to occasions where higher learning(expertise) is required to even roll(or perhaps auto succeed), but that's a bit too complicated and realistic for my taste, so I keep it to trained/untrained.
This is old-school and I was mistaken about it in 5E myself at first. Ability scores represent some natural talent and can also be some training. Funny, huh? I never liked the idea and thought that being the case, "proficiency" should have been relabeled "specialization".

What would you think about giving every character expertise in one skill from their starting class's skill list? Wizards could have arcana expertise then, rangers could have survival, barbarians could have athletics, clerics could have religion (as it is, it's really hard for clerics to be good at religion checks, which is weird), ... Then rogues (and knowledge clerics) would get to be really good at three things at level 1, but restricted to things on their class list. Then maybe arcane trickster would get arcana proficiency and can choose to use one of their 6th level expertise picks on it; sort of like the scout gets extra expertise in survival and nature (which aren't on the rogue list), except it's not an extra pick, just an extra option.

As for bards, maybe they should just be able to add their JoaT half-proficiency bonus to all skills, including those they're proficient in.
Our house-rule does this sort of. When you create your character you can sack one of your background skills to gain expertise in the other.

But in answer to your question, I have no aesthetic disagreements eith the values between ability, training and expertise being moderately close to each other. I would prefer that to one where say a single choice of those three was substantially better than the others.
Nice for you, but for me proficiency (i.e. experience) should definitely out-pace the others.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
Expertise as advantage would be interesting. It would prevent the current possibility of stacking Expertise with advantage. It would raise their average without raising their range. It would mean as much at 2nd level as it did at 20th level. I'm not entirely sure if I'd want to switch to it, though.
 

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