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5E Proficiency vs. Ability vs. Expertise

dnd4vr

Explorer
Swapping Expertise to a dice rather than a flat bonus sounds like a good idea. It would allow Rogues to hit even higher DCs, but also make them less reliable at the lower-level of DCs where the problem seems to lie.
Bardic inspiration dice have a similar effect, even stacking on top of current expertise, however they have not been mentioned as a problem at all.
Because we've only ever had one Bard in our games. And that character only lasted a few sessions before he was swapped out for a druid. ;) So, Bards have never been a problem because they have never even been a factor or consideration.

We pretty much don't like bards and find them--well--useless. That's why I never mentioned them or Bardic Inspiration, and have always focused on rogues.
 

Cap'n Kobold

Explorer
We pretty much don't like bards and find them--well--useless. That's why I never mentioned them or Bardic Inspiration, and have always focused on rogues.
Well, we know that one of the class' abilities is reckoned too effective by your group. I'd consider Expertise sitting well behind Spellcasting and Bardic Inspiration in terms of reducing the difficulty of skill-based challenges.

If the class was judged useless by your group, I take it that Bardic Inspiration didn't actually change things significantly for your group in terms of effectiveness or making skill checks so easily?
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
I'm explicitly asking you not to repeat yourself, since all the examples you've given (such as the stealth example) are about expertise yielding success rates in the 70-100% range. But those are instances where moderate tasks become easy (if we grant that a 10-25% detection rate is low), not where hard tasks become a bit less hard. But instead of addressing why giving rogues and bards a feature that makes the really hard merely hard is a problem, you keep repeating yourself about medium difficulty tasks becoming routine or near automatic. But then the solutions you endorse boost the low end of skill rolls, which makes tasks that were moderately difficult with proficiency and routine with expertise into tasks that are automatic with expertise. Which is the opposite of what you say you want.

Let me quote you for a moment:

So, the rogue with expertise needs a roll of about 6 under RAW to succeed. Assuming a bonus of around +12 or +13 that corresponds to a DC of about 18 or 19. So what happens if you replace the boost to the bonus currently granted by expertise with proposal #7 or #8 in the list you said you were considering? Now, they don't get the +4 from expertise, so they need a 10, but the minimum result is now... 10. So they've gone from succeeding 75% of the time to 100%. On the other hand if you rework expertise using the 2d10+proficiency die+second proficiency die only on higher natural rolls as I've proposed, the proficient character is about break-even with RAW, and the expert character is a bit lower, as you can see on the graph I posted. If instead you use the gold curve you made that you said looks more like what you want, you've boosted both the proficient and expert characters at those DCs, but you've boosted the expert by more. So now the expert is succeeding something like 90% of the time.

Do you see now why I say that the proposals you're endorsing are at cross-purposes with the problems you identify?
Yeah, in some ways it messes with things, but it was still a good idea and I was summarizing everything (well, most of it) from the thread. But I don't mind losing the expert's high ceiling, that is an issue I am trying to remove. :)
In the post you are referring to I was summarizing most of the ideas presented in the thread that I thought might have some merit. I had not yet tried running any numbers to see how they would actually affect things.

As I said in this quote, removing the expert's high ceiling is an issue I am trying to remove. Ideally, for the same ability score, proficiency and expertise should yield the same potential result. This difference is expertise should have an easier time getting to that result. If a ranger and a rogue have the same ability and proficiency, but the rogue has expertise, his mean result should be better, but his maximum should be the same as the ranger.

The rogue can't have expertise in everything. If there's a ranger in the party who wants to be a scout, then during session zero, they should express that, and then if there's also a rogue in the party, they can fill a different niche: maybe the face with a side of trap-monkey, taking persuasion, deception, insight and thieves' tools. If a rogue takes expertise in arcana (even takes arcana in the first place), they're probably doing that because there isn't a wizard in the party and they figure somebody should be good at it. Etc. Don't blame the game mechanics for players choosing to build characters with a high degree of overlap.
Well, we allow players to make characters who are as they want them based on concept, etc., not on team dynamics. While D&D has always been best played as a "group" game, I feel free to blame a game mechanic when it is nonsensical and only there to give a class "something" that is "theirs."

A while back I asked whether you were on board with replacing expertise with something that enabled the rogue and bard to retain their distinctive identity as skill-monkeys, and you said you were as long as it addressed the particular problems you had with expertise. But when you counter my questions and suggestions about how to replace expertise with something that feels equally powerful with it, you say things like this which make it seem that all along you just wanted to weaken the rogue and bard. If you'd said that from the outset I would have stopped participating in the discussion long ago, since that's a project I have no interest in.
Well, as I have said before, my goal is to reduce the impact of expertise numerically (as it getting higher numbers), but replace it with options that are meaningful and fun options for the players. You've offered ideas along those lines, such as the second approach you mention below.

I like the idea of tricks -- this is more or less the approach I was taking with my second proposal -- but you've got to fill in the details. I came up with some things for a few skills, but for others there didn't seem to be anything obvious. Also the rogue is very much designed as a resource-management-free class (I think the only thing in any subclass that has limited uses is the arcane trickster's spell slots), so I strongly suggest making the expanded skill options the kinds of things that can be done at-will.
As I replied to those ideas, some I like and some I don't. Filling in the details for the tricks might happen, but probably won't. I don't like superiority dice in any class, so anything I ultimately come up with most likely reflect that (well, not reflect that, you know LOL).
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
Well, we know that one of the class' abilities is reckoned too effective by your group. I'd consider Expertise sitting well behind Spellcasting and Bardic Inspiration in terms of reducing the difficulty of skill-based challenges.

If the class was judged useless by your group, I take it that Bardic Inspiration didn't actually change things significantly for your group in terms of effectiveness or making skill checks so easily?
Honestly, most of the time Bardic Inspiration was probably needed it was thought of after-the-fact.

We removed Guidance from the game, and otherwise spellcasting is rarely used for helping in skill checks (I can only think of a few examples, really). Also, both Bardic Inspiration and spellcasting are limited features in uses per rest, etc., although skill expertise only applies to the selected skills, it is always available for them. For that reason I weigh it at least equally.
 

Esker

Explorer
As I said in this quote, removing the expert's high ceiling is an issue I am trying to remove. Ideally, for the same ability score, proficiency and expertise should yield the same potential result. This difference is expertise should have an easier time getting to that result. If a ranger and a rogue have the same ability and proficiency, but the rogue has expertise, his mean result should be better, but his maximum should be the same as the ranger.
But you haven't explained why it matters that the rogue's ceiling is higher. What game problem does that cause? Particularly if the ceiling is higher for only 1% of rolls or something, and corresponds to DCs that never come up (and therefore has literally no practical impact)? Or is it not really about the mechanics at all for you, and just about a strong visceral aversion to what you see as the in-fiction connotation of this particular mechanic?

I just thought of another idea, in the spirit of infinite patience with your vendetta against rogues: make proficiency a die (1d4 at levels 1-4), etc., and let expertise be you skip rolling the proficiency die and just get the maximum. Then both have the same ceiling, but the expert has an easier time hitting it. There. Done. Can we all go home now?
 

Mycroft

Explorer
But you haven't explained why it matters that the rogue's ceiling is higher.
Maybe it's just the fact that it makes too many things cakewalks; grapple checks, Stealth checks, Perception checks (and passive) what-have-you. Artificially inflating DCs to keep the Expertise person challenged is not a solution. Also seems to fly in the face of BA, and the world building implications: Bards and Rogues are the masters of Arcana, Religion, Nature, Wrestling, you name it, like Bond: "...nobody does it better".

...Okay, the 007 comparison was a bad idea, as he is cool and should be the best at everything, but that is because he is James (Cha 20 and such), like a unique NPC.
 
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Sadras

Explorer
But you haven't explained why it matters that the rogue's ceiling is higher. What game problem does that cause?
Personally I wouldn't want a class to have a monopoly on higher skill-ceilings than all others, I'm all for a higher floor, hence my idea about a passive base when one has expertise and you choose the higher of the passive or the roll.
I certainly do not agree with dnd4vr about bards.

To be honest, I think more than enough options/solutions have been provides in this thread to make this very much a non-issue.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
Maybe a form of Expertise could be added to all classes, and something else for the Rogue to pull off when it comes to his schtick; to be honest, Expertise seems like lazy design.

"...uh, well, yeah, just double proficiency bonus, that sounds good..."

I really love 5th Ed, I am a huge fan, but the universal proficiency bonus reminds me a little bit of the +1/2 level to everything of 4th Ed (which I excised to much success).
I would prefer a bit more gradation, not as much as 3rd Ed, but some. I do not dig a 20th-level Wizard being equally competent at striking enemies as a 20th-level Fighter (Extra Attack is neither here nor there).
 

Esker

Explorer
Maybe it's just the fact that it makes too many things cakewalks; grapple checks, Stealth checks, Perception checks (and passive) what-have-you. Artificially inflating DCs to keep the Expertise person challenged is not a solution. Also seems to fly in the face of BA...
But something becoming a cakewalk is by definition *not* about the ceiling. Bounded accuracy is about not letting the floor be too high, or the ceiling *too low*.
 

Esker

Explorer
Maybe a form of Expertise could be added to all classes, and something else for the Rogue to pull off when it comes to his schtick; to be honest, Expertise seems like lazy design.
Fine. Propose a menu of other things for the rogue to pull off with options for every rogue skill which is balanced against expertise. I made an attempt a couple pages back; you could even use my list as a jumping off point. We agree that something along those lines would be a reasonable trade for a rogue to make. But until you provide the details of what the designers should have done if only they weren't so lazy, maybe hold off on the "lazy design" angle.
 

Esker

Explorer
To be honest, I think more than enough options/solutions have been provides in this thread to make this very much a non-issue.
I mean, there have been a lot of suggestions, but none that simultaneously satisfy the conflicting constraints of (1) removing near-auto-successes, (2) keeping the ceiling matched, and (3) giving the rogue something of equal skill-monkey value to expertise. I don't know why we care about (2), and I don’t think [MENTION=6987520]dnd4vr[/MENTION] really cares about (3) (though I bet his rogue players do, as evidenced by their revolt against the attempt to replace expertise with advantage)
 

Esker

Explorer
Or, here's another idea: have the expertise bonus scale more slowly (say, hitting +3 at level 8 and +4 at level 15) but give the rogue expertise in more skills. Say three skills (or two plus thieves' tools) at level 1 and another three at level 6. Maybe grant one extra proficiency at level 6 too.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
Fine. Propose a menu of other things for the rogue to pull off with options for every rogue skill which is balanced against expertise. I made an attempt a couple pages back; you could even use my list as a jumping off point. We agree that something along those lines would be a reasonable trade for a rogue to make. But until you provide the details of what the designers should have done if only they weren't so lazy, maybe hold off on the "lazy design" angle.
Hey, fair enough, the old "if you think you can do better, prove it!"

I'm working on it...
 

Mycroft

Explorer
But something becoming a cakewalk is by definition *not* about the ceiling. Bounded accuracy is about not letting the floor be too high, or the ceiling *too low*.
You keep repeating this ceiling thing, means nothing to me. Maybe I am maths stupid, I am just trying to illustrate that 2 classes being better at Arcana than a Wizard is, is weird (sorry for the alliteration).
 

Esker

Explorer
You keep repeating this ceiling thing, means nothing to me. Maybe I am maths stupid, I am just trying to illustrate that 2 classes being better at Arcana than a Wizard is, is weird (sorry for the alliteration).
By the ceiling, I mean the highest possible roll. The floor is the lowest possible roll. Ordinarily the ceiling is 20 plus modifier, and the floor is 1 plus modifier. The issue with some skill checks becoming near-automatic arises when the floor is too close to the DC. So to address that particular problem, you can try to lower the floor.

If the only knob you have at your disposal is the modifier, you can't move the floor without moving the ceiling the same amount. Expertise as written raises both. But some mechanics decouple these: reliable talent, along with some similar proposals in this thread, raise the floor without touching the ceiling. But if you're trying to reduce near-automatic successes, that's the opposite of what you want. Simply reducing the bonus granted by expertise addresses that problem, but at the cost of making the rogue worse. One of my proposals was to lower the floor and raise the ceiling, giving the rogue value for value while addressing the bounded accuracy problem. But [MENTION=6987520]dnd4vr[/MENTION] objects to the rogue having a higher ceiling because... reasons? It's not because of bounded accuracy though.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
By the ceiling, I mean the highest possible roll.
Okay, +17, sans other bits. Look, in the end I have no problem with people lowering or heightening ceilings (hard to do in certain flats), but why are areas of knowledge not as attainable unless you take one of two classes?

Basically, great for a 1-shot, crap for continuity.

"...no, you must not seek an Archmage for wizardly knowledge...but this thief I know..."
 

Sadras

Explorer
I mean, there have been a lot of suggestions, but none that simultaneously satisfy the conflicting constraints of (1) removing near-auto-successes, (2) keeping the ceiling matched, and (3) giving the rogue something of equal skill-monkey value to expertise. I don't know why we care about (2), and I don’t think @dnd4vr really cares about (3) (though I bet his rogue players do, as evidenced by their revolt against the attempt to replace expertise with advantage)
(1) and (2) is doable by the system I recommended upthread and funny enough I was going to suggest an additional skill expertise or cool thing with the bonus actions for (3). As for his players...well lucky they do not have me as a DM is all I can say. Because if my players went all bananas and we not able to compromise with all that - I'd happily show them door.

Life is just a little too stressful to have to deal with spoilt children in my hobby.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
But you haven't explained why it matters that the rogue's ceiling is higher. What game problem does that cause? Particularly if the ceiling is higher for only 1% of rolls or something, and corresponds to DCs that never come up (and therefore has literally no practical impact)? Or is it not really about the mechanics at all for you, and just about a strong visceral aversion to what you see as the in-fiction connotation of this particular mechanic?

I just thought of another idea, in the spirit of infinite patience with your vendetta against rogues: make proficiency a die (1d4 at levels 1-4), etc., and let expertise be you skip rolling the proficiency die and just get the maximum. Then both have the same ceiling, but the expert has an easier time hitting it. There. Done. Can we all go home now?
I have explained why it matters. There is NO reasonable explanation for it other than a "This is what these classes get." The only class I could in any way understand possibly being better (i.e. the highest possible numbers) at a skill might be Bards due to their nature of gathering knowledge and being well-traveled. One could argue that not only do the pick up a little of everything (Jack of all trades) but have learned things others have rarely been exposed to (thus, possibly higher numbers...). It is a stretch in some ways, but at least has a basis in the idea other than "sure, let's give them awesome skills to make them stand out."

Another possible idea, and it might be a good one. I'll think it over. You can go home now. ;)

Maybe it's just the fact that it makes too many things cakewalks; grapple checks, Stealth checks, Perception checks (and passive) what-have-you. Artificially inflating DCs to keep the Expertise person challenged is not a solution. Also seems to fly in the face of BA, and the world building implications: Bards and Rogues are the masters of Arcana, Religion, Nature, Wrestling, you name it, like Bond: "...nobody does it better".

...Okay, the 007 comparison was a bad idea, as he is cool and should be the best at everything, but that is because he is James (Cha 20 and such), like a unique NPC.
That is a key issue in bold. Thank you for your support in understanding that.

Personally I wouldn't want a class to have a monopoly on higher skill-ceilings than all others, I'm all for a higher floor, hence my idea about a passive base when one has expertise and you choose the higher of the passive or the roll.
I certainly do not agree with dnd4vr about bards.

To be honest, I think more than enough options/solutions have been provides in this thread to make this very much a non-issue.
Higher floors (to a point) don't bother me either. Maybe when I summarized your idea I got something wrong. The more I look at it, I am starting to think the issue is in the DCs more than anything else...

Wait, what did I say about bards you don't agree with? :confused:

Maybe a form of Expertise could be added to all classes, and something else for the Rogue to pull off when it comes to his schtick; to be honest, Expertise seems like lazy design.

"...uh, well, yeah, just double proficiency bonus, that sounds good..."

I really love 5th Ed, I am a huge fan, but the universal proficiency bonus reminds me a little bit of the +1/2 level to everything of 4th Ed (which I excised to much success).
I would prefer a bit more gradation, not as much as 3rd Ed, but some. I do not dig a 20th-level Wizard being equally competent at striking enemies as a 20th-level Fighter (Extra Attack is neither here nor there).
It is interesting. I don't know if it is so much about lazy design as their effort to keep everything as simple as possible. Yeah, I would prefer more gradation over a simplified mechanic, but 5E is all about simple.

But something becoming a cakewalk is by definition *not* about the ceiling. Bounded accuracy is about not letting the floor be too high, or the ceiling *too low*.
I disagree. Due to the nature of rolling, if the ceiling is potentially higher, the floor is raised as well (at least in RAW). Bounded accuracy is ALL about the ceiling and keeping numbers under control. Expertise (especially combined with other features in the game) flies in the face of this. If 30 is supposed to be the theoretical cap, we are getting in the realm of numbers beyond that. At +17 RAW, the average roll is 27 (approaching nearly impossible). I could go the other direction with passive perception; 20th level, WIS 20, expertise, observant = passive perception score: 32. So, "nearly impossible" is automatic. Sure, this is an extreme example, but very possible with three levels of bard or a single level of rogue. Take out the +6 for expertise, and at least we are just tipping over the difficult DC at 26, keeping things more "bounded".

Fine. Propose a menu of other things for the rogue to pull off with options for every rogue skill which is balanced against expertise. I made an attempt a couple pages back; you could even use my list as a jumping off point. We agree that something along those lines would be a reasonable trade for a rogue to make. But until you provide the details of what the designers should have done if only they weren't so lazy, maybe hold off on the "lazy design" angle.
While others are working on it, I am more in favor of a simpler approach. Granting advantage on expert skill checks does a lot of what I want. Keeps the potential the same (20 is still max), and moves the success rate for higher checks up (allowing experts to "get there more easily". Either way, as I wrote before, I am starting to think the issue is in the DC...

I mean, there have been a lot of suggestions, but none that simultaneously satisfy the conflicting constraints of (1) removing near-auto-successes, (2) keeping the ceiling matched, and (3) giving the rogue something of equal skill-monkey value to expertise. I don't know why we care about (2), and I don’t think @dnd4vr really cares about (3) (though I bet his rogue players do, as evidenced by their revolt against the attempt to replace expertise with advantage)
We care about 2 for all the reasons myself and others have mentioned. And I am one of the rogue players, FWIW. I was fine with advantage, the other player in the group resisted the idea because it would decrease his potential (even though he was already ahead of the others...). IIRC, at the time I was +8 (+3 prof x2, +2 DEX) and he was +10 (+4 DEX), while the ranger was only +6. He didn't want to lose that +4 edge over the ranger and feel less competitive. Honestly, it seemed petty to me since he would still have been +7 with his DEX 18, and with advantage would have done better than the ranger most of the time anyway.

But again, I think the DCs are the issue as you have mentioned before, at least concerning stealth and passive perception. I mean, a DC 15 is supposed to be "moderate", yet most creatures have a passive perception score below that. With the +10 bonus our rogue had before, he was beating that 75% of the time, pushing it more towards the realms of what I would consider more easy than moderate. Take away the +15% from expertise, and 60% is more "moderate" IMO.

Or, here's another idea: have the expertise bonus scale more slowly (say, hitting +3 at level 8 and +4 at level 15) but give the rogue expertise in more skills. Say three skills (or two plus thieves' tools) at level 1 and another three at level 6. Maybe grant one extra proficiency at level 6 too.
LOL, in case you never noticed, this is what I wrote upthread we are currently doing. Expertise is +2, +3 at 7th, +4 at 14th. The other rogue player accepted this at least, over advantage, but no one really felt adding more skills or expertise selections was necessary.

You keep repeating this ceiling thing, means nothing to me. Maybe I am maths stupid, I am just trying to illustrate that 2 classes being better at Arcana than a Wizard is, is weird (sorry for the alliteration).
Yep. Seems weird to me, too. Remove the number inflation for expertise, and it isn't an issue. Or, as several people have mentioned, if the higher numbers alone don't bother you (they bother me, but that might be my issue LOL), just allow every class one skill to have expertise in; rogue and bards would just have more. To me, this is a band-aid solution but might work for you.
 

Sadras

Explorer
Higher floors (to a point) don't bother me either.
Maybe when I summarized your idea I got something wrong. The more I look at it, I am starting to think the issue is in the DCs more than anything else...
I get the issue with expertise, trust me.
As for DC's being too low...the way I see it is as characters rise in levels they will deal less and less with the mundane wall climbs, the easy pick pockets, the sneaking past natural guards. They're supposed to be scaling cliffs in the middle of stormy weather, lifting the magical bauble off an efreeti and sneaking past a chimera...etc

Do not feel compelled to use the stats as written in MM. If you believe that guard dog should have a higher passive perception score, have at it, but be fair.

Also you probably did read it correctly, but just in case - the passive scores I'm suggesting are x (which ever you use as your base) + Proficiency, NOT the ability modifier.
(a) This ensures a reasonable passive base; and
(b) Ensures proficiency (training) and by extension expertise, is more important than natural ability, which I believe was one of the issues listed initially.

Wait, what did I say about bards you don't agree with? :confused:
I think you said you didn't rate the bard highly. I disagree. But that is ok, we all have opinions on stuffs. ;)
 
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