• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

5E Proficiency vs. Ability vs. Expertise

Mycroft

Explorer
That is a key issue in bold. Thank you for your support in understanding that.
Seems obvious, stands out like a facial disfigurement; you are gonna get a lot of resistance to your proposed: hey, Expertise ain't so hot deal, some like to do the ostrich move.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
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 of 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.
Cool. I think I was still including the ability modifier... I'll take another look at it. Thanks!

I think you said you didn't rate the bard highly. I disagree. But that is ok, we all have opinions on stuffs. ;)
LOL very true! Maybe someday I will see someone play a bard and not find them silly and lackluster, but unless a new player joins our group who does that, I doubt I will.
 

Esker

Explorer
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..."
Well not the +17 but the 37 that's possible when you have a +17. Or the 32 that's possible when you have a +12, etc.

The Arcana case is easily handled if need be without taking apart expertise wholesale.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
1) Well not the +17 but the 37 that's possible when you have a +17. Or the 32 that's possible when you have a +12, etc.

2) The Arcana case is easily handled if need be without taking apart expertise wholesale.
1) Yes, and then...? Are you trying to wax on the variant of the d20 roll?

2) Neat, what would you have in mind?
 

Esker

Explorer
I have explained why it matters. There is NO reasonable explanation for it other than a "This is what these classes get."
You've reiterated that sentence many times, but repeated statement of your opinion does not an explanation make. It's fine if the answer is that there is no mechanical problem with the higher ceiling per se, and that it's just that you don't like the in-fiction connotations. It's, like, your opinion, man. I just want to be clear on the distinction.

I disagree. Due to the nature of rolling, if the ceiling is potentially higher, the floor is raised as well (at least in RAW).
Like I said to Mycroft, if all you can manipulate is the modifier then you wind up moving the floor along with the ceiling and vice versa. But we're not limited to manipulating the modifier. My earlier proposal was explicitly designed to decouple the two.

Bounded accuracy is ALL about the ceiling and keeping numbers under control.
You might be using "ceiling" differently than I am. If what you mean by ceiling is "success rate", then I agree. But to keep the success rate from getting too high, you need to keep the lowest possible rolls (what I mean by "the floor") from getting too close to DCs, or at least keep a reasonable amount of probability below the DCs that are encountered. In combat, bounded accuracy refers to limiting attack bonuses so that you don't wind up with 2s becoming hits -- at least not too often (that is, keeping the floor on rolls below most ACs) -- and limiting ACs so that you don't wind up with 19s becoming misses (that is, keeping the ceiling from falling below the AC).

Bounded accuracy has nothing to do with keeping the highest rolls from getting too high if you roll a natural 20.

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.
But again, this is a question of the floor, not the ceiling. At +17, the real issue is that the floor is 18, not that the ceiling is 37. It doesn't matter at all -- not a tiny bit -- whether the ceiling is 37 or 31, unless you're encountering creatures with perception bonuses of +12 or more, since only then can they wind up with a roll between those values. And in terms of rolling stealth vs passive perception it doesn't matter at all unless you were to encounter a creature with passive perception of 32, which ain't happening. But even if it did, so what? You now have a 6 in 400 chance of sneaking past that creature instead of a 0 in 400 chance. Game breaking?

We care about 2 for all the reasons myself and others have mentioned.
Nobody has given any mechanical reasons, though. You have an instinctive simulationist aversion to it, which is fine, but purely simulationist aversions are best fixed by changing the fluff, not the crunch, IMO.

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.
I did notice; that's where I got the idea. I'm just suggesting that since doing that weakens expertise without changing any other classes, that the rogue should be compensated for it. And granting more expertise picks is a really easy way to do that without stripping away their skill-monkey identity: trade some depth for some breadth (instead of trading skill-monkey goodies for combat goodies). If you come up with some "tricks" instead, that seems fine too, but the devil's in the details.
 

Esker

Explorer
1) Yes, and then...? Are you trying to wax on the variant of the d20 roll?

2) Neat, what would you have in mind?
1) Yes, precisely. See my proposed expertise replacement a few pages back.
2) Talked about that toward the beginning of the thread.
 

Esker

Explorer
Cool, appreciate the effort, but don't dig.
Are you saying you don't dig the suggestions? That's fine, obviously, but I'm curious what it is you don't like. In the case of arcana, if you limit rogues' expertise picks to their class skills, with exceptions for particular subclasses, then the unnaturalness of the rogue being the best at the thing in question goes away, IMO.

Replacing the d20 with 2d10, etc. is a tougher pill to swallow, admittedly, since the d20 is so core to the game. But just recognize that a lot of the pathologies with the way skill checks end up working RAW are a direct consequence of using a luck die that gives equal probabilities to extremes as it does to moderate values: regular proficiency feels a bit lackluster, because a +3 only increases checks vs fixed DC by 15% across the board (instead of increasing checks "at your skill level" by a bunch, but having little effect on checks well above or below that, as the 2d10 would do), and gives non-proficient characters unreasonably high chances to prevail in contested checks vs proficient characters. And because the effect of bonuses is pretty small, a class feature like expertise that is entirely about skill checks has to grant pretty big bonuses to feel like it's a worthy prize for picking a class, or for leveling up to 6th.

I'm playing a rogue that just got to 6th, and with expertise as written, and even though I like being a skill monkey, it feels like a slightly underwhelming level-up: the paladin is getting a crazy aura, the fighter gets an ASI or feat, the cleric gets a neat subclass thing and doubles their Channel Divinity uses, the lore bard gets to pick a couple of tasty treats from other classes' spell lists, etc. Meanwhile I get to be a little better at things that don't come up that often. And that's after a solid but still comparatively underwhelming level-up at 5th. Uncanny Dodge and one more d6 sneak attack is great, but it's not as fun as getting extra attack or 3rd level spells. If I were playing at a table that had nerfed expertise and not given something comparable back, I'd be questioning my class choice; probably multiclassing out, tbh.
 

Mycroft

Explorer
Are you saying you don't dig the suggestions? That's fine, obviously, but I'm curious what it is you don't like. In the case of arcana, if you limit rogues' expertise picks to their class skills, with exceptions for particular subclasses, then the unnaturalness of the rogue being the best at the thing in question goes away, IMO.

Replacing the d20 with 2d10, etc. is a tougher pill to swallow, admittedly, since the d20 is so core to the game. But just recognize that a lot of the pathologies with the way skill checks end up working RAW are a direct consequence of using a luck die that gives equal probabilities to extremes as it does to moderate values: regular proficiency feels a bit lackluster, because a +3 only increases checks vs fixed DC by 15% across the board (instead of increasing checks "at your skill level" by a bunch, but having little effect on checks well above or below that, as the 2d10 would do), and gives non-proficient characters unreasonably high chances to prevail in contested checks vs proficient characters. And because the effect of bonuses is pretty small, a class feature like expertise that is entirely about skill checks has to grant pretty big bonuses to feel like it's a worthy prize for picking a class, or for leveling up to 6th.

I'm playing a rogue that just got to 6th, and with expertise as written, and even though I like being a skill monkey, it feels like a slightly underwhelming level-up: the paladin is getting a crazy aura, the fighter gets an ASI or feat, the cleric gets a neat subclass thing and doubles their Channel Divinity uses, the lore bard gets to pick a couple of tasty treats from other classes' spell lists, etc. Meanwhile I get to be a little better at things that don't come up that often. And that's after a solid but still comparatively underwhelming level-up at 5th. Uncanny Dodge and one more d6 sneak attack is great, but it's not as fun as getting extra attack or 3rd level spells. If I were playing at a table that had nerfed expertise and not given something comparable back, I'd be questioning my class choice; probably multiclassing out, tbh.
Crikey!
...dazzling, but not persuasive.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
You've reiterated that sentence many times, but repeated statement of your opinion does not an explanation make. It's fine if the answer is that there is no mechanical problem with the higher ceiling per se, and that it's just that you don't like the in-fiction connotations. It's, like, your opinion, man. I just want to be clear on the distinction.

What kind of explanation are you looking for? An explanation of why somebody wants to change something is always their opinion. For many people RAW expertise works fine (yourself included from your statements), it doesn't for me for, again, the reasons I've stated. Even if I give you a mechanical reason for it (such as auto-successes at lower DCs and less meaningful higher DCs due to expertise increasing the probability of success so it is no longer as much of a challenge), the desire for the change would still be my own preference--my opinion. I hope you see why there really isn't a distinction.
 

Esker

Explorer
What kind of explanation are you looking for? An explanation of why somebody wants to change something is always their opinion. For many people RAW expertise works fine (yourself included from your statements), it doesn't for me for, again, the reasons I've stated. Even if I give you a mechanical reason for it (such as auto-successes at lower DCs and less meaningful higher DCs due to expertise increasing the probability of success so it is no longer as much of a challenge), the desire for the change would still be my own preference--my opinion. I hope you see why there really isn't a distinction.
I would never say that you're not entitled to your opinion; I'm just trying to get a straightforward clarification about whether your dislike for the rogue's higher ceiling (as distinct from the higher floor) is driven purely by aesthetics/fluff connotations, or whether there's also a mechanical problem you see with it. It's clear to me now, despite the straightforward clarification I was looking for, that it's driven by aesthetics/fluff. It's still your opinion, and you're still entitled to it. But it muddies the search for a solution if we can't be clear on that.

You've expressed an opinion that a 75% success rates on stealth checks is too high. I disagree, but I accept your opinion, and worked to come up with a solution that would lower that number (which is reasonably seen as question of bounded accuracy as the concept generalizes to skill checks) without taking power away from the rogue. But as recently as this morning you are still claiming that your issue with the rogue's higher ceiling, which is a separate issue except insofar as we can't distinguish the two using fixed bonuses alone, is about bounded accuracy too, which is factually untrue. What bounded accuracy does is keep success chances strictly above 0% and strictly below 100%; so moving a success chance from 0 to something above zero is working with bounded accuracy, not against it.
 

Esker

Explorer
Ah, sealioning, not into it, thanks.
I've not heard that term, but I just looked it up, and I'm definitely not trolling anyone. If I'm understanding the concept correctly (via Wikipedia), the last thing I want is to provoke an angry response from anyone, and I'm not disguising anything as an attempt to learn and communicate; I really just want to communicate.

I'm persisting because I'm irritated that you want to say that my argument is "dazzling but unpersuasive" without actually providing a critique of it. All you have to say is that you don't care about the reasoning and that you're going to continue holding your gut opinion regardless. Which is fine; it's just a game we're talking about, after all, and it's not like anyone is going to get hurt over it. But what's the point of engaging in a discussion thread about solving problems if you're just going to stick to your opinion and not engage with other people's reasoning?
 

Mycroft

Explorer
I've not heard that term, but I just looked it up, and I'm definitely not trolling anyone. If I'm understanding the concept correctly (via Wikipedia), the last thing I want is to provoke an angry response from anyone, and I'm not disguising anything as an attempt to learn and communicate; I really just want to communicate.
Well, could have fooled me. Let's just never mind this one.

Thanks, take care,

M
 

Mycroft

Explorer
You too! Like I said, no hard feelings, and I didn't mean to offend. I'm just passionate about internal consistency. :)
Ha, baiting and flinging is not internal consistency, but nice try, with that last straw.

It's okay...go...
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
So, this is what I've decided I am going to pitch to our group on Saturday:

* Proficiency caps at +8 (no change for us)
* Ability caps at +4 (18 is the max, regardless of racial modifiers)
* Expertise grants advantage on skill checks for selected skills. (We stack sources of advantage and disadvantage, so this still makes things like Elven Accuracy and certain magical items valuable).
* For attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks, a natural 1 on the d20 always fails and a natural 20 always succeeds.

Class-wise:

* Bards will begin with 4 skills, not 3, for their class (not that it really matters to us, but just in case we ever have a bard again... ;) )
* Rogues will be allowed to select 2 additional skills for expertise at 11th level.
* Bards will be allowed to select 2 additional skills for expertise at 16th level.

I am adding a new Feat:

Raising the Bar

You have ability beyond the norm. Select one ability score and you gain the following benefits:

* You gain 1 point to the chosen ability score.
* Your maximum for the chosen ability score is now 20 instead of 18.
* Once per long rest when you make an attack roll, saving throw, or skill check using your chosen ability score modifier and the result fails, you can reroll the attempt. (MAYBE??? Too much? I probably won't keep this one... but our long rests are 24 hours.)
I am also doing a re-write of the Prodigy feat:

Prodigy

You have a knack for learning new things and a natural talent in one skill. You gain the following benefits:

* You gain one skill proficiency of your choice and proficiency in one language of your choice. You also gain proficiency in one kit, tool, or vehicle-type (land or sea) of your choice.
* Choose one skill, kit, tool, or vehicle-type in which you have proficiency. Whenever you make a skill check using your chosen skill, you add double your ability score modifier to your check (minimum +2).
I like the change in prodigy to base it on ability score modifier instead of proficiency, since a prodigy is supposed to have a natural talent bend IMO. Also, anyone can be better with a selected skill, etc., but no one gets it for free as a class feature. All other sources (such as Knowledge Domain's "Blessings of Knowledge" for clerics) that double proficiency bonus will grant advantage instead.

This means, barring magic or some other boost, normal bonuses will not exceed +12, up to +16 via the Prodigy feat (which anyone can take now). If you invest in max ability score, Raising the Bar, and Prodigy, you could have a +18 max. That is a heavy investment, and even with expertise granting advantage has about a 30% to fail at a DC 30 check and even 9% against a DC 25.

For the people who play without feats, this won't work, but we do and I think it will work for us.

Now, there is still the issue of linear bonuses raising the floor. Other than the 1 always fails rule, I can't do much about that without changing the base d20 mechanic, which I am loathe to do. A rogue who is +8 on stealth with expertise against a passive perception of 14 will succeed over 90% of the time, but I doubt anyone else will argue against it. As others have suggested, higher passive DCs, more foes to check against at once, etc. will have to serve to level the playing field some.
 

Advertisement

Top