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D&D 5E Proficiency vs. Ability vs. Expertise


Oddly enough, your High proficiency is nearly identical to our standard. Something along these lines might work, but I have to think about it. Thanks for it and it reminds me in some ways of D20 SW, which I always liked.

Right on; and SWSE is a fantastic game, but has horrendous scaling, so I rip out the +heroic level to Defences and BAB.

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Nice. I will have to consider this as well and check some numbers. I am not keen on the passive 10 part since to me "passive" is really more like a 5 LOL.

You may decide then that:
Passive Proficiency is 5 + Proficiency.
Passive Expertise is 10 + Proficiency.


For sure the range increases, but while that +13 may let the bard go to a new kingdom and talk his way past the guards(which he couldn't do at say +5) and up to the king, there's no chance of persuading this king to loan his army to strangers. The group would be lucky not to get tossed into the dungeon.

Sure. There's DC 30 and then there's DC 45+ or something, at which point there's no need to assign an actual number to it, since even with a +17 and Guidance, you're not getting there.

But what I'm saying is that it makes expertise more interesting if you open up the definition of what's achievable a bit, to give super hero skill monkeys some really badass things they can do by leveraging their expertise. And the numbers you assign to those things might change a bit if you're using 2d10 rather than 1d20.


Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Yes (sorry about the formatting going all wonky):

Ability Score Adjustment: Your Strength, Dexterity, or Intelligence score increases by 1.

Variant: Proficiency Bonus
[FONT=&]Weapon Attacks: Medium
Saving Throws: High (Dexterity, Intelligence); Medium (Wisdom, Charisma), Low (Strength, Constitution)
Perception: High
Skills: High (Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma), Medium (Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma), Low (Strength)
Tools: High


So A Rogue in your game can get a +1 to a few skills? IE, a Cleric with a Guidance cantrip will usually do better than the Rogue in the Rogues trained skills? I hope you gave them something else to compensate because that's a massive nerf to a core ability.


We are getting somewhere, just maybe not where you want to be. :)

Hah, well I meant that it seemed like you and I were coming to something we could agree on.

The idea of allowing expertise to match your better contribution from proficiency or ability isn't making the classes worse IMO, it is bringing them back within bounded accuracy.

Not meaning to sound like a jerk here, I promise, but it's not really a matter of opinion: You're effectively taking away certain options for rogues and bards (taking expertise in stealth or persuasion, for example), and making expertise worse in any skill associated with an ability where they have a positive modifier, without affecting the other classes at all (in fact, if you couple that with increasing the proficiency bonus across the board it's a double whammy to the rogue and bard). If you think those classes are too strong and need nerfing, that's an opinion, but the fact that this rule in isolation makes them worse is just objective fact (unless you think the ability to take an 8 in a stat and get expertise in an associated skill without suffering the -1 is worth a tremendous amount, but I'm pretty sure that's not where you're coming from).

Now, if you're not doing this in isolation, maybe you can make up for it. You already described some nice additional cunning action options, which is something. But bonus actions are only relevant in combat or combat-like settings, andfor me at least, a big part of the reason to play a rogue is to excel in some parts of the other pillars. So I would feel better about the change if you were offsetting the nerf to expertise with something else to those classes that would benefit them out of combat.

Even with 2d10, the same issue remains that (for only the sake of a class feature), rogues and bards have the potential to be better at things than other classes which would naturally excel at those skills.

They sure do! That's part of their class identity!

Or maybe just cap the total modifier for RAW at +13 or so, regardless of how you got there. It will require more thought...

Again, the only classes that can exceed that RAW are rogues and bards, so this change would weaken those classes relative to the others.

The bottom line for me is that I think there are ways to address the problems you perceive exist with expertise that don't single out skill monkey classes, or at least narrowly address certain edge cases. For example, changing the way passive perception works across the board, treating natural 1s as automatic failures on skill checks, restricting expertise to class skills, finding some class-neutral tweaks to a 2d10 skill system, etc.


First Post
If it doesn't walk like a duck or talk like a duck, then it isn't a duck in any way that matters. It doesn't matter how much duck DNA they injected into their emu.

This is a simple difference of definition. You're talking about all birds, as though anything in that taxonomic class could meet my needs, but my needs are far more specific than what you would fit under that label. When I want a duck, I need an actual duck. It doesn't matter if FATE or Apocalypse has a beak and feathers, or kind of looks like a duck from a distance. It's not close enough for what I need it.
Just because you haven't read it, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or that it isn't better than 5E along several observable metrics. It's on drivethruRPG.com, and it's earned far more than what I spent to produce it. The worst problems of 5E are actually pretty trivial to solve, if you approach them with a clear goal in mind.


This is not a rule. The rule is that you only make a check if the outcome is in doubt. There are lots of checks where someone with a +1 or less will be able to fail a DC 5, and many of those will have meaningful consequences anyway.

Ok, so going full pedantic are we? Yes, the rule is actually "The DM calls for an ability check when a character or monster attempts an action (other than an attack) that has a chance of failure. When the outcome is uncertain, the dice determine the results". However, if there isn't a consequence for failure, then the attempt can be done over and over again. A DC 5 just isn't that difficult and if it is, Working Together basically make it a moot point.

However, I have to remember this is coming from someone that thinks Medicine is a critical skill. :hmm:

Dude, I already told you that you need to stop the assuming. You are really bad at it. Nobody was talking about jumping to the moon. Poor assumption #1. Nobody is talking about roll-playing. Poor assumption #2. And 2d10 isn't a solution to a problem, since there's no problem with skills as is. There are only preferences on how swingy you like them to be. Poor assumption #3.

Talk to me man. If you just ask me about what I'm talking about, I can save you from making all these lousy assumptions. I'm here to help.

Clearly hyperbole is lost upon you. You are talking about figuratively jumping to the moon. It is not an assumption, as you stated it yourself that you believe that a 5% of always succeeding makes for a better game. Your complaint about 2d10 was that a DC 30 was only possible 1% of the time instead of 5% of the time and therefore impossible. This is the "Jumping to the Moon" meme. Maybe try looking something up before posting about assumptions? Yours are way off.

Or perhaps you should debate ideas instead of the person so you don't come off like the back end of a donkey?


I agree with the original post in general. I think proficiency should trump ability mod pretty much all the time. I've been working on a game based on 5e that uses a 2d6 mechanic with adjusted DCs. The proficiency system stays at +2 to +6, but the ability mods max out at +3. I also allow skills to have +1 specialities; for example, athletics has specialities of climb, swim, and jump. A proficient character, especially with specialties, will beat a non-proficient character most of the time. The bell curve dice mechanic helps a lot as well.
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For me, Expertise sort of crosses the line from elegant design to lazy. Merely doubling the proficiency bonus is not that interesting, and it implies things about the game world I don't dig. I don't think Bards and Rogues being able to specialise in an area of knowledge like no one else can is desirable, and certainly not being the best wrestlers in the multiverse.


For me, Expertise sort of crosses the line from elegant design to lazy. Merely doubling the proficiency bonus is not that interesting, and it implies things about the game world I don't dig. I don't think Bards and Rogues being able to specialise in an area of knowledge like no one else can is desirable, and certainly not being the best wrestlers in the multiverse.

I mean that's a fine and defensible position, but those classes are balanced around expertise as written, so if you want to weaken or eliminate the feature, you've got to give those classes something comparable in value to compensate; preferably something of comparable value in the skill sphere. That's all I'm saying.

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