5E Proficiency vs Non-Proficiency

How many times out of 20 attempts would no skill win out over ultimate skill?

  • Out of 20 attempts, the unskilled will beat the ultimate skilled 0-1 times (0-5%).

    Votes: 28 46.7%
  • Out of 20 attempts, the unskilled will beat the ultimate skilled 2-3 times (10-15%).

    Votes: 13 21.7%
  • Out of 20 attempts, the unskilled will beat the ultimate skilled 4-5 times (20-25%).

    Votes: 14 23.3%
  • Out of 20 attempts, the unskilled will beat the ultimate skilled 6-7 times (30-35%).

    Votes: 4 6.7%
  • Out of 20 attempts, the unskilled will beat the ultimate skilled 8-9 times (40-45%).

    Votes: 1 1.7%

  • Total voters
    60

dnd4vr

Adventurer
In my discussion at our table yesterday, I thought I would do a poll to get some feedback from the 5E community here. Now, I am expecting certain results, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

You have two people: one has no proficiency to a skill or attack, the other is 20th level and with the highest proficiency possible. Now, remember, we are talking ONLY proficiency or not, there is no ability score bonus, magic, etc. to add. Also, I am not considering Expertise, but that is a very valid issue to consider.

I can do the math, that isn't what I am looking for! I know what the 5E system says as far as how often the unskilled person will win. So again, the question isn't the math; it is your feeling, gut-reaction/instinct to the idea.

In a contest between the two (out of 20 attempts each), how often do you feel or think an unskilled, non-proficient person should better a person of ultimate skill?

If you don't like the options, please answer and explain your own take. Thanks to all for participating and your feedback.


(EDITED to add comment about Expertise since the ability to double proficiency bonus cannot assist in attack rolls but many thanks to S'mon for mentioning it.)
 
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Saelorn

Adventurer
I went with the second option (10-15 percent), because you aren't accounting for stats in this. I think the untrained character should still have a 5% chance, even if their ability modifier is slightly lower, but not if it's their dump stat.

Edit: I just noticed the specific wording. Are you asking about attack rolls, or skill checks? Because there's a huge difference in "ultimate skill level" between the two. My previous answer was regarding proficiency vs non-proficiency; i.e. a level 20 fighter with proficiency in History, vs a fighter without proficiency in History. That's the scenario where I expect the trained historian to come out on top 95% of the time.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I can do the math, that isn't what I am looking for! I know what the 5E system says as far as how often the unskilled person will win. So again, the question isn't the math; it is your feeling, gut-reaction/instinct to the idea.
.
To be honest, my gut instinct is “this question feels like a trap.”
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
It would kind of depend on the skill. Some skills should have less variance in possible results than the other.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
My own take is I don't have any particular gut feeling or other expectation about how those numbers should shake out. "Should" is a risky mindset to have in a game that shares elements with childhood games of make-believe and is driven by imagination. In my view, such a game is better approached with the mindset of "could," "might," "may," or "can" rather than a mindset of "should", "would," or "must."

So however that math works out (and I'd be interested to see the numbers), it's fine by me. After all, maybe that's just how it works in this world of swords and sorcery.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
Since we are speaking of am expert in a skill vs unskilled you look at a +12 bonus.
If you do a stealth vs passive perception check, it is a 100% success rate. This is ok.

If you go with a contest it is d20+12-d20 which needs to be greater than 0 for the exper to win. Or equal to 0 to have a draw which would be sufficient

A total of 400 outcomes. Lets count the number of dice rolls which result in failures:
First die 20: 0 numbers on the second die result in a failure.
19: 0
18 to 8: 0
7: 1
6: 2
5: 3
4: 4
3: 5
2: 6
1: 7
0: 8

The sum is 8*9/2 = 36.
36/400 is slightly below 1 in 20 chance to beat the expert. Which I voted for.
If the expert has advantage or better stats the untrained has litterally no chance.

My personal opinion:
Each class should have a field of expertise. Wizard: arcane. Cleric: religion. Rogue: any 3. Ranger: stealth, perception or survival. Fighter: athletics or peception maybe. You get the point. At least there should be an option to ger expertise in a single skill for any class, not only the rogue. Especially when the skill is iconic and the related stat rather lackluster. Cleric, ähm, religion, ähm.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
My question is: what is this trying to accomplish? That random dice rolls will sometimes produce odd results? Sure. But why is an unskilled character being asked to try and accomplish a task that apparently tests an ultimate skilled character? A brain surgeon rolling dice against a dolt is obviously going to lose some of the time, but doesn’t mean I want the dolt to open my head up!

Garbage in, garbage out. :)
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
In my discussion at our table yesterday, I thought I would do a poll to get some feedback from the 5E community here. Now, I am expecting certain results, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

You have two people: one has no proficiency to a skill or attack, the other is 20th level and with the highest proficiency possible. Now, remember, we are talking ONLY proficiency or not, there is no ability score bonus, magic, etc. to add.

I can do the math, that isn't what I am looking for! I know what the 5E system says as far as how often the unskilled person will win. So again, the question isn't the math; it is your feeling, gut-reaction/instinct to the idea.

In a contest between the two (out of 20 attempts each), how often do you feel or think an unskilled, non-proficient person should better a person of ultimate skill?

If you don't like the options, please answer and explain your own take. Thanks to all for participating and your feedback.
But you haven't described "ultimate" skill, you've described "casual skill by a master".

"Ultimate" skill is boosted by expertise, by natural ability (ability scores), perhaps by feats.

This is the difference between "I don't know this" and "I have familiarity with it and in general a lot of experience".
 
Hmm, this looks like a trick question. All else being equal, a skilled person would have their proficiency bonus and an unskilled person wouldn't, right? According to the rules, I mean.

Proficiency ranges from +2 to +6, which is a range of +10% to +30% on a d20. So a skilled person would beat an unskilled person about 10-30% of the time. This implies that the unskilled laborer would equal or exceed the skilled one about 70-90% of the time. So that's how I would vote.

That said: there's nothing wrong with house-ruling that every class gets Expertise in one skill. If it works for your table, rock on. (Personally, I'd make it a feat. +1 to the skill's ability score, choose one skill you are proficient with and gain Expertise with it, done.)
 
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UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
If you however spoke about +6 prodiciency bonus, it is (14*15/2)/400 = 105/400 ~ slightly above 5 in 20 chance to fail as 'expert'. So it is between option 3 or 4.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
To be honest, my gut instinct is “this question feels like a trap.”
Darn! You caught me, Admiral. ;)

It would kind of depend on the skill. Some skills should have less variance in possible results than the other.
Valid, but since I am talking about attacks/skills in general, I just wanted people to follow their gut overall.

My own take is I don't have any particular gut feeling or other expectation about how those numbers should shake out. "Should" is a risky mindset to have in a game that shares elements with childhood games of make-believe and is driven by imagination. In my view, such a game is better approached with the mindset of "could," "might," "may," or "can" rather than a mindset of "should", "would," or "must."

So however that math works out (and I'd be interested to see the numbers), it's fine by me. After all, maybe that's just how it works in this world of swords and sorcery.
Should versus any other word-choice is mostly a matter of semantics. "Could" works just as well, but I choose "Should" because this is a matter what you believe is likely and makes sense to you in your own game setting. Every table will differ of course, but that is what I want to know--how you think it "should" turn out (your opinion) individually.

My question is: what is this trying to accomplish? That random dice rolls will sometimes produce odd results? Sure. But why is an unskilled character being asked to try and accomplish a task that apparently tests an ultimate skilled character? A brain surgeon rolling dice against a dolt is obviously going to lose some of the time, but doesn’t mean I want the dolt to open my head up!

Garbage in, garbage out. :)
I am trying to get a feel for other peoples' thoughts on how someone with no training or skill whatsoever would fair in a contest against someone would ultimate proficiency in that training or skill.

But you haven't described "ultimate" skill, you've described "casual skill by a master".

"Ultimate" skill is boosted by expertise, by natural ability (ability scores), perhaps by feats.

This is the difference between "I don't know this" and "I have familiarity with it and in general a lot of experience".
No. Ultimate skill is exactly what I describe: their proficiency is as good as experience can ever make it. They have no ability modifier (natural) to augment it. What you describe is someone with both high proficiency and high ability score (natural). My poll and question removes all other factors. If it makes you feel better, you can assume both persons have the same ability score appropriate for the skill/attack-type. Thus, non-proficiency versus highest or ultimate proficiency is the question here.
 

S'mon

Legend
A "person of ultimate skill" would have the highest bonus achievable in the game, so you can't exclude Expertise and Ability bonuses. As noted above, a +6 proficiency bonus indicates high level but not great skill.

+6 proficiency, expertise and +5 attribute gives the highest routinely achievable bonus of +17.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Hmm, this looks like a trick question. All else being equal, a skilled person would have their proficiency bonus and an unskilled person wouldn't, right? According to the rules, I mean.

Proficiency ranges from +2 to +6, which is a range of +10% to +30% on a d20. So a skilled person would beat an unskilled person about 10-30% of the time. This implies that the unskilled laborer would equal or exceed the skilled one about 70-90% of the time. So that's how I would vote.
No trick LOL, but I find it funny how people think that! :D

But I am not just talking about a skilled person, but the highest level of skill (proficiency only) attainable. I am not saying +6 RAW because that isn't the point. If you feel +6 is fine for the highest possible level of skill, then of course go that route. Also, untrained or no proficiency is +0, so if you considered it that way, okay, that's your vote. Thanks!

If you however spoke about +6 prodiciency bonus, it is (14*15/2)/400 = 105/400 ~ slightly above 5 in 20 chance to fail as 'expert'. So it is between option 3 or 4.
I am not, myself, saying ultimate proficiency is represented by +6. That is what 5E says, and people can go with that, but what people believe might show +6 isn't the best number to consider "ultimately proficiency".
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
A "person of ultimate skill" would have the highest bonus achievable in the game, so you can't exclude Expertise and Ability bonuses. As noted above, a +6 proficiency bonus indicates high level but not great skill.

+6 proficiency, expertise and +5 attribute gives the highest routinely achievable bonus of +17.
While I disagree about ability bonuses because I am talking about proficiency only, you make an EXCELLENT point concerning expertise, which is not something I was thinking of! THANKS!

(And THAT is also why I pose such questions and ask them "at large" via polls. :) )

However, since there is no "expertise" you can apply to attacks, it still falters a bit in that respect... hmm...
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I am trying to get a feel for other peoples' thoughts on how someone with no training or skill whatsoever would fair in a contest against someone would ultimate proficiency in that training or skill.
They will lose every time, no roll needed.

There used to be a fun show in the U.K. in the 70s called the Generation Game. It would pit families against each other in games of skill where they would attempt to replicate a highly skilled persons ability. The family who made the least hash of it won the round. There was no doubt that a hash would be made, which is what made it fun. The plate spinning competition was especially hilarious as the plates kept crashing to the ground.

The host’s catchphrase was “Now that’s all there is to it!” as he invited the competitors to try their hand. They don’t make quality TV like that anymore :D
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
While I disagree about ability bonuses because I am talking about proficiency only, you make an EXCELLENT point concerning expertise, which is not something I was thinking of! THANKS!
[...]
However, since there is no "expertise" you can apply to attacks, it still falters a bit in that respect... hmm...
Generally speaking, 5E is a complete mess when it comes to consistency. They started with a solid baseline, back under the 3E rules, but almost everything good about that system was lost in the translation. So, while we can look at a character's total bonus and try to analyze which part represents trained skill and which part is natural talent, it's unlikely that the designers intended for it to withstand such scrutiny.

It suffers significantly from the 4E issue, where mechanics exist solely to prevent the game from falling apart, and not because those mechanics actually reflect anything about how the world works. It mostly works out, if you just want a game, and you don't ask too many questions. If you want a world that actually makes sense, then prepare to be disappointed.
 

Sabathius42

Explorer
Without reading anything in the thread and ONLY reading the words of the poll I chose 0%.

I will never out box Mike Tyson.
I will never out-bow Hawkeye.
I will never out deduce Sherlock Holmes.
I will never out sprint Usain Bolt.
I will never out theorize physics Stephen Hawking.

In a world of simulation where you ran me trying any of these over and over and over an infinite amount of times the ONLY way I could beat them would be if they were hampered...not just a little like a fly buzzing around them, but a lot like they had a severe concussion or vertigo or otherwise didn't get to use their "ULTIMATE SKILL" at its true level.

But this is the not the same as what you are saying in the body of the thread. In your theoretical examples you are asking something like....

Could a 19 year old amateur boxer defeat Mike Tyson in his prime?

The answer to that is still most likely a NO, but at least there is somewhat of a chance because its still a boxer versus a boxer, not a common schlub versus a boxer.

DS
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Without reading anything in the thread and ONLY reading the words of the poll I chose 0%.

I will never out box Mike Tyson.
I will never out-bow Hawkeye.
I will never out deduce Sherlock Holmes.
I will never out sprint Usain Bolt.
I will never out theorize physics Stephen Hawking.

In a world of simulation where you ran me trying any of these over and over and over an infinite amount of times the ONLY way I could beat them would be if they were hampered...not just a little like a fly buzzing around them, but a lot like they had a severe concussion or vertigo or otherwise didn't get to use their "ULTIMATE SKILL" at its true level.

But this is the not the same as what you are saying in the body of the thread. In your theoretical examples you are asking something like....

Could a 19 year old amateur boxer defeat Mike Tyson in his prime?

The answer to that is still most likely a NO, but at least there is somewhat of a chance because its still a boxer versus a boxer, not a common schlub versus a boxer.

DS
Excellent "I will never" list! But not quite what I am saying in the rest of it: a 19-year-old amateur boxer WOULD have proficiency, and I am say someone with absolutely no skill or training at all, which only makes your view stronger that someone with no skill or training would ever be able to "out-do" someone with the highest level of proficiency (sans expertise...).
 

Sabathius42

Explorer
Furthermore, a DnD characters chance to defeat another character/creature in combat has little to do with the ratio of times they beat them in a straight attack vs. attack roll or set of rolls. Beating someone in an fight usually means KO, which a commoner is never going to achieve versus a 20th level adventurer (even a wizard) because of hit-points and other class abilities gained in getting the 20 levels.

DS
 

Sabathius42

Explorer
Excellent "I will never" list! But not quite what I am saying in the rest of it: a 19-year-old amateur boxer WOULD have proficiency, and I am say someone with absolutely no skill or training at all, which only makes your view stronger that someone with no skill or training would ever be able to "out-do" someone with the highest level of proficiency (sans expertise...).
I think the hang up is that you are equating the 5e rule crumb called (Character Proficiency Bonus) with "skill" or even "training". All the 5e Proficiency Bonus does is provide a way to show that a character is better at something than a baseline. Note that this doesn't mean ULTIMATELY BETTER AT 20TH LEVEL) it just means better than others.

"skill" also includes feat, race, stat, and other bonuses. Getting a +5 bonus to a roll because of your awesome stat bonus is because even if your character never exclusively chose History as something they learned during character creation, they still have read A LOT and have picked up a lot of history along the way. When you just throw out "everything but proficiency bonus" you are throwing out some of the fundamentals that help model the character.

Simply put....a 1st level Wizard who is as Intelligent (indicating book learning and INT +5) as he could possibly be but never showed an interest in History particularly is going to be as likely to know something as Conan, slayer of 1000 dragons, who was raised by a librarian before he headed out to slay beasts, never to read a book again (INT -1, PROF +6). The real "ULTIMATE SKILL" guy in this scenario is the 20th level Wizard who has read and understood everything he could get his hands on (INT +5) AND showed a particular interest in History (PROF +6). Note that just because the first two examples might beat the SUPER HISTORY WIZARD at any given roll (whatever percentage of times) it doesn't matter, because History is not a D20 vs. D20 roll off. Sure, they might know some particular fact the SHW doesn't know, but one fact in an infinite number of facts is inconsequential.

DS
 

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