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

S'mon

Legend
This is also why I very seldom use other DC's than 10 or 15. I might sneak in a 20 now and
then.
With my high level game I like saying stuff like "OK Rogue, you auto spot the DC 25 secret
door with your passive per" and "OK Barbarians, with your minimum 20+s on Athletics you have no trouble steering the canoe for hours down the foaming rapids" or even "DC 28 to break open the fortress gates - so you rip them off their hinges..." - definitely feels super-heroic, and lets the players see how far they've come. Conversely, even level 20 5e PCs can still be beaten up by a few giants, and need to play smart.
 

Krachek

Explorer
In real life absolute 0.
In DnD, basically +17 (but sometime more) vs +0, do the math.
 
Last edited:

5ekyu

Adventurer
The math is fine. Yours has some slight errors, but nothing major. Your 105/400 is already counting ties as losses, and then you seem to want to add them in again (unless I misread something... always a possibility). If I ever have more votes (10 is not nearly enough for me to even begin to use the information from the poll), then I'll go into detail on the math.



This is not simply a matter of mathematics, it is a matter of perception on a game mechanic. How SHOULD it function when we break down the numbers? That is what I am asking for: opinion.



Then don't vote. ;)
I didn't but thanks so very much for the permission.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
The math is fine. Yours has some slight errors, but nothing major. Your 105/400 is already counting ties as losses, and then you seem to want to add them in again (unless I misread something... always a possibility). If I ever have more votes (10 is not nearly enough for me to even begin to use the information from the poll), then I'll go into detail on the math.
Um... you are missing something. You missed the point that the math for the question you asked is a probability density function and doesn't map onto what you asked. The math says all but one of your options is within the 2 standard deviation marks of the pdf.

As for the error you cite, you are correct. I noted that Unger's +12 ignored ties abd assumed he'd done the same for +6. It was hasty, thank you. It only slightly contracts the pdf, though, as mean is now 5.25 and sd is 1.9. This pulls 10 just slighty outside of 2sd.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
That's not true in d&d5, though. That's not how those characteristics are described.

"An ability score is not just a measure of innate capabilities, but also encompasses a creature's training and competence in activities related to that ability." (PHB p. 173.)

"A skill represents a specific aspect of an ability score , and an individual's proficiency in a skill demonstrates a focus on that aspect." (PHB p. 174.)

So proficiency bonus does not equal total skill, or experience, or training.

You can have some experience and training even when you DON'T add your proficiency bonus - this is reflected by your ability score.

You can't have ultimate skill without having a good ability score.

Your premise is that proficiency bonus marks the difference between an unskilled person and a person of ultimate skill, but it doesn't. Their total modifier marks the difference between them.

(Special features, like the ability to roll with advantage in certain situations or treat a roll of 9 or lower as a 10 may differentiate between them even further.)
Thanks, that is an excellent point on the 5E design! It wasn't, obviously, my take on the system at large but it does explain more of what the designers were doing. Kuddos! :)

No it does not. All 5e says is that Level 17-20 PCs and CR 17-20 monsters get a +6 Proficiency bonus, which they get to apply to all checks they are proficient in. So just being high level by default gives you a +4 bonus on proficient checks over CR 0-4 people & monsters. Nothing about +6 representing "ultimate skill" in any way. It's more like "default skill" you get just for being a superhero.

Personally I find this works a lot better than the 15 point check difference in 4e between 1st level and 30th and the 19 point difference in 3e/PF between 1st and 20th. It keeps the 'real world' relevant to high level PCs in a way you don't see in those editions.
Good point. I am not looking to rekindle the huge point spreads from prior editions, just FYI. I am curious if the present system is in sync with the overall expectations of the people playing.

Um... you are missing something. You missed the point that the math for the question you asked is a probability density function and doesn't map onto what you asked. The math says all but one of your options is within the 2 standard deviation marks of the pdf.

As for the error you cite, you are correct. I noted that Unger's +12 ignored ties abd assumed he'd done the same for +6. It was hasty, thank you. It only slightly contracts the pdf, though, as mean is now 5.25 and sd is 1.9. This pulls 10 just slighty outside of 2sd.
I'll think on that later when I get some time. Either way, the options pretty well cover the likely outcomes and since the poll is growing, I'm happy to see it might provide some useful results eventually.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
Um... you are missing something. You missed the point that the math for the question you asked is a probability density function and doesn't map onto what you asked. The math says all but one of your options is within the 2 standard deviation marks of the pdf.

As for the error you cite, you are correct. I noted that Unger's +12 ignored ties abd assumed he'd done the same for +6. It was hasty, thank you. It only slightly contracts the pdf, though, as mean is now 5.25 and sd is 1.9. This pulls 10 just slighty outside of 2sd.
He asked about winning. So a tie is in favour of the expert.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
I very much agree with this. This, to me, is the soul of bounded accuracy.


This is also why I very seldom use other DC's than 10 or 15. I might sneak in a 20 now and then. But failure always has consequences, you never get a retry if you fail, you have to look for another solution. (This last part may be a bit of a house rule one my part, inspired by other games.)
I actually love combining DC 5 checks with the DMG autosuccess rule:
With 10 in the relevant ability score you autosucceed on those checks. Not so with an 8. That is important for any knowledge check and simple things like swimming in calm waters. So anyone with int 10 knows about something. Int 8 and you have to roll with 25% chance of failure.
I did the same in 3e with DC10 checks and take 10. Str 8 and you risk drowning in the bath tub.

I also like DC 20+x checks. DC 20 is what you can achieve with Str 10 and enough time. 25 is what you can do with Str 20 and enough time. And no chance of failure.
I used the same in 3.x. I actually encouraged my players to always take 20 if there is enough time. Saved us rolls and also brought used time in line with expectations. Searching a room thouroughly took 20 minutes instead of only 1.
 

S'mon

Legend
Good point. I am not looking to rekindle the huge point spreads from prior editions, just FYI. I am curious if the present system is in sync with the overall expectations of the people playing.
Good question. I think 5e is loose enough that for players that will depend almost entirely on
whether GM & player expectations match.

As GM, the system expectation that "everyone rolls, no one quits" - that you don't need Proficiency to make a check - somewhat clashes with my own expectations. So I'll quite often rule that a check requires Proficiency. One reason for this is to reduce the number of people rolling.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
He asked about winning. So a tie is in favour of the expert.
I think you could go either way on that -- depends on a ruling. You, however, went for ties for the skilled on expertise but for the unskilled on just proficiency. Easy mistake, I missed it, too. ;)
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Thanks, that is an excellent point on the 5E design! It wasn't, obviously, my take on the system at large but it does explain more of what the designers were doing. Kuddos! :)



Good point. I am not looking to rekindle the huge point spreads from prior editions, just FYI. I am curious if the present system is in sync with the overall expectations of the people playing.



I'll think on that later when I get some time. Either way, the options pretty well cover the likely outcomes and since the poll is growing, I'm happy to see it might provide some useful results eventually.
Well, no, it won't provide useful results because it's pretty flawed. It may, however, provide you with some biased support for your hidden objective, and it does seem intentionally crafted to do this using leading language and options not suited to the question asked. It appears likely you will be able to get the answers you desire, especially since all but one of the options is in the 95% likely bounds. I do not count this as "useful."
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Good question. I think 5e is loose enough that for players that will depend almost entirely on
whether GM & player expectations match.

As GM, the system expectation that "everyone rolls, no one quits" - that you don't need Proficiency to make a check - somewhat clashes with my own expectations. So I'll quite often rule that a check requires Proficiency. One reason for this is to reduce the number of people rolling.
I agree. The only times we require proficiency is 1) in aiding another to grant that person advantage and 2) if the knowledge/task is truly obscure and would unlikely be covered by general knowledge or experience gained in life. There are some skills I wouldn't think you could attempt without proficiency, such as knowledge skills. But this is where my understanding differed from the designers as Baba helpfully pointed out. This is a derivation from most game systems in the past IMO.

So, in 5E, a character with an INT 16 would get their +3 to any INT-based skills, such as Arcana, but a character who selected the skill and has proficiency in it has actively dedicated additional time in studying Arcana. With further thought, this works out fine really. I've always considered myself a very smart person, and having participated in several I.Q. tests and other measurements of knowledge and reasoning, etc. I am comfortable in claiming I am well within the 3rd standard deviation above the norm. I've picked up a LOT of obscure knowledge over the years and my keen memory allows me to recall most things easily. I've never studied many subjects, but my exposure to a good education, world-experiences and such gives me a deep knowledge base to draw from. While I would most certainly have proficiency in "Arcana" in modern terms, I wouldn't in Religion for example. Still, I know a lot about many religions just due to picking up knowledge about them over the years despite never "studying" them. I would certainly defer to others who have made it an effort to actively learn about Religion, which is why characters likely will defer a skill check to the character with proficiency over the character without.

I am very glad Baba pointed out that difference in game design concept and from a design aspect hobbyist myself it helps me wrap my head around what the 5E designers choices were.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
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?
This question has no meaning unless we know what the task is. If the task is "making waffles" we answer one way. If the task is, "making waffles while climbing a polished marble wall in high wind as the Queen's elite guard is trying to pour boiling oil on your head,"... that's a different kettle of fish.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Well, no, it won't provide useful results because it's pretty flawed. It may, however, provide you with some biased support for your hidden objective, and it does seem intentionally crafted to do this using leading language and options not suited to the question asked. It appears likely you will be able to get the answers you desire, especially since all but one of the options is in the 95% likely bounds. I do not count this as "useful."
It isn't flawed for what I am questioning, and frankly although I am still lacking as many votes as I would like to feel comfortable drawing conclusions yet, the present evidence brings about surprising support (from my point of view anyway), particularly in light with the design intent Baba pointed out (for which I will freely admit I was ignorant of and was skewing my own personal expectations).

The only inherent issue is people's distrust of what I am trying to accomplish. I was surprised a few people initially replied they felt like this was a trap. Like I was trying to trick them into voting a certain way. I would imagine for those who love 5E, they don't like the idea of seeing a system challenged and thus either aren't voting because of that or because they like things as is and see no need. The other end of the spectrum are those who do think maybe things are a bit off, so they are voting hoping my conclusions will support their own ideas that things are off a bit maybe.

Unfortunately, this is the case with opinion polls. :(

And the purpose of all of the choices being within the 95% CI is because most people would (likely) find those options most reasonable, which makes perfect sense. Given the question, I doubt many individuals would argue one of the poll options should include 15 out of 20 for instance.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
This question has no meaning unless we know what the task is. If the task is "making waffles" we answer one way. If the task is, "making waffles while climbing a polished marble wall in high wind as the Queen's elite guard is trying to pour boiling oil on your head,"... that's a different kettle of fish.
The question has meaning, it simply isn't as specific as you would like to feel able to vote. With all the different scenarios possible, there is no point in specifying, it is a general question meant to run the gambit of possibilities. That is another reason why as asked what people think/feel/intuit about it--if you decide to vote, go with your gut. :)
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
It isn't flawed for what I am questioning, and frankly although I am still lacking as many votes as I would like to feel comfortable drawing conclusions yet, the present evidence brings about surprising support (from my point of view anyway), particularly in light with the design intent Baba pointed out (for which I will freely admit I was ignorant of and was skewing my own personal expectations).

The only inherent issue is people's distrust of what I am trying to accomplish. I was surprised a few people initially replied they felt like this was a trap. Like I was trying to trick them into voting a certain way. I would imagine for those who love 5E, they don't like the idea of seeing a system challenged and thus either aren't voting because of that or because they like things as is and see no need. The other end of the spectrum are those who do think maybe things are a bit off, so they are voting hoping my conclusions will support their own ideas that things are off a bit maybe.

Unfortunately, this is the case with opinion polls. :(

And the purpose of all of the choices being within the 95% CI is because most people would (likely) find those options most reasonable, which makes perfect sense. Given the question, I doubt many individuals would argue one of the poll options should include 15 out of 20 for instance.
I didn't feel it is a trap. I think the thread is a good one. I just think your premise that +6 is the ultimate skilled is flawed.
If we take an attack roll there is much more to it. Since winning is inherently done with more than a single check, number of attacks is quite a big factor. While a level 5 fighter might only be +1 ahead over a 1st level fighter, he will be able to make 4 attacks instead of 1 in the first round. A level 20 fighter can do 16 attacks while the 1st level one only does 2. So instead of expertise, we have extra attack here to be called ultimately skilled.
In skills we need to take expertise into account even though there is sadly no way for the cleric to get it if he is no human with access to xanathar's guide or taking a level of rogue or 3 of bard... (which seems inappropriate for most clerics).
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I didn't feel it is a trap. I think the thread is a good one.
I agree. As a fellow forum member who also posts a number of polls, however, you have to be prepared that no matter what the topic, and no matter how you phrase it, a number of people will disagree with the premise, or the poll, or something else. It's like herding cats. Seriously, if your poll was:

Do you like things that are awesome?
1. Yes
2. No

People would come prepared to FIGHT YOU TO THE DEATH. :)

Anyway, in my opinion, and as a general rule, "ultimately skilled people" should almost always win out over "not skilled people" (in other words, an unskilled person should only win out because of luck, or 0-5% of the time).

That said, it will vary depending on what the event is; for example, a very skilled poker player, over a single hand, wouldn't have those great odds because of the large amount of variance (luck); whereas if the skill is literacy, and the task is reading a book, then there is a 0% chance that an unskilled (illiterate) person will finish the book before a very skilled (well-read and literate) person.

That said, I do find the overall unskilled/proficient/expertise system in 5e to be somewhat lacking, and far too forgiving in certain areas, but I also can't think of a better way that is easy and fast to implement, so ... whatever. :)
 

the Jester

Legend
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.

...

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?
Someone without expertise and without a stat bonus is not the ultimately skilled guy. This presumption, in my judgment, undermines the whole question you pose.

In the real case of an ultimate skill guy, the unskilled and not-suited-to-the-task guy ought to better the ultimate skill guy almost never- and the math of 5e supports that (+12 expertise, +5 stat = +17 vs +0, meaning that the unskilled guy only beats the skilled guy if skill guy rolls a 1 or 2 AND unskilled guy rolls a 20, or a 19 if the skilled guy rolled a 1).

The guy you describe, who is highly skilled but neither expert nor suited to the task at hand (by virtue of having poor stats), is going to 'win' against the other guy substantially less often, and that's okay- because he isn't really the paragon of skill in this case.
 

the Jester

Legend
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".
The way you couched the question, your insistence that ability bonus doesn't apply, and your disregard of expertise is exactly you saying that +6 is the ultimate proficiency. As many others in this thread have argued, that is pretty far from what the 5e rules allow for.
 

the Jester

Legend
However, since there is no "expertise" you can apply to attacks, it still falters a bit in that respect... hmm...
Skills and attacks are entirely different beasts in D&D. Checks are explicitly a different type of roll than attack rolls. You're mixing apples with hot dogs here.

If you want to figure out how often a max-proficiency warrior should lose to an unskilled one, you have to take into account things like increased damage, multiple attacks, tricks like superiority dice, etc. Simply comparing proficiency bonuses is like trying to assess the relative health of a pair of forests by examining a single tree from each.
 

Advertisement

Top