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5E Required Class Skills

Xeviat

Explorer
Does anyone else find it odd that certain classes don't require certain skills to be known? 4E had several classes where, instead of learning 3 skills from a list, for instance, they learned 2 skills and a fixed skill.

This came up because I was looking at the Ranger, and I found it odd that they get 2 stealth related class abilities but you could build a ranger without having proficiency in Stealth.

Taken a little further, Bards without Perform, Clerics without Religion, Druid's without Nature, and Wizards without Arcana feels a little weird too, but at least these classes don't have mechanics that require making checks with those skills.

What are your thoughts?
 

jmartkdr

Villager
I don't like the idea of requiring skills, because that limits options for no real gain - it's certainly not a balance issue if the wizard doesn't know arcana.

I do mind that a wizard can't get expertise in arcana, though. There's no reason a rogue should be better at that skill than a wizard can ever hope to be.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
I don't like the idea of requiring skills, because that limits options for no real gain - it's certainly not a balance issue if the wizard doesn't know arcana.

I do mind that a wizard can't get expertise in arcana, though. There's no reason a rogue should be better at that skill than a wizard can ever hope to be.
That's kiiiiiiiiinda the reason I've been considering changing expertise in my games. I'm leaning heavily into liking this version:

Expertise
Choose two of your skill or tool proficiencies. Instead of adding your proficiency bonus to your ability modifier, use double your proficiency modifier and no ability modifier.

This would allow a rogue to shore up a weak stat, like a low strength or a low wisdom, and still be good at Athletics or Perception, without pushing the DCs out reliable range of other characters.

It would be a big change, though. But I think skill focused characters other than bards and rogues would feel less overshadowed by the bard and rogue in the skill department.
 

bedir than

Registered User
Does anyone else find it odd that certain classes don't require certain skills to be known? 4E had several classes where, instead of learning 3 skills from a list, for instance, they learned 2 skills and a fixed skill.

This came up because I was looking at the Ranger, and I found it odd that they get 2 stealth related class abilities but you could build a ranger without having proficiency in Stealth.

Taken a little further, Bards without Perform, Clerics without Religion, Druid's without Nature, and Wizards without Arcana feels a little weird too, but at least these classes don't have mechanics that require making checks with those skills.

What are your thoughts?
Considering the general weakness/displeasure with the Ranger I think adding Stealth without losing anything makes sense!
 

Xeviat

Explorer
Considering the general weakness/displeasure with the Ranger I think adding Stealth without losing anything makes sense!
Rogues get light armor, simple weapons, some ranged martial weapons (basically the ones they'd want to use, minus the longbow), thieves tools, and 4 skills.

Rangers get medium armor, shields, simple and martial weapons, and 3 skills.

I consider the trade of 1 skill for medium/shield proficiency to be mostly fair. Giving the Ranger stealth for free could be perfectly fine, even without reducing them to 2 skills.

Ranger is kind of worse than the others, because it feels like they should really have survival proficiency too (tracking is part of their favored enemy ability), and depending on how you interpret "when you make an intelligence or wisdom check related to your favored terrain", Perception and Nature.

It's kind of an interesting frustration of the Ranger to me. I don't feel like I have options in my skills. I feel like I need Athletics, Nature, Perception, Stealth, and Survival, which immediately limits the backgrounds I can pick and prevents me from having any other extra skills unless I'm playing human, elf, or half-elf. I guess I could give up Nature for something else, but then I don't really get part of the Favored Terrain benefit.
 

bedir than

Registered User
I don't see the need for Athletics, but the rest are quite necessary in any non-urban Ranger (and that one only drops Nature).
 

Xeviat

Explorer
I don't see the need for Athletics, but the rest are quite necessary in any non-urban Ranger (and that one only drops Nature).
Yeah ... maybe Athletics can be dropped for some Rangers. It's not like you need the Athletics skill to climb climbable things.
 

DM Dave1

Explorer
It's kind of an interesting frustration of the Ranger to me. I don't feel like I have options in my skills. I feel like I need Athletics, Nature, Perception, Stealth, and Survival, which immediately limits the backgrounds I can pick and prevents me from having any other extra skills unless I'm playing human, elf, or half-elf. I guess I could give up Nature for something else, but then I don't really get part of the Favored Terrain benefit.
Remember that the backgrounds in the PHB (and in other official books) are really just suggestions. Here’s the quote from PHB p125:

The sample backgrounds in this chapter provide both concrete benefits (features, proficiencies, and languages) and roleplaying suggestions.

Work with your DM to create something that is on par with those samples. Could be as simple as an urchin who is very athletic... yep instead of Sleight of Hand, you have Athletics. Or it could be something entirely new that you create with your DM to ensure you have the full suite of skills that makes your Ranger feel most Rangery to you.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
I love that classes don't automatically give "required" skills. It's one of the big strengths of 5e, that that falls to backgrounds.

I've played several clerics, but none have been acolytes (which is one way to guarantee the Religion skill, even if it's not taken as a class skill). I have played a fighter acolyte though, and it was a blast, with him insisting on proper holy rites when the cleric was just channeling divine power.

That flexibility is part of why 5e characters can be more diverse than in previous editions (without requiring them to be).

/my thoughts.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
I love that classes don't automatically give "required" skills. It's one of the big strengths of 5e, that that falls to backgrounds.

I've played several clerics, but none have been acolytes (which is one way to guarantee the Religion skill, even if it's not taken as a class skill). I have played a fighter acolyte though, and it was a blast, with him insisting on proper holy rites when the cleric was just channeling divine power.

That flexibility is part of why 5e characters can be more diverse than in previous editions (without requiring them to be).

/my thoughts.
I feel like you misunderstood me. I didn't mean "you have to have this skill to take this class". I meant "taking this class automatically gives you this skill".

The ranger is the only one I'm really looking at because it's the only class that seems to have a mechanic that relies upon a specific skill. There's a few subclasses that do, but every ranger gets Vanish and Hide in Plain Sight. Rogues get Cunning action which lets you hide as a bonus action, but it gives you other options for that bonus action for people who aren't stealth focused.
 

maceochaid

Registered User
I think the flavor of the wizard, that they are students of magic and that is how they cast spells, giving them Arcana automatically makes a lot of sense. I was thinking if doing that. I can also them changing their ribbon ability of copying their school twice as fast, to having expertise in Arcana when dealing with magic from their school. But I would just as soon give all wizards expertise in Arcana as a minor mechanical differentiation from sorcerers and warlocks.

I think Expertise should have been a system rule, not a class rule. It just keeps coming up as they make new classes. It would make it easier to word it so expertise doesn’t stack, and multiclassers would be able to choose their own expertise if they double up somehow.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
Yeah, I wasn't clear -- sorry. I do understand you, but I stand by my thought. I like that classes don't give you automatic skills. I can build a rogue without stealth (and there are lots of reasons to do so), or a cleric without religion. And, for the most part, the system holds up allowing those choices.

You are right that Ranger/Stealth makes sense, but so does Ranger/Survival (arguably moreso), or Ranger/Perception. And players can choose.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
(Admittedly, I am a heretic on this, as I firmly believe one shouldn't optimize skills by going for the highest numbers. I think Proficiency in Athletics is arguably more important for a character with strength 10 or 12 than one with strength 16.)
 

Xeviat

Explorer
You are right that Ranger/Stealth makes sense, but so does Ranger/Survival (arguably moreso), or Ranger/Perception. And players can choose.
I tend to try to help avoid "players can choose to have useless abilities". If their skill based class features were on decision points, that would be one thing.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Isn't there already a rule about choosing a different skill if you get the same skill from two sources?
I couldn't quite recall if there was or whether it was "pick something else" or "just ignore it" (in essence lose a skill).

But, given that there is, it doesn't mean someone didn't think "oh, if I hard-code this, there could be a collision..."
 

Xeviat

Explorer
I just skimmed all the classes, and aside from the rogue's Hide function of cunning action, no class other than the ranger gets class abilities that utilize a particular skill. Plenty of subclasses do, but not the basic classes. This is really interesting to me.
 

BlivetWidget

Villager
I don't like the idea of requiring skills, because that limits options for no real gain - it's certainly not a balance issue if the wizard doesn't know arcana.

I do mind that a wizard can't get expertise in arcana, though. There's no reason a rogue should be better at that skill than a wizard can ever hope to be.
While it's not a balance issue if a wizard isn't proficient in Arcana, it is an existential issue. DnD wizards are built around Arcana from a conceptual standpoint. How can one research and cast spells without studying the arcane? It would be like talking about a renowned mathematician with only a layman's grasp of math. You could give someone the title, but the DnD classes aren't nominative titles. They denote exceptional abilities beyond what most people can achieve.

All wizards should be proficient in Arcana, IMHO. The expertise is what should be optional. This leaves room for there to be especially studious wizards, while still making all wizards better at Arcana than the average Joe.

BTW, you can give your wizard expertise in Arcana, but you really have to go out of your way to do it (via being a human and taking the Prodigy feat or via multiclassing, both of which technically fall under the optional rules umbrella). And yes, this also annoys me to no end.
 

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