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5E Required Class Skills

Xeviat

Explorer
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.
And one of those options would require multiclassing into Bard or Rogue which brings other baggage.

If all rangers learn how to vanish and hide in plain sight, it seems like all rangers should be good at stealth.
 

bedir than

Registered User
I am now leaning towards each class gaining a free skill at Level 1 and expertise in that skill at Level 5
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
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?
My first thought it that you can have those skills already from a background. The rule in the PHB about duplicate skills between background and class is that you can pick any skill. So a required skill in a class actually means that you can pick ANY skill instead of just skills on the class list. Meaning that required skills can actually dilute having appropriate skills by allowing off-list choice.

My second thought is that many classes get reskinned for specific games or character plans, and having required skills hurts that creativity.

Finally, a bard / paladin having perform as a required skill but not religion while a paladin / bard having religion as a required skill but not perform seems to just be a failing game solution, but requiring it to multiclass is too restrictive considering how few skills are given out, and giving it out for free strengthens multiclass with free skills and throws off the balance with straight classed characters.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
(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.)
If you're a heretic you're not alone.

Well, to a point. There are some skills that aren't often useful duplicated. If one player has a great survival, it's not often the second-best-by-far survival comes into play.

But for other skills, I'm with you. Having a decent chance to climb, to escape from a grapple, or not get surprised is actually pretty dang useful. To talk when you party face isn't around.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
While it's not a balance issue if a wizard isn't proficient in Arcana, it is an existential issue. ...

All wizards should be proficient in Arcana, IMHO.
So, you deny the possibility of a character who is naturally good at Arcana (high Intelligence) but not trained in it (unproficient)? Not a sorcerer, who casts from natural talent, but a wizard who is bright but not classically trained and is having to figure out the formal parts of it as they go along.

I'm sorry to tell you that there are plenty of stories with main characters who fit this archetype. I am not sorry to tell you that this narrow and restrictive viewpoint of what makes a valid concept for my character is not supported by the rules.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
Isn't there already a rule about choosing a different skill if you get the same skill from two sources?
There is, and hard-coding skills actually make characters less on target. Having mandatory skills to flavor the character "appropriately" does the exact opposite in actual play.

Right now you get your background skills and choice of other appropriate skills. However, if you have overlap, you can then pick any skill.

Let me repeat that: a required skill, going with class-thematic background that already grants it, means that instead of picking from the class list of appropriate skills, the player can instead pick from any skill, which includes a lot that are less appropriate.

So this leads to the opposite of what the goal was.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
On additional thought, I think you absolutely missing the role of backgrounds in D&D 5e. Backgrounds are what you spent your time doing, and have mandetory skills. If you were an acolyte, you learned Religion. Some have been called to their gods without having gone through a formal process with a church. They may be blessedly devout without being a student of comparative religion.

A sage might know of Arcana and History, but a windmaster (sailor wizard) may have spent her days on the open seas learning from the winds and not be trained in either.

This rogue might be a sneaky criminal, or that one a swashbuckling noble who would never use hide.

We already have baked into the system choice of what you have done. The flexibility of combining backgrounds and classes together to make up a lot more archetypes then just classes is a big win in this system. Forcing all characters to be alike regardless of the player choices is against all of that -- and can be thematically not-appropriate depending on the concept.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
I think it's fine. IME, a wizard without Arcana or a ranger/rogue without Stealth is a rarity. In these cases, simply ask the player why their character never learned this core skill. It's likely that their response will be something you can incorporate into the game down the line.

As for rangers and rogues having features that interact with skills they might not have, I think that's fine too. AFAIK, there's nothing about those features that requires you to be proficient with the skill. Being proficient simply makes those features more reliable. If a player wants to be the least stealthy ranger or rogue in the world, it doesn't bother me in the least.

IMO, it's simply about flexibility of concept. If every wizard has to pick Arcana as a skill, then I need special permission to play a wizard who isn't proficient. As it stands, I don't. Not taking Arcana may be shooting myself in the foot, as there are likely to be arcane mysteries in game that might benefit my character if solved, but I can do it if it doesn't fit my concept. I don't find that to bad thing.
 

BlivetWidget

Villager
So, you deny the possibility of a character who is naturally good at Arcana (high Intelligence) but not trained in it (unproficient)? Not a sorcerer, who casts from natural talent, but a wizard who is bright but not classically trained and is having to figure out the formal parts of it as they go along.

I'm sorry to tell you that there are plenty of stories with main characters who fit this archetype. I am not sorry to tell you that this narrow and restrictive viewpoint of what makes a valid concept for my character is not supported by the rules.
I'm sorry to tell you your interpretation of proficiency is flawed ;). You don't have to be classically trained to be proficient, you just have to be good at something. Check your dictionary.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I think that the story/"meaning" of both classes and skills would be strengthened if each class had 1-2 automatic skills. Ranger is a great example; I can't imagine a ranger without Survival, and merely having Survival makes a character feel more ranger-y, so let's just formalize that relationship and give all rangers Survival for free. Bards should all get Performance, druids should all get Nature, etc.

As a bonus, the automatic skill could also be a multiclassing prerequisite, which would limit dipping into a class just for the mechanical benefits. E.g., you can't just splash on a level of barbarian unless you're proficient in Intimidation; you can't just grab some levels of wizard unless you already know Arcana; etc.

I get that it can be fun to "play against type" but at some point it just doesn't make sense for the class description to say "you are in tune with nature" but then not give you the Nature skill. Note, also, that many races and subclasses already get specific free skills. You can't say "oh I'm a friendly half-orc so I don't know Intimidation," although you could certainly choose not to use that skill. Scout rogues get some powerful free expertise, making them better than the ranger at certain ranger-y things. It's totally weird to me.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Let me repeat that: a required skill, going with class-thematic background that already grants it, means that instead of picking from the class list of appropriate skills, the player can instead pick from any skill, which includes a lot that are less appropriate.
You can already run into this in 5E, since officially you pick class skills first, and then if you pick a class-thematic background, it's very easy to double up on skills and wind up picking from the full list. Plus you can customize backgrounds to include whatever skills you want (you have to justify it somehow as part of your "background," but it's usually not too hard). So the reality is that characters pick 2-4 class skills plus 2 skills from the whole list, and I don't see how things are really any different if you also give some classes a free skill or two. It would be similar to playing a race that grants that skill.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
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?
They tried really hard to separate the mechanics of a class out from its narrative identity, because they wanted to leave character identity as a matter of background. The reason it doesn't work is because class mechanics exist as a reflection of that identity. A wizard that isn't a scholar is a contradiction in terms; being a scholar is the entire reason why a wizard can cast spells. A ranger that isn't an outlander is not really a ranger, narratively speaking.

As with most things in this edition, there are too many ideas competing for space, and the net result is a patch-work of mediocre ideas that fails to hold up under scrutiny. They need backgrounds as an independent variable, because fighters don't otherwise have an identity; but rangers do already have an identity, and giving them a background on top of that should either be redundant or contradictory. They ended up going with mechanical consistency (everyone gets a background), because they weren't willing to consolidate the ranger into the fighter class, where it obviously belongs.

By my best guess, the reason why rangers don't have stealth as an automatic skill (and wizards don't have arcana) is because they wanted to give you flexibility with picking which skills come from your class and which skills come from your background, and/or because they didn't want to lock you into anything when multi-classing. (A thief who multi-classes into ranger will probably already have stealth.) It's not because they ever anticipated a ranger might not take stealth; that would be crediting them with far too much foresight.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
It's not about me wanting to control what you do with your character. It's about me not wanting you to have two practically useless abilities (hide in plain sight and vanish) on a character with no proficiency in Stealth (and since the ranger is a medium armor class, that could be ontop of a 14 Dex to boot).

My big issue here is that the ranger is basically the only class with a skill based class ability, yet they could be built without the skill. And that's weird.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
And one of those options would require multiclassing into Bard or Rogue which brings other baggage.

If all rangers learn how to vanish and hide in plain sight, it seems like all rangers should be good at stealth.
So we require them to all take proficiency **and** spend ability scores on dex? Both are required to be "good" at stealth, right? Is 16 dex minimum at 1st tier enough? Tier-2 18. Tier 3-4 30?

I mean, we are deciding that non-proficiency with 18 dex for +4 to stealth is *not good enough* to be allowed to be chosen in the game at 5th level so it seems clear that say 12 dex and proficiency for the same +4 would also not be good enough to be allowed in the game either right? (For rangers, that is.)

Now that we have nailed down both **required and mandated** skills and ability spend minimums for every ranger, we can move on to others.

But a quick question, is it true that in your game it is required that if you take one level in ranger you must take 10, or 14 levels in range? I mean the only way "if all rangers learn to vanish snd hide in plain sight" is true is it they are required, right?

IMO if your true statement of problem is that somehow it is wrong to have it possible within the cosmos of your game world for a character to get hide in plain sight or vanish without being proficient in stealth, then add "you gain proficiency in stealth if not already proficient" to those features is a far simpler solution.

Then, rangers who multi-class out before getting there are not shackled by that narrowed focus.
 
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Fanaelialae

Adventurer
They tried really hard to separate the mechanics of a class out from its narrative identity, because they wanted to leave character identity as a matter of background. The reason it doesn't work is because class mechanics exist as a reflection of that identity. A wizard that isn't a scholar is a contradiction in terms; being a scholar is the entire reason why a wizard can cast spells. A ranger that isn't an outlander is not really a ranger, narratively speaking.

As with most things in this edition, there are too many ideas competing for space, and the net result is a patch-work of mediocre ideas that fails to hold up under scrutiny. They need backgrounds as an independent variable, because fighters don't otherwise have an identity; but rangers do already have an identity, and giving them a background on top of that should either be redundant or contradictory. They ended up going with mechanical consistency (everyone gets a background), because they weren't willing to consolidate the ranger into the fighter class, where it obviously belongs.

By my best guess, the reason why rangers don't have stealth as an automatic skill (and wizards don't have arcana) is because they wanted to give you flexibility with picking which skills come from your class and which skills come from your background, and/or because they didn't want to lock you into anything when multi-classing. (A thief who multi-classes into ranger will probably already have stealth.) It's not because they ever anticipated a ranger might not take stealth; that would be crediting them with far too much foresight.
I strongly disagree. Dictating character identity can be okay, if that's the kind of game you're going for. For example, in Silent Titans, you roll on a chart to find out which pre-gen you'll be playing. No player choices necessary.

However, 5e isn't that type of game and it offers a flexibility that games with simpler character creation/selection may lack.

Who's to say that my wizard *must* be a sage?

Maybe he couldn't get a traditional apprenticeship, so he joined the military to study under a war mage. He's a soldier.

Maybe he was a brilliant kid who lived on the streets. One day he "acquired" a spell book and after years of painstaking study managed to piece enough together to cast spells, albeit without fully grasping the theoretical underpinnings behind what he's doing (bards have been doing this since 2e). He's an urchin.

Or he was a farmer. One day, he began seeing images in his head. He felt compelled to draw them out, and thus created his first spell book. Believing himself haunted, he sought the help of the local wise woman who informed him that he is the reincarnation of a powerful mage who lived centuries ago. Somehow, his former life is willing its way into this one. It means that he can cast spells, even if he doesn't consciously comprehend the how of it, but might this other self try to take over?

There's three unconventional wizards right off the top of my head, and I haven't even had my coffee yet.

IME, 99.9% of wizard players take Arcana, just like the same percentage take Performance as a bard, and so on. While I can understand the desire to define a strong identity for a class, I also don't think it's explicitly necessary, and I also think some cool concepts can be locked behind the purview of requiring DM permission without any real gain.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
I'm sorry to tell you your interpretation of proficiency is flawed ;). You don't have to be classically trained to be proficient, you just have to be good at something. Check your dictionary.
In the context of the game we are speaking about. Proficient in a skill explicitly means getting to add your proficiency bonus to the ability check. It is not connected to being "good" at that. I can have a penalty STR modifier and be proficiency in Athletics - I'm still not good at it even with proficiency. I can not have proficiency and have a large bonus from an ability score - I'm good/proficient (common usage) at it without being proficient (game term).

This does go and support my point. A wizard with a high INT is already "proficient" (common usage) with Arcana because they are good with it.

So either the OP is talking about the game term, in which case common usage doesn't matter, your point is not relevant, and my point stands, or he was talking common usage and high INT already meets the requirement of being good at Arcana and my point still stands.
 
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BlivetWidget

Villager
In the context of the game we are speaking about. Proficient in a skill explicitly means getting to add your proficiency bonus to the ability check.
As hard as you're trying to be "right on the internet", nobody in this thread is confused about the DnD mechanical implementation of proficiency. We're trying to discuss what it would even mean for someone to devote their life to being a math professor, being good at it, and somehow never becoming skilled at math. As others have rightly pointed out, it's a bit nonsensical. That's the premise of this entire thread, in fact, so I can't discern what sets you off against my comments in particular. If you don't like the idea of inherent class features, you may as well get angry that wizards have predefined numbers of spell slots and complain that it holds you back from playing a very specific, suboptimal, theorycrafted wizard you dreamed up that you feel has more flavor than the wizard-as-described in DnD lore.
 

bedir than

Registered User
I strongly disagree. Dictating character identity can be okay, if that's the kind of game you're going for. For example, in Silent Titans, you roll on a chart to find out which pre-gen you'll be playing. No player choices necessary.

However, 5e isn't that type of game and it offers a flexibility that games with simpler character creation/selection may lack.

Who's to say that my wizard *must* be a sage?

Maybe he couldn't get a traditional apprenticeship, so he joined the military to study under a war mage. He's a soldier.

Maybe he was a brilliant kid who lived on the streets. One day he "acquired" a spell book and after years of painstaking study managed to piece enough together to cast spells, albeit without fully grasping the theoretical underpinnings behind what he's doing (bards have been doing this since 2e). He's an urchin.

Or he was a farmer. One day, he began seeing images in his head. He felt compelled to draw them out, and thus created his first spell book. Believing himself haunted, he sought the help of the local wise woman who informed him that he is the reincarnation of a powerful mage who lived centuries ago. Somehow, his former life is willing its way into this one. It means that he can cast spells, even if he doesn't consciously comprehend the how of it, but might this other self try to take over?

There's three unconventional wizards right off the top of my head, and I haven't even had my coffee yet.

IME, 99.9% of wizard players take Arcana, just like the same percentage take Performance as a bard, and so on. While I can understand the desire to define a strong identity for a class, I also don't think it's explicitly necessary, and I also think some cool concepts can be locked behind the purview of requiring DM permission without any real gain.
Every example seems to have learned what Arcana would teach
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
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.
Advantage in a check is still a benefit if you aren’t trained in the skill.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
Advantage in a check is still a benefit if you aren’t trained in the skill.

That's why I'm more focused on Stealth than Survival in this instance. But a Ranger without Survival feels weirder than a Ranger without Stealth, but I suppose a survivalless ranger could use some spells to fake it.
 

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