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D&D 5E Revamped Skill Rules

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I've never been satisfied with 5e's skill system. The skill lineup itself has problems, having a binary for proficiency is too simple, and I also find Expertise and jack of all trades a bit overpowered for the classes that get them. I'm working on some custom rules to address this while trying to keep the same spirit as the official skill system.

Here's what I've got going at the moment:

Revamped Skill Lineup (tools remain unchanged)
Strength – Athletics
Dexterity – Legerdemain, Stealth, Acrobatics
Constitution – Fortitude
Intelligence – Medicine, Machinery, Arcana, Folklore, Tactics
Wisdom – Composure, Insight, Nurturing, Focus, Survival
Charisma – Deception, Intimidation, Performance, Persuasion

Deprecated skills:
Investigation – A poorly thought-out, confusing, and thematically redundant skill. Int’s role in searching, spotting, and solving puzzles is now baked into the individual knowledge skills. So, for example, investigating a mechanical object might involve Machinery checks and Insight/Focus checks.
Animal Handling – now consolidated into the Nurturing and survival skills where appropriate. Additional bonuses for livestock management could be tied to an Animal handler background. I find this too specific and niche to be included as its own skill.
Perception – Perception is now a fully passive mechanic rather than a trainable skill that has active applications. Focus partially takes the place of Perception, but has uses that Perception did not.

New skills:
Fortitude – Not having a Con based skill for non-athletic physical conditioning was weird, because endurance/fortitude unrelated to athletic prowess is a real thing that can be trained. Fortitude can represent things like attempts to tolerate pain for long periods of time without passing out or dying, or attempts to avoid injury or conditions in situations where a strength or athletics check isn’t thematically appropriate (such as exposure, or exhaustion). It sometimes synergizes with skills like Focus or Survival.
Folklore – governs all general knowledge and lore, including things like religion, history, geography, and politics. Different backgrounds may provide bonuses or advantage to specific uses of this skill.
Machinery – governs all knowledge of mechanical objects
Tactics – provides a combat-oriented skill for Intelligence. Takes the place of RAW Inspiration (which is revamped in my rules). Allows players to gain advantage or impose or remove disadvantage as a reaction once per short rest. The DC for doing this can vary by context, but 15 would be a standard DC.
Focus – often used in conjunction with other skills in situations like searching or investigating objects. Sometimes needed to maintain concentration in distracting situations. Usage varies, but it partially folds in the former Perception skill.
Composure – Used to ward off effects like fear and madness, and to maintain poise and balance in trying or socially difficult situations. Sometimes used in conjunction with skills like Fortitude and Focus.
Nurturing – Provide long-term care, raise/train animals, provide mentorship to others. Sometimes used in conjunction with Medicine for helping others recover from ills and injuries.


For the system itself - there are now 4 levels of proficiency - none, amateur/dabbler, proficient, and expert. All classes get double the number of starting proficiencies as RAW, +/- their Int modifier, but proficiency now takes two proficiency slots; one represents amateur skill (1/2 of proficiency bonus). Expert tier grants a static +3 rather than doubling the proficiency check, which I find far more balanced given the overall design of 5e. Gaining expert tier requires class features or feats.

Modified Class features/ Feats –
the two abilities below, class features of the Bard/Rogue, do not work well with the new skill rules (and were arguably overpowered to begin with), so they have been modified as follows.

Jack of All Trades – Gain six new proficiency slots, which can only be used to gain amateur proficiency for new skills/tools. This is a class feature for Bards and an optional feat for other classes. Gain +1 to Intelligence when taken as a feat. (requires Int 13)

Expertise – Gain a permanent +3 bonus to any two skills/tools that you are already proficient with. This is a class ability for Bards/Thieves and an optional feat for other classes. Gain +1 to Intelligence when taken as a feat. (Int 13)

In addition to adding a bit more desired complexity to the skill system, these rules help shore up Int as being such an underpowered attribute in 5e. Thoughts and suggestions welcome - particularly with regard to redesigning jack of all trades and expertise in the new system.
 
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dave2008

Legend
I like some of the additions (Fortitude or something Con based was definitely needed), but I don't agree with dropping Nature and Nurturing seems to broad and a bad fit for animal handling (which I agree is to specific). I would rather keep Nature and wrap animal handling into that.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
A few things...

1 The notion of a skill being limited by uses per rests when it allows a reaction is to me moving well outside the concept of what a skill is. there is no reasonable way i could not feel stupid as a Gm telling them that their character can give tactics advice due to training and experience with tactics but only benefit from it once before resting - so it violates my Stupid Rule. Adding a tactics/soldier skill makes some sense but its in-game applications needs to be more akin to the skills that play roles in combat now. I might for instance allow it to serve as your initiative check (WIS base stat for perception and awareness imo but you could use ALTs.) I also might allow a tactics check as a bonus action to alter your order in a turn - your initiative - or an allies with a medium check or a hard check respectively.

2 i think a lot of what you may be trying to deal with is actually sort of ignoring or pushing against using alternate stats. For example, i have no problem using CON (Survival) checks for exposure cases. I have no problem using CHA (Investigate) for interviews where you are trying to get info out of folks. making appropriate use of ALT STATS lets the existing skills take on a much different mechanical block in the process and this seems to be an attempt to create more limited/defined skills.

3 Focus and Composure seems very overlapping and not a case where i would see a need for two separate skills. Seems to have been done to create either a new skill for concentration checks (does it get you your proficiency bonus in place of CON save?) or split in order to roll in perception. I treated perception as awareness and attention to detail for both its active and passive uses. I would maybe consider adding in a skill called Discipline for what you lump into focus and composure but only for specific types of campaign needs where SAVES were not appropriate. (SAVES are the default "resist" mechanic with rather few exceptions in 5e.)

Not saying the current skill system is perfect and personally i think tools can use some work too (more) but to me this seems to be going the wrong direction overall.

one area i would work on is the idea of codifying a little more the ALT STATS and uses with a lot more examples, rather than deeper dive into skill divisions or limits.

Are there times when instead of INT (Arcana) we should be using WIS or CON - distraction/pressure or physical discomfort?
CON (Intimidate) = stare down while holding hand over flame.
STR (Intimidate) = lifting something really heavy and looking to see if they will back down or you bash them with it
DEX (intimidate) = bullseye a dagger while flipping another they did not even see you had until it was drawn.

just some thought of mine...
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
A few things...

1 The notion of a skill being limited by uses per rests when it allows a reaction is to me moving well outside the concept of what a skill is. there is no reasonable way i could not feel stupid as a Gm telling them that their character can give tactics advice due to training and experience with tactics but only benefit from it once before resting - so it violates my Stupid Rule. Adding a tactics/soldier skill makes some sense but its in-game applications needs to be more akin to the skills that play roles in combat now. I might for instance allow it to serve as your initiative check (WIS base stat for perception and awareness imo but you could use ALTs.) I also might allow a tactics check as a bonus action to alter your order in a turn - your initiative - or an allies with a medium check or a hard check respectively.

2 i think a lot of what you may be trying to deal with is actually sort of ignoring or pushing against using alternate stats. For example, i have no problem using CON (Survival) checks for exposure cases. I have no problem using CHA (Investigate) for interviews where you are trying to get info out of folks. making appropriate use of ALT STATS lets the existing skills take on a much different mechanical block in the process and this seems to be an attempt to create more limited/defined skills.

3 Focus and Composure seems very overlapping and not a case where i would see a need for two separate skills. Seems to have been done to create either a new skill for concentration checks (does it get you your proficiency bonus in place of CON save?) or split in order to roll in perception. I treated perception as awareness and attention to detail for both its active and passive uses. I would maybe consider adding in a skill called Discipline for what you lump into focus and composure but only for specific types of campaign needs where SAVES were not appropriate. (SAVES are the default "resist" mechanic with rather few exceptions in 5e.)

Not saying the current skill system is perfect and personally i think tools can use some work too (more) but to me this seems to be going the wrong direction overall.

one area i would work on is the idea of codifying a little more the ALT STATS and uses with a lot more examples, rather than deeper dive into skill divisions or limits.

Are there times when instead of INT (Arcana) we should be using WIS or CON - distraction/pressure or physical discomfort?
CON (Intimidate) = stare down while holding hand over flame.
STR (Intimidate) = lifting something really heavy and looking to see if they will back down or you bash them with it
DEX (intimidate) = bullseye a dagger while flipping another they did not even see you had until it was drawn.

just some thought of mine...

Thanks for the feedback.

I agree about having per-rests use not being way to throttle Tactics, but I'm very set on Tactics being a new Int skill, so I just need to think a bit more on how to handle it mechanically.

I'm actually big on using alt stats, so these rules are not an attempt to prevent or diminish that. The problem is that there are some things that are either not covered at all, or are too specifically covered even in the context of alt stats. My revamps are attempting to change that. Fortitude is an example. Fortitude and athletics are not the same thing in any way, and fortitude is something that can specifically be trained. I feel the omission of a con-based skill reflecting this to be an oversight. While you could make a con-based athletics check, this is not appropriate in the same situations that a separate Fortitude skill would be (i.e. resisting various conditions or weather effects). Although, there's probably an argument to be made with the way proficiency to saves works in 5e you really don't need a skill for Con.

You might be right about Focus and Composure. I conceived of them as being quite different, but the more I think about it almost all uses of Focus can probably be covered under the umbrella of either Composure (for more mental tasks and resistance to mental conditions like madness) or Fortitude (for more physical tasks and resistance to physical conditions). I could possibly move Nature from Int to Wisdom instead of removing it instead, and include Animal handling as the above poster suggested.
 
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Einlanzer0

Explorer
I like some of the additions (Fortitude or something Con based was definitely needed), but I don't agree with dropping Nature and Nurturing seems to broad and a bad fit for animal handling (which I agree is to specific). I would rather keep Nature and wrap animal handling into that.

edit: actually, my gut feeling, and why I made this change to begin with, is that nature and survival have a lot of thematic and mechanical overlap. It's hard for me to imagine situations that would require specifically a nature check instead of either a general knowledge (folklore) check or a survival check, or possibly both, depending on the context.
 
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5ekyu

Adventurer
Thanks for the feedback.

I agree about having per-rests use not being way to throttle Tactics, but I'm very set on Tactics being a new Int skill, so I just need to think a bit more on how to handle it mechanically.

I'm actually big on using alt stats, so these rules are not an attempt to prevent or diminish that. The problem is that there are some things that are either not covered at all, or are too specifically covered even in the context of alt stats. My revamps are attempting to change that. Fortitude is an example. Fortitude and athletics are not the same thing in any way, and fortitude is something that can specifically be trained. I feel the omission of a con-based skill reflecting this to be an oversight. While you could make a con-based athletics check, this is not appropriate in the same situations that a separate Fortitude skill would be (i.e. resisting various conditions or weather effects).

You might be right about Focus and Composure. I conceived of them as being quite different, but the more I think about it almost all uses of Focus can probably be covered under the umbrella of either Composure (for more mental tasks) or Fortitude (for more physical tasks). I could possibly move Nature from Int to Wisdom instead of removing it instead, and include Animal handling as the above poster suggested.

The weather check for me would be CON (Survival) for me. A combo of toughness and experience with the conditions.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
The weather check for me would be CON (Survival) for me. A combo of toughness and experience with the conditions.

Yeah, perhaps. But i'm also a fan of skill challenges that involve more than one check for resolution, which is why I like to have a skill system filled with skills that are broad enough to get used, but also narrow enough that it's clear what they do. So, in this scenario, I would probably have a standard Nature(Int/Wis) and/or Survival(Wis) check in addition to a separate Con or Fortitude(Con) check, with different effects involved for different possible scenarios.
 

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