D&D 5E Separating Knowledge from Skill (+)

DND_Reborn

Legend
Given the thread about dropping Intelligence, I am exploring the idea of separating knowledge (what your character knows) from skill (what they can do, sort of...).

Here is the current breakdown / revamp:
  • Strength
    • Climbing
    • Jumping
    • Swimming
  • Constitution
    • ?
    • ?
    • Running
  • Dexterity
    • Acrobatics
    • Sleight of Hand
    • Stealth
  • Intelligence
    • Insight
    • Investigation
    • Perception
  • Wisdom
    • Animal Handling
    • Medicine
    • Survival
  • Charisma
    • Influence (Deception/ Persuasion)
    • Intimidation
    • Performance
I am breaking Athletics down into components (Climb, Jump, Swim) and I know I could add things like Lift and Sprint even, but since the first three are types of movement in 5E, I focused on those.

I am combining Deception and Persuasion into one skill: Influence, because whether you lie or persuade, your goal is to convince someone of something. I see this as different enough from Intimidation, although at one point I considered including it.

Finally, Insight and Perception were moved to Intelligence. I know many people might be "What are you DOING!?!" with that move, but it balances things out and makes Intelligence a bit more important. IMO Rogues should have better INT, but because Perception fell under WIS, too many were choosing it over INT and their Investigation suffered.

I might add another "skill" to Wisdom, Awareness or something, for the rangery-types who find moving it to INT to devastating.

There are other changes I am considering, but that's enough of that for now. :)

The areas of Knowledge I have (so far) include:
  • Arcana
  • Etiquette
  • Geography
  • Heraldry
  • History
  • Medicine
  • Multiverse
  • Nature
  • Religion
  • Tactics
  • Underdark
Currently, your background gives you 1-3 knowledge areas, and you gain another +1 (if you want) for each point of Intelligent modifier your PC has. Other uses for INT modifier bonuses include proficiency in a language, skill, tool, or weapon.

Your class selection will give you a choice of probably 2 knowledges for your character, but I am working on that so who knows? Race might add another?

Anyway, in addition to sharing just to share, I would like to know if anyone can help with thinking up:

1. Two more skills for Constitution.
2. More areas of knowledge to throw into the pot.

Thanks for any assistance and please, let's try to keep this constructive. :)
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
What about a Con skill based on alertness? Not sure how it would work and I am just spitballing here, but while on guard being able to stay focused and alert in order to perceive dangers. Not sure. Con skills are hard.
 


A lot of skills should rely on more than one ability.
Deception is a matter of charisma, intelligence, and even wisdom, and physical stance.
The list of single ability skill bugs can be long.
one solution can be to rely only on proficiency bonus.
skill bonus = PB for untrained, or simply a flat 0 bonus for untrained skill. That will make a bigger difference between trained and untrained.
PB + PB for trained.
PB + PB + PB for expertise.

Sadly it won’t solve your dump stat problem, it will even make it worst.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
A lot of skills should rely on more than one ability.
Yeah, I understand that, and although I am "listing these under an ability" I am a firm believer in the mix-and-match use of ability and skills, like the classic Strength (Intimidation) instead of Charisma (Intimidation). By playing ability off of skill and vice versa, you can achieve some of the variability of having skills relying on more than one ability IME.

The pitfall to that, of course, is players trying to come up with nonsensical ways of using a particular ability which is high with a skill that is appropriate.

one solution can be to rely only on proficiency bonus.
skill bonus = PB for untrained, or simply a flat 0 bonus for untrained skill. That will make a bigger difference between trained and untrained.
PB + PB for trained.
PB + PB + PB for expertise.
If I wanted to remove ability scores from skills completely, something like that could work. I think it has been suggested (perhaps by you?) in other threads when people argue for killing the sacred cow that is abilities.
 

Irlo

Adventurer
I have a few thoughts and half-formed questions, but I haven't taken the time to decide if these are good ideas. You be the judge.

1) You don't need to come up with an exhaustive list of areas of knowledge. Let the players identify their own and let them take broad fields (religion, for example) or hyper-focused areas (secret rites of the heretical Blue Sun sect of Pelor). Rolling for knowledge skills often strikes me as weird, so I understand your desire to separate knowledge from skill. Doing so, the DM will still need to make determinations of what the PCs actually know, since they can't know everything. Do you have ideas of the practical effects of having a knowledge area in your background? And the effect of NOT having it? How much religion do I know when I don't have that area noted on my character sheet?

2) Some issues might be resolved by a more explicit permission to use alternate ability scores to support skills. Maybe the night watch can use CON to modify perception checks during those long, cold nights on the walls of the keep. The sharp-minded rogue might use INT to modify perception when it involves attention to detail, allowing them to still be competent in investigation, while the ranger can use WIS for a more general something's-not-right sense out in the forest. One might use CON for persuasion, if it means standing there and holding one's breath until they get their way.

3) I balk at combining deception and persuasion. I like the idea of the idealistic hero very capable of inspiring others to acts of bravery and self-sacrifice but unable to tell a convicing lie to save his life. Those fine distinctions might be better made using traits, ideals, and flaws, though. The player might volunteer to take disadvantage on deception (or just chose to fail) in exchange for inspiration, in games that use inspiration that way. Does anyone do that?
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Hey there, what an interesting take. Here's what my list would look like:

Str:
  • Jumping
  • Intimidate
  • Feat of Strength (force stuff open, bend bars, lift gates etc)

Con:
  • Swimming
  • Journey (mix survival, forced march ST, harsh conditions saves over long distance)
  • Running

Dex:
  • Deft Hands
  • Acrobatics
  • Stealth

Int:
  • Search (investigation)
  • Riddle (bluff, fast talk, confusing banter, decipher, deduction, wits)
  • Evaluation (knowing the value or provenance of objects, bargaining)

Wis:
  • Insight
  • Navigation
  • Sense (perception)

Cha:
  • Persuasion
  • Animal Empathy
  • Streetwise (include carousing and rumor gathering)

Knowledges:
All artisan tools
All instruments
All ''kits''
All Gambling set
Healing (replace medicine and part of herbalism kit)
Nature (covers part of the herbalism kit)
Culture X (includes language and general history)
Arcana
Faith
Monster Type X
Geography X
Heraldry (includes etiquette and small scale history)
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I have a few thoughts and half-formed questions, but I haven't taken the time to decide if these are good ideas. You be the judge.
Thanks for your input!

1) You don't need to come up with an exhaustive list of areas of knowledge. Let the players identify their own and let them take broad fields (religion, for example) or hyper-focused areas (secret rites of the heretical Blue Sun sect of Pelor). Rolling for knowledge skills often strikes me as weird, so I understand your desire to separate knowledge from skill. Doing so, the DM will still need to make determinations of what the PCs actually know, since they can't know everything. Do you have ideas of the practical effects of having a knowledge area in your background? And the effect of NOT having it? How much religion do I know when I don't have that area noted on my character sheet?
I wasn't planning on coming up with a massive list, just a dozen or so examples. I really would like players to come up with ideas for knowledge for their PC and then if it is too narrow, expand it out to a full-fleshed knowledge.

When it comes to rolling, like with other ability checks I only call for it if I think it is warranted. If the knowledge is basic (albeit specific to that knowledge), then DCs are so low it isn't worth doing. It would be more about recalling information or obscure details for me anyway.

My friend and I were discussing the knowledge concept last night and I think the biggest thing is to have it provide synergies with other things like skills, tools, and possibly combat (such as tactics knowledge).

FWIW, each background offers you so many knowledges to learn, it doesn't currently tell you which ones you get to choose from but that will probably be in the works. I am hesitant to do it, though, but it limits player creativity in developing their character's background and thus, at least in part, backstory.

For example, I could see the Soldier background (who gets only 1 knowledge) offering options of:
  • Geography
  • Heraldry
  • History
  • Medicine
  • Nature
  • Tactics
I could see a soldier background providing the opportunity to learn any of those knowledge areas quite easily, but things like Arcana, Underdark, etc. would be harder. BUT by still allowing it to be completely open, it would make sense if a soldier background PC did learn about Arcana and for their class choose Wizard or the EK subclass.

So, it makes sense to group possible knowledge areas by background, but it could be too limiting. I am not sure which way I want to go.

2) Some issues might be resolved by a more explicit permission to use alternate ability scores to support skills. Maybe the night watch can use CON to modify perception checks during those long, cold nights on the walls of the keep. The sharp-minded rogue might use INT to modify perception when it involves attention to detail, allowing them to still be competent in investigation, while the ranger can use WIS for a more general something's-not-right sense out in the forest. One might use CON for persuasion, if it means standing there and holding one's breath until they get their way.
Sure, but even some of those examples are straining credibility, and I want to avoid "crazy" ability-skill combos just because someone wants to use their CHA for everything, etc. I am all for unlinking ability-skill for some instances, but the majority of the time the skill will probably stay with the ability.

3) I balk at combining deception and persuasion. I like the idea of the idealistic hero very capable of inspiring others to acts of bravery and self-sacrifice but unable to tell a convicing lie to save his life. Those fine distinctions might be better made using traits, ideals, and flaws, though. The player might volunteer to take disadvantage on deception (or just chose to fail) in exchange for inspiration, in games that use inspiration that way. Does anyone do that?
IME most games have dropped inspiration, and many don't even bother with personality traits anymore.

I understand your hesitation because the method of delivery is different, but the result (influencing someone) is the same. I just don't see enough distinction to warrant them being separate skills. I'm not opposed to keeping them "as is", but for now I like having them together. It might change, we'll see.

Thanks for your you feedback!
 



Lyxen

Great Old One
I am glad someone put swimming as a Con skill. Being able to swim is not hard, swimming is tough over any diatance.
Huh, no. If you don't know how to swim, you sink. Just because most people can learn to swim does not make it innate, most sailors did not learn it on purpose until the late nineteenth century, so that they would drown quickly. And the other thing is that swimming is incredibly hard with any sort of burden, including clothes and in particular shoes. If you want to be realistic, that's way more important than constitution and distance. Like any other skill, there is what you know, and applying to the right stat, it might be Con for swimming long, but when do adventurers swim for a long time ? It might be strength to swim quickly, or dex to swim quietly, probably more applicable to adventurers...
 

Rogerd1

Explorer
Huh, no. If you don't know how to swim, you sink.
You can tread water without being able to swim, or lay back.
Just because most people can learn to swim does not make it innate
On the grounds I never mentioned innate, don't put words that are not there.
And the other thing is that swimming is incredibly hard with any sort of burden, including clothes and in particular shoes.
If you want to be realistic, once you start swimming with shoes etc on, it isn't strength that keeps you going, it is endurance, and technique. You don't need to swim front crawl all the time when breastroke will do just fine.

Or to quote an athlete, "don't stop when you're tired, stop when you're done!"
but when do adventurers swim for a long time ? It might be strength to swim quickly, or dex to swim quietly, probably more applicable to adventurers...
Depends on the situation.
You could be playing a Michael Weston spy type dropped a mile out to sea having no choice but to swim ashore. Or a Navy Seal, or SBS, swimming to an objective.

Swimming quietly, that is all about technique though.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
You can tread water without being able to swim, or lay back.

Yeah, right, which is why no-one ever drowns...

On the grounds I never mentioned innate, don't put words that are not there.

Well, "Being able to swim is not hard" and "You can tread water without being able to swim, or lay back". Makes it look like basically anyone should be able not to sink at least, and even move around...

If you want to be realistic, once you start swimming with shoes etc on, it isn't strength that keeps you going, it is endurance, and technique. You don't need to swim front crawl all the time when breastroke will do just fine.

Yeah, sure, and my daughter did not almost drown in a swimming pool where she could actually stand. And the same for my nephew, but he was way smaller.

There are drowning due to lack of endurance, but it's usually people being caught in a rip and fighting it.

Depends on the situation.
You could be playing a Michael Weston spy type dropped a mile out to sea having no choice but to swim ashore. Or a Navy Seal, or SBS, swimming to an objective.

You could. Has that ever happened in my games ? No. Ever. Plenty of swimming though, but never endurance.

Swimming quietly, that is all about technique though.

And swimming quickly is not ? Swimming for a long time either ?
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Moving quietly, in any fashion, is stealth, regardless of the form of movement, IMO.

Now, swimming in rough waters while trying to be quite, would require a STR (swim) check and arguably a STR (stealth) (or DEX?) check. Depending on the noise made by the rough waters, the STR (stealth) check might be with advantage.

Swimming a long distance could easily become a CON (swim) at some point. But swimming quickly wouldn't require a check, as you would simply be taking the Dash action to double your speed. Unfortunately, moving faster isn't in the mechanics of movement unless you have a feature like Cunning Action to allow you another Dash.

Swimming while encumbered would be a STR (swim) check, because although the CON part comes up in doing it for a length of time, it is STR that determines if you can stay afloat or not IMO.

That is my take, anyway.
 

Rogerd1

Explorer
Yeah, right, which is why no-one ever drowns...
Well, "Being able to swim is not hard" and "You can tread water without being able to swim, or lay back". Makes it look like basically anyone should be able not to sink at least, and even move around...
Yeah, sure, and my daughter did not almost drown in a swimming pool where she could actually stand. And the same for my nephew, but he was way smaller.
You are being quite ignorant here.
The reason they nearly drown is usually panic. This type of reaction is not uncommon, had it myself.
If they stop to control that, to realise they can stand up.....
And swimming quickly is not ? Swimming for a long time either ?
Make your mind up!
What you said was-
It might be strength to swim quickly, or dex to swim quietly, probably more applicable to adventurers...
Swimming quickly is partially strength, mostly technique. Then you have to keep it going, and that is endurance.
Most of us can swim front crawl; but doing it technically correct, very few. Their is a technique to front crawl, and it takes a long time to get it right, lobbing your arms over your head, ain't it - period.

Swimming for a long time either ?.
No, that is Con, it is endurance. There is a reason swimming is included in things like triathlons, and other events like this.
Swimming for a distance is tough, and so is swimming fast.
 
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Lyxen

Great Old One
The reason they nearly drown is usually panic. This type of reaction is not uncommon, had it myself.
If they stop to control that, to realise they can stand up.....

Yeah, right, once more, drowning never happens, for sure, everyone can stay afloat or even move around...

Swimming quickly is partially strength, mostly technique.

Which is exactly what I said, you should need some proficiency to swim anyway, after that, to swim quickly, maybe more profiency and strength. Endurance does not come into it until quite a bit later.

Then you have to keep it going

No, why ? Once more, I've never seen adventurers needing to swim for even a medium distance. They are not stupid, they find other ways.

Most of us can swim front crawl; but doing it technically correct, very few. Their is a technique to front crawl, and it takes a long time to get it right, lobbing your arms over your head, ain't it - period.

So, again, what does endurance have to do with it ? It never, ever became an issue in all the adventures. Whereas speed and quiet came up a number of time.
 

Rogerd1

Explorer
Insulting other members
Yeah, right, once more, drowning never happens, for sure, everyone can stay afloat or even move around...
Never said drowning doesn't happen. The more you answer the more you show you are utterly ignorant you are.
Which is exactly what I said, you should need some proficiency to swim anyway, after that, to swim quickly, maybe more profiency and strength. Endurance does not come into it until quite a bit later.
You might be able to swim quickly for a very short distance, but after that it is all endurance, backed by correct technique.
So, again, what does endurance have to do with it ?
If you swim with the incorrect technique, it makes swimming harder.
But if you are doing it over a distance, this is endurance.
This is not a difficult concept.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Never said drowning doesn't happen. The more you answer the more you show you are utterly ignorant you are.

Reported.

You might be able to swim quickly for a very short distance, but after that it is all endurance, backed by correct technique.

And, again, in all adventuring that I've seen, it does not matter, adventurers swim short distances where endurance should not ever matter. Are you even reading this, since you are always answering besides the point ?
 

What about a Con skill based on alertness? Not sure how it would work and I am just spitballing here, but while on guard being able to stay focused and alert in order to perceive dangers. Not sure. Con skills are hard.
Can confirm. Trying to stay awake and alert for long periods of time is surprisingly brutal. Especially when fatigue sets in and the world starts spinning, you can barely keep your head up, your arms and legs get shaky, and you still have 4 more hours to go!
 

Rogerd1

Explorer
Reported.

And, again, in all adventuring that I've seen, it does not matter, adventurers swim short distances where endurance should not ever matter. Are you even reading this, since you are always answering besides the point ?
1. Don't be ignorant then, easy peasy.
2. It seems you are having difficulty reading. I am answering your questions, try again
 

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