skill proficiencies point buy

Many people complain about skills being imbalanced. I propose we create a point buy system for skills. Instead of being given X skill proficiencies you will be given Y points that you can spend on differently costed skills
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
I haven't found the skills to be unbalanced, with a few notable exceptions. Medicine is just terrible, since it's primary use can be done untrained with no check by using a Healers Kit. Performance didn't seem to fit, considering how many different tools duplicate the same effect, but XGtE helped solve that issue by encouraging doubling up. Some skills are situational, like Animal Handling, Slight of Hand, and the various Intelligence skills, but they have their usefulness. The only one I find unbalanced is Perception, and the easiest fix to that is to change several uses of it to be intelligence/investigation instead. Social skills are going to be needed by the social characters, but they're balanced among themselves. Stealth is a useful skill, but already balanced by the desire for Perception. Survival is almost necessary while traveling off-road, but you really only need one character with it.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I haven't found the skills to be unbalanced, with a few notable exceptions. Medicine is just terrible, since it's primary use can be done untrained with no check by using a Healers Kit. Performance didn't seem to fit, considering how many different tools duplicate the same effect, but XGtE helped solve that issue by encouraging doubling up. Some skills are situational, like Animal Handling, Slight of Hand, and the various Intelligence skills, but they have their usefulness. The only one I find unbalanced is Perception, and the easiest fix to that is to change several uses of it to be intelligence/investigation instead. Social skills are going to be needed by the social characters, but they're balanced among themselves. Stealth is a useful skill, but already balanced by the desire for Perception. Survival is almost necessary while traveling off-road, but you really only need one character with it.
Yep, agreed wholeheartedly. That's why in my games I:

Removed Animal Handling-- use CHA (Nature) instead
Removed Acrobatics-- use DEX (Athletics) instead
Removed Medicine-- use INT (Survival) instead
Removed Perception for finding inanimate hidden things (like traps or doors)-- use INT (Investigation) instead
Removed Performance-- use Tools or Persuasion as applicable
Removed Sleight of Hand-- use DEX (Deception) instead
 

jgsugden

Adventurer
It is not worth the effort. Rather than spending the time trying to fix the system, you would be well served to spend time seeking ways to use the existing ystem in a balanced way. It really does work well when used as suggested.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
My view is rather different - based off years and years of point buy play which taught me - the points dont matter - or specifically any generic point values dont matter.

The "value" is how often they are called for or seen in play and how critical those are. That will vary from campaign to campaign, setting to setting and so... pretty much i look at the players choices and offer up things that help make them seem worth it often enough. The ability check and proficiency rules are some of the looser sets of features in the game, to me showing the choices worthwhile is more flavor than anything else.

Did the old collapsing bridge leave a long gap span requiring an extra long leap or a series of small sections requiring balance and deftness of feet? Are the clues to what happened here in the miscellaney of the scene or the nature of the wounds? is the eerie obelisk of divine magic origin or arcane? thousands of other options like this lets any Gm who cares about "balancing the PC skill choices" do so with trivial effort. For Gms that dont want to do this, balance wont happen anyway so its not important - as random needs don't match up with generic point buy costings except for randomly at best.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Yep, agreed wholeheartedly. That's why in my games I:

Removed Animal Handling-- use CHA (Nature) instead
Removed Acrobatics-- use DEX (Athletics) instead
Removed Medicine-- use INT (Survival) instead
Removed Perception for finding inanimate hidden things (like traps or doors)-- use INT (Investigation) instead
Removed Performance-- use Tools or Persuasion as applicable
Removed Sleight of Hand-- use DEX (Deception) instead
THIS. This is a beautiful idea that I wish I had thought of first. Consolidate the skill list so that all of the choices are meaningful, while keeping the variety by emphasizing the parts that the characters are naturally good at (via ability scores).

I've been doing part of that with the official variant of using different ability scores - for example using DEX (Performance) for dancing at a masked ball or a street contortionist using CHR (Acrobatics) to see how much money they took in when focusing on patter and working the audience.
 

tglassy

Adventurer
Instead of doing any sort of point system, I would just split the skills into two groups: one that can be attempted even when not trained, and ones that you have to have proficiency with in order to make an attempt. Like Medicine. You can't attempt it unless you have proficiency. Same with playing an instrument. I don't care that you rolled a Nat 20, you did not just play a song on the Lute because you've never picked up the instrument before.

But Animal Handling, Athletics, or Investigation, those are things where you COULD succeed by accident even though you've never been properly trained with it, so I'd allow an attempt.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
The only one that I think is truly broken is Perception. In my experience, that gets rolled way more than any other skill (at some tables, it is rolled more than all other skills combined). And, it is super useful; it feels fun to spot an ambush/trap/clue, and it feels sucky to get surprised or walk face-first into a trap. Some of the weaker skills (Nature, Medicine, Performance) can be made useful by a creative or flexible DM, but it's very hard to make Perception less useful.

I've been considering forbidding Perception as a background or racial skill pick unless it's part of your race or class list (limiting it to elves, barbarians, druids, fighters, rangers, and rogues). I've also considered making it cost double, so you need to burn two skill slots in order to pick Perception.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
Part of the problem with Perception is how ubiquitous the idea of 'noticing stuff' is. That's a way bigger catch-all than any of the other skills. It sounds, to me anyway, like more of an ability or even game mechanic than a skill - at least when set next to the other skills. This big idea encompasses elements that might reasonably be described as being related to dexterity and intelligence as well as wisdom. So maybe make it not a skill and not tied to one stat. Dexterity already plays in to initiative, and doesn't need to be more important than it already is. But maybe a character's roll to 'notice stuff' could just be WIS plus INT mods with a DC target. No proficiency, no expertise, just the stat mods. The skill check leftovers can be covered with investigation and maybe insight.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
THIS. This is a beautiful idea that I wish I had thought of first. Consolidate the skill list so that all of the choices are meaningful, while keeping the variety by emphasizing the parts that the characters are naturally good at (via ability scores).

I've been doing part of that with the official variant of using different ability scores - for example using DEX (Performance) for dancing at a masked ball or a street contortionist using CHR (Acrobatics) to see how much money they took in when focusing on patter and working the audience.
Um... isn't this sort of thing what you're supposed to be doing in 5E? I know it is a variant option, but seems more like what most people do anyway. On the new character sheet I made, I removed the link between ability scores and skills so players don't get trapped into thinking you have to use them linked only one way.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Part of the problem with Perception is how ubiquitous the idea of 'noticing stuff' is. That's a way bigger catch-all than any of the other skills. It sounds, to me anyway, like more of an ability or even game mechanic than a skill - at least when set next to the other skills. This big idea encompasses elements that might reasonably be described as being related to dexterity and intelligence as well as wisdom. So maybe make it not a skill and not tied to one stat. Dexterity already plays in to initiative, and doesn't need to be more important than it already is. But maybe a character's roll to 'notice stuff' could just be WIS plus INT mods with a DC target. No proficiency, no expertise, just the stat mods. The skill check leftovers can be covered with investigation and maybe insight.
I've definitely had that same thought, of making Perception just like Initiative -- a function of pure ability score, with only the occasional special ability or feat that would modify it. Or, classes could grant proficiency in Perception or Initiative the way they do saving throws. (I'd give Perception proficiency to elves, bards, rangers, and rogues; and Initiative proficiency to fighters, monks, rangers, and rogues.)

A similar wacky idea would be to make Perception only passive. Call it your "Perception DC," set it to 8 + Wis + Proficiency, and use it only to avoid getting ganked by ambushers, hidden creatures, or traps. Actively scanning would be Investigation or Insight. (One problem with removing the proficiency bonus from Perception is that it overpowers Stealth, which is why I included it in the DC.)
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I've definitely had that same thought, of making Perception just like Initiative -- a function of pure ability score, with only the occasional special ability or feat that would modify it. Or, classes could grant proficiency in Perception or Initiative the way they do saving throws. (I'd give Perception proficiency to elves, bards, rangers, and rogues; and Initiative proficiency to fighters, monks, rangers, and rogues.)

A similar wacky idea would be to make Perception only passive. Call it your "Perception DC," set it to 8 + Wis + Proficiency, and use it only to avoid getting ganked by ambushers, hidden creatures, or traps. Actively scanning would be Investigation or Insight. (One problem with removing the proficiency bonus from Perception is that it overpowers Stealth, which is why I included it in the DC.)
If I were going to remove perception as a skill, I would replace it with a basic wisdom check and allow proficiency bonus from other skills or tools to apply in cases where that expertise mattered.

Survival in some cases. Thieves tools in some. Masonry in some. Carpentry in some. Insight, etc.

Of course, I would also tend to see it as the primary for initiative - situational awareness.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
If we want to be ostensibly intersted in balance, and we want to 'fix' perception i think the only real answer is to open it up outside of straight WIS. INT gets dumped toi much IMO and giving people a reason to not dump it is good. INT plus WIS works thematically and practically, and i do think that it qorks better as a mechanic that isn't a skill.
 

Eubani

Explorer
I have at times thought that Perception should be a stat, I know it would make many a Grognard cry but 1. Making Grognards cry is a hobby of mine and 2. It makes a lot of sense, balances well and would require minimal work.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Um... isn't this sort of thing what you're supposed to be doing in 5E? I know it is a variant option, but seems more like what most people do anyway. On the new character sheet I made, I removed the link between ability scores and skills so players don't get trapped into thinking you have to use them linked only one way.
The bigger idea was not just to pair skills and ability scores as needed, a variant rule that I have to say I'm the only one I see doing around here, but to trim down the skill list so everything on it was meaningful. Combining similar choices like Athletics & Acrobatics, and leaving them differentiated by the ability score. And folding little used ones like Medicine into other skills, again differentiated by ability score.
 

ART!

Explorer
Many people complain about skills being imbalanced. I propose we create a point buy system for skills. Instead of being given X skill proficiencies you will be given Y points that you can spend on differently costed skills
I had a related thought recently that might dovetail with this, to the point that it might come to me while I'm typing here.

So, ASIs provide a +1 and a +1 to the ability score(s) of your choice (with a cap of 20, natch) OR a feat. Given that, let's say a +1 ability score increase is worth 1 "point" (there's a flaw there, see below), and therefore that an ASI is worth 2 points. The alternative to an ASI is a feat pick, so feats much be worth 2 points, too.

The thing that occurred to me was "if feats are worth 2 ability score increases, why not allow feats to be chosen in place of ability score build points during chargen?"

The problem there (and arguably a flaw with ASIs) is that if you use point-buy costs, not all increases of ability scores have the same value: raising an ability score from 12 to 13 chews up 1 point-buy point, but raising from 13 to 14 chews up 2 points, etc.

That's as far as I got, but it seems like equivalencies could be made. I've built 5E races using the point value analyses and break-downs of people with much more committed than I, and one of the things I learned is that assigning everything point values is at least a little arbitrary. Different things will seem more or less valuable to different people.

So, I wouldn't want to get into assigning point values to every little thing in 5E.

Would you give every skill the same value, or have some be worth more than others? The latter would require at least somewhat arbitrary decisions.

What i think might work better is to say something like "1 rank in a skill is worth X [other thing on the character sheet]" or "1 proficiency is worth 1 ASI" or whatever, and have a "point buy" system that's really just a bunch of rough equivalencies.

I think it's fair to argue that a lot of things in 5E that seem like they should be of equal value aren't, or that many things are only valuable in the right player's hands. Having built races i can say with confidence that the official races are not balanced. I feel like the feats aren't of equal value either, but then that arbitrary thing comes back into my thinking. Sure, some people will choose to run a drow elf because racial trait X dovetails nicely with class feature Y, but some people choose drow because they think drow are cool, and the latter is what 5E seems interested in.
 
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tglassy

Adventurer
Athletics and acrobatics aren’t he same thing, though. Just because you’re strong and athletic doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do things an acrobat can do, and visa versa. They are both related to physical ability, but are very much different skills.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
The bigger idea was not just to pair skills and ability scores as needed, a variant rule that I have to say I'm the only one I see doing around here, but to trim down the skill list so everything on it was meaningful. Combining similar choices like Athletics & Acrobatics, and leaving them differentiated by the ability score. And folding little used ones like Medicine into other skills, again differentiated by ability score.
I worked this up once, inspired by MicroLite20, which does something similar: https://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/share/ryshugSRr4
 

Xeviat

Explorer
The only one that I think is truly broken is Perception. In my experience, that gets rolled way more than any other skill (at some tables, it is rolled more than all other skills combined). And, it is super useful; it feels fun to spot an ambush/trap/clue, and it feels sucky to get surprised or walk face-first into a trap. Some of the weaker skills (Nature, Medicine, Performance) can be made useful by a creative or flexible DM, but it's very hard to make Perception less useful.
Passive skills shouldn't be skills. Passive skills should be saving throws. Take away passive use of Perception and make it a Wis save and you'll solve a lot of the problems.
 

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