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D&D 5E Skill selection and Rogue's Expertise (and grappling?)

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
The discussion of 5e skills has got me thinking, and has led me to three thoughts, listed here from general to specific.

1. The first thought is an observation: that more than before I am not thinking that a charisma character needs to max charisma skills -- whether it's due to bounded accuracy or something else, it seems like the benefit of taking skills in a weaker stat is actually pretty solid. Between proficiency and the possibility of advantage, low int characters trained in a lore skill can still hit reasonably high targets. That's a feature I've not noticed before.

2. It also shows the power of the rogue's expertise -- getting double proficiency rapidly becomes a huge bonus. So what should a rogue do? My sense is that he/she should focus on skills that will be opposed checks -- Insight, Deception, Persuasion, and (because of the grappling rules, if nothing else) Athletics. Now none of these are Dex-based, but if point 1 above is at all valid, ten it doesn't matter, even if Wis, Cha, and Str are n more than average. Again, strategically I think it makes sense for a rogue not to push Dex-skills, and that has the additional advantage of encouraging non-traditional rogue builds (which I find exciting anyways).

3. Has anyone really play tested the grappling rules yet? It's come up for us once or twice, but nothing concerted. In any case, it seems to me that a rogue (or bard?) taking expertise in Str (Athletics) rapidly becomes a a much more effective grappler (and resistor of grapples) than any fighter. I'm trying to imagine whether an aggressive-grappling strategy is at all effective (for a rogue, or others). The grappled condition doesn't give advantage, which is a shame and means you need a buddy nearby still (grappling would make that easier, of course).

Any thoughts appreciated.

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I noticed this a while ago with the playtest. My players are just starting to notice it as well. Training in a skill can make up quite a bit for having a weak stat in it. We're still playing by the playtest rules, so it's a bit different for us but the party's assassin has a 9 Str and between proficiency and Expertise gets a +7 in Athletics...By comparison, the barbarian has a 19 Str and also has a +7 in Athletics...

Now...with the Basic Rules, she probably would not have chosen to put Expertise in Athletics and even if she did, at 8th level she'd only have a +5...but that still is pretty decent.


First Post
A raging barbarian is still the best grappler, since they get advantage to the Strength roll. But a Strength-based rogue could be feasible (medium armor dwarf, etc) and would be really good at it too.

In 5e you don't have to be 'really good' at most things. But it certainly helps. Because of the high variance of the d20, you want as much bonus as possible coming out of the gate for opposed checks. So I would put expertise towards things like athletics (if you care about grappling), social skills including Insight (almost always used in an opposed fashion) and stealth/perception skills. If you dont care for the offensive skills (athletics/intimidate/diplomacy/stealth, etc) then go for the more defensive ones (Insight, Acrobatics, Perception).

Skills that are more 'lore' type don't need to be maxed. Arcana, history, religion, survival, etc. If you really need to pass a check for those, you can get advantage by having a teammate help.

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