5E Skills and Ability Checks -- Perspective on Consistency vs DM Empowerment

Ashrym

Hero
This is largely a redirect from another thread so as not to derail that thread, just so no one is confused why it looks like we started mid-discussion. We are starting this thread mid-discussion, lol. This thread page 9 is where we are picking up from should anyone wish to look back. If there is a question on context of a statement or quote please ask. :)

Perspective A: 5e created a system that empowers DM's to when determining the results of the actions of characters.
Perspective B: 5e failed to create consistency by leaving it in the hands of the DM's, and not having a listed standard prevents players from knowing what their characters can do.

This type of discussion sidetracks threads regularly, so hopefully we can help that out with a location for that discussion.

The basis of the discussion is that 5e does not create a list of DC's to apply skills as we've seen in the past. We are currently comparing what a character can do in 4e to what a character can do in 5e regarding skills and ability checks. If someone reminds me how to

5e numbers kind of close if you are making sure martial characters are as completely pedestrian as possible and maybe if they had descent advancement and heroic bursts were defined. (yes I know the monk kind of can but that is apparently magic or something so we can put some guidance on that)
See it looks like casters have the same amount of proficiency with skills to use and wing it with as well as their I can do this now passes. What If they had to put skills into spell schools or similar I have to train in these 2 magical skills which are really just access passes for the learning spells and not of much value outside of that.

BA even has people deciding its wrong to let rogues have expertise because it looks out of sync or some such. I am thinking to challenge one of them you have to have obstacles completely out of reach of everyone else might be the complaint or something. But what better performances might I shoot for ... shrug. wave your hands in the air. How much are we cramming in session zero?
Six skills: rogue
Five skills: bard, ranger
Four skills: barbarian, cleric, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, sorcerer, wizard

That's where it sits at a first glance but the number of proficiencies is misleading. One of the key differences that becomes very prominent in play is the focus on ability score bonuses the way it's set up drastically influences skill bonuses. A fighter with a +5 STR bonus get that bonus to much different checks than a wizard with +5 INT bonus. This is true whether they have the same number of proficiencies or even if they take the exact same proficiencies. BA DC's are basically a measurement of 1/3 proficiency, 1/3 (natural) ability, and 1/3 average likelihood (chance and/or circumstance).

Only looking at the proficiencies and proficiency bonuses is ignoring the greater bulk of the equation.

Expertise is actually included in the BA math for those rare 25 DC's and chance (getting lucky) applies to the possible 30 DC's. It's not that expertise is out of sync with BA. It's that people see a bonus and think their favorite class should also have the same bonus even though DC 20 is the normal high / hard task that requires full proficiency and ability score to be reliable under pressure and represents extreme ability.

BA DC's are based on the bonuses possible, not the other way around or in spite of them. It's a number porn concern. Which if funny because those DC's only have meaning if the character is trying to do something that spectacular in the first place and defined as in doubt by the DM. Without that context it's bigger numbers for the sake of bigger numbers. The fact that characters can reasonably try such an action even with a 2-5 point gap in the bonus is the benefit for BA.

I'm going to also use an example of the paladin in our test campaign right now. The group often tries to ambush if they can. The paladin sucks at stealth -- 10 DEX, no proficiency, armor disadvantage. The ranger and bard both have proficiency and 16 DEX / 14 DEX respectively. Neither the sorcerer nor the wizard has proficiency but both also have 14 DEX. Sneaking in as a group and using a group stealth check makes the paladin's terrible stealth almost meaningless. Against typical passive perceptions it's generally a lost cause for the paladin, generally a success for the ranger or bard or both, and statistically likely at least one of the other casters makes those checks. A group check means they need 3 out of 5 characters to beat passive perception so the odds are in their favor.

Now it's not just one or two scouts moving ahead. Never separate the party. ;)

After the basic class plus background proficiency bonuses plus ability score bonuses (which covers more variety of checks than the actual proficiencies) we're looking at add-on proficiencies from races or subclass, or actual class enhancements. The half-elf number of bonus proficiencies is worth just as much as a class or background, and that would move a sorcerer up to 6 proficiencies before a barbarian, but would also move a paladin up before a wizard. Jack-of-all-trades covers a lot of bases while reliable talent is fantastic.

I don't want to derail again, but I would also point out fighter subclasses tend to include benefits with some more often than others. The UA rune knight gives a lot of skill benefits, for example, but the minor benefits seem to happen more often with a fighter subclass than with other subclasses.

I just wanted to point out that ability and skill checks vary by a lot more than the number of proficiencies. Equal number of proficiencies doesn't actually create equality in those choices because of the other related factors.
This part is why I was talking about well defined stunts where they could go oooh lookie lookie at the cool possibility and yes it is not a fluke that only an idiot would try but something within decent odds that those numbers actually back up, ie they lack those defined expectations.
Had someone try and say that and immediately declare something which was entirely doable and reasonable with a low level skill power in 4e was nearly impossible to do and that it stepped on the toes of casters if they didnt make it epic I am unimpressed with DM fiat.

Oh and a level 1 spell could do for the entire party in 5e what that skill power would do in 4e... but its epic because as a skill use in 5e its unlimited even though you might only really need it once a day
Generally speaking though the class with the glut of proficiencies like the rogue or bard are getting more support for that glut isnt (things like reliable talent ) ... if you were seeing reliable talent on monk instead of rogue to represent his extremely wise disciplined application of his skills as opposed to the creative use of the rogue. Then the classes other factors would be being used to balance it out a bit. Let super creative Bard have better critical effects on his skill use maybe. Shrug now that kind of thing would be using the distinctions in class style to adjust skill functional value in a stylistic way.


I do not see how the natural creates any unexpected swing on the equation... But that latter is the DMs little red car entering the picture... you know having no foundation for shared expectations only exaggerates it?The vroom vroom fiat mobile can make most of one check or another easier or harder for a simplistic example or more impactful.

Maybe but I keep thinking the bulk of the equation is when we quit measuring the differences between skills and start looking at how skills line up with the other type of abilities which have the old fashioned benefit of yeh but I spent a resource I get more assumption. Regardless of how the checks line up with one another there seems no guidelines in how what they can do relates with what a plot coupon class abilities can do (usually spells). And there really doesn't seem to be a general expectation or guidelines of equity because remember without the spell caster adventuring will be 10 times more difficult it says so up front on the label.

I do not see how the natural creates any unexpected swing on the equation... But that latter is the DMs little red car entering the picture... you know having no foundation for shared expectations only exaggerates it?The vroom vroom fiat mobile can make most of one check or another easier or harder for a simplistic example or more impactful.
Ability scores matter. That was one of the basic premises coming in because of the complaint that they had become nothing more than a small bonus. That's why proficiency bonus is a much smaller spread than past editions.

The standard range of bonuses for a PC on a check goes from -1 (8 ability no proficiency) to +11 (20 ability 17th level proficiency). Out of that range -1 to +5 is natural ability when +0 to +6 is proficiency. Both are worth up to 6 points of bonus and have equal value with a slight edge to the lower and upper limits applying to proficiency. That's a lot of weight coming from the ability score. It's also where the standard 10/15/20 DC's BA originate to match the standard bonus spread.

The ability check is based on the ability score. Proficiency is a bonus to a subset of ability checks within that ability score. IE DEX applies to acrobatics checks outside of variant ability scores but acrobatics proficiency does not apply to all DEX checks. Not only does the ability score give just as much weight to the DC's and checks as proficiency, it also applies to a lot more checks. That makes the ability scores more meaningful than the skill proficiencies.

It's equal value with more frequency.

I do not see how the natural creates any unexpected swing on the equation... But that latter is the DMs little red car entering the picture... you know having no foundation for shared expectations only exaggerates it?The vroom vroom fiat mobile can make most of one check or another easier or harder for a simplistic example or more impactful.
Ability scores matter. That was one of the basic premises coming in because of the complaint that they had become nothing more than a small bonus. That's why proficiency bonus is a much smaller spread than past editions.

The standard range of bonuses for a PC on a check goes from -1 (8 ability no proficiency) to +11 (20 ability 17th level proficiency). Out of that range -1 to +5 is natural ability when +0 to +6 is proficiency. Both are worth up to 6 points of bonus and have equal value with a slight edge to the lower and upper limits applying to proficiency. That's a lot of weight coming from the ability score. It's also where the standard 10/15/20 DC's BA originate to match the standard bonus spread.

The ability check is based on the ability score. Proficiency is a bonus to a subset of ability checks within that ability score. IE DEX applies to acrobatics checks outside of variant ability scores but acrobatics proficiency does not apply to all DEX checks. Not only does the ability score give just as much weight to the DC's and checks as proficiency, it also applies to a lot more checks. That makes the ability scores more meaningful than the skill proficiencies.

Compare that to 3e or 4e (which is where you're perspective originates). In 3e we had ranks and synergy bonuses and anything else that might add to those checks. Ranks alone massively increase the scale used compared to 5e proficiency and drive the ability score bonus down into just another bonus. 4e's training bonus is closer to the ability score modifier but then it also adds the half level so the ability score modifier is still just another bonus, and I think this is at odds with sliding DC's based on levels anyway.

In 5e, the ability score bonus is the major component instead of a minor component. The half-level bonus was removed along with the DC by level scale and the proficiency bonus represents 4e's +5 bonus from "trained".

As for not being able to do the things a character can on the 4e list, why not? A list of actions isn't actually needed because any conceivable action is already on that list. A person simply needs to conceive it. The same bonuses cannot be made as 4e because the system is different so the same DC's would not match because the system is different, but it's not the rules that prevent anything. It's the DM.

That's why I say DM empowerment and a consistent list are opposing forces. Creating a fixed list of DC's creates something that defines what 5e let's the DM define with the simple rule of "how hard do you think it should be?" unnecessarily. This can create inconsistencies between tables, but that only matters if the setting isn't defined in session zero or if it's a shared campaign.

I like sharing examples so that DM's and players might have an idea what to try or allow. I can definitely see how a list of actions and DC's might be useful. What I don't see is how 5e prevents someone from doing things just because those things aren't on a list.

Keeping in line with the conversation as it relates directly to 5e, a wizard flat out doesn't open stuck doors like a barbarian. The fact that a wizard can also take athletics (which the wizard class does not actually allow and it needs another source) does not mean the wizard will be opening stuck doors like a barbarian. That's because wizards are not as strong as barbarians and barbarians gain advantage to such checks by raging and barbarians gain a minimum check at a very high level. Just because classes use the same skill system does not mean those skills end up being the same. Ability scores make a huge difference now, and class or race features also change things up.

That means things like wizards excel at recalling lore because of the class proficiency options and INT focus. Barbarians do not. All classes become defined by their primary ability scores in which ability checks they will be good at, and which skill proficiencies they can become great at. A +10 bonus is great. That's when "hard" is "easy" for that character and when "almost" impossible is standard using the extra time rule. Anything beyond +10 in the bonus is the ability to do the same thing more reliably under stress or time constraints. It's the BA magic number in bonuses as to what it represents for that character.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Ability scores matter. That was one of the basic premises coming in because of the complaint that they had become nothing more than a small bonus.
Level now doesn't matter! Except it does in the other arenas both for attacks which the number of or hit point results and for spells with there well defined effect. Skills really are lacking having expicit accomplishable things makes the epic hero virtually the same as the very front loaded beginning hero. Session zero isnt going to fix that my epic hero is only epic in attacking or spell casting. The dot barely blips other wise.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
This can create inconsistencies between tables, but that only matters if the setting isn't defined in session zero or if it's a shared campaign.
That's like saying in session zero I come up with something that balances what spells can do vs what skills can do... that is a write your own game request. Here is what the spells can do you fix it so someone who doesn't have those can accomplish something similar. You can do it DM we are rooting for you.
I like sharing examples so that DM's and players might have an idea what to try or allow. I can definitely see how a list of actions and DC's might be useful. What I don't see is how 5e prevents someone from doing things just because those things aren't on a list.
It is not about preventing anything
What I see is the system asking the DM to do a ton of work investigating variously defined sub systems what one can do with spells or on various classes/subclasses to try and achieve some balanced result out of this particular under defined subsystem.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The monk can spend a short resource he has X of to accomplish Y effect but the fighters encounter resource he has Z of ..... if i allow someone to use Skill Q to accomplish something similar to one of those who is getting the short end of the stick? how difficult really should it be? is it going to be too erratic to be even worth trying? (when should it not be)

I mentioned before that someone gave an epic difficulty answer on something and someone else assumed my characters reaction was going to be much earlier in the sequence and didnt have to even do the full follow through. (to help an ally out of falling like someone might do with the feather fall spell the other one assumed you could get the grab in before the fall and the other thought jumping down with a falling friend to cushion there fall was humongous).

One table its a nearly impossible and the other its moderate thing. Because of really slight assumption differences. That I just do not see hashing out in a session zero. I just do not see it. I see first edition my character is drowning over swimming rolls eraticness because the dm was forced to improvise all over again.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This is largely a redirect from another thread so as not to derail that thread, just so no one is confused why it looks like we started mid-discussion. We are starting this thread mid-discussion, lol. This thread page 9 is where we are picking up from should anyone wish to look back. If there is a question on context of a statement or quote please ask. :)

Perspective A: 5e created a system that empowers DM's to when determining the results of the actions of characters.
Perspective B: 5e failed to create consistency by leaving it in the hands of the DM's, and not having a listed standard prevents players from knowing what their characters can do.
Consistency within the context of the given campaign is all that really matters in my view. How someone else does it at a different table is likely not an issue for most players. The DMG could do a better job in my opinion about telling DMs the importance of consistency in adjudication, however. It seems to focus on consistency mostly in the context of the persistence of the campaign setting. Consistency in adjudication is just as important if you ask me.

As for not having a listed standard leading to not knowing what players can do, I don't buy that for a minute. The game goes out of its way to tell you that "anything is possible" and to have players "describe what they want to do." (Granted, this is in the part of the book that nobody, and certainly not DMs, appears to actually read.) What's on your sheet are just a subset of what you can do and typically they are areas in which you have a better chance of success, if there's uncertainty as to the outcome of the task and a meaningful consequence for failure.

So all the DM need do here is what the book says and encourage an atmosphere of anything being possible and asking players to describe what they want to do. Sometimes those actions will be supported by what's on the sheet; sometimes they won't be. Savvy players will then tend to start doing the stuff the character is good at more often than not. The only people I have personally seen that have an issue of not knowing what to do are players from other systems or editions of the game who have a preconceived notion about things. Children, new players to RPGs, and anyone who understands the above have no issue with coming up with stuff their characters can do in the absence of tasks lists and standardized DCs.

Finally, D&D 4e and D&D 5e are not the same game. They don't produce the same play experience. In D&D 4e, for example, players are expected to ask to make skill checks and the DM is encouraged to almost always say "Yes." In D&D 5e, there is no such language. That alone creates for a different play experience at a fundamental level. Each is their own separate thing and a DM trying to play one game like the other invites upon himself or herself a whole host of problems which may include players not sure about what they can do.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I do not believe "anything is possible" is a useful answer.
People know there are opportunity costs of gaining character abilities.
People know there are resource costs to using abilities.
People expect those choices to be meaningful and I think it is entirely reasonable to expect them to be balanced against things with lower/greater thresholds of opportunity cost and lower/greater resource expenditures And 5e is basically demanding a DM who wants those to be balanced weigh all the systems granted specifics and resource spending against the carteblanche probabilities that is the attribute check system, all basically on the fly.
 

Ashrym

Hero
Level now doesn't matter! Except it does in the other arenas both for attacks which the number of or hit point results and for spells with there well defined effect. Skills really are lacking having expicit accomplishable things makes the epic hero virtually the same as the very front loaded beginning hero. Session zero isnt going to fix that my epic hero is only epic in attacking or spell casting. The dot barely blips other wise.
Level does matter. That's why proficiency bonus changes. It's just a slower change than we were used to. Attacks and saving throws are tied to the same proficiency bonus that skills use.

The proficiency bonus is what matters less in skills or attacks, but feats are there to apply to skills and we have a few examples in the PHB (these is under-developed and also left to DM discretion). The disconnect is in thinking we need defined effects. If there is something a person feels the character should reasonably be capable of then do it.

I don't bother with expecting a roll a lot given the category a character is capable of. I just narrate it. Over-rolling is the enemy of doing things. The only discrepancy that exists is between how hard a DM might think that action is vs the player and 5e went the DM empowered route vs consistent application among tables. That's a campaign specific thing and I think it's WAI. The only other time I see an issue is if a player or DM doesn't know what might apply, which is why examples are good but not necessarily DC's.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Level does matter. That's why proficiency bonus changes. It's just a slower change than we were used to. Attacks and saving throws are tied to the same proficiency bonus that skills use.
Umm I am making 3 attacks now my level matters massively even if each is only at 15 percentiles better vs I am making one skill check still and get 15 percentiles no level really really does not matter in a significant way to skill use virtually not at all in comparison to other abilities. I am casting a spell I get higher powered spell slots. The skills are not getting enough better to be called higher powered. The small advancement really does not represent it well. (you are cramming improvement into a really small 1 dimensional blocks where as the attacks and spells are at least two or even three dimensional (with auxiliary effects such as superiority dice added). I grant if you assume expertise the one dimension is now twice as long. Why are we

Spells are consistent among tables fighting is as always in D&D consistent among tables apparently attribute checks are not important enough to a game of D&D to to be consistent among tables.
 

Ashrym

Hero
Thats like saying ins sesssion zero I come up with something that balances what spells can do vs what skills can do... that is a write your own game request. Here is what the spells can do you fix it so someone who doesnt have those can accomplish something similar. You can do it DM we are rooting for you.
That requires the need or desire to balance skills vs spells, and that's a different topic. People have their own opinions on at-will vs limited resources effects, the "magic is special" feel, or the comparative benefits of magic vs skills.

I find that for the most part spells uses the same skill checks anyway to make them facilitators but not replacements, are convenience effects not required to complete the task at all making them minor in the grand scheme of things, and often not worth the slot in casting over simply using a skill in the first place.

For the most part. I can also point to spells that make a difference and spells can facilitate, improve, or function as skills too at times. IME it's not enough to matter in the bigger picture. YMMV.

Session zero is more about setting the expectation on what the campaign will be like and what to roughly expect in ability checks. It's only worth pointing out special cases at that point.

What I see is the system asking the DM to do a ton of work investigating variously defined sub systems what one can do with spells or on various classes/subclasses to try and achieve some balanced result out of this particular under defined subsystem.
Not at all. That's even close to how I experience it. The rule is very simply and easy to use. The player does something. The DM considers it for a moment to decide if it's in doubt. It's a quick "you succeeded / that's not possible / that might be questionable given the circumstances" decision.

If there's a roll needed then it's a quick "how hard do I think this is given the circumstances" and the DC is set based on the answer. It's an easy on-the-fly approach.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
It's only worth pointing out special cases at that point.
I do not think attribute checks really were actually given a base line if they were then where? - ie in 4e I could well say that a skill power lets you do something a skill can do without a check if you want to improvise an encounter one have at it and it will likely involve a fairly normal difficulty skill check if you are after one that is probably a daily it will be a more difficult check. Assuming you are doing something like an existing skill power. And there are a few already defined abilities to provide a base line in the skill section. I can let someone improvise a ritual even using pretty basic cost guidelines in 4e.
 

Ashrym

Hero
The monk can spend a short resource he has X of to accomplish Y effect but the fighters encounter resource he has Z of ..... if i allow someone to use Skill Q to accomplish something similar to one of those who is getting the short end of the stick? how difficult really should it be? is it going to be too erratic to be even worth trying? (when should it not be)

I mentioned before that someone gave an epic difficulty answer on something and someone else assumed my characters reaction was going to be much earlier in the sequence and didnt have to even do the full follow through. (to help an ally out of falling like someone might do with the feather fall spell the other one assumed you could get the grab in before the fall and the other thought jumping down with a falling friend to cushion there fall was humongous).

One table its a nearly impossible and the other its moderate thing. Because of really slight assumption differences. That I just do not see hashing out in a session zero. I just do not see it. I see first edition my character is drowning over swimming rolls eraticness because the dm was forced to improvise all over again.
I don't disagree with any of this. Session zero sets an expected level of capability, and there can easily be variance between tables. That's because the DM is empowered to set those levels. That was intentional.

I find it's more work to adjust healing or magic levels than it is ability checks. Players might need to explore what the characters can do more in this edition but that was the trade-off. Consistency vs DM empowerment can oppose each other.

Fortunately, campaign books tend to have DC's already applied.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
If there's a roll needed then it's a quick "how hard do I think this is given the circumstances" and the DC is set based on the answer. It's an easy on-the-fly approach.
Guaranteed to be imbalanced not just inconsistent with between DM some will very much trying to consider the things I mentioned and others like me wishing the game gave me some actual tools that werent just advanced system wide sub-system analysis on my part.
 
I do not believe "anything is possible" is a useful answer.
Sure, that's possible. Anything is.

People know there are opportunity costs of gaining character abilities.
Yep, thus optimization.
….when two (or more) character abilities have the same opportunity cost to acquire, and one is better than the other(s).

People know there are resource costs to using abilities.
People expect those choices to be meaningful and I think it is entirely reasonable to expect them to be balanced against things with lower/greater thresholds of opportunity cost and lower/greater resource expenditures
Well, using some abilities costs formal resources, like a spell slot. Others, like cantrips just take an action, or time more generally. Others use resources indirectly - melee attacks use up your own hps faster than ranged attacks, generally speaking, for instance.

Players can expect the choice to use a formal resource to be meaningful, and, perhaps balanced against alternate uses of the same formal resource (though, they could be 'situational' which leaves a lot of wiggle room in any estimate of relative utility), because such choices usually come with a clearly-defined set of effects and a linked 'fluff' or "fictional position" or whatever you want to call it.

And 5e is basically demanding a DM who wants those to be balanced weigh all the systems granted specifics and resource spending against the carteblanche probabilities that is the attribute check system, all basically on the fly.
Yes. That's prettymuch being a DM, almost regardless of edition, but particularly in editions like 1e & 5e were Empowerment is emphasized. The payoff for taking up that challenge is not insignificant, either.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I don't disagree with any of this. Session zero sets an expected level of capability, and there can easily be variance between tables. That's because the DM is empowered to set those levels. That was intentional.
There is no baseline.... I cannot even detect what would make it balanced without doing pretty extreme analysis. Even if I wanted skills to be less able than all those other things I couldnt not really with reliability.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Guaranteed to be imbalanced not just inconsistent with between DM some will very much trying to consider the things I mentioned and others like me wishing the game gave me some actual tools that werent just advanced system wide sub-system analysis on my part.
But how important is that level of balance really? Is it that big of a deal that, say, a character can accomplish with a successful skill check something that could also be accomplished with a limited-resource ability?

I used to worry about that kind of thing a lot. Like if I allowed someone to do something that they didn’t have an ability that specifically allowed them to do, I would be invalidating some other character’s ability that did specifically allow that thing. It was downright paralyzing, and it’s why I never much enjoyed DMing 4e.

5e showed me that I was worrying too much. Just let the player describe what they want to do, evaluate if it’s possible and how hard it might be in current circumstances, and call for a check if necessary. It’s quick, it’s easy, and none of my players have ever protested that it wasn’t fair another player accomplished something with a check that they had a spell for. Not even once.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Players can expect the choice to use a formal resource to be meaningful, and, perhaps balanced against alternate uses of the same formal resource
Action cost is a formal resource (time in game spent) .
There were everyman abilities in 4e the aid action that were very rarely used because they had too high of action cost it was basically a design error.
Attribute values are an opportunity/design cost and the use of one will generally involve an opportunity cost if it takes an action.
5e is worse than that it does not let me balance those action choices in any meaningful way not really.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
I am fine with 5e being more vague, and not providing a set list of skill DCs for everything.

That said, the two things I would have liked to see more is:

1) Some more high level differentiation. Its completely possible for level 5 characters to hit DC 30 checks (aka the "top tier" skill checks). Beyond that, it becomes a little more frequent, but ultimately 20th level characters aren't doing anything "more epic" just "epic more often".

2) Some more examples of DC 35 and 40 checks. My level 10 characters hit these numbers a lot (guidance + bardic inspiration gives you a BIG boost). So I would like to see some examples of what is being the DC 30.
 

Ashrym

Hero
Umm I am making 3 attacks now my level matters massively even if each is only at 15 percentiles better vs I am making one skill check still and get 15 percentiles no level really really does not matter in a significant way to skill use virtually not at all in comparison to other abilities. I am casting a spell I get higher powered spell slots. The skills are not getting enough better to be called higher powered. The small advancement really does not represent it well. (you are cramming improvement into a really small 1 dimensional blocks where as the attacks and spells are at least two or even three dimensional (with auxiliary effects such as superiority dice added). I grant if you assume expertise the one dimension is now twice as long. Why are we

Spells are consistent among tables fighting is as always in D&D consistent among tables apparently attribute checks are not important enough to a game of D&D to to be consistent among tables.
Magic needs to be given scope and dimension. Mundane actions can generally be described based on pop culture and real world influences.

Multiple attacks are a class ability granted at higher levels but they are specific to classes. That's like comparing reliable talent or peerless skill, and also a class ability.

Not all classes gain an attack option like that. Not all classes gain spell options like that. It's a bit disingenuous to think all classes would gain a skill benefit.

This also gets back to the scale. That +10 bonus is what it takes to be good at a skill in 5e. How the DM applies it is up to the DM and that's the empowerment model chosen. How the player plays the character is based on what that player thinks the character might be capable of. What that character does do is open-ended and tends to be campaign specific.

I do not think attribute checks really were actually given a base line if they were then where? - ie in 4e I could well say that a skill power lets you do something a skill can do without a check if you want to improvise an encounter one have at it and it will likely involve a fairly normal difficulty skill check if you are after one that is probably a daily it will be a more difficult check. Assuming you are doing something like an existing skill power. And there are a few already defined abilities to provide a base line in the skill section. I can let someone improvise a ritual even using pretty basic cost guidelines in 4e.
I don't need a skill power to allow a player to do something any more than I do a skill feat as a DM. The scope of ability checks depends on the campaign and I can increase or decrease the scope as easily as changing the DC of the checks, making more actions auto-succeed, and making less actions impossible.

The point is to keep that in the hands of the DM and not the rulebook because it's meant to be handled differently based on different styles of campaigns.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
But important is that level of balance really? Is it that big of a deal that, say, a character can accomplish with a successful skill check something that could also be accomplished with a limited-resource ability?
Based on the question I have asked on this forum it even matters to many of those somehow championing how 5e does it. They just think they are going to figure it out on the fly... and the end effect is a huge just say no masked by ridiculous difficulties.

t’s quick, it’s easy, and none of my players have ever protested that it wasn’t fair another player accomplished something with a check that they had a spell for. Not even once.
Great for you wonderful anecdote and not useful as a DM I would feel guilty over invalidating opportunity and design choices of the one player and why in hell is there even a resource cost if its easy to accomplish with a strength check? Maybe I should make it harder....

Because design choice and resource expenditure is supposed to mean something is why I want things balanced.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Magic needs to be given scope and dimension. Mundane actions can generally be described based on pop culture and real world influences.
Right like the real world has a 16th level character in it who fights demi gods. I am not buying it.
 

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