D&D 5E Skills in 5E. Do we want them?

How would you like Skills to be in D&D5E?

  • Same as they are in 3.5 or Pathfinder.

    Votes: 40 24.0%
  • Limited skill lists based on Class and Level (like 4E)

    Votes: 48 28.7%
  • No skills - just Class and Level based Abilities (like C&C)

    Votes: 18 10.8%
  • A simple skill list like Pathfinder Beginners.

    Votes: 12 7.2%
  • More Skills.

    Votes: 12 7.2%
  • Something else - please detail.

    Votes: 37 22.2%


I want to go back to 2e proficiencies. Why? Well it had some pretty specific categories for skills like "read lips" and "gaming" that really defined character traits. Sure, you can read lips in 3e and 4e using the Innuendo and Bluff skills (respectively) but generally people forgot about it along with a bunch of other specific skills because it was out of sight.

I understand why all the proficiencies were bundled together in the 3e skill system. Some proficiencies were simply more valuable than others, and most of them weren't used. You were forced to choose between broadly useful proficiencies over specific situational proficiencies (ie. sailing vs. herbalism) and generally the broadly useful proficiencies won out and were used.

But what if we take a page from Skyrim and allow you to use any proficiency, but you were generally only good at the ones you use frequently? Perhaps you start with a 15-25% chance of doing something at 1st level, and once per session you get a 5% upgrade to a skill you use unsuccessfully and a 10% upgrade if you use it successfully.

At 1st level you would also get 100 points or so to put into proficiencies you want to be fairly good at coming into your adventuring career.

log in or register to remove this ad


First Post
I'd like a list of skills like Pathfinder, but I'd like it if your ability scores matter more than your level, or at least equally as much. I hate level being the ultimate "stat." While it makes sense that characters would improve in things as they get more experienced, your level shouldn't mean multiple times as much as your ability score does, IMO.

For example, I'd give a +1 modifier for every attribute point above 10 (instead of +1 for every 2 points) and I'd have your skills gain no more than a +10 bonus from levels. This would make odd-numbered attributes actually do something, which is something I've wanted to see happen since 3e.

Skills could have three degrees of mastery and the chance for success could be fixed.

Apprentice 60% chance of success
Journeyman 70% chance of success
Master 80% chance of success

When you reach certain levels you get to improve one of your skills. If your character has five skills you can improve one of your skills at ten occassions. I.e every third levels.

So if I am an apprentice in Pick pocketing at first level I get my first chance to improve it to journeyman at 3rd.

The important thing in this model is that the skills are set. Apprentice is 60% regardless of skill, level or character. Ability scores would still somehow be a factor though.

This model would be worth its salt thanks to three things. 1. It wouldn't destroy the scale. 2. It would introduce names for competence. 3. DCs wouldn't have to be set all the time.


My preference would be a seperate level-base 'proficiencies' subsystem to represent all noncombat abilities.

It would include trained skills, natural talents, extraordinary abilities, and even supernatural effects (spells, rituals, etc.) that don't directly affect combat mechanics.

It would work likes feat selection. 'Skills' could be handled similar to the treatment in Star Wars Saga Edition, with each selection upgrading level of ability, rather than on an X points per level basis. Other options could improve and/or expand on ability score based capabilities (greater carrying capacity, etc.) or offer new options.


I know not everyone will agree with this, but in my view ALL D&D editions had skills for all characters:

THAC0 / Attack bonus

Those are, in a sense, specialized skills that all characters have, at least in the same fashion that thieves had skills in earlier editions.

Why am I saying this? Just to show that the idea of Skills is not necessarily anathema to the spirit of early D&D. The big differences are: 1) Skills are limited to a a few situations; 2) Players can't decide how those skills will grow.

So to me the debate is: should skills cover just a few things or every aspect of a PC's life AND should players be able to dictate how the character learns / develop those skills?

(By the way, I voted 3.5/Pathfinder because although I play 4th, I prefer a longer list of skills)

I say yes to a skill system. It doesn't need to be more complex than 4E skill system. I don't think we need to fiddle with skill points. 2 or 3 states of trained (none, good, focused) sounds enough to me. I would perhaps not model all skill training with a modifier. Roll 2d20 and pick the highest is also a neat method, especially since it keeps the range of values for the skill reasonable, and allows people without full training in anything to still contribute - they just need a little more luck.


  • Yes to a skill system - kill feats instead.
  • No to skill points.
  • I'm ambivalent about what skills should be there, except they should be all of use in adventuring
  • Crafting and profession should be handled by some sort of background system. This could include skill checks or challenges, but they should not be part of the default skill system.
  • Something interesting needs to be done about knowledge skills. I'm not very happy with them, but I'm not sure what.



First Post
How about rolling 'damage' to complete extended tests or skill challenges? Say a trek through the wilderness has 10 'hit points' and each successful skill check clears 1d6+bonus points of progress in order to complete the trek. Each round the task is not completed something negative happens such as a day passes and one day's worth of rations are depleted.


Skill System
About 10 skills
Skills Points is just an option (mentioned in a passing paragraph)
4-5 skill levels (Untrained, Trained, Heroic, Paragon, Epic)
Ability modifiers added to skill rolls
Not level based but able to be increased
Skill tiers have moderate jumps but passes starting ability modifier easily (+0, +5, +10, +15)


First Post
The skill system is one of 3e's transcendent accomplishments and should be maintained and developed. If we'd had this forum when they were still working on 3e, I (and a lot of others) would have been clamoring for something like it.

The big problem was with the restrictiveness of class skills. The half-ranks thing was too crippling, and it was too difficult to play off type. There definitely needed to be some mechanism by which rogues were stealthier than most people, but what they did was too restrictive. There should just be a bonus for certain skills for certain classes (PF and 4e both did that, though the 4e standard modifier meant that all characters got better with everything, which I don't advocate).

The other problem was that the skills weren't broad enough.

I'd really like to see skill trees. You take your first five ranks (or thereabouts) in general academic knowledge, and then from there on out you have to specialize, taking specific ranks for History, Arcana, Geography, etc. You take your first give ranks in acrobatics, and then specialize in Tumble or Balance. You take your first five in influence, and then specialize in Bluff or Diplo or Intimidate. It would allow for a lot more detail and robustness without clogging the character sheet, and it would make the game easy for beginners at 1st level while retaining the detail for more advanced players as they move up the ladder. It would allow a concrete list of general skills, while making it easy for DM's to make up subspecialties of them as needed. That's modularity in practice.

Thus, I answered "more skills", although my real answer's not exactly that.


First Post
I'd be good with a very minimal core skill system and let folks dial up the complexity.

For example, skill ranks (ala 3e) pretty much need to be an option, not a requirement. If instead folks only have a couple of ranks (like what they were talking about in some of the L&L articles), that's not much different than picking training/mastery in a skill, so sure.

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads