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%

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First Post
For 5e I'd like to see NO class be 'the skills guy', and to allow every class to have access to a pretty wide range of skills - perhaps a few default ones which are always appropriate to a class, and then options from an entire list; ditch the pigeonholing via 'class skills'.

I like it. I know there's a lot of people which games are heavily combat oriented and they don't miss skills but me? Heck, give me GURPS!

The other related thing is to kill this silly dependency on rogues to disarm traps. Let anyone who invests in the appropriate skills disarm them!

A lot of people will be complaining it defines Rogues/Thieves and they should always shine here... but, again, not me.


I'd prefer a skill system that:

1. Lumps vs splits.

2. Simple math.

3. Tied to classes and levels.

4. Is tiered to have "major" skill areas and "minor" skill areas.

Something like this:

Skill; Ability Modifier (M/m); PC Classes (M/m)

Acrobatics: DEX/str BARBARIAN, THIEF, RANGER / assassin, bard, fighter
Arcana: INT/cha BARD, ILLUSIONIST, WIZARD / assassin, thief
Athletics: STR/dex BARBARIAN, FIGHTER / druid, paladin, ranger, thief
Divinity: WIS/int CLERIC, DRUID, PALADIN / ranger, warlock
Engineering: INT/wis FIGHTER, CLERIC / bard, paladin
History: INT/cha BARD / cleric, illusionist, paladin, wizard
Device: DEX/int THIEF / assassin, bard, illusionist
Nature Lore : WIS/con DRUID / barbarian, ranger
Perception: WIS/cha ASSASSIN, BARD, THIEF / barbarian, fighter, ranger
Personality: CHA/int BARD, PALADIN, WARLOCK / assassin, cleric, druid, fighter, thief
Stealth: DEX/wis ASSASSIN, RANGER, THIEF / barbarian, bard, warlock

Where Major Skills = Class Level+Major Modifier and Minor Skills = 1/2 Class level + Minor Modifier

Lots of tinkering could happen here, but like this general concept.

PS - Apologies for the lame formatting...
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classes need to get a bonus to their appropriate skills. Never should a priest be better in finding traps than a thief again...

IMHO classes and races both should give a modifier or a base ability to checks. Even if you somehow train in a skill, a class with a native ability should be better. Period.

ADnD nonweapon proficiencies were good. Maybe Skills and powers variant.

I like the short and sweet skill list like 4E. Perception instead of Spot, Listen, Search. Could be a bit more flexible though, bring back the Knowledge ___________ skill slot from d20

The 2E model. An optional rule (one I'll always adopt, by the way :)), you have skill slots and you only need to buy them once. Your ability with a skill is not related to your level, you spend new slots learning new things and only rarely improving existing ones. GM may have the best blacksmith in the world be a 1st level commoner, if he wants to.



First Post
I really just want a skill system which doesn't slow down the game by making people roll dice all the time. For most kinds of actions, characters should either be able to do something or not, without the question of whether or not they can manage to roll well. This is particularly true for movement based skills (like balance, climb, swim, jump, ride, etc), where something like the 3E skill system makes combat movement unnecessarily complicated.

Overall, I'd happier with more of a proficiency system rather than a skill system, but if I had to have a skill system I'd rather have a kind of system of tiered non-numerical ability levels, rather than a system of numerical bonuses to d20 rolls. Avoiding the need to spend skill points each time you gain a level would also be nice.

I'm not really sure where I stand on the idea of how many skills there should be. Lots of skills is fine, as long as characters can each pick from a broad range of such skills. Over-simplifying it down to four or five would be less fun, though.

Greg K

I, definitely, want something closer to 3e. I don't think it is perfect, but it is close to what I want (I don't like Pathfinder's class bonus of the system in 4e)

I do like skills in 3e. However, I would
1) Combine Hide and Move Silent into Stealth
2) Combine Listen and Spot into Notice
3) Rewrite the amount of time to craft things
4) add the Cityscape web enhancement rules for urban/wilderness skill swaps. This should be either in the class customization section in the PHB, the skill section of the PHB or the DMG.
5) add 4e Backgrounds and themes/d20Modern. In addition to granting skills as class skills, they would grant ranks in the skill (or split ranks up among several skills)
6) Use the 4e skills system for NPCs and allow it as an optional rule for PCs
7) Less Absolutes: in most instances, not being trained in a trained skill should give a penalty or raise the DC, but an attempt should be possible.
8) Give the 2+Int classes 4+Int skills per level unless Int is the classes main ability
9) Modify some of the skill lists
a) Fighter: Give the fighter a choice of various backgrounds/themes that grant additional class skills or add more skills: Diplomacy, Knowledge (Local), Knowledge (nobility), Notice (or spot/listen), Profession. Rather than Bluff an Sense Motive and Tumble, I would allow the Fighter to add his BAB in place of ranks when using the combat aspects of those skills.

b) Sorcerer:add more Charisma based skills to the Sorcerer

10). Add new skills
a) I would like the following to be their own skills:
Knowledge (Aberrations), Knowledge (Demon/Devil), Knowledge (Dragons)
Knowledge (Fey), Knowledge (Spirits), Knowledge (Undead) rather than as part of other skills.
b) Knowledge (Streetwise): Know street culture, underworld personalities and finding black markets

11) change Knowledge(Local) to Knowledge (Culture): Choose a specific culture each time this taken. Each humanoid race could be its own culture. If there are multiple kingdoms, the GM could make each kingdom a culture.
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You say that so easily, but are there groups that play with no skills? How?

How do you handle success / failure of anything a PC attempts that is not an attack or a spell? Even in very bare-bones dungeoneering, you need at least some form of Perception. How do you make a rogue class without at least Stealth and Thievery?

At the very least, you need an ability score check mechanic, and some basic criterion to decide whether a PC is competent at what he attempts. Think about a Wizard and a Fighter. Even if both have Int 18, the Wizard still knows more about magic, while the Fighter should be better at devising a tactic for a huge battle. Even without skills as a game mechanic, you need a skill system.

Well, it should be noted again that there was no fully implemented skill system in any earlier edition than 3rd. Fundamentally, the idea is to base everything on the six core Abilities, and define specific Class Abilities in the class description. I mean, it is evident that Wizards know more about magic by virtue of their spell list (what does Knowedge:Arcana actually mean beyond this?), while Fighters would probably end up using INT tests for tactics or the like. Class Abilities could be outlined in Class descriptions - but do you really need, say skills like Jump if you have a general Dexterity Ability, or Search if you have an Intelligence score?

I can see that, like C&C's Siege system, there could be a core unifying mechanic, where your Level is added to Class Ability rolls. It could be more defined/refined though.


First Post
Trained skills: roll 1, 2 or 3 on a d6
Untrained skills, roll 1 on a d6
GM gives +1 or -1 depending on the difficulty of a particular task.


4e-style simplified skill list as default, expanded skill list and ranks, 3e-style as option (but please add in half-level bonus as in 4e, and ditch synergies and cross-class skills).

Add in a 2e-style "Secondary Skills" siloing option for groups who wish to have rules for crafting and professions beyond just writing "blacksmith" on the character sheet.

More than happy to leave skills out of any introductory set for new players, but I hope they are retained as default for the core book.
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My pie in the sky:

No skills lists (except rogueish classes*). If the PC tries something like tying a sheepshank or fashioning arrows in the woods, then assign a target number and have them roll stat mod + level vs. DM assigned target number.

The DM would take the character's history into account when applying the target number (a bounty hunter would have a better chance of tying up a prisoner than a cloistered cleric).

This will *never* happen of course---even though it's the most 'old-school' system I have ever played.

*in this system, rogues are allowed to try extraordinary things like silently walking on rice paper or running across walls.

Elf Witch

First Post
I find skills to be an important part of the game especially skills that give you things to do outside of combat.

Take diplomacy you need some way for players who are not very charismatic in real life or who get tongue tied easily to have a way to play a bard or some other charismatic type character.

I also would like skills opened up and not be based on class why can't a fighter have knowledge skills and diplomacy. Why can't a sorcerer pick pockets.

I would like to see a way to make skills not get to the point that you can't fail a roll. In my group a 1 on a skill is a -10 a 20 is a +10.

I would like to see skills like heal and profession herbalism actually give back HP and alchemy should not be just for arcane users.

I also personally liked scry being a skill like it was in 3 before they changed it in 3.5 no ranks you can't do the spell and the information you get is dependent on well you roll. That was a great way imo to stop scry from being the game breaker.

I don't like things tied to class because I find it boring and unrealistic it makes all fighters look the same or all wizards look the same.


First Post
I want an concise skill list like 4E with the Tiers that Monte Cook was talking about. That should be the base game, with options to use an expanded list, expanded point system, or skill-free sub if you want customization.

I'm fine with each class coming with a couple of skills already trained to a professional tier. Wizards should know arcana. Clerics should know religion. There should still be tiers above that level of education that separate adepts, masters, and living legends that open up as characters advance in play.

- Marty Lund
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I'd like to see an optional skill system with:
1) a limited number of skills (of approximately equal usefulness)
2) no skill points.



End the combat/non-combat divide (as the vast majority of RPGs have done). Same rules framework should apply to both combat and non-combat situations, which should encourage players to seek new (creative) ways for conflict resolution.

3.x BAB was just a skill with a fixed progression rate for all classes. The saves were exactly the same. Why not just introduce skills to replace them and unify the mechanics (we're nearly there anyway)?

Of course, the system needs to be such that lower complexity dials don't need to include skills at all.


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.
Hey, that's what I said!


I also thought I'd mention this idea (link):
What if this was the case for everything? There was a concrete number (1-5 skill points or whatever), that was a beginner, and several ranks above that (every 5 skill points sounds reasonable). Beginner-Expert-Master-Legend or somesuch. And each rank and a few basic assumed tasks that they could obviously do, as decided in the skill. Tiers don't work very well for characters as a whole, but they work great for skills individually!
There may be something close in the works if the Legends & Lore Skills article written by Mearls. But it's one that moves the game less in terms of skill points, but more in terms of ability checks that can be optimized through talents. Mearls indicates how this system could work with a preexisting skill rank system. This was in August, so who's to say that the skill system looks like this. But I would prefer an overall simplified approach to skills.


First Post
To put it simply - not having skills in 5e would be a deal breaker for me.

I like the version in Pathfinder - once a class skill, always a class skill, no X4 at 1st level, and I pretty much like the way skills are broken down.

And for the gods sakes, listen to the playtesters if and when they tell you that the skill system has problems!

The Auld Grump


As to Thieves, they had a nice array of thieving abilities to handles "Moving Silently" and Pick Pocketing", no need for a Stealth or Thievery "skill"

The thief class abilities were the skill system. That's the point I was trying to make. As soon as you have a Rogue and Move Silently, and other subsystems like the d6 roll to detect secret doors, you might as well unite those subsystems into a simple skill system for all characters. It's easier to learn and handles a much broader set of issues.

It's weird that D&D took so long to do that. When 3rd edition finally introduced a comprehensive skill system, other RPGs had this for something like a decade. I don't even know which RPG introduced skills because it's so far back I might not have been born yet (1981).


First Post
It's weird that D&D took so long to do that. When 3rd edition finally introduced a comprehensive skill system, other RPGs had this for something like a decade. I don't even know which RPG introduced skills because it's so far back I might not have been born yet (1981).

Traveller (1977) and Runequest (1978).

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