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%


First Post
I like skills the way they are described by Mearls in September.

There are no skills persay. Abilities are what you roll for everything. However, certain activities receive a bonus based on , say, either feat choices or special ability choices.

Instead of class skills, classes give a set ability bonus for certain abilities. Fighters strength and constitution, wizards intelligenct etc.

human str cha con
dwarf str con wis
elf int dex wis

fighter str dex con
rogue int cha dex
bard int cha wis

sage int cha wis
explorer dex con wis
scout int wis dex

Something like this. Pick Race+Class+Role. All your abilty scores start at 8. Add +3 for every instance a certain ability score comes up.

Human+Fighter+Sage gives you Str 14, Dex 11, Con 14, Int 11, Wis 11, Cha 14
Elf+Rogue+Explorer gives you Str 8, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 11

Maybe an advanced model gives you +2 per mention but in return allow you to pick feats that make you just as competent anyway.

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First Post
I like the idea of removing level from the skills.
+3 for Trained, +2 for mastery, +1 from racial.

Make sure that we don't tie number of skills to stats (ie Intelligence), since the skills are not all based on intelligence.

Also I'd prefer that we get rid of the concept of cross class skills/non class skills. All characters should be able to learn skills regardless of their class.


If the L&L articles are any indication, skills will likely not operate as "skills" but as modified ability checks, in which you do not get +2 to Skill X, but +2 to Ability Checks pertaining to Skill X. There may be a skill tier system (i.e., novice, journeyman, expert, etc.) that ensures automatic success with certain tasks demarcated by a designated tier of difficulty, but then requires ability checks if the skill required is above that level of difficulty. It's essentially a way to avoid skill point inflation and the race to acquire basic skills simply to be adequate. But there may also be "talents" that allow you to improve your ability checks and improve your ability to perform certain related tasks (e.g. Climb: climb faster, climb without falling on fail, aid others climbing, climb horizontally, etc.). This proposed system sounds exceptionally simplified and elegant.


This proposed system sounds exceptionally simplified and elegant.
Played a retroclone last week with new D&D players using a system nearly identical to this (essentially the same system we used back in 1984). Worked so well that I actually resent my next 4e skill challenge.


First Post
I have devised a magical way to deal with so many of the problems with skills, but still keep a semblance of them because, dammit, we want our characters to know things and be different.

Primary and secondary classes (and tertiary, probably). Primary class = this is how I kill things. Secondary class = this is how I interact with people and the world around me. Everything that we would currently put under skills would go to your secondary class choice as well as non-combat class abilities.

The secondary class would give you a certain amount of things that you sometimes succeed at and a certain amount of things you always succeed at. Maybe these are chosen from a limited list for that class, maybe the only choice is which class you take. Some classes have a lot of sometimes but no always. Some classes have a few always, but almost no sometimes. In addition, the player would be encouraged to describe their ability in the way that makes sense for them. Open locks could be picking it with little tools, or it could be a whispered spell, or even a stroke of magnificent luck.

The best part about this system is that it would give you the ability to truly make that character you envisioned. Want a sneaky wizard? Magic damage and roguish skill/ability set. Want that nobleman? Fighter damage and aristocrat skill/ability set. Want the tricksy guy who knows some charms? Roguish fighting with a magical skill/ability set.

The best part is that the combat class offers virtually nothing to noncombat and the noncombat class offers virtually nothing to combat, making all combinations equally valid, equal in power.

Making the character starting from higher level wouldn't be too tough. Every level, choose the combat ability you gain, choose the noncombat ability you gain, write down the automatic abilities you gain then pick a feat or an ability increase if you get one that level. Fairly easy but complex enough to suit a nuanced game. I envision feats still being around, but you'd have to decide to spend your one feat on something for only one of your classes. This is where the campaign-specific differences come in. For a one-off game, take all those combat feats. If you're playing in my weekly campaign, I might suggest a goodly amount of noncombat feats.

In keeping with letting the player choose their own fluff, I want the skill-type abilities to be more general. Academica: Stuff you learned in school, or maybe that your summoned imps tell you. Geometry, Astrology, History, etc. Getting There: Any check in a situation that involves getting from here to there. It might be acrobatics, athletics, jump or climb as long as it involves moving from one spot to another, but you can describe is a ninja leap, a teleport or turning to shadow and slipping over. So the skills/abilities are more about the type of result than the method to obtain a result.

Now, how do I get all my ideas to Monte?
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First Post
Should skill chance of success be fixed, dynamic or changing?

Fixed: A set chance of success that doesn't increase with level (65%).

Dynamic: Skills increase but som does the difficulty. Chance of success stays roughly the same (~65%).

Changing: Skills increase with level. Chance of success starts low and becomes high (35%-90%).


First Post
Should skill chance of success be fixed, dynamic or changing?

Fixed: A set chance of success that doesn't increase with level (65%).

Dynamic: Skills increase but som does the difficulty. Chance of success stays roughly the same (~65%).

Changing: Skills increase with level. Chance of success starts low and becomes high (35%-90%).

Chance should always be variable, since some tasks are inherently easy (climb a knotted rope), while others are hard (climb a stone wall with few hand/foot holds).

The question is if skills should increase with level or not. I don't see a good reason why not, since weapon skills do.


First Post
Chance should always be variable, since some tasks are inherently easy (climb a knotted rope), while others are hard (climb a stone wall with few hand/foot holds).

The question is if skills should increase with level or not. I don't see a good reason why not, since weapon skills do.

There are three difficulties. Things you can do (no roll), things maybe you can do (roll skill check) and things you can't (no roll). If you can't do it you must improve your situation via other means.

Now there are some things introduced in 4E that I don't like (Roles + Powers mainly), but other aspects of the game that I am quite ambivilant about. Skills are one them. The thing is that the fully integrated Skill list was only really introduced in 3E, which at the time seemed like an epiphany had finally been reached in the game. Every other game around was a skill-based by that time, so why shouldn't D&D finally catch up?

However, Castles and Crusades changed my mind about it somewhat. The thing is, D&D isn't a skill-based game by tradition - it's a Class and Level based system and the only true Skills we saw for the Thief went up by level. Some people think this is unrealistic - but then they can freely choose to play RuneQuest if they prefer otherwise. Moreover, skill ranks and lists themselves are, in truth, just as much of an abstraction as 'Class and Level' are. It's just a different way of doing things.

Now if you manage to base a system on the Six core Abilities with a bonus determined by Class and Level (in a manner similar to Castles and Crusades SIEGE Engine, or 4E's 1/2 Level bonus), it does make the game a little bit simpler. Moreover, if you remove Skills and Feats from the core rules - and rely strictly upon Class Ability options presented within the Class description itself - it does cut out two rather massive chapters of the book and reduce the complexity (and page count) quite substantially.

Controversial? Maybe, but here's a poll and thread to say what you think!

Meh, the skills chapter in 4e is THE shortest chapter of the PHB. Simple, direct, folds in your old thief skills and a few other things into a few broad strokes that quickly tell you a good bit about what your character is about and how he approaches the world. Its very little complexity added compared to the amount that is gained.

You can argue that no skills at all remove a layer of abstraction and puts the player more in touch with the fantasy world, but you can also ask questions like "why do we have attributes?". The answer is because we want to create imaginary fantasy selves that have their own inner life, and we want to be able to have hooks on which to build that fantasy person.

This is why I like the 4e style short list of 'skills'. I put quotes around that for a reason, because they aren't really skills. Nobody in the real world is good at "Athletics" or "Thievery" or "Perception" as a skill. Those things are code words for the kind of person your character is. Is he one that confronts problems with vigorous physical action? Is he one that is sly and quick with his hands? Is he watchful and observant? What is his typical M.O.? Does he get what he wants by lying and bluster (Bluff), conciliation and negotiation (Diplomacy), or threats and cajoling (Intimidate)?

I think if there's a real criticism to be made against the way 4e did it is simply that the idea isn't fully formed. I think instead of having skill modifiers in 17 skills it would be better to simply note which way the character does things. Is he a Bluffer, a Negotiator, or an Intimidator by nature and when there's a social interaction let that dictate the flow the interaction. If the situation dictates a different approach then said character's Charisma is simply less effective.

This works for knowledge too. Is the character more studious, more intuitive, or more perceptive/insightful. Rarely does someone who is studious know all about one field and nothing about others. Certainly not in a medieval sort of world where all knowledge was held to be part of one whole (the term 'University' is a medieval scholastic term referring to the teaching of the universal knowledge, there were no separate subjects in the medieval university, everyone had one course of study). Other people use intuition and common sense reasoning instead of book learning, and others rely on careful observation and study. Again, the approach and the situation can determine how effective a given character's intellect is in a given situation.

We can repeat this exercise with people's approach to physical challenges. Do they bull through with strength, do they win through with persistence, or do they rely more on agility?

Maybe not all of these things DO need to be broken out from ability scores, particularly the physical skills feel pretty redundant, but I think the social ones are particularly interesting in what they can tell you about your character. So maybe in essence what we need is something that in the end looks more like 'traits' than skills per-se. Once you do that you can relegate the details of "which things does my character know" to something like 4e's backgrounds where you can simply define a general area of knowledge your character has based on his profession or upbringing. If a player needs to get more precise and narrow that down and create a PC who's an expert on Birds or something then they just write it down and the DM always gives you accurate information on that specific thing.


First Post
I voted for 3.5/Pathfinder. However I prefer the Pathfinder version as the +3 proficiency means it does not matter if you choose to be a Rogue at 1st level or 10th you still gain the benefit.

The actual list for D&D 4th edition is great, I prefer a general Athletics skill than climb, ride and swim.


First Post
I desire long lists of skill specializations but no skill points. A narrow gap between the bonus for skilled and unskilled party members.

If even one of them gets away without roleplaying, they will all try to get away with it. You don't know how many times I've said "Tell me the reasons I should help you" and some player stared at me for a good 5 minutes saying "Umm....I...umm....well, I can't come up with anything, but my character is very smart. He comes up with something even if I can't. I rolled a 35 for diplomacy. A 35! There's no way that fails."

I have one player who absolutely hates roleplaying more than a sentence or two with NPCs. He is the one that turned it into a joke.

I mean no offense by this, truly. But I really have to wonder which planet your players are from!

What is the point of playing a "role-playing game" if you absolutely hate role-playing and try to 'get away' with not doing it?

I play RPG's because I enjoy the heck out of roleplaying. The idea that someone would go to the effort it takes to play D&D (or any other RPG) and not enjoy what I see the game as fundamentally being about is extremely alien to me.

On topic, I'm rather taken with what we've heard about skills thus far. It has the potential to be done badly, but I look forward to what they come up with.



A little shorter than the Pathfinder list, a little longer than the 4e list, with the ability to put points in any skill like Pathfinder/3.x. Did NOT like being unable to put points into other abilities that weren't class/race/background/ect..

Consonant Dude

First Post
I don't want any skill list but I'm all for getting an ability check bonus if your theme makes sense. Let the DM and players decide if it makes sense.

Merchant theme? Roll a charisma check to haggle, get a +3 bonus.

Don't clutter the sheet with skills and feats and special stuff cause too much special is not special at all.


First Post
No skills or having 4e style skills = no sale.

Simple math in my case. It was one of the many choking points that I had with 4e, and with Castles & Crusades, for that matter.

Not that it matters, my hopes are kind of low at this point regarding 5e. I will hope to be wrong, but then one of the joys about being a pessimist is that most surprises tend to be nice things....

The Auld Grump


First Post
I like Mote Cook's idea in "legends and lore".

But I don't think it can use in Diplomacy Bluff Intimidate and Knowledge skill:D


First Post
I think skills are very important. They tell me what my character does when he is not fighting, which for our regular play style is a lot more than combat. So I appreciate a solid skill system. Let's assume I'm a monk. I want to be able to differentiate between several monks I might play. I could be a monk librarian, faithful of Oghma. I could be a disobedient orphan monk who spent more time on the streets than in the temple. I could be a disciplined imperial monk trained to watch over and teach the emperor's kids. In combat, these monks may be identical. But I would like to be able to build my monk with skills that reflect what kind of background he has. And I don't particularly care for a "canned" skill set I may or may not like. I'm looking for granular customization.

When I'm in the DM chair, I want to be able to impact scenarios based on the skill set of a group. An entire group who coordinated to have stealth and ranged attacks should be able to us this to their advantage. A couple con artist characters should be able to bluff their way out of a few jams. A bookworm conspiracy theorist should be able to decipher coded enemy messages. I inject this stuff into my games, based on how the characters have chosen their skill sets.

I would definitely like to see a set of skills. I don't mind 3.5/pathfinder, or 4.0. I can manipulate either one to my liking. I do not like being told, here is your background/theme, and this is what you can do.

I would also like lesser impact of stat on a skill, and greater impact of training. Otherwise, it is very easy to get into situations where the wizard without training is better than the cleric at religion, and the warlock has better coincidental endurance than the trained paladin. Skill system should not be something to min-max to be meaningful, it should be meaningful without system mastery. Currently in 4e, a rogue trained in Dungeoneering, or a Runepriest trained in Thievery are pretty futile attempts at skill mastery, particularly at high levels where stats easily surpass the +5 provided by skill training, and with a low, non-increasing stat, in order to keep up with skill DC's you need a ridiculous amount of investment.

I don't think there is a perfect (or even great) skill system out there for D&D in any version. As such I'd be up for something new and fresh, though sadly, D&DN seems more about old and grungy than new and fresh.

Crazy Jerome

First Post
(snip good stuff) ... The best part is that the combat class offers virtually nothing to noncombat and the noncombat class offers virtually nothing to combat, making all combinations equally valid, equal in power.

What you have outlined is roughly my preference, with one caveat: I'd make the combat and non-combat tracks completely independent of each other--that is, silos. You could perhaps level in each one like some of the early D&D multi-classing. So if you wanted to be a 1st level fighter, 4th level wilderness guy, you could. Or vice versa. This also implies that within each silo you could use either 3E or 4E style multiclassing (or some hybrid). Now you can be 4th level fighter, 2nd level wilderness guy/1st level noble. Getting that next level of combat stuff is effectively getting to 5th level combat, and whether you branch out or bump up wilderness/noble stuff, you are buying the 4th level of the non-combat stuff.

Just like the building blocks of (combat) classes can be shared (i.e. weapons, spells, etc.), the non-combat classes can be built out of shared elements (i.e. sneak skill, diplomacy, etc.), but also like regular classes, the class provides a place to put in special abilities that not just anyone can get.

Crazy Jerome

First Post
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.

I think our preferences are sufficiently different that we will rarely agree. So I need to call this one out as something that I really like! :)

In particular, I'd like to see something like you proposed applied as much based on utility as anything else. In other words, for skills that are relatively niche, compensate by not having many specialties and/or delaying the level at which the specialties occur. So you get the whole thing for your character resources. For skills that are valuable, use the specialties to divide them up and make them cost more to comprehensively get.

Using that, you could steal a leaf from Dragon Quest, for things like craft skills. Have a "Mechanic" broad skill that allows most crafting (outside of whatever crafting was inherent in other skills), but then use the specialties to distinguish different crafters. In fact, that is how DQ did it.

What I don't want is goofy overlap, especially in "Professions". If we have a "Heal" skill, let them specialize into making potions, or let Alchemy skill do it, or even require both. But let's not have PS: Healer as a skill. (A theme or other game element is another story, especially if it gives access to Heal and Alchemy skills.)

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