D&D 5E Some thoughts on skills.

Clint_L

Hero
As times goes by, I and many others realized that the easrly idea of having a very basic core system and a several different variant modules that were designed to work for different genres and playstyles with the assumption that 90% of group would choose one or more modules of each type is an idea sorely missed in 5th edition.

Well 5th edition's core mechanics are simple and small enough to easily create a varient to match the Genre and Style the group wants if you are honest about what you want. But I feel a lor more of them could have been included in the base core books and more space given to them overall..
You'll likely never see that kind of a sourcebook from WotC. Slaying the Dragon goes into a lot of detail about WotC's forensic analysis of TSR's books to learn why the company failed, and one of the primary reasons, probably the main one, was the fragmenting of D&D into variant settings that wound up competing with each other so that almost all of them lost money. A number of WotC executives are super explicit in emphasizing that most of those variant settings not only were not profitable, they could never have been profitable.
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
What does Lifting do that Athletics wouldn't cover?
Lifting would be pushing pulling, lifting, and holding things with strength and technique.
Basically those other Strength checks
  • Force open a stuck, locked, or barred door
  • Break free of bonds
  • Push through a tunnel that is too small
  • Hang on to a wagon while being dragged behind it
  • Tip over a statue
  • Keep a boulder from rolling
Also, do you see any distinction between things which are intentionally meant to be extremely broad and things that are just vague and not defined? That is, the former is explicit that it covers lots and lots of things and you should take relatively liberal interpretations, while the latter just straight-up doesn't tell you much, hoping silence and player imagination will fill the gaps.
I understand the difference.

My point is that if you make it based soley on imagination, well everyone has different imaginations.
And you are totallying about the imagination of a LARGE group of people of various backgrouds with no frame of reference.

It's not inherently goood, It's not inherently bad. But you ae building inconsisency into th system unless everyone in the group is the same. Inconsistency that the DM has to manage and can be judged for.
 

Clint_L

Hero
The problem I see with adding tons of skills is that it just feels like detail for the sake of detail, and creates confusion at the table - which skill specifically applies here, A, B, or C? This also creates clear winners and losers so that some skills are worth a LOT more during the game than others. That's why I would like to see all the 5e lore skills compiled into just two skills: natural lore (history, nature, medicine) and supernatural lore (arcana, religion).

But I would rather see skills logically inferred from a character's background. Background as a hunter and trapper? Yeah, you'll have some skill at tracking, finding shelter, animal handling, tying knots, etc.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
You'll likely never see that kind of a sourcebook from WotC. Slaying the Dragon goes into a lot of detail about WotC's forensic analysis of TSR's books to learn why the company failed, and one of the primary reasons, probably the main one, was the fragmenting of D&D into variant settings that wound up competing with each other so that almost all of them lost money. A number of WotC executives are super explicit in emphasizing that most of those variant settings not only were not profitable, they could never have been profitable.

I wasn't taking about settings. I'm taking about variant rules. "Everyone gets Expertise in one skill but loses profiency in one skill" and "Expanded Skill List" and "Extraordinary Abilities" as variant rules along with the two variants in the core books.
 

Lifting would be pushing pulling, lifting, and holding things with strength and technique.
Basically those other Strength checks
  • Force open a stuck, locked, or barred door
  • Break free of bonds
  • Push through a tunnel that is too small
  • Hang on to a wagon while being dragged behind it
  • Tip over a statue
  • Keep a boulder from rolling
Okay but like...why would that need to be separate from Athletics? All of those sound like things Athletics should cover. The 5e Athletics skill doesn't mention them, but it should. Breaking bonds, for example, was an explicit thing 4e Athletics could do. Hanging on to a wagon is basically doing a much more dynamic version of a pull-up. Tipping over a statue or pushing back against a boulder sounds like an applied version of various workout machines. Etc.

Note, I'm not challenging this because I don't think these things should be explicitly included. I'm challenging it because it reads a bit like wanting to go back to separate Swim, Jump, and Climb skills--even if it provides a gain of immersion/realism/specificity, it creates a frustrating problem where now if the Man-At-Arms wants to be good at her big-muscles stuff she needs to invest in multiple things just to cover the bases.

I do think a separate Endurance skill is worth having though, both because Con should have a skill tied to it, and because I feel its absence in 5e. It is the kind of handwavy inconsistency you speak of.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
The problem I see with adding tons of skills is that it just feels like detail for the sake of detail, and creates confusion at the table - which skill specifically applies here, A, B, or C? This also creates clear winners and losers so that some skills are worth a LOT more during the game than others. That's why I would like to see all the 5e lore skills compiled into just two skills: natural lore (history, nature, medicine) and supernatural lore (arcana, religion).
I don't see this as a problem. A, B or C? Any of them applies.

When I DM, I actually added a few skills that overlap. Some different ability scores. Like Intimidation (Str) and Browbeat (Str) or Surgery (Wis) and Medicine (Wis). Worked wonders. Confusion plummet.

But I would rather see skills logically inferred from a character's background. Background as a hunter and trapper? Yeah, you'll have some skill at tracking, finding shelter, animal handling, tying knots, etc.
You would then have to describe what every Backgrounds knows. Starting the whole process and problem all over again.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Okay but like...why would that need to be separate from Athletics? All of those sound like things Athletics should cover. The 5e Athletics skill doesn't mention them, but it should. Breaking bonds, for example, was an explicit thing 4e Athletics could do. Hanging on to a wagon is basically doing a much more dynamic version of a pull-up. Tipping over a statue or pushing back against a boulder sounds like an applied version of various workout machines. Etc.

Note, I'm not challenging this because I don't think these things should be explicitly included. I'm challenging it because it reads a bit like wanting to go back to separate Swim, Jump, and Climb skills--even if it provides a gain of immersion/realism/specificity, it creates a frustrating problem where now if the Man-At-Arms wants to be good at her big-muscles stuff she needs to invest in multiple things just to cover the bases.

I do think a separate Endurance skill is worth having though, both because Con should have a skill tied to it, and because I feel its absence in 5e. It is the kind of handwavy inconsistency you speak of.
Powerlifer vs Decathlete vs Gymast vs Triathelete

The problem was always that D&D designers handed out too few skills prof/points.

Plus every ability score should have at least 2 skills if not 3. The ability scores are so braod that there are multiple facets of their real life counterparts.
 

Lifting would be pushing pulling, lifting, and holding things with strength and technique.
Basically those other Strength checks
  • Force open a stuck, locked, or barred door
  • Break free of bonds
  • Push through a tunnel that is too small
  • Hang on to a wagon while being dragged behind it
  • Tip over a statue
  • Keep a boulder from rolling

I understand the difference.

My point is that if you make it based soley on imagination, well everyone has different imaginations.
And you are totallying about the imagination of a LARGE group of people of various backgrouds with no frame of reference.

It's not inherently goood, It's not inherently bad. But you ae building inconsisency into th system unless everyone in the group is the same. Inconsistency that the DM has to manage and can be judged for.
What do you have against DM empowerment??
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
What do you have against DM empowerment??
Nothing.I mostly DM.

My point is that without a framework giving by the game or the time, the imagination or possible imagination of an action.

A person who does X in real life might have a different idea of how Easy or Hard doing an application of X might be than a person who has never done X and only seen it. And the first person might have a different perception of the same thing in comparison with the rules.

And this situation is often glossed over in the TTRPG community.
 

What do you have against DM empowerment??
I think the whole concept is wrong-headed and primarily exploited as an excuse. For the designers, it's an excuse to avoid actually designing anything. For DMs, it's an excuse to lord their power.

Because DMs already had the greatest possible powers they could have within the context of the game without unilaterally overruling common sense and social contracts. Any further empowerment must thus come from...?
 


Clint_L

Hero
I don't see this as a problem. A, B or C? Any of them applies.

When I DM, I actually added a few skills that overlap. Some different ability scores. Like Intimidation (Str) and Browbeat (Str) or Surgery (Wis) and Medicine (Wis). Worked wonders. Confusion plummet.


You would then have to describe what every Backgrounds knows. Starting the whole process and problem all over again.
No I wouldn't. I would just decide in the moment. Does it make sense for that character to have a chance at that thing? Worked as a scribe? Sure, roll to see if you know that bit of history or whatever.

Why do we need all these things laid out for us? It's a cooperative game; just go with what makes sense for the character.
 

Nothing.I mostly DM.

My point is that without a framework giving by the game or the time, the imagination or possible imagination of an action.

A person who does X in real life might have a different idea of how Easy or Hard doing an application of X might be than a person who has never done X and only seen it. And the first person might have a different perception of the same thing in comparison with the rules.

And this situation is often glossed over in the TTRPG community.
Don't I know it...
 



Same reason there are Arcane Religion Nature and History skills.
That doesn't match up.

Athletics and Acrobatics covers mostly what you need. These primary skills can allow a table to homebrew specialities i.e. Swimming, Jumping, Running, Climbing, Tight Rope Walking, Gymnastics, Throwing...etc
Maybe you want to give a PC Expertise/Advantage for a Speciality.

Lifting, on the other hand, should not be a skill, but instead treated as a straight Strength check for most people. If you believe someone would be proficient in it due to their extra mural pass-time or their profession then just give them the proficiency bonus - there is no need, IMO, to create a further skill for it.

If a table is inclined to increase detail one could create specialities within Arcane, Religion, Nature and History skills.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
That doesn't match up.

Athletics and Acrobatics covers mostly what you need. These primary skills can allow a table to homebrew specialities i.e. Swimming, Jumping, Running, Climbing, Tight Rope Walking, Gymnastics, Throwing...etc
Maybe you want to give a PC Expertise/Advantage for a Speciality.

Lifting, on the other hand, should not be a skill, but instead treated as a straight Strength check for most people. If you believe someone would be proficient in it due to their extra mural pass-time or their profession then just give them the proficiency bonus - there is no need, IMO, to create a further skill for it.

If a table is inclined to increase detail one could create specialities within Arcane, Religion, Nature and History skills.
By that logic there should only be a single Knowledge skill.

Which goes to my point. There are are different types of physicality just like there are different types of knowledge. And how they are categorized and their difficultly are based on the person. So without a clear guideline of some types and difficulties of skills they are from the game, you are leaning heavily on interpretation of the one you deem as the arbiter, the DM, who have various ranges of possible imagination.

It's not good or bad. It's a design choice. And that choice is why this thread exists and is over 5 pages.
 

amethal

Adventurer
Lifting, on the other hand, should not be a skill, but instead treated as a straight Strength check for most people. If you believe someone would be proficient in it due to their extra mural pass-time or their profession then just give them the proficiency bonus - there is no need, IMO, to create a further skill for it.
That's a good point. Does it say anything like this in the DMG? Because it should.

You could, in theory, treat everything like this and not bother with "skills" at all. Write down a few broad "interests" and apply proficiency when your DM thinks it is appropriate.

Of course, you'll get the situation where one player write downs "art appreciation" while somebody else writes down "adventuring".
 

Lifting, on the other hand, should not be a skill, but instead treated as a straight Strength check for most people. If you believe someone would be proficient in it due to their extra mural pass-time or their profession then just give them the proficiency bonus - there is no need, IMO, to create a further skill for it.
That's a good point. Does it say anything like this in the DMG? Because it should.

It's in the PHB (p 176):
Push, Drag, or Lift.
You can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity (or 30 times your Strength score).


A PC needs/wants to lift more than that? The DM could call for a Strength ability check, perhaps, if appropriate, as @AnotherGuy points out.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
By that logic there should only be a single Knowledge skill.

Given how the rest of skills work, there probably only should be only one; or at most two. 5 skills with niche uses makes for pretty weak knowledge skills (and there is the common problem of vague DCs that don't specify for the DM what sorts of things a knowledge check may reveal). Better than 3e, but not great. Most especially since if the group needs information for plot reasons they'll get it that information one way or the other. The knowledge skills are rarely as useful as the more active skills - in fact, I'd say everyone should get a knowledege skills for free from their backgrounds, and knoweldge skills should be considered as weaker than active skills - like tool proficiencies are.

Also, like tool proficiencies and languages, a character could practice to learn more of them in downtime.
 

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