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D&D 5E Some thoughts on skills.


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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I'm talking about replacing proficiency with skill points instead. A linear, granular source of skill rather than the slow, sad drip.
I like this idea a lot. I know PF2 stuck hard to a universal system which makes learning a bit easier, but its very limited in design options.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
I'm talking about replacing proficiency with skill points instead. A linear, granular source of skill rather than the slow, sad drip.
This was mostly ok in previous editions; I'd remove the way to supercharge skills (expertise), I'd remove anything like cross-class skills, but also have a huge sidebar or conversation with players warning them of the potential pitfalls of spreading skills around rather than specializing, depending on the skill and their expectations from it.

One nice thing about the proficiency system is it is a decision that is, for the most part, made once.
I don't think that is the problem with the system as is, rather it is expertise, the heavy weight given to raw ability, and the fact that skills are not well distributed across attributes - coupled with too much DMG vagueness about check DCs

Going to a points system might solve some of those problems but introduce others, while leaving other problems there.

Also, for Baba Yaga's sake, let Intelligence give people more skills (points, proficiencies, whatever) again.
 

Pedantic

Legend
Broken record, but having clear spelled out DCs allows players to make informed and tactical choices about skill investment in open ended point assignment systems, where they can decide to stop investing after hitting specific ability breakpoints.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
This was mostly ok in previous editions; I'd remove the way to supercharge skills (expertise), I'd remove anything like cross-class skills, but also have a huge sidebar or conversation with players warning them of the potential pitfalls of spreading skills around rather than specializing, depending on the skill and their expectations from it.
I keep expertise-like abilities (in fact, is where I apply 'roll twice, keep the best') in order to allow people who are good at things to be good based on skill rather than level.

One nice thing about the proficiency system is it is a decision that is, for the most part, made once.
I don't find that to be nice at all, actually. Sometimes you pick up new things later and let others fall by the wayside.

I don't think that is the problem with the system as is, rather it is expertise, the heavy weight given to raw ability, and the fact that skills are not well distributed across attributes - coupled with too much DMG vagueness about check DCs
Expertise is how you break away from raw ability if you go with proficiency though. Proficiency is simply too anemic -- by design.

Going to a points system might solve some of those problems but introduce others, while leaving other problems there.
Depends on what you consider problems, really.
Also, for Baba Yaga's sake, let Intelligence give people more skills (points, proficiencies, whatever) again.
Over the years, observing very smart people and people not considered so smart... I have decided INT has nothing to do with gaining skills.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
Over the years, observing very smart people and people not considered so smart... I have decided INT has nothing to do with gaining skills.
The issue in 5e is they've gone so far that Int isn't really useful for much of anything anymore.

I think true polymaths are getting there via some mental stat, and it does not make sense for it to be either Wisdom or Charisma.
 

Pedantic

Legend
The issue in 5e is they've gone so far that Int isn't really useful for much of anything anymore.

I think true polymaths are getting there via some mental stat, and it does not make sense for it to be either Wisdom or Charisma.
I think A5E's compromise is a good start. A5E redefines expertise to "add 1d4, increase the die size by 1 step of you get this ability again" and then lets you pick skill specialties that you get expertise on some narrow checks for certain skills, like "Wars" under History. You get Proficiency+Int mod specialties, plus occasionally some from class features.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
The issue in 5e is they've gone so far that Int isn't really useful for much of anything anymore.

I think true polymaths are getting there via some mental stat, and it does not make sense for it to be either Wisdom or Charisma.
Let's just get rid of CON and INT entirely and let WIS mean WISDOM instead of having perception and... faith? Why is WIS faith?
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Broken record, but having clear spelled out DCs allows players to make informed and tactical choices about skill investment in open ended point assignment systems, where they can decide to stop investing after hitting specific ability breakpoints.
I find the big issue with "open-ended point assignment systems" is that they're plagued by too many structural issues and only truly work if progress is way, way more incremental/continuous than D&D allows for. Getting 20 extremely chunky levels that you can't generally "take back" is a poor fit for this approach. It's a great idea for something that grows very gradually and (relatively) smoothly, but both the general structure of D&D-style TTRPG play (periodic sessions, discrete relatively large power jumps, highly variable content both session to session and adventure to adventure, lamentably high likelihood of games not getting past middle levels) and the amount of time, interest, and effort most people are willing to put out...just doesn't match this.

That doesn't mean it couldn't be developed as an optional alternative, similar to the "spell point" system, but I'm just not sure that this is a great fit for how people play D&D--neither old school, nor tactical 4e-style, nor the current-day narrative-heavy protagonistic approach ("Critical Role"-style as some might put it) fit all that well with it. Old school is too lethal, casual, and preferring fast-and-loose methods. 4e-like tactical play, at least as I understand it (being a fan myself) sees it as an awful lot of design investment and player overhead for really minimal benefits and rife with potential for blind alleys/unforeseeably poor choices. And the prevailing style today fuses the casual-gamer stance of old school and the distrust of "this invites blind alleys" of the tactical side.

So, given the above--what would you do to address these concerns for folks of these groups? Because even with a really really comprehensive reliable list of explicit DCs, I still think the issues above remain. To be more succinct, how do you deal with these criticisms:
  1. This seems like an awful lot of work to get a very small increase in realism. Why not use something simpler?
  2. The high risk of making poor choices means I feel like I have to plan way in advance, which is frustrating and makes it feel much less realistic.
  3. As a player interested in casual play or doing something creative or offbeat, I feel punished simply because I'm not making optimal choices.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Let's just get rid of CON and INT entirely and let WIS mean WISDOM instead of having perception and... faith? Why is WIS faith?
I think it's more supposed to represent "mysticism." That is, in order to draw magical power out of religious teachings, you need the wisdom to see beyond the letters on the page and into the transcendental truths within them. Knowledge by revelation or by breaking down the barriers of existing thought (e.g. what koans attempt to induce) rather than knowledge by analysis.
 

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