D&D 5E Some thoughts on skills.

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Then that is where I think you are wrong. Well, I'll certainly grant that the existing skill system won't work very well quite often (50% breakdown rate might be a bit higher than I would say though.) But I emphatically reject the idea that all possible alternatives are equally ineffective. That's patently ridiculous--testing and iterating should allow SOME improvement. We may not all think alike (as I argued above), but there are commonalities that can be leveraged. And if we can hit, say, only a 10% breakdown rate, that would be a HUGE improvement.
To clarify, when I talk about the system not working for 50%, I don't mean to imply that the system completely fails for them. I think for 50% (or maybe 60%, using the playtest's satisfaction threshold) of the groups out there, they use the 5e skill system out of the book and have no problem at all with it. For the other 40% to 50%, some may make small adjustments to the system to be happy with it, such as adding a skill or two, deleting a skill, changing availability of a skill to a class or background, or defining a skill or two somewhat differently from standard 5e, for example. For others, bigger changes are required. I think this is where the question about "how hard is hard" and what the DCs mean to people comes in, because this affects the system as a whole, it's a larger tweak.

I guess it's the distinction between people who feel "dissatisfied," "mostly dissatisfied," and "completely dissatisfied" with the standard 5e skill system. To put a totally wild guess to those, I would say they are 20%, 15%, and 5%, respectively, making up the 40%. So there might be some of that 20% you can pull into the satisfied column, but you need to be careful that you don't lose a corresponding amount (or more) from the current "satisfied" column. I think the variety of campaign styles and tones, along with personal playstyle preferences of so many players makes this a tough job.

That is why I say present some optional components that cover a broader spread of those styles and preferences. Support the players who say "skills are too broad" and the players who say "skills are not specialized enough." Not with a hard mechanical rule system to adjust, but a discussion of the implications of changes, and what effects they might have on play, as well as guidelines on how to achieve certain common playstyles with the skill system.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This seems like an opportunity for those who want to see a more D&D 3.Xe spin on D&D 5e skills to publish something to that effect on the DM's Guild. If so many people are truly dissatisfied with just picking DC 10, 15, and 20, it should sell like hot cakes. I've been told D&D is under-monetized as is, so here's a chance to turn that around.
 

Clint_L

Hero
The bold is where you are very, VERY wrong. We DO NOT "all...think alike." We in fact often think EXTREMELY differently, and that very thing is what causes a huge chunk of the problems.
I teach a course called Theory of Knowledge. In a class just this week, we watched a Darren Brown video that exposes how cold reading and fortune telling works. In it, he gives a bunch of people detailed descriptions of their personalities based on some random information he had them submit. Then, he asked them to rate his accuracy. Unsurprisingly, almost everyone rated his predictions, again much more detailed than you would believe, as extremely accurate. Many of the subjects thought he had to have psychic powers.

Then the rub: all of the people share their personality descriptions, and discover that they all received an identical one. This is, of course, not news; this experiment has been run many times by psychologists and I have run versions of it myself with my students. And it is the bread and butter of a whole lot of charlatans.

My point is that this only works because most people are very similar at a fundamental level. In terms of dreams, anxieties, aspirations, relationships, most human beings are much, much more similar than we are different. I think that is especially true when we self-select into like-minded groups...like a forum for folks who love playing Dungeons and Dragons. That is not to say we don't have differences - of course we do. But I think we have a tendency to think those differences are a lot bigger than they actually are.

Take this thread. People are taking very different positions on a technical detail about D&D. Partly, I think, because it is stimulating to do so. But we aren't really questioning the broad value of D&D, or even the basic concept of having believable characters for roleplaying purpose, and that skills play a useful role in that. We are just arguing about a detail. We might get passionate about the details, but I bet if any of us met at a convention or whatever we'd be delighted.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
We might get passionate about the details, but I bet if any of us met at a convention or whatever we'd be delighted.
...but it is the details that matter here.

Like...I completely grant that in terms of grand, universal stuff, human psychology has patterns. I never said or implied otherwise.

But when it comes to the actual details of how things should be done, we literally have all of human history to show how much humans don't think perfectly alike. Ethics. Political philosophy. Economics. Art. Literature. Theater. There are people who think Slaughterhouse-Five is an amazing book, for goodness' sake. Einstein was simultaneously one of the founders of quantum mechanics (he described and properly developed the photoelectric effect, IIRC the first properly quantum physical theory) and one of its greatest critics ("God does not play dice" etc.)

The fact that we do share so much and yet disagree over the details makes things worse, not better. It's like the uncanny valley effect: up to a certain point, more shared thoughts and beliefs are good, constructive, make it easier to communicate. But it takes a nosedive at some high percentage and only climbs back up as you get extremely close to perfect agreement. If we genuinely didn't agree on some of the basics, we'd discover that very quickly, and it would lead to more communication (or, I suppose, terminating the relationship, but I prefer to think more positively.) But when you agree on a great deal of things and then run into trouble only with the fine details, it's much more cumbersome because you've now got to question everything you used to assume, and you're extremely likely to miss something or forget or think you've got it covered when you don't.

We all have a common human perception of existence. But if you speak about "football" in a room of native English speakers, man oh man, there are some real conflicts that can arise. Even when everyone in question actually knows which game you're talking about.

Or, if you want something more pithy...

 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
This seems like an opportunity for those who want to see a more D&D 3.Xe spin on D&D 5e skills to publish something to that effect on the DM's Guild. If so many people are truly dissatisfied with just picking DC 10, 15, and 20, it should sell like hot cakes. I've been told D&D is under-monetized as is, so here's a chance to turn that around.
I've been genuinely thinking about it. I wouldn't touch the OGL though, unless WotC backs down from trying to de-authorize 1.0a; if I ever did publish anything, it would use either ORC (once I know what's in it) or the content WotC puts into the Creative Commons.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
This seems like an opportunity for those who want to see a more D&D 3.Xe spin on D&D 5e skills to publish something to that effect on the DM's Guild. If so many people are truly dissatisfied with just picking DC 10, 15, and 20, it should sell like hot cakes. I've been told D&D is under-monetized as is, so here's a chance to turn that around.
That's not actually what I and some others are asking for.

What is asked is "Since a trained person of decent talent is assumed to have a +5, then a DC 15 is something a trained person fails at half of the time. It's hard in the sense that the trained fails half the time and the untrained fails 75% of the time. The master, due to having Reliable Talent, never fails a DC 15 check until their natural ability drops due to age."
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Don't...don't use Syndrome to try to prove anything. He is explicitly both wrong and stupid, and his entire argument rests on an intentional and willful equivocation of what the word "special" means.

"If all food is tasty, then no food will be!"
"If all people are intelligent, then no one will be!"
"If everyone is kind, then no one will be!"
"If all rooms are dark, then no rooms will be dark!"

The one and only way his argument makes sense is if you actually use two different definitions of "special," but that reveals the underlying flaw of his beliefs. The first sense of "special" is "has superpowers." The second sense of "special" is "a unique and worthy individual." When spelled out this way, his argument becomes, "When everyone has superpowers, no one will be unique or worthy as individuals." This is clearly stupid, because there are so many other ways for people to be "special," to be unique and worthy. It is his erroneous belief that having superpowers IS the one and only way to be "special," to be unique and worthy, that makes him both wrong and (because he rejected several opportunities to learn and change) stupid.

Don't use the Syndrome argument. It is dumb and even in the context of the work where it was written it doesn't fly (if you'll pardon the pun.)


While adversarial DMing is a concern, it is not the only source of problems. Misunderstanding, miscommunication, tacit assumptions, differences in experiences or genre expectations, talking past one another...there are all sorts of things that can lead to problems here, and the "you're the DM, you figure it out" approach (advocated by both the actual DMG and the culture of play for 5e) doesn't help this at all.


I have seen it, or heard of it, at enough tables to consider it a relevant factor. Particularly if the DM is all huffy about "DM Empowerment."


I mean, sure, that's ideal. I can tell you right now, it's really friggin hard to find such a group, and with 5e has in my experience been even more difficult to find such groups. I went looking for over a year. Found not one such group. Extremely demoralizing.


Your suspicion is not well-evidenced IMO.


The bold is where you are very, VERY wrong. We DO NOT "all...think alike." We in fact often think EXTREMELY differently, and that very thing is what causes a huge chunk of the problems.


Perfection is a straw man. No one here is asking for it, or anything remotely like it. Claiming someone is trying to make something perfect when they are simply looking for improvement is an automatic bad-faith argument. I respect that you are (in essence) trying to argue "it's fine, what we have is already good enough!" But you're going to need more than a straw man to back it up.
Yes it does and his argument is relevant to the reason why 5e's skills fail, they intentionally & willfully ignore the needs of a skill system along with basic logic. Without things like individual niches there is less room for drama & story. It's simply rote "I'm proficient clatter ☦dice roll☦ me too clatter ☦dice roll☦ and me clatter ☦dice roll☦ I'll help Can I cast guidance? You get to add ☦dice roll☦" and you get the equivalent of a lock & load montage but lacking any value because it's the equivalent of a single frame in a 24fps so the GM just gets pressured to skip it entirely or block some PCs the option of even trying. Sorry none of y'all are special enough to identify wood by smell.

Earlier in the thread someone even suggested simply denying all but an expertise player the option to use a skill as a reasonable solution to an overly broad skill made too valuable
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
That's not actually what I and some others are asking for.

What is asked is "Since a trained person of decent talent is assumed to have a +5, then a DC 15 is something a trained person fails at half of the time. It's hard in the sense that the trained fails half the time and the untrained fails 75% of the time. The master, due to having Reliable Talent, never fails a DC 15 check until their natural ability drops due to age."
Why does one even need to know that though? Are you basing your DCs on the character's bonuses instead of your judgment as to the efficacy of the approach to the goal?
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Why does one even need to know that though? Are you basing your DCs on the character's bonuses instead of your judgment as to the efficacy of the approach to the goal?

"There's a pit on the floor. What DC do I choose to give the nimble and strong fighter leap it as long as he doesn't roll bad but require the frail and clumsy life cleric to be lucky to make the same jump?"
 

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