D&D 5E Some thoughts on skills.


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Random thought I had as I tried to catch up on the thread, and may have missed someone else suggesting:

What about changing Expertise so that, instead of doubling the added proficiency bonus, it just gave automatic advantage?

The average bonus would be the about same (about +4 for advantage, and +4 proficiency at levels 9-12), but the maximum would be lower, which means it causes fewer problems butting up against bounded accuracy. It could still be cancelled out by disadvantage, but the worst you could roll would be a normal d20 roll.

In a more general sense, being an expert at a skill means you just tend to always do well no matter how difficult the circumstances, rather than that you can do exceptionally better than anyone else.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
You seem to be undermining your previous criticism about framing the guidance with a character with a 10 ability score. If you are correct in your assertion that "most players won't have many 10s in 5e and will avoid actions that use an ability score with a 10," which is somewhat reasonable, then it actually will be Easy, relatively speaking, since characters will have higher scores than 10 and/or will tend to focus on those related tasks (as you say). So that 50% chance of failure drops. Also, don't forget advantage, plus other bonuses players can apply to further increase the odds of success. Clearly, the DMG is just trying to get DMs a ballpark idea of what the odds are, given certain assumptions, rather than a primer on probability and statistics.

My point is the 50/50 isn't what I consider to be easy. And some others might think so to.

So against is it supposed to be easy for a person with a 10 and no ability score.
Or is DC 10 supposed to be easy for a person with a 15 and proficiency in the roll?

Because here is the main rub.

A +2 does not have a significant change in the outcomes with a d20 roll. A +4 with advantage might, but a raw +2 doesn't. It takes a lot of rolls for a +2 to feel and be effective. But D&D pretends it does and uses language like it does. And this creates the meme of the cleric who doesn't know his own religion or the thief who can't pick locks.

This math and bonuses don't have to change. However at some point D&D has to man up an admit that a +2 doesn't matter as much as the big swings of the d20 or the 5 point gaps between DCs. And just picking stuff can have a DM pick the wrong DM for them.

That to me is missing to, how to choose. D&D tell the DM that they can choose and what they can choose. It doesn't inform them how to make the choice. Because picking a DC 10 vs a DC 20 is a big choice if failure or success is impactful.
 

The point is the stunt would be Hard for the Cleric but Easy for the Fighter.

Which DC do I choose?
DC 10 for Easy?
DC 15 for Medium?
Or DC 20 for Hard?

The game doesn't even tell you the percentage of success is for each PC. It doesn't tell a starting DM how many of the PCs will fail a DC 15 so don't make failure a major consequence unless your desire is to have to a daunting game.


How can you place importance of you don't know the difficulty of the action?

Unless accidentally maiming, killing, or some other major consequence is part of your vibe. Or in contrast your game is very forgiving by design.
The DM ask for a check when he consider that the result of the task is uncertain.
If he consider the task an obvious success or failure he don’t ask a check.
Once he ask a check he accept to play with the result, and manage to narrate, explain, make it coherent with the rest of the story.

in your example, fighter has +6, if you set the DC to 10, the fighter may fail.
maybe a pure bad luck, but he can fail. You may be prepare to handle the failure. If you set the DC to 5 you can skip the roll for the fighter, unless you play critical miss on skill, and then be ready to explain and handle the failure in case of a roll 1.

if the consequence of failure are really harsh, say the failure of a check equal death, then warn the player, your character may die if he miss the jump. then let him roll If he want, nobody IRL will be hurt.
 
Last edited:

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
My point is the 50/50 isn't what I consider to be easy. And some others might think so to.

So against is it supposed to be easy for a person with a 10 and no ability score.
Or is DC 10 supposed to be easy for a person with a 15 and proficiency in the roll?

Because here is the main rub.

A +2 does not have a significant change in the outcomes with a d20 roll. A +4 with advantage might, but a raw +2 doesn't. It takes a lot of rolls for a +2 to feel and be effective. But D&D pretends it does and uses language like it does. And this creates the meme of the cleric who doesn't know his own religion or the thief who can't pick locks.

This math and bonuses don't have to change. However at some point D&D has to man up an admit that a +2 doesn't matter as much as the big swings of the d20 or the 5 point gaps between DCs. And just picking stuff can have a DM pick the wrong DM for them.

That to me is missing to, how to choose. D&D tell the DM that they can choose and what they can choose. It doesn't inform them how to make the choice. Because picking a DC 10 vs a DC 20 is a big choice if failure or success is impactful.
I think that the point of +/-2 is that they add up when you have a bunch and that one can be applied to a squeaker of a roll without much fuss. I largely agree that a d20 is terrible.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
The DM ask for a check when he consider that the result of the task is uncertain.
If he consider the task an obvious success or failure he don’t ask a check.
Once he ask a check he accept to play with the result, and manage to narrate, explain, make it coherent with the rest of the story.
In your example the DM can ask a check for the cleric but not for the fighter.
The DM is giving the Fighter and Cleric the same DC.

My point is the choice of DC 10, DC 15, and DC 20 is not a trivial choice. But most DD fans treat it as trivial. So trivial you didn't even mention it.

A whole step is skipped.
 

The DM is giving the Fighter and Cleric the same DC.

My point is the choice of DC 10, DC 15, and DC 20 is not a trivial choice. But most DD fans treat it as trivial. So trivial you didn't even mention it.

A whole step is skipped.
in your example, fighter has +6, if you set the DC to 10, the fighter may fail.
maybe a pure bad luck, but he can fail. You may be prepare to handle the failure. If you set the DC to 5 you can skip the roll for the fighter, unless you play critical miss on skill, and then be ready to explain and handle the failure in case of a roll 1.

if the consequence of failure are really harsh, say the failure of a check equal death, then warn the player, your character may die if he miss the jump. then let him roll If he want, nobody IRL will be hurt.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
And what world is a 75% failure chance Moderate and 50% Easy? Even under stress, I wouldn't call anything I can fail half the time at EASY.
Yep, this goes back to my point. Drop the DCs by 5 each. Then Moderate (at DC 10 instead of 15) has a 45% chance to not succeed (without any bonus) and Easy (at DC 5) would only have a 20% to not succeed (again, with no bonuses...).

Or, change the descriptive names so Very Easy becomes Easy, Easy becomes Moderate, etc.

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Either way, the result is the same.

As to your example of a fighter and (weakish) cleric making a jump. The fighter with STR 16 and proficiency +3 is +6 total, while the cleric with STR 12 and no proficiency is just +1 total. Whatever the DC (for the most part...), the fighter has a 25% higher chance of not failing.

Also, there is then the whole "well, someone who is good trying an Easy (RAW DC 10) task won't fail 45% of the time, because at +5 or likely better it would be 20% or less. But for me, that is also too high frankly.

So, I consider a DC 10 Medium, not Easy, and of course DC 15 is Hard, making DC 20 Very Hard, etc.
 

30 still makes sense as "nearly impossible", as long as expertise is excluded. A +5 from a stat, plus a +5 from proficiency bonus (level 13+) only succeeds on a nat 20. That definitely strikes me as "nearly impossible".

Something "easy", I'd put as something that an average commoner (or unskilled adventurer for a skill in a low stat) should be able to manage at least a good 75% of the time. With +0 from attributes and +2 from proficiency, DC 5 gives a 90% success rate. DC 8 would be a 75% success rate.

DC 8 works for the 80% success rate if you gauge it relative to a beginning adventurer with a 12 in a stat. Then increment by 20% per tier instead of 25% (I also think the +5 increment per difficulty level is too large). 60% at DC 12 (medium), 40% at DC 16 (hard), 20% at DC 20 (very hard), and 0% at DC 24.

For a primary stat (16) and +2 proficiency, you get a +5. You also get a +5 for a secondary stat (14) at level 5, with a +3 proficiency. At that, the above DCs become: DC 8 (90%), DC 12 (70%), DC 16 (50%), DC 20 (30%), and DC 24 (10%).

In general, medium would be >50% chance of success, while hard+ is <50% chance of success, for those early levels. At higher levels you'd start to have better than even odds of completing a hard task, which is entirely reasonable.

A primary stat of 20 at level 10 (+4 prof) gives you +9 total for a proficient skill. That makes easy tasks guaranteed, and medium tasks 90% likely to succeed. At level 17, with +6 prof, medium tasks are guaranteed, and hard tasks can be done 80% of the time.

For a primary attribute and a proficient skill, this progression does not seem unreasonable. At the same time, unproficient, low-attribute skills are still reasonably doable for easy-medium stuff. You don't have to avoid them like the plague.

So, charting it out :

Task DifficultyDC
Easy8
Medium12
Hard16
Very Hard20
Herculean24
Nearly Impossible30
 

The DM is giving the Fighter and Cleric the same DC.

My point is the choice of DC 10, DC 15, and DC 20 is not a trivial choice. But most DD fans treat it as trivial. So trivial you didn't even mention it.

A whole step is skipped.
An advice we can give to beginner DM is that if you ask for a check, then a PC may fail or succeed it. So be ready to handle both success and failure. If you can’t handle both, better don’t ask a check, and decide the outcome of the action.
Setting the DC don’t matter much, choosing 5, 10, 15 or 20 and even more won’t break the game. Make a reasonable evaluation and be comfortable with your choice, but be ready for a success or a failure.
 

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