D&D 5E Some thoughts on skills.

We did this because Athletics is too good and covers too much. You still have Strength to base this on... so if you have a STR 18 or 20 you will be "good" at all these things already IMO. Skill proficiency represents additional training and dedication. Plenty of people are great at climbing or lifting or swimming or wrestling (grapple) or running or whatever, and they tend to be good at many other things if they are great at one or two. BUT very few people are ever great at all such Strength/Athletics activities.

For example, as a Rogue I often take Athletics (in RAW games), but what am I really taking it for: climbing and running, maybe swimming. I am not taking it to be better at breaking down doors or grappling someone typically. This means my Rogue with STR 12 has +3 on Athletics checks, but your Fighter with STR 18 is still better at +4. Assuming you bump STR at 4th or 6th levels, the Rogue will be +4, but the Fighter is +5. Often, it'll be 9th level or higher before I can even match your bonus. Now, of course I could take Expertise in Athletics, but then we are talking a whole other level of dedication. At any rate, athletics, itself, is still broad enough as a catch-all, but should not include training in brawn or grapple tasks IMO.

This also forces martial types to be more specialized or give up another skill if they really want to be Strength-oriented.
This makes total sense, and is well-explained, but I can't help but think the effects would be bad for D&D without a ton of other house rules which reduce the power of casters and others (as STR-primaries are usually the least-useful PCs outside combat). However, if I remember correctly, you do use house rules which do exactly that, so that lines up better.
Fine. That's better. :)

First, just to make certain there is no misunderstanding, when I say "Passive" I mean "always on, in the background". If you're interacting with someone who lies to you, you always have a BS-detector going. Something perhaps just doesn't jive or feel right, it is your instinctive "gut feeling." Empathy and understanding how someone else is feeling or understanding what their goals might be is also passive and involves Insight.

In the same respect, Perception is your senses. They are also passive ("always on"). If I am having a conversation and someone nearby opens the door, I will probably still hear it, just as if someone steps on a squeaky floor board, etc.

By making these passive, I can have them contested by things like Influence (Deception or whatever) and Stealth (to move quietly). If the rolls fail to beat the passive scores, the PC senses something is going on. In the case of Insight, perhaps the person trying to influence you is lying, or telling the truth but has ulterior motives, or whatever. In the case of Stealth, the "sneaker" is possibly heard or seen depending on the environment and situation.

If your passive scores beat the roll, you can use Investigation to learn more. Now, you are trying to read the tells of the person. Are they simply lying? Holding back information? Have a different agenda? Why are they trying to influence you? Against Stealth, do you see the sneaker or just a form and know something is there? Which direction did the sound come from? How far away was it? In short, Investigation is used to gain more information than your passive scores reveal, and it is an active attempt to discern that information.

For example, suppose two guards are on watch with WIS 10 and 12. You make a Dexterity (Stealth) check to sneak past them in the nearby shadows. You roll a total of 11, beating one guard by not the other. You overhear one guard, "Hey, did you hear that?" "No," replies the other.

But at this point, I as the DM, can have both guards roll Intelligence (Investigation) as they remain quiet, listen intently, and scan the shadows to determine if they see anything out of the ordinary. I roll for both and get 12 and 15, both beating your stealth. Now, they either heard you or saw you (perhaps something metal glinted off of the moonlight) and you see them moving towards you. What will you do???

If they had failed on their investigation rolls, you would have remained quite enough and/or hidden enough they didn't notice you, and so would resume their guarding and you could move on successfully.
Yeah makes sense though something sits wrong with me using Investigation for this, but perhaps that's just something to live with lol as I can't see an obvious alternative. Also it would make my beloved CHA/INT Bards even better so why am I complaining lol?
 

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ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
Just a passive wis check without training? Well, that solves the useless skill problem!
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
but this seems to make Insight a pretty low priority skill to take.
I think you missed a point above: you can't take Insight as a skill... it doesn't exist in this concept. (Neither does Perception.)

Both Perception and Insight are passive equal to your Wisdom score. That's it. You can take the Observant feat to gain +5 to both.

If you want your active checks to be better, you take Investigation instead. You could still allow it to link to Wisdom for such active rolls, certainly. In short, just as Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion were rolled into Influence, "active" Perception and Insight has been rolled into Investigation.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
This makes total sense, and is well-explained, but I can't help but think the effects would be bad for D&D without a ton of other house rules which reduce the power of casters and others (as STR-primaries are usually the least-useful PCs outside combat). However, if I remember correctly, you do use house rules which do exactly that, so that lines up better.
Yes, you are correct. The Mod involves nerfing casters, etc. as I've posted about numerous times in different threads... We also strictly use Variant Encumbrance, so dumped-STR-PCs will have issues with carrying all their gear.

Also it would make my beloved CHA/INT Bards even better so why am I complaining lol?
You shouldn't! ;)

We realized if Athletics covers Climbing, Jumping, Swimming (and Running for us...), why not a general skill to "Influence". After all, the manner you do it is really just fluff, the important point is you are trying to get someone to do or believe something you want them to---in other words, you are trying to "Influence" them.

Having a Bard with a decent WIS (for the passive perception/insight stuff), and proficiency in Investigation and Influence covers many bases easily.

Although this concept narrows the skill list to just 15 skills, both Knowledge and Language can be taken multiple times for different areas of knowledge and different languages.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
OTOH I personally might like to see a skill list more condensed in some aspects, could athletics, acrobatics, sleight of hand, stealth be combined into a single rogue skill? IDK, if you are a rogue, criminal, etc. then it makes sense, if you're another class or background then you can still take these separately. Tool proficiencies, ditch them, unless I'm playing Tim Taylor or Bob Villa...err Norm Abram (because we know he did all the work and Bob just showed up to turn a screw or two while the credits rolled), I don't need them and don't use them. The skill system leaves something to be desired so anything 1D&D can do to make it better I'm all for it.
hmm thats starting to sound far more like Fate or Cortex. And could certainly be done using Stat+Background pairs

Str+Criminal = burgler climbing or bashing a door
Dex+Criminal = pickpocket, stealth
Str+Sailor = Swim, climb rigging, haul loads, tie knots?

its doable but personally

Athletics = Movement (swim, burrow, climb, jump, swing, fly, run)
Power = Grapple/Push, Lift, Bend, Break
Agility = Acrobatics (balance, dodge, tumble), dance, juggle, stealth
Dexterity = Sleight of hand, Craft, picklocks, pickpocket, arts, throw, shoot
Persuasion = Influence (cha), Intimidate (str), Animal handling
Investigate = active search, research, tracking, appraisal, insight (NB Perception is passive only)
Endurance = resilience, stamina, concentration
Lore = Arcana, History, Nature, Planar, Culture (Language), etc
 
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Clint_L

Hero
I would split skills and abilities; I really like that suggestion. That's gonna nerf DC checks, so as a DM I would have to keep that in mind. I would reduce the various lore skills to "natural lore" and "supernatural lore"; as I think right now they are way too niche and a poor return on investment. Tool proficiencies would be a separate category and come from background, class, or feats. Languages would be treated like tool proficiencies.
 



More broadly, I think character generation and advancement resources should be definitively split between the 3 pillars, to encourage capability in all those pillars, which should promote engagement in all three pillars in play.
Yeah I think this is a big place I see D&D as falling down these days.

There's no sense that you get power in all three pillars when you create a character. Many classes have significant power in combat, and relatively little in the others, and the others aren't really highlighted.

Further, as you advance, many classes basically gain nothing in the Exploration and Social pillars. Their skills increase with the PB and stat mods, but that's not really anything. You don't gain more skills (which I think is really, really dumb), and many classes/subclasses gain either literally nothing else, or very, very little else (like 1-2 abilities which are occasionally applicable).

Whereas Full Casters constantly gain access to more and more power in the Exploration and Social pillars. Often kind of insanely more. They're stuck with the same number of skills as others, but they gain this on top of that. They don't necessarily have to use it, but the power and flexibility gain is there.

Personally I think all classes which aren't Full Casters need some significant additions to them in order to actually gain power in those other two pillars as time goes on. Whether that's fiat/narrative abilities (which most spells that function in those pillars are), more skills, skills working better, other abilities (climb speed, ability to avoid climb checks, for example) or whatever. Full Casters probably shouldn't get extra skills etc. because they're already getting their punch in those pillars from the spells.

(As an aside, were I redesigning D&D, I might reduce the number of full casters by a very large amount, possibly just leaving the Wizard lol.)
 

hmm thats starting to sound far more like Fate or Cortex. And could certainly be done using Stat+Background pairs
its doable but personally

Athletics = Movement (swim, burrow, climb, jump, swing, fly, run)
Power = Grapple/Push, Lift, Bend, Break
Agility = Acrobatics (balance, dodge, tumble), dance, juggle, stealth
Dexterity = Sleight of hand, Craft, picklocks, pickpocket, arts, throw, shoot
Persuasion = Influence (cha), Intimidate (str), Animal handling
Investigate = active search, research, tracking, appraisal, insight (NB Perception is passive only)
Endurance = resilience, stamina, concentration
Lore = Arcana, History, Nature, Planar, Culture (Language), etc
I haven't really given it much thought other than my initial post. Im not sure how it should be done but I think some skills need to be condensed while others need to be expanded or clarified. I like that the PHB leaves some room for interpretation on part of the DM but some skills are too open ended. I've often wondered if the game even needs the skill system when most players just seem to automatically reach for their dice to make a skill check to resolve most situations.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Personally, I'd like to see weapon* and armor** use become skills. Maybe magic*** too. I miss the like of the fighter's quick attack advancement and just being better in melee combat than the other classes.

* I'd go with groups, like Blades, Axes, Bludgeons, Bows, etc. rather than individual weapons.
** Being proficient with armor in this case would let you add your PB to AC, and maybe allow for certain stunts, along the lines of Shield Bash/Rush and such
*** Probably broken down into groups, such as Abjuration, Necromancy, Earth, Geomancy and the like. Could make skill checks replace save DCs (caster becomes active, needing to beat enemy's static save DC) and Spell Attack rolls.
 


Id definitely get rid of every caster besides wizard, cleric and bard. I can't stand warlocks and sorcerers and wish they were removed from the PHB.
I'd keep Warlocks and Sorcerers as classes, just not as Full Casters. I think the whole Full Caster thing is some played-out-ass 3E nonsense that shouldn't have made it to 5E the way it did.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
If we are throwing rocks, I’d make sorcerer a subclass of wizard. Make wizards true vancian and the sorc subclass not, but with a limit on spells known. Maybe make vancian vs spontaneous akin to pacts for warlocks. Or delete sorcerers altogether.

Keep warlocks, as-is. The arcanum list is already pretty restricted. Warlocks make for a more interesting “didn’t go to school” arcane caster than sorcerer anyway. Make warlocks int rather than cha.

Make clerics (and druids) cast spell levels 1-7 ish again. Merge these classes - wild shape and channel divinity are charges, just make these one class.

Make bards cast levels 1-6 again.

Make paladins and rangers cast spell levels 1-4 again.

Give arcane tricksters and eldritch knights mechanics that aren’t just spells, and adjust their casting accordingly.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
FWIW, in the full Mod:

Artificers DO NOT EXIST!
Bards are half-casters (5th level max)
Clerics are CHA-based, not WIS-based
Druids -- no changes
Paladins gain Cleric cantrips
Rangers gain Druid cantrips
Sorcerers are a subclass of Wizard
Warlocks are half-casters (5th level max) [ In a prior version they were a subclass of Clerics ]
Wizards -- no changes

All spell lists have been revised to reduce overlap by half. All 6th+ level spells are unique to a single class.
 

I'd keep Warlocks and Sorcerers as classes, just not as Full Casters. I think the whole Full Caster thing is some played-out-ass 3E nonsense that shouldn't have made it to 5E the way it did.
Yeah you said it better than I did. I was thinking along similar lines that they could show up in a supplemental book, a 1/2 caster, sub class or however theyre done. I personally dont care for them and prefer if they showed up as an option rather than a base PHB class. I didn't like the sorcerer when it showed up in 3E or the warlock in 4E and was disappointed when they were in 5E.
 

Clint_L

Hero
What if you just had one skill: "background," which you got to build during character creation. Just list the various skills and sub-skills and let players choose X number. Make it a skill tree so to get the really specialized one, you have to have the antecedent skills. Have some pre-made so characters don't have to think hard if they don't want to.

Then when something comes up that is relevant to their character's origins, player just make a background check.
 

What if you just had one skill: "background," which you got to build during character creation. Just list the various skills and sub-skills and let players choose X number. Make it a skill tree so to get the really specialized one, you have to have the antecedent skills. Have some pre-made so characters don't have to think hard if they don't want to.

Then when something comes up that is relevant to their character's origins, player just make a background check.
Every day, we stray yet further from the light of objective skill DCs. That's just a return to 2e background professions with arguably even less rules.
 

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