D&D 5E Some thoughts on skills.

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?
Realism isn't my primary concern. I'm invested in player agency and gameplay decision making. I want players to prefer to climb a wall instead of balancing on a thin ledge because they can reasonable conclude (by reference to the system and description of the situation) they will have to make less checks or easier checks.

Ultimately, I then want them to start trying to change situations they face to force checks they prefer, and ideally to overwhelm the RNG of some checks to achieve a guaranteed preferred outcome.
  1. 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.
I'm very comfortable with character respeccing, if you're concerned about character building being too restrictive, but fundamentally I want to play a game that allows me to make good decisions and find optimal lines of play, and I'm happy to accept complexity as a cost to do that.
  1. As a player interested in casual play or doing something creative or offbeat, I feel punished simply because I'm not making optimal choices.
I'm long over sacrificing the gameplay I want for casual players. I'm playing RPGs with the same people I play Splotters and 18XX games with, I prioritize quality of decision making over accessibility in my games.

The activities I want to do with "casual players" are best contained to a single evening, not hours over the course of years.
 

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DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I think the difference is that if you are calling for a roll then there is presumably some pressure to the situation?
Not necessarily "pressure" more so as a consequence for failing. If there is no consequence, you don't roll... even if there is pressure because the outcome is not important at that point.

So it's a novice failing at something very easy 10% of the time, when under pressure. Which is more reasonable.
Let say this "novice" is +2 (either proficiency or ability score modifier), so a DC 5 Very Easy does have a 10% chance of failure. Even under pressure (as well as consequence), the task is very easy, and for me that % is really too much. An "Easy" task? Sure, that I would agree with.

Anyway, that is why I think DC 5 should be for Easy tasks, and make Very Easy DC 0 (something you would only have under penalties).
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
It is interesting to see the wants and desires of various posters.
For instance, @Reynard and @Atomoctba seem to have completely opposing preferences. Quick modular fixes should be able to facilitate both playstyles within the same game.

Reynard prefers Skills need to inherently outweigh ability scores on the d20 roll.
While Atomoctba is happy with the current system.

My proposed fix is for a modular option (call it Proficiency Dominance for lack of a better name) to exist whereby you halve the effect given to skill checks by one's ability modifier (rounded down) that way the proficiency bonus will likely always trump your ability modifier.
So previously a +5 bonus from a 20 Strength becomes a +2 instead when rolling for an Athletics check. That Proficiency Dominance mechanic could be expanded to Attack Rolls and Saving Throws should the table so wish. It harkens back to earlier editions of the game where ability scores provided much less of a bonus.

Reynard prefers multiple instances of Advantage and/or Disadvantage to stack. Atomoctba is content with the simple clean mechanic as is. One can include a modular Greater Advantage/Disadvantage, where such option exists to satisfy a more complex mechanic.

EDIT: Interestingly WotC never pursued this part of the game but rather left it up to 3pp to expand 5e through modular options. I'm wondering if that is because it becomes too tricky to facilitate so many on/off options on an online platform. I always liked 4e's inherent bonus option on the character builder, where you didn't have to hand out +x items at certain levels if you ticked the box as the benefit was automatically updated when your character reached the required level.
That's not how it works though. You referenced two or three rather different & maybe even conflicting preferences for a skill system to meet. The problem with 5e's skill system is not that it doesn't go far enough in those preferences. Instead the 5e skill system tries to pretend it can meet all of those preferences simultaneously just by doing a little here a little there but instead of being easily tunable you wind up with an unstable morass of never ending one off rules & tweaks needed to account for all of the edge cases just to make it be any preference
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I'm long over sacrificing the gameplay I want for casual players. I'm playing RPGs with the same people I play Splotters and 18XX games with, I prioritize quality of decision making over accessibility in my games.

The activities I want to do with "casual players" are best contained to a single evening, not hours over the course of years.
Welp, better save your books because anyone who doesn't care about casuals is not going to be publishing stuff very long.

And rightly earn a corporate Darwin Award in the process.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
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.
This does not gel with asking mommy for more spells today, please.
 



Welp, better save your books because anyone who doesn't care about casuals is not going to be publishing stuff very long.

And rightly earn a corporate Darwin Award in the process.
There's space to provide interesting gameplay with skills and make them approachable. The easiest way to do it is realism, or more accurately good genre simulation.

If you're playing a thief acrobat, you should be should be should at climbing things and picking locks and tumbling, and thus prefer to use those as solutions to problems. Perhaps you won't see a perfect optimization case (i.e. when it's marginally better to balance than climb) but you can probably determine you might prefer the dangerous climb to trying to hold the heavy gate open and that's good enough.

You can learn over time how to find even better lines of play, like people do with every other kind of game, particularly if you're playing the same character and slowly growing their capabilities over a campaign.
 




Instead the 5e skill system tries to pretend it can meet all of those preferences simultaneously just by doing a little here a little there but instead of being easily tunable you wind up with an unstable morass of never ending one off rules & tweaks needed to account for all of the edge cases just to make it be any preference
Where does the skill system pretend to meet all those preferences simultaneously?
One needs to keep in mind that the game is 50 yrs old trying to accommodate the greatest number of playstyles.
I believe 5e is easy to tune.
 
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These two things are so far from each other in TTRPGs that they aren't even 50 degrees of Kevin Bacon from one another.
You could maybe look at the rest of the post, where I explained the rationale, provided an example and clarified the kind of thing I was talking about it.

I nearly put "realism" in scare quotes, because it's vague and usually inflammatory, but I figured the context I provided would....provide context.
 


You answered your own question.
Ah, I was going to post the only way to solve your issue with skills is to create a skill point system, but I decided to go back in the thread and see if you had posted your preferences on the matter and I see you did (fairly early on). So yeah we are on the same page on this.

The problem you (general you) have with 5e is that it brings to the table its own systems (Tool Proficiency, Expertise, Advantage/Disadvantage, Bounded Accuracy) so it means besides any personal fixes you may have had with 3.x/Pathfinder with the skill system - you now also need tweaking for the new things introduced within 5e.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I want Endurance, Streetwise, and Lifting skills back.

The core issues with 5e skills is like I said, their use is based on personal preference and thus rarely match the personal, realistic, nor fantastical expectations. 5e more or less gives you vague outlines then when things don't match how you want the game to look or play, it says "Well that's on your Group or DM"
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Ah, I was going to post the only way to solve your issue with skills is to create a skill point system, but I decided to go back in the thread and see if you had posted your preferences on the matter and I see you did (fairly early on). So yeah we are on the same page on this.

The problem you (general you) have with 5e is that it brings to the table its own systems (Tool Proficiency, Expertise, Advantage/Disadvantage, Bounded Accuracy) so it means besides any personal fixes you may have had with 3.x/Pathfinder with the skill system - you now also need tweaking for the new things introduced within 5e.
No it's bigger than that those things you listed as "systems" have their own problems with some of them even violating the goals of the others. Proficiency growing with levels violates bounded accuracy on an objective level by sheer virtue of the objective fact that the rest of the system doesn't keep up with the growth in proficiency bonus. Expertise does so again to an even more extreme degree. (dis)advantage beats the whole thing bloody while invoking maslow's hammer to force itself in place of any possible situation in ways that would not even have been a credible "what if" thought experiment for purposes of discussion prior to 5e doing it. That mess happens exactly because 5e & 5e's skill system is trying to support "completely opposing preferences" in an effort to "accommodate the greatest number of playstyles" while simply dumping the mutually incompatible results on the GM.

If 5e went the way of pre-3.x d&d where skills were not really a thing & the GM got to decide if a player can do X & how they did it that would be one thing & I may or may not like the results.... But that's not what 5e did either, it gave a crunchy core skill system for players to use and left out the gm side stuff* right down to forcing the GM to debate if "would you like to use your action for that?" or "what is your character doing to accomplish that?" is a reasonable GM call or not for seventy two pages. & even longer at the table.


*That one was apparently even in 4e, source.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
No it's bigger than that those things you listed as "systems" have their own problems with some of them even violating the goals of the others. Proficiency growing with levels violates bounded accuracy on an objective level by sheer virtue of the objective fact that the rest of the system doesn't keep up with the growth in proficiency bonus. Expertise does so again to an even more extreme degree. (dis)advantage beats the whole thing bloody while invoking maslow's hammer to force itself in place of any possible situation in ways that would not even have been a credible "what if" thought experiment for purposes of discussion prior to 5e doing it. That mess happens exactly because 5e & 5e's skill system is trying to support "completely opposing preferences" in an effort to "accommodate the greatest number of playstyles" while simply dumping the mutually incompatible results on the GM.

If 5e went the way of pre-3.x d&d where skills were not really a thing & the GM got to decide if a player can do X & how they did it that would be one thing & I may or may not like the results.... But that's not what 5e did either, it gave a crunchy core skill system for players to use and left out the gm side stuff* right down to forcing the GM to debate if "would you like to use your action for that?" or "what is your character doing to accomplish that?" is a reasonable GM call or not for seventy two pages. & even longer at the table.


*That one was apparently even in 4e, source.
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..
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
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.
Oh, like 5e was supposed to definitely was never supposed to be like and was never said, trust me bro.
 

I want Endurance, Streetwise, and Lifting skills back.

The core issues with 5e skills is like I said, their use is based on personal preference and thus rarely match the personal, realistic, nor fantastical expectations. 5e more or less gives you vague outlines then when things don't match how you want the game to look or play, it says "Well that's on your Group or DM"
What does Lifting do that Athletics wouldn't cover?

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.
 

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