D&D 5E The skill system is one dimensional.

Pedantic

Legend
I've got a provocative example that might help clarify why I think my position is distinct.

You know how people complain about spellcasters "trivializing encounters" or "skipping obstacles" by using a spell that renders the whatever the problem was moot? I want people to use skills to do the same thing. This shouldn't be scrabbling for advantage on a roll, it should be deploying a technique that outright overcomes an obstacle, in a specified, mechanically mediated way.
 

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Then your online community must be different than the one I see. Or, worse yet, people who had real and concrete concerns with how 4e was built and played are now just silent because they are tired of trying to demonstrate their arguments against people who refuse to listen. I mean, we see it in play right now in another thread about what to bring from Baldur's Gate to OneD&D. It's like people forgot that 4e did not appeal to the masses. In fact, it even failed to appeal to many long time D&D players; whereas 5e, has appealed to both.

My point is, an online vocalization, positive or negative, is not an indicator that the community switched. And that includes the online community. Because in the end, it might just be opponents know their evidence will be dismissed, and therefore, remain quiet.
If you go to r/rpg or r/rdndnext and start talking about 4E, especially in the former, you'll get upvotes and praise. It's not even an assumption at this point, it's fact.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Pathfinder has explored this. Pathfinder Unchained introduced skill unlocks, which lets you do new things with skills as you gain proficiency ranks. Pathfinder 2e goes a different direction with skill feats. Do they do what you propose? Well, that’s the problem.

If you treat them as unlocking new capabilities, then the implication is you cannot even attempt them without the appropriate capability. It’s like how there is no way to cast delayed blast fireball when all you know is the fireball spell. If you don’t have the appropriate no-tools ability, then you cannot pick locks without tools. The problem is that’s not how people want to use skills. You see this criticism levied at PF2.

The response typically is to point out that skill feats are allowing you to do something at a reduced cost. The activity takes less time, you can perform it at a reduced DC, or it might allow you to get more out of your roll. I think that’s a good approach for Pathfinder, but is that what you want? It doesn’t seem like it. I’m not sure this is really solvable in a D&D-like game without making major changes to how skills work and are used by the system.
I like a proficiency system, wherein a PC take a rank in a skill, which allows them to do certain things with a certain chance of success, modified by circumstance. They can later take a second rank in skills where that would be appropriate, increasing their chances of success and also allowing them to attempt new and generally more complicated things.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Sounds like a preference to me, not in any way objectively what we should do.
Absolutely. It is my preference. But as there's no objectivity possible in deciding what is or isn't to be in the D&D game... it's all subjective preference of what people think would work best... I subjectively believe DM adjudication is easier and trains DMs to be better, than having large charts for DMs to reference for information. Especially when those charts will never be enough to actually encapsulate every single idea players will come up with.

To me, no chart will ever be enough. So I say don't bother with an involved chart and instead just teach the DM how to make up their own chart in the head when they need it.
 

I can definitely see value in adding abilities tied to particular degrees of skill; ie, at +5 acrobatics you can do this cool thing, and at +10 acrobatics you can optionally do this other even cooler thing. We can call them skill features.
I feel like this is one of those good ideas in theory, but placed into practical play, it is not a good idea.

And from the get go, I will concede that some tables I've played at have players that know their character in and out. They take their turn, and bam, are done in under a minute or two. But the vast majority of players I have seen do not know their characters. Sure, they know their powers, but they do not have a deep-seated knowledge of what to use in a given situation. Therefore, they sit and look, and read, and look again, and read, and look again, and read, then suddenly the combat changes because of something someone did, then they look again, and read, and then finally make up their mind.
If you don't mind hour long skill checks, then that might work out great. But for the typical table, the typical player, and the typical DM, they want the story to have some type of flow. This could, at many tables, completely and utterly destroy that flow.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I've got a provocative example that might help clarify why I think my position is distinct.

You know how people complain about spellcasters "trivializing encounters" or "skipping obstacles" by using a spell that renders the whatever the problem was moot? I want people to use skills to do the same thing. This shouldn't be scrabbling for advantage on a roll, it should be deploying a technique that outright overcomes an obstacle, in a specified, mechanically mediated way.
I agree with you 95%. Right up until you say "in a specified, mechanically mediated way". :) Cause to me... I don't even think we need actual mechanics, we just need to teach DMs to know when to say 'Yes' when the player has come up with a completely workable idea and no mechanics are necessary. LOL!
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I'm of the opinion that pretty much most of these questions/concerns/wants/needs come down to players and DMs both wanting to play the game in a certain way... and just not trusting the other side to follow them or play that way too.

Why do so many DMs get angry about so many species with Darkvision? Because they want to run their games in such a way that having monsters hiding out in the darkness and then being able to surprise and attack the players from the darkness without the players noticing them is a story they want to tell. But if all the players play species with Darkvision... that's them telling the DM "We don't like that story, so we are deliberately choosing options that stop us from having to be handed that story."

In the better case scenario... the DM would just say "Okay!" and not care that all the PCs have Darkvision and stop worrying about trying to set up stories where monsters attack the characters from the darkness. But usually the DM just gets annoyed that that maneuver is now off the table and they decry WotC for making that removal possible.

Likewise... a player who wants an advanced skill system that can make a declaration in the fiction (via chart or table) that says they have a 100% success rate in bending/breaking bars is telling the DM that getting caught behind minor and arbitrary barriers like gates or portculli is not fun. Same thing for the wizard player who takes Misty Step as a spell. They both find coming up against these barriers and being unable to get past them to be annoying and stupid and they want abilities/skills/rules that allow them to just easily bypass them without even having to roll a die.

In the better case scenario... the DM would not fight against their player's wishes and instead just cut back or eliminate using these arbitrary hurdles and roadblocks in their stories altogether. The game doesn't HAVE to have iron gates or locked doors or things that block passages. You CAN remove them. It's no big deal. And the DM can just choose to play into that story fantasy of the character just bypassing or avoiding gates quickly and easily rather than constantly trying to block it. The PC Rogue character that has taken Proficiency, Expertise, and has Advantage on Thieves' Tools? They're telling the DM that they want to be able to get past most locked/barred doors and obstacles quickly and easily (either because it makes them feel cool to be able to do so, and/or because they find those obstacles to advancing the story to be irritating to constantly be stuck behind.) No DM worth their salt should fight against that. The DM can just as easily find other types of obstacles to throw up against the party instead.

PC wants a species that can fly? It tells us they don't care about story hurdles that involve being unable to access certain areas. So DMs should just stop using them as story fodder. PC takes Proficiency, Expertise, and Advantage in Perception? It tells us that they've probably been burned so many times by DMs constantly "taking them by surprise" (because it's fun for the DM?) that they don't want to be surprised ever again. PC ever and always has 'Comprehend Languages' and 'Tongues' prepared as spells? They probably are tired of the "can't understand the person they're speaking to" story trope and want to get around it if the DM constantly tries to use it.

Even without being told, a DM should be able to get a pretty good sense of what their players are looking for in the game and the story based on how those players have built their characters. And the DM can either following along with the players and not use those tired roadblocks the PC have deliberately been built to get around... or they can just play their own game and not give a rat's ass about their players and keep banging their (and the player's) heads against a wall throwing up more and more ridiculous uses of those tropes just because.

At some point both sides need to just come to an accord about what is truly meaningful and fun for everyone in the game of Dungeons & Dragons.
Are you saying that if the DM wants to use particular obstacles and the PC, via their build choices, imply that they don't, the DM should just roll over and do what the players want? Because that's what it sounds like.
 

Pedantic

Legend
I agree with you 95%. Right up until you say "in a specified, mechanically mediated way". :) Cause to me... I don't even think we need actual mechanics, we just need to teach DMs to know when to say 'Yes' when the player has come up with a completely workable idea and no mechanics are necessary. LOL!
Here's where my sympathies probably lean closer to the skill challenge proponents. The point isn't that the DM should say yes, it's that the DM should not have a choice. Your move does what it says it does, and the DM's job is to update the board state with the new information you've provided.

Years ago, someone amusingly described my stance as roughly "Pedantic believes player agency stems from the barrel of a gun."
 
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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
The game does have a subsystem for non-fighty parts. The only difference is that subsystem (the Ability Check subsystem) involves just a single die roll, rather than an entire mini-game like Combat has.

Do players really want a "Ability Check" or "Skills" mini-game that would take 30 minutes to an hour to resolve just like combat does, with dozens of die rolls and trying to drop numbers from X down to 0 in order to have been successful? My opinion is that the answer is 'No'. After all... many RPGs have tried adding things to their games like "Social Combat" for instance... trying to change the Persuasion skill check into a whole socializing mini-game that plays like physical combat does... trying to reduce an NPC's will or emotional feelings to "break them down" and thus "win the argument". And invariably... those "social combat" systems never gain traction within their respective games because they don't tend to serve the game in the manner that most players want out of them.

The fact of the matter is... any player right could (and probably has) designed a much more elaborate Skill Use system out there on the internet. Any of us could probably find one right now (on DMs Guild, DriveThru, Reddit, or wherever.) But the fact that none of us probably know of one off the top of our heads is a pretty good indication that either they stink, or that just not enough players feel that this is an issue big enough to make those rules stand out and become ubiquitous. And if that's the case... why would WotC choose to add it onto the game themselves?
Are we asking WotC to do something? I thought we were just discussing alternate skill systems and how they might be better or worse for different playstyles.
 

If you go to r/rpg or r/rdndnext and start talking about 4E, especially in the former, you'll get upvotes and praise. It's not even an assumption at this point, it's fact.
I believe you. I am not questioning that. I am saying upvotes and people responding to 4e positively may not actually represent reddit's community's feelings. It's been proven over and over again on reddit. Look at the finance sections. The upvotes and number of positive responses is not indicative, and in fact goes against, polling numbers on those same sections. These are the same people with two different results.

How does that happen?

It happens from a vocal minority feeling more strongly and expressing their views more often than the silent majority.

So, post a poll on Reddit. Include all the versions of D&D. And ask which one was the worst? That might give you a different perspective. (Or it might prove you right. But I sincerely doubt it.)
 

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