D&D 5E Thoughts on a skills PC.

ElterAgo

Explorer
I'm not certain what level the next campaign will go up to. So when the DM decides, that will influence my choices. The current campaign is only going to about level 10-11, but the party is also gaining growing magical powers (and curses) from an artifact. So maybe equivalent to around level 14+ or so.

I have asked the DM about ASI/feat by class or character level. I will see how he responds, but I'm guessing he will go with RAW.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Also, there's a number of battlemaster manuevers that help with skills now. A battlemaster/rogue might might a pretty solid character.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I have asked the DM about ASI/feat by class or character level. I will see how he responds, but I'm guessing he will go with RAW.
Probably they will go with RAW. Our table MCs a lot, so moving to character level instead of class level made sense for us.

Is your focus to:
1. cover all the skills with proficiency?
2. max out as many expertise skills as you can?
3. only just have a bunch of skills which you are the best at--combining high ability scores with proficiency/expertise??
 

ElterAgo

Explorer
Is your focus to:
1. cover all the skills with proficiency?
2. max out as many expertise skills as you can?
3. only just have a bunch of skills which you are the best at--combining high ability scores with proficiency/expertise??
Well, my focus is to help make sure the group has reasonable chance to succeed at skill checks. I don't necessarily need to have proficiency in every skill on my PC. I'm sure everyone will be at least decent in a few skills. So I guess what I'm thinking is:
1) Expertise in several skills which none of the other PC's have. If only my PC knows anything about nature or how to handle an animal, I should probably try to make sure I have a pretty good chance of getting a high total.
2) At least proficiency in some of the most commonly used and/or critical skills. That way if several of us are rolling say an investigation check, if a couple of us have proficiency, we have a pretty good chance to succeed.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Well, my focus is to help make sure the group has reasonable chance to succeed at skill checks. I don't necessarily need to have proficiency in every skill on my PC. I'm sure everyone will be at least decent in a few skills. So I guess what I'm thinking is:
1) Expertise in several skills which none of the other PC's have. If only my PC knows anything about nature or how to handle an animal, I should probably try to make sure I have a pretty good chance of getting a high total.
2) At least proficiency in some of the most commonly used and/or critical skills. That way if several of us are rolling say an investigation check, if a couple of us have proficiency, we have a pretty good chance to succeed.
Ok. For arguments sake, let's say there are three other PCs, each of which will excel at two skills due to proficiency and good ability scores.

That leaves potentially 10-12 skills for you to emphasize. So...
  • Human variant with Prodigy feat will get you 2 skills with 1 expertise.
  • Rogue is 4 skills, 2 more expertise
  • Background is 2 more skills.

This gets you 8 skills with 3 expertise to start at 1st level.
  • Then, depending on your liking, you can level dip in Knowledge Cleric or Ranger (for Canny from Tasha's) for 1-2 levels. Both will gain you two more skills, with Cleric giving you 2 more expertise and Ranger giving you 1 more expertise.
OR
  • I would go into Bard at this point, getting the extra skills for Lore at 3rd level (giving you 4 more skills and 2 more expertise) and finish Bard 4 for the feat if you want for Skill Expert (or Prodigy if you chose Skill Expert at 1st level).

Then return to Rogue or Bard at this point forward. Unless you feel you need to cover more skills, it is overkill to do cleric, ranger, and bard.

All four classes (Rogue, Bard, Cleric, Ranger) of course have their strengths, so which route you want to go depends on what you want.
 


The only class that I have is successfully be able to make a full-blown skill monkey out of is the barbarian and even they have a interesting little niche if you don't mind some finagling

If you look at the basic premise of what you need to be good at ability checks it boils down to: a decent static modifier, if applicable find some flat modifiers too add, a source of advantage, some form of low roll protection or reroll mechanic, and a handful of additional dice to add to the total.

A lot of features pull double duty here like expertise giving you a higher ceiling and floor for your potential checks. The reason why that particular thing is harped on so much is for a lot of the game expertise is more impactful than having a high ability score. Regardless if your DM likes lots of moderately value checks or big checks expertise is going to pull its weight.

So when you go about designing a concept that has a decent chance of passing checks themselves while also enhancing the rest of the party there are options that have this right at face value like The Bard. There's options for unfaltering consistency with the rogue. There the artificer who can combine skill Prof, with tool expertise, with magical items, with some pocket spell casting, with some last second inspiration that can out legalese a devil in a contract and are smart enough not to show it until they are long gone. Tasha's ranger. Warlocks are build a bear. One you add in multiclassing more of question of how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?
 

Iry

Hero
Yeah, Tasha Ranger is a nice 1 level dip for Expertise in a single skill, Favored Foe, Medium Armor, Shields, an extra skill trained. And then either Scout or Soulknife until you get Reliable Talent.
 


GMMichael

Guide of Modos
However, non-combat hasn't gone so well. My warlock was a pretty good 'face' character (if I do say so myself), with a high deception and persuasion. Though even then, a bad roll means failure against most any Joe-Schmoe. We especially can't seem to make a skill check for investigate, arcana, history, religion, nature, insight, etc...
Maybe try reminding your DM that 5e is "rulings, not rules?" Or more to your dilemma, " rulings, not rolls. " Also, skill checks haven't been in the game since 4e (although I wouldn't be surprised if some rebellious #WotCstaff refuse to let them go).
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Maybe try reminding your DM that 5e is "rulings, not rules?" Or more to your dilemma, " rulings, not rolls. " Also, skill checks haven't been in the game since 4e (although I wouldn't be surprised if some rebellious #WotCstaff refuse to let them go).
Isn't a skill check just an ability check that the GM asks for using a specific skill?
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Isn't a skill check just an ability check that the GM asks for using a specific skill?
Skills checks were the foundation of skill challenges, the math that slowed down many a combat, and a major contributor to the subjugation of ability scores (except for Constitution). The usage of the term itself is a good reason for a player to think, "I don't have that skill, so I must not be able to do the task." Not to mention a crutch for DMs who have trouble designing interesting encounters.

So, yes. But no: skills checks are so much more than that. And if I had the...pleasure...of DMing 5e, I would make every effort to not "ask for (an ability check) using a specific skill." It should be on the player to add relevant skill points to an ability check.
 

BARBARIAN??? How the heck did you make a skill monkey from a Barbarian??? :confused:
Lol that was supposed to say have not but let's give it a shot.

The base class gets 2 skills with an additional one at 3 and 10, and advantage on str checks with rage. Not much here. So let's add in a subclass. Wild magic gets you some utility magic radar at first and some random stuff to fill your bonus action. Then at lv 6 you have something. 10 minutes of bless or recovery of a spell slot between 1-3 lv Prof times a day. That's actually solid if you have anyone in the party that uses spells and spells are great at bypassing checks all together. Even without that the 20 minute 1d3 is good.

That leaves background, race and feats to do the rest of the legwork.
Mark of finding half orc to the rescue. 2 once a day utility spells, 1d4 added to perception and survival checks and a decent array. Basically the only thing you lose out here is the str boost. Assuming you still want at least a 18 str with the standard array you need 1.5 ASI for that leaving 3.5 for check boosting.

nothing amazing here but for a class you wouldn't think of it handles itself ok. Toss on a 3-4 psi rogue dip and it's actually not bad at all.
 


Going Halfling will get you less skills, but give you a better chance of succeeding on the rolls.

Is what you're after a skills character, or a utility character for the group? If a utility character then sticking with Bard or another caster may be preferable.

A two-level Warlock dip can be used to grant two skills, plus an effective attack that will scale with your character level rather than level in any specific class.
 

Sounds like the OP did not have a Session Zero to make sure that the PCs fit the campaign.

In fact, it's quite the opposite of working together. This is a sign of Players vs. DM, where players try to beat the game by optimizing. In my games, if you optimize the PCs to something really effective in combat, that achieves exactly nothing because I just increase the difficulty. But it will make the game miserable for the person who didn't optimize the PC for combat. Likewise, it's really boring if your character is ineffective (or even a liability) outside of combat.

As a DM, I would have stopped the PCs as described in the OP, and I would have done that in the invitation message (email / app) prior to Session Zero.
 

i play once a skill character, it was pretty boring.
having a lot of skill tend to make a mild identity, and you are often in competition with the niche of the others characters.
 

i play once a skill character, it was pretty boring.
having a lot of skill tend to make a mild identity, and you are often in competition with the niche of the others characters.
Eh. Being skilled to not have little to do with the overall identity of a PC. Most adventurer are generally adept at a lot of stuff so it's just an expansion of that. It's not a niche in the same way damage isn't. Everyone should have the ability to chip in to increase the chances of success.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Eh. Being skilled to not have little to do with the overall identity of a PC. Most adventurer are generally adept at a lot of stuff so it's just an expansion of that. It's not a niche in the same way damage isn't. Everyone should have the ability to chip in to increase the chances of success.
Sorry but I have to disagree with this. IME most PCs have 2-3 skills they are good at and no more. Many PCs have only 4-5 skills period.

Being a true skill monkey covers a lot more skills with often much better modifiers. In the best scenarios, the skill monkey can offer help to the other PCs when the do excel, and other others can offer help to the skill monkey in every thing else (if they even can, of course).

Skill monkey PCs are actually my favorite type to play, so most of my characters have either some rogue or bard in them. In fact, the two PCs I am playing right now: a Barbarian/ROGUE and a Sorcerer/Warlock/BARD. ;)
 

Sorry but I have to disagree with this. IME most PCs have 2-3 skills they are good at and no more. Many PCs have only 4-5 skills period.

Being a true skill monkey covers a lot more skills with often much better modifiers. In the best scenarios, the skill monkey can offer help to the other PCs when the do excel, and other others can offer help to the skill monkey in every thing else (if they even can, of course).

Skill monkey PCs are actually my favorite type to play, so most of my characters have either some rogue or bard in them. In fact, the two PCs I am playing right now: a Barbarian/ROGUE and a Sorcerer/Warlock/BARD. ;)
Skill monkey isn't something that actually exists outside the meta. Same with all the other party roles that people force into a game that doesn't support them. Trying to define a true*anything* is pointless. This goes double for a game that doesn't even have a skill system in place. It's just an option to add some additional values to an ability check. They don't even have a fixed relationship depending on your table so it gets real funky to try to nail down something like this. The only reason the concept of dumping all the skills onto one guy is a thing is because players think it's somehow less important than chasing down minor increases in damage. That's why 90% of the stuff talking about optimization isn't really optimal thanks to demising returns and lack of flexibility.

Let's say there are 20 skills and we have a 5 man party. If each PC is good at 2 skills from a supporting background that means they have half the field covered. If half of them also picked a race that give a skill that's ~2 more.
So if a 5 man party can pick up 8 skills between them with class/subclass/spells/summons/items options they can have the entire field. It's not even a reach to have some of the high impact ones to have 2-3 PC deep redundancy in place. Now expertise is dirt cheap could also plan for 4-5 to be covered that way as well.
 

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