D&D 5E Thoughts on a skills PC.

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Guidance helps you make OTHER PEOPLE'S skill rolls better
As well as your own. It's a Concentration spell with a duration of a minute and a target of a willing creature. Easy to cast on yourself before you do something if 6 seconds is not of the essence.
 

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DND_Reborn

Legend
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.
But you are already going to have overlap in those initial skills.

So, your initial 10 or so class skills is more likely 7-8 skills due to overlap. Your 10 background skills are likely to see overlap, both with other backgrounds and with skills from other PCs' classes, so I would estimate maybe another 6 skills are covered.

IME that brings it to a more realistic 13-14 out of 18 skills. That leaves 4-5 uncovered skills. You might pick up 1-2 more from race, but IME again most of those skills are likely already covered--so more overlap. Not a big deal, a lot of skills aren't as useful as others anyway. Also, a lot of those skills will not be in abilities with higher modifiers, so the total bonuses suffer.

Frankly, I wouldn't say Expertise is dirt cheap. It is either a feature or feat, both of which are limited for everyone, so the cost is there IMO.

The point of the skill monkey is to take up the burden of overlap and/or expertise. So, the really important skills have a +6 or 7 (or better) instead of a +4 or 5.

Finally, I am not saying having a skill monkey is essential in any group, just like a dedicated healer isn't essential, but they sure can help in a lot of situations either by supporting PCs with good selected skills or by taking the lead themselves.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Oh, while I was highlighting the Soulknife rogue subclass, we should also shout out that the Scout subclass for rogue gives proficiency and double proficiency (why they don't call it expertise I don't know) for Nature and Survival. So that's two more skills, and they both are doubled.
 

ElterAgo

Explorer
Ok some of you, I'm an old Grognard. I've been playing since the pink book came out up through 3.5. I then switched to PF since 4E was a complete CF (in my opinion). I still don't like 5E as well as PF1, but 2 of my groups only play 5E, so slowly learning the details of the system.
So you don't want to technically call it 'skill checks' fine. Use whatever phrase you want to use. Every 5E group I've seen and every 5E Adventure's League session I attended called them 'skill checks.' Several of you seem to be getting hung up on what is (to me) a silly distinction without a significant difference. Whatever.
I am talking about a character that can handle some of those 'things' that come up which aren't just straight roleplaying discourse or an attack role. Happier?

Onward. I don't want to go into too much detail and possibly hurt some feelings if some particular people read this.
Current campaign. We did have a session zero (some 2 years ago). The campaign started with the PC being mercenaries hired to help with a minor war. The focus on combat abilities did fit with the theme of the group, PC's, and campaign. However, due to PC choices, the campaign path took a hard left turn (after we lost the war) and kept getting further and further away from a mercenary company.
We have 5 PC's. I believe of those there are proficient; 4 perception, 4 acrobatics, 3 athletics, 3 or 4 stealth, etc... Several with a lot of overlap. But those seemed to become less important as the campaign progressed.
Everyone else assumed the druid would have nature and the cleric would have religion. But both dumped intelligence, so didn't take those.
No one terribly good at investigation, intimidation, arcana, sleight of hand,
No one at all with religion, nature, history, handle animal, or medicine.
Other than one person with thieves tools, no one had any equipment proficiencies which were ever useful.
All these 'things' started becoming more and more common with the goals we were trying to accomplish.
In total we had around 12+ proficiencies which were either not covered at all or covered fairly poorly. So we tended to fail those checks most of the time even thought they ended up becoming fairly prominent in the campaign. I am trying to avoid that situation, if the other players again make focused combat machines.
 

Skill vs ability check is sort of is an important distinction in fifth edition rather than some unnecessary semantic distraction. If you played 2E it's probably the closest parallel. 5e doesn't have a ton of super specific writing that you need to be careful with but this is one of them alongside the difference between a melee attack and a attack with a melee weapon.

The reason it's so important is to avoid the exact issue you ran into where players avoided skills that didn't line up with their modifiers. That goes double for DM who are the ones setting the DC. They shouldn't even factor the possibility any additional values besides the ability modifier when setting thresholds.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
So you don't want to technically call it 'skill checks' fine. Use whatever phrase you want to use. Every 5E group I've seen and every 5E Adventure's League session I attended called them 'skill checks.' Several of you seem to be getting hung up on what is (to me) a silly distinction without a significant difference. Whatever.
It is a silly distinction IMO as well, so you aren't alone. To be clear (to others), yeah, I know the difference, I just don't think its necessary. In prior editions it was a skill check and if you didn't have the skill, you defaulted to just the ability modifier. If no skill applied, you defaulted to the ability. So, yeah, I agree... whatever.

In total we had around 12+ proficiencies which were either not covered at all or covered fairly poorly. So we tended to fail those checks most of the time even thought they ended up becoming fairly prominent in the campaign. I am trying to avoid that situation, if the other players again make focused combat machines.
And this is precisely why I made my first skill monkey for 5E, to make sure everything was covered. At first I avoided the more common skills because I knew other PCs would cover things, focusing more on the skills we weren't likely to need immediately. In more combat-focused games, skills like Religion, Nature, and History are rarely needed (IME Arcana can still be used though).

Ranking the skills in how often they are taken (5 = most often, 1 = least often), this is probably how they pan out:

5: Athletics
5: Perception
5: Stealth

4: Arcana
4: Medicine
4: Survival

3: Acrobatics
3: Deception
3: Insight
3: Intimidation
3: Investigation
3: Persuasion

2: Animal Handling
2: Performance
2: Sleight of Hand

1: History
1: Nature
1: Religion

I'm sure others have different lists/priorities, but those are where I see them.
 

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