D&D 5E Too many knowledge skills.

Frostmarrow

First Post
Read Info

I'm thinking we could expand upon Read instead. We have read magic, tracks, faces, signs, maps, script (human, dwarf, elf, and dragon), and heraldry. That means the characters need to have something to read in front of them rather than just an abstract concept. Our characters are medieval adventurers after all and not academics.

This way the DM can say there are writings on the wall or that the dark knight sports a helmet crest. Whomever can read script or heraldry gets the information.

Maybe we can add the following: Read Rock formation, Cant, Augery, and Melody*.

Everybody can hear the music but it takes a trained ear to know what the song is about.
 
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Blackwarder

Adventurer
I very much dislike the current skill system.

First of all I don't like the fact that once again skills are related to particular ability score.
Secondly, I don't like the fact that currently, skills only add flat bonus to skill checks.

I'm of the opinion that there should either be no skills or tons of them and that if we do have skills than they should tell us what the character can do (meaning adding new abilities) rather than just having a flat bonus.

What I would like to see is something like this: tasks difficulty are divided into five ranks: Easy, Moderate, Hard, Very Hard and Formidable (with the six one being impossible) just like the ranks in the DM Guidelines PDF in the play test.

Characters can train ranks which correspond to the ranks in the guidelines, each time a character gain a new rank he gain a new ability. Also, if a character got enough ranks in a skill than given enough time he can accomplish the task with no roll.

Lets take Climb for example, having one rank in climb give you +1 to any climb check, it also means that out of combat any easy task is an automatic success and can take (with DM discretion) a whole turn (10 min), trying to climb the same thing during combat would still require a climb check.

Also having one rank in Climb also give the character some sort of a perk, for example it might be "You can climb twice as fast" or "using climbing gear you can help your party mates climb the same surfaces you can with no roll for half the climbing speed" etc etc.

If your Character skill rank is two ranks higher than the difficulty (hard to easy, very hard to moderate etc) than the character don't need to roll even during combat.

the list of perks could either be predetermined or picked up by the players and DMs, players could also try to lower the difficulty level via role-playing.

When it comes to knowledge skills unless someone is really knowledgeable, he usually won't have time to stop and think about what mister it is when they fight one.

BTW Rogues skill mastery will manifest itself by the rogue having more skill ranks and not being made to roll if the his skill rank is one rank higher than the task difficulty.

I hope that if D&D focus on skill ranks and perks rather than flat progression and skill training only when picking the skill, than we can avoid the numbers bloat problem and add flavor to the skill system.

Warder
 

hamstertamer

First Post
Nah.

I expanded my list of skills actually. It works better since it comes up less often and makes it more special and it's another way of making the characters unique. The more you consolidate the more they will be used. Knowledge: magic, for example, would be used far too often because it so general and vague, and of course adjudicating it's use or non-use would be more difficult and more difficult to keep consistent and fair for all participants involved.

But I really don't care, since I won't be buying what they are making anyway. Might as well just have 'knowledge' as a skill at this point.

So for me having a wide range skills is important, more important than other considerations, for making Characters unique. I actually like it when players use their skills to find out information, and when they do I pass them a little note with some info of what their character knows and the others don't. It makes them feel special when they get tell the other characters what they know (sometimes they withhold info, and sometimes they tell them a different "truth", it's up to them). It just makes the game more interesting.
 

tuxgeo

Adventurer
Try this:

Knowledge & Lore
There are four main "tiers" of knowledge:

1. Common Knowledge: This knowledge is effectively free to all. All characters know this right off the bat. . . .
2. Specialized Details: This knowledge requires some experience and familiarity. . . .
3. Exclusive Information: This knowledge requires a great deal of attention, or at least some lucky history and a good memory, to know. . . .
4. Secret Lore: This knowledge is deliberately obscured by others, and difficult to find. . . .

There is also knowledge that others cannot tell you even if they try.

The classic example is: How do you explain color to a man born blind? However, there are other, more trainable situations as well, such as: How do you explain a perfect fifth interval in music to someone accustomed only to log-and-hide drums? Training can teach things that mere explanation never could; hence, experts in their fields can help you learn to experience those types of things, but their mere words will never substitute for actual practice and exposure ("participation") on your part.

The esoteric knowledge of some religious mysteries may fall into this same category: the experts would explain it to you if they could, but they cannot, because you have to experience it to know it.

I'm half-convinced that the "cannot be told" sorts of knowledge fit into your category number 2, above ("Specialized Details"); however, these sorts of knowledge might fall outside of that into a separate category of their own.

(I should have put this into an s-block, shouldn't I? Ah, phooey on that.)
 

Gorgoroth

Banned
Banned
..

yeah, the fact that 4e three characters in every group I was in, out of 4 wanted Arcana and it was BY FAR the most often rolled skill, is a sign it should have been broken down into smaller pieces.

Not too many, mind you. There's a sweet spot I think.
 

Do we really need Forbidden, Geographical, Heraldic, Historical, Local, Magical, Natural, Planar, Religious, Societal, Underdark, and Undead Lore as separate skills?

I see the need for all, as they can overlap, unlike the 4e (and even 3e) skills where you have skills that were "close enough" and had wide range of application. Such as why Religion applied to Undead. Other than clerics turning undead there was no real connection. Why would a necromancer wizard who specialized in armies of zombies and skeletons bother learing "religion".

You can justify using Local to answer a "heraldic" or "societal" question just at a higher DC. Or "forbidden" for "undead" or "planes" depending on the subject. Just as you might use "religion" to identify an angel or demon while previously that would just be ther pervue of "planar".

More skills also makes it harder to stack all of them. That was a problem in 3e and especially with 4e where it was seen as necessary to have someone know every skill for Skill Challenges or answer questions. More skills implies that you don't need all of them, take what's appropriate.

Overlapping and broader lore skills also make it easier to add skills. They can slip in a Psionic Lore or Shadow Lore where appropriate. It's more modular. It's easier to customize skills for settings or other worlds.
You can also drop lore skills without leaving a void. If you decide to play in Ravenloft where Planar Lore is harder to justify (no planar travel) you can dump it and call for other skills instead. In Dark Sun you can dump Religious Lore without having to find a place for identifying undead.
 


Roger

First Post
Do you really need an explanation for what "History" or "Heraldry" covers?

I sure did. I would not have guessed that the answer to "Hey can I remember which one of King Olbon's bastards led the Burun's Farm Rebellion in '28?" would be "Sure go ahead and roll Heraldic Lore" before reading the skill description.



Cheers,
Roger
 


am181d

Adventurer
I'm okay with the higher number of skill categories as long as any topic can be potentially covered by a few different skills. In the playtest I ran, it was a pleasant change to have a couple of scholarly characters discuss their different disciplines, and it allowed me to target a few plot twists directly to the players' characters. I saw no downside.
 


Greg K

Legend
Do we really need Forbidden, Geographical, Heraldic, Historical, Local, Magical, Natural, Planar, Religious, Societal, Underdark, and Undead Lore as separate skills?

As far I am concerned, yes. I also want Demon/Devil Lore, Dragon Lore, Fey Lore,Spirit Lore. I would, however, rename Societal Lore to Cultures and Heraldric Lore to Noble Lore (or something similar).
YMMV
 

Mishihari Lord

First Post
Do we really need Forbidden, Geographical, Heraldic, Historical, Local, Magical, Natural, Planar, Religious, Societal, Underdark, and Undead Lore as separate skills?

Yes, and that list is too short. I definitely prefer specific knowledge skills.

Knowledge skills are tough to do right. How do you make one of equal value to actually being able to do something? Personally, I think they should be siloed, with each character getting X skill points for class, Y for intelligence, and Z per level.

Another challenge is making the skills of equivalent value. In an undead heavy campaign, the value of undead lore is going to be much greater than the value of heraldry no matter what you do. I'd prefer a finer system where you get a certain number of points, and then for example 1 skill in undead lore costs 4 points, while heraldry costs 1. This also gives DMs fine control over how available different types of lore are in their campaign.

One nice thing about siloing knowledge skills is that it makes room for a loremaster class. Or possibly a subclass of bard. You could have bard subclasses of loremaster, diplomat, and performer.
 

pemerton

Legend
Do we really need Forbidden, Geographical, Heraldic, Historical, Local, Magical, Natural, Planar, Religious, Societal, Underdark, and Undead Lore as separate skills
No.

Here's my take on list reduction:

* Historical and Heraldic Lore merge into something like 4e's History skill;

* Societal and Local Lore are absorbed by Diplomacy, Streetwise and the above-mentioned History skill;

* Geographical and Natural Lore are absorbed by Survival (and perhaps Healing for herbalism);

* Magical and Planar Lore are merged;

* Religious and Undead Lore are merged either into the general Magic Lore, and/or into Forbidden Lore;

* Underdark Lore merged into Survival and/or Forbidden Lore.​

I love knowledge checks for plotline advancement, exploration, etc. but it really got old when players were calling for knowledge rolls at the beginning of every combat. I'm all for just tying them to class and background and just letting the DM pick, without rolling or combat implications, when a character should know something or not.
I'm not a big fan of this - it gives the GM complete control over the dispensing of information, whereas I like the idea that players can play sage-y types, and can engage situations in part by gaining information about those situations. (Exactly what the mechanics are for this is a further question.)

Knowledge skills are a mechanic for getting "clues" that may useful for the story, with some investment cost required*. There is no way in the world to make these skills work in a strongly regimented way. Better to recognize that their nature is to be vaguely defined, open-ended, and DM-controlled.
I don't really agree with this. I prefer skills, including Knowledge skills, to provide players with a tool to leverage the situation (in "3 pillars" terms, they facilitate players engaging the exploration pillar).

That's not to say that the GM can't also use them as a clue-dropping tool ("Who's got the highest Forbidden Lore bonus? OK, when you wake up in the morning you remember the most eerie of dreams . . . ") but I don't think that should be their sole or even their primary purpose.

Skills in general, rather than empowering players to do or know certain stuff, more often serve as a boundary for what they can't do and that's terrible.
The same thing is true of weapon proficiencies, though. For various reasons, we think it matters that a player engages ingame situations via a sword-wielding PC rather than an axe-wielding PC. The corresponding question, in relation to knowledge skills, is what (if any) distinctions do we think are worth drawing?

I think it's at least worth trying to capture the difference between a PC who engages situations via social skills/knowledge (Diplomacy, Streetwise etc - whether we run these together, or make them distinct, might depend on how important we think the difference is between a paladin's sociality and a rogue's sociality), via wilderness skills and survival, via traditional "book learning" (History skill or something similar) and via esoteric knowledge (Magic Lore, Arcana or something similar).

The distinction between ordinary Magic Lore and Forbidden Lore strikes me as less intrinsic to D&D play, but quite flavoursome and one feature of D&Dnext that I quite like and would be keen to see developed. (4e captures this difference in its gods - Ioun and Corellon vs Vecna and Tharizdun - but not in its skill system, making it hard to explain why every expert in Arcana or Religion doesn't know everything there is to know about Tharizdun and the Far Realm.)

I think distinctions more fine-grained than those I've drawn don't really capture anything of value to D&D as a genre (much like the excessive detail in AD&D polearms are unnecessary). And I could even see a case for eliminating my distinction between Historical Lore and Magical Lore and just merging them into a single Lore skill - so there would then be Social ability (Diplomacy and/or Streetwise), Survival (4e's Nature), Lore (4e's Arcana + History + Religion) and Forbidden Lore (the D&Dnext innovation that I want to preserve).

There's still the question of how the mechanics for these skills would work, of course.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I don't really agree with this. I prefer skills, including Knowledge skills, to provide players with a tool to leverage the situation (in "3 pillars" terms, they facilitate players engaging the exploration pillar).

That's not to say that the GM can't also use them as a clue-dropping tool ("Who's got the highest Forbidden Lore bonus? OK, when you wake up in the morning you remember the most eerie of dreams . . . ") but I don't think that should be their sole or even their primary purpose.

Maybe I sounded too narrow about "clues to the story". They are in fact useful to get information about anything, e.g. magic item features, monsters strength and weaknesses, how to get to places and what to expect to find there, NPC's capabilities and motivations etc... but I was trying to be short.

And I didn't want to imply that only the DM can call for a Knowledge check, the players can actively ask for it too.

The main point of my post was however the second part where "DM-controlled" refers to defining which Knowledge subskills exist in the game, how to use them, what DCs are appropriate... And most importantly, "DM-controlled" is intended as "DM-and-players-controlled" vs "game-designers-dictated". I mean that they should be more in the hands of each gaming group.

At least this is what I believe would be the best when we're talking about core rules, but campaign settings sourcebooks can define Knowledge skills more strictly and more detailed. The reason here is that how knowledge/lore is accessible (how much, by how many people, how quickly, how detailed, how reliable...) is IMHO strongly setting-dependent.
 

vagabundo

Adventurer
It might be cool to have a point spend system similar to the Gumshoe system. Have a split similar to GUMSHOE's General/Investigation split. So we would different rules for exploration skills and knowledge skills. Maybe knowledge skills could have a point spend to get information.

I'd prefer an open ended knowledge skill system, but with the core "exploration" skills defined.
 

I prefer the WEG approach of having untrained based on an attribute, then training in a general skill, then gaining advanced skills.

If your Dc tables scale based on KMs types of knowledge, then it works great. WoTc only needs to publish the general skills with some ideas to what advanced skills could be under them.

Your general lore skill would cover everyday knowledge and could be broken down however the dm and player saw fit.

You could still use arcana for planar lore, as the fields are linked, but it would be a different expression of where the knowledge comes from.

Also bardic lore could be a chance to know anything based on poems, Edda, etc.. downside of this would be the dm role the check as the player shouldn't know how much truth is in those stories.

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2
 

edhel

Explorer
It might be cool to have a point spend system similar to the Gumshoe system. Have a split similar to GUMSHOE's General/Investigation split. So we would different rules for exploration skills and knowledge skills. Maybe knowledge skills could have a point spend to get information.

Lemme elaborate my thoughts on this. You don't need knowledge skills for the stuff your character is supposed to know based on his background. The herald knows the hairstyles and flags of his area, and personally I'd just let the player narrate/world-build as he sees fit when it comes to that stuff.

With more esoteric lore which requires specialized knowledge, I'd turn the knowledge skill bonus (no ability modifier, see below) into a resource. The player can use those to ask questions OR tell how things are based on what his character has read. If it's a good idea, I'd take it and run with it. You wouldn't have to spend points on trivial things like knowing what beers dwarfs likes.

Having even one point in Knowledge would thus mean you are somewhat learned in the subject (as it is in Gumshoe) and would make even low Knowledge skills/pools very useful (and fun! IMHO).

Refreshing the Knowledge pools could work however you like: a long rest, a day spent in the library, a week spent living in the city for Streetwise, a chat with a bard in the tavern, one point per day, whatever.

Optional rules:

You can spend points to identify objects, spells, and effects.

Ability modifier could work as general knowledge which you can spend instead of specific knowledge point. This is a bit fiddly but would reward having high Intelligence.

Reading a book e.g. on dragons would give a couple of points in Knowledge (Dragons) which would be single-use only.



What do you think?
 

green slime

First Post
The distinction between ordinary Magic Lore and Forbidden Lore strikes me as less intrinsic to D&D play, but quite flavoursome and one feature of D&Dnext that I quite like and would be keen to see developed. (4e captures this difference in its gods - Ioun and Corellon vs Vecna and Tharizdun - but not in its skill system, making it hard to explain why every expert in Arcana or Religion doesn't know everything there is to know about Tharizdun and the Far Realm.)

In 3e, that is actually not that difficult to explain.

1) the knowledge is so specific and unusual, that it requires its own set (i.e. you have to have invested skillpoints in Knowledge (Far Realms).
2) alternatively, you have to have such a high skill level in a generic Knowledge (such as Religion) to be bordering on Epic level.
 

Do we really need Forbidden, Geographical, Heraldic, Historical, Local, Magical, Natural, Planar, Religious, Societal, Underdark, and Undead Lore as separate skills?

No. There seems to be a mix of fields and specialities that makes no sense there.

There is nothing heraldic lore should give you that is not part of either historical or societal lore.

Forbidden Lore is not a thing. "I know about the forbidden and only the forbidden". Nope.

Geographic lore is not really a PC skill - either it's a form of Local knowledge, or ties in with history, society, or nature. All three of those lore skills have a significant geographic element.

Underdark? Right. The underdark is a place. What does Underdark tell you about the workings of the Underdark? Politics of Mezzobaranan? Layout of major cities? Flora and fauna?

Planar lore? See Underdark. These are just places - there is no fundamental difference. (In fact the Underdark makes more sense as a plane itself).

Underdark and Planar lore should both be handled by normal lore with a penalty for unfamiliarity.

Undead Lore? Why not Elven Lore? Or Human Lore? Those two races do far, far more and have a bigger diversity.

The valuable ones are Local Knowledge (which should be thrown in as a background), Natural Lore, Societal Lore, Magical Lore (which should basically cover "Fantasy Engineering"), Religious Lore (which should cover cosmology and "natural" undead), and History. You might even split up societal lore into subsets of history and diplomacy or streetwise.
 

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