D&D 5E tool proficiencies: what's the point?

On Puget Sound

First Post
So my Guide background gives me Survival skill proficiency (prof bonus for Wis(Survival) rolls), and navigator's tools proficiency (prof bonus for Wis(Survival) rolls to avoid becoming lost). And we've been told that you can't add prof bonus twice, ever. So.... why? Almost every background has a similar skill/ tool pairing. It seems tools are only useful for people without skills, and skills mean you never need to use tools.
 

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gyor

Legend
Tools should be required for tasks which its makes sense.

If your blacksmithing, even if you have a related skill, you still need the hammer and anvil other wise you skill means nothing.

If you want to disguise yourself, you should still require a disguise kit, otherwise your left with perform or deception, but looking exactly like yourself. Congratualations, your a hit at parties for your impressions, but still useless at convincing someone that your really Prince Oozeck or the All powerful Wizard McSnooze.

So I'd make it clear that tools are required for any task that make sense to require them, but if you have a skill and tool that match you get both prof bonus and advantage. Only one of the two (and its a situtation that doesn't actual require the tool), you get only prof.

Does this make sense?
 

Currently some tools make no sense if they only add a proficiency bonus to certain tasks. I would rather have tools give a different bonus than a proficiency bonus to checks in general. Maybe following:

Climbers kit:

When you use this tool, you can climb walls that are slippery, have no natural footholds or are hanging over. You may add your proficiency bonus to Strength checks to climb. If you are prficient in athletics, you get advantage on the Strength(athletic) check.

Or, even easier: Proficiency bonuses from tools and skills stack. That seems to have been their intention (double the bonus was mentioned in one L&L article)
 

Frostmarrow

First Post
Currently some tools make no sense if they only add a proficiency bonus to certain tasks. I would rather have tools give a different bonus than a proficiency bonus to checks in general. Maybe following:

Climbers kit:

When you use this tool, you can climb walls that are slippery, have no natural footholds or are hanging over. You may add your proficiency bonus to Strength checks to climb. If you are prficient in athletics, you get advantage on the Strength(athletic) check.

Or, even easier: Proficiency bonuses from tools and skills stack. That seems to have been their intention (double the bonus was mentioned in one L&L article)

I like your first suggestion. It makes the tool a talking point which leads to a natural description of the wall.
The second suggestion is merely bonus to random.

I would suggest a tool gives you a retry opportunity if your skill attempt fails. I mean you bring out your climber's kit when you encounter a cliff to hard to simply climb.

This would plug the retry hole at the same time:
-Can I try again?
-Do you have a tool?
 
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erf_beto

First Post
I think Skills are broader in scope, while Tools are used only in specific tasks (you can't forage food with a compass). Each describe the "how" you accomplish the task (like the difference between an architect and a construction worker).

Some tasks may require either tool OR skill to get the job done, but there are others which require both skill AND tool.

If you want to tell North from South, either the Survival skill or a plain compass (or google maps) would be enough, but navigating a ship across the seas might require a sextant and some other instruments on top of the apropriate Skill.

I'm not up to date with the latest skill rules, but I'd say having both tool and skill proficiency when you'd need only one would give you advantage, but having only one in tasks requiring both proficiencies gives you disadvantage.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I've also questioned the use of Tools as they stand, and I know the way I'm going to handle it (assuming it doesn't get changed down the line) is that Skills grant the proficiency bonus and Tools give you Advantage.

Here's my thinking: If you are trained in a particular skill, you can make more difficult attempts. Adding your proficiency bonus means that you can reach higher DCs than another character could. If you have tools, you have a better chance at doing what you already know how to do (thus gaining Advantage.)

If you are trying to pretend to be someone else... you only have so much ability to look different, sound different, move different, and act different. Use a Disguise Kit, you have a better shot at at least getting part of that (how you look) taken care of. But you still can't attempt higher difficulty masquerades because you aren't good at all the other stuff that go into it. It's only if you are Trained in Bluff that you have the ability to reach those higher DCs because you have more control over your voice, how you move and so on.

Now I know some people wouldn't like this rule because they'll trot out the "If you grant Advantage for using Tools all the time, then you can never grant Advantage as a situational bonus in the middle of the adventure." But for my money... using a disguise kit or a climber's kit or other tool *is* a situational bonus. How often are you as a DM really going to grant Advantage otherwise? There are plenty of reasons why you'd assign Disadvantage during a STR (Athletics/Climb) check... rain, heavy winds, etc... but what situations are you going to find to assign Advantage that aren't using rope, harnesses, or belaying devices? Having a climber's kit available is the most obvious and likely situational bonus you're ever going to find.

To me... Skills and Tools need to both grant bonuses. And since I don't like the idea of stacking proficiency or stacking Advantage... having each one grant one of the bonuses is the best way I think to go.
 

Sadrik

First Post
This for me goes into why they should have spent their time in the playtest nailing down the math. Someone said that they needed to figure out the bells, whistles, and feel and they could later tack on the math. That seems wrong headed in my opinion. We already know the feel of the game we have 4+ versions of it. The math is integral to the play of the game and if it is not gotten right, it will make the feel of the game more than the bells and whistles. Exposing the math fix on the last playtest package was not the right course, at least for the playtesters. Perhaps they can fix the tool issue, perhaps not. There are many other issues though that have not been resolved in the math.
 

jrowland

First Post
So my Guide background gives me Survival skill proficiency (prof bonus for Wis(Survival) rolls), and navigator's tools proficiency (prof bonus for Wis(Survival) rolls to avoid becoming lost). And we've been told that you can't add prof bonus twice, ever. So.... why? Almost every background has a similar skill/ tool pairing. It seems tools are only useful for people without skills, and skills mean you never need to use tools.

If you have the Survival skill, you can use the proficiency bonus on a check to build a lean-to, for example. Navigator tools won't help. Your navigator tools will help your check (proficiency bonus) to determine what day two stars will line up just so at the Druidic Henge opening the gate the Feywild. Survival skill won't help.
 

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