Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Get Better At Skills With These Feats

The latest Unearthed Arcana from Jeremy Crawford and again featuring guest writer Robert J. Schwalb introduces a number of feats which make you better at skills. Each increases the skill's primary ability score, doubles your proficiency bonus, and gives you a little bonus ability. "This week we introduce new feats to playtest. Each of these feats makes you better at one of the game’s eighteen skills. We invite you to read them, give them a try in play, and let us know what you think in the survey we release in the next installment of Unearthed Arcana."

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
All I can say is that I played with a wide variety of players and DMs in 4E (I was pretty active in LFR).

I was quite active in LFR, organizing or helping to organize a couple of gaming groups. I played with literally dozens of players, probably a dozen DMs, the entire lifespan of the edition. Everyone I discussed this with had the same issue. There were a handful of people that really liked 4E, but they almost all exclusively started with 4E.

So all I can say is your experience is different from what I, and many other people experienced.

I don't mean to slam 4E, I don't want to make this an edition war. It had some interesting ideas and I enjoyed it in many ways in the lower/heroic tier.

Sure, I knew people who had those problems.

The only part of that which really surprises me is the statement that the people who really liked 4e started with 4e. I had far more players who had been playing since at least 2e who considered 4e an improvement, than I had new players, in my main group. Game store groups and the like, it was a healthy mix of hose and players who started in 3, or with pathfinder. In ALL cases, there those who loved 4e (including people who still are reluctant to stop playing 4e), and those who played it because their friends were/it was what was available at the game store.

My point was poorly worded. When I say that I never saw that, what I mean is that I never saw that problem endure ina group, unless the DM was the force pushing it on the group, or the group walked in with preconceived notion s of 4e as the MMO edition.

And even then, it's easily fixed. Like...really easily.

And, I've seen it with new players in 5e, phb only, or even in games like The One Ring, and definately saw it in 2e.

Edit: in case that isn't clear, what I'm saying is that "I can only do the things on my sheet." Isn't an inherent consequence of codification, it's a perception issue that can easily be fixed by giving players examples of how to improvise *with those codified abilities, and pointing out, if it comes up, that codified abilities are just a starting point, or upgraded versions of what everyone can do with skills and creative thinking.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Post 459



Technically I misspoke. She still had one attack action.

Which I corrected in post 462



I'm going to give you some free advice. Being free, it's probably not worth anything. :)

What you are doing is a faulty debate tactic. You aren't directly addressing the issue, you are picking at relatively inconsequential details. You know that barabarians can have two attack actions. I assume you know the rules that if you have multiple attacks, one can be a grapple.

If you disagree with my basic premise, that's fine. It's great to get different ideas and opinions. It's one of the reasons I post. But it would be appreciated if we discussed those opinions, not sideline sniping and not resort to red herrings or equivocation.

Lol man, calm down, and reread what I said.

You had not posted 462 when I wrote my post.

No one is trying to do any of the absurdity you are baselessly accusing me of.
 

Oofta

Legend
Sure, I knew people who had those problems.

The only part of that which really surprises me is the statement that the people who really liked 4e started with 4e. I had far more players who had been playing since at least 2e who considered 4e an improvement, than I had new players, in my main group. Game store groups and the like, it was a healthy mix of hose and players who started in 3, or with pathfinder. In ALL cases, there those who loved 4e (including people who still are reluctant to stop playing 4e), and those who played it because their friends were/it was what was available at the game store.

My point was poorly worded. When I say that I never saw that, what I mean is that I never saw that problem endure ina group, unless the DM was the force pushing it on the group, or the group walked in with preconceived notion s of 4e as the MMO edition.

And even then, it's easily fixed. Like...really easily.

And, I've seen it with new players in 5e, phb only, or even in games like The One Ring, and definately saw it in 2e.

Maybe you're a better DM than I, or anyone who DMed games I played in. All I can relate is my experience. My experience was that, particularly at higher levels, 4E became a tactical war game with some RP sprinkled on top.

In addition, 5E appears to be far more popular than 4E. In my area, we lost more than half our regular players to PathFinder when 4E came out. Before 5E was announced our group had decided we were going to go back to 3.5 or to PathFinder as soon as we wrapped up our campaign.

I think the design philosophy of 5E being significantly different from 4E (while stealing some good ideas of course), that there has been a huge resurgence in sales and interest in the game speak for themselves.

But anyway, I don't see any point to adding any more to the edition wars. I like flexibility, creativity, and cinematic role playing. I find that easier to do, and that it happens with more regularity, with the current version of the rules than with other recent editions.
 

Gradine

Final Form (she/they)
In previous editions (4E in particular, but 3.5 also had this somewhat) the rules for how you could interact were very detailed. In 4E, we had powers which most people I played with would print out and put in card sleeves. The game became a tactical war game. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but it wasn't what I play D&D for.

People stopped thinking "What would my raging half-orc barbarian do in this situation" they started thinking "what card can I play that would counter the card the opposition just played?"

I don't want to go there again.

There is a significant difference between "this is what you can do with X" and "this is an example of what you can do with X."

The former is the 3.X style; the latter is the 5e style.

Not to discount your own experience (I couldn't of course because I don't know you), but I'm afraid that does happen, and did happen, a lot. When 3e came out with specific and highly narrowed skills and abilities, the "you can only do what's on your character sheet" was a very real problem that existed. Not only did it exist in the "you don't have acrobatics skills, so you can't do that", but also in the "your skill/power doesn't explicitly say you can, so you can't" and "since you don't have the highest bonus for that skill in the party, you should never be doing that." It's one of the driving factors as to why 5e's design went back to rulings over rules and more broad skill checks to be left to DM interpretation. Because the very thing you say you or your students would never do, did happen a lot.

One way in which 3.X did this was by trying to codify everything under the sun; through a ridiculously large and detailed skill list and a "trained only" mechanic for some skills. It was gating abilities. 4e did this in different ways, as you describe. There were positives to the 3.X skill system (particularly for unprecedented degree of expression-seeking behavior it accommodated) but it was very much a "here is what you can do with X" model.

However, one look at 5e's section on ability checks shows that it's more about "rulings over rules" and "here are some examples of when you'd call for an X check". Which is great for all the reasons you and Oofta and others have expanded upon.

The problem with 3.X was that the base rule were meant to represent everything. Thus, every new thing they released that you could do was an expansion of the rules as already established; that is, the rules were all-encompassing and thus about setting limits. Any new rules (for example skill tricks) simply expanded upon those limits.

But that's not what's happening in 5e at all. The overarching theme is still "rulings over rules". These feats, then, aren't about broadening already existing limits at all; they are about providing new examples.

And as I've argued, the presence of more examples in such a framework only serves to expand creativity. If the only limiting factor is your imagination, as is the 5e code, then the best way to expand those limits is by providing more fodder for players' collective imagination. They exist to say "hey, here's a new cool thing you can do with this skill that you might not have thought of." How well they accomplish that goal is up to interpretation (see again: Performer) but as a hamper on creativity? These will really only limit the imagination of those who are trying to play 5e with a 3.X or 4e mindset. Something you yourselves have mentioned are explicitly not a part of what 5e is supposed to be in the first place.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Maybe you're a better DM than I, or anyone who DMed games I played in. All I can relate is my experience. My experience was that, particularly at higher levels, 4E became a tactical war game with some RP sprinkled on top.

In addition, 5E appears to be far more popular than 4E. In my area, we lost more than half our regular players to PathFinder when 4E came out. Before 5E was announced our group had decided we were going to go back to 3.5 or to PathFinder as soon as we wrapped up our campaign.

I think the design philosophy of 5E being significantly different from 4E (while stealing some good ideas of course), that there has been a huge resurgence in sales and interest in the game speak for themselves.

But anyway, I don't see any point to adding any more to the edition wars. I like flexibility, creativity, and cinematic role playing. I find that easier to do, and that it happens with more regularity, with the current version of the rules than with other recent editions.

Maybe, if you see no point to adding any more to the editions wars, just...don't do that. Seems pretty easy to me, to just...not?

I get finding things easier in one system or another. What is controversial, imo, is claiming that one system inherently makes it easier, when you can't possibly be unaware that others did not find that to be the case.

I'm not saying you are wrong about your experiences. That isn't the point of bringing up my experiences. What I am telling you, unequivocally, is that your experience isn't universal, not everyone found roleplaying and improvisation harder in 4e, and many find it just as hard in 5e, and some even harder in 2e, and so it is not an inherent property of codified specific abilities. It is a perception that you and others with similar experience have, and some new players have, not a thing that a system creates out of nothing.

Here is some free advice of my own, although I'll quibble and point out that plenty of what is free in life is of immense value, especially advice given in good faith.

For many older edition players, the problem is a perception created by the change, specifically. Ie, going from vaguely to specificity creates the perception of restriction, for some people. Just telling them that no such restriction exists, and reminding them in play, pointing out opportunities to think beyond the sheet, should usually solve this, though it can be harder with some players who are really stuck in their ways.

One trick I've used in 5e with players who were introduced to RPGs with less codified games than DnD, is to tell them to turn their sheet over, and only look at t when I ask them to make a roll for something, or I need them to reference an ability.
For some older ed players, I know it is a result of he change, specifically, rather than what the system is actually telling them. On the back of their sheet, they can write their name, class, the name of any key things that they feel define their character, and their ability scores, and what gear they carry. That's it.

For new players, it's much easier. Just introduce them to the game as a game of creative thinking and improv, and excplicitly tell them that their sheet is a starting point, that sets what they are especially good at, what their core competences are, and what they have practiced into reflexive muscle memory, as well as guide to what sorts of things their character is good at, but never a restriction on their total capabilities.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
[MENTION=6801845]Oofta[/MENTION] also, copping to my own bad memory here, no, I did not in fact remember that grappling could be done with 1 attack in an attack action. None of my players in my current campaign have grappled anything, for some reason, so it hasn't come up.
 

Oofta

Legend
There is a significant difference between "this is what you can do with X" and "this is an example of what you can do with X."

The former is the 3.X style; the latter is the 5e style.

..

But that's not what's happening in 5e at all. The overarching theme is still "rulings over rules". These feats, then, aren't about broadening already existing limits at all; they are about providing new examples.

The feats state "this is specifically what you can do with this skill if you have this feat". They are not just examples. If they were just examples, I wouldn't have a problem with them. Acrobatics specifies a DC. Diplomat, Performance, Menacing tell you what the skill contest is and give a specific result.

These feats also imply that if you don't have that feat that you cannot do what you want. That you can't distract someone with a performance check unless you have the performer feat. That you can't dextrously get around the difficult terrain unless you have the acrobatics feat.

That gets people thinking more about the rules and restrictions than "what would my character do".
 

Oofta

Legend
Maybe, if you see no point to adding any more to the editions wars, just...don't do that. Seems pretty easy to me, to just...not?

I get finding things easier in one system or another. What is controversial, imo, is claiming that one system inherently makes it easier, when you can't possibly be unaware that others did not find that to be the case.

I'm not saying you are wrong about your experiences. That isn't the point of bringing up my experiences. What I am telling you, unequivocally, is that your experience isn't universal, not everyone found roleplaying and improvisation harder in 4e, and many find it just as hard in 5e, and some even harder in 2e, and so it is not an inherent property of codified specific abilities. It is a perception that you and others with similar experience have, and some new players have, not a thing that a system creates out of nothing.

Here is some free advice of my own, although I'll quibble and point out that plenty of what is free in life is of immense value, especially advice given in good faith.

For many older edition players, the problem is a perception created by the change, specifically. Ie, going from vaguely to specificity creates the perception of restriction, for some people. Just telling them that no such restriction exists, and reminding them in play, pointing out opportunities to think beyond the sheet, should usually solve this, though it can be harder with some players who are really stuck in their ways.

One trick I've used in 5e with players who were introduced to RPGs with less codified games than DnD, is to tell them to turn their sheet over, and only look at t when I ask them to make a roll for something, or I need them to reference an ability.
For some older ed players, I know it is a result of he change, specifically, rather than what the system is actually telling them. On the back of their sheet, they can write their name, class, the name of any key things that they feel define their character, and their ability scores, and what gear they carry. That's it.

For new players, it's much easier. Just introduce them to the game as a game of creative thinking and improv, and excplicitly tell them that their sheet is a starting point, that sets what they are especially good at, what their core competences are, and what they have practiced into reflexive muscle memory, as well as guide to what sorts of things their character is good at, but never a restriction on their total capabilities.

I have a confession. I was a 4E fanboy for quite a while. I was right in there arguing that the system worked just fine, and that it didn't limit role playing. That the people who had flocked to PathFinder were just resistant to change. I did everything I could think of to breath life into the game. Sometimes it even worked. I'll spare you the "This one time at band camp" story. :)

But the longer I played, the more I found that the people that stuck with the game were people that were less into RP and creativity and more into tactical combat. That in our home campaign we would sit around the game table over lunch and have discussions about "What happened? Why are we less creative and into RP?"

The conclusion we came to is what I've been arguing. That the more you have "powers" (and several of these feats feel like powers to me) the more people focus on tactics and rules. Maybe that conclusion is incorrect, it would be an interesting game theory study.

BTW, I'm not upset. If I were upset I'd be using the :mad: emoji, not the :) emoji.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I have a confession. I was a 4E fanboy for quite a while. I was right in there arguing that the system worked just fine, and that it didn't limit role playing. That the people who had flocked to PathFinder were just resistant to change. I did everything I could think of to breath life into the game. Sometimes it even worked. I'll spare you the "This one time at band camp" story. :)

But the longer I played, the more I found that the people that stuck with the game were people that were less into RP and creativity and more into tactical combat. That in our home campaign we would sit around the game table over lunch and have discussions about "What happened? Why are we less creative and into RP?"

The conclusion we came to is what I've been arguing. That the more you have "powers" (and several of these feats feel like powers to me) the more people focus on tactics and rules. Maybe that conclusion is incorrect, it would be an interesting game theory study.

BTW, I'm not upset. If I were upset I'd be using the :mad: emoji, not the :) emoji.

If something I said implied that you are upset, I apologize, if such an implication is controversial or insulting. If you mean "calm down", I thought my "lol" would have indicated a jovial mood, but perhaps not. What I was saying there was, "stop jumping to the conclusion of argument in bad faith, you just hadn't posted that post yet, when I was writing mine".

Anyway, what I am saying, again, is not that your experiences aren't real, or anything like that, or that no one else had them. What I'm saying is simply that the problem is not an inherent result of codification. Where it is the fault of the rules, and in 4e it sometimes is, it is that the rules don't do anything to make clear that the powers and skills and whatever are just starting points, that should be used as a foundation, not as a ceiling or walls.

What confuses me is, when folks don't have this problem with magic users and their spells. Like my example question, "Do you make arcanists blind to magical effects without the Detect Magic spell?"

Because I know DMs who in 5e, don't let someone use skills or anything to see magical effects at all, because there is a spell for that. Now me, depending on what they want to do that is either just an Arcana check, or what amounts to a skill challenge. Because the abilities specified in the book are just the things you've memorized, not the totality of what you can do.

I guess what I don't get is how people see that just fine in 5e, but not in 4e. But I've also seen people of get it in games like The One Ring, which is less codified than 5e.
 

Gradine

Final Form (she/they)
The feats state "this is specifically what you can do with this skill if you have this feat". They are not just examples. If they were just examples, I wouldn't have a problem with them. Acrobatics specifies a DC. Diplomat, Performance, Menacing tell you what the skill contest is and give a specific result.

An example can be specific and still be an example.

These feats also imply that if you don't have that feat that you cannot do what you want.

They do no such thing. They give you a specific application with a specific set of rules, but they in no way imply any kind of limiting factor. That's something you putting into it because of a superficial resemblance to 4e power structure. But nothing about 5e has changed. This is still the rulings over rules edition. Which means...

That you can't distract someone with a performance check unless you have the performer feat. That you can't dextrously get around the difficult terrain unless you have the acrobatics feat.

Once again, I'll grant you Performer. Even though it tries to have the kinds of specific rules that other feats do, all it ultimately grants is disadvantage, which is one the DM's most powerful tools in their "rulings over rules" toolkit. Performer's ability is something that every character should be able to attempt, and create an identical or nearly-identical result. That makes the feat a huge problem. So yeah, boo on Performer.

Let's look at Acrobat though. It sets a specific DC (15) to move across difficult terrain at full speed with a bonus action. Each specific piece of the feat (the DC, the speed boost, the action economy) gives me a fairly wide range of options on how to adjudicate that same action attempt for a PC without the feat. Is the DC higher? Do they make the attempt at disadvantage? Maybe they get a small speed penalty, like they don't get full speed, but something better than half. Maybe they have to use their action rather than their bonus, but a successful check allows them to move at 1.5 speed (so it's still strictly better than using a Dash action). These are all just off the top of my head; I could choose one (or several) of those options depending on the specific circumstances of the check. More possible options might reveal themselves depending on any number of variables that might be in play. My only limit is that whatever I declare, it has to either be not as easy or not as effective to perform without the feat.

An here's the honest truth. Before the existence of this feat, how would I have adjudicated a PC attempting to Acrobatics their way through difficult terrain? "Make a DC 15 Dexterity(Athletics) check". Maybe a higher DC depending on the nature of the obstruction, but that's it. I probably wouldn't have even made them burn their bonus action. Because that's basically how it worked in 3.5, right? Now, though? Now it's got me and my players thinking of all sorts of different ideas for adjudicating this action for PCs without the feat.

Parameters vastly increase creativity.

That gets people thinking more about the rules and restrictions than "what would my character do".

That's on them and their DM. Everything about 5e's style of adjudicating actions specifically rejects this mindset. Stop thinking of them as 3.X or 4e feats or powers and the problem evaporates.




...Except for Performer. Of course. Because Performer is terrible.
 

Hussar

Legend
No. I even quoted the rules above. You can ask for an athletics check as part of movement to do a stunt (jumping to land on the dragon's neck wasn't guaranteed). If you have multiple attacks, one of those attacks can be a grapple.

So stunt while moving required a check, grapple required a check as part of the attack, character has two attacks so I let her swing her axe as her second attack.

I did mention that in my first post.

But, the point is, you followed the rules pretty much to the letter. How would having a feat have changed any of this? In what way would any of the existing skill feats have impacted this scene? AFAIK, none of them apply, so, again, where's the problem?
 

Hussar

Legend
The feats state "this is specifically what you can do with this skill if you have this feat". They are not just examples. If they were just examples, I wouldn't have a problem with them. Acrobatics specifies a DC. Diplomat, Performance, Menacing tell you what the skill contest is and give a specific result.

These feats also imply that if you don't have that feat that you cannot do what you want. That you can't distract someone with a performance check unless you have the performer feat. That you can't dextrously get around the difficult terrain unless you have the acrobatics feat.

That gets people thinking more about the rules and restrictions than "what would my character do".

But, the thing is, and this was brought up earlier, these style of feats already exist. These style of mechanics already exist. And they aren't causing the problems you are talking about. Nobody claims that only Battlemasters and Open Hand Monks can trip. Nobody argues that only someone with the Charger feat can charge.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I have a confession. I was a 4E fanboy for quite a while. I was right in there arguing that the system worked just fine, and that it didn't limit role playing. That the people who had flocked to PathFinder were just resistant to change. I did everything I could think of to breath life into the game. Sometimes it even worked. I'll spare you the "This one time at band camp" story. :)

But the longer I played, the more I found that the people that stuck with the game were people that were less into RP and creativity and more into tactical combat. That in our home campaign we would sit around the game table over lunch and have discussions about "What happened? Why are we less creative and into RP?"

The conclusion we came to is what I've been arguing. That the more you have "powers" (and several of these feats feel like powers to me) the more people focus on tactics and rules. Maybe that conclusion is incorrect, it would be an interesting game theory study.

BTW, I'm not upset. If I were upset I'd be using the :mad: emoji, not the :) emoji.

If something I said implied that you are upset, I apologize, if such an implication is controversial or insulting. If you mean "calm down", I thought my "lol" would have indicated a jovial mood, but perhaps not. What I was saying there was, "stop jumping to the conclusion of argument in bad faith, you just hadn't posted that post yet, when I was writing mine".

Anyway, what I am saying, again, is not that your experiences aren't real, or anything like that, or that no one else had them. What I'm saying is simply that the problem is not an inherent result of codification. Where it is the fault of the rules, and in 4e it sometimes is, it is that the rules don't do anything to make clear that the powers and skills and whatever are just starting points, that should be used as a foundation, not as a ceiling or walls.

What confuses me is, when folks don't have this problem with magic users and their spells. Like my example question, "Do you make arcanists blind to magical effects without the Detect Magic spell?"

Because I know DMs who in 5e, don't let someone use skills or anything to see magical effects at all, because there is a spell for that. Now me, depending on what they want to do that is either just an Arcana check, or what amounts to a skill challenge. Because the abilities specified in the book are just the things you've memorized, not the totality of what you can do.

I guess what I don't get is how people see that just fine in 5e, but not in 4e. But I've also seen people of get it in games like The One Ring, which is less codified than 5e.
 

Oofta

Legend
Nobody argues that only someone with the Charger feat can charge.

If by "charge" you mean move, dash and still get a single attack, I disagree. Pretty much everyone I game with would disagree.

If by "charge" you mean move and take their attack action, sure.
 

Oofta

Legend
...Except for Performer. Of course. Because Performer is terrible.

At least we agree on something. :D I just think Diplomat and Menacing are just as terrible. Acrobat is simply annoying.

I simply disagree. Many of the feats are not giving examples. They give very specific powers.

Acrobat: Bonus action make DC 15 Acrobatics to ignore difficult terrain
Diplomat: Persuasion vs Insight on success target is Charmed
Performer: Performance vs Insight on success target has disadvantage on perception and investigate
Menacing: Instead of an attack make Intimidate vs Insight on success target is Frightened

Those are not "examples". They are specific results to specific actions. Charmed and Frightened in particular are conditions.

By implication you can only way to get around difficult terrain in combat is with Acrobat. The only way to get advantage on social checks is Diplomat, to distract someone by playing a song is Performer, to intimidate in combat is to have Menacing (and the result of that intimidation is always going to be Frightened).

Obviously as DM I can override any condition or rule. I can tell the bard that no matter how pretty their song is they are not going to distract the highly trained veteran guard. But I should not have to do so.

But I think arguing semantics is kind of pointless. Having a feat that says if you win an intimidation contest the target will be frightened has very real in-game mechanical consequence and one I'd rather not introduce into my campaign.

And ... that's my story and I'm sticking to it! :p
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
By implication you can only way to get around difficult terrain in combat is with Acrobat. The only way to get advantage on social checks is Diplomat, to distract someone by playing a song is Performer, to intimidate in combat is to have Menacing (and the result of that intimidation is always going to be Frightened).

I don't think any of that is remotely true. Each of these makes doing a thing easier, or more powerful, or both. Just like the Battlemaster's maneuvers.

Edited because I was being a jerk.
 
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Oofta

Legend
I don't think any of that is remotely true. Each of these makes doing a thing easier, or more powerful, or both. Just like the Battlemaster's maneuvers.

Edited because I was being a jerk.

I think we just need to agree to disagree. If someone said "I acrobatically jump through the thorns to avoid the difficult terrain" I guarantee someone else in my group would say "you can only do that if you have a feat".

Same goes for several of the other feats in the list.

I don't think we've added anything new here for a while. I think that when people say "these are just suggestions" they are making house rules, and overriding what the feat clearly says. Some people think that if there's a feat that says "if you do X then Y" doesn't mean people won't try to do "X" without a feat. I can tell you from my personal experience, that's exactly what I've seen happening.

And yes, I was accidentally following the rules in my example of the barbarian jumping on the back of a dragon. I probably need to read through the DMG again some day. Eventually. When I have time.

Good gaming!
 

cmad1977

Hero
UA: Skill Feats

Yeah....
Me no like much.
Ultimately I see extra rules that are completely unnecessary and don't add anything valuable.
And then Menacing... nope.
'I intimidate the Mighty Giant King in his throne room surrounded by all his retainers.... 20!'
'No dude, King MokMok isn't scared of you. He's in a position of strength, surrounded by allies and real angry at you guys'
'But I have menacing! He has to be scared!'
'Find another table'


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Gradine

Final Form (she/they)
By implication you can only way to get around difficult terrain in combat is with Acrobat. The only way to get advantage on social checks is Diplomat, to distract someone by playing a song is Performer, to intimidate in combat is to have Menacing (and the result of that intimidation is always going to be Frightened).

I don't really follow that flow of logic. I've never seen a feat that said, either explicitly or implicitly "and by the way this is now the only way to accomplish this". I'm not even sure I'd buy that argument about a 4e feat, to say nothing of 5e. Even if I did, what you're claiming is implicit is only so if you look at these feats from outdated action resolution frameworks. 5e works differently from that.

Obviously as DM I can override any condition or rule. I can tell the bard that no matter how pretty their song is they are not going to distract the highly trained veteran guard. But I should not have to do so.

This is the heart of 5e. DM empowerment. Rulings over rules. If you feel you have a responsibility as a DM to maintain verisimilitude and internal consistency in your world, you are empowered to do so, to the explicit extent that you can declare that a PC's proposed action has no chance of success. This is made as clear to the players as it is to the DM. Presumably your players also care about verisimilitude and internal consistency; if not they might not be at the right table.

But I think arguing semantics is kind of pointless. Having a feat that says if you win an intimidation contest the target will be frightened has very real in-game mechanical consequence and one I'd rather not introduce into my campaign.

And ... that's my story and I'm sticking to it! :p

Now this I can absolutely respect. I'd been giving this some thought and I think one of the biggest problems is the use of conditions. Because conditions are such a hard-coded and clearly-defined part of the game system, I don't think they should interact in the more nebulous world of ability checks. Certainly not to the extent that these feats suggest. I'd like the option to decide if your action, your target and the context of the scene in question warrant a specific condition like charmed or frightened. There are obvious situations where they don't seem to be warranted; I'd like the riders to be a bit more nebulous and "DM determines results of the ability check"-esque. I don't blame them doing so; it's an easy resolution and I still don't really see how either effect would be game-breaking in any game run by a DM with half a pulse. It's just that I don't think conditions and ability checks mesh well together. So yeah, I've come around to the idea that the conditions ought to be removed from Diplomat and Menacing.

They're still not anywhere near as terrible as Performer though :p
 

Ashkelon

First Post
I think we just need to agree to disagree. If someone said "I acrobatically jump through the thorns to avoid the difficult terrain" I guarantee someone else in my group would say "you can only do that if you have a feat".

Same goes for several of the other feats in the list.

I don't think we've added anything new here for a while. I think that when people say "these are just suggestions" they are making house rules, and overriding what the feat clearly says. Some people think that if there's a feat that says "if you do X then Y" doesn't mean people won't try to do "X" without a feat. I can tell you from my personal experience, that's exactly what I've seen happening.

And yes, I was accidentally following the rules in my example of the barbarian jumping on the back of a dragon. I probably need to read through the DMG again some day. Eventually. When I have time.

Good gaming!

This is kind of why I wish certain parts of the game were more codified.

If the rules were explicit that anyone can make an acrobatics check to tumble to avoid difficult terrain, or use their action to try and frighten an opponent, and so on, then these feats could simply make such things more likely or more efficient.

The skill rules give very little guidance to what can and what cannot be accomplished by them, which means that at many tables even attempting to use intimidation to frighten an enemy or acrobatics to avoid difficult terrain might not ever be worthwhile (if the DM is a harsh abjudicstor) or might not even be possible at all.

If the many of the tricks and stunts one could accomplish with skill use were laid out for players and GMs alike, and the skill feats only served to enhance these options instead of providing brand new capabilities, then their codification wouldn't get in the way of improvisation.
 

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