D&D General Vote Up A 5e-alike, Part 4 - Skills

What skills should we have and how should they be implemented?

  • Just the 5e core skills

    Votes: 6 25.0%
  • Add extra core skills (list in comments)

    Votes: 5 20.8%
  • Add background and class skills (see description) to the core skills

    Votes: 3 12.5%
  • Replace core skills with background and class skills

    Votes: 4 16.7%
  • If using background and class skills, they are individual skills (e.g., swimming, boating)

    Votes: 1 4.2%
  • If using background and class skills, they are more open (Farmer, Noble, Thief)

    Votes: 3 12.5%
  • If using background and class skills, add culture skill as well

    Votes: 2 8.3%
  • Replace core skills with attribute skills (see description)

    Votes: 6 25.0%
  • Have class, background, culture, and attribute skills

    Votes: 4 16.7%
  • Each class gets Expertise in one or more class skills as they increase in level

    Votes: 9 37.5%
  • You get Expertise as you go up in level, but it's not tied to your class (pick what you want)

    Votes: 2 8.3%
  • Skill specializations

    Votes: 7 29.2%
  • No skill specialization

    Votes: 5 20.8%
  • Expertise/Skill Bonuses - none

    Votes: 2 8.3%
  • Expertise/Skill Bonuses - double PB

    Votes: 9 37.5%
  • Expertise/Skill Bonuses - expertise die

    Votes: 4 16.7%
  • Expertise/Skill Bonuses - flat +2 per level

    Votes: 2 8.3%
  • Something else entirely (explain in comments)

    Votes: 4 16.7%

  • Poll closed .

Faolyn

(she/her)
OK, this one is very heavily write-in.

Background skills and Class skills: Lanefan suggested the following:

"Life skills" - these are the things you may or may not have happened to learn while growing up, or in some cases represent talents you were simply born with. Random roll for how good you are at each, no modifiers for class, occasional modifiers for species. Everyone has to roll for the first three, any others are purely at the player's option unless it somehow becomes relevant during play.

Swimming
Boating
Riding
Singing (optional)
Drawing (optional)
Etc. (optional)

Class-specific skills - skills certain classes need in order to do their jobs. This covers Thieving skills, Rangering skills, and so on, and would be bespoke to each class that needs them.
The way I see it, if these are used, there are two options.

The first is as above. Your background and class give you specific skills. If you take the Courtier background, you know Politics or Knowledge: Nobility or something like that. If you take the Acolyte background, you know Religious Ritual. Likewise, if you're a Rogue, you know Pickpocketing and Hide in Shadows. If you're a Fighter, you know Knowledge: Weapons and Armor or History (War). The pros, as I see it, would be a lot of niche protection (you'd never have another occasion where the rogue or bard is better at Arcana or Religion than the wizard or cleric is, because of expertise), and it would lend itself to more individualized characters because each background/class combo would be far more unique. The cons is that the skill list would get hella long and would never really be complete.

Or, they give you open-ended skills. If you take the Courtier background, you know the Courtier skill or are a Fighter, and you can roll for those skills whenever they would be useful (DM's discretion), without the need to break it down into individual skill trees. The pros are the same as above. The con is that it's open to a lot more player and DM interpretation and, potentially, "mother may I?"-ing. Some of this could be alleviated if, in each background and class, you actually list what the skills are used for. Even in generic terms, it's useful.

You could also include Culture skills this way. If you take the Cosmopolitan background (to steal one from Level Up), then you could either have several skills for that culture (say, Area Knowledge, Local History, Schmoozing, etc.) or, once again, just have Cosmopolitan as a skill.

Attribute skills: Another thought I had is to remove the skill list and simply roll your stat when needed. Need to remember something? Roll Intelligence. Need to read somebody's emotions or to find out if they're lying? Roll Wisdom. Need to be sneaky? Roll Dex. Each attribute would have a list of things that it covers, to help determine what to roll.

Skill Specializations: Level Up lets you take skill specializations within each skill. With Arcana, you can specialize in Forbidden Knowledge, The Planes, Ooze Lore, etc. With Deception, you can specialize in Concealing Emotions or Mimicry, etc.

I can see doing this both with individual skills and with background/class/culture/attribute skills. The pros would be that you could have the background/class/culture/attribute skills and still allow for individualization and for PCs to not be equally good at everything.

Expertise/Skill Bonuses: This could be done as per 5e (double your proficiency bonus), as per Level Up (add a d4 expertise die, which can increase to a d6 and then a d8), or as a flat +2 per level of bonus. It really depends on how much math you want to include.

EDIT: When I wrote "+2 per level" for Expertise (second to last option), I did not mean class level. I meant more like level of bonus. So you could start out with a +2 but could get even more expertise later on and raise that to +4.
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
1) Add

Weightifting/BBBG (STR)
Endurance (CON)
Drinking (CON)
Urban/Streetwise (WIS)
Dungeoneering (WIS)
Gather Information (CHA)

2) Each PC gets Expertise in one skill or tool. Rogues, Bard, Rangers and Artificers get bonus Expertise.

3) Expertise is double PB. The d20 is too random as is.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
Other: the list of skills should be small and fixed.

There should be no open-ended skills like tools in 5e or craft, perform, etc in 3e.

IMX over the decades with many systems, adding skills serves to create incompetence.
Instead stick to a fixed, short, list of skills. Maybe not Lazers & Feelingz, but not much more than 10. A player familiar with the game should be able to name all the skills.
Rather adding new skills, sort any task into one of the existing skills, even if it's a stretch.
 



Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Combine skills and feats into a grand list of features/proficiencies (both magical and mundane), perhaps divided into general and class specific lists, and make sure every PC has plenty of opportunities as they level to pick from those lists. It would also be a good idea to include basic competency in those areas any adventurer should be able to attempt.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
OK, this one is very heavily write-in.

Background skills and Class skills: Lanefan suggested the following:


The way I see it, if these are used, there are two options.

The first is as above. Your background and class give you specific skills. If you take the Courtier background, you know Politics or Knowledge: Nobility or something like that. If you take the Acolyte background, you know Religious Ritual. Likewise, if you're a Rogue, you know Pickpocketing and Hide in Shadows. If you're a Fighter, you know Knowledge: Weapons and Armor or History (War). The pros, as I see it, would be a lot of niche protection (you'd never have another occasion where the rogue or bard is better at Arcana or Religion than the wizard or cleric is, because of expertise), and it would lend itself to more individualized characters because each background/class combo would be far more unique. The cons is that the skill list would get hella long and would never really be complete.
I wasn't thinking of background giving skills in any formal sense. Those would be much less formalized e.g. someone with a Courtier background might know stuff about how some local politics work but it wouldn't be codofied into a "skill".

Instead, what I'd like to see is the "life skills" (swimming, boating, riding, etc.) and class-specific skills (pick pockets, tracking, legend lore, etc.) and that's it for skills, period. Everything else - knowledge, memory, athletics, balance, etc. - goes to simple roll-under-stat and have done with it; except "social skills" (intimidate, persuasion, etc.) just wander off into a fire and die there.

In our games we've had the "life skills" idea for some time, with proficiency for each rolled on an open-ended d10 during char-gen. They rarely if ever come up as hard mechanics during play; instead they're used as a general reference e.g. if the party is on a boat, who might have a clue what to do with it vs who should just cling to the mast and try not to fall off. They can also help with characterization and role-play e.g. if my riding skill is 1/10 then no way in hell am I getting on top of that 4-legged monstrosity; I'll walk, thank you very much. :)
Or, they give you open-ended skills. If you take the Courtier background, you know the Courtier skill or are a Fighter, and you can roll for those skills whenever they would be useful (DM's discretion), without the need to break it down into individual skill trees. The pros are the same as above. The con is that it's open to a lot more player and DM interpretation and, potentially, "mother may I?"-ing. Some of this could be alleviated if, in each background and class, you actually list what the skills are used for. Even in generic terms, it's useful.
Thing is, what people derisively call "mother-may-I" is, when done right, a perfectly valid way to design and run the game. The trick is to give DMs better advice as to how to run those games.
Attribute skills: Another thought I had is to remove the skill list and simply roll your stat when needed. Need to remember something? Roll Intelligence. Need to read somebody's emotions or to find out if they're lying? Roll Wisdom. Need to be sneaky? Roll Dex. Each attribute would have a list of things that it covers, to help determine what to roll.
For many things this works (and roll-under is by far the most elegant). For others, though, something different is needed. Oh, and I should point out here I'm quite happy with some skills being on d% rather than d20, for more granularity.
Skill Specializations: Level Up lets you take skill specializations within each skill. With Arcana, you can specialize in Forbidden Knowledge, The Planes, Ooze Lore, etc. With Deception, you can specialize in Concealing Emotions or Mimicry, etc.

I can see doing this both with individual skills and with background/class/culture/attribute skills. The pros would be that you could have the background/class/culture/attribute skills and still allow for individualization and for PCs to not be equally good at everything.

Expertise/Skill Bonuses: This could be done as per 5e (double your proficiency bonus), as per Level Up (add a d4 expertise die, which can increase to a d6 and then a d8), or as a flat +2 per level of bonus. It really depends on how much math you want to include.
This gets far more complicated than it needs to be. For the "life skills", they are what they are. You've already learned them, and unless you want to spend a lot of downtime on it, they don't advance ever. For other skills, if they're baked into your class that's fine as they're forced to advance with it, but if not then it's a whole separate thing to argue with at level-up.

My vote would be to drop skills entirely, other than "life skills" and skills that are hard-tied to one's class.
 


Other: the list of skills should be small and fixed.

There should be no open-ended skills like tools in 5e or craft, perform, etc in 3e.

IMX over the decades with many systems, adding skills serves to create incompetence.
Instead stick to a fixed, short, list of skills. Maybe not Lazers & Feelingz, but not much more than 10. A player familiar with the game should be able to name all the skills.
Rather adding new skills, sort any task into one of the existing skills, even if it's a stretch.
Athletics
Larceny
Stealth
Endurance
Knowledge
Perception
Persuasion
Craft

All I'm missing is survival, although most tasks in that skill could be farmed out to knowledge or perception.

Although I disagree about no open skills - the skill list should cover all adventuring tasks, but there should be a way for background skills like sailing and cooking and whatnot to affect rolls should it ever come up.
 

Oh, and:

The trio of ability scores, skills, and classes is redundant. They all just tell you "what you're good at" (as opposed to background and race which tell you where you comes from. Where you going is the underlying question of gameplay.)

Since nixing classes is making it not-DnD (which is fine but I like DnD) I think the game could be better by choosing between ability scores and skills. I don't actually care which, both have pros and cons, but just one is enough.

Just ability scores is simple, fixed, and reasonably comprehensive to people who've been playing a while. Just skills gives a lot more room for customization and all the confusion that comes with that.
 

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