Why don't everything scale by proficiency bonus?

Consider this. Your Character at level 1 and your character at level 20. Should your character not always be better at nearly everything he does as a level 20 character than when he was a level 1 character. However, this isn't manifested in non-proficient skills or saves. The level 1 fighter with 10 wisdom and no perception proficiency is typically as good as the level 20 fighter at that skill. Why? Does it really make sense for that to be the case? Can the same be said for other skills? What about saving throws? What about non-proficient weapons. Surely the level 20 wizard is a bit better with a longsword than the level 1 wizard, but such isn't actually the case.

Thoughts?
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
It might make more sense if there were some sort of improvement. It was definitely surprising when first presented. The way we have it now is for simplicity, and because it passed the playtest with acceptable feedback numbers.
 
It might make more sense if there were some sort of improvement. It was definitely surprising when first presented. The way we have it now is for simplicity, and because it passed the playtest with acceptable feedback numbers.
If I were to design the system. All skills increase by proficiency modifer except for skills you excel at and skills you are poor at. To determine what skills you excel and are poor at roll a d4. You excel at that many skills and are poor at that many skills. Skills you excel at get double proficiency bonus. Skills you are poor at receive no proficiency bonus.

There, the whole thing is fixed :)
 

jgsugden

Adventurer
I'm 45 years old. I am no better today than I was at 18 at many, many things. For example, I am not better at weaving, golf, archery, swimming, tumbling, playing the piano, etc... I could go on for 60 pages listing all of the things I don't do any better than I did 27 years ago.

Instead of trying to 'fix' a system that is not broken (as evidenced by the countless games that use those rules and are incredibly fun), try experimenting with different ways to look at and utilize it to see if you can match the fun that others are having. Youll get a LOT more out of it.
 
I'm 45 years old. I am no better today than I was at 18 at many, many things. For example, I am not better at weaving, golf, archery, swimming, tumbling, playing the piano, etc... I could go on for 60 pages listing all of the things I don't do any better than I did 27 years ago.
We are talking about adventurers who are doing adventurer things. If you did golf things for the past 60 years you surely would be better at said golf things.

Instead of trying to 'fix' a system that is not broken (as evidenced by the countless games that use those rules and are incredibly fun), try experimenting with different ways to look at and utilize it to see if you can match the fun that others are having. Youll get a LOT more out of it.
Why do you assume I don't have as much fun as others are having with said system?
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
I thought this way once myself. But I would like to point out that people change and unless you practice something, you lose it. I used to skateboard when I was in my teens, but that was 30 years ago. Would I fall if I jumped on one now? Hopefully not, but I wouldn't be any better at it since I haven't been in continual practice and using it since then.

How perceptive where you 20 years ago? 10 years ago? Are YOU any more perceptive now? Maybe in certain ways, but you probably lost some perception in others. You might have a better understanding of things, but maybe your eyes aren't as good or your hearing?

As far as saves go, many tables add house-rules for non-proficient saves. If you weren't proficient in a weapon, why didn't you ever get proficiency if you've been using it so much? Using some of the training rules for skills could be adapted for weapons, particularly for a single weapon. If a character spent a cumulative 250 days training, it seems like granting them a proficiency bonus with that weapon would make sense.

Otherwise, without proficiency the best house-rule I could offer is akin to the saves one many tables like: add half the proficiency bonus (round down) to all non-proficient skills. I wouldn't personally, but would be fine playing at a table that did.
 
I thought this way once myself. But I would like to point out that people change and unless you practice something, you lose it. I used to skateboard when I was in my teens, but that was 30 years ago. Would I fall if I jumped on one now? Hopefully not, but I wouldn't be any better at it since I haven't been in continual practice and using it since then.
Sure D&D has never done a good job of modeling getting worse at abilities due to non-use.

How perceptive where you 20 years ago? 10 years ago? Are YOU any more perceptive now? Maybe in certain ways, but you probably lost some perception in others. You might have a better understanding of things, but maybe your eyes aren't as good or your hearing?
Things which D&D simply doesn't model. In the fighter example I bring up, it makes no difference if he was 20 and now is 70, he's still just as perceptive. Not more not less.

As far as saves go, many tables add house-rules for non-proficient saves. If you weren't proficient in a weapon, why didn't you ever get proficiency if you've been using it so much? Using some of the training rules for skills could be adapted for weapons, particularly for a single weapon. If a character spent a cumulative 250 days training, it seems like granting them a proficiency bonus with that weapon would make sense.
That's fine but I'm not talking right now about comparing the wizard using the longsword to the fighter using it. Just the wizard using it to his level 20 self. Having used one and or watched his allies use one it seems reasonable that he would be better with the weapon than when he first started adventuring (barring age related factors). Don't ya think?

Otherwise, without proficiency the best house-rule I could offer is akin to the saves one many tables like: add half the proficiency bonus (round down) to all non-proficient skills. I wouldn't personally, but would be fine playing at a table that did.
Yea, half works fine too. It's not the amount, it's simply the scaling bonus.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Sure D&D has never done a good job of modeling getting worse at abilities due to non-use.

Things which D&D simply doesn't model. In the fighter example I bring up, it makes no difference if he was 20 and now is 70, he's still just as perceptive. Not more not less.

That's fine but I'm not talking right now about comparing the wizard using the longsword to the fighter using it. Just the wizard using it to his level 20 self. Having used one and or watched his allies use one it seems reasonable that he would be better with the weapon than when he first started adventuring (barring age related factors). Don't ya think?

Yea, half works fine too. It's not the amount, it's simply the scaling bonus.
True, I don't think I've ever seen a system that degenerates skills for non-use. When I've discussed it in the past in a game I made with some other players years ago, the result in playtesting was players using skills for silly reasons simply so it wouldn't degrade. In a like manner, when adventures stop adventuring for an extended period of time, hit points should also degrade IMO, but they don't. Heck, 5E even removed aging modifiers so characters would lose STR, DEX, and CON in exchange for gaining INT and possibly some WIS. I liked those ideas in AD&D.

For better or worse, D&D fails to model a lot of things that happen in real life and the best we can do is adapt with what we have to work with. In your wizard/longsword example, if the wizard has been using it without gaining his proficiency bonus, but is determined to use it any way because the player wills it so, then the DM could gradually award proficiency. Perhaps with each level, the DM decides "Has the wizard used the longsword enough to warrant improvement since last level?" If so, grant a +1 "leaning bonus". Once the learning bonus matches the character level proficiency bonus, the character is proficient.

If you prefer a purely mechanical method, something like "if during this level, the wizard has made X number of attacks with the longsword, he earns a learning bonus for this level." You can decide on the X as you feel suites your table.

For simplicity's sake, the half bonus (maybe starting at level 3?) works well IMO if you absolutely had to include it. With rounding down, the non-proficiency bonus would thus be:

Level 1: +0
2: +0
3: +1
4: +1
5: +1
6: +1
7: +1
8: +1
9: +2
10: +2
11: +2
12: +2
13: +2
14: +2
15: +2
16: +2
17: +3
18: +3
19: +3
20: +3

A simple option could be +1 at level 3, +2 at level 9, +3 at level 15 (just a +1 every six level beginning at 3rd). Another option is make it Tier-based: Tier 1, no bonus, Tier 2 = +1, Tier 3 = +2, Tier 4 = +3. It works out somewhat close to the half-proficiency bonus, but is slightly slower.

I don't know, there are tons of ways to implement it. Pick your poison. :)
 

jgsugden

Adventurer
We are talking about adventurers who are doing adventurer things. If you did golf things for the past 60 years you surely would be better at said golf things.
You wanted to add bonuses to everything. Not the things you did for 60 years... which would be manifested by saying you were proficient in them....
Why do you assume I don't have as much fun as others are having with said system?
Because you're trying to 'fix' it. That means you perceive a problem. And if you look through your history of posts.... well, you perceive a lot of problems, right? So many things that are 'wrong'...
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
If you weren't proficient in a weapon, why didn't you ever get proficiency if you've been using it so much?
Because no one in D&D ever uses a weapon they aren't proficient in, except for an occasional critical moment (only a strike from the Sword of Stuffage can kill the Badgui, and the proficient party members are all out for the count).

This isn't really addressing anything you said, just an observation that players don't actually use weapons they aren't proficient in, so it doesn't tend to matter.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
I am fine with saves scaling up with level. However, I would prefer if proficiencies with skills and tools improved by allocating skill points upon leveling.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Consider this. Your Character at level 1 and your character at level 20. Should your character not always be better at nearly everything he does as a level 20 character than when he was a level 1 character. However, this isn't manifested in non-proficient skills or saves. The level 1 fighter with 10 wisdom and no perception proficiency is typically as good as the level 20 fighter at that skill. Why? Does it really make sense for that to be the case? Can the same be said for other skills? What about saving throws? What about non-proficient weapons. Surely the level 20 wizard is a bit better with a longsword than the level 1 wizard, but such isn't actually the case.

Thoughts?
I consider it General Competency. To me the answer is yes. And I would largely add it on top of the other things why not.
 

Kor

Visitor
Technically, your non-proficient skills and saves do increase slightly, if you increase your ability scores as you level up. Also, just because you become more experienced doesn't mean that everything you know should increase. If there are other saves and skills that you want increased over time, then there are mechanics for doing it with feats.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
This isn't really addressing anything you said, just an observation that players don't actually use weapons they aren't proficient in, so it doesn't tend to matter.
In real life there is huge overlap between broad categories and when you are skilled enough seeing how its done can still teach some, On top of that the heroes arent real life either so there is that and I cannot imagine a character patterned after Cu Cuhlaine taking more than half an hour to be better with a weapon than the one who "taught" him. :p
 
Consider this. Your Character at level 1 and your character at level 20. Should your character not always be better at nearly everything he does as a level 20 character than when he was a level 1 character. However, this isn't manifested in non-proficient skills or saves. The level 1 fighter with 10 wisdom and no perception proficiency is typically as good as the level 20 fighter at that skill. Why?
Because.

It could be like you say, but it just isn't.

When it was (4e), a common complaint was that the character who never ever wielded X or used Y was getting better at it just by doing nothing, and better than a fully-dedicated character just a few levels lower.

It's simply a design choice, and every design choice as well as its opposite can be criticised for not making sense enough.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
If I were to design the system. All skills increase by proficiency modifer except for skills you excel at and skills you are poor at. To determine what skills you excel and are poor at roll a d4. You excel at that many skills and are poor at that many skills. Skills you excel at get double proficiency bonus. Skills you are poor at receive no proficiency bonus.

There, the whole thing is fixed :)
Very interesting I like it ... not the random die part but still
 
Last edited:
And generally speaking, D&D is NOT supposed to be a model or simulation of real life. If you want a top-accurate representation of it, go fight monsters in real life.

- Li "I've owned a piano for 20 years, never played it but had a very successful career in medicine, how come I am still not a good pianist" Shenron
 

Torquar

Explorer
That level 20 Fighter has had 7 opportunities to improve their skills or shore up weak saves. If they would rather put all their effort into working out, or new and interesting ways to kill things that's their decision ;).
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I think the games adventuring skills are not the same as everyday skills, they are in a sense about how those skills are being leveraged in an adventure context and they are being touched in small ways all the time and you are seeing how others do it as well.

Acrobatics is not the entertainment sport that a certain plucky lass mixes in dance moves which makes makes my heart thump while she does crazy flips... usually its that edging around a cliff face and sometimes its fast travel over bad terrain after studying it or catching wildly while you are about to fall off a cliff and similar things.

The Dungeoneering skill in 4e was somewhat silly but I picture Frodo listening to Uncle bilbo's stories and learning it every inn stop is a lesson.

And so on and so forth
 
Last edited:

Advertisement

Top