• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

Why don't everything scale by proficiency bonus?

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
So you all don’t believe that the level 20 adventurer tends to be naturally more perceptive than the level 1?

That the level 20 fighter hasn’t gotten a little smarter in his adventures (defining smart as more knowledge)
No. No matter what I've accomplished in my life or places I've visited, nothing has helped me get better at X if I wasn't doing X. I'm most certainly wiser than I was 20 years ago, but that doesn't mean I learned extra skills by osmosis. And since PCs get ASIs as they level up, they do get better than level 1 PCs in general. Whatever the player decides to put those ASIs into.

*edit* If I were to use myself as an example how I've "leveled up" since I was younger in D&D terms, it seems my ASIs went into intelligence and wisdom, and not strength or anything else. So I am better at general things than my level 1 self back in the day for things relating to intelligence or wisdom. You can do the exact same thing with PCs. A level 20 PC who put ASIs into intelligence and wisdom would have a better chance at things like perception or investigation than the level 1 counterpart. they don't need an extra prof bonus to be added to that to be better. And if they never did task X, there is no reason why they should be better
 
Last edited:

Saelorn

Explorer
If everything scales, nothing scales. If both you chance to succeed and your target both go up by the same number, there's no relative change. It's like as if there's no scaling.
True, but only if everything scales, which I don't think anyone was actually proposing. The suggestion is that all of your numbers go up with level (whether you're a PC, NPC, or monster). The rest of the world would stay the same around you.

Should the situation arise, a level 15 wizard would still be as badly off swinging their sword against a level 15 monster as they ever were, but they'd be much better off when trying to swing that sword against some level 3 monsters. A level 15 wizard would be better at noticing a poorly-hidden pit trap, or resisting the gaze of a basilisk, than they were at level 3.

Universal scaling is primarily a tool to represent how characters exist in a wide world that isn't specifically tailored to them. It lets them make more sense as people, rather than as narrative constructs.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
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.
If you spent 60 years doing golf things with enough regularity and active interest to improve at it noticeably, you'd be a golfer, not just a guy who occasionally has to try and hit a golf ball in the course of doing other things you actually care about.

In other words, you'd have proficiency.

It does not make sense for a level 20 character to be any better at things they've never put any effort into learning than a level 1 character who has also no time invested in that activity.

An optional variant rule to give a +1 at level 11 to all ability checks, and another at level 17, could probably work without entirely borking bounded accuracy, if you are looking for that flavor of heroes just being better at everything ever after a certain point.

IMO, it's a nonsensical paradigm with literally no basis in reality or reasonable expectation, but if it's what you like, go for it.
 

the Jester

Legend
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.
No. There is no reason, for example, that a 20th level fighter should know any more about religion than he did at first level if he didn't ever look into a book about the milieu's faiths.


The level 1 fighter with 10 wisdom and no perception proficiency is typically as good as the level 20 fighter at that skill. Why?
Why shouldn't he be? Why should just being a better fighter give you sharper senses? If you want sharper senses, you have many opportunities along the way to get them- you can pick up training in Perception, you can take Alert as a feat, you can simply increase your Wisdom as you level up.


Does it really make sense for that to be the case?
Yes. Absolutely.

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.
Yes, yes, and yes.

Why would one wizard, who has literally never swung a longsword in his life, be better at it than another?

We've had editions where you were automatically better at stuff as you leveled up, and it's very dissatisifying to me. Not to mention how badly steady increases in all the numbers blows bounded accuracy out of the water, which is a key element of 5e's design- and one of the strongest and best design elements that D&D has ever seen.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
So you all don’t believe that the level 20 adventurer tends to be naturally more perceptive than the level 1?

That the level 20 fighter hasn’t gotten a little smarter in his adventures (defining smart as more knowledge)

now theres some skills that that are a bit of a stretch. But It seems very strange to say this is a typical
If you want to model that in 5e, and again I don't think it's something that reaches toward realistic expectations of how people work, the best way to do it IMO is via Advantage, making certain simple tasks easier on the DC side, not calling for rolls when it seems like a seasoned adventurer would just know that something is off because of years of experience with weird stuff, etc.

But while a level 20 adventurer might be more perceptive in some ways, they don't have better physical senses, and if they've never spend any time or effort improving their situational awareness why would they be noticeably better at it?

They have more knowledge, sure, and that is represented in the actual knowledge they've gained over a campaign. "We've dealt with fiends a few times, so I probably know what this text refers to, and what sort of fiend that is, right?" is a perfectly reasonable thing to say, and if the first part is true, it would be reasonable for the DM to simply say, "Yep. You know [stuff] without a roll. Someone give me a roll to see if you have done any in depth research on the topic and maybe picked up some deep lore or know where to find out more."

Giving flat bonuses to everything to bypass that part of the game seems like a bad call, to me. And also leads to that same character being more able to climb up buildings even though they've never put any effort whatsoever into learning the actual skill of doing so, or becoming stronger, and generally only engages in just enough physical effort to not get badly out of shape.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
If the character has used none of his or her ASIs in that time to improve the relevant abilities, why would they be doing better at something they had no particular aptitude for in the first place?
 

Slit518

Explorer
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?
Hi, let us say I am a master carpenter, and a master mason.

Now, I have spent many, many years traveling the globe, learning techniques, and honing my craft.

Surely, just because I can whip up a chair in an hour, or seal coat a basement in an afternoon doesn't mean I should also be better at the flute too! Whether I played it from before I became a carpenter/mason or after.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I don't meant to dog pile on the OP, because I think their questions have been soundly answered by many posters. I think it's clear they want a more heroic version of the game than what stands now. But I think there is another thing to think about. On the surface, it's easy enough to just add your prof bonus to all skills if you want, but is there a danger to bounded accuracy by doing so, in the context of balance? If not, then knock yourself out. Easy solution. But it is worth asking, "Is a 20th level PC who has never studied religion or medicine in her entire life better than a level 1 PC who has spent a long amount of time studying those things?" One of the lesser, yet fun, aspects of the game is the players needing to find things out. Often if they don't know, they have to go find someone who does. It's the exploration/interaction pillars of the game. And if a high level PC who has never studied religion has a better chance of recalling an obscure religious ceremony than the town curate, it kinda breaks immersion for me. YMMV of course.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
Surely, just because I can whip up a chair in an hour, or seal coat a basement in an afternoon doesn't mean I should also be better at the flute too! Whether I played it from before I became a carpenter/mason or after.
That's a bad example, because nothing in your work or travels would have given you significant exposure to flute-playing.

Contrast that with a wizard who, whether trained or not, is going to spend a lot of time trying to perceive monsters that may or may not be there, and who is going to have repeated first-hand exposure to sword-play. Just as it would be silly for you to spontaneously develop musical ability for no reason, it would be equally silly for this wizard to learn nothing after they have been given so many opportunities.
 

jgsugden

Explorer
That's not optimization. That's specialization. You're allowed to account for efficiency when optimizing a system.
No, optimization is relevant to a specific goal. You optimize to meet that goal as best as can be achieved. If your goal is to get the highest score in a game, the optimal strategy is whatever solution is required to get that score, regardless of how long it takes, etc... If you want to set additional conditionals as part of your optimization goal you can do that, but whatever goal you set, any alternative goals that do not have identical path to an optimal solution will be inefficiently served by the optimal process to reach the initial optimization goal.

As thim impacts D&D, which lacks precise consistet goals, efforts to optimize tends towards inefficiency.

Specialization, on the other hand, is merely devoting the majority of one's talents towards a singular goal. It is non exclusionary. It is not the search for perfect goal achievement... It is the search to be pretty good at something.

I honestly can't tell whether or not you're being serious here. But in any case, no, 5E is not a good system. It has obvious and glaring flaws that are immediately apparent to anyone who looks. Tool proficiency is one. The ambiguity between applicable saving throws is another issue. Modifiers that routinely fall out of the operable range of the d20 are another. The inconsistent mess behind HP and healing is just the nail in the coffin.
And yet, myself, and hundreds of thousands of other people play it, with minimal or no 'house rules' addressed at 'fixing' anything, and have incredibly fun, immersive and sensible games.

If someone else can use a tool and make it work, but you can't, the fault is usually not i the tool.

No, 5E is not a good system. Not even close. It's borderline playable, with judicious house rules. I can, and have, done better. At this point, it would be hard for anyone to do worse.
Dear God, I can show you hundreds of worse systems, including every prior D&D system.
Appeal to authority is only valid if the authority is trustworthy. If I trusted the designers to learn from any of the mistakes of the past, then you might have an argument. As it stands, the "guardians of the game" are not good or trustworthy people.
And yet, this is the highest selling and most widely appreciated edition, ever.

When your opinion is in the vast minority, you would be well served not to treat it as fact.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
That's a bad example, because nothing in your work or travels would have given you significant exposure to flute-playing.

Contrast that with a wizard who, whether trained or not, is going to spend a lot of time trying to perceive monsters that may or may not be there, and who is going to have repeated first-hand exposure to sword-play. Just as it would be silly for you to spontaneously develop musical ability for no reason, it would be equally silly for this wizard to learn nothing after they have been given so many opportunities.
It's not really a bad example. In my world travels over the decades, I've been to a lot of concerts. From middle of nowhere Weird Al at a fairground concert, to 20,000 filled stadiums, to Rockfest, to 4 day long concerts in Amsterdam. A LOT of concerts. And you know what? I still don't have any clue how to play a guitar.
 

Warmaster Horus

Registered User
I wasn't into gardening 20 years ago and I'm not into gardening today. My skill bonus hasn't changed for that skill. Not true for my core proficiencies, however.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
It's not really a bad example. In my world travels over the decades, I've been to a lot of concerts. From middle of nowhere Weird Al at a fairground concert, to 20,000 filled stadiums, to Rockfest, to 4 day long concerts in Amsterdam. A LOT of concerts. And you know what? I still don't have any clue how to play a guitar.
How many of those concerts were life-or-death situations, though? How often were you required to play a guitar, regardless of your lack of training, with failure causing you to be ambushed by orcs?
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
How many of those concerts were life-or-death situations, though? How often were you required to play a guitar, regardless of your lack of training, with failure causing you to be ambushed by orcs?
Doesn't matter. In a life or death situation I wouldn't suddenly learn how to play. Don't be silly. (also, that's shifting the goalposts from what the OP is describing. They didn't limit a prof bonus only in life and death situations, but all situations based solely on level)
 
Last edited:

Saelorn

Explorer
Doesn't matter. In a life or death situation I wouldn't suddenly learn how to play. Don't be silly.
Not if it was just one, no. I'm talking about a routine. Walk through this maze, and try to find the exit. If you fail to notice the signs which distinguish the real exit from the false ones, then you are physically beaten.

Participation is mandatory. Failure results in pain. Repeat a hundred times. It doesn't matter whether or not you had previously been trained on what to look for; you would eventually figure out what works.
(also, that's shifting the goalposts from what the OP is describing. They didn't limit a prof bonus only in life and death situations, but all situations based solely on level)
Adventuring skills are all a matter of life or death. If you fail your Athletics check, then you fall and get hurt. If you fail to identify a particular rune, then you get blasted. The same is true of saving throws, even.

Things that aren't a matter of life or death, like crafting and profession skills, are beyond the scope of the game rules.
 
Last edited:

Slit518

Explorer
That's a bad example, because nothing in your work or travels would have given you significant exposure to flute-playing.

Contrast that with a wizard who, whether trained or not, is going to spend a lot of time trying to perceive monsters that may or may not be there, and who is going to have repeated first-hand exposure to sword-play. Just as it would be silly for you to spontaneously develop musical ability for no reason, it would be equally silly for this wizard to learn nothing after they have been given so many opportunities.
But flutes are a tool and tools are something you can be proficient in.

And why can't a carpenter/mason also possibly play flute on the side?

And how do we know the carpenter/mason didn't face hardship in his journey?

He hacked his way through the rainforests of the amazon, just to fight off cannibalistic tribes on his way to his destination to learn the ultimate masonry skills.

He climbed the mountains of Tibet to learn from the best carpenters in their area, he had to endure cold and yeti alike.

Also, the title says "everything," not "somethings." Which would make more sense to me than everything.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
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 an ancient complaint. Your wizard throws darts at goblins, crawls through tunnels, solves a puzzle lock, collects a cache of GP - and he learns to cast a new spell! He's not any better at darts, or opening locks or anything he did do on the adventure.

Because XP are about as concrete as hps.

It's also a complaint that other systems answered long ago: the way characters in BRP advance their skills, for instance, totally intuitive, comparatively realistic.
 
Last edited:

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
It's an ancient complaint. Your wizard throws darts at goblins, crawls through tunnels, solves a puzzle lock, collects a cache of GP - and he learns to cast a new spell! He's not any better at darts, or opening locks or anything he did do on the adventure.

Because XP are about as concrete as hps.

It's also a complaint that other systems answered long ago: the way characters in BRP advance their skills, for instance, totally intuitive, comparatively realistic.

The realistic-factor of it can be questioned ... failing is definitely a realistic way to learn and that wasn't part of the base rules.

The effect was however in practice most everybody got better at every single common adventurer skill (exceptions being weapons where maybe you didnt pull the silly weapon caddy trick or highly specific other things and those who wanted could do it for those) If they had been weapon groups instead of super specific weapons it would have made more sense. unless you had very narrow adventures. It also made it so you could catch up rather quickly with a skill since the less you knew the faster you learned.

Anyway there were plenty of criticisms back in the day including tada it had very little niche protection because of the accelerated advancement of those who are less trained. (it just seemed realistic at some level)

You could explicitly spend some cash and time on getting trained and skip from 5 to 10 percentiles up to 50? I think based on wealth alone...or was it 75?
 

ParanoydStyle

Villager
So, I would be okay with the proficiency bonus going up by one at every level, actually ("bounded accuracy" was never anything I felt like I really needed but I won't deny that broadly speaking it seems to be working). But having characters well, be proficient in things that they aren't proficient in, for lack of a more precise wording, I'm not sure why anyone would want that. It would leave ability scores as the sole point of differentiation between characters of different classes.

Surely the level 20 wizard is a bit better with a longsword than the level 1 wizard,


Why? This doesn't seem like a "surely" to me, it seems like a dubious proposition at best. The wizard has concentrated his training on, well, wizardry. Why would he waste any time learning how to swing a sword considering that he can reshape the very fabric of reality through will alone? I just don't see the basis for this assumption.

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?


It almost sounds like you complaining about the presence of meaningful choices during a character's development. In between being Level 1 and being Level 20, that fighter has multiple ways to improve their perception bonus, including several ability score increases that could be applied to Wisdom, certain feats, and so on. When the fighter chooses to increase Strength by 2 so that he can swing his longsword better and do more damage with it, rather than increasing his Wisdom by 2 so he's more perceptive, that is one of several meaningful choices that a player makes for their character between Level 1 and Level 20.

It does make sense for me that a 20th level fighter that has not chosen to invest at all in their perception would be less perceptive than a 10th level fighter that had chosen to invest in being perceptive.

I can't really see any implementation of what you're asking for that wouldn't make all characters feel much too samey.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
The effect was however in practice most everybody got better at every single common adventurer skill... unless you had very narrow adventures. It also made it so you could catch up rather quickly with a skill since the less you knew the faster you learned.
Both true of the RQ/BPR skill system, yes.

And, 'realistically,' it does make sense that if you spend a lot of time adventuring, both doing all sorts of adventuring tasks, and watching them being done, and talking about it all round the campfire, that you'd pick up broad familiarity, as well as practice your specialty a fair bit.

It might be more fun and genre-faithful, if almost all of your competence advanced with level, but, as a Flaw you could have a blindspot where you're just always laughably bad.

You could explicitly spend some cash and time on getting trained and skip from 5 to 10 percentiles up to 50? I think based on wealth alone...or was it 75?
I thought it was 25, but it's been a long time & a game I never got to play as much as I might've liked.
 

Advertisement

Top