How to resolve skills not on the official list

162 posts / 0 new
Last post
Let's say a character wants to entertain a crowd.  Or create a work of art.  In 3rd Edition, such things were covered by the Perform skill and various Profession skills, but 4th Edition has eliminated those skills.

How would such an attempt be resolved?



Powers  &8^]
It's up to the DM.  For the most part, if it's not integral to the story (i.e. purely done for RP purposes) the DM will likely decide that you succeed.  If you're background is that you are an artist, then why shouldn't you just be able to paint a picture?

If it's necessary for something, say you need to make a forgery of a painting, then use of a skill like bluff can be done to adjudicate it.  The DM could, in such an instance, use a different stat with any trainign int he skill you may have.

IOW, the way 4e looks at such "skills" is that they're pruely for RP and as such don't need codified rules for adjudication.  That's up tot he DM and players.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
Let's say a character wants to entertain a crowd.  Or create a work of art.  In 3rd Edition, such things were covered by the Perform skill and various Profession skills, but 4th Edition has eliminated those skills.

How would such an attempt be resolved?



Powers  &8^]

A single check to perform sounds like a Diplomacy check, multiple checks to Perform might be Bluff, Streetwise, Insight, Diplomacy...Creating a work of Art sounds like a skill challenge...

Don't think too much about what he does think about why he does it.

Do you perform to distract a crowd from the fact that your friend is picking their pockets? Bluff check.
Do you perform to move the crowd into helping you out with something? Diplomacy Check.

Do you make a work of art to impress someone? Diplomacy check.
Do you make a work of art to sneak a tool into a prison? Thievery check, possibly combined with a Bluff check.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Let's say a character wants to entertain a crowd.  Or create a work of art.  In 3rd Edition, such things were covered by the Perform skill and various Profession skills, but 4th Edition has eliminated those skills.
How would such an attempt be resolved?

A single check to perform sounds like a Diplomacy check, multiple checks to Perform might be Bluff, Streetwise, Insight, Diplomacy...Creating a work of Art sounds like a skill challenge...


Creating a piece of art in character downtime that has no real impact on the story shouldn't require a check as a previous poster pointed out.  Creating a work of art can be part of a skill challenge say to impress a princess or curry favor with a bishop, etc.  I base what skill is used on what the intent is too: if you're trying to scare your enemies with the armor, I'd require intimidate; or if you want to paint a portrait of a long dead ancestor, it'd be History.  Don't limit your choices to something that is obvious, pause and think about your end result.
But what if the purpose is just entertainment?  To bring joy and hope to the downtrodden, or to convey a philosophical message through song?  To create a thing of such beauty that the gods sit up and take notice?

How to reward a character who has invested years of training and experience into his or her craft, to provide them with a way to say "Here is something I can do that few others can, because of the time and effort I have dedicated to it"?

Acrobats, athletes, diplomats, theives, and doctors can all do that, but not musicians, artists, and craftsmen?

But what if the purpose is just entertainment?  To bring joy and hope to the downtrodden, or to convey a philosophical message through song?  To create a thing of such beauty that the gods sit up and take notice?

They take a background in artistry, and automaticly succed.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

If you really want to handle it mechanically, I'd do a series of Dex/Cha checks to see how long it takes you to finish your art.  If you've decided your character is a great artist then he is a great artist.

You could always just homebrew a Perform skill too if you really want one.
They take a background in artistry, and automaticly succed.



Automatic success is hardly satisfying.  So everyone who trains in a craft is equally capable at it and can always produce a work of quality equal to the greatest masters?  How does one represent fair-to-middling ability, or show progress from novice to expert?


It's gameplay and story segregation basically. If your character is an artist, your character is an artist. Not everything in the game has to be handled through complex gameplay mechanisms. Make it a roleplaying experience.

If you really want to get anal about it, look at martial practices-they took the ritual system, and then utilized it for things other than, well, magic. You could do the same thing with skills-it takes X Gold to learn a certain skill, and then when you want to use said skill it takes Y time and Z gold. But honestly, I think it's better off leaving something as an entirely roleplaying oriented experience.

And if players start giving their characters ludicrous skills and then trying to use said skills to gain some kind of mechanical advantage, just rewrite the world in such a way that all their efforts are met with dismal failure because some karmic deity decided they were being stupid.

Other than that, skill challenges that are ability checks (possibly with a flat +5 modifier if a character specifically has a background or the like) might be an alternative path.
So everyone who trains in a craft is equally capable at it and can always produce a work of quality equal to the greatest masters?

No, but everyone who says, "my character creates a work of art whose quality is equal to the greatest masters" can.  Being a great artist does not affect the game mechanically.  It is purely a bit of flavor.  Can everyone who goes on a date be happily married?  No, but if you say, "My character is happily married," you are. 

Why is art any easier or harder than love?

How does one represent fair-to-middling ability, or show progress from novice to expert?

By describing it?  If the player wants to describe his progress, then he will.  If he doesn't, then he won't.  I don't see the problem here.

Heroes Don't Need Special Gear to Be Heroic - A guide to removing magic item dependency and smoothing out advancement. Reinventing the Workday: A Shift Towards Encounter-Based Resources - A guide to abandoning daily resources
Automatic success is hardly satisfying.



The player can always roll a check and set his own minimum required roll, if that makes him happy. But since it doesn't matter if he succeeds or not, the choice should be his and only his.


So everyone who trains in a craft is equally capable at it and can always produce a work of quality equal to the greatest masters? 



If said person is a PC, he gets to pick how good he is at his art, at best with some mediating from the DM and other players if he´s pushing it too far.
If said person is not a PC, the DM decides who the better person is.

If the PC shows off against the NPC, the PC decides who is better, because he´s the main character and the NPC isn´t.


How does one represent fair-to-middling ability, or show progress from novice to expert?



Narrative. Since it's not effecting the gameplay, it doesn't matter and your player is free to go about it any way he likes.

--

Note that if it does matter to the game who is better, you are in a Skill Challenge, which means all earlier posts about Skill Challenges apply. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Well, my premise is that it does matter mechanically and does affect gameplay.  Not all the time, of course, but it can.  What if a character is busking?  Or trying to get a job in a theater troupe?  Either could be a Diplomacy check, I suppose, but that would imply that a politican could earn just as much money on the street as a musician could, or that a Paladin with no acting experience could persuade his way into a production without using Bluff.

And how would musical or artistic skill be represented in a skill challenge?  Dueling banjoleles, for instance?  ;)  Just using Dexterity and Charisma checks would seem to minimize the impact a skilled musician would bring to the competition.

Well, my premise is that it does matter mechanically and does affect gameplay.  Not all the time, of course, but it can.  What if a character is busking?  Or trying to get a job in a theater troupe?  Either could be a Diplomacy check, I suppose, but that would imply that a politican could earn just as much money on the street as a musician could, or that a Paladin with no acting experience could persuade his way into a production without using Bluff.

And how would musical or artistic skill be represented in a skill challenge?  Dueling banjoleles, for instance?  ;)  Just using Dexterity and Charisma checks would seem to minimize the impact a skilled musician would bring to the competition.


4E's mechanics are not designed to be used in a simulationist context. They are designed to be used to play the game.

If you want a simulationist setting, where the skills apply exactly the same way to PCs as NPCs, and all creatures function the exact same way regardless of context, and lava pits deal the same amount of damage regardless of tier, and an item's HP is always directly proportional to its build and makeup rather than what level item it is-etc etc etc, you probably want to play a different game.

A politician is an NPC-its abilities are determined by the plot. Same goes for an artist. If a PC is an artist, the DM can throw circumstance modifiers onto anything they do that can be foreseen as being "Artsy fartsy" or what-have-you. But 4E really doesn't do well for this "Everyone in the world needs the exact same well defined rules set for everything."

In short: d20 rolls modified by ability scores with extra modifiers as the plot demands, made against arbitrary DCs as the plot demands.
If I understand you correctly, you are looking for a way to handle roleplaying situations with with an element of chance that allows you or your players to feel a sense of acomplishment or disappointment depending on the chance result. This sounds like one of the following would be applicable:

1. Actions that the Rules don't conver (DMG P.42). Follow the guidelines to determine wether it is a Combat, Skill or Ability check and set an appropriate DC.

2. As a hard and fast solution, when I DM, I just let players roll a d20 and improvise the result. In general, everything above 5 succeds, 10 is good, 15 is very good and a 20 is amazing. I only use this solution if the character has a relation to the action in his background or the way he has presented his character so far.

Pluisjen has it right. Most things you describe will easily be covered by skills when asking for intentions as opposed to actions taken. Adjusting DCs by experience in a given field or giving situational boni will do the rest.
Well, to be honest, I'm not coming at it from a DM's perspective.  I'm more wondering how, as a player, I would create a character who was a Master at her craft (the capitalized sense is Morgensternian -- meant to evoke the Wizardry of Inigo Montoya).

One who wishes to create a character thoroughly mastered at swordplay and proficient in the use of swords in virtually every situation can do so under the rules as written.  One who wishes to do the same for an acrobat can as well.  Or a diplomat.  But one who wishes to do the same for an artisan or artist cannot.

This strikes me as an odd assymetry.  You have all mentioned good workarounds, but I don't understand why an athlete or a thief is treated so much differently from a musician or a dancer in fourth edition.  Athletics and Thievery can be put to multiple purposes, too, but there is still a way to measure characters' training in those skills.

Or, take it from the other side: how is it that a character that wishes to be an outstanding tightrope walker must spend feats and skills on Acrobatics, while a character that wishes to be an outstanding woodworker need only have that information in his background and can spend his feats and skills on other things?

Well, to be honest, I'm not coming at it from a DM's perspective.  I'm more wondering how, as a player, I would create a character who was a Master at her craft (the capitalized sense is Morgensternian -- meant to evoke the Wizardry of Inigo Montoya).

One who wishes to create a character thoroughly mastered at swordplay and proficient in the use of swords in virtually every situation can do so under the rules as written.  One who wishes to do the same for an acrobat can as well.  Or a diplomat.  But one who wishes to do the same for an artisan or artist cannot.

This strikes me as an odd assymetry.  You have all mentioned good workarounds, but I don't understand why an athlete or a thief is treated so much differently from a musician or a dancer in fourth edition.  Athletics and Thievery can be put to multiple purposes, too, but there is still a way to measure characters' training in those skills.

Or, take it from the other side: how is it that a character that wishes to be an outstanding tightrope walker must spend feats and skills on Acrobatics, while a character that wishes to be an outstanding woodworker need only have that information in his background and can spend his feats and skills on other things?


Play a psion with the shapes consciousness feature. Now you can create items OUT OF THIN AIR!!!

There are no rules for being an awesome artist. You just have to work with your DM.
Or, take it from the other side: how is it that a character that wishes to be an outstanding tightrope walker must spend feats and skills on Acrobatics, while a character that wishes to be an outstanding woodworker need only have that information in his background and can spend his feats and skills on other things?

Because you can use your outstanding Acrobatics to kill people, avoid being killed by people, and overcome environmental challenges better.  You cannot do the same with woodworking, ballet, painting, or any other art.
Heroes Don't Need Special Gear to Be Heroic - A guide to removing magic item dependency and smoothing out advancement. Reinventing the Workday: A Shift Towards Encounter-Based Resources - A guide to abandoning daily resources
Well, to be honest, I'm not coming at it from a DM's perspective.  I'm more wondering how, as a player, I would create a character who was a Master at her craft (the capitalized sense is Morgensternian -- meant to evoke the Wizardry of Inigo Montoya).

One who wishes to create a character thoroughly mastered at swordplay and proficient in the use of swords in virtually every situation can do so under the rules as written.  One who wishes to do the same for an acrobat can as well.  Or a diplomat.  But one who wishes to do the same for an artisan or artist cannot.

This strikes me as an odd assymetry.  You have all mentioned good workarounds, but I don't understand why an athlete or a thief is treated so much differently from a musician or a dancer in fourth edition.  Athletics and Thievery can be put to multiple purposes, too, but there is still a way to measure characters' training in those skills.

Or, take it from the other side: how is it that a character that wishes to be an outstanding tightrope walker must spend feats and skills on Acrobatics, while a character that wishes to be an outstanding woodworker need only have that information in his background and can spend his feats and skills on other things?




One thing you wanna keep in mind is the 1/2 level mod to skill checks.  A level 16 Bard with 22 Charisma is adding 14 to his skill check to get in that play you were talking about.  A level 2 Bard with 16 Charisma is adding 4 to his check to do the same thing.  Another thing to consider is that the only difference between the acrobat's skill check and the wood worker that you mentioned is that the acrobat has a +5 bonus from skill training, unless he took feat support.

With all that in mind, you'll need to work something out with your DM.  Specifically, I would look into the rules for backgrounds in PHB2, which give you bonuses to skills based on your backstory.  Ask your DM if you can have an "Artist" background, which gives you a +5 bonus to any check to paint/act/sing/all of the above that you make.  This simulates skill training and puts you on par with any standard skill.  It may not be specificially written in the books, but the rules for backgrounds and page 42 of the DM guide are left open ended just so you can work in this sort of thing.

Or, take it from the other side: how is it that a character that wishes to be an outstanding tightrope walker must spend feats and skills on Acrobatics, while a character that wishes to be an outstanding woodworker need only have that information in his background and can spend his feats and skills on other things?

Because you can use your outstanding Acrobatics to kill people, avoid being killed by people, and overcome environmental challenges better.  You cannot do the same with woodworking, ballet, painting, or any other art.

This is the real reason.

While it may take many years of practice to become a good painter, it won't do much against a beholder (unless you flavor your powers as paintings come to life or something), cause, well, beauty is in the eye of the... umm.. viewer.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Well, to be honest, I'm not coming at it from a DM's perspective.  I'm more wondering how, as a player, I would create a character who was a Master at her craft (the capitalized sense is Morgensternian -- meant to evoke the Wizardry of Inigo Montoya).

One who wishes to create a character thoroughly mastered at swordplay and proficient in the use of swords in virtually every situation can do so under the rules as written.  One who wishes to do the same for an acrobat can as well.  Or a diplomat.  But one who wishes to do the same for an artisan or artist cannot.



What makes a great artist isn't just the work, it is how the work affects his audience. For example, when painting the Last Supper, Michaelangelo probably did some research into the event. If he painted the scene with 27 disciples, 3 Christs (two fat ones to balance out the skinny one in the middle), a kangaroo and a mariachi band, he probably would have never worked in Rome again. It wouldn't have mattered how perfect the painting was from a technical standpoint. In D&D terms, Michaelangelo has a background which details about how he is a master painter. In order to paint the Last Supper, he rolls Religion, and gets a bonus to the roll, determined by the DM, to reflect the fact that he is a master painter.

This strikes me as an odd assymetry.  You have all mentioned good workarounds, but I don't understand why an athlete or a thief is treated so much differently from a musician or a dancer in fourth edition.  Athletics and Thievery can be put to multiple purposes, too, but there is still a way to measure characters' training in those skills.

Or, take it from the other side: how is it that a character that wishes to be an outstanding tightrope walker must spend feats and skills on Acrobatics, while a character that wishes to be an outstanding woodworker need only have that information in his background and can spend his feats and skills on other things?




How good a character is at woodworking or dancing is not something that could conceivably come up every sesssion, unlike Acrobatics or Thievery. If a character's limited resources had be spent on these things when they will, at best, come up once every ten sessions or so, isn't the character sacrificing his effectiveness for something that has little bearing on the game. This is the flaw inherent in a detailed skill system where resources must be spent in order to advance in the skills. When you take a skill in order to develop your character and give them depth, there is a skill that you would use far more often that is being neglected. You have fallen into the trap that creates a wide gap between min/maxers and roleplayers. For example, if I have a character who likes to play the flute in a detailed skill system, some other skill needs to suffer in order to reflect my skill with the flute, some other skill which will likely come up and require a roll far more often in game.

I have only seen one detailed skill system that I think works without sacrificing a character's effectiveness in other areas (Runequest, 2E, IIRC). In this system, every time you successfully used a skill, there was a small chance (1%? 5%? sliding scale dependant on current skill level? It was almost two decasdes ago, and I wasn't the GM) that the skill would increase. As long as you were using the skill, you could develop the skill without taking away from your other advancement in any other area.

All this being said, apparently the next PHB, coming in September 2011, will have details on professions and how to work them into the game. What form these professions will take is, as yet, unknown.

This is the real reason.

While it may take many years of practice to become a good painter, it won't do much against a beholder (unless you flavor your powers as paintings come to life or something), cause, well, beauty is in the eye of the... umm.. viewer.


Well, there are other non-combat skills.  Diplomacy, for instance.  Or Streetwise.  They don't do much against a beholder, either.


How good a character is at woodworking or dancing is not something that could conceivably come up every sesssion, unlike Acrobatics or Thievery.


It could, and arguably should, if you are a Bard or (going back to 3rd-E) a Sworddancer.


For example, if I have a character who likes to play the flute in a detailed skill system, some other skill needs to suffer in order to reflect my skill with the flute, some other skill which will likely come up and require a roll far more often in game.


I guess I don't see that as a problem, unless it's really something that would never ever actually be used.

It seems 4e has made it very hard to design a character that's really good at something unless that something has some built-in mechanical function.  That's a shame.


Powers  &8^]

4E has made it harder to RESTRICT character abilities-not harder to grant character abilities. When it comes to combat mechanics, the game is permissive-anything the game doesn't say you can't do, you can't do. But the general rules for character play aren't restrictive. There's not rules for how many puzzles your character is allowed to solve by virtue of your intelligence-there's rules for making knowledge checks, or diplomacy checks.

Not everything that your character can do needs to be measurable in the game system. That doesn't mean you can't build a character with those traits-just that those traits will not have any mechanical impact on the game.

Of course, if your DM says "There's no painting skill, so no-you cannot spend 5 days to paint a picture of any value" well, then, he's just being kind of a dick.

Note though that, no matter how you get it, XP and Character Wealth should be connected to eachother. If your character does something that acquires wealth, he should probably have had to gone through some kind of skill challenge (or more likely, ability score based challenge) that awards XP.

But hey, what do I know.
Well, there are other non-combat skills.  Diplomacy, for instance.  Or Streetwise.  They don't do much against a beholder, either.

But they do against other enemies.  Streetwise lets you know stuff about gangs and manipulate black markets and whatnot, which can have mechanical effects.  Diplomacy can turn a fight into "not a fight," which is about as good as killing them all.

It could, and arguably should, if you are a Bard or (going back to 3rd-E) a Sworddancer.

That's silly, because those classes should automatically be good at those things without having to pay a mechanical price for it.

It seems 4e has made it very hard to design a character that's really good at something unless that something has some built-in mechanical function.  That's a shame.

Actually, they made it really easy, since all you have to do is say, "I'm really good at this" and then you are.
Heroes Don't Need Special Gear to Be Heroic - A guide to removing magic item dependency and smoothing out advancement. Reinventing the Workday: A Shift Towards Encounter-Based Resources - A guide to abandoning daily resources

Well, there are other non-combat skills.  Diplomacy, for instance.  Or Streetwise.  They don't do much against a beholder, either.



But they can, very possibly, come up almost every session, unlike woodworking


How good a character is at woodworking or dancing is not something that could conceivably come up every sesssion, unlike Acrobatics or Thievery.


It could, and arguably should, if you are a Bard or (going back to 3rd-E) a Sworddancer.



And how often did that Sworddancer actually use Perform: Dance? Did your ranks in the Perform: Dance skill replace your BAB? It came up exactly as often as your DM allowed you to use Perform: Dance to influence NPC actions, just like everyone else who took Perform: Dance.

And if your DM allowed you to use Profession: Carpenter every session, either you were really reaching, or he was, and no one commented on how ridiculous that was.


For example, if I have a character who likes to play the flute in a detailed skill system, some other skill needs to suffer in order to reflect my skill with the flute, some other skill which will likely come up and require a roll far more often in game.


I guess I don't see that as a problem, unless it's really something that would never ever actually be used.

It seems 4e has made it very hard to design a character that's really good at something unless that something has some built-in mechanical function.  That's a shame.


Powers  &8^]




I beg to differ. In 4E, it is ridiculously easy to make a character a character that is really good at something that doesn't have a built in mechanical function. All you need to do is sit down with your DM and talk to him about your character. Have whatever it is be a roleplaying hook. When you describe your character's actions during downtime, talk about the art he is working on, or the tavern you told stories in last night. In this way, your DM knows your character is keeping up with his mundane skills, and when the time comes when that mundance skill becomes relevant, he can give you an appropriate bonus to whatever roll he has you make.

If it turns out that your skill as a carpenter never becomes relevant except as roleplaying hook that the character does during downtime, you haven't lost anything.

The complaint you're having is "versimillitude" which is what a lot of people who prefer 3E complain about. It's not something that's going to change though-I recommend using Pathfinder if it's really that bothersome to you to have certain elements of the campaign world simply not be covered by hard and fast rules.
You seem to be stuck in a simulationist mindset... you should really either get rid of it or play a simulationist system, or you'll keep running into these issues. You are making this far harder then it needs to be.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
It seems 4e has made it very hard to design a character that's really good at something unless that something has some built-in mechanical function.  That's a shame.

Actually, they made it really easy, since all you have to do is say, "I'm really good at this" and then you are.

This.

Though i agree with the others, if it's really bothering you, 4e might not be your system.  It's called Dungeons and Dragons, and it's generally build around going into going into scary places to stop/kill scary things.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

It seems 4e has made it very hard to design a character that's really good at something unless that something has some built-in mechanical function.  That's a shame.

Actually, they made it really easy, since all you have to do is say, "I'm really good at this" and then you are.

This.

Though i agree with the others, if it's really bothering you, 4e might not be your system.  It's called Dungeons and Dragons, and it's generally build around going into going into scary places to stop/kill scary things.

Typically via acts of violence.
Most of you guys are really missing the point here.  Creating a great work of art isn't a guaranteed success, it's a feat equivelant to critting an ancient dragon in combat =p  I'd represent it as a series of difficult Dex + 1/2 character level and Cha + 1/2 character level skill checks as outlined on page 42 (unless your DM just decides to guarantee success, which I can understand the OP not liking).  It makes no sense to say "I want to paint the Sistine Chapel" and the DM says, "Ok you did it, good job."

Like I said earlier though, this is no different than any other untrained skill check though.  Homebrew a reason that you're trained in the skill and you're golden.
Most of you guys are really missing the point here.  Creating a great work of art isn't a guaranteed success, it's a feat equivelant to critting an ancient dragon in combat =p  I'd represent it as a series of difficult Dex + 1/2 character level and Cha + 1/2 character level skill checks as outlined on page 42 (unless your DM just decides to guarantee success, which I can understand the OP not liking).  It makes no sense to say "I want to paint the Sistine Chapel" and the DM says, "Ok you did it, good job."

Like I said earlier though, this is no different than any other untrained skill check though.  Homebrew a reason that you're trained in the skill and you're golden.

If your character wants to spend months creating some grand masterpiece that's another issue but note that not every other PC necessarily wants to sit around waiting for you to finish it ;D
Most of you guys are really missing the point here.  Creating a great work of art isn't a guaranteed success, it's a feat equivelant to critting an ancient dragon in combat =p  I'd represent it as a series of difficult Dex + 1/2 character level and Cha + 1/2 character level skill checks as outlined on page 42 (unless your DM just decides to guarantee success, which I can understand the OP not liking).  It makes no sense to say "I want to paint the Sistine Chapel" and the DM says, "Ok you did it, good job."

Like I said earlier though, this is no different than any other untrained skill check though.  Homebrew a reason that you're trained in the skill and you're golden.




The underlying problem is the desire to, essentially, add in more skills to the system.  This is similar to wanting to be able to disarm, sunder or any number of other realistic options.  These are the sorts of things that caused D&D to get very, very complicated.

The best thing to do, really, is to home brew a solution.  Add in a new skill, if you like, but don't expect the system itself to support what is desired here, because it runs against the general philosophy of 4e D&D.
One who wishes to create a character thoroughly mastered at swordplay and proficient in the use of swords in virtually every situation can do so under the rules as written.  One who wishes to do the same for an acrobat can as well.  Or a diplomat.  But one who wishes to do the same for an artisan or artist cannot.

This strikes me as an odd assymetry.  You have all mentioned good workarounds, but I don't understand why an athlete or a thief is treated so much differently from a musician or a dancer in fourth edition.



Honest answer?  Because hardly anyone ever took those skills in 3e.  Why?  Because poeple invested their skill points in the skills that mattered more to survival, combat and dealing with the quest at hand.  The devs took a long hard look at the skills in D&D and came to the realization that such skills were roleplaying skills and relatively few people took them.  They weren't necessary.  If it's meant to be for roleplay, then why not leave it to roleplay?  Even in 3e it was rare that such skills came into play in any meaningful way. (full disclosure: I was a player who never saw the point on putting precious skill points into Profession: Cooking or Craft: Basketweaving.... I found it very pointless.  I was a basketweaver because that was my background)

The 4e system, still being D20, is well suited to dealing with a situation where such a skill would really truly matter.  The fact that it's not "officially" covered by having pages of rules text doesn't mean it can't be done.  It just means the players can invest their skill training in skills that will actually matter to their survival and success and they can just roleplay the rest.  The DM can work something out if it's truly needed.

The rules are your guidelines, not a strict list of the only things you can do.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
So everyone who trains in a craft is equally capable at it and can always produce a work of quality equal to the greatest masters?


No.  The World is Not Made of Numbers.

How does one represent fair-to-middling ability, or show progress from novice to expert?


Practice, practice, practice.  Do you really want to go back to the system whereby your skill as a painter improved by killing more monsters?

Your character, like other people in the world, get better at a craft by working at that craft.  Your DM (with your input) can decide how much training you have had prior to your adventuring career, how much natural talent you have (your Abilities will help determine this) and how much time you have between adventures to maintain and improve your skills.

This is colloquially called "role-playing". 
It makes no sense to say "I want to paint the Sistine Chapel" and the DM says, "Ok you did it, good job."


It makes perfect sense to me.

The only factors are your character's innate talent -- which is represented not in the experience you got slaying dragons, but in the experience you've gotten before and inbetween dragon slayings practicing your artistry -- and time.

If the DM agrees that you have the talent of a Michelangelo, then you do.  If you have the five years it took Michelangelo to paint the chapel ceiling, then you do.  I don't know what your fellow party members are doing while you create your masterpiece.  Maybe you've got a party of Renaissance artists.  While Michelangelo the Invoker paints chapel ceilings, Da Vinci the Sorcerer is painting portraits of Mona Lisa and St. Anne, Rafael the Battlemind is making a fresco for the Pope and Donato Bromante the Warlord is overseeing the reconstruction of St. Peter's Basilica.

Why the heck not?
It makes no sense to say "I want to paint the Sistine Chapel" and the DM says, "Ok you did it, good job."


It makes perfect sense to me.

The only factors are your character's innate talent -- which is represented not in the experience you got slaying dragons, but in the experience you've gotten before and inbetween dragon slayings practicing your artistry -- and time.

If the DM agrees that you have the talent of a Michelangelo, then you do.  If you have the five years it took Michelangelo to paint the chapel ceiling, then you do.  I don't know what your fellow party members are doing while you create your masterpiece.  Maybe you've got a party of Renaissance artists.  While Michelangelo the Invoker the painting chapel ceilings, Da Vinci the Sorcerer is painting portraits of Mona Lisa and St. Anne, Rafael the Ranger is making a fresco for the Pope and Donato Bromante the Warlord is overseeing the reconstruction of St. Peter's Basilica.

Why the heck not?

Things like these should probably be either skill challenges, "rituals," or both. :D
Things like these should probably be either skill challenges, "rituals," or both. :D


Why?  Skill challenges, rituals and martial practices get easier as your character level increases.  Your character level increases by adventuring, not by sculpting, painting, or designing.

Non-adventuring skills should not improve by adventuring.  They should improve by not adventuring and staying home and working on those non-adventuring skills.

This is a narrative issue and should be handled narratively, not by rolling dice.  Michelangelo didn't need to be an epic-level adventurer to paint the Sistine Chapel.  He was an epic artist -- but a lowly orc would have chopped him in half without issue. 

If you want to be a painter who adventures, or an adventurer who paints, talk to yoru DM and let him decide how much artistic talent you can maintain in between adventures.
Things like these should probably be either skill challenges, "rituals," or both. :D


Why?  Skill challenges, rituals and martial practices get easier as your character level increases.  Your character level increases by adventuring, not by sculpting, painting, or designing.

Non-adventuring skills should not improve by adventuring.  They should improve by not adventuring and staying home and working on those non-adventuring skills.

This is a narrative issue and should be handled narratively, not by rolling dice.  Michelangelo didn't need to be an epic-level adventurer to paint the Sistine Chapel.  He was an epic artist -- but a lowly orc would have chopped him in half without issue. 

If you want to be a painter who adventures, or an adventurer who paints, talk to yoru DM and let him decide how much artistic talent you can maintain in between adventures.

You're forgetting one key factor:

DCs are based on difficulty for the character making the check. Oftentimes they don't change based on level, but honestly-damaging terrain deals like, 5 damage per tier. So apparently, the world contorts itself to affect the characters!

In the same way, If the character advances 10 levels, the DC can change, if said advancement wouldn't affect his paint skills at all~
DCs are based on difficulty for the character making the check.


No, they aren't.  They are based on the difficulty of the challenge.  The DM should be throwing a challenge at a player commensurate with his level, but a lock that requires a DC 20 Thievery check for a 1st level charcter to pick also requires a DC 20 Thievery check for a 30th level character to pick.

So apparently, the world contorts itself to affect the characters!


That is incorrect.  You are misreading the rules.  The world does not contort itself to the characters.  The DM writes adventures appropriate for the characters his players are playing.  That's a huge difference.
DCs are based on difficulty for the character making the check.


No, they aren't.  They are based on the difficulty of the challenge.  The DM should be throwing a challenge at a player commensurate with his level, but a lock that requires a DC 20 Thievery check for a 1st level charcter to pick also requires a DC 20 Thievery check for a 30th level character to pick.

So apparently, the world contorts itself to affect the characters!


That is incorrect.  You are misreading the rules.  The world does not contort itself to the characters.  The DM writes adventures appropriate for the characters his players are playing.  That's a huge difference.

Nonsense. That's the kind of trap thinking that gets you into 3E style of play.

Granted, you certainly can play that way-say that the Boulder from p63 of DMG2 is bigger depending on level. But there's plent of instances where a terrain feature functions differently (in terms of how much damage it does) basically totally based on level, without any real qualitative change in it.

A stronger case would probably be Diplomacy. You think that it's easier to convince the King that something needs to be done at 1st level than it is at 30th level? That the DCs don't scale in an arbitrary fashion (related to the game world) for the sake of making the checks meaningful?
Here is the problem with your arguement. Diplomacy is a bad example, right off the bat. If the characters are even able to approach "the king" at 1st level, they wouldn't be asking for much. Reasonable ettiquette indicates that this is already a somewhat  unrealistic scenario. The characters should be facing different types of challenges over the course of their careers, which is why DCs increase in the Core Material. If you are writing the same types of challenges for 1st level characters as 30th level characters, then your DMing needs serious work. Secondly, you are wrong and wrecan is right, you are misreading the rules. The world in no way, contorts to the characters. Worlds are published in the books for a reason (this is not just a money grab) They are supplimental rules, which if you plan anything above the herioc teir, are pretty much essential. Get a grip man, the characters need to evolve, but so does your universe (and likely your DMing). If you don't see any reason to adjust to more rules then you should probably stop when your characters reach 10th level. It looks as if you are having trouble with the basic/core rules, so I would stay there for now.
Look at the big picture, if you don't make your game very realistic, the premise of your game is negated. It basically becomes a toss-off and at the very least a DM should strive to make their game realistic. In a way you are also right though, the DM can contort the world to fit the PCs actions, but this is the worst scenario of DMing imaginable. (Read some Angry DM if this is your problem)
Sign In to post comments