Skill Bonuses / Skill Check DC's

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So this is really bothering me:

You add your level to any skill checks you make, right? So every level you gain your skill bonus increases. So far, so good. You level up and you get better at your skills.

But then, on page 95, the Skill Check DC table shows that for every level a PC increases, the Easy/Medium/Hard skill check DC's each go up by one. Effectively voiding out the "add your level" bonus to your skills.

What is this? Why not just have the Easy/Medium/Hard DC's stay the same throughout and not add your level to your skill bonus? It's adding a bunch of crap that does nothing, save to make the players think that they're actually increasing in skill ("look, I'm rolling higher numbers!"), when all the numbers balance out to make it the same. This reeks of illusionist BS. I hate that crap! And that is why I am bothered.
This is the reason one of my first house rules was just set DC for difficulties 8,12,16,20,and 24.

That way the level actualy matters.

 

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The problem, and the reason why GW ticks you off in this particular case, is because there's no other modifier to skill other than level. Your ability scores never go up. You never get feats which might permit Skill Training or Skill Focus. There's no equipment or magic items which add to skills.

That means that, from a game design standpoint, once you figure out where the "sweet spot" for skill DCs is, you have to keep it there, every level, by adding +1. Because there are no other variables.

In D&D, you can raise those target DCs by 1.5 or 2 or whatever they go up by. But without access to anything that raises skill bonuses, a character's skill proceeds at a determined rate from levels 1-10. And the DC chart reflects that.

To change this: Introduce feats, equipment which adds to skills, and improvements to ability scores. Then raise the target DC for skill challenges to the standard 4E equivalent. Be sure to use the latest version of the chart, as these numbers have been erratad more than once. 
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But without access to anything that raises skill bonuses, a character's skill proceeds at a determined rate from levels 1-10. And the DC chart reflects that.



That's my point, though. Why have the characters get a skill bonus from their level when it's completely voided by the DC chart? Why not just nix both progressions? I mean, I know I can do it in my home game, but why did they include this in the game at all? I'm curious.

And thanks for the suggestions, but I don't want to add feats & skills & such. The neat thing about GW, for me, is that I feel like I can run/play it right out of the box. I don't want to have to do a buncha work.
I would suggest that you set this rule aside and just have fun.

I agree that the DC chart adding 1 per character level is rather silly, but there may be some effects or rules in later supplements that may improve characters' skills even more.

The main reason why your level is added to your skill is to show more growth. It'd be pretty dismal if you only had +4 in your interaction skill and it never went up. True, this is a bit of illusion spinning, but it helps with the fun and excitement of gaining levels.
It may also have something to do with allowing higher DCs for monsters/opponents which are higher level, while still giving the PCs a chance to achieve the same things as they move up levels.

For example, you could have a Climb check that is DC 20, which is makeable by your 4th and 5th level monsters but harder for your 1st level PCs. That same check becomes easier as the PCs gain levels.

I don't know if this actually cross-checks with monster skills; it's just a thought.
What happens is this: You determine the level of the PC/Monster and take a look at the DC skill chart. Find the PC/Monster level on the left, the line tells you what skill check DC makes something easy, moderate, or hard for that PC/Monster.

Personally, before I read the rules over (again) I thought that the level was the level of the event requiring the skill check. So it could require a level 5 moderate skill check (DC of 17) in order to succeed. A level 1 character would find this pretty hard, a level 5 character would find this doable, a level 9 character would find this easy.

But alas, I am wrong. Thought I think the way I initially thought it went is rather dynamic and gives meaning to that +level bonus.

Don't forget that it's not only the level that adds into it. There is also ability mods and any skill bonuses due to origin and the random roll of your skill. In my Game Day session, one player rolled the Mind Breaker/Mind Coercer combo, got +8 to Interaction from origin bonuses, +5 from from his 20 Charisma, +1 from his level, and then rolled Interaction as his random skill for another +4. That's +18 for Interaction at level 1! WOO! Then he pulled his Alpha Mutation: Mind Trick - +10 Interaction. So, he gets +28 to his d20 roll for any Interaction check.

How sick is that? Talk about being able to charm Clint Eastwood into wearing a pink tutu...

It's a chart to cover general conditions.  Figuring that a 6th level character would be facing a 'hard' 6th level challege, as a guide, would need a higher DC.  It should be a matrix including encounter level, but I think it's assumed that the GM would design the encounter/event in a balanced way.  DC is just Odds, and the GM sets all the odds anyways.

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Stop the insanity.

the skill dc chart is a benchmark chart showing what DC's are EASY MODERATE and HARD at each of the levels.

its not telling you what to set the dc at.

example:

if i choose to say this computer is off. its a dc 18 science roll to turn on.

the chart tells me that this will be a hard roll for a 2nd level.  but a 6th level would find it moderate. and a 10th level would breeze through it easy.

its not telling you what to make your dc's. its giving you benchmarks for the difficulty at each level.

its not telling you that the difficulty of the task goes up by 1 every level.  that would be silly. the difficulty does not change. the experience of the charecter does. 

the computer dc would not change based on the level of the charecter. its not a 9 roll for a first level and  a 18 roll for a 6th level character.   its a dc 18. no matter the character level. that chart is just there to tell you how difficult that dc (18) would be for characters of each level.

so a dc 12 lock is always a dc 12 lock. no matter what level the pc's are. its just harder for a 1st level character than a 10th level character.

Stop the insanity.

the skill dc chart is a benchmark chart showing what DC's are EASY MODERATE and HARD at each of the levels.

its not telling you what to set the dc at.

example:

if i choose to say this computer is off. its a dc 18 science roll to turn on.

the chart tells me that this will be a hard roll for a 2nd level.  but a 6th level would find it moderate. and a 10th level would breeze through it easy.

its not telling you what to make your dc's. its giving you benchmarks for the difficulty at each level.

its not telling you that the difficulty of the task goes up by 1 every level.  that would be silly. the difficulty does not change. the experience of the charecter does. 

the computer dc would not change based on the level of the charecter. its not a 9 roll for a first level and  a 18 roll for a 6th level character.   its a dc 18. no matter the character level. that chart is just there to tell you how difficult that dc (18) would be for characters of each level.

so a dc 12 lock is always a dc 12 lock. no matter what level the pc's are. its just harder for a 1st level character than a 10th level character.




aaand...CLICK. I've got it. Awesome, thanks man!

Yes but when you plan the new adventure and put in the skill tests and locks for the new location you base it on the groups current level or that is the assumption anyway.  So yeah the op's problem is real.

The solution is to have a universal chart no matter level.

Very Easy = DC 8
Easy = DC 12
Moderate = DC 16
Hard = DC 20
Very Hard = DC 24

With DM's best freind of the +/- 2 modifier you get a range of difficulties of 6-26. This is very similar to the chart they have in fact I based the core Easy to Hard numbers on level 4.

At lower levels you will never come across a very hard and at higher levels a very easy is almost unheard of but it is much easier to use on the fly than the chart and gets very similar results.

The issue again is not that a DC 9 wall to climb becomes higher at later levels that wall is the same just you don't ever come across that wall again the wall in the next adventure at the next level is just a little harder to climb DC 10.  The game does make adding level to skill checks meaningless if you build encounters the way the game wants you to.  This universal chart keeps you bonus more relevant as you progress. 

EDIT Another example of what I am talking about straight out of the book.  Grab Grass does not have a listed DC it says make a moderate athletics check to stand up.  So a patch of Grab Grass in an adventure for level one characters is DC 13, in the next adventure after the party levels they stumble in a different patch of Grab Grass now the DC is 14.  The fact they went up a level and got a bonus to all skill checks is meaningless.  

With the system I use I don't have to look up the the chart.  I read Grab Grass is a moderate test to stand up in so the base DC is 16, if I feel like it's a bare patch of grass the DC can drop by 2 and if I decide the Grab Grass is actually thicker and stronger than normal I bump it it by 2.   Yes at lower levels is the only time I would use bare patches and at higer levels more sturdier but most of the time it's a flat 16 and what the PC's adjust on their character sheets every level it matters.

Remember this is a public forum where people express their opinions assume there is a “In my humble opinion” in front of every post especially mine.  

 

Things you should check out because they are cool, like bow-ties and fezzes.

https://app.roll20.net/home  Roll20 great free virtual table top so you can play with old friends who are far away.

http://donjon.bin.sh/  Donjon has random treasure, maps, pick pocket results, etc.. for every edition of D&D.

The rule definitely is that you use that chart to set the DC based on the character's level. So the exact same moderate task has a higher DC for a level 4 character than a level 1 character.

Because you add your level, the same task has the same probability no matter what level you are. The only thing that helps are attribute increases, equipment, and powers (there are a few that increase skill bonus).

So why add level to my skill check at all? Why not just keep the DCs absolute and not add level to my skill bonus?

I guess because they think level should matter for opposed checks. There are a few opposed checks in the rules. Not sure why they think this, but that is a factor you'd remove if you didn't add level to skill bonus. And if you add level to skill bonus you have to add level to static (unopposed) DCs so it's not easier to climb just because you are higher level. Why it should be easier to sneak is not clear, but that's how it works.

Bottom line: RAW climbing the same wall is just as hard at any level. But opposed checks give the advantage to the higher level character. I guess so you can't intimidate an eraditcator as easily as a porker.
While the easy way to set up skill checks to challenge the party is to use their current level, the 'level' can just as easily be that of the task.  And, yes, the exact same task can and should have the same DC if the party goes back and does it again at a higher level. 

It's not that 10th level character have a higher DC to climb the same cliff as 1st level characters, it's that 10th level characters tend to encounter much harder-to-climb cliffs....  When they have to go over some 1st level obstacle, they probably don't even roll, and the DM doesn't even really need to mention it except in passing. 

 

 

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I think what varies is the task and level, so what was hard at 1st level should be easy at 5th level. What is hard at 5th level should be nearly impossible at 1st level. Personally I think about the task and set the level and dc accordingly. So it is a combination of the level and difficulty that sets the DC.
Example
Defuse a Nuke (Hard  5th level task) DC 21
 

I can see you point if you do not think about it this way it seems to stupid, but remember XP is given out by level so a second level character would get good experience for a 5th level task. I give out XP as a monster for things that are critical to adventure. So in the case above the I would give it as a standard monster (200) if they make the check and make effect the story line...maybe since the player stopped the nuke the party gets a stash of Omega instead of running for there lives.
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