General Skill Ratings

37 posts / 0 new
Last post
In classifying skills I think it would be helpful if there was a general concensus as to how powerful each skill is. Obviously this is very subjective, but I'm hoping to get an overall balance and then maybe add notes for OP examples.

Could you please suggest colors/reasoning for colors? Here is what I have so far:


Acrobatics: Walking on a tightrope, fighting on ice, balancing, and reducing falling damage (which can only be done trained). Can be utterly overpowered if heavily optimized also more details.
Arcana: Knowledge skill plus much more. Also useful for rituals. Can be really amazing in the right hands - Sage of Ages or substituting arcana for other checks.
Athletics: Jump/climb/swim.
Bluff: Overall useful Face skill.
Diplomacy: Overall useful Face skill.
Dungeoneering: Another knowledge skill. Forage can be worthless if you have Everlasting Provisions(level 4 Wondrous).
Endurance: For disease resistance and surviving nature. Diseases can be handled through rituals though. Opens a lot of really solid skill powers.
Heal: Heal is reasonably useful at low levels, but later, it seems to just disappear, except as a secondary skill in some skill challenges. Just train out of it, find something more useful.
History: Another knowledge skill.
Insight: A fantastic skill for any Wis-based class.
Intimidate: Overall useful Face skill. Can be amazing in combat(make bloodied surrender) if optimized for it. Also opens up Rattling
Nature: Another knowledge skill. Also useful for rituals. Forage can be worthless if you have Everlasting Provisions(level 4 Wondrous).
Perception: A fantastic skill for any Wis-based class. "The best skill in the game"
Religion: Another knowledge skill. Also useful for rituals.
Stealth: In general unless the whole party has it trained then it is useless. Some parties/situations could benefit from having a scout. Can be essential for rogues and stealthy builds.
Streetwise: Used for obtaining information. Why wasn't it rolled into Diplomacy?
Thievery: Disabling traps can be important for every group - depends on DM. Lack of Thievery never stopped a group from continuing an adventure. In the case of traps, they take some damage, and keep trucking, no biggie. Unless the DM deliberately makes Thievery important, it doesn't appear to be within the current design of 4e encounters. Strangely in some campaigns, at low levels there seem to be more traps, and at higher levels the traps either vanish or with action economy the way it is, people feel they are better off ignoring traps even when they are trained in Thievery. So it's another skill you could start with at low levels, but then train it out when you realize you're never using it.
In classifying skills I think it would be helpful if there was a general concensus as to how powerful each skill is. Obviously this is very subjective, but I'm hoping to get an overall balance and then maybe add notes for OP examples.

Could you please suggest colors/reasoning for colors? Here is what I have so far:


Acrobatics(Dex): Athletics is better.
Arcana(Int): Knowledge skill Plus much more. Also useful for rituals. Can be Amazing in the right hands - Sage of Ages or substituting arcana for other checks.
Athletics(Str): Jump/climb
Bluff(Cha): Overall useful Face skill.
Diplomacy(Cha): Overall useful Face skill.
Dungeoneering(Wis): Another knowledge skill. Also useful for rituals.
Endurance(Con): For disease resistance and surviving nature
Heal(Wis): Help the group get up when the healer falls.
History(Int): Another knowledge skill.
Insight(Wis): A fantastic skill for any Wis-based class.
Intimidate(Cha): Overall useful Face skill.
Nature(Int) Another knowledge skill. Also useful for rituals.
Perception(Wis): A fantastic skill for any Wis-based class.
Religion(Wis): Another knowledge skill. Also useful for rituals.
Stealth(Dex): Having a scout for the group is helpful.
Streetwise(Dex): Used for obtaining information. Why wasn't it rolled into Diplomacy?
Thievery(Dex): Disabling traps can be important for every group - depends on DM.




Honestly, I think this is a little too subjective of a task to take up in the way you did. 

Instead of rating their usefulness based solely on how they might be used in a given campaign, can I suggest rating their usefulness based on how effective they are for the options they unlock? Such as rating Thievery Sky Blue for the ability to get you Fast Hands, or Acrobatics Sky Blue for the various rogue "Requires training in Acrobatics" utility powers they have. Seems a little bit easier to rate them objectively that way.

That said, I haven't seen too many skill challenges where Insight was remotely useful. Maybe your DM has NPCs lie more than I find occurs in my games.  
It depends on the DM. Some DMs make you roll Perception for everything, and some like me barely touch it. I can tell you from playing a lot of RPGA the big skills are Athletics(any generic physical activity), Arcana, Diplomacy, Perception, and Thievery.
...whatever
As I said: It's hugely subjective.
But in rating anything that has to do with skills it is important to know their base power level. In terms of things that skills unlock like skill powers: it is beyond the scope of my current desire of knowledge. If anyone wants to contribute that I'll happily add it, but it's a lot of work.

My ratings for perception and insight are based on many people on these forums saying they are probably the best skills in the game. 

Please feel free to suggest tweaking them.
In classifying skills I think it would be helpful if there was a general concensus as to how powerful each skill is. Obviously this is very subjective, but I'm hoping to get an overall balance and then maybe add notes for OP examples.

Could you please suggest colors/reasoning for colors? Here is what I have so far:


Acrobatics(Dex): Athletics is better.
Arcana(Int): Knowledge skill Plus much more. Also useful for rituals. Can be Amazing in the right hands - Sage of Ages or substituting arcana for other checks.
Athletics(Str): Jump/climb
Bluff(Cha): Overall useful Face skill.
Diplomacy(Cha): Overall useful Face skill.
Dungeoneering(Wis): Another knowledge skill. Also useful for rituals.
Endurance(Con): For disease resistance and surviving nature
Heal(Wis): Help the group get up when the healer falls.
History(Int): Another knowledge skill.
Insight(Wis): A fantastic skill for any Wis-based class.
Intimidate(Cha): Overall useful Face skill.
Nature(Int) Another knowledge skill. Also useful for rituals.
Perception(Wis): A fantastic skill for any Wis-based class.
Religion(Wis): Another knowledge skill. Also useful for rituals.
Stealth(Dex): Having a scout for the group is helpful.
Streetwise(Dex): Used for obtaining information. Why wasn't it rolled into Diplomacy?
Thievery(Dex): Disabling traps can be important for every group - depends on DM.

Streetwise is cha based
Intimidate should probably remain blue, but you should mention the in-combat use (to make a bloodied enemy surrender, very DM dependent), and the fact that some DMs will treat it as an auto fail in some skill challenges (if the party is clearly no threat, or the person you're talking to is looking for any excuse to fight).
Acrobatics is notable for reducing falling damage, which you can only do if trained.
History should probably rank below the other knowledge skills, since it has no use for monster knowledge, or ritual use, maybe make it purple.

Ignoring skill powers is probably a mistake, since they're a large source of utility for skills (and bumps history up to the same level as the other knowledge skills for Strategic Epiphany alone) 
"I am the seeker, I am the stalker, I am the walrus"
History should probably rank below the other knowledge skills, since it has no use for monster knowledge, or ritual use, maybe make it purple.


From my understanding it can act as a game info check. If you read the description it can be useful for all sorts of things. Also much easier to obtain info than streetwise. I'd say a solid black.
To measure Nature and Dungeoneering there are tons of low level items that can cancel out the usefulness of foraging (magical picnic basket with enough food for 5 for 24hrs in everlasting provisions).

I agree nature is more useful than dungeoneering and history. working out the colors now.


Ignoring skill powers is probably a mistake, since they're a large source of utility for skills (and bumps history up to the same level as the other knowledge skills for Strategic Epiphany alone) 


Again, this is beyond my desired level of generalization. It would be great to have, but too much work for me to undertake.
If I was going to rank them solely based on skill use:

Tier 1

Arcana
Athletics
Diplomacy
Nature
Perception
Thievery

Tier 2

Bluff
Insight
Intimidate
Stealth

Tier 3

Dungeoneering
Endurance
Heal
History
Religion

Tier 4

Acrobatics
Streetwise
...whatever
History should probably rank below the other knowledge skills, since it has no use for monster knowledge, or ritual use, maybe make it purple.


From my understanding it can act as a game info check. If you read the description it can be useful for all sorts of things. Also much easier to obtain info than streetwise. I'd say a solid black.



True, but game info is heavily DM dependent, wheras knowing what the monsters you're up against can do is always useful (and the DCs are well defined, and you can gain a mechanical advantage with the Scholar theme), so monster knowledge checks should be rated above game knowledge checks IMO. The relative ease compared to streetwise is entirely dependent on the DM, and what you're trying to find out. History will be good to tell you the importance of the noble family, and any possible enemies, but streetwise will let you know what rumours are circulating after their bastard son was found stabbed to death in the street.

Depending on the campaign, losing pursuers by finding shortcuts through the city might be more useful than inspiring armies with tales of their forebears.

"I am the seeker, I am the stalker, I am the walrus"
Athletics or Acrobatics also can be used to, if not break, then badly bend the game. Especially in dungeon crawls:

Level 12
Halfling Rogue/Master Infiltrator
Str X, Con X, Dex 21, Int X, Wis X, Cha 21
Background: Hellion
Feats
Skill Focus (Acrobatics)
Duelist's Panache
Powers
U6: Force of Kord
Items
9: Dynamic Belt
12: Nimble Shoes

Acrobatics skill: +32 (+6 level +5 Dex +5 Duelist +2 racial +2 background +2 item +3 feat +2PP +5 trained)
Athletics skill: +32 (Nimble Shoes)

Change to break down or burst:
Any Physical Door: 100%
Adamantine Portcullis: 100%
Adamantine Chains: 95%
Adamantine Box 100%
Wooden Wall 100%
Masonry Wall 90%
3-ft-thick Stone Wall: 50%
moved some colors around. Mostly aligned with thecasualoblivion's ranking - though I think nature is not skyblue. It is a step above Dungeoneering and History due to ritual usage.

Overall I would consider Dungeoneering and History pretty even. Neither involves rituals. Both are knowledge checks - one is more combat oriented and one is more campaign oriented. 
Athletics or Acrobatics also can be used to, if not break, then badly bend the game. Especially in dungeon crawls


Ya I remember a post about that. Found the post and edited a note in. community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
Just personal opinions from games I've played in, and LFR, with slight influence from games I've run.

Top tier for skill challenges:

Athletics, Perception, Insight, Diplomacy

Top tier for combat:

Athletics, Stealth

Bottom tier:

Streetwise, Heal*, Thievery**

* Heal is reasonably useful at low levels, but later, it seems to just disappear, except as a secondary skill in some skill challenges. Just train out of it, find something more useful.
** Lack of Thievery never stopped a group from continuing an adventure. In the case of traps, they take some damage, and keep trucking, no biggie. Unless the DM deliberately makes Thievery important, it doesn't appear to be within the current design of 4e encounters. Strangely in some campaigns, at low levels there seem to be more traps, and at higher levels the traps either vanish or with action economy the way it is, people feel they are better off ignoring traps even when they are trained in Thievery. So it's another skill you could start with at low levels, but then train it out when you realize you're never using it.

Everything else is somewhere in the middle with varying degrees of usefulness, like I'd say Nature and Arcana are slightly more used than Dungeoneering and History. But when you take skill powers into consideration, Dungeoneering can give you Blindsight 10 for 2 rounds, and History can give your party a huge initiative once per day. I can't really discard those skills as bottom tier.
Arcana might be GOLD because there are so many relatively easy ways to boost it and to replace it with other skills.
Just personal opinions


Updated based on 90% of this. Mostly sentiments that I have read from other players as well.

I'm more than willing to add in utility skills, but I have no desire to put it all together myself.
I agree with many of your ratings.  But here are some places that I don't:

Acrobatics -- I see this come up a lot (fighting on ice, balancing) and of course reducing falling damage (which can only be done trained).  Should be black at least.

Endurance - getting diseases and losing surges is bad; at least dark blue.

Stealth - I would downgrade this.  This tends to be hard for a party to use unless everyone is good at it, which is doubtful.  Sure it is good if you are specialized, but there aren't many characters that are specialized in this.  Most parties I have been in just ignore it and are fine.

History - just wanted to mention that if you counted associated skill power this would higher since Strategist's Epiphany is so good.  But fine where it is for just skill use.

Daren
Intimidate also opens up Rattling, which is key for many a build, and Endurance opens a lot of really solid skill powers.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Ya I agree on black acrobatics. Useful, but I don't come across it much in my games.

Endurance I disagree. Diseases are bad, but can be made short work of with rituals. Surviving isn't usualy a huge factor unless you play in DS.

Stealth I've had the same conclusion. I'll probably change it to black and label it blue if a party finds it useful.


This list is a general overall power level. That includes skill usage and skill powers (though powers should generally be more in the descriptions). 
in LFR there is frequent (ive found), endurance challenges, where if you/the group fail you lose surges
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
in LFR there is frequent (ive found), endurance challenges, where if you/the group fail you lose surges



Usually though, the difficult on these challenges is low.
...whatever
Stealth - I would downgrade this.  This tends to be hard for a party to use unless everyone is good at it, which is doubtful.  Sure it is good if you are specialized, but there aren't many characters that are specialized in this.  Most parties I have been in just ignore it and are fine.


Why are we rating this skill based on whether it would "be hard for a party to use"?  The most obvious use of Stealth is for becoming hidden for Rogues (especially cunning sneak) during combat, since it provides combat advantage and thus sneak attack damage.  That's not to mention even the defensive usefulness of being hidden at the end of your turn.  Stealth should not be rated on the basis of getting surprise rounds - since that's obviously party dependent.
I agree with squad. I think stealth should be purple/sky blue. If you build for it, like with Mellored's Psilent Guardian, a Cunning Sneak rogue, etc. it is REALLY important, if not, its fairly useless.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
In that case black is the proper rating unless specialized for. I'll add another note that it can be skyblue if heavily optimized (or for rogue)

Again these are general for most players. There are exceptions and those belong in the comments. 


Streetwise(Cha): Used for obtaining information. Why wasn't it rolled into Diplomacy?


Because ... Louie The Wrench ain't Diplomatic, if ya get my drift.


{ ... insert mafia don "smiley" face ... }

Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 

Nature is based on Wis, not Int.
Stealth - I would downgrade this.  This tends to be hard for a party to use unless everyone is good at it, which is doubtful.  Sure it is good if you are specialized, but there aren't many characters that are specialized in this.  Most parties I have been in just ignore it and are fine.


Why are we rating this skill based on whether it would "be hard for a party to use"?  The most obvious use of Stealth is for becoming hidden for Rogues (especially cunning sneak) during combat, since it provides combat advantage and thus sneak attack damage.  That's not to mention even the defensive usefulness of being hidden at the end of your turn.  Stealth should not be rated on the basis of getting surprise rounds - since that's obviously party dependent.



I'd like to further expand upon this and dispel the notion that Stealth is "hard for the party to use". From the Rules Compendium, page 128:
Group Checks - To make a group check, everyone in the group makes a skill check or an ability check specified by the DM. A group check is almost always against an easy DC. If at least half the group succeeds, the whole group succeeds. Otherwise, the group fails.



In fact, the RC continues on and sites using Stealth as a specific example.
Group checks might come up in a variety of situations: when the adventurers try to sneak past some sentries (using Stealth)....



Thus, as long as half the party rolls a stealth check that can beat the sentries' passive Perception scores, the whole group is successful, even your plate-wearing Paladin with 8 Dexterity.

Not everyone in the party needs to be Stealth optimized in order for Stealth to be useful outside of combat. And as others have said, being Hidden in combat is a powerful advantage for any character who takes advantage of it.
Being hidden in combat is generally a detriment to the party as a whole unless you have some major synergies based on it. A character who cannot be attacked is just forcing the enemy to focus-fire everyone else.


Aren't we already trying to get the enemy to focus on the defender?  Besides, the main advantage of stealth for rogues isn't defensive - it's getting CA and thus sneak attack.  Of course, it's more likely to benefit ranged attackers who have a harder time getting CA.
No, we're trying to keep anyone from hitting zero. A party in which every single character was untouchable would be theoretically perfect for this, but as that's not going to happen in practice, we much prefer one in which there is a dynamic and PC-controllable balance between which member is easiest to hit to one in which two members are untouchable and therefore the rest of the party is taking 50% more damage than normal.


Hidden doesn't equal Untouchable.  Most of the time, if you're hidden at the end of your turn, you're in the spot where team enemy saw you vanish (the exception being when you are able to move again after hiding yourself).  So they can attack you there with a -5 penalty.  Also, the penalty doesn't apply to close blasts or bursts.  Often, you may have to move first, become hidden, then attack - leaving you in plain sight after your attack.  For those who have the means and the incentive to become hidden, it's not a strategy that's necessarily detrimental to the party.  I think you're overstating your case on this one.
I'm discussing perma-hidden builds, which you may not have picked up on. Characters who can't become hidden reliably aren't invested enough in it for it to be an attractive option to start with.


Fair enough.  I'll restrict my comments to perma-hidden builds.  Is the perma-hidden strategy less party disruptive if the character otherwise has low defenses?  Perhaps directing attacks to allies with higher defenses will result in less total party damage.  I don't know - I'm genuinely curious.
I'm discussing perma-hidden builds, which you may not have picked up on. Characters who can't become hidden reliably aren't invested enough in it for it to be an attractive option to start with.


Fair enough.  I'll restrict my comments to perma-hidden builds.  Is the perma-hidden strategy less party disruptive if the character otherwise has low defenses?  Perhaps directing attacks to allies with higher defenses will result in less total party damage.  I don't know - I'm genuinely curious.


Not really, if they're not getting hit, then their defences don't matter.
It's less disruptive is the rest of the pary has high defences (i.e. higher than they would normally), but then the rest of the party has had to optimise their defences more, making them less effective than they otherwise might be.
Of course, an entire party of perma-hidden characters could work... (although your DM would very quickly hate you, or just design encounters to negate the benefit), but anything less than that and you are reducing the control and survivability aspects of the group. 
"I am the seeker, I am the stalker, I am the walrus"
I'm discussing perma-hidden builds, which you may not have picked up on. Characters who can't become hidden reliably aren't invested enough in it for it to be an attractive option to start with.


Fair enough.  I'll restrict my comments to perma-hidden builds.  Is the perma-hidden strategy less party disruptive if the character otherwise has low defenses?  Perhaps directing attacks to allies with higher defenses will result in less total party damage.  I don't know - I'm genuinely curious.



The problem is similar to the kiting archer who thinks he's awesome because he's the only one standing at the end of every encounter and doesn't understand why other people are running out of healing surges. And the perma-hidden build is worse than the kiting archer because the only resource the kiting archer is investing is move actions to get away from the bad guys.

Basically, there are two simple problems.
To be perma-hidden requires a lot of resources. You're a hybrid Striker|Striker. You're spending a bunch of feats on this. Those are resources that are not going into damage output. You could be a Brutal Scoundrel Rogue and do +Str damage, but you're not. You could be an Assassin getting +Cha to damage, but you're not. You could be spending those feats on upping your damage total. Again, you're not.

Every set of enemies should naturally want to find a focus fire target. Focus fire is good, spreading damage bad. Having say 4 targets instead of 5 is encouraging the DM to be tactically efficient. Which is at best a bad idea, at worst, potentially convincing a poor tactical DM who compensates via greater encounter strength to be tactically optimal on top of that.

Regarding Stealth, I would like to add that there are niche encounters in which having an undetectable PC is really helpful. For example, there are a few LFR modules where the victory condition for some encounters is "cross the map, do something, then leave." The monsters are an impediment, which can be killed, but being able to stealth allows you to bypass this impediment.

That being said, I will reiterate that these are "niche" encounters at best.

The value of always-on Stealth is somewhat party dependant. For example, a party with a euphoric ardent, battlerager fighter, infernal warlock and wrathful runepriest would LOVE to see a stealthy striker who never gets targeted, because all of those builds want the enemy to target them instead.

Again, however, niche.
Again, however, niche.


Look at us agreeing all over the place.. Heresy! :P
I think Endurance should at least get a notation that it is blue for LFR.  There are just tons of LFR mods -- including recent specials and Epic mods - where if you don't pass Endurance checks you start losing surges and worse.

Daren
Regarding Stealth, I would like to add that there are niche encounters in which having an undetectable PC is really helpful. For example, there are a few LFR modules where the victory condition for some encounters is "cross the map, do something, then leave." The monsters are an impediment, which can be killed, but being able to stealth allows you to bypass this impediment.

That being said, I will reiterate that these are "niche" encounters at best.

In LFR. In a home campaign, the DM may very well decide that obtaining the loot/rescuing the princess/building the bridge over the River Wwai are the XP triggers in a given adventure. Whether or not the monsters in the way end up dead usually will be incidental.

As for party Stealth, it can have a great impact on the frequency of surprise rounds, which are always a great thing. (Unless Team Monster gets one ...) If the players show a little imagination in describing how the characters sneak around, and roll a few decent Stealth rolls, most DMs are going to be happy to give them the surprise round. Invested players quite often result in compliant DMs, at least in home campaigns.   

 

Sign In to post comments