So, Skyrim's skill system and perks...(YA5ET)

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I've been having a blast with Skyrim. When it was announced one of the big changes was the dropping of stats, I thought that it was a joke. Now that I've been playing it, I can see why they aren't really needed (for this game). All of the Elder Scroll series are very skill-focused. It didn't really matter if you were strong, that just made learning certain skills easier, etc. In addition, all of the perks (essentially talent trees) are tied to a skill.

It made me wonder if a similar model could be used for D&D. I'm not suggesting dropping stats (too iconic, and still too useful for a TTRPG). What I am pondering is what the game would look like if the entire concept of feats were reworked into talent trees, with some of those trees being linked to a class, while others are linked to a skill. Have this talent point gained every level, to be used for either combat or non-combat skills. A goal is to have a significantly reduced total count (I'm thinking maybe 200-300 max, maybe even less). Compared to the 5000+ feats we have currently, I think this would be a much more manageable number. There would still be plenty of room to allow for flexible character design, as well as overall game balance.


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I think a generic feat slot every few levels would still be necessary, but I like more specific feats. I actually don't mind there being 5000+ feats, but if most are restricted, the list a character picks from is smaller.

The number of trained skill a class would be allowed would have to be the same, or much closer to the same

That being said, the 'model' somewhat emulates early 4e where most feats had class or ability score requirements. Though the problem with ability scores was that many classe came after who's ability scores didnt line up with feats that would make sense for them. I think classes would need some sort of "keywords" to apply for feats, so that most weapon wielding classes could access the weapon related feats.


That said, I'm all for dropping stats the way Skyrim did it, honestly, most characters have 2 ability scores that matters, maybe something else for certain older feats, and then most interactions are determined via powers or skill or simply player choice.
I don't miss stats in Skyrim.  At all.  And this comes from someone who loved Morrowind, and put a lot of time into grinding skills I never planned on using to get optimal skill increases per level.

I'm not sure I'd miss ability scores in D&D.  Sure, they're a convenient representation of your person, but as far as game interactions I'm not sure they're required.  An 18 Str warrior has the same attack and damage as a 16 Str warrior with 'better training' aka Weapon Focus and Weapon Expertise.  I'm not convinced that distilling it down to actual end-result performance is a bad way to go and/or would destroy D&D as we know it.

What's also important in Skyrim is that there is no class either.  There's just what you choose to do.  And what you choose to do you get better at.  If we had Skyrim's skill trees and say, 10 points at level 1 and 1 per level after that, I think it could be doable.

It would be a workable game system, but class has been an identifiable thing in D&D for its entire history, so throwing it out completely I'm not sure is worth doing.  However, if you said "Fighters get this set of talents/skills/whatever and Warlords get this semi-similar set" then you could have interesting things like overlaps and a high degree of customization while maintaining the function of classes.  Would make homebrews pretty damn interesting if you just opened it up completely.
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Not having stats is difficult in a numbers-based rpg. Skyrim has them, just not the 'str/con/wis/int/etc' that we are so used to.
I much prefer the idea of feats being less and more.  Less feats, more features, unlocked at every level.  Something like class feats at odd levels, race ones at even.  Or you could do this: Class Combat feature at level 2, Race Non-combat feature at level 2, Class Non-Combat feature at level 3, Race Combat feature at level 3.  Also, these features would have to be small and incomparable, meaning that there would be 2-4 choices for each level, but no strictly "better" choice.

So a rogue would have two choices, for example, of either increasing their sneak damage or . . . well, hard for me to think of on the spot, but basically something that would be equal to but different than damage.  Maybe the ability to gain more range, better critical range, etc.  Note I'm not in a designing head-space here, mainly throwing things out there so y'all will get my point.  That point being that there is a right way to do things here and a wrong way.

WoW's talent tree is the wrong way, as there are commonly mechanically better choices at each level, so it encourages that us versus them mentality of "optimizers" versus "people who want to have fun". False dichotomy, but that's not what I'm trying to address.  What I am trying to address is that Fallout 3 is a good example of this done right.  Power at every level, and each choice is dependent on your play style.  It's not perfect; some perks seem just to awesome to pass up.  But it's much better than what we have now, or feats in general.  I think feats should be narrowed, so that what we want to have matter as class and race comes to the fore through choices at each level, and feats are left to allow minute customization with a small pool of incomparable feats.
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Coincidentally, I was just thinking about how a game like Skyrim could recapture the essence of 4e, with the shouts/perks/spells that emulate powers and feats! That would be a very cool game... Let's hope for a mod :D

Anyway, I think that dropping stats is not a bad idea at all, more often than not, i feel that they hinder my character instead of enhancing him (and really, by now are completely useless except for "roleplaying purposes", and they don't even do a good job at that).

Feats and perks are more or less the same thing, so a completely different system is not needed. I don't think that creating more "Feat trees" is a good thing, since it encourages too much specialization and similar stereotypes.
It could be maybe useful to differentiate between combat-centric feats and perks that have more out-of-combat uses (like additional languages, bonus to skills and things like that).
To be clear, "skyrim dumped stats" means the physical/mental characteristics that D&D calls ability scores.

D&D could do that.  Just remove ability modifiers from attack and damage rolls.  A first level fighter would have a d20 roll for attack and a dX for damage, but through 'fighter class skills' would have an increased attack bonus with a warhammer or something and roll d20+2, say.  A wizard would have a d20 roll for attack and a dX for damage, but through 'wizard class skills' would have an increased attack bonus with a fireball, but not an increased attack bonus with a warhammer.

The major change that would need to happen is a rethinking of how you arrive at the attack bonus.  A Wizard has increased damage on a fireball because of his Int score, but you probably chose a high Int score because you picked Wizard.  Why the two-tiered choice?  Why not just say "Wizards are good at fireballs because they're smart" and leave that as a fluff-only relationship, without a hard numerical, game-mechanical link between wizardlyness and int.
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The major change that would need to happen is a rethinking of how you arrive at the attack bonus.  A Wizard has increased damage on a fireball because of his Int score, but you probably chose a high Int score because you picked Wizard.  Why the two-tiered choice?  Why not just say "Wizards are good at fireballs because they're smart" and leave that as a fluff-only relationship, without a hard numerical, game-mechanical link between wizardlyness and int.



If you have a level based BAB you would not need it connected to stats.

I like your idea.  It cuts to the chase.

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Level-based BAB isn't really the issue.  What that does is provide distinction between creatures of different levels only.  It doesn't provide distinction between "the real wizard is really good at fireballs, the multiclass wizard without as much book learnin' is passable at fireballs, and the fighter just burns his fingers."

The mechanical structure of that is the wizard has trained more in fireballs, the multiclass wizard only put a little in fireballs, and the fighter hasn't put anything in fireballs (and may be prohibited from doing so) and so can't cast them at all.

Such a system would require careful construction of the attack bonus system to keep things balanced.  I'd actually recommend extremely limited accuracy improvements, and have most of the specialization between "I'm a hardcore wizard I want to be an archmage someday" and "Spells?  I've dabbled a little" be mostly in the damage/effects potency rather than the "do I waste a turn missing or not" area.
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Well if you have a set level based BAB then you would not have to worry too much about attack value.

That means that you could concentrate, as you point out, on the mechanical structure of what is a fireball and what it does without worrying about attack.  You are always going to be 'attacking' at max value but a multiclass wizard may have a smaller or less damaging fireball or just a 'different' fireball then a specialist.

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Hybrids would make this even more complicated.
The need for a hybrid mechanic exists only so long as you have too rigid classes. If core classes had about as many features as paragon paths (ok, maybe a few more), and didn't lock itself into a specific role, then you could probably build most character concepts without resorting to a total refluff of a class. While the class powers concept was innovative for 4e, I think many see that, like perks, more is not always better. I want D&D to stay a tactical game for combat, but I also want it to embrace non-combat encounters with equal fervor.

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Hybrids would make this even more complicated.



In Skyrim you are as you do.  For example, the more spells you cast, the better you are at casting spells.  

At character creation you choose from 10 different 'races'.  No matter which race you pick you are still able to develop your character as you see fit.  Multi-classing, hybridization and 'pure' class has no meaning in Skyrim.  That said, Skyrim is a single player RPG.  DnD's current approach is to make a PC functional (currently a PC has a role to fill) and yet incomplete (i.e. no one is a one-man army of awesome) to encourage team play.  


I like the idea DnD taking a different approach to the ability scores as well.  Mand's suggestion of going to a d20 vs Defence system makes sense, but the level progression mechanic of the game will need a way to let the player feel themselves getting more powerful.  For example imagine the scenario where a PC attacks a level 1 bandit and hits on a 10 or better for the given defence.  When a level 5 PC attacks the same level 1 bandit and attack against the same defence, do they still hit on a 10 or higher?  Let's say that you do agree that the defence score is intrinsic to the bandit, and therefore is not affected by the attacker's advantage in level.  One would expect the level 5 PC to do more damage that a level 1 PC on a successful hit against the bandit.  Therefore, the damage dice would need to level as the PC levels to provide the sense of power growth/progression.  In turn, more powerful enemies would be generated by a combination on chance to successfully hit (the PC only ever rolling a d20 versus a target defence check -- Fortitude/Reflex/Will) and their pool of hit points.  Nothing new or ground breaking here, but I believe that the combat system would work fine without the ability scores; thus allowing for their use elsewhere in the game system.  

I like the concept of skill trees.  A player must invest in one skill to 'unlock' a higher skill.  From a player perspective this makes sense as a player is building on the skills he/she has acquired those skills would be related to one another.  From a design perspective skill trees makes the power selection and progression pool much simpler to manage.  For example a skill tree with 4 lanes containing 5 powers each, and you know the player will get 15 points at max level you can quickly see just what is possible to create.  You can also quickly see what happens if the player invests all 5 points in lane 1 before investing in others.  To imbalanced that way?  Well then what if the PC can't invest in the 3rd tier until they are level 5, thus forcing the player to spend 2 points in other lanes.  Skill trees also help address the power duplication issue.  For example rather than having several caster classes have a very similar spell set, why not have those classes to invest in the a specific set of skill trees, with some of the skill tree overlapping from one class to another?  
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I had thought the ability scores in Skyrim where hidden. Doesn't matter, as the skills seem to run along the line of what the character does.

5th edition really doesn't need skill trees like Skyrim or Diablo. It needs a more difined way for Feats/Class Features/skills to effect the character's use of his powers/weapons/skills. Feats can make Daggers gain a trait in the hands of the character, class features that add to the powers of the wizard, or skills gaining tricks at they rise in level.

Skill also needs to lose the Trained vs. Suck mechanic, having a way to train them as you level instead, to gain tricks. Like being able to pick simple locks without tools or being able to sneak in plain sight for a master of a skill. (Like how Nobby siddles in Discworld)

A mistake for 4th edition was that some feats were turned to powers while the ones that were left were muted. They were not changed to go along with the new design philosiphy.
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Kit Build - A class build that is self sustaining and has mechanical differences than the normal scale. Started in Essentials. Most are call their own terms, though the Base Class should be said in front of their own terms (Like Assassin/Executioner) Power Points - A mechanic that was wedged into the PHB3 classes (with the exception of the Monk) from the previous editions. This time, they are used to augment At Wills to be Encounters, thus eliminating the need to choose powers past 4th level. Mage Builds - Kit builds that are schools of magic for the Wizard. A call back to the previous editions powering up of the wizard. (Wizard/Necromancer, for example) Unlike the previous kit builds, Wizards simply lose their Scribe Rituals feature and most likely still can choose powers from any build, unlike the Kit Builds. Parcel System - A treasure distribution method that keeps adventurers poor while forcing/advising the DM to get wish lists from players. The version 2.0 rolls for treasure instead of making a list, and is incomplete because of the lack of clarity about magic item rarity.
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I think generic feats aren't the way to go for future editions. I'd rather see feats trees that are tied to either specific classes and/or specific skills (and possibly racial substitution feats or equivalent). It's much easier to balance feat trees than letting each feat be stand alone. It could use a model more similar to Civilization technology tree, which allows for alternate techs to meet the prequisites (like the feats that say stat X or race Y). I would like to see the return of racial feats, or at least something that helps race make a different past 1st level. Humans need a new schtick to replace the bonus feat as well.

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