Skill at a certain action increases the more you perform that action; so why then does D&D have you only be able to increase skill points when you level up? By that logic, you could be a complete novice at a certain skill, and then the next level suddenly you buy points in the skill, maybe even maxing it out in “between adventures” time. But this causes a major problem in some campaigns: ie, when does that time actually happen? D&D is designed on the model that characters complete separate adventures episodically, and although they’re stronger, tougher, more skilled and, depending on their actions, their foe is dealt with… it doesn’t matter next week, because everything’s back to normal (except that the characters are improved). It’s the golden rule of 90’s and earlier television series’: it’s all back to normal at the end of the episode (parodied hilariously in an episode of Futurama where the city is burning as Fry states this).
Skyrim and Oblivion are great proponents of a new way of thinking: that skills level up as you use them. Keeping it simple is vital, so some abstraction is likely. However, it’s a simple mechanic that D&D skirts around and basically avoids. It requires a different way of thinking, but it doesn’t seem hard to come up with a system for. So, here goes.
- The number of ranks determines how many successes are required to advance or “level up” your skills. 5 ranks requires 5 successes, 10 ranks requires 10 successes, etc. Simple.
- DC’s: players still roll to succeed, adding skill bonus + ability modifier, if any. I think the DC mechanic should remain.
- Classes: remain the same, except they don’t get a certain number of points per level. A rogue’s strength is, by definition, their skills: hiding, sneaking, searching, disarming, spotting, hearing, lying, etc. The majority of their skills are class skills. A fighter on the other hand is mostly cross-class and thus levels less skills at a normal rate; for him it’s mostly double spending. But he has feats every even character level. A wizard or cleric has his spells, a barbarian his extraordinary abilities… etc.
That seems fairly simple and fair. Any questions?