Question about a Skill idea

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Howdy, folks.

I am making a change in my 4e game in regards to skills, which has been bandied about by folks for quite a while, apparently, though I just had the 'inspiration' hit me a short time ago.

Long story short, I'm removing skills from classes and tying them to background/themes, with certain "iconic" skills for a class always able to be trained, regardless of background (Arcana for Wizards and Warlocks, for example). I plan to build a very few 'skeletal' backgrounds as guides, but really I want to encourage my players to think of their character in 'where did s/he come from' terms, and allow them to build their OWN backgrounds, with their OWN suite of skills.

My question is... how many skills should I aim to allow, in your opinion? Too few, and everyone will have Athletics, Knowledge (Nature), Endurance and Perception, and too many risks making skill choices trivial. The current system is that each class has a differing number of skills they can choose from, but I would like a more simplified answer, honestly. I'm not sure how that would work... certain classes really NEED certain skills (Rogues come to mind first and foremost with Stealth and Sleight of Hand) but I don't want to penalize a character class by forcing a certain choice on them.

I am currently leaning towards allowing 5 skill choice slots available.


So many PCs, so little time...
I don't really know 4th Ed, but why can't you just give classes bonus skills? Rogues are meant to be skilled characters, for example, so why not give them e.g. their choice of Stealth and Sleight as a bonus?
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