Skill system could use a slight adjustment

First of all, I'm absolutely loving the playtest. This really has the potential to be a truly great version of D&D. My hat's off to the design team.

Secondly, I love the general framework of the skill system, and how skills are tied to backgrounds. However, there are a few things about the skill system that really rub me the wrong way, and that I think could use some adjustment.

So here's what I like and dislike about the system, and what I think could be done to improve it. I'd be interested to hear if others agree or disagree with me on this.


The good:
-ability checks are the norm, skills are merely bonuses added on top
-any class can take any skill
-bonuses from skills are high enough to be significant, but not so outlandish that they render untrained characters completely moot (bounded accuracy)

The bad:
-skills are tied to single attribute scores
-most of the skills are too broadly defined, but also too narrowly focussed.

The why:
Why do I think those two things are bad? Let's use the example of 3 skills that I think get it wrong, and one skill that gets it right. The three that get it wrong: diplomacy, insight, bluff. The one that gets it right: commerce (which has been cut from the most recent version of the playtest, unfortunately).

The three skills that, IMO, get it wrong are all representative of a broadly defined, general "skill" that is tied to a single attribute score, but only does one thing. For instance, diplomacy works EVERY TIME you roll a charisma check to negotiate with ANYBODY, but does nothing else. The reason this rubs me the wrong way is because it  runs against the stated design goal of making ability checks, not skill checks, the dominant paradigm. We already have something to represent how diplomatic a character can be. It's called a charisma check. If you want your character to be good at diplomacy or bluffing, give them a high charisma score. If you want them to be insightful, give them a high wisdom score. Those are the sorts of general actions that ability checks represent perfectly. As it stands, broadly defined, but narrowly focussed skills like diplomacy wind up being a flat mathematical bonus on a large number of checks associated with only a single ability score, effectively becoming a "tax" for characters that want to be good at the kinds of checks associated with that ability. It's thematically weak. It's bland. Worst of all, it means that if you want to be a charismatic character, you HAVE to take certain skills. Sure, you have a high charisma score, but you won't actually be getting an objectively high bonus on most of your charisma checks unless you take X "must have" charisma skills.

Why do I like the skill commerce so much? It's a skill that occupies a fairly narrow contextual niche, but that applies to a wide range of actions. Commerce could apply to charisma checks made to haggle, or to intelligence checks to identify loot, or to a wisdom check to determine if the efreeti prince with whom you're bartering is trying to screw you. This is a skill that can apply to a broad range of activities (diplomacy, bluffing, gaining insight, appraising, spotting) but only in certain contexts. This is a skill that represents real expertise. This is a skill that is thematically strong. This is a skill that isn't just an "ability check tax" for charismatic character, but one that actually represents something about your character's background.

My suggestion:
I think all the skills should be disassociated from single ability scores. Overly general but narrowly focussed skills like diplomacy should be axed, and new thematically strong, broadly applicable (within certain contexts) skills should take their place.

Obviously, this would take a lot of thought and work to get the skill list just right. Ensuring that skills are all equally balanced in their generality / specificity would be a real challenge. However, I really feel this a more interesting direction to take the skill system in than the current one. As it is, I'm concerned that the current system is destined to repeat many of the mistakes of the 3rd and 4th edition skill systems.

I'd be curious to know your thoughts on this.

EDIT: I'm most frequently a 3rd edition player, and while the nostalgia value of certain words like "diplomacy," "survival," and "wilderness lore" is high, I still think this is a sacred cow that needs slaughtering.
I thought they had said skills are DM adjucation on ability....seems it needs to say recommended or suggested abilities.

training being a bonus on ability is nothing new, that is the way it was on 4e.  The difference was it was +5 for trained, then +3 for focus.   A way to keep it bounded and not use any training modifier at all is to simply say training gives you one advantage die, and any higher training ranks gives you more advantage die.   It restores it back to what 4e was which was training is equivalent to ability, except you need both to accomplish hard tasks, with the difference that it is bounded - you don't have to worry about lvl1 being +5 ability, +5 training, and +3 focused, only the +5 ability is there.

A way to deal with a lot of skills is to go back to the 4e classification of more general skills, which had many subskills they could be used for.   Then you could be trained on the general skill which allows you to do all the subskills better leaving it open to subskills not listed getting bonused, but also be trained further on a specific listed sub skill using stacked advantage to keep it bounded.

I.e. druid trained in nature gives him an advantage die for all nature related tasks, and if he specialized in animals he gets another advantage die on top of that, but not for foraging for food as he is relying on general nature knowledge.
You would need some basis to state what an ability check can do, e.g. what types of checks apply to strength, versus intelligence. Then you would know how those apply these to commerce (str, dex, con, int, wis, cha). But either way you are still defining what is covered to make a skil bonus meaningful.

If you were to rely heavily on attribute checks, then you might just use backgrounds as a straight bonus. For example, if you have a background of miner +3, then any ability check in relation to mining would recieve a +3 whether it is how to clear it (strength), how to re-enforce the walls (wisdom), how to recruit help (cha), etc. It does make for a simple system, and you can go wild with different types of backgrounds through the characters life, so a dwarf starts off as a miner, becomes a trader with the humans nearby, and eventually becomes a banker in the human town nearby. Not sure if that is a good example, but I can see how it may work. Or I may have totally missed your point.
With the skill caps and bounded accuracy I like going back to lots of skills instead of groupings.  For 4e and some systems having Athletics count as Jump, Swim, and Climb worked.  Because you hade to have the groupings to keep up with the few skill points you had.

Now the skills can go off your STR and you already have a fair chance to jump or climb then you can take Swimming as a skill and sort of excell in one area again for example.

Intimidate - This is a good example of a skill that should have more than one Ability attached to it though.  Maybe CHA and STR or something that allows a big barbarian with a low CHA to still scare people.
You would need some basis to state what an ability check can do, e.g. what types of checks apply to strength, versus intelligence. Then you would know how those apply these to commerce (str, dex, con, int, wis, cha). But either way you are still defining what is covered to make a skil bonus meaningful.

If you were to rely heavily on attribute checks, then you might just use backgrounds as a straight bonus. For example, if you have a background of miner +3, then any ability check in relation to mining would recieve a +3 whether it is how to clear it (strength), how to re-enforce the walls (wisdom), how to recruit help (cha), etc. It does make for a simple system, and you can go wild with different types of backgrounds through the characters life, so a dwarf starts off as a miner, becomes a trader with the humans nearby, and eventually becomes a banker in the human town nearby. Not sure if that is a good example, but I can see how it may work. Or I may have totally missed your point.

I think you got my point. Your suggestion really sounds like something I could get behind. What are your thoughts on this?
With the skill caps and bounded accuracy I like going back to lots of skills instead of groupings.  For 4e and some systems having Athletics count as Jump, Swim, and Climb worked.  Because you hade to have the groupings to keep up with the few skill points you had.

Now the skills can go off your STR and you already have a fair chance to jump or climb then you can take Swimming as a skill and sort of excell in one area again for example.

Intimidate - This is a good example of a skill that should have more than one Ability attached to it though.  Maybe CHA and STR or something that allows a big barbarian with a low CHA to still scare people.

Groupings like athletics are exactly the sort of thing I think are bad for the game. They're way too general and broad. In fact, the reason I dislike diplomacy is because it exhibits many of the same traits as a grouping like athletics.

Althletics is basically "are you doing something physical, never mind the surrounding context? Ok, the bonus applies"

Diplomacy is "are you talking to someone, anyone, doesn't matter who they are or what the context is? Ok, the bonus applies"

I like skills that are more like "Are you doing something, anything, that relates to your specific/narrow field of expertise? Ok, the bonus applies"
Taking what Nivek_Loneshadow stated, there may be multiple ability checks that apply against a certain result the character is trying to gain, i.e. how can you intimidate someone? Well it can be charisma (the traditional choice), intelligence (wit), or brute strength (physical prowess). That is one of the difficulties with just relying on ability checks. The trick is what level of detail you want in the system. The benefit, if you don't mind some arguments at the table or ambiguity, is you can provide more detail later as a module, or just release a quick conversion guide on older skill sets from D&D and how they apply to ability checks. Then you can add backgrounds or similar things as a bonus to all attributes checks and you have a simple system that may cover alot of ground, versus defining 30 different skills in the core.
My question is: do we really need skills at all? As a dm, I love having most checks default to abilities. Why not let the backgrounds BE your skills. Background of noble? Great, get +3 on anything noble-related. Period. How about that?
I think the key is to actually named some of the multiple abilities of the skills.

Intimidate
CHA to make a verbal threat.
STR to make a phyisical threat or a threat of voilence from yourself.
INT to create a set of unfavorable consequences
WIS to point out the fear in your enemy
CON to hold your poker face

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Both of the above suggestions are interesting. Tmdog, I think your suggestion would work best if backgrounds were more narrowly defined, and characters were given 2-3 backgrounds (effectively making backgrounds the new skills). Orzel, I think that's also a good direction to take the skill system. Not exactly what I originally had in mind, but certainly much, much better than the current system. 
First of all, I'm absolutely loving the playtest. This really has the potential to be a truly great version of D&D. My hat's off to the design team.

Secondly, I love the general framework of the skill system, and how skills are tied to backgrounds. However, there are a few things about the skill system that really rub me the wrong way, and that I think could use some adjustment.

So here's what I like and dislike about the system, and what I think could be done to improve it. I'd be interested to hear if others agree or disagree with me on this.


The good:
-ability checks are the norm, skills are merely bonuses added on top
-any class can take any skill
-bonuses from skills are high enough to be significant, but not so outlandish that they render untrained characters completely moot (bounded accuracy)

The bad:
-skills are tied to single attribute scores
-most of the skills are too broadly defined, but also too narrowly focussed.

The why:
Why do I think those two things are bad? Let's use the example of 3 skills that I think get it wrong, and one skill that gets it right. The three that get it wrong: diplomacy, insight, bluff. The one that gets it right: commerce (which has been cut from the most recent version of the playtest, unfortunately).

The three skills that, IMO, get it wrong are all representative of a broadly defined, general "skill" that is tied to a single attribute score, but only does one thing. For instance, diplomacy works EVERY TIME you roll a charisma check to negotiate with ANYBODY, but does nothing else. The reason this rubs me the wrong way is because it  runs against the stated design goal of making ability checks, not skill checks, the dominant paradigm. We already have something to represent how diplomatic a character can be. It's called a charisma check. If you want your character to be good at diplomacy or bluffing, give them a high charisma score. If you want them to be insightful, give them a high wisdom score. Those are the sorts of general actions that ability checks represent perfectly. As it stands, broadly defined, but narrowly focussed skills like diplomacy wind up being a flat mathematical bonus on a large number of checks associated with only a single ability score, effectively becoming a "tax" for characters that want to be good at the kinds of checks associated with that ability. It's thematically weak. It's bland. Worst of all, it means that if you want to be a charismatic character, you HAVE to take certain skills. Sure, you have a high charisma score, but you won't actually be getting an objectively high bonus on most of your charisma checks unless you take X "must have" charisma skills.

Why do I like the skill commerce so much? It's a skill that occupies a fairly narrow contextual niche, but that applies to a wide range of actions. Commerce could apply to charisma checks made to haggle, or to intelligence checks to identify loot, or to a wisdom check to determine if the efreeti prince with whom you're bartering is trying to screw you. This is a skill that can apply to a broad range of activities (diplomacy, bluffing, gaining insight, appraising, spotting) but only in certain contexts. This is a skill that represents real expertise. This is a skill that is thematically strong. This is a skill that isn't just an "ability check tax" for charismatic character, but one that actually represents something about your character's background.

My suggestion:
I think all the skills should be disassociated from single ability scores. Overly general but narrowly focussed skills like diplomacy should be axed, and new thematically strong, broadly applicable (within certain contexts) skills should take their place.

Obviously, this would take a lot of thought and work to get the skill list just right. Ensuring that skills are all equally balanced in their generality / specificity would be a real challenge. However, I really feel this a more interesting direction to take the skill system in than the current one. As it is, I'm concerned that the current system is destined to repeat many of the mistakes of the 3rd and 4th edition skill systems.

I'd be curious to know your thoughts on this.

EDIT: I'm most frequently a 3rd edition player, and while the nostalgia value of certain words like "diplomacy," "survival," and "wilderness lore" is high, I still think this is a sacred cow that needs slaughtering.

The ability score checks appeal to 2nd edition afficionados. I like the skills in 3e, but you are correct... it often came down to a tax with some skills being more valuable than others. In 2e, each skill had varying costs. Of course, once you had the skill, you were suddenly god-like if you also happened to have a high stat. "Yesterday I knew nothing about the Navigation. Today I gained a level. Move over, Cap'n".

I LOVE that any class can take the skill... In 3e my buddies were all getting Power Attack, Cleave. But I was always getting ABLE LEARNER feat so if I (for instance) played Prince Charming (Fighter?) he could actually dance.

The players may have excellent ideas for characters or may just be min/maxing, but there are often reasons why a barbarian might use diplomacy (FOLLOW ME INTO DAH BATTLEZ!).

I think the background themes should help somewhat, though, to get rid of the tax (unless they become a tax themselves). I'm starting to come aboard on the new edition - definite potential!
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
You would still need something to help support the role of a rogue as a skill master, although I would not be heart broken is skill mastery was a choice any class could make. How can you incorporate ideas like pick locks, stealth, find/remove traps or sleight of hand.
Bardic_Dave - I agree.  I would prefer having it all indiviualized again.  Not sure that thought cam through in my post.

I was wondering about some skills not having any Ability associated with them.  For example everyone says Dex is too powerful and many feel Init should not get the dex bonus.  OK

Skill List
Awareness/Initiative - You can take the skill and add the +3 otherwise it's just a d20
Diplomay - another good example.  It's not cha.  It's the int and wisdon to prepare your arguement AND how you deliver your speach, ect.
Intimidate - Same concept is always d20 uless you take the skill at it

other skills like Slieght of hand would still get the bonus from dex plus the +3 if you have training.

Here is another thought.  Skills without an ability get a +5 training bonus.  Those with one get the +3?

Sorry - I can't get the BOLD to turn off

As a guy who plays New World of Darkness (okay, its not that new anymore) I like the Idea of right attribute for the right skill, (and I think in a Legend and Lore they talked about such a thing)  You also don't need to codify something for each attribute.  Leave that for the table or limit to three

I think going that route could help murder some of the lore skills we have and don't need.

Diplomacy - sweet talking/inspiring/defusing situations is charisma.  Heraldric/societal lore is Intelligence.  Wisdom is Insight.

Bluff - lying charisma, palming, pocketing - dex, I'm tempted to allow a second chance at insight here.  "you can't snow the snow man" maybe its an intelligence based insight that covers forging documents and spotting forgeries?

Survival - foraging, hunting, dowsing, tracking - wisdom, fire/camp building, enduring - con,  nature lore, "is that berry safe?" int

Commerce (op had this one) haggle - charisma, appraisal - intelligence, spot a fake - wisdom?

 
Now the skills can go off your STR and you already have a fair chance to jump or climb then you can take Swimming as a skill and sort of excell in one area again for example.


4e already had the Athletics skill be +ability modifer +5 skill training +3 skill focus, if you are strong you are a good athlete even without training, equivalent to someone not strong who has trained in athletics.   However you needed to be both strong and a good athelete to do hard stuff though.   The problem comes when you break it down to climb, swimb and jump you need 3x the skills as before.   Others categories such as Nature or Stealth or Theivery break down to even more skills.   And they never give out enough skills leaving you in situations like I am a theif, so how come I can spot but I can't search and I can't disable traps?

By having two levels of skill tree, think of it like have a BS in Thieving, but you have a MS in trapping.  Theiving is an INT skill because it takes smarts to learn all that stuff, and that covers all the subskills having to do with thief including traps.   Your BS is your background, your MS is your speciality.

But the really good trappers are the wise ones,  all the unwise trappers?  They are dead as they lacked in WIS.   





With the skill caps and bounded accuracy I like going back to lots of skills instead of groupings.  For 4e and some systems having Athletics count as Jump, Swim, and Climb worked.  Because you hade to have the groupings to keep up with the few skill points you had.

Now the skills can go off your STR and you already have a fair chance to jump or climb then you can take Swimming as a skill and sort of excell in one area again for example.

Intimidate - This is a good example of a skill that should have more than one Ability attached to it though.  Maybe CHA and STR or something that allows a big barbarian with a low CHA to still scare people.

Groupings like athletics are exactly the sort of thing I think are bad for the game. They're way too general and broad. In fact, the reason I dislike diplomacy is because it exhibits many of the same traits as a grouping like athletics.

Althletics is basically "are you doing something physical, never mind the surrounding context? Ok, the bonus applies"

Diplomacy is "are you talking to someone, anyone, doesn't matter who they are or what the context is? Ok, the bonus applies"

I like skills that are more like "Are you doing something, anything, that relates to your specific/narrow field of expertise? Ok, the bonus applies"

I agree. Just because Mighty Monty Mountainclimber can free climb up Mt. Manymilehigh and is a mountain of a man himself doesn't mean he should beat Sharkie Sherman Halffish in a race across the Runrapidrun River... and vice versa.

A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
First of all, I'm absolutely loving the playtest. This really has the potential to be a truly great version of D&D. My hat's off to the design team.

Secondly, I love the general framework of the skill system, and how skills are tied to backgrounds. However, there are a few things about the skill system that really rub me the wrong way, and that I think could use some adjustment.

So here's what I like and dislike about the system, and what I think could be done to improve it. I'd be interested to hear if others agree or disagree with me on this.


The good:
-ability checks are the norm, skills are merely bonuses added on top
-any class can take any skill
-bonuses from skills are high enough to be significant, but not so outlandish that they render untrained characters completely moot (bounded accuracy)

The bad:
-skills are tied to single attribute scores
-most of the skills are too broadly defined, but also too narrowly focussed.

The why:
Why do I think those two things are bad? Let's use the example of 3 skills that I think get it wrong, and one skill that gets it right. The three that get it wrong: diplomacy, insight, bluff. The one that gets it right: commerce (which has been cut from the most recent version of the playtest, unfortunately).

The three skills that, IMO, get it wrong are all representative of a broadly defined, general "skill" that is tied to a single attribute score, but only does one thing. For instance, diplomacy works EVERY TIME you roll a charisma check to negotiate with ANYBODY, but does nothing else. The reason this rubs me the wrong way is because it  runs against the stated design goal of making ability checks, not skill checks, the dominant paradigm. We already have something to represent how diplomatic a character can be. It's called a charisma check. If you want your character to be good at diplomacy or bluffing, give them a high charisma score. If you want them to be insightful, give them a high wisdom score. Those are the sorts of general actions that ability checks represent perfectly. As it stands, broadly defined, but narrowly focussed skills like diplomacy wind up being a flat mathematical bonus on a large number of checks associated with only a single ability score, effectively becoming a "tax" for characters that want to be good at the kinds of checks associated with that ability. It's thematically weak. It's bland. Worst of all, it means that if you want to be a charismatic character, you HAVE to take certain skills. Sure, you have a high charisma score, but you won't actually be getting an objectively high bonus on most of your charisma checks unless you take X "must have" charisma skills.

Why do I like the skill commerce so much? It's a skill that occupies a fairly narrow contextual niche, but that applies to a wide range of actions. Commerce could apply to charisma checks made to haggle, or to intelligence checks to identify loot, or to a wisdom check to determine if the efreeti prince with whom you're bartering is trying to screw you. This is a skill that can apply to a broad range of activities (diplomacy, bluffing, gaining insight, appraising, spotting) but only in certain contexts. This is a skill that represents real expertise. This is a skill that is thematically strong. This is a skill that isn't just an "ability check tax" for charismatic character, but one that actually represents something about your character's background.

My suggestion:
I think all the skills should be disassociated from single ability scores. Overly general but narrowly focussed skills like diplomacy should be axed, and new thematically strong, broadly applicable (within certain contexts) skills should take their place.

I am totally with you, and i cant stress enough how this concept it is important for me,and my playstyle.
It gives all the freedom i (we?)need to create interestingroleplay situatins,good skill challenges,and make each attribute important to the player,and lower the perceptions of dump stats (like CHa in the older editions).

Obviously, this would take a lot of thought and work to get the skill list just right. Ensuring that skills are all equally balanced in their generality / specificity would be a real challenge. However, I really feel this a more interesting direction to take the skill system in than the current one. As it is, I'm concerned that the current system is destined to repeat many of the mistakes of the 3rd and 4th edition skill systems.

I'd be curious to know your thoughts on this.

EDIT: I'm most frequently a 3rd edition player, and while the nostalgia value of certain words like "diplomacy," "survival," and "wilderness lore" is high, I still think this is a sacred cow that needs slaughtering.



My question is: do we really need skills at all? As a dm, I love having most checks default to abilities. Why not let the backgrounds BE your skills. Background of noble? Great, get +3 on anything noble-related. Period. How about that?



It would be a awesome system,especially for the newbie DM and players,given that they will not need to learn all the nuances of a detailed skyll system,and can just play fast. On a second thought it would be perfect  for improptu adventures too!


DM: Products of MY Imagination ©. Since 1986.
Anyone here who hasn't already, I would like your input on "Skillful blend of 3e and 4e"

I want to see if the compromise and modularity I propose there would satisfy your concerns.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

My question is: do we really need skills at all? As a dm, I love having most checks default to abilities. Why not let the backgrounds BE your skills. Background of noble? Great, get +3 on anything noble-related. Period. How about that?



I like the spirit of this comment a lot.  A noble would know much about noble lore and house sigils and the like- while also having an impact on his interaction roles with people (perhaps a positive or a negative in some cases)

In my games I often give players gear or items that they're able to use like a skill.  For example, if the thief wants to know if he has beef jerky to taunt the slobbering beast with the key on his collar- he rolls CHA (since thats the relevent ability score) and adds his skill/item "knapsack" (+3 like other skills).  If he rolls well he has something the beast is very interested in- if he rolls poorly he finds vegetables.

I really like the OPs comments and would like to see skills move to being a truly optional component- and not a tax.  Diplomacy/Bluff have always felt like that.  They don't even FEEL like skills.  They just feel like bonuses to charisma since they're so broad and you pretty much are useless if you don't have them. (at least in my experience)
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext
Anyone here who hasn't already, I would like your input on "Skillful blend of 3e and 4e" I want to see if the compromise and modularity I propose there would satisfy your concerns.



Val I was hoping folks would start compiling all our thoughts in the much easier to browse, wiki format.  I added it to my sig, but haven't seen much use from it.  Think you'd mind adding it to your sig as well and encouraging its use?
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext
Anyone here who hasn't already, I would like your input on "Skillful blend of 3e and 4e" I want to see if the compromise and modularity I propose there would satisfy your concerns.



Val I was hoping folks would start compiling all our thoughts in the much easier to browse, wiki format.  I added it to my sig, but haven't seen much use from it.  Think you'd mind adding it to your sig as well and encouraging its use?


Unfortunately for me the iPhone format does not show sigs.  

That and it butchers the wiki.

If there is a call for this then I could support it but I really will have to do the bulk of my contributing here on the threads.   

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

Anyone here who hasn't already, I would like your input on "Skillful blend of 3e and 4e" I want to see if the compromise and modularity I propose there would satisfy your concerns.


I typed in the 4e hierarchy in the Essentials manual here.  Of course the hierarchy there is skill categories with different skill adjucations for each subskill listed, not the tiered bonus/advantage idea.

community.wizards.com/dndnext/go/thread/...

Anyone here who hasn't already, I would like your input on "Skillful blend of 3e and 4e" I want to see if the compromise and modularity I propose there would satisfy your concerns.



Val I was hoping folks would start compiling all our thoughts in the much easier to browse, wiki format.  I added it to my sig, but haven't seen much use from it.  Think you'd mind adding it to your sig as well and encouraging its use?


Unfortunately for me the iPhone format does not show sigs.  

That and it butchers the wiki.

If there is a call for this then I could support it but I really will have to do the bulk of my contributing here on the threads.   



In that case I'd suggest editing the first post of the threads with a compilation so new readers can avoid stomping through hundreds of posts to find out what the discussion has uncovered.
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext
Agreed.

I have done this with Skillful blend of 3e and 4e.

Will do my best to keep that updated.

If you want to copy my summaries to the wiki then I would not be opposed.

I'm just unable to do so regularly myself.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

My question is: do we really need skills at all? As a dm, I love having most checks default to abilities. Why not let the backgrounds BE your skills. Background of noble? Great, get +3 on anything noble-related. Period. How about that?


That's exactly how 13th Age does it, and you are totally free to come up with any background trait you want without having to select from a list. So if your character was a former sailor, he would be good with ropes, gathering information in a port town, negotiating the use of a ship, etc. What's great about such a system is that it encourages you to role play rather than causing you to view things in terms of the game mechanics. If there is set list of skills that everyone has access to, the result is that the differences between characters is just a matter of math, regardless of how broad or narrow those skills are. That reduces the role playing aspect. It's a lot more fun to say "my character grew up in a forest so she knows about the wilderness" rather than "I'm playing a Druid which means I'm automatically trained in Nature".
The only change I don't like is them assigning a single attribute to a skill.
I agree.  I don't like skills being tied to an attribute.  I like the flexibility of attribute checks with a skill modifier if applicable. 

In addition, I like backgrounds and thank they are a great idea.  However, I would like to have a single skill based on class selection.   
@OP:  I agree emphatically.  

If you were to rely heavily on attribute checks, then you might just use backgrounds as a straight bonus. For example, if you have a background of miner +3, then any ability check in relation to mining would recieve a +3 whether it is how to clear it (strength), how to re-enforce the walls (wisdom), how to recruit help (cha), etc. It does make for a simple system, and you can go wild with different types of backgrounds through the characters life, so a dwarf starts off as a miner, becomes a trader with the humans nearby, and eventually becomes a banker in the human town nearby. Not sure if that is a good example, but I can see how it may work. Or I may have totally missed your point.


Yes!    As I understood it, the above is how things were going to be in Next.*  I thought it was interesting and clean and flexible and awesome!  But then BAM the second playtest went in a different direction.    I guess I was a bit disappointed to see that.

*References:
 (a) First playtest packet from May 24, How To Play file, page 1, Checks, Making a Check, Apply Bonuses & Penalties says, "If a class feature, a skill, a spell, or some other effect gives you a bonus or a penalty to this check, apply it to your current total.  Some bonuses and penalties apply to all checks made with a particular ability.  Others apply only under certain circumstances."  (b) http://community.wizards.com/dndnext/blog/2012/05/16/skills_and_task_resolution , paragraph 8 says, "The six abilities cover the basics of what a character can do in the world, so skills speak to specific tasks normally associated with an ability."


Groupings like athletics are exactly the sort of thing I think are bad for the game. They're way too general and broad. In fact, the reason I dislike diplomacy is because it exhibits many of the same traits as a grouping like athletics.

Althletics is basically "are you doing something physical, never mind the surrounding context? Ok, the bonus applies"

Diplomacy is "are you talking to someone, anyone, doesn't matter who they are or what the context is? Ok, the bonus applies"

I like skills that are more like "Are you doing something, anything, that relates to your specific/narrow field of expertise? Ok, the bonus applies"


This.    Good illustration of the difference.  The playtest direction seems to have gone back to focusing on a skills "system" rather than making more use of the ability scores.
The above post and Hobojustice hit a lot of things I like that've been said.  The only thing I'd add is there does need to be a list to pick from for new players who aren't as creative.

Putting someone on the spot to 'make something up' in their first roleplaying game has mixed results. 
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext
My question is: do we really need skills at all? As a dm, I love having most checks default to abilities. Why not let the backgrounds BE your skills. Background of noble? Great, get +3 on anything noble-related. Period. How about that?


That's exactly how 13th Age does it, and you are totally free to come up with any background trait you want without having to select from a list. So if your character was a former sailor, he would be good with ropes, gathering information in a port town, negotiating the use of a ship, etc. What's great about such a system is that it encourages you to role play rather than causing you to view things in terms of the game mechanics. If there is set list of skills that everyone has access to, the result is that the differences between characters is just a matter of math, regardless of how broad or narrow those skills are. That reduces the role playing aspect. It's a lot more fun to say "my character grew up in a forest so she knows about the wilderness" rather than "I'm playing a Druid which means I'm automatically trained in Nature".


This is how AD&D handled it until the addition of non weapon proficiencies. 

Some groups don't handle it well.  Some groups do.

I think this should be an option for groups who don't like skills but we have to build the system for groups who dislike that method. 

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

Skill system could use a slight adjustment.

I agree whole heartedly.

As for the OP's suggestion; not so much. 
Can you articulate why you dont like it much,please?
DM: Products of MY Imagination ©. Since 1986.
Personally I dont like this idea at all.

Skills do not represent mother nature's gifts only.

Skills do not represent what proffession or trade you had before your adventuring days only.

Skills also represent training, commitment and time like any other class feature.

While fighters train with their weapons, while wizards study their spells, others like rogues and bards train in skills. Mainly adventuring skills because thats what their proffession is now.

Lets make an example. An elven sorcerer has a high charisma. If he wanted to, he could be a great negotiator. But he's arrogant, he believes haggling with a merchant is beneath him. On the other hand we have a 12 cha rogue. He haggles all the time trying to squeeze any penny out of any deal. He reads people well and as he works on it, he picks up tricks like clever lines, reading other people's reactions etc. Why should our rogue not be able to use diplomacy or bluff better than our sorcerer?

Skills require effort and time and they can make a big difference in so many situations, like negotiating a peace treaty or overcoming a fiendishly clever trap. I do not consider them fluff or flavor to be discarded, but a neat arsenal of weapons that could be used in many situations.

I do not mind having specific skills. Since dnd is about adventurers it would be logical to assume people are mainly honing adventuring skills, not painting or gardening. (Sure they could do that I wouldnt mind, but I dont think dnd rules should focus on these skills).

Some classes so far are greatly enhanced by their skill versatility and/or focus. I think training can and should make a difference. What I disliked in 3.x and 4 was not the number of skills but the class restrictions it needlessly made. Let the players get the skills they want, let them be creative. Perhaps my fighter does not want to intimidate folks, he doesnt care. Perhaps he likes to study arcane books in his free time, let him have it!
Personally I dont like this idea at all.

Skills do not represent mother nature's gifts only.

Skills do not represent what proffession or trade you had before your adventuring days only.

Skills also represent training, commitment and time like any other class feature.

*snip*



While i can see your point in the rest of your post, and can agree with you on some part, i cant really understand how detaching skills by attributes (as per OP) dont represent training  and commitment.
The first part is ininfluent on the second imo.

DM: Products of MY Imagination ©. Since 1986.
Ok, let me make it clearer. Example: 2 people swim for a defined distance.

Nature's gifts does have its place.

Some people are really good at something without much effort, they are naturals. If you make them swim many times, so as to eliminate random factors (d20) 1 of them will be the winner more often than the other.(str mod)

Profession before adventuring does have its place.

Now lets pretend they both have the same natural affinity to swimming (same str bonus). But before we started this test one was a non athlete but the other was an athlete but not necessary a swimmer. His physical condition most often than not would be greater than his opponent's. He may not be stronger but has higher endurance, his muscle tone gets higher faster, his breathing has rythme while swimming etc. He knows about this stuff even if he was not a swimmer.(so here enter background bonus, or a 4e athletics style check).

Training and time matter.

If the loser guy from our example started training in swimming regularly, while the other remained indifferent to the sport, there should be a point where his devotion and training should suffice to overcome his lesser natural affinity or non athletic background training. (+1 per level bonuses on next, or 3e skill points style check).

Thats how I see skills. Of course they are adventuring oriented, that doesnt make them narrow. I dont consider training in them a tax but a boon.

I know its not everyone's cup of tea, perhaps people reading this are already rolling their eyes or yawning. But I really like skills and having a system like in 3e (again without silly class restrictions) would let me customize them as much as I would like in a balanced way, considering there was a max rank thing back in the day purely for balance reasons.

Again, this is my style of preferance not trying to force anything. Thats why I like valdark's skill module so much.
I'd rather see a skill be +5 to the check (and you ignore the ability that would be associated with it)- this helps explain the "i'm trained in it so I made up for my deficits" idea- which they seemed to want to do with the rogue who is looking for traps with an 8 wisdom.

If you somehow end up having a +5 modifier to an ability score--- don't pick a skill that would use it, your natural afinity is good enough.

As you level up you can apply +1 to that skill so it goes up to +6, +7... but it can't exceed +10.

That way the DCs are built based around the ability score modifiers (not the skills) and so they can be left out entirely without modifying the DCs.

(Note the whole concept of not including backgrounds if you want an old-school feel.  That seems rediculously unbalanced when you compare the check DCs)

I think this model keeps with the concept of +1 every even level to 2 skills so you can customize points (in a 3e feel) while keeping the modifiers low (dnd next feel- bounded accuracy) and reducing the amount of modifiers you have to add together for a roll (a dnd next design point if i'm not mistaken) 
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext
That method gives too much to the stats IMO.

Now anyone with a high stay has almost no reason to train in what they should be best at and instead gets diversity.

This is especially damaging if your group rolls stats as you get a Dex based fighter who is just as good at all thief skills as a thief without having any reason at all to do so.

I say if you are a group that doesnt use skills there should just be a simple -5 to all DCs that are associated with skills.

Simple enough for your group but leaves the level of complexity and variety for those who actually want skills.

The other way is reducing what we want for what someone else isn't even going to use.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

4e was skill DCs designed that each of these are nealry 2/3 success.   It is very balanced and WOTC themselves wrote an article up on this when they updated the 4e DC tables.  

easy with no skill and no ability
moderate with skill or ability
hard with skill and ability

If skill is not equal bonus to ability then that means the person that did not min-max their ability scores cannot achieve moderate they can only do easy, they cannot compensate for it with skills, yet moderates are what most checks are going to be for.  With them equal you get more build flexibility of trading off skills vs. ability, and only the min-maxers that skewed their build to get both can do hard things consistently.  It makes it simple for DM/PC to know what is a fair challenge.  Skills cannot replace ability, and ability cannot replace training for hard stuff, but it can for moderate stuff.

The problem was a min-maxer could get +5 training and +3 focus at lvl1 with +5 ability, meaning they always succeed at moderate checks and basically made hard checks too easy, so they had to tilt the hard checks to give that min-maxer a challenge.  With the advantage die replacing training bonus, you do not have more than the +5 bonus at lvl1, and the training being advantage lets you skew the odds so you can do hard things but the game does not need to blow way past the DC20 to account for another +5 and +3.   It inherently supports a bounded system.

If the fighter gave up some fighter skills (say endurance or athletics) to be a part time thief and TWF dex based fighter because that is their character concept, there is nothing wrong with that.  It is called opportunity cost, giving up something to gain something.  Maybe the thief wants athletics training so he can be a rooftop man, so he gives up on some of his DEX based skills, and decides to lose stealth training.    Neither one of them is as good at hard things as the character that maxed both DEX and STR and decided to train on both athletics and theivery.

With moderate checks taking either ability or training that gives a broader spectrum of things to be good at, with the sacrifice you cannot do as well at hard things.   The only thing the jack-of-all trades should not be good at is hard things, and by making ability not equivalent to training you just make the moderate things become hard, which means you really are only good at easy things.

Tables that do not use skills just scale all hard DCs down to moderate DC, because only their ability can get them through the day.  Or they leave it at hard DC because they are just hardcore.






Ok, let me make it clearer. Example: 2 people swim for a defined distance.

Nature's gifts does have its place.

Some people are really good at something without much effort, they are naturals. If you make them swim many times, so as to eliminate random factors (d20) 1 of them will be the winner more often than the other.(str mod)

Profession before adventuring does have its place.

Now lets pretend they both have the same natural affinity to swimming (same str bonus). But before we started this test one was a non athlete but the other was an athlete but not necessary a swimmer. His physical condition most often than not would be greater than his opponent's. He may not be stronger but has higher endurance, his muscle tone gets higher faster, his breathing has rythme while swimming etc. He knows about this stuff even if he was not a swimmer.(so here enter background bonus, or a 4e athletics style check).

Training and time matter.

If the loser guy from our example started training in swimming regularly, while the other remained indifferent to the sport, there should be a point where his devotion and training should suffice to overcome his lesser natural affinity or non athletic background training. (+1 per level bonuses on next, or 3e skill points style check).

Thats how I see skills. Of course they are adventuring oriented, that doesnt make them narrow. I dont consider training in them a tax but a boon.

I know its not everyone's cup of tea, perhaps people reading this are already rolling their eyes or yawning. But I really like skills and having a system like in 3e (again without silly class restrictions) would let me customize them as much as I would like in a balanced way, considering there was a max rank thing back in the day purely for balance reasons.

Again, this is my style of preferance not trying to force anything. Thats why I like valdark's skill module so much.



In the swimming example, there is a place for training in the sport to make a difference, but physical conditioning (STR or CON) increases if you practice swimming to become really good at it. The ability bonus and the skill bonus are very much linked and skill will only make a small difference once the physical conditioning is taken out.

I think the tendency in 3rd and 4th edition was to catagorize every non-combat/magic action into a specific skill and that skill be linked to a specific ability. The chances of situations that you have to shoehorn into a skill even if it doesn't fit increase with that type of system. Another issue with a pre-defined list is the usefulness of individual skills always coming into question.

I saw the thread started by Valdark and I think there are some basic problems. Some 3rd edition style "skills" seem odd to be skills at all, like search. I can understand learning how to search for a specific thing like traps but learning how to search better in general seems weird. Some skills seem like they would never be learned individualy, like hide and move silently.  It seems possible, but odd and useless.

The grouping of actions under broader skills has some problems too. A non-magical magician would learn slight of hand, as well as a thief, but the magician would not necessarliy be good at stealth, as in a "Thievery" skill.

I'd like to see backgrounds not necessarily have 3 skills and only 3 skills associated with it. Basically it would be a job or lifestyle like, pirate, street urchin, or mountaineer, that would have recommended associated skills but that the player could  try to apply to other situations as well. Pirate might generally be rope use, navigation, and intimidation, but maybe can include information gathering when dealing with pirates or something.

Skills learned during an adventuring career might be more narrowly focused depending on how many you get but should be oriented around some kind of job or activity you learn. Hunting or alchemy or things like that.

There should of course be guidelines on what type of ability is appropriate for what action is attempted, and descriptions of backgrounds and skills should include some sample actions that they would be applied to. Generally it would be nice if the player states an intended action, DM gives a DC and stat to be used, and the player applies his background and learned skills if appropriate.

Ok, let me make it clearer. Example: 2 people swim for a defined distance.

Nature's gifts does have its place.

Some people are really good at something without much effort, they are naturals. If you make them swim many times, so as to eliminate random factors (d20) 1 of them will be the winner more often than the other.(str mod)

Profession before adventuring does have its place.

Now lets pretend they both have the same natural affinity to swimming (same str bonus). But before we started this test one was a non athlete but the other was an athlete but not necessary a swimmer. His physical condition most often than not would be greater than his opponent's. He may not be stronger but has higher endurance, his muscle tone gets higher faster, his breathing has rythme while swimming etc. He knows about this stuff even if he was not a swimmer.(so here enter background bonus, or a 4e athletics style check).

Training and time matter.

If the loser guy from our example started training in swimming regularly, while the other remained indifferent to the sport, there should be a point where his devotion and training should suffice to overcome his lesser natural affinity or non athletic background training. (+1 per level bonuses on next, or 3e skill points style check).

Thats how I see skills. Of course they are adventuring oriented, that doesnt make them narrow. I dont consider training in them a tax but a boon.

I know its not everyone's cup of tea, perhaps people reading this are already rolling their eyes or yawning. But I really like skills and having a system like in 3e (again without silly class restrictions) would let me customize them as much as I would like in a balanced way, considering there was a max rank thing back in the day purely for balance reasons.

Again, this is my style of preferance not trying to force anything. Thats why I like valdark's skill module so much.



In the swimming example, there is a place for training in the sport to make a difference, but physical conditioning (STR or CON) increases if you practice swimming to become really good at it. The ability bonus and the skill bonus are very much linked and skill will only make a small difference once the physical conditioning is taken out.

I think the tendency in 3rd and 4th edition was to catagorize every non-combat/magic action into a specific skill and that skill be linked to a specific ability. The chances of situations that you have to shoehorn into a skill even if it doesn't fit increase with that type of system. Another issue with a pre-defined list is the usefulness of individual skills always coming into question.

I saw the thread started by Valdark and I think there are some basic problems. Some 3rd edition style "skills" seem odd to be skills at all, like search. I can understand learning how to search for a specific thing like traps but learning how to search better in general seems weird. Some skills seem like they would never be learned individualy, like hide and move silently.  It seems possible, but odd and useless.

The grouping of actions under broader skills has some problems too. A non-magical magician would learn slight of hand, as well as a thief, but the magician would not necessarliy be good at stealth, as in a "Thievery" skill.

I'd like to see backgrounds not necessarily have 3 skills and only 3 skills associated with it. Basically it would be a job or lifestyle like, pirate, street urchin, or mountaineer, that would have recommended associated skills but that the player could  try to apply to other situations as well. Pirate might generally be rope use, navigation, and intimidation, but maybe can include information gathering when dealing with pirates or something.

Skills learned during an adventuring career might be more narrowly focused depending on how many you get but should be oriented around some kind of job or activity you learn. Hunting or alchemy or things like that.

There should of course be guidelines on what type of ability is appropriate for what action is attempted, and descriptions of backgrounds and skills should include some sample actions that they would be applied to. Generally it would be nice if the player states an intended action, DM gives a DC and stat to be used, and the player applies his background and learned skills if appropriate.



Did you ever play hide and seak as a kid?

Did it make you good at moving quietly?

How about sneak out of the house as a teen? 

Did hiding play any part in that?

The thing with those two skills isn't whether you might train them seperately intentionally but rather if something you might do would make you better at doing one or the other but not both.

This is why I see the separation being warranted.

The problem is that if you go too broad it makes no sense and if you give too many things tied to background you leave no room for advancement or growth outside of your background.

There has to be a middle ground between all background and all training.

This is why I made my proposal.

The thing to be considered in my proposal is that these groups don't have to be arranged as such for specific backgrounds but rather for those using skills independent of background.

A background might take from several groups or it might be tied to only one group.  How refined you want to go is up to the group as a whole.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

Darius.

Lets agree to disagree. Different playstyles, different opinions.

Sure, if you train in swimming your str or con will probably get higher. Since that in dnd also means you get to hit with your sword with more precision, getting higher saves for poisons etc For game balance's sake I would not like to mix those two. In my mind thats what skill points back in 3.x represent.

Im a fan of skill lists. Ive never felt they shoehorned me into anything. I can always use my ability check for things that skills dont cover. In fact in more detailed skill lists, you can easily create skills with your dm's permission. A fighter player once asked me if he could take a bash door skill. He loved to bash doors with his boot. Sure why not? He has done it in our adventures so many times, he's probably getting good at it.

As for "odd" skills like search or sneak. Repetion is knowledge's mother as philosophers say. If you check every dungeon room for cracks. crevices, gusts of air, out of the ordinary signs, why not get better at finding hidden or camouflaged objects or secret doors? If you scout ahead in every adventure while others pick their nails, or study their books why not get better at sneaking?

Dont get me wrong, as I understand we are not on the same page here. You find 3e skills "odd and useless", I find them useful adventuring options. I dont believe there is a middle ground here. But apart from specifics you didnt like in valdark's idea, the module concept of a tree and branches in skills if done nicely could let us both have our cakes and eat them.
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