A possible change to skill mastery

Skill mastery is an ability that tries to define a role for the rogue, but in my opinion it went quite too far and damaged the game. Having both +3 and minimum roll of 10 makes for a bored rogue player (i know that mine was at least) and overshadows the other PCs (why would i invest in skills if no matter what the rogue is better?). Add to this the knack skill at lvl 2 and the DM starts to be in serious problems, if he wants to provide a really challenging skill test, then he must set a DC impossible for the rest of the group.


As such i suggest the following change:


1) Remove knack at lvl 2 (see below).


2) Skill mastery allows you x times a day (3, 4 or something like that) to either raise a skill to +3 OR get a minimum of 8 on your roll. At lvl 2 you also get the chance to grant yourself advantage on a roll, and maybe additional uses/day.



This way the rogue would still be a master of skills, since he has an answer to any situation:


1) Routine check that you don't want to fail. Get 8.


2) Check in something you are untrained. Flat +3.


3) Difficult check in something you are good at. Get advantage.


At the same time you are not limiting the other PCs. If my paladin has diplomacy +6 then i'm the one that will negotiate with that guy, cause at best you have a +3. You don't have +3, advantage, and no less than 10 on the roll at the same time.


Also, it would make sense for the rogue to invest in secondary ability scores. Having a + 2 instead of -1 means autosuccess on easy checks and makes your advantage more useful.



Just throwing an idea, what do you think?



Bored rogues? I would beg to differ. My rogue players have said that it finally made them feel like they could do skill checks in combat without feeling like they were wasting their turn. Knowing you were most likely going to disable that trap made it a comparable option to Sneak Attack for the first time since 2e :P SA every turn? That can also create bored rogues.

I do agree that it seems a little TOO guaranteed, but your system brings it back to a non comparable level. At least in my eyes.

At the same time you are not limiting the other PCs. If my paladin has diplomacy +6 then i'm the one that will negotiate with that guy, cause at best you have a +3. You don't have +3, advantage, and no less than 10 on the roll at the same time.


How is the rogue gaining advantage in a way that the paladin wouldn't? 
My two copper.
For our next session I will  give the rogue an extra d6 to add to his roll instead of the current rules for skill mastery, it won't interfere with the advantage/disadvantage rule and will still allow fumbles to happen.

I feel that for constested checks having +3, no bad rolls and advantage is much better than a flat +6. But that may be just my opinion.


Even if the other chars don't feel overshadower skill wise by the rogue, a great problem that i actually find is the fact that he has almost no reason to invest in secondary abilities.

I think is too much advantage for a character (my rogue in the playtesting liked it) It does not allow other characters make anything out of their fields (fight, heal...) But I see your idea too much complicated. Why not return to the 3rd ed and simply give more skill training to the rogues? Maybe training more skills (like Jack of all trades) or giving more points when you get a new level. If you have the +7 limit it will not get crazy like 3rd ed when your skills could be almost supernatural
I have a bored Rogue as well. I'm going to try and throw in some traps of higher quality as well as the lower quality ones that she can disarm in a second.
Ant Farm
I think your reading Skill Mastery too broadly. I think the "your skills" wording means the rogue's actually trained skills, not every check the rogue might make. This is a change from terminology compared to the older editions, but it is spelled out at the start of the backgrounds PDF when it explains skills. In the past you where making always making a diplomacy check, even if you where not trained in diplomacy. In next your making a charisma check, but using diplomacy in place of charisma when trained because that skill applies to this check.

This means the rogue can only use Knack when trying to outpace the Paladin at diplomacy. Read this way it is fine. Without the other two bonuses, Knack just gives him a decent chance of succeeding at easy rolls unless it is something he is talented at anyway. The +3 bonus just insures a rogue can't be bad at a skill he is trained in, and the minimum 10 is roughly a +2.25 bonus. This means a rogue will slightly outpace another character at something they are both trained in, but not by much.
My rogue is only using her Trained skills for the checks. In the end she can always intimidate, find traps, disable traps, see everything, and hide. At considerable advantage. Basically she is a ninja, with no problems.
Ant Farm
My rogue is only using her Trained skills for the checks. In the end she can always intimidate, find traps, disable traps, see everything, and hide. At considerable advantage. Basically she is a ninja, with no problems.

That is possible, if the difficulty levels are set too low, the fairly high mininum a rogue gets on their rolls means that easy tasks become automatic. It wasn't a problem for our group, but that might have been a side effect of what we where running into. Our rogue was mostly using stealth and open locks, and didn't have spot as a skill. Stealth in combat needs to be fairly reliable as the rogue depends on it now to get sneak attack, and the open lock checks where the sort of thing you do want to mostly be trivial because it just holds the game up if the party spends too much time opening doors. The few times a rogue specific skill check was important it was also a harder roll.



My rogue is only using her Trained skills for the checks. In the end she can always intimidate, find traps, disable traps, see everything, and hide. At considerable advantage. Basically she is a ninja, with no problems.

That is possible, if the difficulty levels are set too low, the fairly high mininum a rogue gets on their rolls means that easy tasks become automatic. It wasn't a problem for our group, but that might have been a side effect of what we where running into. Our rogue was mostly using stealth and open locks, and didn't have spot as a skill. Stealth in combat needs to be fairly reliable as the rogue depends on it now to get sneak attack, and the open lock checks where the sort of thing you do want to mostly be trivial because it just holds the game up if the party spends too much time opening doors. The few times a rogue specific skill check was important it was also a harder roll.





At first, I defended this mechanic, but the recent arguments have swayed me to the other side. 

Yes, the DCs are too low, but that's the problem. If a rogue is in the party, DCs HAVE to be high. Other players don't even get a chance, or they do and the rogue auto passes it every time. Now this only applies on the skills the rogue has, true. But it's still an issue.

Read the latest Playtester Profile, on Hocus Smokus, he has a great review of Skill Mastery's issues. He even concludes that sometimes it seems better not to have a rogue in the party, lol. 
My two copper.
Read the latest Playtester Profile, on Hocus Smokus, he has a great review of Skill Mastery's issues. He even concludes that sometimes it seems better not to have a rogue in the party, lol. 


Here's the URL for anybody that's interested.
community.wizards.com/dndnext/blog/2012/...
When I read Skill mastery mechanic by the first time I think "this is very powerfull". Then i start the playtest confirm it.

The main problem with this mechanic is: if the DM scale the dificult to turn skill matery relevant only rogue is able to deal with that challenge, on the other hand if DM use a DC that is good for all PCs the rogue has a auto success.

Now I using "choose 5 + a litle bonus per nivel" instead 10 for skill mastery and the game seen more fair.
We have been seeing the same effects in our group.    (General note -- there are a number of areas in the 5e rules that need clearer wording, skill mastery and reactionas among them. I wish I had found a markup the rule book forum to go section by section and clarify the intention.)   I am now testing then 10 or Die roll choice and if thats too much will try roll min 10 for trained only.  But it might be useful to include notes on how often one expects a rogue and a non-rogue to succeed at a given challenge dificulty level in the discussiont thereof.  Since its a real design choice for the dungeon designer.    
Yes, the DCs are too low, but that's the problem. If a rogue is in the party, DCs HAVE to be high. Other players don't even get a chance, or they do and the rogue auto passes it every time. Now this only applies on the skills the rogue has, true. But it's still an issue.

Read the latest Playtester Profile, on Hocus Smokus, he has a great review of Skill Mastery's issues. He even concludes that sometimes it seems better not to have a rogue in the party, lol. 

The rogue's Skill Mastery might need some fine tuning, but it really seems to work fine as long as you take the bonus as only applying to skills the rogue is actually trained in.

In any case, suggesting advantage in place of mininum 10 is terrible, advantage on skill rolls is actually a bigger bonus. It is both a bigger bonus on average and it provides the biggest bonus on moderate and hard challenges, while the min 10 roll only helps to clear out easy taks automatically.

I really on see two things that might need tweaked. The mininum 10 might need cut to 9 or even 8 at 1st level. I would also like to see a 1 on the roll autofails also, even with skill mastery, so there is at least a chance of failure.

Yes, the DCs are too low, but that's the problem. If a rogue is in the party, DCs HAVE to be high. Other players don't even get a chance, or they do and the rogue auto passes it every time. Now this only applies on the skills the rogue has, true. But it's still an issue.

Read the latest Playtester Profile, on Hocus Smokus, he has a great review of Skill Mastery's issues. He even concludes that sometimes it seems better not to have a rogue in the party, lol. 

The rogue's Skill Mastery might need some fine tuning, but it really seems to work fine as long as you take the bonus as only applying to skills the rogue is actually trained in.

In any case, suggesting advantage in place of mininum 10 is terrible, advantage on skill rolls is actually a bigger bonus. It is both a bigger bonus on average and it provides the biggest bonus on moderate and hard challenges, while the min 10 roll only helps to clear out easy taks automatically.

I really on see two things that might need tweaked. The mininum 10 might need cut to 9 or even 8 at 1st level. I would also like to see a 1 on the roll autofails also, even with skill mastery, so there is at least a chance of failure.




My thoughts exactly JayM.   I love the roll a "1" for a complication.   I could even see Skill Mastery as "take 7".   That would make the average rogue succeed on any Moderate check (DC 13), but not on the Hard check (DC 16), which he can do now.   Of course, the "take 7" can go up with levels too, so eventually a rogue will be able to make the Hard check routine. 

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

We are having a similar issue in my playtest group as well. Somehow, I interpreted the wording to apply only to trained skills upon first reading the ability, glad to see others agree on it. Even so, it's OP. Changing it to an advantage on rolls makes no difference, since right now it's "10 or die roll", and if one interpretes the "10" part as the average of a d20, it translates to the same as having advantage.
I have thus switched to using the following house rule: the Rogue's player either opts to roll the d20 (in which case he uses whatever result comes up on the die), or takes 10 (11 at 5th level). It still won't solve the issue of consistently getting high results, though.
In last week's session, I came up with another alternative, and gave it a test, but the outcome was disappointing: I houseruled that when using Skill Mastery, taking 10 (11 at 5th level) actually includes the Rogue's ability modifier, so only the training bonus is added to it. At first, I combined it with the house rule listed above (either roll or take 10 without rolling), but it actually made the Rogue worse at signature skills (like Stealth), so I dropped the first house rule, and used only the second, so the end result was "roll d20, choose result or 10, then add training bonus" (kinda like making the skill check with advantage but sacrificing the ability modifier). It worked a bit better.
Next playtest session is on Sunday... I want to try another idea this time; I'll leave the Skill Mastery rule as is on the "10 or die roll" part, but will limit the +3 bonus (in place of ability modifier) to +1. I believe the intent was not to punish a Rogue's skills for him having below-average scores in secondary/tertiary abilities (since he's a skill-focused class). An option of "+1 or ability modifier" allows him to be better than average on trained skills despite not actually being gifted in that area. I'll edit this post to let you know how it worked out Laughing
James
I like the ideia of skill mastery, and I agree that need some fine tuning.
I tested various approaches to skill mastery and found that roll die or "choose 5 + 1/2 rogue's level" (allowing rogue susseds on easy tasks at level 1 and moderate tasks at level 4) works fine for low levels. Maybe I need put some threshold on maximum bonus to allow it works on high levels, but by time its ok for me.
Today I have no more isssues with skill mastery. 
Having in consideration that the other players will roll only their ability modifyers for the most skill checks I think the difficulty levels are ok. If you compare the difficulty of health recovery with and without a cleric you will understand that every group should have one. I think that is making the game more cooperative, even if some checks are too easy for the rogue.

 Otherwise, I would recover the 3rd ed possibility of "select 20 in the dice if you have all the time you want" (I don´t know the name of that in english editions) It allowed to have very high difficulties designed only to be passed in that way. For example, opening a door could be very difficult if you tried to do it in your turn in the middle of a combat, but was not impossible having a lot of time. The rules of X success before Y fails is good too
For me the most damning moment for Skill Mastery happened last night. I have a halfling fighter in the group whose player often takes a back seat to more dominant players and personalities. He can shine when he's motivated and interested but it's very easy for him to disappear into the background.

The party were about to go through with their plan to stealthily deal with the orc encampment in the playtest adventure. I saw a chance to get the fighter back into the spotlight because he is also trained in the skill. He was going to go through with it until he was talked out of it by the other players who pointed to the rogue and said "if he rolls low, he'll be fine! If you roll low, you'll be dead."

A game mechanic should not have any place in what should be a roleplaying decision in my opinion.

Following this, the rogue proceded to basically neuter much of the orc camp on his own because his skills default to 17s and the dice were not on my side. And he was doing minimum damage equal to the orc's total HP. The player came back at the end of the session and actually apologized for how much he dominated the scene. Most of the other players were fine with how it had gone down, citing character reasons as well for why they were fine letting the lone rogue risk his neck, but my halfling fighter went to bed rather dejected.

I've been trying to run the playtest as by-the-book as possible, but next week you can bet the rogue - and specifically Skill Mastery - will be seeing a few changes.
For me the most damning moment for Skill Mastery happened last night. I have a halfling fighter in the group whose player often takes a back seat to more dominant players and personalities. He can shine when he's motivated and interested but it's very easy for him to disappear into the background.

The party were about to go through with their plan to stealthily deal with the orc encampment in the playtest adventure. I saw a chance to get the fighter back into the spotlight because he is also trained in the skill. He was going to go through with it until he was talked out of it by the other players who pointed to the rogue and said "if he rolls low, he'll be fine! If you roll low, you'll be dead."

A game mechanic should not have any place in what should be a roleplaying decision in my opinion.

Following this, the rogue proceded to basically neuter much of the orc camp on his own because his skills default to 17s and the dice were not on my side. And he was doing minimum damage equal to the orc's total HP. The player came back at the end of the session and actually apologized for how much he dominated the scene. Most of the other players were fine with how it had gone down, citing character reasons as well for why they were fine letting the lone rogue risk his neck, but my halfling fighter went to bed rather dejected.

I've been trying to run the playtest as by-the-book as possible, but next week you can bet the rogue - and specifically Skill Mastery - will be seeing a few changes.



This experience is very powerful.  I hope WoTC sees this.  I never even thought about this aspect of the mechanic.  Thanks for sharing this. 

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

No prob.

I'm actually really enjoying the new edition and I'm very happy to be on the ground floor offering my feedback on it. It feels very much like the DnD I want to play in the future. It just needs to work out a few kinks before it's ready and I personally feel there are several issues around the rogue that need work.
I like skill mastery, but I think having a limit on the ammount of times you can use it between extended rests might be a way to go. That way the rogue can succeed automatically on a number of skill checks, but there is tension about when it is best to spend them. They might risk failing pick lock checks or stealth checks when they think they're safe, to keep the skill mastery for that time they're hiding in the middle of hostile territory, with mosters actively hunting for them.

Perhaps this feels too similar to limiting the number spells as a wizard or cleric, but I think the impact of skill mastery on the game is akin to using magic.
Sign In to post comments