My biggest problem with 5ed (Swingy D20)

I'm unhappy with the swingy D20. For example with small modifiers like a Dex save with 13 Dex is just D20 with +1 so it's basically a coin flip wether you dodge the dragon breath the problem that the designers don't seem to understand is that the D20 system (which is great in 3.5 and PF) is designed with higher modifiers  like + 5 to +15 and so on.
The D20 system is congruent with the old AD&D system, which was not designed with +5 or +15 in mind.
+1, +5, +15 it doesn't matter, the numbers are an optical illusion. If the DCs are set at 11, 16, 25 respectively, you still only have a 50/50 chance at succeeding.
The flaw of the d20 was always the size.The father the character's modifier is from the target DC, the more the roll is based of pure dumb luck.

But all is not lost.

DM Advice:

The key is the DC.
You cannot put high DCs for stuff you describe as easy.
If basic skill training in next is +3, then a DC13 is 50/50 for a skilled character.
So you cannot place a DC 13 on something you expect an expert to be able to do regularly. No DCs 13+ for identifying berries because it makes unrealistic results for a Nature lore or Survaval expert.

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!

Wouldn't an "easy" DC be about 3?
The D20 system is congruent with the old AD&D system, which was not designed with +5 or +15 in mind.



The problem with this is that the saving throws used in AD&D had nothing to do with your ability scores. The ability score didn't even modify a saving throw.

These were simply matrixes that improved as your character got more powerful. a 5th level magic user had a much better chance to save vs spells than a fighter of the same level, while that same fighter had an easier time against breath weapons. 

It's a fools errand to bring up AD&D systems in comparison to WotC systems since they are apples to mangos. 
The problem with this is that the saving throws used in AD&D had nothing to do with your ability scores. The ability score didn't even modify a saving throw.

Yes, they did.  Dex in 1E & 2E, and Wis in 2E, with Wis affecting the victim's saves in 1E.

However, exactly when they applied was so esoteric that most groups simply forgot about it.
Well.. yes, this is the inherrent flaw of any d20 system and is why most other RPGs use multiple dice...
It seems however that there is a hidden rule that says "Not d20, not D&D" so there is nothing to be done.

But, for a less swingy houserule, just replace the d20 with 2d10 and play as usual (and get a bell curve).
Wouldn't an "easy" DC be about 3?



Yup.

A 100% for experts DC would be DC 3

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!

I had a similar thought about AC recently... would it not be better to start ACs for unarmored off at something less than 10? It would give more 'effective hit space' especially under bounded accuracy.
I had a similar thought about AC recently... would it not be better to start ACs for unarmored off at something less than 10? It would give more 'effective hit space' especially under bounded accuracy.

That's what the Weapon Attack bonus is trying to do.

For players yes... but I don't see those weapon attack bonuses on monsters.
By very convenient coincidence, you can achieve a d20 roll with a nice Gaussian distribution by substituting 3d6.  Same average.  You just have to figure out criticals, and you're good to go.

I think this can make a useful houserule, particularly for trained skill checks:  training doesn't just make you better, it lets you achieve greater consistency in your results.

And there's always the "take 10" rule, too.
For players yes... but I don't see those weapon attack bonuses on monsters.


And WotC has noted many people have complained that monsters are too inaccurate in this iteration of the playtest.
I had a similar thought about AC recently... would it not be better to start ACs for unarmored off at something less than 10? It would give more 'effective hit space' especially under bounded accuracy.



The AC isn't just for figuring out if you hit the target, it's to see if you hit and deal damage. Realilistically speaking, you can smack a guy in full plate with your sword but you won't necesarily do damage to them. 
The problem with this is that the saving throws used in AD&D had nothing to do with your ability scores. The ability score didn't even modify a saving throw.

Yes, they did.  Dex in 1E & 2E, and Wis in 2E, with Wis affecting the victim's saves in 1E.

However, exactly when they applied was so esoteric that most groups simply forgot about it.




Yes I stand corrected. It's been a while. 

Still the systems are very different and can't be compared.

I'd actually like to see those saves return or something like them. Basing saves on ability scores means there is no real improvement as you gain levels.  It also means everyone is trying to get the highest scores they can. I believe ability scores should be the basis for the character's physical and mental attributes not the means of determining the outcome of assorted challenges. 

D&D has always had issues with characters being useless or undesirable because they have low numbers. Using those numbers to determine the outcome of important circumstances only makes this worse, and the reason so many people don't like rolling stats.

If flatter math is desired in Next then those 3e style ability modifiers need to disappear along with the rest of the numbers bloat the system engendered. I'd go as far to include periodic ability score increases.


As for the OP's point, I like the d20.

I'm not one to advocate multiple dice with the armor classes firmly imbedded in the sweet spot. If ACs are going to be meaningful the chance to hit them must be variable. I hear talk about players hitting monsters 55 or 60% of the time. It makes no sense to me when there are ten base ACs and only one attack bonus. Designing monsters by ac and weapons damage is a sure way of bolluxing up the whole works. constantly increasing AC and attacks to maintain a certain progression seems like a sure fire way to make things tedious and boring. The devs then have to keep adding things for the player to do to keep from being bored or losing interest. This seems to be the biggest problem with 4e that I've heard mentioned and it is happening with next already. Too much stuff being piled onto the classes is going against the stated goals of the dev team. 

I think they are already losing sight of their statement that simple is better.
I had a similar thought about AC recently... would it not be better to start ACs for unarmored off at something less than 10? It would give more 'effective hit space' especially under bounded accuracy.



The AC isn't just for figuring out if you hit the target, it's to see if you hit and deal damage. Realilistically speaking, you can smack a guy in full plate with your sword but you won't necesarily do damage to them. 



Yes, thats sums up the core of D&D in one sentance.
And your point concerning bounded accuracy and the available scale of to-hit vs. AC values is? =P

+1, +5, +15 it doesn't matter, the numbers are an optical illusion. If the DCs are set at 11, 16, 25 respectively, you still only have a 50/50 chance at succeeding.


There's a key difference though which shows up when you compare two characters, and this is where the minor bonuses fall short. If the strong fighter has only a +3 bonus, and the not so strong rogue has a +0 bonus, the fighter has only a 15% greater chance of success, which is dissatisfying. That's why a it's a little bit nicer to spread the bonuses out to a +5 to +10 and increase the DCs slightly.This allows a PC's stats to pull more weight than the randomness of the D20. It's fine for success to be 50/50 for an individual, but it shouldn't essentially be 50/50 for the entire party.

The problem with this is that the saving throws used in AD&D had nothing to do with your ability scores. The ability score didn't even modify a saving throw.

Yes, they did.  Dex in 1E & 2E, and Wis in 2E, with Wis affecting the victim's saves in 1E.

However, exactly when they applied was so esoteric that most groups simply forgot about it.



I never had a problem figuring out where to apply them.

+1, +5, +15 it doesn't matter, the numbers are an optical illusion. If the DCs are set at 11, 16, 25 respectively, you still only have a 50/50 chance at succeeding.


There's a key difference though which shows up when you compare two characters, and this is where the minor bonuses fall short. If the strong fighter has only a +3 bonus, and the not so strong rogue has a +0 bonus, the fighter has only a 15% greater chance of success, which is dissatisfying. That's why a it's a little bit nicer to spread the bonuses out to a +5 to +10 and increase the DCs slightly.This allows a PC's stats to pull more weight than the randomness of the D20. It's fine for success to be 50/50 for an individual, but it shouldn't essentially be 50/50 for the entire party.


Skills, perhaps, but in combat there really shouldn't be more than about a 20% gap between two characters hitting, or one player is going to feel really hosed.

1d20 attack rolls aren't going anywhere; It's a core D&D element — wherein the term "core" here refers to an iconic element of the game that has existed in every edition from Basic to 4th. Removing it would pretty much be the equivalent of removing Armor Class or Hit Points. 

I think it's important to simply accept the fact that at lower levels, combat is going to be a bit "swingy" and that your character's chance of success is going to be largely factored on luck more than skill. As they get more experienced, this dynamic diminishes and you start noticing the effects of skill and experience more. This is not all that far from reality; amateurs depend a great deal on luck in order to succeed. As they become experienced, they can dictate the outcomes of their endeavors with a little more control.

As for non-combat checks and saving throws, the key to avoiding "swingy" random-feeling outcomes is making sure the DC is kept well below 20 (with DCs of 15 or more being considered "extreme"). In most cases, a DC for a save or check shouldn't be more than DC 10. At that difficulty, you really notice the effects of abilities and other modifiers.

I would adjust the DC settings as such for saves and checks:

Trivial: 5
Easy: 7
Moderate: 10
Hard: 13
Very Hard: 16
Formidable: 20
Nearly Impossible: 21 or more

These are the guidelines I use when a check is only 1d20+Ability Mod.
 
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.


+1, +5, +15 it doesn't matter, the numbers are an optical illusion. If the DCs are set at 11, 16, 25 respectively, you still only have a 50/50 chance at succeeding.


There's a key difference though which shows up when you compare two characters, and this is where the minor bonuses fall short. If the strong fighter has only a +3 bonus, and the not so strong rogue has a +0 bonus, the fighter has only a 15% greater chance of success, which is dissatisfying. That's why a it's a little bit nicer to spread the bonuses out to a +5 to +10 and increase the DCs slightly.This allows a PC's stats to pull more weight than the randomness of the D20. It's fine for success to be 50/50 for an individual, but it shouldn't essentially be 50/50 for the entire party.


Skills, perhaps, but in combat there really shouldn't be more than about a 20% gap between two characters hitting, or one player is going to feel really hosed.




I agree when it's between two at-level characters. You make more rolls in combat so it's ok for the gap to be a little smaller on an individual roll. The greater number of rolls in combat will even it out and make the more accurate player feel more accurate. Also, in combat you can kind of assume that all classes are similarly useful or accurate with their primary attacks.


That's why I like a +3 to +7 starting to-hit spread. The gap between the lowest and the highest is only 20%. Again it falls into that sweet spot and helps differentiate adventurers trained with a weapon from a commoner swinging wildly with a sword they just picked up. The +0 to ~+12ish spread they seem to have going for to hit rolls is a good one, I just hope they bring defenses, saving throws, and skill checks in line with that sweet spot as well.


That's why they're going to have to do something about the no skill option. When you use straight ability modifiers, the greatest of the great is still only looking at a 25% greater chance of success than the lamest of the lame. Even when using skills the current playtest has a similar problem becaue the skills are so narrow, and you get so few of them, that most of the time you're effectively playing the no skill option. 


If the bonuses are so small that everyone effectively has the same chance, what's the point of even making a character. You could just go through the game saying what you do, and seeing if you roll an 11 or higher on d20. The playtests even goes so fas as to suggest this in the DM's guidelines; telling DM's they don't really need a DC, just look at whether or not the PC rolled a high number. Again, what's the point of making a PC if their stats don't matter? I'm not saying we  need ridiculously high bonuses (bounded accuracy is good), I'm just saying that between any two individual PCs, the game would benefit if there was a greater difference in check bonuses.

I like a system in which missing with an attack is far more frequent.    That way the rounds go by quicker and there are more of them.       

Currently, the rounds go by quickly and there are very few of them.     Increasing AC might be a simple way to correct this issue.    That way when someone does get hit it still means something.


I had a similar thought about AC recently... would it not be better to start ACs for unarmored off at something less than 10? It would give more 'effective hit space' especially under bounded accuracy.



The AC isn't just for figuring out if you hit the target, it's to see if you hit and deal damage. Realilistically speaking, you can smack a guy in full plate with your sword but you won't necesarily do damage to them. 

And a base 50% "hit and deal damage" rate is still too damn low.

As has been mentioned, replacing the d20 with d10 or 3d6 works fine for adding a bellcurve to probability. 

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The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuilding.

I had a similar thought about AC recently... would it not be better to start ACs for unarmored off at something less than 10? It would give more 'effective hit space' especially under bounded accuracy.



The AC isn't just for figuring out if you hit the target, it's to see if you hit and deal damage. Realilistically speaking, you can smack a guy in full plate with your sword but you won't necesarily do damage to them. 

And a base 50% "hit and deal damage" rate is still too damn low.




Wrong. 50% is a resonable baseline for an average combat, with a +/- 45% available for varying difficulties.
'That's just, like, your opinion, man.'
I had a similar thought about AC recently... would it not be better to start ACs for unarmored off at something less than 10? It would give more 'effective hit space' especially under bounded accuracy.



The AC isn't just for figuring out if you hit the target, it's to see if you hit and deal damage. Realilistically speaking, you can smack a guy in full plate with your sword but you won't necesarily do damage to them. 

And a base 50% "hit and deal damage" rate is still too damn low.





I think it's too high for a game with BA


I think it is too low.
If AC started out at 5 + Dex mod the baseline to hit would be 75%

If this is done by dropping the 10 to 5 or by giving +5 to hit bonus does not matter, but in my opinion dropping the 10 to 5 is cleaner (it keeps the +bonuses down).

This has two major benefits:
* It is easier for enemies to actually do something in battle, especially if their life-expectancy is just around 1.5 rounds.
* it gives a larger hit-space to play with for modifiers, armor and such.

Under the current system, armors and other AC modifiers only deal with the quite cramped 10-20 range.
Dropping the baseline to 5 would allow 5-20 variation.

Given that most player characters would stay somewhere between the extremes it would become a 7-18 range or so (in comparison to the current 12-19 range)
Isn't lower numbers (by decreasing ACs) cleaner than running around with +15 mods on attacks?
It's purely a matter of preference of course.
A system that uses a d20 for resolution works better if the range of modifiers to that roll is also 1-20.  

As it stands, if you have a STR 1 kobold and a STR 20 human trapped behind a DC 11 stuck door, then there is a 1/16 chance of the human failing to break down the door followed by the kobold succeeding.  I find this unacceptably high.  (Note that people will only start paying attention to such a roll after the human fails, at which point the kobold has a 1/4 chance of succeeding.)

If we instead added our full ability scores to such checks, then the human could not possibly fail to knock down the trivial (DC 11) door, for which the kobold would still have a fair (50%) chance.  There would also be a range of difficulties where the strongman could possibly fail but where the kobold would have no chance (DC 22 - 40, probably not exceeding DC 35 for fairness).  

Since most players will have stats between 8-20, that still leaves all of DC 22-28 where the strongest might fail and the weakest might succeed.  That seems more reasonable.

The metagame is not the game.

 Skills, perhaps, but in combat there really shouldn't be more than about a 20% gap between two characters hitting, or one player is going to feel really hosed.



This could be a rationale for removing the attribute assocation from accuracy in combat actions.... skilled actions dont have a damage roll... so this would just be following up on that. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

A system that uses a d20 for resolution works better if the range of modifiers to that roll is also 1-20.  

As it stands, if you have a STR 1 kobold and a STR 20 human trapped behind a DC 11 stuck door, then there is a 1/16 chance of the human failing to break down the door followed by the kobold succeeding.  I find this unacceptably high.  (Note that people will only start paying attention to such a roll after the human fails, at which point the kobold has a 1/4 chance of succeeding.)

If we instead added our full ability scores to such checks, then the human could not possibly fail to knock down the trivial (DC 11) door, for which the kobold would still have a fair (50%) chance.  There would also be a range of difficulties where the strongman could possibly fail but where the kobold would have no chance (DC 22 - 40, probably not exceeding DC 35 for fairness).  

Since most players will have stats between 8-20, that still leaves all of DC 22-28 where the strongest might fail and the weakest might succeed.  That seems more reasonable.



Not saying that the relationship between skills, ability scores, DCs and reality doesn't need a lot of work, but as it stands in D&D Next, your STR 1 kobold would have a 25% chance of breaking the door, while the STR 20 human would automatically succeed because his ability score is five or more higher than the DC.

And I don't want to be too critical of you since you are actively trying to find a better way to do things, but bigger numbers would be a huge regression in my opinion. I really hope a way can be found to keep the numbers low while solving the problems those of us participating in this thread see with the d20 skill system.
By very convenient coincidence, you can achieve a d20 roll with a nice Gaussian distribution by substituting 3d6.  Same average.  You just have to figure out criticals, and you're good to go.

I think this can make a useful houserule, particularly for trained skill checks:  training doesn't just make you better, it lets you achieve greater consistency in your results.

And there's always the "take 10" rule, too.



The use of normal distributions for cumulative "at least" mechanics is a habit that the entire gaming industry needs to be educated on so that they stop accidentally abusing it.

I am absolutely tired of rebutting the fallacy that Guassian distributions create greater reliability in binary resolution systems. Sure, 3d6 and 1d20 have the same expected value, but the difference in their distributions dramatically alters the granuarity and behavior any "cut-off" game mechanic that they determine. If you substitute 3d6 in place of the uniform d20 with the currently spaced DC's what you really do is make the higher DC's that much less reliable and specialization through the stacking of static bonuses that much more critical.
If you substitute 3d6 in place of the uniform d20 with the currently spaced DC's what you really do is make the higher DC's that much less reliable and specialization through the stacking of static bonuses that much more critical.

Which would lend itself to favoring characters well trained in skills.  I'm not sure if you're disagreeing with me or not.
If you substitute 3d6 in place of the uniform d20 with the currently spaced DC's what you really do is make the higher DC's that much less reliable and specialization through the stacking of static bonuses that much more critical.

Which would lend itself to favoring characters well trained in skills.  I'm not sure if you're disagreeing with me or not.



I think the point being made by Reinhart is that the bell curve that you get from 3d6 will almost 50% likely fall in the region of 9-12 with anything falling outside of these numbers being about 52%.  It removes a lot of the randomness out of the d20 roll but greatly favours rolls where you require a 7 or more  However, the down side comes when you're needing a 16 or more to succeed.  So it doesn't really fix the problem, it just shifts problem to a different area.  So I think he is disagreeing with 3d6 being more or less the same as d20. 

I agree that mastering a skill (be it weapon skill or otherwise) should take a lot (not all) of the randomness out of the roll but that really means bolstering the static numbers rather than changing the die type.  Unfortunately, this has become a criticism of many of the later editions and the proposed fix is keeping the static bonuses to a minimum and relying on advantage/disadvantage to pave the way.
If you substitute 3d6 in place of the uniform d20 with the currently spaced DC's what you really do is make the higher DC's that much less reliable and specialization through the stacking of static bonuses that much more critical.

Which would lend itself to favoring characters well trained in skills.  I'm not sure if you're disagreeing with me or not.



Having designed such systems and seen the consequences I can assure you it doesn't work the way you want it to. Your average DM and designer doesn't grasp well that +/-2 to the roll grants one character a +/-25% to succeed, and another only a +/-8%. DM's essentially have to start deriving their DC's from a z-table just to estimate each player's chances of success. What's more, there is simply less control over the probability of success for most of the distribution. You slide very steeply from 90.7% to 16.2% in just seven discrete steps.

Quite simply, there is no advantage to the Gaussian distribution for binary effects.

Quite simply, there is no advantage to the Gaussian distribution for binary effects.



I just really like this line. 
'That's just, like, your opinion, man.'
What's more, there is simply less control over the probability of success for most of the distribution. You slide very steeply from 90.7% to 16.2% in just seven discrete steps.


I'm not sure how you can categorically say there is no advantage to this system - it depends on what the goals of the system are.  If the complaint is that a d20 roll is too "swingy", then making it so that more DCs have either a higher chance of success or a higher chance of failure is an advantage.

Quite simply, there is no advantage to the Gaussian distribution for binary effects.



I just really like this line. 


In my head, I hear C3PO saying that.

I think it's important to simply accept the fact that at lower levels, combat is going to be a bit "swingy..."
 


This is the best point made in this thread.  If "swingy" (I really hate that term, btw...) offends your "it's over 9000!!!!11!!" sensibilities, then simply start your campaign at a higher level.  This way, everybody's happy--those of us who enjoy the "swinginess" of classic low-level play get what we want out of the core system, and the Dragonball types get their superpowered starting characters without breaking the system for the rest of us.  How is this a bad plan?

And a base 50% "hit and deal damage" rate is still too damn low.



No it isn't.  If anything, it's far too high.  If a trained, unarmoured man is menacing you with a sword, and you strike at him with your own sword, your attack is probably much less than 50% likely to hit him because he's probably going to parry your stroke.  Unfortunately, D&D has never been all that good at representing a character's skill at defending himself.  I enjoyed using a variation of the 3E optional "defense roll" rule to represent this.

In the interest of keeping things simple, though, I'd prefer to see the base unarmoured "hit and deal damage" chance at somewhere around 30-40%.  If we have to, however, I guess we can keep the classic 50% hit rate, but I'd like to see it modified by some sort of character base defense bonus...

If you have to resort to making offensive comments instead of making logical arguments, you deserve to be ignored.


I think it's important to simply accept the fact that at lower levels, combat is going to be a bit "swingy..."
 


This is the best point made in this thread.  If "swingy" (I really hate that term, btw...) offends your "it's over 9000!!!!11!!" sensibilities, then simply start your campaign at a higher level.  This way, everybody's happy--those of us who enjoy the "swinginess" of classic low-level play get what we want out of the core system, and the Dragonball types get their superpowered starting characters.

While I understand and respect your playstyle and point of view here, could you have found a more offensive way to say this?

A little respect for others playstyles goes a long way towards preserving civility.
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