Backgrounds and Skills

I've run several playtest sessions with my group, not always the same players, but with some overlap.  

Every time we roll characters nearly every player finds a background that suits them, but then the players want to add an extra skill that their character "should"  have.  

I now Houserule that players get 5 skills.  Four skills are given by the background and then players can choose one extra skill not listed in the background to customize their character.

Does anyone else have a similar experience?  Are four skills enough?   



 

Four skills - or rather, any specified number of skills - is nowhere near enough. There is always some skill that "fits" that you have to leave off or some minor skill that makes more sense than a more mechanically beneficial skill that gets left of so your character isn't "weaker".

I'd rather there be a "less is more" approach where a character's background granted them skills in the way of a particular bonus to rolls related to things the background would have done regularly or have been expected to be good at to earn a living, and a lesser bonus to things they might have done infrequently or had some limited exposure to.

...and skill improvement beyond that entirely independent of level and based entirely on simply doing things related to the skill or spending time learning from a teacher.

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I've run several playtest sessions with my group, not always the same players, but with some overlap.  

Every time we roll characters nearly every player finds a background that suits them, but then the players want to add an extra skill that their character "should"  have.  

I now Houserule that players get 5 skills.  Four skills are given by the background and then players can choose one extra skill not listed in the background to customize their character.

Does anyone else have a similar experience?  Are four skills enough?   

Well, for the most part yes. I take the 4E way of looking at background skills. You don't need to write down basket weaving and blacksmithing. You could just do them as long as it's in your background. Think of the background skills 5e gives you those skills you don't have to give any justification to use. That doesn't stop you from doing things from your background.

As a suggestion, have all your characters take profession and or perform and make that skill their background. So, a bounty hunter takes profession (bounty hunter) and if the player tries something they "should' be able to do, then roll the roll. Easy as pie. 

I was just wondering if others were adding House Rules to skills, because if MOST people are then I think there's a problem.  If I'm the only one who is changing the rules in my game then that's fine.



 

I don't. I find 4 skills is enough that you get to choose more than a couple, but still limited enough to make the choices meaningful.
 
My two copper.
Out of curiosity, what were the Backgrounds that people chose that felt they should have an additional skill?  This feeling that they "should" have another specific skill may be symptomatic of a problem of what skills are available.
Well the specific Background are not the issue in my opinion.  I think they are great, I just think there should be some flexibility in allowing players more that 4 skills.   But anyway I'll list them here.  

We had:


  • a Guide thought he should have Knowledge: Nature

  • a Minstrel who wanted Knowledge: History

  • a Bounty Hunter who thought she should be skilled in: Intimidate

  • a Guild Thief thought she should have Slight of Hand


etc.  there were a few more.  

Again, I let my players choose one skill not on their background list to add to their character to customize it.

 



 

I let my players simply pick the 4 skills they wanted and then which ever background trait they wanted.  There was always at least one skill that could have been swapped out to make a little more sense for how they wanted to play the character.


What I'd really like to see is more traits.  And really a pick your own traits and skills would just make for an easier system and more customizable.  The fluffy writing is all well and good but if I want my Cleric to be a naturalist that helps to heal useing herbs and nature lore, or my Fighter to be an intimidating bounty hunter, or a minstral to be skilled in playing only 4 different instuments and nothing else, let me make those decisions.


Limiting to 4 skills I like, it makes them important.  I just like mix and match better.

Note that the current package does have rules on creating your own backgrounds.  Tweaking a background would be an easy variant of that rule -- you can basicaly swap out any skills you don't want for skills that you do want.

If even that does not satisfy your players, they could take the Expert specialty or Superior Skill Training feat.  They could also pick a class that gives them extra trained skills.

If every one of the player characters in your group is an Expert, then that could be feedback that they are not providing enough skills -- but I have not noticed any such issues in my group so far.

 

 
Note that the current package does have rules on creating your own backgrounds.  Tweaking a background would be an easy variant of that rule -- you can basicaly swap out any skills you don't want for skills that you do want.

If even that does not satisfy your players, they could take the Expert specialty or Superior Skill Training feat.  They could also pick a class that gives them extra trained skills.

If every one of the player characters in your group is an Expert, then that could be feedback that they are not providing enough skills -- but I have not noticed any such issues in my group so far.

 

 


Yeah but spending a feat for skills kind of sucks when you only get 3 feats. Personally I think the new skill system is more complicated and I absolutely hate having to only choose 3 skills out of the billion that there are. I also prefer mixing and matching and would also like to see more traits. I, personally would hate to have to write in my own trait. There should just be a list to choose from, imo.
IMAGE(http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y152/RockNrollBabe20/Charmed-supernatural-and-charmed_zps8bd4125f.jpg)
Note that the current package does have rules on creating your own backgrounds.  Tweaking a background would be an easy variant of that rule -- you can basicaly swap out any skills you don't want for skills that you do want.

If even that does not satisfy your players, they could take the Expert specialty or Superior Skill Training feat.  They could also pick a class that gives them extra trained skills.

If every one of the player characters in your group is an Expert, then that could be feedback that they are not providing enough skills -- but I have not noticed any such issues in my group so far.

 

 


Yeah but spending a feat for skills kind of sucks when you only get 3 feats. Personally I think the new skill system is more complicated and I absolutely hate having to only choose 3 skills out of the billion that there are. I also prefer mixing and matching and would also like to see more traits. I, personally would hate to have to write in my own trait. There should just be a list to choose from, imo.

3? You get one at 1, 3, 6 and 9. That looks like 4 to me...

Note that the current package does have rules on creating your own backgrounds.  Tweaking a background would be an easy variant of that rule -- you can basicaly swap out any skills you don't want for skills that you do want.

If even that does not satisfy your players, they could take the Expert specialty or Superior Skill Training feat.  They could also pick a class that gives them extra trained skills.

If every one of the player characters in your group is an Expert, then that could be feedback that they are not providing enough skills -- but I have not noticed any such issues in my group so far.

 

 


Yeah but spending a feat for skills kind of sucks when you only get 3 feats. Personally I think the new skill system is more complicated and I absolutely hate having to only choose 3 skills out of the billion that there are. I also prefer mixing and matching and would also like to see more traits. I, personally would hate to have to write in my own trait. There should just be a list to choose from, imo.

3? You get one at 1, 3, 6 and 9. That looks like 4 to me...



I miscounted, I'm sorry. Still 4 is very minimal. I hate that personally. With only 4 feats you really really have to choose wisely and spending a feat on more skills seems like a waste, imo. It would be better to have more skills to train and more feats. 
IMAGE(http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y152/RockNrollBabe20/Charmed-supernatural-and-charmed_zps8bd4125f.jpg)
Note that the current package does have rules on creating your own backgrounds.  Tweaking a background would be an easy variant of that rule -- you can basicaly swap out any skills you don't want for skills that you do want.

If even that does not satisfy your players, they could take the Expert specialty or Superior Skill Training feat.  They could also pick a class that gives them extra trained skills.

If every one of the player characters in your group is an Expert, then that could be feedback that they are not providing enough skills -- but I have not noticed any such issues in my group so far.

 

 


Yeah but spending a feat for skills kind of sucks when you only get 3 feats. Personally I think the new skill system is more complicated and I absolutely hate having to only choose 3 skills out of the billion that there are. I also prefer mixing and matching and would also like to see more traits. I, personally would hate to have to write in my own trait. There should just be a list to choose from, imo.

3? You get one at 1, 3, 6 and 9. That looks like 4 to me...



I miscounted, I'm sorry. Still 4 is very minimal. I hate that personally. With only 4 feats you really really have to choose wisely and spending a feat on more skills seems like a waste, imo. It would be better to have more skills to train and more feats. 

Yeah, they should at least add 12, 15 and 18th levels for feats.
Reducing the number of Skills might help. Since the Skills are not de jure tied to ability scores anymore, you could easily combine some skills and have the differentiation be based on ability score.

The obvious example is combining Spot and Search (Wisdom, Intelligence) into one skill which means good eyesight (and you probably keep the name the same, "Spot"). Like a character really gonna be excell in one and be useless in the other? Similar, perhaps less obvious clusters might be:



  • Ride, Drive, Handle Animal: Animal Husbandry, modified by either Dex, Wisdom, and Charisma;

  • Climb, Swim: Athletics, modified by Strength and Con;

  • Balance, Tumble, Escape Artist: Gymnastics, modified by Dexterity, Strength (have you seen a gymnast?), and Constitution (High Con = flexible. Why not.)

  • Bluff, Sense Motive: Lying, modified by Charisma and Wisdom;

  • Heal, Knowledge [Sciences (maybe should be "Biology") rather than "Nature"]: Wisdom, Intellgence;

  • Knowledge [Engineering], Disable Device: Engineering, modified by Intelligence and Dexterity;



Etc. etc.

Should make a skill selection go a bit further.
Note that the current package does have rules on creating your own backgrounds.  Tweaking a background would be an easy variant of that rule -- you can basicaly swap out any skills you don't want for skills that you do want.

If even that does not satisfy your players, they could take the Expert specialty or Superior Skill Training feat.  They could also pick a class that gives them extra trained skills.

If every one of the player characters in your group is an Expert, then that could be feedback that they are not providing enough skills -- but I have not noticed any such issues in my group so far.

 

 


Yeah but spending a feat for skills kind of sucks when you only get 3 feats. Personally I think the new skill system is more complicated and I absolutely hate having to only choose 3 skills out of the billion that there are. I also prefer mixing and matching and would also like to see more traits. I, personally would hate to have to write in my own trait. There should just be a list to choose from, imo.

3? You get one at 1, 3, 6 and 9. That looks like 4 to me...



I miscounted, I'm sorry. Still 4 is very minimal. I hate that personally. With only 4 feats you really really have to choose wisely and spending a feat on more skills seems like a waste, imo. It would be better to have more skills to train and more feats. 

Yeah, they should at least add 12, 15 and 18th levels for feats.


I really hope they do. 
IMAGE(http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y152/RockNrollBabe20/Charmed-supernatural-and-charmed_zps8bd4125f.jpg)
I really hope they do. 

Yeah, I really hope that they just didn't update that section to 20 levels from 10. *crosses fingers*