Too many skills?

Last two playtest packets featured a grand total of 27 separate skills. Why, exactly? That's far too many! Especially since many of them seem to fulfill pretty much the same roles, at least partially.

Take Bluff. "Pass of a falsehood", "any attempt to deceive someone". Great! But since it already allows me to "pass off a disguise", why would I ever choose Disguise skill, which is virtually limited to that sole purpose... and on top of that, still notes that in case the disguise is confronted, the character "is more likely to fall back on a skill such as Bluff"? That doesn't do much to convince me that I really need a separate Disguise skill.

Same goes for separate Search/Track (highly specialized search), Perform/Sleight of Hands (both of which allows a character to try "an act of legerdemain"), Ride/Drive (which fulfill virtually the same function in the game)... It's just strange to have skill with such broad use (such as Bluff) next to specialized ones - and I have to say that I prefer the former.
+1

This system feels very skill starved atm.  It's like a 3.5 skill list, but with only being able to select a number of skills as you could in 4e.
I really like the current skill list. Lying and disguising yourself have almost nothing in common, nor does searching a room for hidden doors and tracking prey through the woods.

I'd rather get to pick more skills than have fewer to pick from.
I prefer what I have seen from 13th Age skills - sounds like a great system.
 
I prefer what I have seen from 13th Age skills - sounds like a great system.
 



Meh. It is a little too abstract for my tastes. 
I prefer what I have seen from 13th Age skills - sounds like a great system.
 



Meh. It is a little too abstract for my tastes. 



That's what I like about it.  Simulationism and DnD have never gone well together for me.  Simulationism has never been a huge priority for me anyway.


For those of us unfamiliar with it, what is the skill system like in 13th Age? =) (Basic mechanics and concepts are fine, no need for too much detail)

I prefer what I have seen from 13th Age skills - sounds like a great system.
 

 

Meh. It is a little too abstract for my tastes. 

 

That's what I like about it.  Simulationism and DnD have never gone well together for me.  Simulationism has never been a huge priority for me anyway.





Qualities don't exist in binary states. A thing isn't either "simulationist" or "not simulationist." I wouldn't say that simulating reality is of huge importance to me either. But, I find the system 13th age has chosen to use far too abstract. I can see something that abstract causing arguments at tables when the narrative reality in a player's imagination doesn't match up with the narrative reality in a DMs. I prefer things to be a little more hardcoded. 

Likewise, saying that "simulationsm and D&D have never gone well together" really amounts to what degree of simulationism you are talking about. At some level, every RPG performs a simulation. The question is only what level of abstraction any given player can aesthetically tolerate. 13th age steps a little too far outside of the levels of abstraction I am comfortable with. 

Which isn't to say that the game doesn't look interesting. It does. I might even pick up a copy. But there are many elements where I feel DDN has the potential to match my tastes more effectively: bounded accuracy, more hardcoded skill lists, refresh timers that work off of in game realities instead of metagame realities, and so on and so forth. 
 
Since they're aiming for an "attributes first" approach to task resolution, I agree that making fine distinctions between skills is counter to that approach. If there's only one thing I can do with a skill, then I think "skill first." I would rather see broad uses for skills rather than narrow uses.

My ideal skill list, aiming for the the conciseness of 4E with the breadth of 3E (new, unchanged, removed):
Acrobatics
Athletics
Balance (now Acrobatics)
Bluff
Climb (now Athletics)
Disable Device
Disguise (fits under either Bluff or Perform)
Drive (renamed Pilot)
Escape Artist (now Acrobatics)
Gather Rumors (possibly renamed Streetwise)
Handle Animal (absorbs Ride)
Heal
Intimidate
Knowledge
-- Arcana
-- Dungeoneering
-- Folklore (fits under History)
-- Forbidden Lore (fits under Arcana & Religion)
-- Heraldry (fits under History)
-- History
-- Nature
-- Religion
-- Sciences
-- Warfare (fits under History)
Listen (now Perception)
Perception (absorbs Spot & Listen)
Perform
Persuade
Pilot (Air, Land, Sea)
Profession (...)
Ride
Search
Sense Motive (possibly renamed Insight)
Sleight of Hand
Sneak
Spot (now Perception)
Survival (fits under K(Nature))
Swim (now Athletics)
Track (fits under Search and K(Nature))
Tumble (now Acrobatics)
Use Rope (fits under Sleight of Hand, various professions, etc.)

Cleaned up:
Acrobatics
Athletics
Bluff
Disable Device
Handle Animal
Heal
Intimidate
Insight
Knowledge (Arcana, Dungeoneering, History, Nature, Religion, Sciences)
Perception
Perform
Persuade
Pilot (Air, Land, Sea)
Profession (...)
Search
Sleight of Hand
Sneak
Streetwise
The skill system provided in DDN could work - but it doesn't.

If it's supposed to be long list of partially overlapping skills to suit everyone's taste, it needs more specialized skills and other options. If that's the goal, Bluff and Perform fail at it, because they usage is so broad. The system as a whole also comes short, as no character is able to master too many skills.

On the other hand, if the idea is to provide a short, streamlined list of generally useful skills aplicable in many game situations depending on player's imagination... well, it just doesn't work with 27 different skills, and separate skills for "driving a vehicle" and "riding an animal". In ancient/medieval-esque fantasy setting.

I don't care much for simulationism etc. - I'd just like the game system to be coherent.
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I love the list provided by Veggie-sama. That would do the trick - although I'd probably keep separate Folklore and Forbidden Lore, or made them into feats or background-tied benefits.
I prefer the idea of fewer skills with broad uses. Many skills can be eliminated by allowing other relevant skills to be rolled instead. For example, knowing that Kas was the Liutenant that betrayed Venca could be an Arcana, Religion, or Knowledge Local (Central Flan), negating the need for a Knowledge History skill. By doing this, you are more likely going to use a skill in any given adventure. As it is, except for player directed skills like Stealth, you may seldom see your skills come up (how often do you need Drive or Use Rope?).

Others disagree. Several players in my group like the current idea of many skills with very defined uses. This is less work on the DM, as they don't have to consider every possibility before allowing a roll. I don't like it, but I guess I'm going to have to deal with it.
I don't like "many skills, specific use" - but I can live with it as long as there are no "must-have" skills (core and often needed, irreplacable, or with strangely broad use in comparison with others) and it's easy to learn more.
I love the list provided by Veggie-sama. That would do the trick - although I'd probably keep separate Folklore and Forbidden Lore, or made them into feats or background-tied benefits.


You know, on second thought maybe Arcana should be nixed in favor of Forbidden Lore. The Cthulhu-like nature of "Forbidden Lore" is definitely appealing, and the study of magic could fit squarely in there. I also was hesitant to knock out Folklore, but then I thought: isn't History in the D&D world more-or-less mythological anyway? In a pre-Renaissance world, it would be very hard to neatly separate History from Myth.

On the topic of knowledge skills: they have always seemed like half-skills to me. Certain classes and races get them for free. They don't usually let you "do" anything other than let the DM whisper some plot information into your ear. Rarely are they ever critical in the same way that stealth or spot/listen can save your life. Of course all that's arguable, but in the end I don't think having 10 of them is productive.

As for profession, that's another skill I'd never take unless the DM agreed with me beforehand that it could be interpreted very broadly. If my dwarf is a fisherman, I would expect to know something about merfolk, boats, popular seafood dishes, etc. I played a game of Shadowrun once where a PC took the skill Background Knowledge (Barbeque Chef), and every goddamn game he tried to find a use for it. Definitely memorable and hilarious, but it would have been painful if the GM wasn't lenient.
Or maybe certain skills should be considered "half-skills" to better match the core ones? Knowledge and Profession definitely; maybe some other specialized skills as well? Still, I'd rather see your shortened, 4e-esque list of skills in the actual rulebook, although probably with an option to replace actual skills with ability checks, common sense and interpretation (based on background, class and race).

Skills in 5th edition are basically specialties for your character, while the ability scores are areas of general competence. Considering that, I prefer a more specific skill list. I want to be able to make a character thats a great climber without having to be good at every other imaginable athletic thing, like swimming, as well. Maybe my character is a desert nomad who can run for hours without tiring and is great at climbing rocks but has never gone swimming in his whole life. Having a general skill like "athletics" prevents me from making such a character.

That said, I hate the whole copy/paste from 3.x skill list they have now. Use Rope? Seriously? They need to make a new skill list from scratch, IMHO.


Skills in 5th edition are basically specialties for your character, while the ability scores are areas of general competence. Considering that, I prefer a more specific skill list. I want to be able to make a character thats a great climber without having to be good at every other imaginable athletic thing, like swimming, as well. Maybe my character is a desert nomad who can run for hours without tiring and is great at climbing rocks but has never gone swimming in his whole life. Having a general skill like "athletics" prevents me from making such a character.



Exactly! There's a character development issue with a reduced skill list. Same problem I have with Pathfinder's skills. "Acrobatics?" What if I just want to be able to escape from bonds because my character is an escaped prisoner or something, do I have to be equally good at tumbling from a fall or balancing on a narrow ledge to do that?
In my view, a specific skill should reasonably have a chance of coming up every session or two. If you're rolling Perception 5 times in the same session, that's too much. If you only get a chance to roll Escape Artist once in an entire campaign, that's too little. Some of that might be the DM's over-insistence on rolling certain checks, but I think players and DMs alike would have difficulty finding a use for Escape Artist, Use Rope, and Knowledge (Folklore) every session.
In my view, a specific skill should reasonably have a chance of coming up every session or two. If you're rolling Perception 5 times in the same session, that's too much. If you only get a chance to roll Escape Artist once in an entire campaign, that's too little. Some of that might be the DM's over-insistence on rolling certain checks, but I think players and DMs alike would have difficulty finding a use for Escape Artist, Use Rope, and Knowledge (Folklore) every session.


Agreed. Perception as a single skill is too much, but I don't like it broken down into 3 skills either (I would combine Spot and Search). I worry with Stealth, but I think that is only used often because it is a player driven skill, as opposed to most skills that are DM driven. The skills that are too narrow should be folded into other skills so that they can occur more often.

If the current setup continues, I foresee many players using the make your own background option, using only the most useful skills.
here is an offhand idea... what if there is a Basic Skill such as Acrobatics that is treated slightly like the Knowledge skill is.....
Example: Acrobatics (Tightrope walking, Tumble). The PC has training in walking on a Tightrope in a variety of condition and can do simple and complex Tumble maneuvers on the rope and on the ground.

If the PC is a new character this uses one (1) skill slot available at 1st level.

the basic Acrobatics skill (or whatever you want to call it) would have sub-categories including (but not limited to) Balance, Tightrope walking, Tumble, and Perform) SOME of these sub-skills can be duplicated in other skill groups
In my view, a specific skill should reasonably have a chance of coming up every session or two. If you're rolling Perception 5 times in the same session, that's too much. If you only get a chance to roll Escape Artist once in an entire campaign, that's too little. Some of that might be the DM's over-insistence on rolling certain checks, but I think players and DMs alike would have difficulty finding a use for Escape Artist, Use Rope, and Knowledge (Folklore) every session.


Agreed. Perception as a single skill is too much, but I don't like it broken down into 3 skills either (I would combine Spot and Search). I worry with Stealth, but I think that is only used often because it is a player driven skill, as opposed to most skills that are DM driven. The skills that are too narrow should be folded into other skills so that they can occur more often.

If the current setup continues, I foresee many players using the make your own background option, using only the most useful skills.



Escape artist is one of those things that rarely comes up, but when it does it can be life or death, unlike spot and listen which happen constantly but at worst a failure means you get ambushed. How often do you have to balance? When you don't fall into a spike pit because of your balancing skills, you don't regret taking a diverse skill set.

People just taking the most commonly used ones is a player problem, not a system problem, and a problem of a DM not ever getting the party tied up awaiting execution if not one of them took escape artist.

Agreed. Perception as a single skill is too much, but I don't like it broken down into 3 skills either (I would combine Spot and Search). I worry with Stealth, but I think that is only used often because it is a player driven skill, as opposed to most skills that are DM driven. The skills that are too narrow should be folded into other skills so that they can occur more often.



I don't like some of their current skill selections because they don't really consider the opposing skill.  Use Rope and Escape Artist are great examples of opposing skills.  It's even ok to have some skills that only serve to oppose themselves - like in 3.5, the Forgery skill was opposed by itself, with the idea being if you could make a forgery then you could detect a forgery and vice versa.  However, in the current packet Spot and Listen vs. Stealth is my biggest pet peeve.  Spot and Listen should be in the same skill, or Stealth should be separated out to Hide and Move Silently to allow for the symmetry of skills.

The reason I have trouble with the current setup is what I've dubbed the "double Perception phenomenon."  If I Stealth, I am both moving silently and hiding.  Darting from cover to cover, trying to stay out of sight.  So, let's say I'm tailing someone.  I would roll my Stealth once as a total measure of my ability to remain undetected for a period of time.  The target would then get to roll both Spot and Listen, essentially giving them two different chances to notice me within a single Stealth check.

If I were to group two skills, then I think Spot and Listen should be folded into a Perception skill - Search can remain separate (otherwise it would be way too powerful, IMO).  This way, you only roll once to both hear, see, or smell a potential threat or to notice things from a distance, but without the close-up details that Search offers (the difference between "coarse" and "fine" granularity for using your senses).
"The reason I have trouble with the current setup is what I've dubbed the "double Perception phenomenon."  If I Stealth, I am both moving silently and hiding.  Darting from cover to cover, trying to stay out of sight.  So, let's say I'm tailing someone.  I would roll my Stealth once as a total measure of my ability to remain undetected for a period of time.  The target would then get to roll both Spot and Listen, essentially giving them two different chances to notice me within a single Stealth check."

 You would not as you dont roll skill checks any more. You roll a Dex check that the oponent counters with a wisdom check, either party can then pick a skill if they have one that is suitable to roll on top of that roll. This means that a target with both listen and spot would ever only get to roll one of them.

 So I agree with you that Listen and Spot should be one skill, as I see it as a waste if for some reason the player has chosen both but can ever only use one of them. BUT what happens if you only have 1 skill for both and someone deafens or blinds you? Do you still get to use the combined skill? And if so the condition is completely useless.

 So I agree with you that Listen and Spot should be one skill, as I see it as a waste if for some reason the player has chosen both but can ever only use one of them. BUT what happens if you only have 1 skill for both and someone deafens or blinds you? Do you still get to use the combined skill? And if so the condition is completely useless.



That is why they need to be two separate skills.

 So I agree with you that Listen and Spot should be one skill, as I see it as a waste if for some reason the player has chosen both but can ever only use one of them. BUT what happens if you only have 1 skill for both and someone deafens or blinds you? Do you still get to use the combined skill? And if so the condition is completely useless.



That is why they need to be two separate skills.



or you make blind give a penalty, or make simply say that when your are blinded you can only make non-sight based checks


Insulting someones grammar on a forum is like losing to someone in a drag race and saying they were cheating by having racing stripes. Not only do the two things not relate to each other (the logic behind the person's position, and their grammar) but you sound like an idiot for saying it (and you should, because its really stupid )
many of them seem to fulfill pretty much the same roles

Exactly! I'm surprised this wasn't weeded out in the earlier playtesting. As much as I loved 3.5e, it had superfluous, overlapping skills that 4e weeded out.

How'd we go backwards without anyone mentioning it? Is there an earlier thread I missed?

My ideal skill list, aiming for the the conciseness of 4E with the breadth of 3E (new, unchanged, removed):
Acrobatics
Athletics
Balance (now Acrobatics)
Bluff
Climb (now Athletics)
Disable Device
Disguise (fits under either Bluff or Perform)
Drive (renamed Pilot)
Escape Artist (now Acrobatics)
Gather Rumors (possibly renamed Streetwise)
Handle Animal (absorbs Ride)
Heal
Intimidate
Knowledge
-- Arcana
-- Dungeoneering
-- Folklore (fits under History)
-- Forbidden Lore (fits under Arcana & Religion)
-- Heraldry (fits under History)
-- History
-- Nature
-- Religion
-- Sciences
-- Warfare (fits under History)
Listen (now Perception)
Perception (absorbs Spot & Listen)
Perform
Persuade
Pilot (Air, Land, Sea)
Profession (...)
Ride
Search
Sense Motive (possibly renamed Insight)
Sleight of Hand
Sneak
Spot (now Perception)
Survival (fits under K(Nature))
Swim (now Athletics)
Track (fits under Search and K(Nature))
Tumble (now Acrobatics)
Use Rope (fits under Sleight of Hand, various professions, etc.)

Cleaned up:
Acrobatics
Athletics
Bluff
Disable Device
Handle Animal
Heal
Intimidate
Insight
Knowledge (Arcana, Dungeoneering, History, Nature, Religion, Sciences)
Perception
Perform
Persuade
Pilot (Air, Land, Sea)
Profession (...)
Search
Sleight of Hand
Sneak
Streetwise

I agree completely (except for warfare knowledge).


 So I agree with you that Listen and Spot should be one skill, as I see it as a waste if for some reason the player has chosen both but can ever only use one of them. BUT what happens if you only have 1 skill for both and someone deafens or blinds you? Do you still get to use the combined skill? And if so the condition is completely useless.



That is why they need to be two separate skills.



The problem is the penalties will still exist.  Even if you are able to detect a creature with your other senses, you would still suffer massive penalties, especially if you're blinded.  More to the point, under Noticing or Finding a Hidden Creature, it says that the Wisdom check uses a mix of both looking and listening, not either or.

Maybe my character is a desert nomad who can run for hours without tiring and is great at climbing rocks but has never gone swimming in his whole life. Having a general skill like "athletics" prevents me from making such a character.



No it doesn't.
Just make a note on your sheet that your PC can't swim.
Then you can use Athletics for everything but swimming, which you have no chance at.



What if I wanted a character that occasionally climbed mountains in his youth and knows how to do it, but spent most of his time swimming and is excellent at it?
I think the point The_TROLL was trying to make is that having a skill with several uses doesn't preclude your ability to limit their use and play the character however you wish based on your backstory. 

For your example, you could lower the skill die type for climb checks (minimum 1d4-2) and raise the skill die type for swim checks (maximum 2d6).
I think the point The_TROLL was trying to make is that having a skill with several uses doesn't preclude your ability to limit their use and play the character however you wish based on your backstory. 


Yup.
That's how any reasonable, intelligent person would take it.
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