D&D Next Q&A: Skills, Skill Dice and Proficiencies

Proficiencies from multiple sources? That's interesting.
Proficiencies from multiple sources? That's interesting.



I hope they stack in some non-horrible way. 

1 While i am fine with the optional skills system being a table-wide decision rather than character one, i feel like people that wanted a skill bonus system to support ability score based task resolution are left in the cold. It was one of the innovations i thought that married well with the concept of how D&D Next work in general, being ability score driven. Such optional Skills system was the perfect approach for modularity in that it wasn't changing how task resolution was handled, only the application of the bonus granted.


2 I am okay with Skill Die being preserved inside of some of the classes more often associated with skills. 


3 I think its important that proficiencies comes from multiple sources like race, class, background, or feats, especially if some of those elements are optional modules. We need to be able to get armor, weapon or tools proficiencies wether feats or backgrounds are in use or not for exemple.

Please, please, please do not make race a part of how you get proficiencies.  It's fine to tell me that all elves have keen eyesight, it's another thing entirely to say that all elves can use a longbow.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Yeah i preferred when Racial Weapon Training traits were giving a [W] die bump rather than weapon profieicncies as it was benefical even if you were already proficient with those.
I don't like racial weapon training in any form, actually.  There is a difference between racial traits and cultural traits, and it's about time that difference were recognized.

If it has to go in somewhere, put it in a "subrace" structure - where you can directly emphasize that the origin is cultural, and that if you don't have this particular culture in your campaign, then you don't have the subrace.

But lumping them all together, as all editions previously have done, is not a good way to do it.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Please, please, please do not make race a part of how you get proficiencies.  It's fine to tell me that all elves have keen eyesight, it's another thing entirely to say that all elves can use a longbow.



wel that is the difrence between racial and cultural right ?

 
I don't like racial weapon training in any form, actually.  There is a difference between racial traits and cultural traits, and it's about time that difference were recognized.

If it has to go in somewhere, put it in a "subrace" structure - where you can directly emphasize that the origin is cultural, and that if you don't have this particular culture in your campaign, then you don't have the subrace.

But lumping them all together, as all editions previously have done, is not a good way to do it.



wel lets look at the dwarf Traits as a example 

the racial abilities are : Ability Score Adjustment, Size, Speed, Darkvision,  Dwarven Resilience
the cultural abilities are :  Dwarven Weapon Training, Stonecunning, Languages

Hill dwarf
both Ability Score Adjustment and  Dwarven Toughness seem to be racial

Mountain Dwarf
Ability Score Adjustment racial
Armor Mastery cultural


1 While i am fine with the optional skills system being a table-wide decision rather than character one, i feel like people that wanted a skill bonus system to support ability score based task resolution are left in the cold. It was one of the innovations i thought that married well with the concept of how D&D Next work in general, being ability score driven. Such optional Skills system was the perfect approach for modularity in that it wasn't changing how task resolution was handled, only the application of the bonus granted.



Yes, I was troubled by this response and was unable to fully articulate why.  You hit it on the head.  Optional skills module, okay.  Skill classes retain utility even in the absence of skills module, that's good (they darn well better).  But skills cast as additional tasks that key off of ability scores and play well within the bounds of the ability check core mechanic, well that's just good common sense.  Otherwise, adding that optional module adds needless complexity to rules and adventure design.  Make a DC 15 Dex check, unless you're using the skills module, in which case make a DC 17 Balance check...


Bluh bluh.

Please, please, please do not make race a part of how you get proficiencies.  It's fine to tell me that all elves have keen eyesight, it's another thing entirely to say that all elves can use a longbow.

That might come from a specific setting, but it shouldn't be part of the original PHB, even the Advanced version.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

That might come from a specific setting, but it shouldn't be part of the original PHB, even the Advanced version.

What about the specific setting covered in the PHB? Does that place just not have any flavor whatsoever?

The metagame is not the game.

It doesn't have flavor. It's super general.

Like the vanilla yogurt to which you get to decide to add all your delicious toppings.
That might come from a specific setting, but it shouldn't be part of the original PHB, even the Advanced version.

What about the specific setting covered in the PHB? Does that place just not have any flavor whatsoever?



PHB shouldn't have a specific setting.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
That might come from a specific setting, but it shouldn't be part of the original PHB, even the Advanced version.

What about the specific setting covered in the PHB? Does that place just not have any flavor whatsoever?

Well, what IS the specific setting in the PHB? I would rather the original rules be setting-independent. Then people can choose FR, Greyhawk, Dark Sun, home-made world, or whatever without having to change something that's in the original rules. It's easier to add a cultural thing (like bows for Elves) than to make a change and have a player reply, "But it says in the rules that ..."

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.


PHB shouldn't have a specific setting.



^ This.
"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind." - H.P. Lovecraft
Can't-read-article without Haiku first...

"Virtus junxit, mors non separabit."  

PHB shouldn't have a specific setting.

That sounds really boring. Shouldn't it at least have default sub-races and/or cultures, as a sort of guideline for what would be appropriate for homebrew and other campaign settings? Maybe not even default, but at least examples for each race?

The metagame is not the game.

I don't like racial weapon training in any form, actually.  There is a difference between racial traits and cultural traits, and it's about time that difference were recognized.

If it has to go in somewhere, put it in a "subrace" structure - where you can directly emphasize that the origin is cultural, and that if you don't have this particular culture in your campaign, then you don't have the subrace.

But lumping them all together, as all editions previously have done, is not a good way to do it.



I like having subrace as representative of culture.  The problem is I want human subraces too!   And the devs I think are nervous with such things.   

But I support you on this. 
Shouldn't it at least have default sub-races and/or cultures, as a sort of guideline for what would be appropriate for homebrew and other campaign settings? Maybe not even default, but at least examples for each race?

I would put examples into a world-creation section rather than in the base rules for races (or as sidebars in the Races section). "To add some flavor to this race for your world, you can ..."

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

I like having subrace as representative of culture.  The problem is I want human subraces too!   And the devs I think are nervous with such things.   

But I support you on this. 



This is a can of worms they absolutely, positively do not want to open.  I agree with the overall sentiment completely...but I know how people are in the modern world, and absolutely NO good can come from it other than negative attention.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

PHB shouldn't have a specific setting.

That sounds really boring. Shouldn't it at least have default sub-races and/or cultures, as a sort of guideline for what would be appropriate for homebrew and other campaign settings? Maybe not even default, but at least examples for each race?


Sure.  It's called the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, which they've already said will be the first campaign setting released in Next.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I like having subrace as representative of culture.  The problem is I want human subraces too!   And the devs I think are nervous with such things.   

But I support you on this. 



This is a can of worms they absolutely, positively do not want to open.



There's a reason humans are the "generalist, good at everything!" race, and it's not a particularly pretty one.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I like having subrace as representative of culture.  The problem is I want human subraces too!   And the devs I think are nervous with such things.   

But I support you on this. 



This is a can of worms they absolutely, positively do not want to open.



There's a reason humans are the "generalist, good at everything!" race, and it's not a particularly pretty one.



I think if races were stated with their culture in the name it might be better....

examples...
1.  The dwarves of the lonely mountain
2.  The moon elfs of the misty forest
3.  The highlanders of the Iron Mountains (human)

I would probably make the attribute adjustments apply to the race and cultural skills and proficiencies apply to the culture.   And maybe a few options within the culture.

 
The problem with human subracial mechanics is that you cannot get away from real-world references.  There's going to be some real-world group that is stereotyped as having that trait, positive or negative, or a trait similar to it.  People will latch on to any tangential similarity between a particular subracial group and a real-world group, and start criticizing WotC for perpetuating racism.

It's not something they want to deal with, and they deftly avoid doing it by actually having all humans be equal.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
What about flavor by omission?

Remove humans from PHB and see what happens?

There's a reason humans are the "generalist, good at everything!" race, and it's not a particularly pretty one.



Mhm.  Agreed.  But given the alternative, I think it's the only realistic way to go that takes unknown, unseen people's sensibilities into account.  The second you apply culture to a specific subgroup, you'll be hit (simultaneously!) with 'thats just a cultural stereotype, bigot!' and 'why don't they have any of the culture, bigot!'.  It's exactly what happened to Paizo.  Better to let each player choose any and all cultural influence and leave it at each table.

Edit: You had a followup post while I was typing this one up.  Yah, we're on the same wavelength.   GIMME BACK MAH HIVEMIND!

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

The problem with human subracial mechanics is that you cannot get away from real-world references.  There's going to be some real-world group that is stereotyped as having that trait, positive or negative, or a trait similar to it.  People will latch on to any tangential similarity between a particular subracial group and a real-world group, and start criticizing WotC for perpetuating racism.

It's not something they want to deal with, and they deftly avoid doing it by actually having all humans be equal.



This is very true.
I can't remember if it was during 1E or 2E's reign that Drow fell under this scrutiny. I think it was in 1E, during the "angry mothers" era of anti-D&D bashing that had caught the public eye. The Drow brought up the question of, "Why are the black-skinned ones the evil ones?", despite them not even being human.

I really think that if a DM wants racial and cultural diversity to be present among humans at his table, then that's something he should houserule himself. WotC doesn't need to get involved in that particular arena of questionable descision-making.
"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind." - H.P. Lovecraft
The problem is I want human subraces too!


What, like Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, Muls, Tieflings/Aasimar/Genasi/[Other Planetouched], and what have you?

I could get behind it if they took that approach - Human "sub-races" being the common half-breed and/or human-derived races.

But even that... seems like it might be pushing it.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
I really, really, really want to see a full, complete half-race system structured like the 4e Hybrid system.  Where each race would get a "half" version made of it, with some of the core components but not all, and then is combined with another standalone "half" version.

That way you could have a half tiefling half halfling, and call it a halfhalflingling.

On a more serious note, this would take the 'half-compatible' decision out of the hands of the edition writers, and put it into the hands of the campaign designers - aka DMs.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
They could include a list of characteristics you could give a human subrace - as antiseptically as possible - and give DMs some design instruction along the lines of "To make a new subrace balanced against the existing ones, pick two traits from Table A and a characteristic modifier from Table B".
"...and that's how we all became mad scientists, your honor."
"So, I can get a +2 to Perception if I take the trait 'Goat head growing out of my back'? DEAL!"
A half-orc, half-goliath...now that's one big dude. What to call him, though...other than "sir"?
"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind." - H.P. Lovecraft
"So, I can get a +2 to Perception if I take the trait 'Goat head growing out of my back'? DEAL!"


...and now we're off playing Gamma World...
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
The problem with human subracial mechanics is that you cannot get away from real-world references.  There's going to be some real-world group that is stereotyped as having that trait, positive or negative, or a trait similar to it.  People will latch on to any tangential similarity between a particular subracial group and a real-world group, and start criticizing WotC for perpetuating racism.

It's not something they want to deal with, and they deftly avoid doing it by actually having all humans be equal.




Actually it isn't that hard to do if you properly fill out the fantasy cultural background of it.  Wheel of Time has no different races just different cultures with some different capabilities attached,  the people of Cairhien are natural liars because the people of Cairhien lie all day every day.  It is kinda how their city operates and if you are from there you were raised knowing how to play the game of houses.  It's entirely fine to say this culture has these weapon proficiencies for x reasons or these people have x bonus to stealth because their trained nearly from birth to be stealthy as a cultural aspect.  Heck it's even fine to say these guys get +1 to int because their culture very much prizes and fosters the growth of intelligence, or +1 strength for much the same reason where their culture very much prizes strength as a means of survival.  Because we are in a fantasy setting it is 100% okay to do these things.  

I personally see no problem with establishing base cultures for the different fantasy races.  I have no problem with it because its so easy to change.  Oh dwarves by default have proficiency with axes and hammers...oh in my setting they are desert dwellers and are different from normal fantasy dwarves...they get kukris, falchons, scimitars, and something else of a desert like nature instead of the hammers and axes.  This is literally so easy to change, it harms nothing to include proficiencies.
The problem is I want human subraces too!


What, like Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, Muls, Tieflings/Aasimar/Genasi/[Other Planetouched], and what have you?

I could get behind it if they took that approach - Human "sub-races" being the common half-breed and/or human-derived races.

But even that... seems like it might be pushing it.



I was thinking more along the lines of....
 Men of the Far North (Scandinavian feel)
 Romans, Gauls, Greeks etc.. (not really a race but an ethnic cultural identity) 
 Tribesman of the Sierra (Kind of a beduoin culture)
 
Any of these types of cultural add ons to race could provide some advantage that is distinct to the area.   For example the Beuoin culture might give survival (desert) or something.



 
I'll admit, I haven't minded the "make a Dex check, and if you're trained in stealth, add that".  It makes it feel like everyone is doing the same thing, and if you have that skill, you just do it better.  As opposed to 4e's "Who's got the best Diplomacy, and everyone else doesn't bother."

But on the other hand, I do enjoy playing the "skill monkey" character, so having a robust system for that sounds fantastic.  I'm looking forward to the introduction of the Bard and the revamped Rogue, to see how they have simplified the system overall while making particular classes more proficient at what they do.
The problem is I want human subraces too!


What, like Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, Muls, Tieflings/Aasimar/Genasi/[Other Planetouched], and what have you?

I could get behind it if they took that approach - Human "sub-races" being the common half-breed and/or human-derived races.

But even that... seems like it might be pushing it.



I was thinking more along the lines of....
 Men of the Far North (Scandinavian feel)
 Romans, Gauls, Greeks etc.. (not really a race but an ethnic cultural identity) 
 Tribesman of the Sierra (Kind of a beduoin culture)
 
Any of these types of cultural add ons to race could provide some advantage that is distinct to the area.   For example the Beuoin culture might give survival (desert) or something.



 


THe trouble with this is that each draws from a very real-world example which is undoubtedly more complex and nuanced than can be possibly represented in a couple of RPG books.  Inevitably, the descriptions would have to hinge upon stereotypes of some sort.  This is potentially troubling, even if the stereotypes are generally positive.  Stereotypes reduce a whole people to a charicature of themselves, and when these stereotypes draw from the real world, you risk charicaturizing the actual real-world analogue.

It's a very narrow line to walk, like treading on a knife's edge.  It really isn't worth it.  The fantasy cultures we invent are close-enough to real-world cultures already, by virtue of being written/created by people who actually exist in and are inspired by (conciously or unconsciously) the real-world.  Truly alien or entirely invented cultures are so rare in literature that they might as well be unicorns.  Off the top of my head, I'd say the culture in "Dune" comes the closest, and even then there are clear real-world analogues.

To expect the D&D writers to invent multiple cultures as unique and original as Dune is asking for too much, so we expect something that has clear real-world analogues.  The D&D/fantasy tropes are familiar enough to not need Dune-like exposition.  To draw even closer from real-world sources invites actual stereotyping, and the risks that that entails.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
THe trouble with this is that each draws from a very real-world example which is undoubtedly more complex and nuanced than can be possibly represented in a couple of RPG books.  Inevitably, the descriptions would have to hinge upon stereotypes of some sort.  This is potentially troubling, even if the stereotypes are generally positive.  Stereotypes reduce a whole people to a charicature of themselves, and when these stereotypes draw from the real world, you risk charicaturizing the actual real-world analogue.

Isn't that what Pathfinder does? I thought that the setting was one of the major selling points for Pathfinder.

The metagame is not the game.

Isn't that what Pathfinder does? I thought that the setting was one of the major selling points for Pathfinder.



It is.  They simultaneously are praised for, and excoriated for, their presentation of multiple cultures.

Often by representatives of the same group.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

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