A Response to the Lack of Skills

Hey, dunno if anyone's mentioned this before, but, in light of the recent changes that almost negate any progression among skills, I'm trying out something with my group to fix that.  My plan is to keep a hidden chart that adds bonuses to particular skill checks for each PC, rewarding them for their roleplaying at a steady, natural pace.  Sometimes the progression might be small, permanent +1s through training and repetition, or it might be a larger, temporary increase through actions like preventing a war by impressing the Lord of Dinkleshire with a badass sockpuppet show and feeling pretty damn good about yourself.

My hope is that it will encourage deeper immersion and critical thinking among the players; using their wits to describe their actions instead of looking through a list of skills for answers.  Maybe the removal of skills has a silver lining... or maybe I'm thinking too hard and convoluting things, lol.

Any of you cool cats have some thoughts on this?  Or tips, if you've tried something similar with your group?  How much about said chart should I reveal to the players, if any?
Might as well be transparent about it, inform them when they got a skill increase and let them write it down. It's not like any other aspect of theri character's progression is hidden from them.

I'm just gonna wait until they finish the new skills system.
I think this is a wonderful idea. My players were really disappointed that there were no skills for them to focus on, and I think your idea is something I going to try out on future Next adventures. Thanks for the post.

I also agree with Lord_Kyrion, that you should let them know that you're progessing their skills. It may make them use ones more often. 
Here's something I posted in another thread:

I kind of like the experience of playing without skills.   It seems to free up my players to just try stuff and not worry too much about what skill they have.    In my experience, without skills, my players seem to make choices more directly because they understand how their PC would act given its attribute strengths and weaknesses, its class and its background.   I like it.  

It also makes the game move a tiny bit quicker because the PCs don't hunt for their skill to check if they can apply the bonus die or bonus to their rolls.   The best part about it is that it will be an option.   There will be a way to use skills if groups like them, and there will be a way to play without them.        

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

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

 

 

The whole point of a playtest is to use the rules provided

That said, I think your idea has merit. 
We played again tonight and no skills worked fine for our bunch.    Ability checks gave everyone a chance to do what they wanted to try and made decision making easier.

We did however find that Lore seems complicated and hard to work with.   First, as I was making some pre-gens for some of my players, I found it difficult to decide what types of cultural lore to give.   Cultural lore base on race seems strange.   How can you know about all humans in general?   Would regional lore be easier to judge?    Lore by region?    Or is cultural lore just too difficult to include?   Can someone know the culture of the Northern Realms?  The underdark?   The drow of the underdark?   All orcs or only the Bloody Fang Clan?    It is hard to judge and decide what to do with cultural lore.

Also, how does any lore work with the Assassin's keen intellect?    Assassins add Expertise to Intelligence checks?  If they have human lore and they use their keen intellect, they will be rolling d20+10+expertise dice.    Chances are, they will know too much.   Why should they know more than a mage when it comes to knowledge based checks?    I'm not sure Assassins should get the expertise in intelligence.   Maybe they should just get Poison Lore or Trap Making Lore.    Maybe they should get extra lore like that instead of the Expertise...or maybe they should just get Dexterity Expertise like the thief rogue. 

I'm interested to see what WotC does with skills in the next package.         

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

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

 

 

The whole point of a playtest is to use the rules provided.



Yup, I'm using the rules provided to come up with different houserules.  Lol.
I find that the lack of tailoring skills is frustrating. I want my cleric to have the priest background and be a cook (artisan). I think backgrounds are great for a beginner, straightforward hack n slash character. Don't get rid of backgrounds! Just....allow for complexity. See my other thread about it here.

Tornado Party: a roleplaying game theory blog

Systems ran: 2e, 3.5e, nWoD, cWoD, SW (West End)

Systems played: 2e, nWoD, cWoD, MET, Ironclaw, Rifts, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun

My players, who have played for a very long time, didn't even blink at the absence of skills. They never liked them. Class-based skills, like thief skills in 1e make sense. Otherwise, good ridance.
-------------------- D&D Player/DM since 1975 - Veteran of Chainmail, AD&D, 2e, v3.5, DnD4e and now Next.
House rules are cool, and you are doing something for an issue you and your players have - lack of RPing potential in skills.  Sounds awesome and fun.

Just as another reminder (Since this skill thing seems to be a very big issue - I have my concerns too in regards to it too) skills will be coming out in the next packet as an option.  I don't know what that means,  or how it will work, but they are coming.

In the mean time, sounds like you got things under control.  This is one of the things that seperates D&D (and other table-top/TofM Roleplaying Games from other board games or videogames): they have established rules, but the mediator of these rules is given open lisence to add, remove, and/or alter rules as he/she sees fit.

I think we all need to remember that this is why we play games like D&D - for the freedom it grants over things like videogames by makeing rules more like guidlines to reference as opposed to laws to be enforced.

Kudos on working something out and "filling the void" as it were.  Shows the creativity that you and your group has and embraces.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/17.jpg)

I found, too, that the lack of skills makes my players focus more on not what they're trying to accomplish, but how.  We have 3 new players to the group, two have never played D&D at all, one played in a couple of sessions but wasn't familiar with the rules that much.  I think it's really helpful for these guys to not have the skill crutch as it were, they don't have another rule to think about with skill checks, penalties, bonuses etc and it helps them rp a lot better, which I think can be a hurdle for new players.

TeaLobster's system is a great idea, I think, since it keeps the focus on roleplay and not on the mechanics.  What I typically do is award bonus XP for good roleplaying or clever thinking, so I might incorporate the "hidden skills" idea a little too and see how well it works for us.

But, altogether, I feel that the game is more fluid without skills and it should be interesting to see the official rules when they come out. 
I found, too, that the lack of skills makes my players focus more on not what they're trying to accomplish, but how.  We have 3 new players to the group, two have never played D&D at all, one played in a couple of sessions but wasn't familiar with the rules that much.  I think it's really helpful for these guys to not have the skill crutch as it were, they don't have another rule to think about with skill checks, penalties, bonuses etc and it helps them rp a lot better, which I think can be a hurdle for new players.

TeaLobster's system is a great idea, I think, since it keeps the focus on roleplay and not on the mechanics.  What I typically do is award bonus XP for good roleplaying or clever thinking, so I might incorporate the "hidden skills" idea a little too and see how well it works for us.

But, altogether, I feel that the game is more fluid without skills and it should be interesting to see the official rules when they come out. 



Its a pretty valid point that people are bringing up: newbies might not want to have to keep track of skills or feats when they are being introduced to a game session.  Even advanced players might just feel like playing a very quick Dungeon Delve and not want a bunch of extra rules to get between them and the monster killing.  Honestly, I find that this is a valid point - having a game system that supports various groups is optimal.  It keeps the philosophy of the game as a "do what you want, not what we say" mind set.

Sure there are people who will argue taht DnD is not for power gamers, but I would like to remind people that in 3.5 (I dont know of other versions so I don't know how far back this context goes) there was a synopsis on different types of gamers and what they want to accomplish in a session.  Usually we strive for a middle ground, but that is not always the case.

But I digress.  The point is, with feats and skills being optional aspects of the game you have a simple game engine with multiple add ons for your own style and taste.  It will be able to translate with the most amount of people.  I am also noticing that my character creation time is getting less and less (Sometimes it took up to an hour and a half to figure out exactly what I wanted with 3.5 and Pathfinder)- and when you want to get right to the action and adventure this is a great thing.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/17.jpg)

The point is, with feats and skills being optional aspects of the game you have a simple game engine with multiple add ons for your own style and taste.  It will be able to translate with the most amount of people.  I am also noticing that my character creation time is getting less and less (Sometimes it took up to an hour and a half to figure out exactly what I wanted with 3.5 and Pathfinder)- and when you want to get right to the action and adventure this is a great thing.



That is bingo, the point.

I despise 3.5 because of the extreme complexity. Even as a very experienced player/DM I found it absurdly complicated (throw Pathfinder into that mix please). 4e didn't fix that but the Character Builder eased it.  My players have loved the playtest package because of the simplicity. To quote them, "This feels like D&D".
-------------------- D&D Player/DM since 1975 - Veteran of Chainmail, AD&D, 2e, v3.5, DnD4e and now Next.