Skills in 4e

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Skills have been discussed at length at the 4e rules thread but I thought they should have their own thread.

My two cents:

1.Don't tie skills to just one ability score.

[INDENT][/INDENT]I always found it weird that i.e. jump and climb are str based only. Maybe str+dex/2, or simply str+dex modifiers could be introduced.

2.Find uses for skills beyond a certain threshold.

[INDENT][/INDENT]A +14 on tumble will be sufficient 90% of the time, as will +14 on heal (if you invest into heal at all)


So what do you think is wrong with skill rules now, and what do you think would be a good improvement?
I like the streamlined skill system in Star Wars Saga. In a nutshell:

1) Skills are Untrained, Trained, or Expert (IIRC).

2) Fewer, broader skills. Stealth included move silently, and hide, Athletics includes Jump and Climb, etc.
I like the streamlined skill system in Star Wars Saga. Athletics includes Jump and Climb

No, it doesn't. At least not in Star Wars Saga.

But it should... ;)
I like the streamlined skill system in Star Wars Saga. In a nutshell:

1) Skills are Untrained, Trained, or Expert (IIRC).

Mostly right. Skills are either untrained or trained, but there is a Skill Focus feat that adds an additional +5 to the modifier for one trained skill.

I suppose it wouldn't be too hard to make a slightly finer-grained system by letting a character take a +2 bonus for each of two "familiar" skills rather than a +5 bonus for one trained skill. No Skill Focus for a "familiar" skill, of course. I have no idea whether the powers that be have considered that option.

2) Fewer, broader skills. Stealth included move silently, and hide, Athletics includes Jump and Climb, etc.

Also mostly right. Jump, Climb, and Swim are all individual skills in Saga Edition, but I know there are plenty of fans of a combined Athletics skill.
Skills are a very important thing to 90% of the characters I play, and I'm a very skills focused character creator, so the rules had better be good or I will be very disappointed.
Skills have been discussed at length at the 4e rules thread but I thought they should have their own thread.

My two cents:

1.Don't tie skills to just one ability score.

[INDENT][/INDENT]I always found it weird that i.e. jump and climb are str based only. Maybe str+dex/2, or simply str+dex modifiers could be introduced.

Meh. The str+dex would be fine I suppose as long as it was balanced. As for the average-two-attributes idea, the extra math (as little as it would be) wouldn't really add anything to the game for me. It would be easy enough to housrule either way I suppose.
2.Find uses for skills beyond a certain threshold.

[INDENT][/INDENT]A +14 on tumble will be sufficient 90% of the time, as will +14 on heal (if you invest into heal at all)


So what do you think is wrong with skill rules now, and what do you think would be a good improvement?

I'm with ya on this one. More opposed rolls are good for one thing. Other ways to scale the DC *looking at you tumble* would be to base the DC's vs opponents attack roll. I'm hoping Mearls comes through on this one. (as he did in Iron Heroes). Heck there is some good support for skills in Iron Heroes in general. EDIT: It even has a little bit on heal (healing reserve points = your heal ranks. Could be better but it's going in the right direction).
The one thing in 3.x that I never liked about skills, and changed in all my games were how cross-class skills are handled. Specifically, saying that two skill points buys one rank and that you can have no more than half the number of ranks in a cross-class skill as you can have in a class skill is double-penalizing character customization. I personally think you should do one or the other. Since max cross-class ranks being half max class ranks is a bit simpler than a single skill point buys you half a cross-class rank (which the half-point is ignored during the game anyway), all of my games ignore the two points per rank rule.

This way, putting points in skills that aren't class, but are important anyway (like listen, search, and spot) is a viable choice and will not eat up a ton of skill points for a relatively small number of ranks.
My contribution would be two divisions of skills. Basic Skills would include Athletics and Perception. Basically, they are skills that all character possess by default at 1/2 Character Level + Ability Modifier. Advanced Skills are those skills that can only be used if you are Trained in it such as Knowledge (*), Spellcraft, or Survival. Obviously trained skills would be 1/2 Character Level + 5 (Trained) + Ability Modifier.
In general I liked most of what they did in sage but the way they handled skills was not one of them. The current skill system lets you express all kinds of roleplaying history and character quirks sooo much better than Saga. If I want him to begin his life as one thing but later forsake that life in favor of an other 3.5's system allows that. Saga's system not only forces you to keep those skills "maxed" but makes it more difficult to become trained in others. The Saga system also makes it very hard to play the jack of all trades master of none character. I currently have a factotum who is 10 level but with only a couple skills max and dozens with 1-5 ranks in them, Saga's skill system wouldn't allow such a character.

Spreading skill points around when you level may not mean much to a cleric or fighter but to a rogue that what its all about. If they go with the Saga skill system in 4th, they better give skill based characters some pretty solid stuff to make up for it.
I currently have a factotum who is 10 level but with only a couple skills max and dozens with 1-5 ranks in them, Saga's skill system wouldn't allow such a character.

Uhmm... Yes it does. At level 10 you have 5+5+ability mod in your trained skills essentially 10ranks and you have 5+ability in all untrained for 5 ranks. Not too different then having 13 ranks in a trained skills and some in dozens of skills.

Top it off, you can be a skill specialist by obtaining more skills by using feats to obtain them. It makes sense that some one who wants to focus on skills over combat can do this, which you couldn't in 3.x.

In addition if you want to focus on select skills, you can by taking focus granting a +5 to the skills (much more desirable to take than in 3.x). If you want a skill monkey you can use feats to gain more trained skills or focus in a select few. None of which was possible in 3.x.

Then look at the utility of the new skill format, you have skill options that only trained practitioners of the skill could use. Also most skills are composed of many skills like persuasion have eaten up diplomacy, intimidation, gather info, etc. so that when you get trained in it it's like being trained in 4 skills in 3.x.

As if that's not enough reason to make the switch, it's a better format for creating high level characters (a huge boon to the DM). You no longer have issues occuring over Int increases, synergies, and other miscellaneous stuff that bogged down character creation. This speeds up play or allows more time for the creative thought process as you don't have to think about how many points go into which skill, what skill gives synergy to this or that, etc. etc. This is ever important in high level play where there are so many options already to consider.

And for my final reason for why such a switch is good, is that in the end, most people max out certain skills, with the rest having much fewer ranks invested. How is that really fundamentally different than the Saga system? Not really mechanic-wise, just fluff wise, so what's stopping you from listing certain background or hobby interest? Unless you are really Trained in said skill, then you are technically untrained. Also, it's like comparing skills to other level based changes, why shouldn't your abilities improve across the board when you level up? You standard BAB and Saves do, regardless if you gained Xp by using skills or the sword, why should skills be any different.

Regards, Netherek.
If I want him to begin his life as one thing but later forsake that life in favor of an other 3.5's system allows that. Saga's system not only forces you to keep those skills "maxed" but makes it more difficult to become trained in others. The Saga system also makes it very hard to play the jack of all trades master of none character.

My problem too.

Top it off, you can be a skill secialist by obtaining more skills by using feats to obtain them. It makes sense that some one who wants to focus on skills over combat can do this, which you couldn't in 3.x.

You can take the open mind feat which gives you +5 skill point. It is part of the SRD... So yes you can do it in 3.x too
So what do you think is wrong with skill rules now, and what do you think would be a good improvement?

I have to say that I love 3.0 skills with a passion (even better than 3.5 if you ask me).

Their only problem IMHO is that some of them don't have enough uses. For example, Intuit Direction was extremely limited in 3.0 and at the end it made sense to "fold it" into Survival because investing in it was very costly compared to the benefit.

But what if instead taking that decision, we would have tried to expand the usefulness of it? What if Intuit Direction would allow more applications (even in-combat) beside "avoid getting lost" such as finding the shortest route to a certain location (good help in a timed adventure), or immediately locating the best hiding/cover/concealment spot on a battlefield, or even provide some help against flanking and other position-based dangers? What about designing simple chase rules and allowing Intuit Direction to have a key role in getting away... or not letting the other get away? :D

Note that I have purposefully mentioned the MOST limited skill in 3.0. And yet it is possible to at least imagine several ways to expand it and make it as useful as the others.

Alas, 4e is probably going towards a very different direction, where skills are simplified and merged further to make it simpler. But I still hope that perhaps in a later product there will be some expansion on them, because after all Skills cover a lot of ground in the game: they basically dominate all the non-combat situations (until the spellcasters manage to have loads of spells at least...), and in our games - where combat is just 50% of the interesting things - it is always a lot of fun to use them in creative ways.
My problem too.


You can take the open mind feat which gives you +5 skill point. It is part of the SRD... So yes you can do it in 3.x too

You do realize that it's almost pointless to use that as an example as feats were precious few for most classes in 3.x where they occur very frequently in Saga/Modern.

Even with that feat, Skill Points are cumbersome to use, don't really add any detail over the Saga version, and have mechanic problems in relation to Int changes.
As far as the lousy Tumble rules go, Saga has Initiative as a skill. Why not use Initiative as an opposed roll against Tumble? Rght now, in my 3.5 game, I add the opponent's BAB to the Tumble DC to move through threatened or occupied areas. Basically, to Tumble past a 5th-level fighter become a DC 20 instead of the static DC 15. Using an Initiative skill as an opposed roll would be just as effective in my opinion.
...Alas, 4e is probably going towards a very different direction, where skills are simplified and merged further to make it simpler. But I still hope that perhaps in a later product there will be some expansion on them, because after all Skills cover a lot of ground in the game: they basically dominate all the non-combat situations (until the spellcasters manage to have loads of spells at least...), and in our games - where combat is just 50% of the interesting things - it is always a lot of fun to use them in creative ways.

How does shortening the list of SKills by combining skills that are alike lessen their effect on non-combat situations?

I have always found the Skill point system unnecessarily cumbersome.
My biggest problems with skill points are as follows...

1) Not enough of them, Clerics get 2 per level which is bad, I hope there is more, D20 Modern is much better with this. All classes need many more skill points, skills should be more of a focus.

2) Some skills need to be combined, like Stealth, Move and Hide should be one skill "stealth"

3) Cross class skills are a pain, you should make all skills cost 1 and have a cap on "cross class skills" instead of have them cost more. So keep the "cap" of 3+level for skill ranks and 1/2 that for cross class just don't make them cost 2.

4) skills like Spot, Listen and Search shouldn't cost so much for everyone to learn, they should be "class" skills for everyone. If you want other classes to be better at them like Rogues, then give them a bonus like skill focus.
Uhmm... Yes it does. At level 10 you have 5+5+ability mod in your trained skills essentially 10ranks and you have 5+ability in all untrained for 5 ranks. Not too different then having 13 ranks in a trained skills and some in dozens of skills.

*SNIP*

And for my final reason for why such a switch is good, is that in the end, most people max out certain skills, with the rest having much fewer ranks invested. How is that really fundamentally different than the Saga system? Not really mechanic-wise, just fluff wise, so what's stopping you from listing certain background or hobby interest? Unless you are really Trained in said skill, then you are technically untrained. Also, it's like comparing skills to other level based changes, why shouldn't your abilities improve across the board when you level up? You standard BAB and Saves do, regardless if you gained Xp by using skills or the sword, why should skills be any different.

Regards, Netherek.

I find several problems with the Saga skill system. First of all, there is really no difference between two characters of the same class. While this might work better in the SW universe and be faithful to its themes, I hardly see how this system would work better in 4E if you compare it to skills in 3.X Edition. For example, two rogues (of the same level) would have almost identical skill set - the only differences would be in their Dex modifier and whether they have specialized ('focused') in any of the skills. In 3.X edition these rogues might have completely different skill modifiers in *ALL* the skills, depending whether they have emphasized (preferring to 'spread' or 'max-out' their points) their skills. That's the difference, and it has actually *nothing* to do with 'fluff'...

This also results in some characters being more than competent at higher levels in skills they might have *never* practised or even tried. For example, let's say that my wizard might have never ridden a mount or even seen one, and yet at 20th level he has (untrained) at least +10 skill modifier in Ride (plus Dex Modifier, which is probably at least +5 due to 'buffs' and/or magic items). You don't find that incredulous, because that would put him on par or above most ('non-heroic' or low-level 'heroic') riding instructors? Or what if my fighter has lived all his life on a prairie, and never climbed anything - he still has a whopping +20 base modifier in Climb plus Str modifier. What if his adventures take place on that same prairie, so that he never even gets the chance to even try, much less practise (which would 'justify' the automatic 'leveling up' increase in the skill), it?

So, Saga skill system might be more 'heroic' in nature, enabling *all* characters to be 'jacks-of-all-trades', which becomes rather boring in the long run. As I said, it might fit Star Wars thematically, but in a 'medieval fantasy' role-playing game it feels a bit out of place and 'action/kung-fu movie'-like. I like to create characters with completely *unique* skills sets (e.g. spend all my points in Craft skills if I feel like it) rather than picking up the same ranks as the other rogue in my group - even if it took me a longer time to create that character in 3.X Edition than Saga. Hopefully the designers will modify the Saga system to fit 4E both thematically and practically a lot better than it now would.
I find several problems with the Saga skill system. First of all, there is really no difference between two characters of the same class.

You lost me there. That is simply not true. Have you actually played SWSE?
So, Saga skill system might be more 'heroic' in nature, enabling *all* characters to be 'jacks-of-all-trades', which becomes rather boring in the long run. As I said, it might fit Star Wars thematically, but in a 'medieval fantasy' role-playing game it feels a bit out of place and 'action/kung-fu movie'-like. I like to create characters with completely *unique* skills sets (e.g. spend all my points in Craft skills if I feel like it) rather than picking up the same ranks as the other rogue in my group - even if it took me a longer time to create that character in 3.X Edition than Saga. Hopefully the designers will modify the Saga system to fit 4E both thematically and practically a lot better than it now would.

First, I want to say that your last point (quoted above) seems to be a prime example of the Stormwind Fallacy. An example where a player WASTES character skills in Craft to justify its role play value is just what the Fallacy is all about.

Second, what example are Saga characters good at untrained?
-- Going first? (higher initiative) I think this bonus makes sense, they have the experience and practice at reacting and doing things. For instance a Gunslinger is practiced at quickly drawing and sighting his or her pistol without much thought. In a sense, the Gunslinger macro'ed his or her reaction to conflict (draw gun, shoot person, get to cover).
-- Jumping? I think it is safe to assume all heroes jump and at least practice it a little bit.
-- Swimming? With the exception of a desert game, is it so weird to assume that heroes have swam? But in a desert game, the swim skill shouldn't really come up.
-- Balance? Experience not falling over.
-- Socializing? (Persuasion: diplomacy and intimidation) I'm sorry, high level heroes have done a lot of things that give confidence. Confidence makes socializing easier!

I think the real problem is people not understanding just what skills (and skill uses) in Saga are untrained. Tumble is TRAINED. Mechanic is TRAINED.

UNTRAINED SKILL USES:
-- Acrobatics: Balance, Escape Bonds
-- Climb
-- Deception
-- Endurance
-- Gather Information
-- Initiative
-- Jump
-- Knowledge: Common Knowledge (DC 10 only); however Nobles can take a talent that lets them make all knowledge checks (they just don't get the +5 trained bonus unless they are actually trained in the skill)
-- Perception
-- Persuasion
-- Pilot: Avoid Collision, Dogfight (opposed Pilot check, initiator takes a -5 penalty), Ram
-- Ride
-- Stealth
-- Survival: Basic Survival, Endure Extreme Temperatures (requires field kit), Know Direction
-- Swim
-- Treat Injury: First Aid (requires Medpac), Long-Term Care
---- Heal Damage and Install Cybernetic Prosthesis are both forms of surgery and therefore can't be done untrained.
-- Use Computer: Access Information (requires computer attitude of indifferent or better), Issue Routine Command (requires computer attitude of friendly or better)

Looking at that list, I see Fighter's being able to bandage each other, but not picking locks or the like. Stealth isn't a Rogue thing, disable device and open lock are Rogue things. Finding traps is a Rogue thing. Fighters still can't do it.

Now obviously Treat Injury, Use Computer, and Pilot are not appropriate for D&D, but the rest are all reasonable to assume an experience adventurer should be passable at.

Finally, Saga's skill method makes mixed level parties less staggering in ability. And since I am willing to bet my kidneys that the RPGA will have a 4e shared campaign up, it will make whatever replaces Living Greyhawk a hell of a lot better. I can't tell you all the times we have been nearly screwed because an adventure author though it would be funny to require a DC 30 Search check on an intro mod (only level 1 characters) or because the adventure doesn't really have an advance-able plot because no one has the proper knowledge skill or enough diplomacy or the ability to track.

In 3.X if your character isn't a Wizard, Rogue, Bard, Ranger, or any of their substitutes your skills are pretty hosed.

People that hate Saga because it makes everyone good at BASIC things hate that because they like having the only skill character at the table.
I have SWSE and its skill system would be ok if they tweaked it for 4e. Instead of all skill gaining 1/2 char level, make it so trained skills gain full char level instead of +5 and untrained skills 1/2 char level. Reduce the bonus from skill focus to +3 and get rid of class skills. Allow char to choose any skill they want at creation. Combine certain skill on the 3.5 list such as spellcraft/psicraft into the relevent knowledge skills and expand the untrained uses and trained uses of the skills. Untrained uses should represent stuff that anybody can do and get better at with more exp while trained uses should represent stuff that requires specialized knowledge/training. i.e under Survival skill, foraging would be an untrained uses while tracking would be a trained use(as a side benefit you wouldn't need a track feat anymore).
So, Saga skill system might be more 'heroic' in nature, enabling *all* characters to be 'jacks-of-all-trades', which becomes rather boring in the long run. As I said, it might fit Star Wars thematically, but in a 'medieval fantasy' role-playing game it feels a bit out of place...

I'm sorry, but I just have to disagree with you here. For the sake of argument, let me throw out a few medieval fantasy characters, and I'll stay away from "the lead character" just to make a point...

Gandalf - (Lord of the Rings) can craft fireworks, ride horses, lead troops in battle, organize a siege, notice things, negotiate with kings, heal injuries, read ancient languages and do all kinds of other wizardly stuff.

Aragorn - (Lord of the Rings) can track, gather herbs, sneak around, lead troops, notice things, climb, jump, swim, lie convincingly, speak elvish, write poetry and songs, sing, play music, negotiate with kings, handle a sailing ship and a canoe, heal injuries, and so on.

al'Lan Mandragoran (The Wheel of Time) can track, sneak, climb, jump, ride, notice things, lead troops, care for animals, make bows, lie convincingly, run for long distances, handle a ship and god knows what else.

Mat Cauthon (The Wheel of Time) can sneak, climb, jump, ride, notice things, lead troops, care for animals, make bows, lie convincingly, gamble, juggle, play the harp and the flute, speak ancient languages, seduce queens, and I forget what else.

I could go on with more examples like Conan, Fafhrd, the Grey Mouser, or characters from Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, or Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, or any of dozens of characters in fantasy novels that are multi-talented, but I think the point has been made.
I'm sorry, but I just have to disagree with you here. For the sake of argument, let me throw out a few medieval fantasy characters, and I'll stay away from "the lead character" just to make a point...

Gandalf - (Lord of the Rings) can craft fireworks, ride horses, lead troops in battle, organize a siege, notice things, negotiate with kings, heal injuries, read ancient languages and do all kinds of other wizardly stuff.

Aragorn - (Lord of the Rings) can track, gather herbs, sneak around, lead troops, notice things, climb, jump, swim, lie convincingly, speak elvish, write poetry and songs, sing, play music, negotiate with kings, handle a sailing ship and a canoe, heal injuries, and so on.

al'Lan Mandragoran (The Wheel of Time) can track, sneak, climb, jump, ride, notice things, lead troops, care for animals, make bows, lie convincingly, run for long distances, handle a ship and god knows what else.

Mat Cauthon (The Wheel of Time) can sneak, climb, jump, ride, notice things, lead troops, care for animals, make bows, lie convincingly, gamble, juggle, play the harp and the flute, speak ancient languages, seduce queens, and I forget what else.

I could go on with more examples like Conan, Fafhrd, the Grey Mouser, or characters from Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, or Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, or any of dozens of characters in fantasy novels that are multi-talented, but I think the point has been made.

Yes, you're correct - those are fine examples of multi-talented characters is fantasy *fiction* (literature). I'd also like to point out that Mat's skills mostly come from the memories of a thousand dead men. Conan, Fafhrd and Grey Mouser are all 'multi-classed' (rogue) characters (dual-classed in AD&D) and thus have many talents and skills because of that. Gandalf is a Maia (Demipower) and more resourceful than any Epic-level character. Lan might be statted as a fighter/rogue/ranger in almost any combination of the classes .

Besides, it'd not be terribly hard to stat the rest of these characters in 3.X Edition, too, if you spread skill points somewhat evenly among these skills and do not try to 'max-out' every skill (I personally think that +10 total skill modifier means that a character is exceptionally 'skilled'). They also all happen to be more intelligent and crafty than your average Joe Fighter, Joe Barbarian, Joe Paladin or Joe Ranger - thus they'd have much more skill points at their disposal.

Yet I was speaking of *single-classed* D&D (fantasy role-playing game) characters having unrealistic skill modifiers. It is perfectly fine to have these 'all-knowing' mentor/leader-types in a fantasy novel, but I'd hate to see *ALL* PCs turning into such. Can you, for example, imagine that *every* high-level wizard would resemble an 'amalgam' between Aragorn and Gandalf (e.g. good at Riding, Persuasion, Climbing, Survival, Healing, Spellcraft, etc.) - sans melee fighting skills, of course. ;)
First, I want to say that your last point (quoted above) seems to be a prime example of the Stormwind Fallacy. An example where a player WASTES character skills in Craft to justify its role play value is just what the Fallacy is all about.

Uh, I didn't mention anything about "wasting" those skill points to "justify" the role-playing value of Craft skills. I have wanted to create an elven smith (fighter/wizard - think Celebrimbor or Eöl in Middle-Earth) for a long time. I just wanted to have a character that could create masterwork and magical arms and armor in order to *SELL* them for profit, or to *create* specific items to each party member. This would require investing points heavily in Armorsmithing, Weaponsmithing and Bowmaking and taking a few Item Creation feats, but I think it'd be worth it (at least financially).
...I just wanted to have a character that could create masterwork and magical arms and armor in order to *SELL* them for profit, or to *create* specific items to each party member. This would require investing points heavily in Armorsmithing, Weaponsmithing and Bowmaking and taking a few Item Creation feats, but I think it'd be worth it (at least financially).

With a Saga-like system you would still be able to all of that without having to sacrifice basic abilities like Perception (Search, Spot & Listen). I'm sure that the 4e version of the skill list will include Craft slots.

I admire that you want your character to stand out and not be like every other character, but I think the thing I don't understand is why you are against every character having a chance to succeed at most tasks.

The problem the Saga-like skill system solves is one that was mentioned earlier in this thread about how not having a PC in the group with a particular skill can rob the group of a potential for role playing. Having an expert in Decipher Script in the party is great, but when an adventure (or at least elements of an adventure) is lost because no one put ranks in a skill, that's no fun for anyone.
You lost me there. That is simply not true. Have you actually played SWSE?

Alright, let's assume that we have two 10th level rogues statted in SW Saga skill system. Both have Dex 17, so assuming that neither of them are going to 'focus' in a skill, they have +18 modifier in skills that they've invested in ('skilled'), and +8 modifier in all their untrained Dex-based skills. Tell me - where lies the difference between the two? Both are 'skilled' in Stealth, and thus have +18 Skill Modifier in it, while in 3.X Edition one of them might have 'maxed' it out and the other had only 6 ranks in it (depending on what kind of concept their players had in mind). I think 3.X Edition gave you more options in its skill system, so that you could have a rogue that was only marginally talented in picking pockets or hiding, but he was a master locksmith or acrobat. That versatility is lost in SW Saga, although *thematically* this kind of system might fit a heroic space opera better.
I'm hoping they'll do a little tweak on Saga skills. Consolidate the list but include:

Non-class skills: advance at +1/2 per character level.
Class skills: advance at +3/4 per character level.
Trained skills: advance at +1 per character level.
With a Saga-like system you would still be able to all of that without having to sacrifice basic abilities like Perception (Search, Spot & Listen). I'm sure that the 4e version of the skill list will include Craft slots.

I admire that you want your character to stand out and not be like every other character, but I think the thing I don't understand is why you are against every character having a chance to succeed at most tasks.

The problem the Saga-like skill system solves is one that was mentioned earlier in this thread about how not having a PC in the group with a particular skill can rob the group of a potential for role playing. Having an expert in Decipher Script in the party is great, but when an adventure (or at least elements of an adventure) is lost because no one put ranks in a skill, that's no fun for anyone.

Don't tell me that your DM writes adventures that are practically 'unplayable' unless your PCs have ranks in a certain skill?

Any DM worth his salt knows that all problems, encounters or adventures should have more than one solution or path to complete/solve them. Besides, players often use means or tactics that you haven't even thought about. And I don't think that a DM should ever let the action 'freeze' completely if the PCs do something unpredictable or are unable to solve a situation.

As to why I am against D&D using SW Saga's skill system... as I posted above, I find it a bit boring and even 'unrealistic' if *EVERY* character is talented (even 'marginally) at almost everything and you just keep getting better at them as you're leveling up (even when you have *never* practised or tried a skill in your life).
I don't have too much of a problem with the 3rd edition skill system. The only thing I tend to alter about it in my games are the DCs, some of which are far too low--for example, according to the PHB a Knowledge check of DC 25 can tell you all kinds of deep and dark secrets that have been forgotten by most people in the world, but someone of 4th or 5th level or higher can hit a DC 25 pretty much 50% of the time, which means that it is not actually that rare. I like the idea of making Tumble an opposed check as well, kind of like Grapple vs Escape Artist--I will definitely implement that in my next game.

However, the biggest problem I have with the 3rd edition skill system is how the Craft skills are handled. It is so overly complicated that, at least in my own experience, players pretty much avoid it. I have read everything I could about the upcoming 4th edition, but I am disappointed to see that all the attention has gone to combat, which is something I think 3rd edition could handle quite well. If WoTC is going to insist upon revamping DnD, I really hope they pay some attention to the Craft skills.
Alright, let's assume that we have two 10th level rogues statted in SW Saga skill system. Both have Dex 17, so assuming that neither of them are going to 'focus' in a skill, they have +18 modifier in skills that they've invested in ('skilled'), and +8 modifier in all their untrained Dex-based skills. Tell me - where lies the difference between the two? Both are 'skilled' in Stealth, and thus have +18 Skill Modifier in it, while in 3.X Edition one of them might have 'maxed' it out and the other had only 6 ranks in it (depending on what kind of concept their players had in mind). I think 3.X Edition gave you more options in its skill system, so that you could have a rogue that was only marginally talented in picking pockets or hiding, but he was a master locksmith or acrobat. That versatility is lost in SW Saga, although *thematically* this kind of system might fit a heroic space opera better.

A 10th Level Rogue should be good at the untrained uses of a Stealth skill! If you wanted your Rogue to be really good at any skill including locksmithing or acrobatics you could take a Feat or 2 to represent this and I might decide to take Feats in different Skills, therein lies the customization options without sacrificing the things a party looks to your Class to be good at. If my Rogue spends all of his Skill Points on Crafting, the party is going to be pretty peeved when I can't open a lock.

...As to why I am against D&D using SW Saga's skill system... as I posted above, I find it a bit boring and even 'unrealistic' if *EVERY* character is talented (even 'marginally) at almost everything and you just keep getting better at them as you're leveling up (even when you have *never* practised or tried a skill in your life).

So you're okay with fighting Vampires and Dragons as long as the Skill system is "realistic"?!? Either suspend your disbelief or don't. Perhaps that is unfair, do you allow anything fantastic in your campaign world? If so, why must the minutia of the Skill Point System be so important? I know you have answered this question, I am asking rhetorically so that you might rethink your adherance to this system. Would you really enjoy playing your character less under a Saga-like skill system? Would a Saga-like skill system make levelling easier and more accessible to more players?

As far as increasing skills you've practiced goes, I remember the old Sierra games that only allowed your character's skills to increase through use. It was tedious to spend hours attempting to climb a tree just to improve your Climb skill so that you could complete a quest that involved retrieving a ring from a nest. Belive me when I say that a system where skills improve only through use will not increase your fun level.

Besides in the current Skill Point system, players of certain Classes (Rogues in particular) could max out Ranks in a skill in the span of only 1 Level without having ever used the skill before so where's the difference? In the old system I had to spend time allocating points where as in a Saga-like system if I want to be good at a Skill I choose a Feat to reflect it otherwise my hard earned Level and natural ability are all I need to give an untrained use of a skill a go.
Alright, let's assume that we have two 10th level rogues statted in SW Saga skill system. Both have Dex 17, so assuming that neither of them are going to 'focus' in a skill, they have +18 modifier in skills that they've invested in ('skilled'), and +8 modifier in all their untrained Dex-based skills. Tell me - where lies the difference between the two? Both are 'skilled' in Stealth, and thus have +18 Skill Modifier in it, while in 3.X Edition one of them might have 'maxed' it out and the other had only 6 ranks in it (depending on what kind of concept their players had in mind). I think 3.X Edition gave you more options in its skill system, so that you could have a rogue that was only marginally talented in picking pockets or hiding, but he was a master locksmith or acrobat. That versatility is lost in SW Saga, although *thematically* this kind of system might fit a heroic space opera better.

So, you haven't played SWSE.

Your two Dex 17, 10th level scoundrels (aka rogue) in SWSE could have +8 (untrained), +13 (trained), or +18 (focused) in Stealth. Your 3.X maxed out rogue would have +16 and the 6 ranks rogue would have +9. I don't see the SWSE numbers to be that impossible to play with. Even if 4e rules were exactly like SWSE (which they most likely won't be), I'd put the first rogue down as trained and focused, while the second is untrained.

So, even if they both have the same class, level and Dexterity, they can be very different in their Stealth skill. If you want your character even better at Stealth, there are also talents (eg Improved Stealth, Hidden Movement) to choose from.

Not all scoundrels are created equal in SWSE.
How does shortening the list of SKills by combining skills that are alike lessen their effect on non-combat situations?

Shortening? No... I just meant I wish an increment on the skill uses altogether. Whether there are many or few skills, it's mostly a matter of the degree of differentiation between characters.
So, you haven't played SWSE.

Your two Dex 17, 10th level scoundrels (aka rogue) in SWSE could have +8 (untrained), +13 (trained), or +18 (focused) in Stealth.

So you have one rogue who is good at hiding, one who can pull it off and one who's better off not even trying.
I don't like this +5 step, I like to customize my character to a finer degree.
So, you haven't played SWSE.

Your two Dex 17, 10th level scoundrels (aka rogue) in SWSE could have +8 (untrained), +13 (trained), or +18 (focused) in Stealth. Your 3.X maxed out rogue would have +16 and the 6 ranks rogue would have +9. I don't see the SWSE numbers to be that impossible to play with. Even if 4e rules were exactly like SWSE (which they most likely won't be), I'd put the first rogue down as trained and focused, while the second is untrained.

So, even if they both have the same class, level and Dexterity, they can be very different in their Stealth skill. If you want your character even better at Stealth, there are also talents (eg Improved Stealth, Hidden Movement) to choose from.

Not all scoundrels are created equal in SWSE.

Like Jinete, I don't like that +5 step between the different 'skill ranks', because I want to 'fine-tune' my characters as well. It reminds me of how skills are defined in many CRPGs or even strategy games with RPG flavour. In fact, you might compare SW Saga 'steps' directly to Heroes of Might and Magic III ('Unskilled', 'Basic, 'Advanced' and 'Expert').

Maybe not all rogues (or scroundels) in Saga are created equal, but this kind of system produces too many 'clones' - if there are only three possible 'ranks' for each character of the same level, which essentially means that every third rogue is as good as you in Stealth, for example. And how much 'variety' can there be, now that many of the skills will be cut or merged?
So you're okay with fighting Vampires and Dragons as long as the Skill system is "realistic"?!? Either suspend your disbelief or don't. Perhaps that is unfair, do you allow anything fantastic in your campaign world? If so, why must the minutia of the Skill Point System be so important? I know you have answered this question, I am asking rhetorically so that you might rethink your adherance to this system. Would you really enjoy playing your character less under a Saga-like skill system? Would a Saga-like skill system make levelling easier and more accessible to more players?

As far as increasing skills you've practiced goes, I remember the old Sierra games that only allowed your character's skills to increase through use. It was tedious to spend hours attempting to climb a tree just to improve your Climb skill so that you could complete a quest that involved retrieving a ring from a nest. Belive me when I say that a system where skills improve only through use will not increase your fun level.

Besides in the current Skill Point system, players of certain Classes (Rogues in particular) could max out Ranks in a skill in the span of only 1 Level without having ever used the skill before so where's the difference? In the old system I had to spend time allocating points where as in a Saga-like system if I want to be good at a Skill I choose a Feat to reflect it otherwise my hard earned Level and natural ability are all I need to give an untrained use of a skill a go.

This really isn't about fighting vampires or dragons or demons - they're all part of the fantasy genre. And yes, I allow all sorts of fantastic things to happen in my campaigns, but that was not actually my point here.

I am not a fan of Harnmaster, Rolemaster or Hero, but still I want to have *some* realistic aspects in the system. As I read more and more about 4E, I fear that characters are becoming multi-talented console game/MMORPG superheroes rather than being novice adventures in a (more or less) grim fantasy environment. And as I have said before, I think these three 'steps' (Untrained, Skilled and Focused) don't have enough 'depth' or variety (in a D20 system) for my taste.

I don't really understand how 'leveling' up would be "easier" in the Saga rules, but I assume that you're referring to how to spend those (all-too-few) skill points and feats. Certainly, it becomes easier if you don't have to think about 'wasting' or 'sacrificing' anything, but then again, why not change it so that you can 'switch' between skills, spells and feats *any* time you want to (even in the middle of combat). Is it realistic? No, but it'd be a lot easier and eliminate any 'tough choices' from the system completely.

Consider this: rewards and sacrifices are *both* important aspects in any system. If you eliminate all the *mechanical* sacrifices, you end up with a poorly balanced system. So far we've read about 'feats at every level', 'no XP costs or feats to create magic items', 'more skills', 'more powerful multi-classing'... all these are good examples of in-game sacrifices that you had to think about - do I *really* want to lose a level to complete my staff? Do I *really* want my cleric to have that Specialization? Do I *really* want to max-out my Hide and Move Silently, but leave no ranks for Spot?

As for your concerns on maxing-out a class skill in 3.X - we have a house-rule in our campaigns that prevents you from spending points on a skill that you've not used during the previous level, *and* you are only allowed to directly max-out a skill at 1st level (you when you invest points in a 'new' skill, you only get to put 1 rank in it).
Personally, I'm not big on the 3.x skill system.

It's part of very broad issue of character creation - namely that it takes way to long and way to much preplanning. You have to build characters out to 20 or else you'll find yourself unable to take the feats or prestige class you wanted. You can get away with a shorter term plan if you know the campaign won't last.

So:
1) yet another thing to make character creation take 3 hours
2) minmaxing - +30 diplomacy at level 1 (etc, with some number crunching and such you can end up with ridiculous skill mods) Diplomacy for instance can really break the game. (making it one of the few skills that isn't pointless)
3) listen/spot, etc. - SAGA does this right by combining them into perception. etc. This relates also to...
4) arbitrarily restrictive - barbarians can hear, but they have terrible eyesight. Why? There are no barbarian lookouts - but somehow they can hear a pindrop falling on a padded floor.
5) to many rules to look up. Nobody remembers all the tables. Of course theres wacky stuff like "spot" being used to locate invisible creatures. (so what exactly is listen for?)
6) haves and have nots - For rogues skills are a major class element. For fighters, clerics, wizards, barbarians, paladins etc. They're basically pointless.


For one the granularity should be reduced. Having tiers rather than futzing with individual points would be better.

Maybe the tiers could just be:
untrained: base attribute
trained: +5 (level range: 1+)
expert: +10 (6+ or levels 1+ & skill focus)
mastered: +15 (11+ or 6+ & skill focus)
extraordinary: +20 (16+ o 11+ & skill focus)
heroic: +25 (21+or 16+ & skill focus)
epic: +30 (26+ or 21+ & skill focus)
legendary: +35 (26+ & skill focus or 21+ & epic skill focus)
divine: +40 (26+ & epic skill focus)

As the character levels they gain additional skill selections from class and level. (avoiding to some degree the heavily front loaded nature of the SAGA system) Their character level would determine how many teirs they can raise a skill. (though skill focus would allow them to go beyond that range by one tier) Some of the skill increases would be class only, some could be any skill. (bonus feats vs general feats) There could also be feats to gain another skill training - and those would ignore class restrictions.
I actually fell asleep while composing that post...

So, is there really a huge difference between +5 and +6? (for instance) That just seems like an illusion of customizability.

Players should have meaningful choices - not be bogged down with trivial decisions. Placing a single rank in a skill is trivial.
Like Jinete, I don't like that +5 step between the different 'skill ranks', because I want to 'fine-tune' my characters as well. It reminds me of how skills are defined in many CRPGs or even strategy games with RPG flavour. In fact, you might compare SW Saga 'steps' directly to Heroes of Might and Magic III ('Unskilled', 'Basic, 'Advanced' and 'Expert').

Maybe not all rogues (or scroundels) in Saga are created equal, but this kind of system produces too many 'clones' - if there are only three possible 'ranks' for each character of the same level, which essentially means that every third rogue is as good as you in Stealth, for example. And how much 'variety' can there be, now that many of the skills will be cut or merged?

Id like to point out that in my experience ANY system will produce 'clones' from certain players, especially with point buy, once they become familiar with a class. There are some players, who if I asked them to join my current campaign, that I could predict almost exactly what class, what skills, what weapons, etc. that they would choose. (don't turn this around and say 'make them do something different or whatever)
MY point is no matter the system people will have similar characters. Skills should never have been and hopefully never will be what separates characters, Feats, Items, now Talents/Powers, and hopefully role play/experiences are what makes Rouge A different from Rogue B.
I actually fell asleep while composing that post...

So, is there really a huge difference between +5 and +6? (for instance) That just seems like an illusion of customizability.

Players should have meaningful choices - not be bogged down with trivial decisions. Placing a single rank in a skill is trivial.

This should have been the last words of Torval, my lvl 5 swordsage, right before I rolled a 2 on a tumble check and received a critical hit by a raging orc barbarian. May he rest in peace.

If to-hit and AC can be increased by 1 point I don't see the need to force skills into tiers.
The bigger problem in this is the usefulness of some skills over others. Tumble, concentration, spellcraft, spot versus appraise, handle animal, heal and use rope are a few examples.

A resourceful DM can create situations where the less popular skills are useful, even crucial in some situations but the problem is players don't have ranks in the said skills, so they don't look for a solution that involves using them. The DM in turn stops creating challenges that can be overcome using i.e. forgery and the circle is closed.

I would love seeing a skill system that enables characters to use them in as well as out of combat. Something along the line of Complete Scoundrel skill tricks, but without the need to buy them separately.

Let's say that 9 ranks in use rope allow you to make a trip attempt with a grappling hook, within 30ft, if you succeed on a ranged touch attack and a DC 19 use rope check.
Or 6 ranks in bluff increases the DC of your illusion spells by 1, by 3 if you also have 6 ranks in forgery.
Id like to point out that in my experience ANY system will produce 'clones' from certain players, especially with point buy, once they become familiar with a class. There are some players, who if I asked them to join my current campaign, that I could predict almost exactly what class, what skills, what weapons, etc. that they would choose. (don't turn this around and say 'make them do something different or whatever)
MY point is no matter the system people will have similar characters. Skills should never have been and hopefully never will be what separates characters, Feats, Items, now Talents/Powers, and hopefully role play/experiences are what makes Rouge A different from Rogue B.

This is very true, but IMHO it stems from the reason i stated in my above post. Some choices are just better than others, and experienced players know this.
A houserule mentioned on the Star Wars board by the Wiz0s is to drop the +5 bump in favor of a bonus equal to character level. So non-trained skills get a +1/2 level bonus and trained skills get a +1 level bonus.
One of the biggest problems with skills in 3.x was they were too many and not enough skill points, as well as having waaaay too many modifiers tacked on (syngergy, racial bonus, feat bonus, circumstance bonus, enhancement bonus, etc.). Designing an adventure with any kind of skill-based challenge had to be tailored to the party in question - having the group make a balance check at high levels would produce strange results; the monk with balance would succeed on a 1, while the fullplate wearing dwarf could not succeed at all. Thus, you couldn't make the skill-based challenge too terribly detrimental. Most of the time that balance check would be replaced with a reflex save to maintain some parity.

The Saga system reduces the number of skills overall, and allows for an adventure designer to assume that all parties of a given level have a base-level of competency with a certain skill.