Skills that should die in 4e

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It's been mentioned that some skills are going to be combined, and we probably aren't going to see some skills again.

First skill I nominate to die is Appraise..
Even as early as D20 Modern they got rid of that skill by collapsing it into Knowledge and Craft. I never felt the need to have a character with even a single rank in this skill.

Second skill I to nominate to die is Use Rope.
Most PCs don't get this skill unless they're sailors, mountain-climbers or into bondage. So this one is probably on it's way out.

And that's only the start of the list.
well I wouldn't mind if they streamlined things a bit by combining spot/listen and hide/move silently. I've never played true20, but I've heard that do that there and it works out pretty well.
Spellcraft into knowledge would be fine with me. Wizards get the spaft, 2 skill points isn't enough to cover concentrate, spellcraft, knowledges and crafts. You gotta have a real high int or be a human wizard if you want to be knowledgable and craft and forget about crossclassing listen and spot.

Forgery can go too. Who uses that skill? Roll it into bluff or SoH.

Whats the use of knowledge geography? Survival reads you maps and knowledge local tells you about a given area. Geography gives you an idea of what the world looks like but in my experience thats usually player knowledge or the DM just lets you see a map in homebrewed games. Lose it.

I never understood why balance was a seperate skill from tumble. I mean can you be a tumbler without balance, not for very long.

Lastly Use Magic Devise in its current form has got to go. UMD isn't a skill its a class feature. I mean you can build a character that is utter crap but give him max ranks of UMD and he can still do some cheating things. Not to mention that with just a few feats and a lot of gold you can make some truely broken wand users that have zero magical training. Nope, as much as I love the skill, at least in its current form, its gotta go.

Ohh I also like everyones suggestions above.
Open Locks needs to move into Disable Devce. Forgery should be a Craft. Profession and Craft should be merged to allow for "Make a living (profession)" and "Make something specific (craft)" to be governed by the same skill. Balance and tumble should be merged into "Athletics" or some such skill. Appraise should be a craft option. Spot/Listen should be Awareness and Hide/Move Silently should be Sneak.
I like the ideas above. My list would be
  • Acrobatic: Balance, Climb, Jump, Tumble. Maybe Swim.

  • Awareness: Listen, Search, Spot

  • Deceptive: Disguise, Forgery, Sleight of Hand

  • Magic Focus: Concentration, Spellcraft. Maybe Knowledge Arcana.

  • Mechanical specialist: Disable Device, Open Lock. Consider using this for search checks to find traps and to repair a device.

  • Perceptive: Gather Information, Sense Motive. Possibly include these as part of the social skill.

  • Social: Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate.

  • Stealthy: Hide, Move Silently



Knowledge, craft and profession skills need to be reworked or combined. For example, if I have knowledge history I should know quite a bit about religion because it is so important to understanding history. If I have religion, I should get a bonus to Knowledge Planes.

Maybe you could have a primary/secondary where if you have Knowledge History you can make a Knowledge Religion score at a 50% penalty.

Allen.
I like the ideas above. My list would be
  • Acrobatic: Balance, Climb, Jump, Tumble. Maybe Swim.

  • Awareness: Listen, Search, Spot

  • Deceptive: Disguise, Forgery, Sleight of Hand

  • Magic Focus: Concentration, Spellcraft. Maybe Knowledge Arcana.

  • Mechanical specialist: Disable Device, Open Lock. Consider using this for search checks to find traps and to repair a device.

  • Perceptive: Gather Information, Sense Motive. Possibly include these as part of the social skill.

  • Social: Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate.

  • Stealthy: Hide, Move Silently



Knowledge, craft and profession skills need to be reworked or combined. For example, if I have knowledge history I should know quite a bit about religion because it is so important to understanding history. If I have religion, I should get a bonus to Knowledge Planes.

Maybe you could have a primary/secondary where if you have Knowledge History you can make a Knowledge Religion score at a 50% penalty.

Allen.

You know, that's remarkably what Star Wars Saga Edition is like. Not exactly, but close. Here, I'll make a list of the skills. It's all in the conversion guide anyway, so it's not like I'm giving anythign away:
  • Acrobatics -- includes balance, escape artist, and tumble
  • Climb -- the same
  • Deception -- includes bluff, forgery, disguise
  • Endurance -- new skill for most fortitude saves (replacing the endurance feat), could possibly take over concentration's role
  • Gather information -- the same
  • Initiative -- new skill for initiative in battle, also takes over sense motive checks vs. feint
  • Jump -- the same
  • Knowledge -- Still seven of these, but things like appraise and craft are folded into them. Crafting is strongly de-emphasized anyway.
  • Mechanics -- includes disable device (which already included open lock is SW) and repair
  • Perception -- includes spot, listen, sense motive, and search
  • Persuasion -- includes diplomacy, intimidate, and handle animal
  • Pilot -- the same
  • Ride -- the same
  • Stealth -- includes hide, move silently, and sleight of hand
  • Survival -- being trained in this skill now gives you the track feat
  • Swim -- the same
  • Treat injury -- the same
  • Use computer -- the same
  • Use the Force -- includes all force skills

Obviously, this isn't an exact match for D&D, and I think some of the skills are oddly separate. I'd put Use Rope into Climb, Jump into Acrobatics, and Gather Information into Persuasion while taking out Intimidate. There's no perform skill, which, while not used often for most classes, is critical to the bard. Concentration and Endurance could be combined, but they're thematically pretty different. Use the Force and Spellcraft are equivalent, but I have no idea whether they'll have spell skill rolls to defeat enemy defenses like they do in SWSE.
All knowledge skills should have a monster info associated with it. There shouldn't be any knowledges that don't get a good use.
  • Knowledge -- Still seven of these, but things like appraise and craft are folded into them. Crafting is strongly de-emphasized anyway.
  • Mechanics -- includes disable device (which already included open lock is SW) and repair


Please fold Knowledge(Architecture/Engineering) into Mechanics. It does not need to be standalone.
The skill I would most like to see gone, is Knowledge, local. You should have it free, and it would not apply to anywhere else but where you grew up. If you are nomadic you would apply the(free) skill to your traveling group. Of course if, you just traveled with your parents, or guardian(s) you would not even get that much.

Anyway the skill: Gather Information, covers it.
I agree with folding appraise into craft, folding listen/spot into "Awareness", and folding hide/move silently into "stealth".

I think Tumble is a little too powerful as a feat already to fold another skill into it...but balance does seem a little weak compared to climb, tumble, jump. Actually, even climb and jump don't quite match the power of tumble.

Since concentration is mainly just used for spellcasting, how about folding spellcraft uses into concentration and knowledges?

I think that diplomacy and bluff are separate skills. Intimidate I could see being gotten rid of and making it variations of diplomacy and bluff.

I could see open lock and disable device being merged.
I would like to see it broken down as (borrowed heavily from Saga):

Acrobatics (combines Balance & Tumble)
Athletics (combines Climb, Jump, & Swim)
Bluff (combines Bluff, Disguise, & Forgery)
Craft (various ones, but not nearly as many)
Diplomacy (combines Diplomacy & Gather Info)
Disable Device (combines Disable Device & Open Lock)
Endurance
Heal
Initiative
Knowledge (various ones, but not nearly as many)
Perception (combines Listen, Search, & Spot)
Spellcraft (combines Concentration, Spellcraft, & caster level checks)
Stealth (combines Hide & Move Silent)
Survival

Conspicuously absent is Ride, as it is not quite as powerful as the other skills listed. Player choice on using Acrobatics or Survival for Ride checks.
Appraise perhaps move into knowledge, or make it more useful (like bardic knowledge useful or identify useful).
Forgery is nothing more than Crafting a forged document.
Profession needs to be dropped or radically altered. (dropped)
Craft needs to be dropped or radically altered. (altered)
Spot and Listen merged to Perception (allows for more types of perception than just sight and hearing)
Tumble and Balance merged to Acrobatics
Jump stand alone \
Climb stand alone -> These three Str skills never made sense to include with the Dex skills
Swim stand alone /
Hide and Move Silently I don't really care about one way or another.
Open Lock is a sub-set of Disable Device (though retain the old DCs)
All knowledge skills should have a monster info associated with it. There shouldn't be any knowledges that don't get a good use.

D&D is more than killing monsters (in most groups). Sometimes, PCs and players have to solve mysteries, find a murderer, make political decisions, analyze an artifact, locate an ancient ruin, remember who's the king of the country they're in ...

There are many more uses for Knowledge than just "how do I kill this". Don't reduce a complex game to just one element.
Tumble: just by itself might be weaker in 4th ed because there are no AOOs for moving anymore, so it should be okay to fold Balance and Escape Artist into it.

Sense Motive: I like that skill and I would prefer if it stays. There could be some talents based on it, such as countering Enchantment spells and Illusions.

Sleight of Hand: Another skill I'd like to keep. It should cover all kinds of mundane magic tricks. There could also be a talent for spellcasters based on it, which is used to hide somatic spell components. Another talent for rogues should allow to draw a weapon with it and sneak attack (like the old Flick of the Wrist feat)

Appraise: This should be a more general skill called Trade which allows you to get a better price for stuff. Also, you should be able to guess the effects of magic items with it, like Identify.

Concentration: Should stay. There should be a way to regain power (spells, maneuvers, psi points) by meditating and making a Concentration check.

Jump: Remove. The distance you can jump should depend on a Tumble check and your Str bonus. The formula for that should be as easy as possible.
Lastly Use Magic Devise in its current form has got to go. UMD isn't a skill its a class feature. I mean you can build a character that is utter crap but give him max ranks of UMD and he can still do some cheating things. Not to mention that with just a few feats and a lot of gold you can make some truely broken wand users that have zero magical training. Nope, as much as I love the skill, at least in its current form, its gotta go.

I agree UMD has to change, but for different reasons. Mostly my opinion stems from the though, "Why can only someone that is trained in UMD blow themselves up by accident?"

There there is the ability to fool magic items. "What do you mean I'm not an X, I totally am an X *rolls a d20* See? 100% X." Item restrictions rarely balance an item. Typically it just lets people munchkin it up.

I would rather UMD be made something else (not sure how) and let everyone try it. Then we can all have things blow up in our faces!

My initial thoughts on how to work it would be some sort of attitude scheme. But maybe call it "Familiarity" (intelligent magic items would have both Familiarity and Attitude scores). The first time you pick up a magic item it should be a mystery to activate it (unless it telepathically communicates the activation method). But let's suppose a person has an Eternal Wand of X, after getting it to work a half dozen times, I think the person has gotten it down.

Or, to use a personal example from AD&D days (oh the pain!), there was a magic door that only opened (actually I think it was an illusionary terrain with a moody wall of force :P ) when a person correctly said a semi-popular phrase ("OWA TAGOO SIAM") correctly ("Oh wait a goose I am"). The first two people that got it weren't able to communicate the solution before being pulled through. But by the third time a person got it, the 8 of us figured out what was going on.

Again this is just another example of "We've done it a few times now, so unless it is some heroic event, why waste time making us go through the motions?"
I keep hearing people say that 4th ed should combine listen and spot, but from a character point of view it's completely stupid.

The 2 skills are used for completely different things. Listen is used for those things that you cannot see, like trying to discover what is behind a door without opening it, or hearing an army march on the other side of a hill before you see them come over.

Spot on the other hand is used for seeing those things that are in the corner of your eye, catching the movement of a hidden foe, noticing in the heat of battle that the opponent you are fighting has the holy symbol of your god etc.

Having these two skills separate adds depth to characters, makes the game more interesting and helps keep the group together as a team.

Also if these are combined, how would a character who isn't very observant of their surroundings but who had great hearing be constructed in the system? Would the player have to give himself a penalty to some uses of their 'perception' skill?

The other suggestions that have been given so far I'm all for, but that one I just think would be a terrible idea.
I think that for the... uh, whatchamacallit, in which if you have five or more ranks in one skill, you get a plus 2 modifier on this other skill? Anyways, if they make Knowledge (mechanics) a skill, then you should get bonuses on Open Lock/Disable Device skill. I hope they only have like 10-15 different skills, but you'd get less skill points at each level. It works out in the end.
I keep hearing people say that 4th ed should combine listen and spot, but from a character point of view it's completely stupid.

The 2 skills are used for completely different things. Listen is used for those things that you cannot see, like trying to discover what is behind a door without opening it, or hearing an army march on the other side of a hill before you see them come over.

Spot on the other hand is used for seeing those things that are in the corner of your eye, catching the movement of a hidden foe, noticing in the heat of battle that the opponent you are fighting has the holy symbol of your god etc.

Having these two skills separate adds depth to characters, makes the game more interesting and helps keep the group together as a team.

Also if these are combined, how would a character who isn't very observant of their surroundings but who had great hearing be constructed in the system? Would the player have to give himself a penalty to some uses of their 'perception' skill?

The other suggestions that have been given so far I'm all for, but that one I just think would be a terrible idea.

Well, it's simple really. If you think about it from an abstract perspective. 3.e seperates Hide and MS, so you then need two seperate means of detection. Even still as you said you might be good at one and not the other, it doesn't matter as you will roll to spot the hidden threat and if the fails roll to hear the threat. Which ever one is you optimum is the one most likely to detect making the other irrelevant in most situations. Especially since those that focus on stealth usually have equal values to Hide and MS.

The 3.e therefore almost always needs two opposed rolls to detect the hidden threat. Now if you roll Hide/MS into stealth (which is the goal, to avoid detection) what difference does having specific Spot/Listen skills make? Not much really, except from an RP perspective. Having Perception is optimal as most of perception is noticing details in the background, not actual eyesight or hearing, of which Listen/Spot do not represent contrary to Skill Point proponents. They represent exactly what Perception does but breaks it down into a tedious format.

If you what a character that has problems hearing, or seeing, then use the backgrounds format out UA, and apply it as modifiers to specific perception rolls that depend on one of the affected senses.

Top it off, Perception has the added bonus of including taste, touch, and smell. That can be used to notice poisons, or tiny creatures crawling on you with stealth, etc. etc.

In the end, Perception and Stealth reduce the rolls needed to play, and speed those parts of the encounter up. It's more versatile, and provides added options. All of which is a bonus, and in my opinion a must for 4e.
I can never spare the points for Balance, even if I do have it as a class skill. And then my character slips and falls into a pit. Please fold Balance into something more useful. I don't really see any reason for it to be separate from Tumble anyway. I'd like to see all of that stuff in one skill, "Athletics", but if they want to keep the Str based ones and the Dex based ones separate, how about:

Athletics= Climb, Jump, Swim
Agility= Balance, Escape Artist, Tumble

I can also see Open Lock and Disable Device as combined.

I like what's been done in SAGA with combining skills, but I'm not all of the way through the book yet.
I think that for the... uh, whatchamacallit, in which if you have five or more ranks in one skill, you get a plus 2 modifier on this other skill? Anyways, if they make Knowledge (mechanics) a skill, then you should get bonuses on Open Lock/Disable Device skill. I hope they only have like 10-15 different skills, but you'd get less skill points at each level. It works out in the end.

Synergy!
I for one am against folding Climb/Jump/Swim into a single skill. The reason standing is that they aren't similar in the slightest with the exception that they are all based on physical fitness. Also it's not necessary to do so if the basic format of Saga skills set are used as they are completely usable untrained and you'd get your 1/2 level + Modifer for your d20 roll. This represents general improvement with experience but still forces one to choose what they are good at.

Folding them into one skill makes it a complete no-brainer, and a complete must have for any one.

As to folding balance into another skill, it will probably follow SE in that Balance will be folded into Acrobatics which will include Tumble and Escape Bonds. They are all somewhat related, and the skill will probably be class skill for only the Rogue and Monk. This will make it desirable but restricted.

As to Synergy, I suspect the nail in the coffin is soon to be placed. It's one of those things that really bog down character creation, and really show a redundancy of skills. Most of the Synergies of skills are because the said skill is related to the skill, and really should be combined with the said skill. Examples like Tumble and Balance, Appraise and Crafts...
My group has already been using a condensed skill list for several years now.
We do separate ranks from key ability though, so with acrobatics, balance and tumble use dex while climb and jump use str.

Acrobatics - this combines all the skills that the monk's acrobatics ability applies to. Balance, Climb, Jump, and Tumble.
People Skills - Gather Information, Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, etc. All CHA based skills except use magic device, Handle Animal and Animal Empathy. We did this because they are to specific, while other skills are quite general.
Animal Skills - This incorporates Handle Animal, Ride, and Animal Empathy (if you are a class that gets animal empathy).
Escape Artist - We folded Use Rope into this skill, for the one time anyone has ever used it.
Traps - We have a skill called Traps. This is the skill of searching for and disabling of traps. It can also be used for craft (trapmaking). This skill and only this skill allows a character (any character) to search for magic traps (those above DC 20). We got tired of the rogue having to be the trap monkey, and thought it stupid that rogues and only rogues could find magic traps, regardless of their use magic device skill, while a cleric or wizard couldn't.
Listen/Search/Spot - all their own skill.
Knowledge (Nature)/Survival - We combined these skills, but in a wierd way. A character could buy ranks in Knowledge (nature) and essentially get free ranks in Survival, but you couldn't do the other way around. Not really sure why, but we had a reason at the time.
Knowledge (Arcana)/Spellcraft or Knowledge (Religion)/Spellcraft - to separate divine magic from arcane magic, we combined spellcraft with either knowledge arcana or religion depending on who was taking it. A Cleric takes knowledge religion and gets spellcraft. A wizard takes knowledge arcana and gets spellcraft.
Decipher Script - We were never really sure what this one really did. Did it let you read stuff in a language not on your list? Did it let you break encoded messages? Anyway we thought it was a stupid skill and we never use it.
Swim - We kept this one separate for some reason but it should probably be rolled into acrobatics, which should be renamed athletics. Swim came up exactly once 7 years of playing when when a black dragon pulled the full-plate fighter into a murky pool and started pummeling him.

Oh, and we also got rid of class/cross-class skills a long time ago. With the exception of class-exclusive skills such as Animal Empathy and Use Magic Device, all classes can train up all skills as class skills. However more recently we have been making these useable by anyone.
My 2 cents (agreeing mostly with the previous posts):

I would delete Appraise (be part of craft and/or Profession Trader), Rope Use and UMD for the reasons already stated by others.

Dechiper script could also go. I find it unbelievable that you can get the context of a text written in a language that you have never heard/seen. Making cyphers can be a craft.

Was forgery folded into deception or so in SAGA?

Spellcraft can be folded into Knowledge (arcana, religion and nature) for arcane, divine and druid magic (this later is disputable).

I feel that handle animal might be combined or folded to somewhere (or be a Profession).

I would retain concentration as a separate skill, and give it some more use.
My call on reducing the number of skills:

Acrobatics - Balance, Escape Artist, Tumble
Athletics - Climb, Jump, Swim
Deception - Bluff (feinting, creating distractions, etc.), Disguise, Forgery, Sleight of Hand
Disable Device - Disable Device, Open Lock
Knowledge - pick a number of topics equal to your Intelligence modifier every time you learn this skill
Perception - Listen, Search, Sense Motive(?), Spot
Persuasion - Bluff (social uses), Diplomacy, Intimidate
Stealth - Hide, Move Silently

To be discarded: Decipher Script, Use Rope

Yeah, I know I don't argue for these choices, so just consider them a layout.
I agree with some consolidation of skills, but I think there needs to still be separation between the skills that depend on 'strength' and those that depend on 'dexterity' in order to keep the right feel.

Acrobatics: Balance, Escape Artist, Tumble
Animal Handling: Animal Empathy, Handle Animal, Ride
Athletics: Endurance (feat), Jump, Swim
Climb: Climb, Use Rope
Deception: Bluff, Disguise
Larceny: Appraise, Disable Device, Open Lock
Knowledge (Arcana): Spellcraft
Knowledge (Nature): Survival
Perception: Listen, Search, Sense Motive, Spot
Persuasion: Diplomacy, Gather Information, Intimidate
Profession (Scribe): Decipher Script, Forgery
Stealth: Hide, Move Silently, Sleight of Hand
Craft (Choose)
Heal
Knowledge (Choose)
Perform (Choose)
Profession (Choose)
Speak Language (Choose)
Use Magic Device
Wisdom Check: Concentration
I'd like to see Appraise replace the Identify spell completely. Otherwise, it needs to be folded into the Knowledges.
I agree with some consolidation of skills, but I think there needs to still be separation between the skills that depend on 'strength' and those that depend on 'dexterity' in order to keep the right feel.

Acrobatics: Balance, Escape Artist, Tumble
Animal Handling: Animal Empathy, Handle Animal, Ride
Athletics: Endurance (feat), Jump, Swim
Climb: Climb, Use Rope
Deception: Bluff, Disguise
Larceny: Appraise, Disable Device, Open Lock
Knowledge (Arcana): Spellcraft
Knowledge (Nature): Survival
Perception: Listen, Search, Sense Motive, Spot
Persuasion: Diplomacy, Gather Information, Intimidate
Profession (Scribe): Decipher Script, Forgery
Stealth: Hide, Move Silently, Sleight of Hand
Craft (Choose)
Heal
Knowledge (Choose)
Perform (Choose)
Profession (Choose)
Speak Language (Choose)
Use Magic Device
Wisdom Check: Concentration

You could, if you wanted to, fold Heal into Knowledge: Medicine or Profession: Healer if you really wanted to, since Heal, the skill, represents non-magical healing techniques (at least, none that require your magic).
You could, if you wanted to, fold Heal into Knowledge: Medicine or Profession: Healer if you really wanted to, since Heal, the skill, represents non-magical healing techniques (at least, none that require your magic).

I tried to think of an existing Knowledge that Heal would fit, but nothing came to mind. I think of Heal more as First Aid and thought initially Knowledge (Nature) since I would imagine it would rely somewhat on herbs, etc.
Dechiper script could also go. I find it unbelievable that you can get the context of a text written in a language that you have never heard/seen. Making cyphers can be a craft.

First of all, it is possible to decipher foreign languages. Otherwise, Hieroglyphs and Cuneiform would be mysteries to todays historians. The basic thing you do is try to find words you know from other languages and try to guess a grammar. It takes time, but it is possible. If you already know a similar language, it gets easy. I can read and understand Dutch rather easily, even though I never learnt the language, because I'm a native German speaker.

Cracking cyphers and understanding texts in an unknown language are really separate skills, one is more mathematic, the other more linguistic. On the other hand, the game effect is the same (get information from this piece of written text). So, while not realistic, it makes sense to have it as one skill.

As for Decipher Script a separate skill or not... Let's look at it this way:

There are three kinds of skills:
1) Everybody has to have it or we're screwed. If one PC sucks at moving silently, the whole group is discovered.

2) If I don't have it I'm screwed. This applies to skills that are needed in potentially deadly situations, such as Climb, Swim, Balance.

3) Decipher Script is on the other end: It's not life-threatening not to have it. Even if no character has it, the group can just find someone to decipher the document or use a spell. But if a character has it, it's a nice bonus ability. It's something a rogue can take to stand out, but he doesn't have to have it.
I agree with combining the skills. There are far too many. However, I don't agree with combining Jump, Climb, and Swim into one skill. My reason is that there are some races that won't be able to perform certain things. Centaurs can jump like crazy, but they can't climb up a rope. I was glad they didn't combine these in Saga Edition because Wookiees, while they can climb and swing well enough, probably aren't the best swimmers.
I agree with combining the skills. There are far too many. However, I don't agree with combining Jump, Climb, and Swim into one skill. My reason is that there are some races that won't be able to perform certain things. Centaurs can jump like crazy, but they can't climb up a rope. I was glad they didn't combine these in Saga Edition because Wookiees, while they can climb and swing well enough, probably aren't the best swimmers.

You can still combine skills together but they should be related to similar stats. The way Saga does this is there are different 'uses' for each skill. Therefore, Athletics is just overall how active and skilled you are at strength-based activities. A race who cannot swim well would suffer a -4 (or whatever) penalty to Athletics when attempting to swim. A race with small ears might suffer a -4 penalty to Perception when attempting to hear something.

Harliquinn
You can still combine skills together but they should be related to similar stats. The way Saga does this is there are different 'uses' for each skill. Therefore, Athletics is just overall how active and skilled you are at strength-based activities. A race who cannot swim well would suffer a -4 (or whatever) penalty to Athletics when attempting to swim. A race with small ears might suffer a -4 penalty to Perception when attempting to hear something.

Harliquinn

I hear your argument, but what about the races or creatures that can't perform these actions at all? A living ooze or gelatinous cube can't jump. I can understand getting a penalty on Perception due to being deaf or blind, I think that works out really well. As for the idea of the Athletics skill, I just don't see it working out too well.
They would have to write out which actions within the skills each creature may not be able to do, thereby making it more complicated.
I tried to think of an existing Knowledge that Heal would fit, but nothing came to mind. I think of Heal more as First Aid and thought initially Knowledge (Nature) since I would imagine it would rely somewhat on herbs, etc.

Yeah, but First Aid only goes so far. Ridiculous skill ranks where "First Aid" would seem kind of a silly explination, Knowledge: Medicine can fulfill "First Aid", doctoring, surgery, medicinal (and not-so-medicinal) herbs and poultices, among other things (such as Spellcraft for injuries, scars, and lacerations).
I hear your argument, but what about the races or creatures that can't perform these actions at all? A living ooze or gelatinous cube can't jump. I can understand getting a penalty on Perception due to being deaf or blind, I think that works out really well. As for the idea of the Athletics skill, I just don't see it working out too well.
They would have to write out which actions within the skills each creature may not be able to do, thereby making it more complicated.

I bolded the section I'm referring to. From the tidbits on the new MM the WotC staff has fed us so far, this may actually be what they go with. The monsters are supposed to be much easier to DM though. (I really, really hope so.)

Actually they seemed to indicate that monsters may not have skills or feats at all.
Oh please Hasbro, give me less options. I just hate it when my character is better at one thing than he is at another.

But seriously come on. It sounds like a lot of you are pressing for a deemphasis on skill customization. Play DnD Miniatures. Or... better yet, go down to half price books and pick up a copy of the first edition players handbook. Back then we didn't have to worry about skills at all.

Have you people actually read those 4th edition design articles. Those designers are going crazy. If enough of you cry out for some ill thought rules jettison, they might actually do it.

Having lots of skills to choose from is cool. It makes sense to eliminate skills that are significantly less useful than others, but if they seemed important enough to include in the first place, it makes even more sense to re balance and improve them until they are useful. Tumble was given as an example of one the best skills because it was combat useful. Why not build in more combat aplications of other skills (jump comes to mind.) What if a successful sleight of hand check could stand in for or amplify the abilities of quickdraw. Earlier someone put out the idea that apraise could serve as a poor man's identify. They should implement features that make the fluffy skills that fluffy players like me enjoy so much into tangible abilities that power gamers can apreciate.

My biggest concern with skills is spot/ listen. As a DM, I frequently take liberties with these skills, and often act as if every character is passively trying to notice things all the time. Hell, sometimes I call for a listen check in dangerous situations just to build suspense. It seems that these skills are too big for their breeches and need more attention then other skills. In the days of yore, I played an RPG where noticing things was deemed important enough to warrant its own stat. That game was rolemaster, and there were certainly characters who would have been better off sticking their high scores in Perception than in Strength (poor Vincent, you never saw it coming.) Wisdom seems a little tacked on as the governing trait. If me and the Dalai Llama are in a cave, I doubt he would do much better at noticing a secret passage than I would. And if he did, I don't think it would be his admittedly superior wisdom, but because of my innately horrible vision. Then again he does wear glasses.

In closing, I'd like to express some pity for Malraux.

All knowledge skills should have a monster info associated with it. There shouldn't be any knowledges that don't get a good use.

Obviously you've never had a dm skilled enough to make you care about his or her campaign world, beyond the next encounter. If you find one, take a few ranks of knowledge: history, and see what it can tell you about that town where you go to sell things or the ancient burial tomb you're party is stuck in.
Athletics= Climb, Jump, Swim
Agility= Balance, Escape Artist, Tumble

I can also see Open Lock and Disable Device as combined.

I see the athletics thing happening. Currently my favorite way to kill pcs is to fill the first dungeon level with magical heavy armor and the second level with pit traps that fall into 15 feet of water. Players at my LGS are famous for not putting anything in swim. I would call agility acrobatics, but other than that, I agree with this. Open lock should merge with disable device. Concentration and spellcraft should be separate. They're different things. I could see knowledge arcana and spellcraft being merged even though they're different. As my sig says, we're going away from realism into just making this a fun game. But I have no problems playing a fun game.
Gotta say it, Athletics is a bad idea.

For starters, Every Fighter, Ranger, Barbarian, Rogue, and Monk would take it. It's too useful setup that way. It's one reason SE didn't combine them.

Why should every catburgler Rogue be a master of swim?

Why should every high jumping monk be a master of climbing?

They shouldn't. Each would be usable untrained, so needing to roll them into one is completely unnecessary. They are important enough on there own when you need them, the relevence of the skill is up to the DM and his adventures. All of those skills are used with frequency in my game, and I don't want them rolled into one as they are quite different in application and truly require different skill sets to accomplish the task.

You want to be a good generalist in athletic skills, take high Str. You want to be practiced in them, pay up the skill training. No skill should be such a no brainer that any class that makes use of at least two them wouldn't ever go without it. Keeping them seperate forces one to make choices and differentiate their character.
Athletics is a great idea.... although in my current game we just combine climb and jump (swim is still separate). Climb and jump suffer from the fact that they become absolutely obsolete at higher levels due to flight; if you are going to take them, at least make them comparatively cheap.

16 ranks in Concentration? Nice, you can cast spells while being mauled by a grey render. 16 ranks in Tumble? You can roll under the Tarrasque. 16 ranks in Jump? Meh. A total waste because you're probably flying.

-Shaftiel
First of all, it is possible to decipher foreign languages. Otherwise, Hieroglyphs and Cuneiform would be mysteries to todays historians. The basic thing you do is try to find words you know from other languages and try to guess a grammar. It takes time, but it is possible. If you already know a similar language, it gets easy. I can read and understand Dutch rather easily, even though I never learnt the language, because I'm a native German speaker.

I was not stating that it is not possible. What you describe is an application of speak language combined with some knowledges. And German and Dutch is so close to each other that you capitalize on the similarity and not on your skill at dechipering anything.

I hear your argument, but what about the races or creatures that can't perform these actions at all? A living ooze or gelatinous cube can't jump. I can understand getting a penalty on Perception due to being deaf or blind, I think that works out really well. As for the idea of the Athletics skill, I just don't see it working out too well.

The Advanced Player's Guide from Green Ronin had a very nice chapter on skill s. They included penalties and bonuses for climbing/jumping/balancing for all sized and form of monsters. It is very extensive and it covers most of these simulations. Also some skill are "manipulative" and one needs a hand to do them.
I would suggest dropping swim as a skill altogether, along with balance, climb, jump, and tumble.

instead characters should have two new skills

endurance, and focus

endurance would represent your ability to maintain a steady rythym or momentom when doing strength and dexterity based feats that last along time (swimming, running, climbing, balance, etc.) while focus represents your ability to execute concentrated efforts of energy to produce a single effect (jumping, tumbling, throwing, etc.) the skills would then default to your ability score.

out of the skills swimming is the most unlikely skill to work like others, as some have said someone who can swim better than they climb. But this should be related to key traits and as flat bonuses (from feats and/or class abilities perhaps).

This same principle could be applied to almost all skill groups. using duration and direct action as the cornerstone for each ability.

e.g.

knowledge is a duration (research?), spellcraft a direct ability (insight?) based on intelligence.

survival and heal would be a duration (guidance?) while sense motive would be direct (judgement?) based on wisdom

bluff, diplomacy, disguise, and gather information would be a duration (persuasion?) based on charisma.


overall trained only skills should be either removed or tied into feats of learning but once learned utilise the above skills to improve. the idea being you can then represent a characters phyical/mental training without it affecting the characters ability scores.

my 2 cp
If I could decide what the skill list would look like, it would be something like this. I don’t subscribe to idea of making the list short, but I do want to se some skills merge with others.

Acrobatics: Balance, escape artist, tumble.

Appraise: Combine forgery, decipher script and appraise. Make appraise into a sage skill covering ancient and current items and documents. It’s used to appraise mundane items, but if trained in the skill also grant the ability to identify magic items (it sucks when you can’t identify magic items just because you don’t have a mage in your group). It can be used to decipher script, copy and fake documents, and identify counterfeits. It’s basically a useful archaeologist skill with a twist of rouge.

Athletics: Jumping and sprinting. Olympics (and fairs) here I come. Rules for sprinting should be included in the rules system, so that chasing rules are present in PH.

Bluff: bluff, sleight of hand and disguise (+ feinting).

Climb: I’d keep climb and jumping as separate skills. I’ve make climb cooler so that it makes DM involve climb more in encounters (trained climbers retain dex bonus for ac and have some attack options). Retaining dex for ac also makes climbing (for trained heroes) a viable escape option when fleeing. Oh and I also think trained climbers (the master thief) should be able to climb any surface and it should be slightly easier. Use rope might to some extend be included in this skill.

Concentration: keep it.

Craft (alchemy): The lab skill. Making alchemistic potions / items / capsules (include some of the items from complete adventures in PH) and make poison crafting a part of the skill. Special materials needed.

Craft (smith): combine weaponsmithing and armorsmithing into one and include the ability to make magic armors and weapons. The process of making magic weaponry would involve expensive and rare magic materials of various sorts. Attaining these materials could be an incentive to venture into the haunted mines. However this skill should only allow the making of the basic +1, +2, +3, +4 and +5 weapons and armors. Special abilities can only be bestowed by a mage with specific spells. This does not mean that every smith in the world makes magic armors and weapons, since he’ll still need rare and expensive materials to make these.

Craft (magic): transform the metamagic feats for creating magic items into this skill. This skill would require the ability to cast specified spells in order to make specific items (and constructs). Like the smith craft skill it should demand special magic materials. (I really liked the Earthdawn system with elemental materials)

Disable device: Disable devise, open locks and craft (mechanic trap). Chances are that if you can disarm a trap you can probably pick a lock.

Endurance: Like SAGA only with swim rolled into it. This way you have rules for swimming and drowning in one skill, and swim is just too rarely used to justify it as a separate skill.

Gather information: undecided. Maybe it should be rolled into persuasion.

Heal: should stay. I think that making the healing skill more powerful would be a great move, since it sounds to me like the new system will be healing mayhem. Also playing in a group without a priest should be viable (even if the new system is based roles). Therefore I think that heal should allow the character to mix antidotes for poison and disease, and cure potions. The character would need materials for creating these potions however. If some sort of potion making ability is included in the skill, then the survival skill might be used to gather these ingredients (only in the wild off cause). This way a ranger type would be able to combine his knowledge of herbs and plants with the art of healing.

Initiative: as SAGA.

Knowledge (dungenering): This skill should reflect experience from adventuring, and it should be the adventures best friend. A large knowledge of monsters should be a part of this skill (aberrations, oozes, dragons, constructs, magical beasts, goblinoids, gnolls, giants…). The skill should grant the ability to retain an overview of a dungeon even under stress, as well as discern routes, direction and keep track of time while underground and inside large buildings. Maybe trained heroes would gain a small synergy bonus for search and disable device in dungeons, caves and inside strongholds and the like if they are trained in this skill (finding those hidden doors and traps)?

Knowledge (local): I’d roll knowledge nobility and royalty, knowledge history, knowledge planes and knowledge local into one skill. It would cover countries, stretches of wilderness and “smaller” planes. You would know the most significant people in the given area (nobility, chieftains…), the general culture (making you better able to handle social encounters), the history of the realm, and the knowledge of the most significant places (ex. cities) and the general geography of the land. It would grant a minor synergy knowledge bonus relating to persuasion, survival and the like.

Knowledge (religion): It should have some spellcraft like ability to identify which deity the other priest is evoking for power, and gain knowledge of the domains available to that deity. Also I think it should grant knowledge about undeads and outsiders (fiends, demons, angels…). It should also grant a small synergy bonus for socials dealing with religious people and organizations.

Muscle: Well I like a strongman skill that widened the gap between what the strong heroes can do from what the weaker kind can do in regards to feats of strength. It would cover lifting, pulling, pushing and breaking stuff. See http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=922950

Perception: spot, listen and other senses (smell and taste).

Perform: I want to keep bards, therefore I want to keep perform.

Persuasion: diplomacy and intimidate. Get rid of the horrid current diplomacy system, and make it opposed check against sense motive. It should not relate to attitude towards you, but let you convince somebody to do something they wouldn’t normally do.

Search: I think it needs to separate from perception. Maybe I could be persuaded to move it into perception…

Sense motive: keep it and expand it. Not only if people are lying to you, but also sense mood and emotion. It should also allow you to discern motives behind arguments, and thus should be a skill to oppose diplomacy checks (and therefore intimidate).

Spellcraft: combine spellcraft and knowledge arcane (but leave out monster knowledge).

Stealth: combine move silently and hide in one skill.

Survival: combine handle animal, knowledge nature and survival. Also it should include the ability to construct natural traps, and the ability gathering ingredients for the heal skill as suggested above.

Use magic device: business as usual. If no appraise move identify magic items to this skill.
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