Revise Skill System

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This is just a little note for what I hope to see even though it is far too late...

It has bugged me for a while that there are WAY too many skills in 3E. A lot of the skills get ignored and others just don't make sense while a lot are very redundant.

For ignored skills, some of the obvious ones are Profession, Performance, Heal, and Appraise.
Profession skills make so very little money that while they may be useful to some small degree at low levels, unless you are specifically in a campaign where the DM dictates that LONG period of time occur between each adventure, you never get a chance to use them and the amount of money you make on adventures and the few uses you can put that money to (without digging into magic items) means that there really isn't any point to profession skills existing. Performance skills are the same way except that it is good to have one if you are a Bard since they are mechanically built into it. However, if you are not a Bard then the skill may as well not exist it seems.
Heal is the same way. You don't really get much mileage out of the Heal skill. Usually the party will have a cleric or potions and the Heal skill doesn't even restore hitpoints at all anyway (if I recall correctly) which means it never actually has or sees any real use.
And then there is Appraise which is pointless considering the D&D system gives a fixed price for every single item which apparently is totally consistent everywhere at all times. The DM has to go to some length to totally reshape the game's economy to get any mileage out of Appraise.
I am sure there are others that are even more pointless, but I am thinking off the top of my head and so I may have forgotten a lot of well... forgotten skills.

Next are the skills that make no sense in the skill system. Profession pops up here again as does Craft, Knowledge, and a few others.
Leveling up in D&D occurs basically exclusively through fighting monsters. You get experience from having been in a lot of fights. Okay, for some skills I can see this working...
Depending on how you fight your ability to Jump, Bluff, Sense Motive, Hide, Move Silently, Listen, Spot, Spellcraft, Performance, and some others may well increase. Because of various activities that occur around these activities, I can see your ability to Climb, Heal, Search, Disable Device, Open Lock and such might be totally viable...
But then there are the Craft, Knowledge and Profession skills. These are not things you would have learned from fighting monsters. You might be able to make a case for Knowledge (Monster Lore) or Knowledge (Spellcraft) and MAYBE Knowledge (Religion) in some cases, but beyond that none are applicable to what the character has been doing or learning.
But, aside from just leveling them up there is also a rather bizarre twist that characters don't automatically start with something in these categories. How could the character truly have no training in any Craft or Profession at all? What are the chances that they wouldn't have SOME points in Knowledge (Local), Knowledge (Law), Knowledge (Religion) or Knowledge (Society) even if they didn't apply to the city the characters start in?
Moreover, Craft skills are absolutely useless to a character who isn't a Wizard even though they shouldn't be. By making good equipment solely the domain of the Wizard, the motivation for other characters to be Craftsmen is totally taken away.


Finally, there are the redundant skills. There is no good reason to have BOTH Move Silently and Hide. The same applies to Spot and Listen. Chances are about 80% that if you are using one of these skills, you are using the other at the same time. Yes, there are times when it might be logistically better or the situation might call for one or the other, but really it wouldn't hurt to take each of these skills and roll them into a single skill (Sneak and Sense) and then logically roleplay out what is most likely happening in the situation. For instance, if you try sneaking up on a Goblin and they sense you, its a pretty good bet they heard you with those giant ears while a Gnoll might smell you. If you are sneaking up on an Orc and they spot you, chances are that it was not by sight if it is the middle of the day.
And, yes, this means that your ability to listen to someone whispering across the room will be instrically linked to your ability to spot something on the horizon, but it kind of it already. Both skills use Wisdom as a base and in most cases a race or feat that raises one of them raises the other. In fact, one might be able to even take this a step further and roll the Search skill into this and just make a general rule that doing a throughout search uses the skill but takes much longer than a simple check of your surroundings. Afterall, searching something should be intrisically linked to your senses anyway.

The same thing is generally true about Diplomacy, Intimidation and Bluff. Again, as it is if something affects one of these skills it effects all of them most of the time. Now, there are different approaches to various situations, however that much could be roleplayed out. Usually if someone is skilled at one, they are skilled at all three. So the player could roleplay which approach the character is taking and the DM could give a bonus or penalty to the approach before rolling the 'defending' Sense Motive check.
Now, there are some cases where a character might be particularly designed towards one of the three approaches. If someone is playing an Orc Barbarian, chances are that they will always go for Intimidation. But then the player would just play the character out that way naturally and if the approach is particularly bad in the situation then the DM would assign the appropriate penalty or give the appropriate action for the NPC as though they were properly intimidated.

All of the above-listed skills are integral in any DnD game where a Dungeon Master is utilizing and presenting a living, breathing world. Monster bashing aside, a number of the "useless skills" you noted are a neccessary component for a fully-realised and fleshed out character.

On the note of combining skills, I could not agree with you more here. SWSE did an excellent job with this with their skill system. I hope we see something similar to this in 4th edition.
My Dream 4E Skill list:

Climb (Str)
Jump (Str)
Swim (Str)

Acrobatics (Dex)
Initiative (Dex)
Ride (Dex)
Stealth (Dex)

Endurance (Con)

Craft (Int)*
Knowledge (Int)*
Linguistics (Int)
Spellcraft (Int)

Heal (Wis)
Perception (Wis)
Survival (Wis)

Deception (Cha)
Gather Information (Cha)
Persuasion (Cha)

*Classes with subskills

With a skill list this small, I wouldn't even mind Skill Points


* puled out two nice, but not necessary skills.
Profession... Performance... Heal... Appraise... Ignored skills?

Not in the game I run or the game I play in. I don't know what your group is doing but those four skills fall in the realm of "important" in our games.
Profession... Performance... Heal... Appraise... Ignored skills?

Not in the game I run or the game I play in. I don't know what your group is doing but those four skills fall in the realm of "important" in our games.

Perform is needed for Bards, no Bards, no mechancial need for perform.

I use Heal all the time in my games.

Appraise should be a part of the related Craft or Profession's skill.
My Dream 4.0 Skill list:

Climb (Str)
Jump (Str)
Swim (Str)

Acrobatics (Dex)
Initiative (Dex)
Ride (Dex)
Stealth (Dex)

Endurance (Con)

Craft (Int)*
Knowledge (Int)*
Linguistics (Int)
Spellcraft (Int)

Heal (Wis)
Perception (Wis)
Profession (Wis)*
Survival (Wis)

Deception (Cha)
Gather Information (Cha)
Perform (Cha)*
Persuasion (Cha)

*Classes with subskills

With a skill list this small, I wouldn't even mind Skill Points

You didn't include Sense Motive or Intimidate and you make initiative a skill?
You didn't include Sense Motive or Intimidate and you make initiative a skill?

Sense Motive is a part of Gather Information.

Intimidate is a part of Persuasion.

Initiative is a skill in SWSE and I truly enjoy it like that.
Perform is needed for Bards, no Bards, no mechancial need for perform.

Perform is NEEDED by Bards but used by many if the players so please. I have had two players who were (and are) not Bards who used Perform. I myself played a Paladin who played the lute.

Appraise should be a part of the related Craft or Profession's skill.

I definitely agree with that but it is not ignored which is what the OP said. Appraise is used constantly in our games and is extremely valuable. Based on what the OP said it is also not an ignored skill.
Sense Motive is a part of Gather Information.

Intimidate is a part of Persuasion.

Initiative is a skill in SWSE and I truly enjoy it like that.

How is sense motive part of gather information? Gather information should be part of persuasion (charisma-based, chat up the barkeep type stuff that gather information has always represented). Sense motive is more of a perception thing. There's a reason it's wisdom-based.

Also, where does concentration fit in?
How is sense motive part of gather information? Gather information should be part of persuasion (charisma-based, chat up the barkeep type stuff that gather information has always represented). Sense motive is more of a perception thing. There's a reason it's wisdom-based.

Also, where does concentration fit in?

Concentration is a part of Endurance I believe.

Gather Information is expanded to all forms of getting info out of people, including synergising with persuasion to talk them up and reading, their emotions/body language.
I don't mind the skills, the thing that bugs me are the skill points. It just seems like an unnecessary level of bookkeeping.

I preferred somewhat the 2nd Edition system of proficiencies. Each proficiency (say acrobatics or tumbling or whatever you want to call it) was tied to a particular ability (dexterity in that case). You rolled an ability check to see if it worked. In essence, a proficiency was a different way for you to use an ability. Acrobatics was a way of using your dexterity that a person nonproficient in acrobatics didn't know.

That starts to really blur the line between skills and feats, though. But really, what is the point of having an artificial distinction there, if one isn't really required? I say go for what's both simple and logical.
Ride (Dex)

Actually Ride is another totally useless skill.
Whenever one is using Ride, what they really should be using is either Balance (which can be combined with tumbling in 'Acrobatics' if you like) or Handle Animal (how did that one not make your list?)

Having Ride as some kind of silly hybrid between the two that doesn't synergize with either is just weird.

Actually Ride is another totally useless skill.
Whenever one is using Ride, what they really should be using is either Balance (which can be combined with tumbling in 'Acrobatics' if you like) or Handle Animal (how did that one not make your list?)

Having Ride as some kind of silly hybrid between the two that doesn't synergize with either is just weird.

My list draws heavily from SWSE, and Ride exists there as both Ride (dex) and Handle Animal (Cha). Yeah, the latter may be more appropriate for D&D and have it cover Ride.