View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Alternate Skills List

2018-04-04, 08:26 PM
I'm not in love with the standard 5e skill list, partly because it's so heavily focused on a handful of attributes (CON is useless, STR is nearly useless), and partly because it has weirdly overlapping or missing pieces -- when do you use Investigation vs. Insight or Perception? When do you use Nature vs. Survival? What's the difference between Performance, Deception, and Persuasion? What skill would you use to build a bridge, connect with the local Thieves' Guild, or hold perfectly still overnight while waiting to assassinate a corrupt vizier?

So, here's my attempt at an alternate skill list. Please let me know what you think!

Intimidate -- targets must beat your score with Resist Fear or become Frightened for 1 minute
Climb -- attempting to move quickly or steeply uphill requires passing a Climb DC
Swim -- attempting to move through fast, cold, deep, or wide bodies of water requires passing a Swim DC
Shove -- targets must beat your score with CON or be pushed back two hexes and lose one posture*
Wrestle -- targets must beat your score with Wrestle or lose one posture and become unable to improve posture

Dodge -- proficiency here is added to your AC
Parry -- targets must beat your score with their attack roll or the attack misses and they lose one posture
Jump -- attempting to cross tall or wide gaps of air requires passing a Jump DC
Trip -- targets must beat your score with DEX or lose two postures
Sneak -- targets attempting to perceive you must use Perception to beat your Sneak score

Hiking -- attempting to march for long days, many days, or through rough terrain requires passing a Hike DC
Resist Weather -- attempting to concentrate or survive in intense heat, cold, wet, or dry conditions requires passing a Resist Weather DC
Resist Shock -- certain weapons and spells will stun you unless you pass a Resist Shock DC
Patience -- attempting to remain still or silent for a long time or to avoid becoming enraged or despairing may require a Patience DC
Concentration -- attempting to maintain focus on a spell (or other activity) while taking damage or continuing for many hours requires a Concentration DC

Arcana --- knowledge about magic, artifacts, guilds of spellcasters, spells, physics, metaphysics, and magical creatures
History -- knowledge about politics, political geography, demographics, and major current events
Nature -- knowledge about plants, animals, physical geography, bodies of water, biology, and chemistry
Religion -- knowledge about gods, priesthoods, churches, ethics, law, spirits, undead, and the afterlife
Urban -- knowledge about cities, buildings, engineering, commerce, architecture, and neighborhoods

Perception -- can roll against DCs set by the DM to detect interesting features in your environment
Sense Motive -- can roll against Bluff to determine whether a character is lying and (on a critical success) what the character's motives are
Resist Fear -- some spells and effects, including Intimidate, force a DC using Resist Fear to avoid running away
Handle Animal -- attempting to tame, ride, or command any animal wilder than a horse requires passing a Handle Animal DC
Medicine -- can roll against DCs set by the DM to stabilize a dying character, cure poison or disease, and restore a maximum of 1 HP

Bluff -- attempting to conceal important, relevant facts or to convince people of dubious or false ideas requires passing a Bluff DC
Theatrics -- distract and entertain other characters by flamboyantly drawing attention to yourself or to a specific location
Inspiration -- provide allies with courage, determination, imagination, etc. so that they keep trying even when faced with a difficult situation
Flattery -- ensure that your offers are received as favorably as possible and make the best of your reputation by treating others with appropriate politeness
Networking -- search for allies and business partners, pick up on local rumor, and collect quests or requests from people who need your help

*my rules for posture are posted at http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?555304-Alternate-Ruleset-Posture-Advantage-and-Grappling. If you don't want to use them but you do like my skills, you could just say that characters who are shoved, tripped, etc. have a chance of falling prone.

2018-04-04, 10:24 PM
And how many extra proficiencies do players get?

Edit: More detail.

Why can only strong people be intimidating? So the wiry Rogue, who can easily stab you to death, isn't scary? The Wizard or Warlock, who can turn you into dust with a snap of their fingers, aren't scary? The thing is, intimidate isn't really about BEING SCARY, usually. It is against, say, a Dragon, but against a townsperson? You're an ADVENTURER! You're scary, if you choose to be! It's about making that fear make them DO WHAT YOU WANT-which would be Charisma.

Climb seems okay, if unneededly narrow.

Swim is the same.

Why did you separate out Shoving and Grappling? In fact, you just made Strength way worse. Instead of needing one proficiency to be good at it (which, admittedly, could probably move to two or so) you now need FOUR.

Dodge breaks bounded accuracy hard. Anyone who cares about AC will take it, since it adds a blanket +Proficiency to AC.

Parry is also crazy, since it adds a second AC roll. That's effectively disadvantage on every attack ever.

Why is Jump Dex-based? Like, at all? Jumping far is not an agility thing, it's a strength thing!

Trip used to be covered under shove-you're adding complications where none existed before.

Sneak is just renamed stealth, so whatever.

Hiking should really be more a save.

Resist Weather, again, save.

Resist Shock is the same, as would Concentration, and possibly Patience. See, this is why I have a fix that REMOVES Consitution-it's entirely passive.

Under Int, you added Urban (which is fine) but removed Investigation-why?

Perception is the same as ever.

Sense Motive was renamed Insight for 5E-why change that?

Resist Fear would be covered by saves.

Handle Animal is already in 5E, so fine.

Medicine looks fine, but you really need to specify HOW one would restore HP or whatnot.

Bluff was renamed Deception, but whatever.

Theatrics would be Performance.

Inspiration isn't handled in the rules. It's handled by the players. THEY determine if their characters feel downtrodden, or defeated, or whatnot. Not the DM, and CERTAINLY not a skill check.

Flattery would be Persuasion, except Persuasion covers more that none of your skills do.

Networking shouldn't be its own skill-it'd go under Persuasion, and just be a use of it.

2018-04-05, 01:17 AM
Intimidate defaulting to Str instead of Cha doesn't make much sense to me. Being muscular doesn't make you better at knowing how to present yourself or speak in a fearsome manner; most Intimidate checks are a matter of being scary, not just big, and Str helps the latter. That being said, in a normal game I'd be more than happy to let a player make a Strength (Intimidation) roll if the circumstances made how big you are more important than how good you are at making people perceive you in a particular fashion - particularly with animals and the like, although then we'd probably need to port over the advantage/disadvantage due to size difference that 5e has for opposed Str checks.

I like the idea of using Climb to ascend a steep hill while walking "normally" - essentially using it to lessen the costs of difficult terrain from slopes. Nice idea for a change to how this aspect of Str skills work. Swim is about the same as using Athletics to Swim now, except now it's its own skill. And to round out the triumvirate of strength-based movement skills we have...oh wait, Jump isn't a Str skill anymore. Okay. Finally, Shove and Wrestle tie into the posture subsystem, which I have problems with as I go over in the Dex section.

Before I go further, I'd like to congratulate you on making Strength more valuable for skillmonkeys, by splitting one proficiency into six and moving two of them to Dex. Granted, this isn't as huge a problem if you're giving classes more skill proficiencies across the board to make up for the fact that there's now 30 skills instead of 18, but even if you double the number of skill proficiencies every character gets, that skill means what was once a single proficiency now takes six.

Dodge gets...problematic. While most builds will have 15-20 AC for most of their careers, a touch of optimization can easily add 5-10 points to either of those values...or more. Letting players tie Armor Class into the skill system without doing something similar for attack bonuses means that this problem will get even worse. Of course, what makes this even more convoluted is Expertise: a Rogue 1 with Dex 20, Studded Leather, and Dodge Expertise is looking at AC 21, as opposed to a knight with Chainmail and shield clocking in at 20. What's more, unless you're replacing Dexterity saving throws with Dodge checks (PLEASE PLEASE DON'T DO THAT), this isn't a real skill, it's just an armor boost that breaks bounded accuracy over its knee.

At the same time...I get it. I think a Rogue 20 should have better AC than a level one chump with full plate and a shield, and the base system doesn't do that; adding prof to AC would fix that. I think the low levels can be pretty swingy for the party, and increasing AC would make fights less deadly on both sides; adding prof to AC would fix that. I think that high level combat tends to favor mages as opposed to stick-swingers, and increasing AC drastically on both sides will make fights last longer (and thus, making it better to hoard high-level spells for important moments, giving the noncasters a better place on the battlefield); adding prof to AC would do that. I can see an argument for adding proficiency to Armor Class if that's the kind of game you want, but if you're going to do that, please please please don't tie it to skills. Just make it a general rule that, if you're wearing armor you're proficient in, you add your proficiency bonus to your Armor Class. Because otherwise, the classes with access to Expertise will be adding 4-14 to AC instead of 2-6. Yes, 14, because Ioun Stone of Mastery exists. The main problem I see persisting even in that situation is "what's your AC like when you can't attempt to dodge, and do I really want to introduce that much variance in everybody's AC scores?"

Parry makes all of the above even worse. Now in order for Person A to hit Person B, Person A has to roll higher than both Person B's AC and Person B's Parry roll. Let us suppose that two characters exist, both mirrors of the other: Rogue (Swashbuckler) 20s with Dex 20/Con 20, expertise in Dodge and Parry, a simple rapier, and studded leather armor. Both start their duel in the Ready Posture; on each of their turns, they will roll an attack roll of 2d10 (since both being Ready cancels out the benefits) +11 to hit (which can lower their posture by 1 if they roll two 1s), potentially have to fight off a parry (which can lower their posture by 1 if they get parried), potentially attempting to parry the other's attack roll (and having posture lowered by 1 as a result of rolling snakes eyes), and then Bonus Action Dash to raise their Posture by 1 before attack/2 after attacking (negating all of the previous potential posture issues before they can possibly affect any rolls). The only thing that can reduce posture in a way that won't be immediately undone is damage, and HOO BOY. 1d8+10d6+5 hits pretty hard, as does 2d8+20d6+5; the first will lower posture by 5 steps 80% of the time (from Ready to Dazed), and the latter will do so 100% of the time. Once you reduce their posture to Dazed, they won't get to attack next turn and can only raise themselves to Off-Balance - but now they're two posture steps down from their opponent, have already taken 45 or 84 damage (out of their 203 total), and didn't get to attack, so they're already extremely behind. What are the odds of getting hit/crit, though? 3.36% and 1%, respectively. So basically, have the two master swashbucklers take turns rolling d20s; the first person to roll a 20 wins. There, I've reduced this competition from each person roll 4 dice every turn to rolling 1 die every turn. Posture is so streamlined tho.

Jump is fine existing as a Dex skill, I just think it should also be a Strength one. Sneak is fine, too, basically the same as it's been. Tying Trip into the posture system (taking it away from Strength) is gonna cause issues for big creatures that try to knock things down with brute force, but it's already established that this redux isn't very nice to Str-based skillmonkeys.

"I'm a professional hiker. I know the best hiking techniques, to make sure I don't get tired."
-the kind of person you don't bring to a dungeon crawl

"I can forgo wearing a shirt, even in freezing rain!"
-that same dude

I defy you to make an argument that Hiking and/or Resist Weather is so phenomenally useful that I should take them as opposed to basically anything else. Good god, Athletics was split into six skills, but I'd still rather take Swim that both of these put together, and I can't even remember the last time I had to attempt to swim in-game. Skills are competing with each other for limited slots. There are some discrepancies in the main game, but that mostly revolves around Perception being so great (when DMs should be more discerning about what should be Perception and what should be Investigation) and Performance being so trash (it should be nixed, really, and just left to the tool proficiencies). And these two Con skills are so underwhelming that they're not really in the running for my limited skill proficiencies...meaning they just end up being no-prof Con checks, the same as they are now. I certainly can't imagine every wasting Expertise on either of them, especially since both are largely passive rather than active. There's a reason these are generic Con checks and occasionally two small parts of the Survival skill in core: they're not that important.

I think Resist Shock is doing that thing I told you not to do with Dodge - that is to say, taking what should be a saving throw and making it a skill (and thus, potentially Expertise'd). I say "I think", because I can't find anywhere you've specified what effects even call for this kind of "check".

Patience seems like it should be tied more to Wisdom than Constitution. As it stands, Barbarians are better at being Patient than monks, which...feels inherently wrong on both sides of the equation. Being sound of body doesn't make you still of mind, and the mind is what gets impatient. Heck, if you really wanted to reflect the physical side of keeping still...that'd be either Balance or Stealth, as a Dex skill.

I'm of mixed feelings on Concentration as a skill instead of a save. I don't have a huge issue with potential Expertise in it (concentration DCs can get high with big damage), but that means that instead of sorcerers (the clear battlemages) being the casters most naturally good at concentrating when taking a hit, it's the bards who are now the kings of concentration.

The inclusion of the "Urban" knowledge is fine, and the way the knowledges are fleshed out is cool, but getting rid of Investigation means all of its uses are lumped into Perception, making that skill even more god-tier than it already was.

Four of these skills are the same, and that's fine. I wish Medicine was more fleshed out on how it could heal, and could actually heal significant damage over time, but ah well.

Getting rid of Survival means that all the boy scout stuff that doesn't fall under "hiking, weathering weather, and book knowledge of plants/animals", such as tracking, dealing with natural hazards, navigating unmapped areas, navigating mapped areas quickly, and so on...yeah, all of that is just ability checks now, instead of a skill. Bring back Survival.

Resist Fear is doing that thing I said now to do: making something that should be a save into a skill check, meaning some people will get expertise against it.

I like the change from "Performance" to "Theatrics" making it more obvious what the skill can be used for. It's not completely awful now, at least. I feel like splitting Persuasion into three skills is a bit much - you could probably combine Flattery and Networking into Diplomacy, but I like Inspiration being a separate skill (although maybe rename it Leadership to avoid name confusion with the Inspiration mechanic). Oh yeah, and bring back Intimidate]

Here's my suggestion for a changed skill list, based on your list and my thoughts on that list, assuming that you don't wanna ditch the posture system entirely (which I'm pretty sure you don't).

Athletics: Climb+Jump+Swim
Shoving: As you have it
Wrestling: As you have it
Combatant: Trip (as you have it, but Str instead of Dex) and disarming
Weightlifting: lifting extremely heavy loads for short periods of time, based on your check and your normal carrying capacity.

Acrobatics: As core
Stealth: As core
Sleight Of Hand: As core
Avoidance: prevent shove/wrestle/trip/disarm from succeeding against you
Parry: As you have it, although it makes combats a great deal more complicated

Endurance: Hiking+Resist Weather+holding ones breath
Concentration: As you have it
Stability: Resisting forced movement
Resist Shock: For whatever this normally affects, as long as it's not something that should really be a saving throw.
Resist Needs: going without food/water/sleep

Arcana: As you have it
History: As you have it
Nature: As you have it
Religion: As you have it
Urban: As you have it
Investigation: as core

Intelligence gets 6 because it's a garbage stat as-is, and needs the help.

Perception: as core
Insight: as core
Medicine: as core, plus you can heal non-insignificant HP on short/long rests
Animal Handling: as core
Survival: as core, minus the stuff lost to Endurance

Intimidation: as core
Deception: As core
Theatrics: as you have it
Leadership: as your Inspiration
Diplomacy: as your Flattery+your Networking

2018-04-05, 01:44 AM
And how many extra proficiencies do players get?

I was thinking it might be nice to give players one extra proficiency each time they reach an ASI/Feat level. That way in addition to pumping a couple of ability scores, you can choose a new skill; it lends a little more interest to what might otherwise be a dull level. ASIs are powerful, but they're not always interesting. Maybe also one bonus skill of your choice at character creation. I'm open to advice.

Why can only strong people be intimidating? So the wiry Rogue, who can easily stab you to death, isn't scary?

The Rogue is plenty scary if he has Expertise in Intimidation, and if the Rogue's gleaming dagger is dripping with some kind of obviously poisonous ichor while he cackles about how it'd be a shame if anything happened to your cute little kidneys, then maybe the GM gives you advantage or inspiration on your roll. It's not that *only* strong people can be intimidating, it's that being strong makes you naturally more intimidating, even if you don't particularly practice that skill.

Why did you separate out Shoving and Grappling? In fact, you just made Strength way worse. Instead of needing one proficiency to be good at it (which, admittedly, could probably move to two or so) you now need FOUR.

Well, as above, a high STR score will still make you good at all of the STR-related skills. Proficiency is a bonus that makes you extra-special-good at your specialty. I think it's nice to be able to distinguish characters who are better at swimming vs. characters who are better at climbing; it's interesting to imagine a Barbarian fisherman vs. a Barbarian mountain shepherd. The idea that you *need* all four proficiencies in order to play an effective STR-based character seems a bit off to me. Plenty of people like using Great Weapon Master even if they have no particular interest in Athletics.

Dodge breaks bounded accuracy hard. Anyone who cares about AC will take it, since it adds a blanket +Proficiency to AC. Why is Jump Dex-based? Like, at all? Jumping far is not an agility thing, it's a strength thing!

Well, part of the DEX in Jumping is landing on your feet, even if you land on narrow or uneven terrain. But I'd be comfortable putting Jump into STR if the numbers work out better that way. I agree that Dodge is overpowered and jarring as written. Do you have any ideas for how to balance Dodge, or for what other skills belong in DEX? I'd like to have at least four skills for each attribute.

Hiking should really be more a save. Resist Weather, again, save.

This is an honest question, not sarcasm: what's the point of saves? Why is it fun or useful or important to call some things saves and other things skill checks?

Under Int, you added Urban (which is fine) but removed Investigation-why?

I have a lot of trouble understanding what the heck Investigation is supposed to be used for. The Player's Handbook says "When you look around for clues and make deductions based on those clues, you make an Intelligence (Investigation) check. You might deduce the location of a hidden object, discern from the appearance of a wound what kind of weapon dealt it, or determine the weakest point in a tunnel that could cause it to collapse. Poring through ancient scrolls in search of a hidden fragment of knowledge might also call for an Intelligence (Investigation) check."

So, Sherlock Holmes is awesome, but as a GM, if I'm going to go to the trouble of creating clues for my players to find to solve a puzzle, I'm not going to force them to roll to turn the clues into something legible, or allow them to roll to solve the puzzle automatically. The fun thing about puzzles is trying to solve them. I give you the clues, you see if you, the player, can deduce the solution. I'm not going to have rolls for deductive reasoning. You may as well say "roll to see if you successfully cross through the spider-infested jungle and the freezing mountainside to reach the dragon's lair." You're skipping half the adventure with a die roll. Gross.

As far as the rest of it, it all overlaps with other skills. What's the difference between "investigating" the tunnel to see if you can "deduce" the location of a weak spot, and "perceiving" the tunnel to see if you can "observe" the location of a weak spot? What's the difference between "investigating" scrolls to see if you can learn a piece of arcana, and consulting your Knowledge (Arcana) to see if you can navigate the library well enough to learn that same piece of arcana?

See, this is why I have a fix that REMOVES Consitution-it's entirely passive.

I read your post about removing Constitution, and I think that's a reasonable solution, but for players who prefer to keep CON in the game because they enjoy the idea of having unusually fragile or sturdy characters, I think it's useful to have additional detail to flesh out that attribute, rather than making every CON-based skill check exactly the same. Yes, the checks are passive, but they can be used actively, i.e., if you know your party is good at forced marches, you can make a tactical decision to march through the night and overtake your enemies.

Inspiration isn't handled in the rules. It's handled by the players. THEY determine if their characters feel downtrodden, or defeated, or whatnot. Not the DM, and CERTAINLY not a skill check.

What if you're trying to inspire NPCs?

Flattery would be Persuasion, except Persuasion covers more that none of your skills do.

OK, what am I missing? The Player's Handbook says that persuasion covers...

fostering friendships
making cordial requests
exhibiting proper ettiquette
convincing a chamberlain to let your party see the king
negotiating peace between warring tribes
inspiring a crowd of townsfolk
find the best person to talk to for news, rumor, and gossip
blend into a crowd to get the sense of key topics of conversation

1 seems like something that should be covered by roleplaying, rather than a skill check. You make friends by finding common ground or by doing favors, not by rolling dice.
2 and 3 are covered by Flattery.
For 4, I would ask *how* you plan to convince the chamberlain. Threats? Intimidation. Bribes? Depends on your gold, not your skills. Asking nicely? Flattery. Convincing the guard that you're the king's long-lost cousin? Bluff. I don't like the idea of a 'generic' convincing skill; it encourages players to be lazy about the social aspects of the game.
For 5, I would run an entire session around this theme, not just require a single roll. The warring tribes have generals, princesses, clerics, lost heirlooms, mysterious plagues, and other 'plot hooks' that you can engage with to try to promote peace. I wouldn't want to play in a campaign where I can roll a 20 and automatically wind up with the Camp David Accords.
6 is covered by Inspiration.
7 and 8 are covered by Networking.

All that said, I am very willing to believe that I've missed some important aspects of persuasion, and I'd be happy to try to add them into my system. Just let me know which ones, please!

2018-04-05, 07:05 PM
I'm not in love with the standard 5e skill list, partly because it's so heavily focused on a handful of attributes (CON is useless, STR is nearly useless)...Your edits don't fix that.

Dividing Athletics into Climb, Swim and Shove means it takes 3 proficiencies to accomplish what 1 used to (or less, since youve made Jump and Trip Dexterity skills). The only new use for Strength is Intimidation.

Similarly, every skill you associate with Constitution is already accomplished by Constitution saves. You haven't added anything to make Con more useful.

and partly because it has weirdly overlapping or missing pieces -- when do you use Investigation vs. Insight or Perception?Perception is for recognizing surroundings. Insight is for recognizing others thoughts and feelings. Investigation make a inferences based on clues you can already recognize. There's very little overlap.

When do you use Nature vs. Survival?Fair criticism. Survival has too much in common with Nature and even Investigation (since it's used for tracking).

What's the difference between Performance, Deception, and Persuasion?Performance merely captures attention with entertainment of some kind.

Deception changes thoughts or feelings using lies.

Persuasion changes thoughts and feelings using honesty.

What skill would you use to build a bridgeThat's not a skill check. That's a tool check: mason's or carpenter's tools.

...connect with the local Thieves' Guild...This is more of an adventure than a check.

It might involve setting bait, Stealth and Perception to spy on the thief who comes for it, or it might involve Investigation to track them down.

It might involve an battle to incapacitate the thief, and an interrogation that involves Persuasion, Deception, or Intimidation. Or it might involve a heist to earn their trust.

Why would discovering a secret organization be one roll? It isn't an action, but a mission.

...or hold perfectly still overnight while waiting to assassinate a corrupt vizier?Stealth covers staying motionless and silent.

Intimidate shouldn't be a Strength skill. Someone strong will be more intimidating than someone weak, but only if they're threatening to hit you. What if I'm threatening a dart to the eye? Someone dextrous takes that cake. Or a fireball to your house? A spellcaster. Or blackmailing you? Someone with social power. Strength comes in and out of the picture, but Charisma is all about getting in people's heads, which is a key factor in all forms of intimidation.
Climb is reasonable.
Swim is reasonable.
Shove and Wrestle should be one skill. Any grappler will tell you that pushing and pulling go hand in hand.

Dodge and Parry are overpowered, but also aren't skills in the 5e sense. Skills in 5e are tools the player can choose to use. The fun is in making the rught choices. Mere responses, like dodging, are calling saving throws.
Jump should be Strength, where height and distance are concerned. Acrobatic flips and landings are covered by, well, acrobatics, alongside other attempts to balance.
Trip fits with shove and wrestle.
Sneak is fine. Why rename it?
Sleight of Hand is missing. Why?

Hiking is a saving throw because it's purely a response. No one will ever choose to roll this, but only be forced to.
Resist Weather is a saving throw.
Resist Shock is a saving throw.
Patience is a saving throw.
Concentration is a saving throw.

Arcana is fine.
History is fine
Nature is fine
Religion is fine.
Urban is fine.
Investigation is missing. I understand that you want your players to solve puzzles themselves, but the point of ability scores is to create a character that the player is not. Timid players can choose proficiency in intimidation. Honest players can choose deception. Unconvincing players can choose persuasion. Clueless players need investigation.

One thing you can do as a DM is reward high rolls with hints instead of solutions. If one clue is a set of large but shallow shoeprints, a good roll might deduce "the culprit was a lightweight person--someone young, thin or small--wearing a heavier person's shoes". The players are one step closer to guessing who, but the roll didn't solve everything.

You can do similar things with Charisma skills.

Perception is fine.
Sense Motive is fine. Why rename it?
Resist Fear is purely a response, and thus a saving throw.
Handle Animal is unchanged. I personally think it should be a Charisma skill like it was in 3rd edition, since Charisma is your ability to control others.
Medicine is unchanged. I personally think it should be an Intelligence skill, since medicine is about applying knowledge.

Bluff is fine. Why rename it?
Theatrics is fine. Why rename it?
Inspiration falls under persuasion.
Flattery falls under persuasion.
Networking is fine.

2018-04-11, 05:03 PM
All right, everyone, thanks for the feedback. Some of it was harsh, but most of it was constructive, so I appreciate the help, especially from AvatarVecna, who seems to be trying to help me build the module I have in mind. It honestly had not occurred to me that splitting one skill into multiple smaller skills would make all of those skills less powerful, but after reading your comments, that seems obviously true, and so I'm going to be more careful about where I split skills. For example, passing CON checks is not especially useful, so I am using only 3 CON skills, each of which is broadly defined, with the goal of making it less "expensive" to become an expert in passing CON-related checks. That way both the benefit and the cost are small, so the skills should be fairly priced. I also hear everyone saying that Dodge and Parry are too powerful and too complicated, and I promise to keep shrinking these skills until they fit in with the rest of the game. If I can't do that, I'll delete them.

I also hear people saying that they don't like and/or don't understand the posture system. That's fair, and these alternate skills need to be able to succeed or fail on their own merits, without being dependent on posture rules that people might not like. So, I will redefine these skills to use core D&D mechanics for posture, and save my posture rules for another post.

Many of you wrote in to say that "X should be a saving throw" instead of a skill, but nobody really explained WHY some things should be saves and other things should be skills. Fortunately, I found an article from The Angry GM on exactly that topic, and he claims that players should almost never roll dice for saving throws. He says for simplicity and consistency, the best thing to do is to have an ironclad rule that the person making the active effort rolls the dice and compares it to the passive skill of the player resisting the effort. Are you trying to sneak past a guard? You're the one trying to sneak, so you roll the dice. The guard is just standing there, so we look at the guard's passive Perception. Are you trying to shove a goblin away from your mage? You're the one trying to shove the goblin, so you roll the dice. The goblin is just standing there, so we look at the goblin's passive CON. The same rules apply on the GM's turn: if the goblin tries to shove *you* away from the goblin priest, the goblin is the one who's shaking things up, so the goblin rolls a Shove check against your passive CON -- you don't need to roll any dice in that situation. I really like this approach. I realize this rule is significantly different from what's written in the Player's Handbook. That's fine; that's why I'm posting in the Homebrew section.

So, based on the Angry DM's advice, and based on your feedback, here's my second draft of an alternate skill list.


Athletics -- climbing quickly or steeply up a hill, jumping over a wide gap or up onto a high ledge, or swimming through cold, deep, or fast-moving water
Weightlifting -- lifting, pushing, or dragging extremely heavy loads for short periods of time.
Shoving -- use an Attack to try to beat an opponent's passive CON. If successful, move them up to two hexes away and give them disadvantage at attack rolls and ability checks on their next turn.
Wrestling -- use an Attack to try to beat an opponent's passive STR. If successful, reduce their movement speed to 0 on their next turn.
Tripping -- use an Attack to try to beat an opponent's passive DEX. If successful, knock that opponent prone.


Acrobatics -- climbing on or swinging from ropes, balancing on narrow ledges, somersaults, cartwheels, handstands, throwing/catching small objects
Stealth -- Same as Player's Handbook
Sleight Of Hand -- Same as Player's Handbook
Dodge -- Use your Action to temporarily increase your AC. Roll 1d20, modified by your DEX and your Dodge skill, and divide by 5, rounded down. Add the result to your AC until the start of your next turn. An untrained person with DEX 10 will add +2 to AC on average. A Level 20 skillmonkey with expertise in Dodge and DEX 20 will add +5 to AC on average. Unlike the RAW 'full defense' action, this bonus can stack with an opponent's disadvantage. If a dazed opponent would have disadvantage attacking you anyway, and you're also focused on dodging, it ought to be *really* unlikely for them to hit you.
Parry -- If you are wielding a melee weapon and an opponent *misses* you with his melee weapon, you may use your Reaction to make a Parry check against that opponent's passive DEX. If successful, your opponent gets disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks on their next turn. Unarmed strikes and claw/bite attacks do not count as melee weapons for this purpose.
Disarm -- use an Attack to try to beat an opponent's passive DEX. If successful, one weapon held in the opponent's hand becomes loose, or, if already loose, is knocked 10 feet away in a random direction. Attacks made with a loose weapon have disadvantage. A character may spend 10 feet of movement on its turn to restore a normal grip on a loose weapon.


Endurance -- adds a passive bonus to all checks based on being hungry, thirsty, tired, sore, hot, cold, or otherwise physically uncomfortable
Concentration -- adds a passive bonus to all checks based on taking damage, interrupting spells, or maintaining focus on one task for a long time
Stability -- adds a passive bonus to all checks based on being shoved, pushed, pulled, wrestled, or tripped, or otherwise being physically forced to move


Arcana -- knowledge about magic, artifacts, guilds of spellcasters, spells, physics, metaphysics, and magical creatures
History -- knowledge about politics, political geography, demographics, and major current events
Nature -- knowledge about plants, animals, physical geography, bodies of water, biology, and chemistry
Religion -- knowledge about gods, priesthoods, churches, ethics, law, spirits, undead, and the afterlife
Urban -- knowledge about cities, buildings, engineering, commerce, architecture, and neighborhoods
Investigate -- the academic skill of knowing who to interview, what topics are relevant, where to find a particular book, and how to quickly process or cross-reference large amounts of information. If you know what you want to learn about and have access to at least one source of data, you can roll an Investigate check to try to gain new clues. Investigate checks are typically made with Advantage when in a library or bookstore, and with Disadvantage when made in the wilderness or a dungeon. After you make an Investigate check, you cannot make another one until you gain access to a new source of data or a new question.


Perception -- adds a passive bonus to what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel, making you more likely to detect and notice a subtle stimulus or a sneaky spy.
Search -- the practical skill of knowing where to look for hidden objects and how to interpret marks, cracks, wounds, or stains.
Insight -- the ability to intuit what others are thinking or feeling, what someone's true motivations are, or what plan an opponent might try next.
Animal Handling -- same as Player's Handbook
Survival -- finding trails, tracking or escaping pursuit, dealing with natural hazards and natural disasters, navigating without maps or instruments, and improvising crude shelters and fires.
Medicine -- during combat, you can use an Action to try to stabilize a character who is making death saves (DC 20) OR neutralize a poison (DC 15) OR restore 1 HP to a willing ally you can touch who is not currently being forced to make death checks (DC 10). You cannot restore more than 1 HP to the same character in the same combat using Medicine. During any rest, you can roll 1d20, add your WIS modifier and your Medicine skill, divide by 5, round down, and restore a total of that many HP to an ally or allies of your choice. For example, a character with 14 WIS and +3 Proficiency in Medicine who rolled a 12 could restore (2 + 3 + 12) / 5 = (17 / 5) = 3 HP to one other character, or 1 HP to each of three other characters. If you have no medicinal herbs or supplies, the check is made at a disadvantage. If you are in a hospital or infirmary, the check is made with advantage.


Intimidation -- Same as Player's Handbook; only works on NPCs.
Deception -- Same as Player's Handbook; only works on NPCs.
Theatrics -- distract and entertain NPCs by flamboyantly drawing attention to yourself or to a specific location
Leadership -- provide NPC allies with courage, determination, imagination, etc. so that they keep trying and follow your guidance even when faced with a difficult situation
Diplomacy -- search for NPC allies and business partners, pick up on local rumor, and enhance your reputation by treating NPCs with the appropriate kind of politeness; depending on the situation, that could mean elegant bowing or enthusiastic bear hugs.

2018-04-11, 07:16 PM
Angry GM's comment that saving throws should be scores rather than rolls reflects how they are passive rather than active; he's suggesting that the caster of a spell (or initiator of an effect) should roll rather than the person who is saving against it.

This has nothing to do with your question of why saves are different than skills. The answer is that skills get large modifiers, which would be overpowered for saves.

In previous editions of D&D, creatures could gain enormous bonuses to their rolls and scores that made certain tasks impossible to fail. A 1d20 + 44 attack roll will always total at least 45, meaning it will never miss a creature with less than 45 AC. To make real challenges, serious hazards and strong monsters had extremely high DCs and AC to match, which made them totally impossible for lower level characters to avoid or harm respectively. The end result was a game where an army of commoners couldn't lay a finger on an experienced adventurer, and an experienced adventurer absolutely never failed a mundane task.

5th edition decided that this was silly. Even the world's greatest warrior will swing wrong once in a while, and even the world's most boring man will swing right if he gives it enough tries. To represent this, 5e make bonuses to d20 rolls, DCs and AC extremely small and rare. Attack rolls and saving throws cap off at about 1d20 + 5 ability + 6 proficiency (12-31), which means that veteran adventurers will sometimes miss agile or armoured commoners with their attacks, and sometimes fail saves against amateurish effects. Situational advantages and disadvantages are represented by, well, advantage and disadvantage!

The exception is ability checks. Many features, like Expertise, Natural Explorer and Stonecunning allow a creature to add twice their proficiency bonus to an ability check. With features like these, ability checks cap off at 1d20 + 5 ability + 12 proficiency (18-37). If rolls like these could be used to harm others, they would be almost irresistible. And if rolls like these could be used to avoid harm, you'd be almost untouchable. Because skills are so consistent, they cannot be strong.

2018-04-11, 08:49 PM
GalacticAxekick, I'm all for Bounded Accuracy, but I think your claim that skills get better modifiers than saves is seriously exaggerated, because there are plenty of ways to get a bonus to a saving throw:

Ability modifiers (e.g. +5 for DEX) apply to both saving throws and ability checks.
Players can be proficient at both saving throws and skills.
Players can get class-based abilities that grant a bonus to both saving throws and skills, like a Barbarian's Rage (advantage at alL STR saving throws), a Rogue's Evasion (halves damage from all DEX saving throws), a Monk's Diamond Soul (spend 1 ki for advantage on any saving throw), or a Paladin's Aura of Protection (+CHR to all saving throws).
Players can cast spells that grant a bonus to both saving throws and skills (Resistance, Bless, Beacon of Hope, etc.)
There are at least 15 magic items that grant advantage on saving throws (https://www.dndbeyond.com/magic-items?filter-type=0&filter-search=&filter-requires-attunement=&filter-effect-type=3&filter-effect-subtype=61&filter-has-charges=).

Admittedly, expertise only applies to skills. But compared to ordinary proficiency, we're talking about a maximum boost of +5, it's only available to a handful of classes like Bards and Rogues, it only applies to a couple of skills at at time, and its full benefit doesn't kick in until very high levels.

If you *really* want to build your character around getting an extra +5 to Shove or Dodge, I think you should be able to do so. There are a wide variety of monsters and enemies that have far more than a +5 racial advantage to resist or overcome that type of thing. Stone Giants get +8 to CON saves...you really want to shove one, even with expertise? T-Rex gets +10 to attack rolls...you really want to Dodge one, even with expertise?

As a last resort, there's always the natural 1 / natural 20 rule in 5e, which means you always have a minimum 5% chance of being hit or having your effect fail, even when you're up against an ordinary commoner.

So, if there's a specific skill that you think is overpowered in my second draft because of expertise, please let me know, and I'll see if I can fix it. If you're just trying to keep skills and saving throws distinct because you think skills are somehow easier to boost, I'm not convinced.

2018-04-11, 09:44 PM
I'm aware that ability modifiers and proficiency apply to attack rolls, saves and checks. The range they allow optimized players to roll (12 to 31) works well with the normal upper bound of spell save DCs (19) and AC (20), because they leave a reasonable chance for failure.

Checks, however, can gain double proficiency from a variety of sources, which increase this range immensely (18 to 37). It would be overpowered to apply this to attacks or saves.

Imagine automatically succeeding saves from casters below 17th level (spell save DC 13-18). Imagine automatically hitting any creature who isn't carrying a shield or benefiting from strong unarmoured defense.

Yes, there are plenty of sources of advantage, but they do no move the bounds of your rolls. Even with advantage of an attack roll or save that ranges from 12-31 will make it more reliable, it will range from 12-31.

Spells that add bonuses are costly in terms of resources and actions. They can't be used to make a player invulnerable or unerring. But attacks and saves, which are unlimited, could if they had such high modifiers.

And finally, magic items have no place in a discussion of balance. Unlike in previous editions, magic items in 5e are not a normal part of character progression, but instead a bonus the DM can offer to empower characters beyond their level.

The one pomt I'll give you is the Paladin's Aura of Protection. It pushes the Paladin's saves to a range of 17-36, which makes them immune to spells from 12th level casters. It's an extremely powerful feature that pushes the limits of 5e's balance. I wouldn't recommend handing similar features to any character with Expertise or similar bonuses.

It's your call, in the end.

2018-04-11, 10:11 PM
I think you and I probably just have different styles, even if we are aiming to add similar types of options to D&D 5e.

Like, I went and looked up your homebrew rules on Grappling, and quoted the most basic part below.

Grappling Checks
The target of your grapple must be no more than one size larger than you and must be within your reach. Instead of making an attack roll, you make a Strength (Wrestling) check contested by the target's Strength (Wrestling) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use). If you win the contest, you subject the target to the Grappled condition (see below). You need at least one hand to grapple. You have advantage on grapple checks if you are using both of your hands.

The Grappled Condition
When you grapple a creature of your size or less, the creature's speed becomes 0, and it canít benefit from any bonus to its speed. When you move, you can drag or carry this creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.
I don't have any *technical* complaints about your rules here at all. They all make sense; they're all scrupulously within the bounds of the official D&D 5e paradigm. I like that you're trying to fix the Grappling mechanic, and that you're trying to give martial characters useful things to do on their turn that aren't an Attack but don't consume finite resources. But I can't even *imagine* using these rules in one of my games. The people I play with wouldn't be able to keep track of them in their head even immediately after I explained them. My gaming buddies are smart -- they're pathologists, software engineers, linguistics experts, and so on -- but they've all got a very relaxed attitude toward the game, and they're not going to sit and study the rules until they make sense. If I start talking to them about "the grappled condition" and a choice of checks and creatures that may or may not be of a particular size...I've lost them. The rule is dead; none of my friends will ever use it, and if I drag it out as the DM, they won't understand it or like it.

So, I'm trying to add more flexibility to D&D 5e while also simplifying things as I go.
You're trying to add more flexibility to D&D 5e while keeping your homebrew perfectly consistent with the style and categories of the RAW.

Both perfectly legitimate goals, in my opinion, but we're not going to agree on what makes for a good module.

2018-04-12, 09:24 AM
I've never met a player who struggled with 5e's grappling (which the houserules you quoted resemble almost to the letter). "Roll a contest to hold someone still. If they're tiny you can carry them like nothing. If they're huge you can't hold them still at all. Two hands are better than one"; the rules reflect very intuitive concepts.

On the other hand, I have met players who thought 5e's grappling was too limited. "I strangle him" the player would say. "There are no rules for that" I'd reply. "Oh. Are there rules for any submissions?" says the player. "No, just pushing, holding, and unarmed strikes" I'd say. "I guess I punch the guy."

This is why my focus is on expanding the rules rather than simplifying them. My intention is to fix what's broken at my table. If your table is different, so be it.