View Full Version : How I use skills (DCs included!)

2019-06-02, 04:40 AM
I've been tweaking my skill list and mechanics for a while now. I think it's very important for players to have a short list of possible uses for their skills. This helps them gauge what is within each skill realm of possibilities, and can be used to derive many possible intents.

Skill Proficiencies
For many cases, just having proficiency in a skill is enough to see results, without having to roll a skill check. Most skills can be paired with multiple different ability score modifiers, based on how the skill is being applied. For example. Arcana can be used as a knowledge skill (Intelligence) or can be used to attempt to manipulate magical phenomena, and use your spellcasting ability modifier. There are a lot of spells with effects that could be achieved via a great proficiency in a skill. Take a look at the spell list and see if there's anything that might fit the description of a skill. Although this kind of use is very restricted, sometimes asking to increase the DC of your foraging check in order to find "Goodberries" might just save your party.

List of Skills

Use Object

Using Skills
In 5e, skills usually come into play in one of two ways. Either a player declares intent, and the DM asks for a skill check, or the DM describes an event that might call for a skill check. To give players some sense of how a skill could be used proactively, and how a character might utilize his proficiency, here’s a short list of mechanics for each skill.


DC 10+: Identify a spell before it is cast. DC is increased by the spell’s level.
DC 10+: Casting a spell from a scroll that’s of a higher level than you would be able to cast, or from another class’ spell list.
DC 10+: Detect a magical phenomenon. The DC is increased based on the nature of the magic.
DC 15: Manipulate a magical phenomenon.
DC 15: Identify a rare magical phenomenon.

Many feats of athleticism are achievable solely by being proficient. Other, greater feats, require a roll.

Proficiency: increase jump distance to 15 feet.
Proficiency: Manipulate a heavy object.
Contest: Grappling, Shoving etc.
DC 15: Climbing a creature.
DC 15: Ignore environmental effects that would limit your movement speed.

Crafting is a world in and of itself. All mundane items are craftable at half their market price, and you even might learn how to craft some magic items. You can learn recipes by buying them, learning them from a mentor, or through your own experiments.

Proficiency: Craft an item at half its market-price during downtime.
DC 10: Mend a handful of arrows during a short rest.
DC 10: Utilize a structural weakness to know exactly where to put the exploding keg to bring down a building.
DC 15: Utilize a structural weakness to have a mining shaft collapse.


Contest: Discern a lie or ulterior motive.
DC 10: Get a tip or clue from the DM or advantage on a roll.
DC 10: Assess a potential threat

Knowledge is the most versatile skill in the game, and is most effective when paired with a clear intent. Often times, just being proficient in knowledge gives access to important information, without ever needing to roll a check.

DC 10: Understand a different dialect of a language you know.
DC 10+: Discern a creature’s iconic traits. DC is increased by a number equal to the CR of the creature.
DC 10: Recall and use information, such as which berries are edible or which road is safer.
DC 15: Use a piece of esoteric information to gain an edge in a social or combat encounter.
DC 15: Interpret cryptic marking

Avoiding surprises, and gaining key details on your surroundings. Noticing traps, clues, tracks, avoiding dangerous terrain, and ambushes all fall under the perception skill.

The strength of your resolve and personality, as well as your conviction.

Contest: Intimidate or resist intimidation.
DC 10: Motivate an ally, and grant advantage or temporary hit points.
DC 10: Gain an edge in a social encounter with a display of conviction, reasoning, wits or sheer power of personality.


Contest (passive): Move silently
Contest (active): Move between covers without being seen.
DC 15: Decrease the difficulty of a heist via careful planning and experience.
DC 10: Create a camouflage


Contest: Befriend, flatter, pacify, charm or deceive a creature.

Item Interaction
This skill is derived from the “Use an Object” combat action: “When an object requires your action for its use, you take the Use an Object action.”, which a Rogue can do as a bonus action using the Fast Hands class feature.

DC 10: Pick a lock
DC 10: Jam a mechanism
DC 10: Catch an object thrown to you.
DC 15: Use Object as a bonus action instead of an action.
DC 20: Escape from manacles
DC 25: Catch an arrow mid-flight.

Medicine is a vital skill amongst adventurers, and you should never leave camp without a healer’s kit. Here are a few examples on how a medicine skill can be used with a Healer’s Kit. When attempting a medicine check without a healer’s kit, you do so with disadvantage.

DC 10: Stabilize a Dying Creature.
DC 10: Allow a creature to use one hit die to regain hit points.
DC 10+: Allow a creature to make a saving throw against an ongoing effect.
DC 10: Maximize one character’s hit dice results during a short rest.
DC 15: Treat one lingering injury, if applicable.