View Full Version : 3ed skill system -review and modifications

2008-06-12, 08:41 PM
Hi. I am a 3.0 player, brought into the game by a friend, and I've since gone on to recruit a few others into D&D. We've been playing semi-regularly for about two years now, and this is my first attempt to actually modify the rules found in the PHB. Specifically, as in the title, the skill system.
Now, as this is 3.0 I imagine a lot of folks are not interested in a revised skill system, with the (possibly) bigger and better 3.5 and now 4ed out. I am getting 4e, but my players all know 3.0, so I'll likely stick with it for a while longer while I learn how to play 4e.
So, what I am asking for here is feedback. I'll state my purpose in the next post more clearly, but I want to ask now that, as I continue this project (which I hope to actually see to the end) the GITP community provide me with feedback about whether they think a particular skill should be revised, and if they agree with my revision. I'll take any criticism or compliments, as I really just want to fix the system that I see as inefficient and possibly broken.

-Savageman (in the Playground)

2008-06-12, 08:42 PM
There are certain skills that do not seem like they should be skills at all. The most obvious examples are Knowledge and Profession. These are NOT skills. Or at least they should not be. Taking Knowledge (Religion) basically does nothing for your character – there is no immediate bonus to combat or even roleplaying. It MAY come in useful later – for example, the party encounters a cleric wearing vestments that have an odd design. Assuming the cleric thinks of it (or the DM is kind-hearted enough to tell them) a Knowledge(Religion) check may be made. If it succeeds, the cleric realizes that the design is a sign of Nerull – knowledge neither the player nor the character has had before. In the future, when encountering the sign again, the check does not need to be made, as it has been determined that the character knows this information.
But what if the check fails? Then the “skill” is even more useless. The same sort of thing applies to Profession, in which (somehow) one may still fail, so a check must be made, despite the skill having no bearing on combat nor on roleplaying.
Many other skills suffer from this as well. They would do better if they were actually described as “Jobs” – part of the character creation process, adding to the character’s background and available knowledge from the very beginning. The equivalent of this with the current 3.0 skill system would be rolling Knowledge(Religion) checks at the very beginning of the game to determine what the PC in question knows and does not know.
I’m not going that far.
So, basically, I am going to review the skill system as described in the 3.0 PHB, one by one, determining if each should remain a skill – or be placed in a new category called “Jobs”.

2008-06-12, 09:03 PM
Skill Review:


Fluff: you’re the crazy guy locked in a lab mixing dangerous concoctions together to create powerful substances and deadly poisons. Also, you can spot these sorts of things when you’re out screwing around with adventurers.

Make a Check to: brew a poison, or some other thing. Not potions (whaaaat?). Can also ckeck to identify what that murky black liquid is.

Retry: Yes, but at a cost.

Special: Equipment helps, and gnomes are alchemy FIENDS.

Okay, so this, the first skill in the phb, seems more like a job to me. Unless your group are some hardcore roleplayers (nuts to them if they are) this is going to be “You find a blue, sticky substance in a beaker – roll Alchemy” or take place entirely outside of the gaming session when the party is back at HQ and the alchemist has a chance to fiddle with his equipment. There is no reason to determine what he creates during the session –get with the player afterwards, do the math, and determine success.
Boring, right? Skills should be taking place in the game. Failure has no real repurcussions (just don’t drink it) so what’s the point? Slated for JOB.

Animal Empathy

Fluff: You can make nice with the beasties.

Check: Make the animal in question like you more (less likely to attack, more likely to eat enemies [I guess]). Takes at least a minute.

Retry: Start running, cuz you are all kinds of screwed.

This is a tough one for me. On the one hand, I like the skill system currently in place – physical activities like jump and climb need to be skills, as does AE here. The problem I see is that it’s kind of useless – how the hell are you planning on convincing that dragon to let you back off? Most animals you want to fight (mmmm, xp) or it doesn’t matter later on, when you can one-shot ‘em (presumably).
This skill really just needs to be altered. Hmmmm… I’ve always seen this skill as mostly belonging to the ranger/druid (as has everyone probably) and these classes are supposed to be damn good with animals. Not just their companions, but all animals. But animals aren’t really useful outside of your animal companion – there are spells to talk to them, but how can we make this skill stand out, be worthwhile? This needs to be changed, but I’m not sure how. Help, please!

2008-06-12, 09:18 PM
You're using 3.0. In 3.5, Alchemy got changed into Craft (Alchemy), and Animal Empathy was removed as a skill, replaced by a Ranger/Druid class feature called Wild Empathy.

I'd like to help develop a new 3e skill system (since I'm already trying to work on one), but I disagree with you fundamentally that non-combat, down-time focused tasks should be a separate system ("Jobs") rather than skills. In my book, skills should mostly be non-combat things.

2008-06-12, 09:33 PM
In that case, I think we mostly disagree on our definition of "skills". For me, skills are physical actions that can succeed or fail, are subject to chance, take little time, and have immediate consequences. Jobs, the system I want to make, should be oriented towards roleplaying more than anything, although they could certainly have an active place in combat. To be honest, right now I'm just trying to decide which skills should be modified to be more useful or make more sense, and which I actually want to scrap altogether and cover under jobs.
If you'd like to help, please, I'm pretty new to changing rules, so if one of them doesn't make sense let me know. If you want to review some of the skills yourself here... eh. I'm mostly doing this for my group's benefit, but if I make an error feel free to point it out.

Pie Guy
2008-06-12, 09:44 PM
No real comment, but I love the fact that the only posters thus far (2) have the pirate avatar.:smallbiggrin:

2008-06-13, 06:30 PM

Fluff: You can tell if something is valuable or not, and how valuable it is.

Check: Find out how much that junk you found is worth (or not worth).

Retry: No.

Special: Dwarves are awesome at this. People without this skill suck at it, but who cares?

This skill is the most worthless so far. There can be no argument that this has no combat value – “Ohhh, that’s a lovely gem-encrusted dagger Mr. Necro, but so expensive…” – and little RP value. Seriously: the one situation I can imagine is the PC with this skill suddenly realizes that the peasant is holding valuables he shouldn’t have access to – after about only half an hour of rolling, and a possibly lying DM. No, this needs to be a job.


Fluff: You are good at maintaining your balance.

Check: You are capable of keeping your balance. If you fail, you cannot move, fail by 5 or more and you fall.

Special: Tumble gives +2 bonus.

This is a skill that will remain a skill. It is a physical action taken immediately that applies to both combat and role playing, and has immediate consequences. This is what a skill should be, and other skills similar to it will also remain skills.