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    Grod_The_Giant's Avatar

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    Default G&G: Skills (working draft)

    In the words of Granny Weatherwax, "I ain't dead."

    In any case, skills. More specifically, skills with enough detail to use in an actual game. And an important decision: to heck with skill tricks. I couldn't come up with any kind of reasonably consistent distinction between what would be a feat and what would be a skill trick. And I foresaw massive proliferation of options such that even experienced players would get confused, yea, and it would take DMs many an hour to build even a simple NPC. Also a massive exercise in homebrewing material-- material such as would have an immense effect on the nature of the game-- without any sort of benchmark for balance.

    tl;dr: Skill tricks and feats and class abilities add up to too much complexity and change.

    So then. Skills. Significantly, there are no longer class skills. All classes have access to all skills.

    Normal Skill Rank Cap— equal to the Medium progression (3/4 level + 3).

    Specializations: Characters may specialize in one of the subcategories listed above, or a new subcategory, if the DM approves it. Doing so costs 1 skill point, and grants a bonus to the skill when used in the appropriate manner equal to 2+1/4 character level.

    {table=head]Level|Skill Cap|Specialization Bonus|Total Bonus Cap
    1|3|2|5
    2|4|2|6
    3|5|2|7
    4|6|3|9
    5|6|3|9
    6|7|3|10
    7|8|3|11
    8|9|4|13
    9|9|4|13
    10|10|4|14
    11|11|4|15
    12|12|5|17
    13|12|5|17
    14|13|5|18
    15|14|5|19
    16|15|6|21
    17|15|6|21
    18|16|6|22
    19|17|6|23
    20|18|7|25[/table]

    Speak Language: Learning a new language costs 1 skill point.

    A note on Knowledge skills— There’s no special DC for information on monsters— instead, the DCs are based on the ease of the question (and, hence, rarity/obscurity of monster), just like other uses of the skill.

    A note on synergy-- what's skill synergy? Rules removed for now-- stacking synergies was one of the big ways for skills in 3.5 to get out of control... as well as a rule that (in my experience) no-one really ever remembered. Besides, grouping formerly-related skills should help with that.

    Another relevant note: All progressions are being equalized-- BAB, skills, saves, DCs and suchlike will all scale at the same rate, rather than some (BAB, skills) scaling at a 1:1 rate, while others (saves, DCs) scaled at a 1:2 rate. Thus, "skill or save" options are roughly equal.

    Acrobatics (Dex)

    Animals (Cha)
    • Handle Animal
    • Ride
    • Animal Diplomacy— Works as the Socialize skill for animals and vermin with intelligence scores of 1 or 2.
    • Knowledge (Animals)—Specifically for answering questions about animals.

    Athletics (Str)

    Discipline
    • Autohypnosis
    • Concentration
    • Social Defense— You may use Discipline in place of a Will save when defending against Intimidate, Persuasion, and Socialize attempts.

    Deception

    Devices

    Expertise

    Heal
    • Knowledge (Medicine)— Medical techniques, diseases,
    • Heal— First aid restores 1 hit point per every 5 points your Heal check exceeds 10. You may not use this option again on the same target until after they are injured a second time.

      Long-term care restores 1 additional hit point for every two points by which your check beats the DC, and 1 additional ability point for every 5 points by which your check beats the DC.

      First-degree conditions can be removed with 15 minutes of rest and a successful Heal check. Second-degree conditions can be removed with an hour of rest and a successful Heal check. In both cases, the DC is equal to that of the effect that inflicted the condition.

      In addition, a Heal check (DC equal to current damage) can eliminate the penalty for being Bloodied or Injured. A Heal check (DC 10 + the absolute value of your negative hit points) will removed the Maimed condition, raising the target's HP to one. A Heal check (DC 10 + the absolute value of your negative hit points) will also improve a Dying condition to Maimed.

    Insight

    Intimidation
    • Intimidate— “changing behavior” is opposed by a Will save or Discipline check. The target gets a +1 bonus for every level or HD more than you he has. In addition, make heavy use of circumstance modifiers— number of characters on a side, relative combat advantage, and so on. (+- 2 or 5).

    Investigation
    • Search. A note: Trapfinding is defunct. Anyone with enough ranks of Search can find traps.
    • Analyze Evidence— You may attempt to extract meaning from minor clues you find using the Search aspect of this skill. The base DC to do so is 15, +2 for every day since the time of the event, +2 if the scene has been disturbed, and +5 if it has been highly disturbed. If the person leaving the clues took care not to leave any traces, the base DC is instead the result of his Stealth check.
    • Surveillance— You may use Investigation instead of Perception when standing guard or otherwise keeping watch from a stationary location.
    • Urban Tracking— As the feats; now part of the skill; only applies in urban areas. (Using Investigate instead of Gather Information, natch).

    Linguistics
    • Decipher Script
    • Forgery
    • Speak Language— You may attempt to communicate with another being, even if you do not speak the same language. The base DC is 30, -2 if the target is attempting to help, -5 if the target is attempting to help and has a Linguistics modifier of more than +5, +2 if the target speaks no related languages, and +2 if they are a different type than you. A successful check communicates one sentence. In addition, each successful check made by either party reduces the DC by 1 (to a minimum of a -10 adjustment). A target may aid this attempt, using either Insight or Linguistics with an Aid Another action.

    Lore

    Nature

    Occult

    Perception
    • Listen
    • Spot
    • Defeat Illusion— You may roll Perception in place of a Will save to recognize something as an illusion.

    Persuasion
    The basic action for persuasion is making a deal. You roll Persuasion, opposed by your opponent’s Discipline check or Will save.

    The target receives a modifier to their roll based on their initial attitude: +10 if Hostile, +5 if Unfriendly, -5 if Friendly, and -10 if Helpful. In addition, they get a +5 bonus if their dislike is personal— ‘you killed my father’ as opposed to ‘we are at war.’ Finally, there’s a second modifier based on how appealing the deal is from the target’s point of view: +10 if the deal is horrible, +5 if it’s unfavorable, -5 if it’s favorable, and -10 if it’s fantastic.

    If your roll succeeds, the target accepts the deal mostly as-is. If you fail by 5 or less, the target rejects the deal, but may make a counter-offer to improve the deal from his point-of-view. You may try again if you alter the terms of the deal.

    Sleight of Hand

    Socialization
    • Diplomacy — Changing another character’s attitude is opposed by a Will save or Discipline check. The target receives a modifier to their roll based on their initial attitude: +10 if Hostile, +5 if Unfriendly, and -5 if Friendly. You may only shift a target’s attitude by one step with a given check.

      Making a Socialization check usually requires several minutes to hours, depending on the target and situation. You may not attempt to make a new check against the same target until your conversation with the target is over and some time has passed— usually upwards of several hours.
    • Gather Information

    Stealth
    • Hide
    • Move Silently
    • Hide Evidence— If attempting to avoid leaving evidence of your passage— footprints and so on— you may make a Stealth check. This sets the base DC to find and analyze evidence of your presence.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2013-08-15 at 08:18 PM.

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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    No comment? Anything I missed? Anything too strong? Too weak? Too illogical? Too redundant?

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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    Looks good overall, particularly the standardization of scales so you can use skills in place of saves. A few comments:

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    And an important decision: to heck with skill tricks. I couldn't come up with any kind of reasonably consistent distinction between what would be a feat and what would be a skill trick.
    Are you still granting certain benefits at different skill ranks (the "if you have X ranks you get Y" stuff), or have those been removed along with skill tricks? I thought having one of those was a good idea, it just didn't make sense to have both if you couldn't draw a hard line between what was a skill trick and what was automatic.

    Personally, I'd combine these two. Local, History, Nobility, and Religion go very well together as the more sociological Knowledges, and having two pure Knowledge skills seems redundant when a bardic type would want both anyway and you can use specializations to differentiate scoundrels from academics.
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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    - If all classes have access to all skills, you've all-but eliminated classes as well. Because the Wizard just took 18 ranks in Pick Pocket. And the Rogue is pissed.

    - Cap of 3/4 +3. Why? Just put the cap=level. Much simpler.

    - Subcategory specialization: I've been thinking about this one in my system. What if a character wants to specialize in something -more specific- than one of his skills? Should he get more points in it, or just accept that it improves with all the other skills in the category?

    Give him a boost - why not? - but make it minor. Say +2. Adding too much bonus unbalances your Level system. Say the PC master thief is going up against the NPC master thief. Well, you've decided to make the NPC somewhat challenging, and placed him a couple levels higher than the PC thief. But guess what? The PC thief isn't challenged at all, because his Balance skill (in the bouncing-across Banzai trees contest) is his Level+5, or say 15, while the NPC you drew up, Level 12, didn't bother to specialize, so his Balance skill (maxed out, 'cuz he's a min/maxer) is 12. If the PC were limited to a +2 specialization, his skill would only be 12, and while the NPC wouldn't be too challenging, you'd still have a 50/50 contest on your hands.

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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    Quote Originally Posted by DMMike View Post
    Give him a boost - why not? - but make it minor. Say +2. Adding too much bonus unbalances your Level system. Say the PC master thief is going up against the NPC master thief. Well, you've decided to make the NPC somewhat challenging, and placed him a couple levels higher than the PC thief. But guess what? The PC thief isn't challenged at all, because his Balance skill (in the bouncing-across Banzai trees contest) is his Level+5, or say 15, while the NPC you drew up, Level 12, didn't bother to specialize, so his Balance skill (maxed out, 'cuz he's a min/maxer) is 12. If the PC were limited to a +2 specialization, his skill would only be 12, and while the NPC wouldn't be too challenging, you'd still have a 50/50 contest on your hands.
    Some skills in this system allow saves, however. So a +5 bonus results in 25% more success with that Save-or-Whatever. Edit: Hm. Just noticed that's already built in. I'm worried about the interaction with specialization bonuses vs. saves.

    I do agree on using level as the cap rather than some odd formula though. Much simpler.
    Last edited by Djinn_in_Tonic; 2013-03-02 at 03:14 PM.

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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Are you still granting certain benefits at different skill ranks (the "if you have X ranks you get Y" stuff), or have those been removed along with skill tricks? I thought having one of those was a good idea, it just didn't make sense to have both if you couldn't draw a hard line between what was a skill trick and what was automatic.
    I don't think so... it's a complexity issue, again. Not being versatile is bad, but having too much to keep track of is almost worse.

    Personally, I'd combine these two. Local, History, Nobility, and Religion go very well together as the more sociological Knowledges, and having two pure Knowledge skills seems redundant when a bardic type would want both anyway and you can use specializations to differentiate scoundrels from academics.
    Perhaps, yeah. But then we wouldn't have that nice 20-skill list anymore :P

    Quote Originally Posted by DMMike View Post
    - If all classes have access to all skills, you've all-but eliminated classes as well. Because the Wizard just took 18 ranks in Pick Pocket. And the Rogue is pissed.
    That would be true if skills are the dominant factor in the game... but they're not. Classes are-- or at least should be and will be-- differentiated by far more than just their skill list. If a class is only useful because it has X skill on their list, that's a really poorly designed class. (And probably an overpowered skill, too-- there's a reason UMD isn't here anymore). I'll grant that knocking off class skills blurs the boundaries between some skills

    - Cap of 3/4 +3. Why? Just put the cap=level. Much simpler.
    Quote Originally Posted by Djinn_in_Tonic View Post
    I do agree on using level as the cap rather than some odd formula though. Much simpler.
    The idea is that the same three "odd formulas" will be used throughout the entire system. We settled on them (Poor BAB +2, Medium BAB +3, Good BAB +3) quite a while ago. (The +X's are to allow for greater variance and competence at the lowest levels).

    Also, a thing to note about skills scaling slightly slower than levels-- you can keep your usual (skill points/level + Int mod) skills maxed, but you wind up with spare skill point here and there, which Incentivizes you to branch out a bit more.

    Quote Originally Posted by DMMike
    - Subcategory specialization: I've been thinking about this one in my system. What if a character wants to specialize in something -more specific- than one of his skills? Should he get more points in it, or just accept that it improves with all the other skills in the category?

    Give him a boost - why not? - but make it minor. Say +2. Adding too much bonus unbalances your Level system. Say the PC master thief is going up against the NPC master thief. Well, you've decided to make the NPC somewhat challenging, and placed him a couple levels higher than the PC thief. But guess what? The PC thief isn't challenged at all, because his Balance skill (in the bouncing-across Banzai trees contest) is his Level+5, or say 15, while the NPC you drew up, Level 12, didn't bother to specialize, so his Balance skill (maxed out, 'cuz he's a min/maxer) is 12. If the PC were limited to a +2 specialization, his skill would only be 12, and while the NPC wouldn't be too challenging, you'd still have a 50/50 contest on your hands.
    The specialization bonus isn't set in stone. It has two requirements, as I see it: it has to provide enough of an initial bonus to be relevant, and it has to stay relevant at higher levels. I might have gone too far.

    Perhaps some sort of artificial limit on how many times you could specialize would be useful? It allows characters to be very good in their area of expertise, but also that they can't specialize in every relevant subskill.

    Quote Originally Posted by Djinn_in_Tonic View Post
    Some skills in this system allow saves, however. So a +5 bonus results in 25% more success with that Save-or-Whatever. Edit: Hm. Just noticed that's already built in. I'm worried about the interaction with specialization bonuses vs. saves.
    Hmm. Yeah, I hadn't thought about that. It might be that specializations in the "offensive" socialization skills balance out with the specializations to "defensive" skills.

    Saves vs Skills... the disadvantage of a save is that you can't specialize in it. The advantage is that you don't have to invest in the save.

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    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    That would be true if skills are the dominant factor in the game... but they're not. Classes are-- or at least should be and will be-- differentiated by far more than just their skill list. If a class is only useful because it has X skill on their list, that's a really poorly designed class. (And probably an overpowered skill, too-- there's a reason UMD isn't here anymore). I'll grant that knocking off class skills blurs the boundaries between some skills
    A little in the dark here, since I'm not a G&G expert. But, d20 made the Rogue a useful class by giving it the most class skills, and some unique ones. So sure, you can take some of those skills and turn them into Class Abilities, but if you don't, you've killed the Rogue, and probably the Bard too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Saves vs Skills... the disadvantage of a save is that you can't specialize in it. The advantage is that you don't have to invest in the save.
    Saves are skills that are only used passively. They're a free skill, that you earn either 1 point every other level, or 1 point every four levels (approximately). You could totally specialize in one if you look at it that way.

    But since they're basically skills, I threw them out. Take a look if you want:
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=273706

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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    @DMMike: Is that ALL you use a Rogue or Bard for, is the skills they have on their list? Is that really the ONLY reason they're useful? I highly doubt that.

    Furthermore, since we aren't using the same classes, what does it matter if the Rogue or Bard was designed with class-skills in mind? We can re-balance them the same way we are for everything else. We aren't straitjacketed into using the same classes, so we've hardly "killed" the Rogue.
    Last edited by Conor77; 2013-03-02 at 09:04 PM.
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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    Conor, that depends on how you define "skills." The 3.5 Rogue, though, once you take out Sneak Attacks, was basically that: just skills.

    But if you're going to open up all skills, and revamp classes, be my guest. The possibilities are endless.

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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant
    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost
    Personally, I'd combine these two. Local, History, Nobility, and Religion go very well together as the more sociological Knowledges, and having two pure Knowledge skills seems redundant when a bardic type would want both anyway and you can use specializations to differentiate scoundrels from academics.
    Perhaps, yeah. But then we wouldn't have that nice 20-skill list anymore :P
    Ok... combining those two is making more and more sense. I can see it opening up room for a combined Craft and Profession skill-- which is probably something we could use, although it might need some special rules-- or else some kind of "Streetwise" skill that does a lot of the things Knowledge (Local) gets used for in-games. Knowledge about the underworld and the like. Hmm...

    @DMMike-- classes should and (hopefully) will be constructed to emphasize their unique class features. There will be more to the rogue than just being able to use some nice skills. There will be more to a wizard than just casting arcane spells. And so on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    That division between Lore and Expertise is really not what we were thinking of. You can't very well describe them in terms of D&D knowledge, since many of them have aspects of both.

    Knowing the family tree of 20 generations of the royal family is not Expertise, it is Lore. And so on. I think they make sense as separate categories.
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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    Pulling the skill tricks and not adjusting other things is a bad call I think. With the extra points left over from the rank cap, I'd expect you to see more people putting the extras into specialization rather than other skills. It's a choice between really big numbers and a lot of smaller numbers, and the specialization drive is pretty strong in the game. It doesn't help that the smaller numbers often aren't useful when anyone else in the party has full ranks and a specialization in the same skill.

    So unless you want a lot of people running around with a lot of specializations, I'd consider going with the good progression and not having left over skill points. Then the choice is between having your skill points worth of max rank selections or sacrificing a couple of things to specialize in an area, and that's not as clear cut a decision.

    I'd also reconsider the specialization bonus scaling, and probably just give a flat +2 or +3 to some subset of uses. Even if you don't do the cap change, this would reduce the incentive to specialize when compared against branching out. I'd probably do this and the rank cap change, but it really hinges on what sort of behavior you want out of people.
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    I prefer higher powered games, do not consider magic to be "special", and want non-casters to have similar levels of utility. If you haven't clearly said what your balance goals are, my suggestions generally reflect that. I'm pretty good with other balance points too though, so if I'm offering OP advice, let me know and I'll fix that.

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    Default Re: G&G: Skills (working draft)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    classes should and (hopefully) will be constructed to emphasize their unique class features. There will be more to the rogue than just being able to use some nice skills. There will be more to a wizard than just casting arcane spells. And so on.
    Fine and dandy. I guess the reason I brought it up is because I'm working on a system that eschews classes, so skills have a special place in my heart.

    Quote Originally Posted by tarkisflux View Post
    With the extra points left over from the rank cap, I'd expect you to see more people putting the extras into specialization rather than other skills. It's a choice between really big numbers and a lot of smaller numbers, and the specialization drive is pretty strong in the game.

    So unless you want a lot of people running around with a lot of specializations, I'd consider going with the good progression and not having left over skill points.

    I'd also reconsider the specialization bonus scaling, and probably just give a flat +2 or +3 to some subset of uses.
    If a player wants his character to be relevant at his level/challenge rating, he'll have to max out his skill points in his favorite skills. And with four dead (skill) levels, it's a pretty obvious choice to spend 1 point on specialization, because at 2+1/4Level it's a pretty obvious choice.

    The dead levels don't provide an incentive to branch out in skills known, they require a player to do so. E.g. at level 5, you're not allowed to put more ranks in your favorite skill. So buy your specialization(s). Then at the next dead level is when the min-maxer spends all of his leftover points on one skill (and one on specializing that skill).

    Take a cue from 3.5 and make specialization +3 to that skill.

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