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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PMDM's Avatar

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    Default How to balance a few skills

    I'm having trouble figuring a few ways to balance a few skills. Mainly, Decipher Script.

    First, I'm having trouble figuring out if decipher script is used on non magical writings. If it is, why not just put ranks into a language instead.

    Secondly, I'm having trouble rewarding PCs for taking this skill. Should I let spellcasters cast spells from scrolls using this check, or write into spellbooks with it, or is it just used for acient writings that no one speaks. I'm just really confused why we need it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Orlove View Post
    For example: [roll=Spot ]1d20+5[/roll ] would show up (without the extra spaces) as a normal roll.
    There's also [rollv=NameOfRoll]xdy+z[/rollv] which will show you all the individual rolls, eg: [rollv=strength ]4d6[/rollv ] gives you 4 rolls, and their sum.
    [roll=strength ]4d6b3[/roll ] gives you the best 3 of the 4 rolls

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Tellah's Avatar

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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    DECIPHER SCRIPT (INT; TRAINED ONLY)
    Check: You can decipher writing in an unfamiliar language or a message written in an incomplete or archaic form. The base DC is 20 for the simplest messages, 25 for standard texts, and 30 or higher for intricate, exotic, or very old writing.

    If the check succeeds, you understand the general content of a piece of writing about one page long (or the equivalent). If the check fails, make a DC 5 Wisdom check to see if you avoid drawing a false conclusion about the text. (Success means that you do not draw a false conclusion; failure means that you do.)

    Both the Decipher Script check and (if necessary) the Wisdom check are made secretly, so that you can’t tell whether the conclusion you draw is true or false.

    Action: Deciphering the equivalent of a single page of script takes 1 minute (ten consecutive full-round actions).

    Try Again: No.

    Special: A character with the Diligent feat gets a +2 bonus on Decipher Script checks.

    Synergy: If you have 5 or more ranks in Decipher Script, you get a +2 bonus on Use Magic Device checks involving scrolls.
    Decipher Script is indeed used on non-magical writings. I use it in my games when the players go dungeon-crawling; most dungeons are ruins of ancient civilizations, or at least are the former (or current) domain of an unfamiliar culture. Signs, hieroglyphics on the walls, and other written hints dropped around the adventuring locale can reward players who put ranks into this skill. It appeals to the image of the party sage, torch in hand, running his fingers across an ancient stone carved with writings, the content of which invariably gives the party a crucial piece of information.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    It's not a very good skill. Knowledge (History) pretty much covers what Tellah stated above; other uses can be covered by Spellcraft, Speak Language, and Knowledge (Arcana).

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax_Celestis View Post
    It's not a very good skill. Knowledge (History) pretty much covers what Tellah stated above; other uses can be covered by Spellcraft, Speak Language, and Knowledge (Arcana).
    None of those apply to reading an unknown or encoded language for information lost to modern knowledge. Or cracking a cypher. Granted those may not come up often, but in the right sort of game nothing else would do.

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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    A series of Intelligence checks would, surely?

    I do not see the necessity of having a skill for every niche activity players may attempt.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
    None of those apply to reading an unknown or encoded language for information lost to modern knowledge. Or cracking a cypher. Granted those may not come up often, but in the right sort of game nothing else would do.
    Right. But let's compare to, say, Hide. Hide is used by quite a few characters and is prevalent in many many kinds of games, because it's useful in a variety of situations. Meanwhile, Decipher Script is so circumstantial that it's not worth taking.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    Lost languages are what you have Comprehend Languages for. Decipher Script really isn't worth that many skill points.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    You can make Decipher Script worth taking... it's a specialized skill that should go further then an Int check and having the language of the present day. Maybe the DC is lower, maybe the clue leads the players astray unless it's actually deciphered (because they're just guessing without the skill).

    Just let your players know how you are running it ahead of time. It's like a player failing a Knowledge check and then someone scoring the same information with a Bardic Knowledge check... maybe that's just how you want to run it, but it may piss players off.
    "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." -Albert Einstein

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    ElfPirate

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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    In a campaign my friend is running, our mission is to discover the secrets of a relatively unexplored island, and he told us that Decipher Script would be needed (not all ancient languages can be learned w/Speak Language especially since this one for all we know hasn't been used for a long while)
    Last edited by Daedo daShoegod; 2007-04-30 at 07:33 PM.
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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    Quote Originally Posted by PMDM View Post
    First, I'm having trouble figuring out if decipher script is used on non magical writings. If it is, why not just put ranks into a language instead.
    Because Decipher Script is useful with ALL languages, including languages you've never heard of. It's also useful for deciphering codes.

    Now if, in your game, there are only three languages... well, it's probably not as useful as my campaign where there are a dozen active ones and characters regularly stumble over ancient tomes of archaic lore.

    The question really is, "If you've got Decipher Script, why bother putting languages into a language?" And that's because of the time involved.

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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    Quote Originally Posted by Fourth Tempter View Post
    A series of Intelligence checks would, surely?
    Nope. You can't use Decipher Script untrained.

    Now the real Decipher Script killer is comprehend languages. But comprehend languages is just one of several annoying skill-busters which should be re-designed to grant a bonus to the skill instead of negating the skill.

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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    You mistake my meaning; I was suggesting removing the, ah, less-than-celebrated Decipher Script skill, and making do with intelligence checks whenever it came up (with altered DCs, naturally).

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    I'd widen its field a little. Basically, what you'd be hoping to end up with is something that serves as more of a Knowledge: Linguistics. Make it capable of identifying and understanding languages--including dialectal variants--even when they're spoken, perhaps. And turn around its uses a bit: make it not only useful for figuring out codes and ciphers, but for creating them as well. Or, for that matter, for managing rudimentary communication in a completely unfamilar tongue.

    One thing you might want to ask yourself is how complete you consider Comprehend Languages to be. Can it handle idiomatic speech, for instance? Carefully veiled metaphor? Any of a number of similar things an enterprising group would do to try to bypass it? That might be a use for Decipher Script v. 2.0.

    Another thing to note is that as of 3.5, Comprehend Languages requires physical contact with the creature/writing to be comprehended, and it only works on understanding, not communicating.
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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Sir_Banjo's Avatar

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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    Quote Originally Posted by PMDM View Post
    I'm having trouble figuring a few ways to balance a few skills. Mainly, Decipher Script.

    First, I'm having trouble figuring out if decipher script is used on non magical writings. If it is, why not just put ranks into a language instead.

    Secondly, I'm having trouble rewarding PCs for taking this skill. Should I let spellcasters cast spells from scrolls using this check, or write into spellbooks with it, or is it just used for acient writings that no one speaks. I'm just really confused why we need it.
    It may also help you decipher the meaning of the script. For instance, there could be an important message wrapped up in a lunatic's goobly-**** or it may reference some obscure cultural point.

    Personally, I prefer not to use skills for these and let the players figure things out for themselves rather than rolling for it. However, I do use it to provide a hint when they're stuck.
    "You would not want to be staring that way at me." -Al Swearengen

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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    I certainly don't council my players to invest in the skill, but I make sure a player who invests in it has a chance to use it. I look at a player's character sheet as a road map of things they'd like to do in the game, and I give them an opportunity to do it. Nothing says "I want to roll Decipher Script checks" more elegantly than a nice big four on a level one Wizard's character sheet. Now, if I could guarantee that every DM I played with thought like me, I'd toss ranks into Decipher Script without batting an eye. The idea just appeals to me.

    As a DM, I like the fact that D&D has tons of different skills, many of which aren't always useful. It helps me understand what kind of game my players want to play.

  16. - Top - End - #16

    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    Quote Originally Posted by Tellah View Post
    I certainly don't council my players to invest in the skill, but I make sure a player who invests in it has a chance to use it. I look at a player's character sheet as a road map of things they'd like to do in the game, and I give them an opportunity to do it. Nothing says "I want to roll Decipher Script checks" more elegantly than a nice big four on a level one Wizard's character sheet. Now, if I could guarantee that every DM I played with thought like me, I'd toss ranks into Decipher Script without batting an eye. The idea just appeals to me.

    As a DM, I like the fact that D&D has tons of different skills, many of which aren't always useful. It helps me understand what kind of game my players want to play.
    I'm very fond of players putting ranks in non-combat related skills, as it gives me, as DM, a way to give critical information to the players within game. Helps hold the verscimilitude together.

    That, and I've always been fond of the middle aged bookworm pouring over ancient lore and discovering some dread couplet.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    Quote Originally Posted by Fourth Tempter
    I do not see the necessity of having a skill for every niche activity players may attempt.
    There aren't -- there are exactly 36 skills.

    In any given campaign, many of these will be useless. Like Diplomacy in a dungeon crawl or UMD in an ultra-low magic campaign (no scrolls or wands for sale at any price) or Profession(Sailing) in a desert campaign.

    In an Indiana Jones style ruin-crawl, Decipher Script could be invaluable.

    Similarly, in an urban-intrigue campaign, Decipher Script could be nearly as useful as Forgery (another perennial "useless" skill).
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    Default Re: How to balance a few skills

    Quote Originally Posted by Variable Arcana View Post
    Similarly, in an urban-intrigue campaign, Decipher Script could be nearly as useful as Forgery (another perennial "useless" skill).
    Unless the DM ever decides to cater to the Bard's wish to go galavanting about town, and the rogue whos' been sinking points into it for the past 9 levels decides that he'd like to be royalty for the day.

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