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View Full Version : Variant Skill System- Everyone Can Learn Anything



Deepbluediver
2012-01-21, 02:20 PM
I've seen other skill systems (like Pathfinder's or any of the many alternates that get posted here) but generally I like the feel of the 3.5 method; I just find it to restrictive. Most of the DMs I've gamed with let you buy a whole rank in cross-class skills for 1 point because half-ranks where just a pain in the arse to deal with, but few people did because only having half as many as max-possible ranks in something seemed relatively weak, except for very rare situations.

I've decided to fix that. I would use this system with my rebalanced core-classes, but I'm pretty sure it can stand alone just fine, too. Some of this has been copied verbatim from the SRD, I'm only tweaking a few things.

Since skills are supposed to represent something a character learns, not a just a class feature, I figure everyone should be able to learn anything they want that they are willing to put the effort (skill points) into. This way if you want to make a warrior who happens to be a history-buff, or you want a rogue who can patch himself up after a fight or a Cleric with a passion for music, you can actually do that with multi-classing out the wazoo.


Skills Summary
If you buy any skill, your character gets 1 rank (equal to a +1 bonus on checks with that skill) for each skill point.

Your maximum rank in a skill is your character level + 2.
(there are no longer cross-class skills, and so there is no difference on the skill-cap)


Skill Ranks
A characterís number of ranks in a skill is based on how many skill points a character has invested in a skill. Many skills can be used even if the character has no ranks in them; doing this is called making an untrained skill check.
You are considerered Trained in a skill if you have ranks in it equal to half your CR/ECL or more, rounded down. This indicates you have recieved a level of training and/or dedicated enough practice to be appropriate for your experience.


Ability Modifier
The ability modifier used in a skill check is the modifier for the skillís key ability (the ability associated with the skillís use). The key ability of each skill is noted in its description.


Class Skill Bonus
Some classes may naturally be a little bit better at some things, because they do them as part of their everyday routine, instead of needing to practice them the way some one of a different class would.

If a skill is listed as a class skill for you character, you get a bonus to checks made for that skill if you are Trained in it.
The bonus increases as your character adventures and becomes more powerful, provided you keep up with your training.

Table: Bonus for Class Skills
{table=head]ECL|Bonus
1-4|+1
5-9|+2
10-14|+3
15-19|+4
20+|+5[/table]

Class levels stack for determining the bonus, so if you are playing a multiclass character and they have overlapping class skills, you do not get a double-bonus.


Skill Synergy
Some skills grant bonuses to related skill checks; the more ranks you have in the skill granting the bonus, the greater the bonus is.
{table=head]Ranks|Synergy Bonus

5|
2

10|
3

15|
4

20+|
5[/table]


List of Skills
{table=head]Skill|Suggestion

Appraise (Int)|rename to "Analyze"; let it figure out qualities of magic items, perhaps even discern the abilities of an enemy

Autohypnosis* (Con)|Combine with Concentration

Balance (Dex)|combine with other skills; i.e. Pathfinder's Acrobatics (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/acrobatics)

Bluff (Cha)|none at this time

Climb (Str)|none at this time

Concentration (Con)|Combine with Autohypnosis

Craft* (Int)|whole system needs reworking

Diplomacy (Cha)|remove most skill synergies, limit shifts in attitude, make temporary instead of permenant

Decipher Script|combine with other skills; i.e. Pathfinder's Linguistics (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/linguistics)

Disable Device (Dex)|combine with Open Lock; i.e. Pathfinder's Disable Device (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/disable-device)

Disguise (Cha)|none at this time

Escape Artist (Dex)|none at this time

Forgery|combine with other skills; i.e. Pathfinder's Linguistics (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/linguistics)

Fly (Dex)|use Pathfinder's version of Fly (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/fly)

Gather Information (Cha)|combine with Diplomacy (like Pathfinder)

Handle Animal* (Cha)|revise skill to make it more usefull for controlling an animal companion/pet/warbeast in battle

Heal* (Wis)|improve skill so it can actually restore HP, cure diseases, etc.

Hide (Dex)|Combine with Move Silently; i.e. Pathfinder's Stealth (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/stealth)

Intimidate (Cha)|none at this time

Jump (Str)|combine with Tumble; i.e. Pathfinder's Acrobatics (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/acrobatics)

Knowledge- Arcana* (Int)|none at this time

Knowledge- Dungeoneering* (Int)|none at this time

Knowledge- Engineering & Architecture* (Int)|none at this time

Knowledge- Geography* (Int)|none at this time

Knowledge- History* (Int)|none at this time

Knowledge- Local* (Int)|none at this time

Knowledge- Nature* (Int)|none at this time

Knowledge- Nobility* (Int)|combine with Knowledge (History)

Knowledge- Planes* (Int)|none at this time

Knowledge- Religion* (Int)|none at this time

Listen (Wis)|combine with other skills; i.e. Pathfinder's Perception (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/perception)

Move Silently|Combine with Hide; i.e. Pathfinder's Stealth (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/stealth)

Perform (Cha)|reduce different variations of this skill (dance, instrumental, voice, etc).

Profession (variable)|calculate with different stats depending on job

Ride (Dex)|combine with Handle Animal

Search (Wis)|combine with other skills; i.e. Pathfinder's Perception (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/perception)

Sense Motive (Wis)|none at this time

Sleight of Hand* (Dex)|none at this time

Spot (Wis)|combine with other skills; i.e. Pathfinder's Perception (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/perception)

Survival (Wis)|none at this time

Swim (Str)|make more beneficial with fewer ranks

Tumble|combine with Jump; i.e. Pathfinder's Acrobatics (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/acrobatics)

Use Magic Device* (Cha)|make more user-friendly to non-casters

Use Rope|combine with another skill, possibly Survival or Sleight of Hand[/table]

*Cannot be used untrained


FAQ
Q: But DBD, this means that if I go up a level, and don't put any more ranks in a skill, I might lose my bonus, meaning I'd be LESS powerful than I was!
A: Yes, that's rights. As I see it, skills are things that you have trained at, not just gained as class features, and if you don't practice them constantly, you start to lose your edge. It's only 1 skill point every 2 levels, and if you are struggling to afford that you might need to take a deeper look at your build.

Edit: Added a list of all the 3.5 class skills I know about and their appropriate modifiers, IMO (some have been changed). I'll add links to any Homebrewed versions I replace the RAW with.

Edit 2: Recently learned about Skill Tricks from another poster. These are apparently sort of like mini-feats that cost 2 skill points apiece, and are found in the Complete Scoundrel splatbook. I need to track down a copy of that and read up on them, but in the meantime here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=171328) is a list of Homebrewed tricks by RoC.

Yitzi
2012-01-22, 12:18 PM
This is actually far more similar to the Pathfinder approach rather than the 3.5 approach.

Deepbluediver
2012-01-22, 07:57 PM
This is actually far more similar to the Pathfinder approach rather than the 3.5 approach.

Y'know, I've never read all of pathfinder cover to cover. I usually just look up whatever little piece I want and then mix and match with 3.5 to get the best result.

Now that you point it out though, and I go back and reread it, my system did end up more similar to pathfinder's than I had realized.

Oh well, mines still better. 'Cause it scales with level. :smallbiggrin:
PF reminded me though, I should add a note for clarity that you can't get more than one bonus from multiple classes with the same skillset.

zlefin
2012-01-22, 09:14 PM
from a balance perspective; and considering the use of skills in legend;
i'd say it'd be better to give classes a bonus in class skills equal to their level, or half their level. or a mix; an adjusting the class skill lists a bit.
Quarter level is a bit too low imo.

One of the main things legend does in essence, is take some of the nifty epic uses of skills (easily found in the srd), and makes them actually accessible to higher level noncasters.
Doing the same in 3.5 would do a fair bit to help balance imo.

Deepbluediver
2012-01-22, 10:23 PM
from a balance perspective; and considering the use of skills in legend;
i'd say it'd be better to give classes a bonus in class skills equal to their level, or half their level. or a mix; an adjusting the class skill lists a bit.
Quarter level is a bit too low imo.

One of the main things legend does in essence, is take some of the nifty epic uses of skills (easily found in the srd), and makes them actually accessible to higher level noncasters.
Doing the same in 3.5 would do a fair bit to help balance imo.

One of the main problems I had with the old system was that people never bought ranks in anything except class skills. Giving them such a huge advantage would likely put us right back to that point.
I wanted to give class skills a slight edge, while allowing people to get non-class skills and still feel that it was worthwhile. If you think the buffs should be larger at higher levels it's easy enough to make them scale in a non-linear fashion.

Also, this is more of a personal thing, but I prefer that without the aid of magic or additional class abilities skills seem at least somewhat realistic. Still, I will take a look at Legends when I get the chance; I never pass up an opportunity to increase the sum of my knowledge.


With regards to the balance issue: every "fix" I have ever seen is the equivalent of band-aids and painkillers; they address (some of) the symptoms, but a dedicated player can still find ways around the limits that are imposed. There is so much interconnected in D&D that nothing short of a complete rebuild of core will have a serious and lasting impact on the balance issue (IMO, at least).
Which is why I am doing just that!

If you're interested, check the links in extended sig to find a new magic system, and revamped core classes (5 of 11 posted so far).