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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Replacing Saving Throws with the Skill System



R.Shackleford
2016-07-13, 08:40 PM
I find the limitations of the 5e saving throw system to be boring and way too restraining. It places undue limits on a character creation when there doesn't need to be any.

I use the Ref/Fort/Will save system but 5e already has a system that could be perfect for creating more customizable characters.

A Rogue that is based around strength and brute force and has a low Dex shouldn't automatically be proficient with Dex saves. If said rogue has a low Int and high Cha, why would they be trained with Int saves?

First: You class doesn't give you saving throw proficiencies. They don't exist.

Secondly: Well, that's mostly it. Replace a lot of stuff with ability check contests. I have changed some common cantrips to fit in this system. I did add Constitution (Endurance) as a skill, bringing it back from the 3e/4e days.

Third: Spells will call for a skill check versus DC or will call for a Spell Mod versus Skill contest.

Spell Mod is Int, Wis, or Cha depending on your class, as is tradition.




*****
Sacred Flame

Flame-like radiance descends on a creature that you can see within range. The target must succeed on a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check versus your spell DC or take 1d8 radiant damage. The target gains no benefit from cover for this saving throw.

The spellís damage increases by 1d8 when you reach 5th level (2d8), 11th level (3d8), and 17th level (4d8).

****

Chill Touch

You create a ghostly, skeletal hand in the space of a creature within range. Make a Spellcasting Modifier (Athletics) check versus the target's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) against the creature to assail it with the chill of the grave. If you succeed, the target takes 1d8 necrotic damage, and it canít regain hit points until the start of your next turn. Until then, the hand clings to the target.

If you hit an undead target, it also has disadvantage on attack rolls against you until the end of your next turn.

This spellís damage increases by 1d8 when you reach 5th level (2d8), 11th level (3d8), and 17th level (4d8).

****

Shocking Grasp

Lightning springs from your hand to deliver a shock to a creature you try to grab. Make a Spellcasting Modifier (Athletics) versus the target's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) contest.

You have advantage on the contest if the target is wearing armor made of metal.

If you succeed, the target takes 1d8 lightning damage, and it canít take reactions until the start of its next turn.

The spellís damage increases by 1d8 when you reach 5th level (2d8), 11th level (3d8), and 17th level (4d8).

****

Poison Spray

You extend your hand toward a creature you can see within range and project a puff of noxious gas from your palm. The creature must succeed on a Constitution (Endurance) check versus your Spell DC or take 1d12 poison damage.

This spell's damage increases by 1d12 when you reach 5th level (2d12), 11th level (3d12), and 17th level (4d12).

***

For monsters/NPCs this doesn't change much, if a DM wants the creature to be proficient with the check then the creature will be. DMs fudge all the time anyways.

JNAProductions
2016-07-13, 11:12 PM
Potential issues-skills are a lot easier to get than saves, and unless there's some really weird things (Sleight of Hand is a save against what, exactly?) most of the time the same skills are gonna be saves.

Secondly, what would that do to the monk's proficient in all saves ability? Proficient in all skills?

R.Shackleford
2016-07-13, 11:36 PM
Potential issues-skills are a lot easier to get than saves, and unless there's some really weird things (Sleight of Hand is a save against what, exactly?) most of the time the same skills are gonna be saves.

Secondly, what would that do to the monk's proficient in all saves ability? Proficient in all skills?

I'm OK with the ease of access to skills. If you can easily become proficient with lying through your teeth, never being surprised, or grappling proficiently then I don't see why those same skills wouldn't carry over into the saging throw/magic system. The current disconnect is strange to me.

Most games don't go over 8, so really I don't care about the monk's 14th (I think) level ability.

However what I would do with the Paladin's Aura and the Monk's feature is to allow any check you make to be a Charisma or Wisdom check respectfully.

So if you are in the Aura of a paladin you may use the paladin'so Cha mod to make a Charisma (Athletics) or Charisma (Acrobatics) check when trying to dodge a shocking grasp.

Yeah, no stacking for the paladin. Still super useful and nice but not as crazy good.

The monk would be able to make a Wisdom check (add relevant skill needed) when making a skill save.

Monk needs to make a Charisma (Performance) check to counter the effects of "Tasha's Hideous Laughter" (if you can tell a boring/lame enough joke the magic doesn't effect you). The Monk at high levels would be able to make a Wisdom (Performance) check instead (in order to tell a boring/lame enough joke).

DM: Cultist casts "Tasha's Hideous laughter"

PC: I rolled a 17 on my performance check. "I spilled spot remover on my dog, now I can't find him".

DM: The magic can't penetrate your boring, but cunning, joke.

Markoff Chainey
2016-07-14, 03:18 AM
I agree with you that savings throws are actually skills. - You get better as you level up, that is an indication that you "train" that stuff and when you train something and get better at it, you can also call it a "skill".

So I think your idea is smart, but needs a bit more work, as JNA pointed out, to work smoothly with the whole system and all available abilities and not just cantrips. - Expertise is a big issue for example. I do not think that it should be allowed to work like it does now, because it is a major boost.

Also, you have to keep in mind that some savings throws are more "valuable" than others and by just adding them to skills, you add A LOT value to a skill. Either you find a way to balance that out or you "invent" a new skill for each savings throw that only does that.

My recommendation for a starting point is the following:

INT is a stupidly rare savings throw, for example - it would greatly help the underwhelming skill "investigation" I think investigation could be renamed to "logic" and be applied both, to all the uses of investigation and to replace the INT save.

WIS is not as rare as INT and very important sometimes - "Insight" is a skill that could need some love, due to its narrow usage and I think those could be merged too. Even if WIS save is very good, the skill "Insight" is almost never used in most games (at least at my table).

CHA is a good mental save and the CHA skills are very usable in the game. For this, I would invent a new skill, CHA based of course, and name it "composure" or something. - That skill could also be used with CON to keep a physical composure.

CON is incredibly important and understandably a skill, especially for mages. I can easily imagine that in a battle mage academy, the adepts harden themselves against magical assaults. I would simply call it "Concentration", CON based, because that is what it is there for.

DEX and STR are tricky because they are so similiar and the two skills athletics and acrobatics are also quite overlapping. Additionally, they are both very useful for grappling and stuff. I would invent one new skill "persistance" that can be used for both, DEX and STR and replaces both savings throws.

That would leave you with 3 new skills and 2 "merged" skills that replace the savings throws.

My 2 cents, and thanks for the inspiration!

zeek0
2016-07-14, 04:23 AM
The problem may come in the conceptual framework.

Skills are meant to be something you trained in or practiced at. Saves are innate to an archetype, a type of adventurer.

The rules are meant not only to be mechanically applied, but to *describe* a character. This rule would limit options.

So, say I have a character who is a wizard, but only practically so - he never got the handle on investigation with books, but practical application is learned well. Or a rogue which, having the uncanny ability to avoid a fireball, never learned to tightrope walk or slip out of restraints.

I'm not saying this is a bad idea, but I do think that costs are involved. Collapsing categories for simplicity's sake is good, but only as long as those distinctions were unnecessary. If you collapse too many categories you aren't able to describe your character effectively.

To solve the problem you have, I would just allow players to select different saving throws to fit their character. A rogue could switch out Int for Str if they are a meat head. Just keep it with one good/one poor saving throw, and you're still rather balanced.

R.Shackleford
2016-07-14, 06:31 AM
I agree with you that savings throws are actually skills. - You get better as you level up, that is an indication that you "train" that stuff and when you train something and get better at it, you can also call it a "skill".

So I think your idea is smart, but needs a bit more work, as JNA pointed out, to work smoothly with the whole system and all available abilities and not just cantrips. - Expertise is a big issue for example. I do not think that it should be allowed to work like it does now, because it is a major boost.

Also, you have to keep in mind that some savings throws are more "valuable" than others and by just adding them to skills, you add A LOT value to a skill. Either you find a way to balance that out or you "invent" a new skill for each savings throw that only does that.

My recommendation for a starting point is the following:

INT is a stupidly rare savings throw, for example - it would greatly help the underwhelming skill "investigation" I think investigation could be renamed to "logic" and be applied both, to all the uses of investigation and to replace the INT save.

WIS is not as rare as INT and very important sometimes - "Insight" is a skill that could need some love, due to its narrow usage and I think those could be merged too. Even if WIS save is very good, the skill "Insight" is almost never used in most games (at least at my table).

CHA is a good mental save and the CHA skills are very usable in the game. For this, I would invent a new skill, CHA based of course, and name it "composure" or something. - That skill could also be used with CON to keep a physical composure.

CON is incredibly important and understandably a skill, especially for mages. I can easily imagine that in a battle mage academy, the adepts harden themselves against magical assaults. I would simply call it "Concentration", CON based, because that is what it is there for.

DEX and STR are tricky because they are so similiar and the two skills athletics and acrobatics are also quite overlapping. Additionally, they are both very useful for grappling and stuff. I would invent one new skill "persistance" that can be used for both, DEX and STR and replaces both savings throws.

That would leave you with 3 new skills and 2 "merged" skills that replace the savings throws.

My 2 cents, and thanks for the inspiration!

If you go with the Expertise = Advantage house rule (even in normal games) things work out so much better for the system. I would work with that houserule.

Investigation and Perception would work against illusions.

Endurance and Concentration would possibly becomes skills again. Ithe is a bit buggy to me that those two left.

Athletics and Acrobatics can just be a choice between the two since Strength and Dexterity are so simular.


The problem may come in the conceptual framework.

Skills are meant to be something you trained in or practiced at. Saves are innate to an archetype, a type of adventurer.

The rules are meant not only to be mechanically applied, but to *describe* a character. This rule would limit options.



The type of archetype or adventurer you are should shape your saving throws and skills, your skills and saving throws shouldn't shape the type of adventurers you are.

A Strength based rogue with no training in dexterity, low dexterity, should not be proficient with dodging. That is some grade A magic right there that is forcing a character to go down a path they aren't building for.

Saving Throws are skills that you train with and get better. You can even learn new ones as you go up in level. The Resilient Feat gives you a new saving throw and classes like the rogue and monk learn new saving throws.

If you are proficient with Dex based skills and are Dex based then you shouldn't, somehow magically, stop being proficient (not just good, but awesome ) at dodging just because someone cast a spell instead of trying to grapple you... That makes 0 sense.

Composer99
2016-07-14, 09:59 PM
Saving Throws are skills that you train with and get better. You can even learn new ones as you go up in level. The Resilient Feat gives you a new saving throw and classes like the rogue and monk learn new saving throws.

If you are proficient with Dex based skills and are Dex based then you shouldn't, somehow magically, stop being proficient (not just good, but awesome ) at dodging just because someone cast a spell instead of trying to grapple you... That makes 0 sense.

I don't think saving throws, conceptually, should work as skills.

So far as I can see, it doesn't seem to make sense to say that you can train in a saving throw for the most part. What exercises can you take to get better at resisting mummy rot, say, or to jump away from a pit trap that is opening beneath your very feet, or to resist a ghost's attempt at possession?

To take your example quoted above: there are techniques for wrestling that one can learn, and martial arts that one can practice to get out of holds or grapples, in the real world, so it makes sense that one can become better through practice at techniques to escape grapples in the game (i.e. via Athletics or Acrobatics proficiency). However, "dodge extremely fast projectiles like fireballs" or "escape serious injury whilst in the middle of a fireball explosion" do not seem to be the sort of thing that one could train to get better at doing. In effect, what does and does not make sense in the context of skills vs. saving throws is the opposite of what you have suggested. Given this, it does not follow of necessity that, despite their mechanical similarity, saving throws are conceptually similar to skills.

Apropos of feats, while some feats could be said to represent the fruit of training and practice, others, such as Durable or Elemental Adept, plainly aren't. Resilient seems to fit in the latter category: how could you practice to get better at resisting geas, say, or hold person, when you acquire the Resilient feat and apply it to Wisdom?

All that being said, I certainly would agree that players should be able to customise their saving throws to better fit their archetypes (so long as they stick to proficiency with one good/one bad).

R.Shackleford
2016-07-14, 11:10 PM
I don't think saving throws, conceptually, should work as skills.

So far as I can see, it doesn't seem to make sense to say that you can train in a saving throw for the most part. What exercises can you take to get better at resisting mummy rot, say, or to jump away from a pit trap that is opening beneath your very feet, or to resist a ghost's attempt at possession?

To take your example quoted above: there are techniques for wrestling that one can learn, and martial arts that one can practice to get out of holds or grapples, in the real world, so it makes sense that one can become better through practice at techniques to escape grapples in the game (i.e. via Athletics or Acrobatics proficiency). However, "dodge extremely fast projectiles like fireballs" or "escape serious injury whilst in the middle of a fireball explosion" do not seem to be the sort of thing that one could train to get better at doing. In effect, what does and does not make sense in the context of skills vs. saving throws is the opposite of what you have suggested. Given this, it does not follow of necessity that, despite their mechanical similarity, saving throws are conceptually similar to skills.

Apropos of feats, while some feats could be said to represent the fruit of training and practice, others, such as Durable or Elemental Adept, plainly aren't. Resilient seems to fit in the latter category: how could you practice to get better at resisting geas, say, or hold person, when you acquire the Resilient feat and apply it to Wisdom?

All that being said, I certainly would agree that players should be able to customise their saving throws to better fit their archetypes (so long as they stick to proficiency with one good/one bad).

So dodging someone trying to grapple you... Say a Fire Slaad is somehow different than dodging a spell? No. You are still using all the same skills to dodge both, your dexterity, your reaction, your perception (if you can't see you take disadvantage or the attacker gains advabtage), and so forth. There just isn't all that much of a diffetence. Someone that has training in Acrobatics should be better at dodging anything that comes their way than someone who has no proficiency in dodging.

Saving throws are ability check which add your proficiency bonus if you are proficient with said Saving Throw (training).

Skills are ability checks whose proficiency is based if you have training.

They are the exact same thing mechanically and via fluff. The biggest difference is *when* you use them.

I have yet to ever see a good reason why they aren't combined into one system. They are exactly the same things. Hell, there is a variant in the DM that essentially turns skills into saving throws... by that I mean they are straight ability checks.

You can train to become more durable or more resilient. Working out, eating helathy, and focusing on making yourself smarter is what Durable and Resilient represents... which is the same for skills. Durable and Resilient are just more general than skills are.

Kryx
2016-07-15, 02:56 AM
As mentioned to you in PMs this concept, while rooted in a good idea, would be horribly unbalanced. You're moving saves to an already unbalanced skill system. Already strong skills like Athletics and Acrobatics increase greatly in value. You'll also have to create concentration/endurance to handle the concentration saves.

Skills like Sleight of Hand, Stealth, History, Nature, Religion, Animal Handling, Medicine, Survival, Deception, Intimidation, Performance, and Persuasion would have zero influence on this system as none of the saves fit into their molds.

Take a look at all of the saves in 5e that I've categorized starting:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17ZeFuwQVvb9DsMseUU8Pb0KxDU7sizhmebp-U7FuzLY/edit#gid=0

You'd have

the vast majority of the 78 strength move to athletics
the vast majority of the 117 dexterity move to acrobatics
the vast majority of the 168 constitution move to endurance/concentration
the 6 int saves are now perception/investigation
the 90 wis saves are split between insight for charmed/suggestion and ??? for everything else
the 23 Cha saves are ???


You'd have other issues like the Skilled feat now effectively giving saving throw proficiency, though that could potentially be solved. The unsolvable issue is the balance.

zeek0
2016-07-15, 04:10 AM
I suppose my major point is this: skills *require* training to become better. Saving throws are about your innate qualities. Its about how the proficiency bonus becomes applied.

I contend that in D&D, you cannot train your saving throws, because of the sheer variety of situations you can encounter that require that throw, and because they are purely reactive. So when you lift weights you are increasing your strength score, not your strength saving throw directly.

In contrast, skills are the ability to perform a task, and are primarily active or contested. Acrobatics is a skill made up of actions like handsprings, balancing acts, and somersaults. By practicing these actions you are focusing on the ability to perform a specific action, not to expand it to a variety of situations.

They seem to be two different systems, but I do admit that there is some overlap here. Therefore, I would recommend a 3.5 throwback: synergy bonuses. Maybe if you have proficiency in acrobatics you get a +1 bonus to Dex saving throws?

R.Shackleford
2016-07-15, 10:41 AM
The saving throw system and the skill system is one single system. There isn't two systems but one fractured system.

They are both based on your basic ability to do something (ability check) and then training in a specific area.

There is no reason why training to be dodgier and more dexterous (acrobatics) wouldn't translate into being dodgier and more dexterous in other aspects for adventurers.

You have a good Dex, training in all Dex skills, but aren't proficient with Dex saves? That makes less than zero sense. Somehow you become less able to dodge because *reasons*.

Meh, I don't like that disconnect in logic.

If you have no Int, Wis, or Cha skills then you should have proficiency in Int, Wis, or Cha saves.

Edit

Hell, some spells already call for ability checks and not saving throws...

nolas85
2016-07-15, 10:00 PM
I think there's an issue with changing core mechanics. I understand the disconnect at times however it has the potential to create significant imbalances between classes. For instance, Half-Elf Lore bards with the Sage background become the most capable class at resisting.....well anything because they end up getting just about every skill as well as expertise. On the flip side, Paladins loose out on the benefits of one of their best abilities, that being the ability to grant their CHA to saves for themselves and anyone within 10 feet of them. Even if you kept that benefit, it looses some of it's luster because it just makes other classes / races / backgrounds even more capable than they already are since they'd be granting prof in saves in all cases.

Kryx
2016-07-16, 05:10 PM
Meh, I don't like that disconnect in logic.
Sure, you found an error in logic. Now balance it.

Show a balanced distribution. You can use the list I provided above.