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View Full Version : [3.5] Yet Another Skill Fix [Work In Progress, PEACH]



KevLar
2008-10-28, 07:47 PM
Skills

Introduction:This is a combination of several houserules that I've made / used / seen through the years. Many of them on these very forums, so thanks to everyone.

Goal:This is a fix for people who find skills ill-defined, or skill points very few, or are often frustrated from a lack of options regarding skills.

It's supposed to add both flavor (take skills you'll never use! why? because you want to!), and options in-game (so, remember that good-for-nothing Use Rope? turns out I can use it for a lasso, and also gain a bonus to special attacks with my chain and my whip. huh). It's supposed to make skills important throughout the game, for everyone and not just the Rogue, but without robbing the Rogue from his advantage.

Finally, it gives special attention to social skills (which we erase from existence and start from scratch) and knowledge. Which is your friend. Even if you're a barbarian.

Method:
Give more skill points.
Merge skills.
Define new uses for skills.
Tweak synergies.
Use the basic idea behind 4E's challenges, but doing it right this time.


Drawbacks:
Definitely more bookkeeping.
Utterly indifferent to anyone who sees skills as bookkeeping.
Spectacularly useless for hack'n'slash games.

Here we go.


Basic Rules


Class skills and cross-class skills

Your maximum rank in a class skill is your character level + 3.
Your maximum rank in a cross-class skill is one-half of this number, rounded down.
A rank in both class skills and cross-class skills is bought with one skill point.

Notes: Versatility for everyone, which is good. But it causes the Able Learner effect, which is bad news for Rogues and Factotums: 1 level dip in one of those classes, and anyone can take advantage of their expanded skill lists, which is what makes them special in the first place.
In my games, I can counter this by removing this bit from the rules: "Regardless of whether a skill is purchased as a class skill or a cross-class skill, if it is a class skill for any of your classes, your maximum rank equals your total character level + 3". And the reason I can do that, is because we've had a mass Epic Spot Fail all those years and never noticed the damned thing, so no one will miss it. :smalltongue:
Normal people, unlike us and without ADD, may ignore this rule altogether. It gets better from now on, I promise.


Skill points at 1st level

A character gains at first level either 24 skill points or (Intelligence Modifier+Number of skills points provided by class) x 4 , whichever is higher.
A character also gains at first level 4 skill points that he can only spend in Profession (any) or Craft (any), divided as desired.

Notes: Tweaking Fax's fix (http://wiki.faxcelestis.net/index.php?title=Mechanically_Fluffy), the x4 rule is changed to represent background knowledge for all, but allows a brilliant skill monkey to benefit from it. Cross-class limitations always apply. The Profession/Craft rule again represents background, and it might give an unfair advantage to Artificers and the like, but I can live with that. If you can't, limit this to Profession only.
Or you can add more skills to be used like this, for more versatility. I'd say this depends on the setting rather than any arbitrary rule, so I'd personally decide it on a case-by-case basis.


Skill points at leveling up

At 2nd level and every level thereafter, a character gains (Intelligence Modifier+Number of skills points provided by class) skill points.
At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, a character also gains a number of skill points equal to his Intelligence Bonus (if any), which he can only spend on Knowledge (any), divided as desired.

Notes: Skill points at each level as normal, and we add bonus Knowledge. Why? Because a character traveling and adventuring has the best opportunity to learn anything - barring locking himself up in a library. But he has to be a bit smarter than average to pick up things on the fly. Knowledge is, IMO, the only skill that should somehow scale with level. I thought of this rule, any others are welcome.
Note possible synergies with the Knowledge Devotion feat, and Draconic Knowledge and the like. That's fine with me (I don't believe it will be broken) but you should know in advance.



Skill Descriptions
(Changed and merged skills only. Social skills will be dealt with separately.)


Acrobatics (Dex) (Balance, Tumble)
I'd say that anyone who gets Balance or Tumble as a class skill, gets Acrobatics.

Notes: Have in mind that making enemies flat-footed with Grease, marbles, and other ways of forcing a Balance check, becomes less reliable.


Athletics (Str) (Jump, Climb)
Anyone who gets Jump or Climb as a class skill, gets Athletics.


Disable Device (Dex) (Disable device, Open lock)
Whoever gets Disable Device but not Open Lock cannot use this skill to open a lock with a DC higher than 20. Those who get both of them take the merged version, of course, and I don't believe there's anyone who gets only Open Lock.

Notes: Why Dex and not Int? In order to disable a device, you need to first figure out how it works and how to do it, and the rest is up to your deft hands. We can assume that the "figuring out" part is covered by your training (skill points, which indirectly are affected by intelligence anyway). Hence, I used Dexterity instead of Intelligence as a modifier. No butter-fingers should ever be allowed to disable anything reliably.


Perception (Wis) (Listen, Spot)
Anyone who gets Spot or Listen gets Perception.

Notes: I was hesitant about this. I opted for merging after all, for convenience more than anything. It goes without saying that penalties for being blinded etc apply normally, as well as the Hard of Hearing and other relevant traits.


Scribe (Int) (Decipher Script, Forgery)
Anyone who gets Decipher Script gets Scribe. Whoever gets Forgery but not Decipher, cannot use the Scribe skill for a Decipher DC higher than 20.

Notes: Deciphering an unknown script is not exactly the same with forging a document (or determining if one is genuine), but they are related. For Forgery, I'd personally add another level to the Readerís Check Modifier: {table=head]Condition|Modifier
Type of document completely unknown to reader|-4
Type of document unknown to reader|-2
Type of document somewhat known to reader|+0
Type of document well known to reader|+2
Reader experienced in scribing type of document|+4[/table]

Stealth (Dex) (Hide, Move Silently)
Whoever gets Hide or Move Silently gets Stealth.


Use Rope (Dex)

For every 5 ranks in Use Rope, the -4 penalty for not being proficient with a Whip, Spiked Chain or similar weapon is reduced by one.
A character with 8 ranks in Use Rope may use his Dexterity instead of his Strength modifier for opposed Disarm and Trip checks when using a Whip, Spiked Chain or similar weapon he is proficient with.
Add Use Rope to the Class Skills lists of Barbarian and Monk.

Notes: That's a much needed boost to Dex-based martial characters, and it makes sense to me. I don't believe it's broken, it's an equivalent of Weapon Finesse for a very specific case, which can be attained at 5th level minimum. Most DMs ban Spiked Chain, anyway, and your Bard will love you.
The fact that "feats are supposed to give a greater advantage than skills" doesn't bother me, personally, because the whole purpose is to make skills more useful. If you disagree, you can make that a Skill Trick, to be used only once per encounter, or a Feat.


Weapon Flourish (Cha) (Bluff as used in combat, Perform (weapon Drill))
Weapon Flourish is given to all classes with full BAB.



Social skills
coming soon



Synergies
coming soon



Number of skills points for each class (Optional Rule)
coming soon

I'm tempted to give +2 skill points to everyone. But I fear it's an overkill. The poor Fighter and Cleric etc are covered by merged skills and 1st level. Any arguments, for or against, are welcome.
For now, I'd use it only in very very low-magic settings.

....

More tweaking needed
Of course, the problem with houseruling D&D is that you change one thing and ten others tumble and fall. So we need to also:

Fix skill-related feats
Fix traits
Fix the prerequisites for skill tricks
Revisit items, familiars and spells that give a bonus to skills
God knows what else
And I'm not even touching Epic uses of skills


First post in the Homebrew Section! Comments and cookies are welcome. :)

KevLar
2008-10-28, 07:48 PM
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Skill-related Feats

Concept:Few people bother with skill-related feats, because they suck. But if we add something to the benefits, they may become worthwhile. The best model for such feats is, IMO, Quick Reconnoiter, which gives +2 to Initiative and spot/listen checks as a free action. A tangible numerical bonus, and a skill-related ability which is worth it. Having this in mind...

Blend in the Shadows [General]
Benefit: You get a +2 bonus on all Stealth checks. When in an area of shadowy illumination or darker, you can move at your normal speed without a penalty to your Stealth check, and you take only a penalty of -10 for sniping.
Normal: When you make a Stealth check while moving at your normal speed, you take a -5 penalty regardless of illumination. When you make a Stealth check after sniping, you take a -20 penalty.


Icewalker [General]
Benefit: You get a +2 bonus on all Acrobatics checks. Any penalty to your Acrobatis check due to slippery surface is removed, and you can move your normal speed (but not run or charge) in difficult terrain.
Normal: When you make an Acrobatics check on a slippery surface, you take a -2 penalty for lightly slippery or a -5 penalty for severely slippery surface. Your speed is halved when you move in difficult terrain.


Swift Escape [General]
Benefit: You get a +2 bonus on all Escape Artist checks. You can escape from a net or an animate rope, command plants, control plants, or entangle spell as a standard action. You can escape from a grapple or pin as a move action.
Normal: Escaping from a net or an animate rope, command plants, control plants, or entangle spell is a full-round action. Escaping from a grapple or pin is a standard action.


Notes: Alright, I need help here. Feats are tricky. My grand plan is to make a feat for every skill that needs one, and the best case scenario is to make them eligible at 1st level (to be used in an optional rule which gives one such feat for free.) Which may, of course, actually beat the purpose of making them worthwhile. I also need to check out a million skill-related abilities given from Prestige Classes, and make sure I'm not stepping on their toes.

So I'm giving you a first taste of what these feats will look like. If I'm doing something terribly wrong, now would be a good time to know and give up. (An easy alternative exists, give one normal skill-related feat for free at 1st level, and all I need to do is rearrange the 2 +2 bonuses.) Any feedback is welcome. Thanks!

Lyndworm
2008-10-29, 01:48 PM
So far I like it quite a lot, but I'm going to have to reserve judgement until the social skills and synergies are up. Good work, and good luck.

Zack

KevLar
2008-10-29, 06:48 PM
Thanks, I'm still working on it. :smallsmile:

Kizara
2008-10-30, 12:06 AM
You might want to check out my work on this subject in my sig, it would likely be of use to you.

Good luck and looking forward to what you come up with; I'll be looking to borrow some to flesh-out my own work.


Some notes on what you've already done:

1) I like your knowledge idea. I am going to have to consider it for a while, but it strikes me as good both for RPing and balance considerations. You may want to consider making it half your intelligence, unless you intend for most people to be quite knowledgable.
This is a good alternative to combining knowledge skills somehow in order to make them less of a skill sink.

2) I don't like the mimimum skill ranks. If people are playing a stupid meleer or something they shouldn't get a 'special needs' allotment of skill points or something. If you are really stupid, you know alot less, its that simple.

3) Honestly, even after making larger and more numerous combination catagories then you have, I still find people don't have enough skill points. Quite often I have to make my character's more intelligent then I feel like RPing (I'm quite swift myself, but sometimes I want to not have to think or RP someone less intellectually able) simply to get all the skills I want them to have.
I'm going to be playtesting +1 skill point per level for my next couple campaigns and see how it works out. I may try +2 after that, or decide +1 is enough, or possibly discover that it unreasonably cheapens skillmonkey classes (but I doubt it).

Magnor Criol
2008-10-30, 01:06 AM
I really like the way you put your thought process and justifications down here, it really helps with the assessment. I recognize a lot of ideas from that thread in gaming...

Well-constructed so far, but like Lyndworm said, I'll reserve full judgment until you get the full set up.

Lyndworm
2008-10-30, 01:53 AM
Does anyone know which classes get Perform (Weapon Drill) by RAW? Is that written somewhere in Complete Warrior? I can't seem to find it.

Perform (Weapon Drill) isn't specifically granted to any class. It's just another Perform skill, like Perform (Percussion) or Perform (String Instruments).

Zack

Kizara
2008-10-30, 03:18 AM
Perform (Weapon Drill) isn't specifically granted to any class. It's just another Perform skill, like Perform (Percussion) or Perform (String Instruments).

Zack

I believe complete warrior discussed it and 'gave' it to the fighter class.

KevLar
2008-10-30, 04:18 AM
1) I like your knowledge idea. I am going to have to consider it for a while, but it strikes me as good both for RPing and balance considerations. You may want to consider making it half your intelligence, unless you intend for most people to be quite knowledgable.
It's not Intelligence (that would be way too many), it's Intelligence bonus. Average or less (dumb fighters etc) gives you nothing, 12-14 (that most end up with) gives you one or two skill points, and it gets insulting only if Intelligence is your primary stat, especially at high levels. (Item boosts do not count for the bonus, I should make that clear.)

Int-based full casters get tons of them, but when it comes to full casters, Knowledge is not what makes them overpowered. The only ones you should really worry about are Int-based gishes: a Factotum would get all possible synergies (and can use them all!) very soon, and with Knowledge Devotion at 3rd level, he can hit like a fighter. My verdict? That's OK. He's still no match for the damage output of a dedicated tank, and it's nice to boost gishes.


2) I don't like the mimimum skill ranks. If people are playing a stupid meleer or something they shouldn't get a 'special needs' allotment of skill points or something. If you are really stupid, you know alot less, its that simple.
Err.. I didn't get that. What minimum skill ranks?


3) Honestly, even after making larger and more numerous combination catagories then you have, I still find people don't have enough skill points.
I feel your pain. Give out more, they're never enough, and tell us about play-testing them. (I've tried out +2 skill points to everyone, Able Learner for free and a background bonus of various numbers, but not all of them at the same time.)

@All: Don't hold your breath for the Social Skills just yet. It will be a variant, not suited for everyone, and I intend to make it independent from the other rules.
Thanks again. :smallsmile:

Hawriel
2008-10-30, 06:22 AM
This is very nice and well thought out. My friend and I came up with somthing similar for are games. We just have not written any thing down, becuase that would be organized. And we just cant have that.

I very much agree with getting rid of the x2 cost for cross class skills. Really thats a bunch of BS. The one half level cap is a good balance on its own. I do however take issue with a DC cap. One of the things that bugs me about traps is that only a thief can disarm a DC 25 trap or higher. In my mind thats an arbitrary limitation to 'protect class importance'. Thats crap. Any one should be able to have the chance to hit any target number provided their skill, a D20 roll, and any situational mods lets them hit the number. A real group of peaple would have an over lapping skill set.

skill points.

I also thought there was never enough skill points. It got so bad that I remade my long standing rogue at least 6 times in his 3rd ed career. I did this because I found that the character always sucked in his thiefly duties when he wasnt supposed to. The cost of this was that I stripped him of all of the RP skills. Knowledge, profesion, crafting, and afew other utility skills. I fell into the minmax dungeon hack mind set. A character, no matter what the class, should not need to have all their trade mark class skills maxed out. Chosing what skills are high or low is part of desining a character. The other side to that is DM should not make all DCs for skills with the assumtion that the skills are set at max value. On the occasions that a DC is over the parties abilities the players should have room the be ingenuitive. This way of thinking let my friends and I relaxe about the number of skill points and came of with a nice simple fix.

most classes get enough skill points for what they do. Exept the classes that give 2. That is BS. Raising the skills to 4 insted of 2, in addition to lifting the x2 CC cost fixes this nicely. This allows the fighter, cleric and wizard have skill in somthing other than intimidate/ride, Kno religion/consinration, and spellcracft/kno arcane. The two smart classes get the skill points to actualy represent their knowledge, and the fighter gets to actualy show that they are smart. +4 is also enough because wizards and some clerics usualy have a high int score.

Skill synergy is the other reason why skill points can remain low. skill synergy bonuses come out of no whare. The base PHB rules prove this itself. For example I have a character with a +11 to diplomacy wile having only 3 ranks in the skill. Thats +3 ranks +3 cha, and +4 synergy with bluff, and sence motive. The synergy is more than the skill points I invested in the skill. The synergy bonus are hiden skill points.

Kizara
2008-10-30, 06:32 AM
It's not Intelligence (that would be way too many), it's Intelligence bonus. Average or less (dumb fighters etc) gives you nothing, 12-14 (that most end up with) gives you one or two skill points, and it gets insulting only if Intelligence is your primary stat, especially at high levels. (Item boosts do not count for the bonus, I should make that clear.)

Int-based full casters get tons of them, but when it comes to full casters, Knowledge is not what makes them overpowered. The only ones you should really worry about are Int-based gishes: a Factotum would get all possible synergies (and can use them all!) very soon, and with Knowledge Devotion at 3rd level, he can hit like a fighter. My verdict? That's OK. He's still no match for the damage output of a dedicated tank, and it's nice to boost gishes.


Err.. I didn't get that. What minimum skill ranks?


I feel your pain. Give out more, they're never enough, and tell us about play-testing them. (I've tried out +2 skill points to everyone, Able Learner for free and a background bonus of various numbers, but not all of them at the same time.)

@All: Don't hold your breath for the Social Skills just yet. It will be a variant, not suited for everyone, and I intend to make it independent from the other rules.
Thanks again. :smallsmile:

1) I know what you meant RE Int bonus, sorry for the error of omission. However, 3-4 free knowledge ranks per level seems a bit much to me, as it adds up very quickly. I mean, its more about fine turning then huge gamebreaking balance. If you feel it is appropriate for most to be quite knowledgable in general then go ahead.

I read what you said about balance issues, and I don't even play with Factorums, I just feel it might be too much to give out so many free knowledge ranks, as knowledge ranks generally represents expert knowledge or concerted study. Maybe also set a limit on the maximum ranks in any particular skill you can achieve with these 'free' ranks.

2) "A character gains at first level either 24 skill points or (Intelligence Modifier+Number of skills points provided by class) x 4 , whichever is higher."
I was refering to this, under "Skill points at leveling up".

3) For sure.

Some new points:

A) As others have said, really well laid-out and presented thread. I also take efforts to present my threads well, but the way you have utilized fonts, colors and font effects really stands above my more basic efforts.

B) I like your take on the cross-class skills. It is a good compromise that I'm fairly certain I will adobt myself.

KevLar
2008-10-30, 07:20 AM
I read what you said about balance issues, and I don't even play with Factorums, I just feel it might be too much to give out so many free knowledge ranks, as knowledge ranks generally represents expert knowledge or concerted study.
Hmm... you have a point there.
*calculates*
Yeap, you're right. I'll half the bonus, but instead of (Int bonus divided by 2) I'll make it (Int Bonus) every 2 levels.
Reason: I really do want a 13 INT character to benefit from this house rule.
Drawback: Bookkeeping gets worse, but I've already resigned myself to that.


As others have said, really well laid-out and presented thread.
Thanks, I was worried about that.

KevLar
2008-10-30, 09:14 AM
OK, I've started working on skill-related feats. And I'm not as sure about these as I was about the skills. Any comments are welcome. The post is here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=5190683#post5190683). See second post of this thread.

Kizara
2008-10-30, 01:56 PM
OK, I've started working on skill-related feats. And I'm not as sure about these as I was about the skills. Any comments are welcome. The post is here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=5190683#post5190683).

That just links to this thread, btw.
Also, take a look at my language system for a good implimentation of how feats can be tied to skills.

Ideally, I'd like a similar inter-crossing synergy with all aspects of the system, but am at a loss on how to reasonably do it. Your input is welcome.

Draz74
2008-10-30, 08:48 PM
Hmmmm.

So far, this looks better than most skill fixes I've seen. It still doesn't go as far into weirdness as the homebrew skill system I'm working on, but at least it avoids all of my major pet peeves that drive me nuts about most peoples' skill fixes, and in the process gets rid of some annoying things that obviously need fixing. Nice.

My only real objection is the way you limit people from using their Disable Device or Scribe skills depending on whether they have Open Lock or Decipher Script on their class skill list. No matter how many ranks they have. If you're getting rid of those skills, get rid of them all the way. One alternative is just to add +5 to the DC of checks to open locks or decipher unfamiliar documents.

Oh, and what you're doing really is the same as giving everyone Able Learner, whether you call it that or not. So if granting free Able Learner would make you nervous about everyone dipping Rogue or Factotum, you should still be nervous about that here.

KevLar
2008-10-31, 05:44 AM
My only real objection is the way you limit people from using their Disable Device or Scribe skills depending on whether they have Open Lock or Decipher Script on their class skill list. No matter how many ranks they have. If you're getting rid of those skills, get rid of them all the way. One alternative is just to add +5 to the DC of checks to open locks or decipher unfamiliar documents.
I am limiting this because I don't want a ranger opening complex locks. It doesn't fit thematically, and the skill lists of various classes are exactly that: a theme. However, this is a detail anyone can change easily if he doesn't like it. :)


Oh, and what you're doing really is the same as giving everyone Able Learner, whether you call it that or not.
Umm.. you're right. I just checked Races of Destiny. For some reason, I thought that Able Learner gives something much more: treating as class skill any skill that you have from any other class (e.g., if I take Rogue and then switch to Fighter, I still treat Disable Device as a class skill for the rest of my career, and can max it). Honestly, I have no idea why I thought that. Have I confused it with another feat or perhaps house rule? Beats me.
Lemme think about that...

(Thanks for the comments btw.)

@Kizara: I'm checking out the Languages thingy.

EDIT - Added the Swift Escape feat above. (Note that I'll revisit names and think of flavor later, for now I'm focusing on the crunch.)