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    Default [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    So as many of you have already seen, MC and MM are looking into the idea of using a rank based system for D&D in the future. Unfortunately at this point I have a very low confidence in their ability to follow through on a concept to something I actually like. Indeed, already some of the things in their articles are pretty troubling, namely that they can't seem to pin down a resolution mechanic, and think that passive perception is a huge new innovation. So I'm going to go ahead and try a take on a new skill system. As noted in the topic title, this is primarily a concept check, that may get fleshed out further in the future, so a lot of the details aren't quite filled in yet, but here's the gist of the system:

    Skill Ranks:
    U (Untrained, Default Rank)
    D (Apprentice Rank)
    C (Journeyman Rank)
    B (Expert Rank)
    A (Master Rank)
    S (Superhuman Rank)

    -Any task that has a rating lower than your rating in the skill is an auto success.

    -Any task that has a rating equal to your rating in a skill has a DC of 12.

    -Any task that has a rating one higher than your rating in a skill has a DC of 20.

    -When making a roll, you gain a bonus equal to half the link attribute added to the roll. Other minor bonuses or penalties may also apply (usually Masterwork tools for a +2).

    -Any task that is two ratings or more above your own is impossible.

    -When making an opposed test, whoever has the higher skill rank wins. Assuming both have equivalent skill ranks, both parties roll a d20, higher roll wins.






    So, the basics of the system are pretty simple. You have a rank in the skill, challenges have ranks, higher rank wins. This speeds up resolution on trivial checks significantly, while tightening the RNG for a non-trivial check. Basically you never will get to the point where you auto win at everything, though you can get damn close.

    So that leaves the questions: What skills are there, and how do you raise your skill ranks? What skill level is acceptable for a character?

    Gaining and Increasing Skills-Skills are increased using skill points as normal, but each rank in a skill costs more points than the one before. The cost for points is as follows:

    D-1 Rank
    C-2 Ranks
    B-3 Ranks
    A-5 Ranks
    S-8 Ranks

    So getting a S rank skill takes 19 Skill ranks in total. Most characters probably won't have all S ranked skills, even at high levels, though most will have at least a few. A character can choose to spend their skill points in whatever they want. Characters do not receive the bonus skill points at first level as in normal 3.5. The maximum points you may invest in a single skill are limited. When dealing with a class skill, you may invest up to level + 2 in the skill. With a non-class skill, you may invest up to your level in a skill.

    Your skills are now split up between Skills and Knowledge skills. Skills are purchased with the skill points you gain from your class. Knowledge Skills are purchased with knowledge points. Everybody gets 2+int modifier in knowledge points per level. You do not get your int mod in extra skills per level for active skills. (So for example a Rogue would get 8 skills per level for active skills, with 2+int in knowledge skills).

    Additionally, the skills are consolidated, with the new list of skills, and the skills that are represented by that skill listed below.

    For determining what tasks are what difficulty, typically a DC10 check is an untrained difficulty challenge, and every 10 points of DC above that is a rank higher. I say typically because skill DCs are all over the place in 3.5. By S rank, the characters should be doing things appropriate to Epic level checks (the options like balancing on a cloud, at will identify magic items, seeing an invisible silenced character, etc).


    Skill Listing/Description-
    Skills:
    Acrobatics-Tumble/Balance
    Athletics-Jump/Run/Climb/Swim
    Deception-Bluff/Disguise/Forgery
    Disable Device-Disable Device/Open Lock
    Handle Animal-Handle Animal/Ride
    Influence-Diplomacy/Intimidate/Gather Information
    Perception-Spot/Listen/Search
    Sense Motive-Sense Motive
    Sleight of Hand-Sleight of Hand/Escape Artist/Use Rope
    Stealth-Hide/Move Silently
    Survival-Survival/Heal
    Use Magic Device-UMD


    Knowledge Skills
    Craft
    Identify-Decipher Script/Appraise
    Knowledge
    Language
    Perform
    Profession
    Spellcraft-Spellcraft/Concentration




    At some point I may make a listing of what checks are appropriate for what rank for each skill, but this is pretty much a rough draft/concept check, so I'm not going to get into too much detail on it. It is also important to realize that higher skill ranks can be tied to more stuff under this system. For example, you could make a higher rank in Athletics improve move speed, or the run multiplier.

    I do also intend to expand upon both Disable Device and Influence/Deception, to streamline those skills into something that is more streamlined with other combat mechanics.

    I'd also like to see skill tricks revamped, so they are a central part of at least some skills. Like healing via skills should be a wholly legitimate option for someone to be a primary healer. Skill Tricks would help with that. Similarly, social combat would ideally focus around skill tricks moreso than "I have a high skill ranking one roll makes me win" (or in this case, "My skill rank is higher than your sense motive, I win"). In all of these cases, basically the higher rank in the skill would unlock better skill tricks, sort of like how it does now, but with the clear delineated ranks it would be easier to sort out what is appropriate at each level.
    Last edited by Seerow; 2011-10-09 at 06:11 PM.
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    This seems interesting (even moreso because I myself am currently grappling with a similar query).

    Now, a question: as it's set up, would you simply be able to purchase higher and higher skill ranks at any time, or would there be level restrictions?
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Quote Originally Posted by Domriso View Post
    This seems interesting (even moreso because I myself am currently grappling with a similar query).

    Now, a question: as it's set up, would you simply be able to purchase higher and higher skill ranks at any time, or would there be level restrictions?
    Right now I'm leaning towards any time, though some (relatively low) level restrictions may be appropriate.
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    This is actually really quite interesting. One thing I would ask is, since the ranks have different skill point requirements, can characters carry over skill points from level to level? Or do they just automatically invest them and just don't gain any benefit until they hit the skill point number that gets them up a rank?

    Like, say I have a Rogue. At first level, he has 8 active skills that he gains apprentice rank in, or one skill that he is an expert in. But let's just go with the 8 skills with the apprentice rank. When he gains a level, he has another 8 skill points. He can either: Make 4 of those Journeyman, one expert and one journeyman (with a point left over). That is assuming that you can only spend skill points in order to purchase ranks. If he can just invest them, he gets 8 skills at first level at apprentice rank, and then at 3rd level all 8 become journeyman, and then at 6th level they all become expert, at 11th level they become master skills, and at 19th level they all become superhuman. Which system do you think fits your vision best?

    In addition, how do you quantify a Task as being at a certain rank? Are you just going to go through all of them and do it? Or should the DM try to do it on the fly?

    Do the skill points give any actual bonuses besides going up a rank? Is that it?
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Quote Originally Posted by unosarta View Post
    This is actually really quite interesting. One thing I would ask is, since the ranks have different skill point requirements, can characters carry over skill points from level to level? Or do they just automatically invest them and just don't gain any benefit until they hit the skill point number that gets them up a rank?
    My thought was that they could carry them over. So yes, your Barbarian can level up, not spend any skill points, and the following level increase a skill from rank A to rank S.

    In addition, how do you quantify a Task as being at a certain rank? Are you just going to go through all of them and do it? Or should the DM try to do it on the fly?

    Do the skill points give any actual bonuses besides going up a rank? Is that it?
    1) I did give a general guideline to come up with stuff on the fly, but I do intend to go through the list and manually assign task ratings eventually.

    2) That's basically it. You can still buy skill tricks (which as mentioned I'd like to revamp, at the very least need to provide a guideline for how rank prereqs translate to rating prereqs) with skill points as well. If what you meant is do the ranks provide any bonuses besides the stuff you are capable of accomplishing, ideally I'd like some other bonuses to be associated with rank (as mentioned things like high athletics letting you run faster) but I'm not entirely sure how feasible that is for all skills.
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    My thought was that they could carry them over. So yes, your Barbarian can level up, not spend any skill points, and the following level increase a skill from rank A to rank S.
    Okay. That would be much more modular, and I think I like it more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    1) I did give a general guideline to come up with stuff on the fly, but I do intend to go through the list and manually assign task ratings eventually.
    Okay.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    2) That's basically it. You can still buy skill tricks (which as mentioned I'd like to revamp, at the very least need to provide a guideline for how rank prereqs translate to rating prereqs) with skill points as well. If what you meant is do the ranks provide any bonuses besides the stuff you are capable of accomplishing, ideally I'd like some other bonuses to be associated with rank (as mentioned things like high athletics letting you run faster) but I'm not entirely sure how feasible that is for all skills.
    Why not have it so that you don't have to spend points to gain skill tricks, but automatically gain them based on the number of ranks invested in a particular skill (this is very badly worded):

    Let's go back to that previously mentioned Rogue. Let's say he invests 3 skill ranks into Stealth, getting him Journeyman rank. He gains 1 skill trick that is associated with the Stealth skill automatically (from the number of skill ranks invested in the skill divided by two, rounded down; you could change the two for any number, really, but the current way it works is 2 SP for a skill trick, so that is the number I used), and the Stealth skill would have some number of skill tricks associated with it; the rogue would choose one. As he levels up, and invests more and more into those skills, he would get more and more skill tricks. This would almost certainly have to have a number higher than two skill points, but it would be really interesting/cool. For instance, if it were 3 skill points, the Rogue could invest 6 Skill Ranks into Stealth and gain two skill tricks at 6th level, along with the other skill he has chosen.

    I feel like the number of skill tricks a character would know would get really big, no matter the number, especially if the character is a Rogue with a high skill point number. Maybe they only get a few uses of their skill tricks, and have to share those uses among all of the skill tricks per encounter? Like, Intelligence modifier times per encounter, the Character can have a single use of one of their skill tricks?

    Maybe that is overpowered, just an idle idea.
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    I first recommendation would be that, rather than calling them Skills and Knowledge Skills, to just use the term Skills and Knowledges. Thus, Skill Points and Knowledge Points. It'll probably save some confusion in the future.

    Second, you mention that you never get to a point where you auto-succeed everything, although with Superhuman rank certainly seems like you'll auto-succeed everything. I'm not sure if this system helps the "either auto-pass or auto-fail" problems the currect 3.5e system has in regards to skills.

    What happens when two characters make opposed skill checks, such as Stealth vs Perception? Does the one with the higher rank auto-win, every time? Do they both roll d20 and compare, with the standard DC 12/20 difficult determining if one character fails?

    Why are Identify and Spellcraft "Active Skills" as opposed to Knowledges?
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Since this is general, how does it work with 4e since you need skill points to increase ranks?
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Quote Originally Posted by unosarta
    Why not have it so that you don't have to spend points to gain skill tricks, but automatically gain them based on the number of ranks invested in a particular skill (this is very badly worded):

    Let's go back to that previously mentioned Rogue. Let's say he invests 3 skill ranks into Stealth, getting him Journeyman rank. He gains 1 skill trick that is associated with the Stealth skill automatically (from the number of skill ranks invested in the skill divided by two, rounded down; you could change the two for any number, really, but the current way it works is 2 SP for a skill trick, so that is the number I used), and the Stealth skill would have some number of skill tricks associated with it; the rogue would choose one. As he levels up, and invests more and more into those skills, he would get more and more skill tricks. This would almost certainly have to have a number higher than two skill points, but it would be really interesting/cool. For instance, if it were 3 skill points, the Rogue could invest 6 Skill Ranks into Stealth and gain two skill tricks at 6th level, along with the other skill he has chosen.

    I feel like the number of skill tricks a character would know would get really big, no matter the number, especially if the character is a Rogue with a high skill point number. Maybe they only get a few uses of their skill tricks, and have to share those uses among all of the skill tricks per encounter? Like, Intelligence modifier times per encounter, the Character can have a single use of one of their skill tricks?

    Maybe that is overpowered, just an idle idea.
    I'll think on it. My thought was that you should have something else to spend skill points on besides just boosting more different skills. If you want all of your skills focused on Diplomancy, between Influence, Deception, and skill tricks for both, you should be able to spend most of your skill points on that.

    But I could see getting skill tricks as you gain skill ranks, and being able to invest extra for more skill tricks.

    Quote Originally Posted by erikun View Post
    I first recommendation would be that, rather than calling them Skills and Knowledge Skills, to just use the term Skills and Knowledges. Thus, Skill Points and Knowledge Points. It'll probably save some confusion in the future.
    Consider it done. I wasn't actually sure what to call them, so I borrowed Shadowrun Terminology instead.

    Second, you mention that you never get to a point where you auto-succeed everything, although with Superhuman rank certainly seems like you'll auto-succeed everything. I'm not sure if this system helps the "either auto-pass or auto-fail" problems the currect 3.5e system has in regards to skills.
    At S rank you still have to roll against S rank challenges. You will never realistically auto pass an S rank challenge (though I suppose you could if you had a +24 modifier in the linked attribute).

    Yes, many challenges will be auto pass or auto fail, but challenges that are appropriate for your skill level should have some degree of risk.

    What happens when two characters make opposed skill checks, such as Stealth vs Perception? Does the one with the higher rank auto-win, every time? Do they both roll d20 and compare, with the standard DC 12/20 difficult determining if one character fails?
    I was thinking yes, auto win every time. But now that you point it out, if they are only one rank apart, then you could roll vs the appropriate DC and see who wins by more.

    Why are Identify and Spellcraft "Active Skills" as opposed to Knowledges?
    Good question. I was thinking Spellcraft as a normal skill because of its use as Concentration. But I suppose both would work fine as knowledge skills.
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    One possibility is that putting points into a skill that don't directly cause a skill rank increase instead gets you a skill trick. For example, at 4th level a rogue puts a 4th skill point in to Stealth. This does not increase the rank in Stealth, but it does make available, say, a skill trick to hide as a swift action instead of a move action, or something like that.

    This does mean that skill tricks will not happen until level 4ish, which could be an issue. It does mean that saving up for the next rank hurts a little less, and gives an answer to "how do I get better than S at a skill?" It also reduces the glut of skill tricks somewhat, as the average S ranked skill will have 3 skill tricks. Rogues can have 8 skills S ranked at level 8, so they have 24 skill tricks. This is a lot of options, but options are good. Use the action economy to make them expensive, and also to give rogues and other people things to do with their swift actions.

    This is pretty similar to unsorta's idea.

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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Quote Originally Posted by The Underlord View Post
    Since this is general, how does it work with 4e since you need skill points to increase ranks?
    The idea was more that this system would supplant the existsing skill system in either game, which would involve introducing points to 4e.

    I suppose I could provide a table giving the level where skills increase as trained or untrained skills though, so it would fit better with 4e (something like a trained skill is D rank at level 1, C rank at 5, B rank at 12, A rank at 20, and S rank at 28, and untrained skills rank up half as often, so D at 8, C at 15, B at 28) , but it would be pretty clunky.
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Quote Originally Posted by Glimbur View Post
    One possibility is that putting points into a skill that don't directly cause a skill rank increase instead gets you a skill trick. For example, at 4th level a rogue puts a 4th skill point in to Stealth. This does not increase the rank in Stealth, but it does make available, say, a skill trick to hide as a swift action instead of a move action, or something like that.

    This does mean that skill tricks will not happen until level 4ish, which could be an issue. It does mean that saving up for the next rank hurts a little less, and gives an answer to "how do I get better than S at a skill?" It also reduces the glut of skill tricks somewhat, as the average S ranked skill will have 3 skill tricks. Rogues can have 8 skills S ranked at level 8, so they have 24 skill tricks. This is a lot of options, but options are good. Use the action economy to make them expensive, and also to give rogues and other people things to do with their swift actions.

    This is pretty similar to unsorta's idea.
    That isn't really how S rank works. You have to pay the number of skill points just to get past your first rank. So, for instance:

    {table=head]Rank|Total Skill Ranks
    D
    |1 Rank
    C
    |3 Ranks
    B
    |6 Ranks
    A
    |11 Ranks
    S
    |19 Ranks[/table]

    This is the total Skill Ranks needed to be invested for each actual rank.
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Quote Originally Posted by unosarta View Post
    That isn't really how S rank works. You have to pay the number of skill points just to get past your first rank. So, for instance:

    {table=head]Rank|Total Skill Ranks
    D
    |1 Rank
    C
    |3 Ranks
    B
    |6 Ranks
    A
    |11 Ranks
    S
    |19 Ranks[/table]

    This is the total Skill Ranks needed to be invested for each actual rank.
    Ah. That makes more sense, 4th level characters shouldn't really be near-legendary anyway. Then my system would lead to an overabundance of skill tricks.

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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Wow. Simply wow.

    I'm going to steel this for my little homebrew system I'm working on... in a slightly modified form, of course.

    In one fell swoop, you helped me with my issues with the BAB equivalent and the magic equivalent.

    Thanks again.

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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    It looks pretty interesting. I've got a question though; does the usual 3.5 restriction that you can't have more skill points invested in a skill than level + 3 still apply? Or can you pump a skill up as much as you like?
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Quote Originally Posted by Curious View Post
    It looks pretty interesting. I've got a question though; does the usual 3.5 restriction that you can't have more skill points invested in a skill than level + 3 still apply? Or can you pump a skill up as much as you like?
    I'm on the fence about it. As it is written right now, no restriction applies. So you could technically have a rogue who is S class in a skill by level 3 if he dumps all his skillpoints into that skill and nothing else (not something I'd imagine most rogues would be inclined towards doing).

    I am thinking that the ranks themselves could be more meaningful if the old limit remained in place though. So at S class you can actually give level 19-20 abilities without worrying about unbalancing the rest of the game.
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    I'm on the fence about it. As it is written right now, no restriction applies. So you could technically have a rogue who is S class in a skill by level 3 if he dumps all his skillpoints into that skill and nothing else (not something I'd imagine most rogues would be inclined towards doing).

    I am thinking that the ranks themselves could be more meaningful if the old limit remained in place though. So at S class you can actually give level 19-20 abilities without worrying about unbalancing the rest of the game.
    That sounds good. Making skills more valuable, and able to really scale with level compared with spells, would actually make the skill monkey role valuable. Maybe just slap a restriction on how high your level in skills can go, such as-

    1-3: C
    4-8: B
    9-14: A
    15-20: S
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    That sounds good. Making skills more valuable, and able to really scale with level compared with spells, would actually make the skill monkey role valuable. Maybe just slap a restriction on how high your level in skills can go, such as-

    1-3: C
    4-8: B
    9-14: A
    15-20: S
    Maybe. Easiest way to describe it would be allow max ranks invested in a skill equal to level + 2. So you could start with C rank in a skill by investing 3 ranks. You'd hit B rank by level 4, A rank by level 9, and S rank at level 17.



    Random thought:

    Skill Focus
    Prerequisite: At least C rank in one skill.
    Benefit: Choose one skill you have at least a C rank in. You gain a +3 bonus to rolls involving this skill. Additionally, you may attempt a check against a challenge 2 ranks above your current skill rank, with a DC of 25. Gain 1 extra Skill Trick that requires the chosen skill.
    Special: This feat may be taken multiple times, its effects do not stack. Each time you take this feat, you choose another skill you have at least C rank in, and gain the benefits with that skill as well.



    Given the range in DCs are now much smaller, that +3 bonus is actually worthwhile (equivalent to getting +12 in the linked attribute), and being able to attempt higher level challenges could be useful for the first half of the game. The extra skill trick makes sure it's still useful at higher levels.
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    I like the concept but it also hurts people on the other end of the skill point spectrum, namely the 2 skill point/level characters, as they are even more infantile at skills here than they are normally, since Int bonus is applied to Knowledges and not Skills. The easiest solution is something I advocate for classes normally anyways, boosting everybody to a minimum of 4 skill points per level.

    My other thoughts is wondering whether class vs. cross-class will be preserved in any way and how bonus skill points from races and feats will come into the system. For the first, applying the PF concept of allowing anybody to take any skill but provide a bonus on class skills could work or, something that's more meaningful to this system, giving a bonus skill trick for class skills. For the second, Humans and Nymph's Kiss, that doesn't seem to adversely affect the progression for boosting Skill point boost. Open Minded I'm kinda on the fence about whether it's too much or not.

    Them's my 2 coppers. Take as you will.
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    Default Re: [D&D General]Alternate Skill System-Concept Check

    Quote Originally Posted by Cieyrin View Post
    I like the concept but it also hurts people on the other end of the skill point spectrum, namely the 2 skill point/level characters, as they are even more infantile at skills here than they are normally, since Int bonus is applied to Knowledges and not Skills. The easiest solution is something I advocate for classes normally anyways, boosting everybody to a minimum of 4 skill points per level.

    My other thoughts is wondering whether class vs. cross-class will be preserved in any way and how bonus skill points from races and feats will come into the system. For the first, applying the PF concept of allowing anybody to take any skill but provide a bonus on class skills could work or, something that's more meaningful to this system, giving a bonus skill trick for class skills. For the second, Humans and Nymph's Kiss, that doesn't seem to adversely affect the progression for boosting Skill point boost. Open Minded I'm kinda on the fence about whether it's too much or not.

    Them's my 2 coppers. Take as you will.
    I edited the OP to include a limit in how many ranks you can put into a skill, and how having a class skill vs non-class skill effects you (class skills may have 2 more ranks invested).

    As for skill points per level, I agree having only 2 is a pretty major drawback, but considering you have 2 per level out of half as many skills, and get some knowledge skills as well, someone with 2 isn't totally gimped. I do think Fighters, Paladins and other martial classes with only 2 skillpoints should have 4 instead, but it isn't something that necessarily needs to be addressed within this system, but instead with individual class fixes.
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