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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    I've been tinkering with the skill list for a while, and it seems like I've hit a wall. I want to combine acrobatics and athletics, but am having a rough time creating a clear outline what this skill represents. Most of the time I feel like you could get away with just Dexterity or Strength ability checks :/

    I use skills in the RAW (I think) sense, in that I only ever prompt ability checks and the player then gets to make a case for his specific trained skill for applying in order to apply his proficiency bonus. I have another skill that could just as well be an ability check, but I found a way to explain it's use, since I want non-int characters to be given a chance to make these checks:


    Knowledge
    When adding knowledge to your intelligence check you are essentially rolling for “has my character spent time studying this subject, and can I apply it to this scenario”.

    Can I gain this person’s favor by reciting his favourite poem from memory?
    Can I make sense of what they’re saying, although they are speaking a different dialect?
    Can I recall any information about wererats, such as iconic traits or weaknesses?
    Does my character know if this berry is safe to eat?
    Have I seen these strange markings anywhere before?

    I am having trouble creating the same kind of generic outline for Athletics/Acrobatics without it just being "When you make a strength or dexterity ability check, you can add your proficiency bonus to the roll".

    How do your players back up their uses of the Athetics/Acrobatics skill? What do they say to 'convince' you to allowed them to add their proficiency bonus to the roll?

    This is what I have been working with, but I feel like I could just as well ignore the skill entirely,, based on how incredibly generic it is. Is there perhaps nothing wrong with players paying one proficiency in order to increase ALL their Strength and mobility-related dexterity checks?

    Athletics
    This skill represents your character’s skill and overall ability to perform physical activities, whether they are feats of strength or full-body actions.

    Can I easily manipulate this heavy rock, since I used to train with rocks as a child?
    Can I perform an athletic feat, such as acrobatics, 15-feet jump, backflip or a sport, because it is a part of my character’s background?
    Can I move through a space occupied by a hostile creature?
    Can I vault past a hostile creature to avoid provoking an opportunity attack?
    Can I ignore an environmental effect that would limit my movement speed because I am Tarzan?
    Last edited by Bjarkmundur; 2019-08-15 at 03:19 AM.

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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I've been tinkering with the skill list for a while, and it seems like I've hit a wall. I want to combine acrobatics and athletics, but am having a rough time creating a clear outline what this skill represents. Most of the time I feel like you could get away with just Dexterity or Strength ability checks :/

    I use skills in the RAW (I think) sense, in that I only ever prompt ability checks and the player then gets to make a case for his specific trained skill for applying in order to apply his proficiency bonus. I have another skill that could just as well be an ability check, but I found a way to explain it's use, since I want non-int characters to be given a chance to make these checks:

    Knowledge
    When adding knowledge to your intelligence check you are essentially rolling for “has my character spent time studying this subject, and can I apply it to this scenario”.

    Can I gain this person’s favor by reciting his favourite poem from memory?
    Can I make sense of what they’re saying, although they are speaking a different dialect?
    Can I recall any information about wererats, such as iconic traits or weaknesses?
    Does my character know if this berry is safe to eat?
    Have I seen these strange markings anywhere before?

    I am having trouble creating the same kind of generic outline for Athletics/Acrobatics without it just being "When you make a strength or dexterity ability check, you can add your proficiency bonus to the roll".

    How do your players back up their uses of the Athetics/Acrobatics skill? What do they say to 'convince' you to allowed them to add their proficiency bonus to the roll?

    This is what I have been working with, but I feel like I could just as well ignore the skill entirely,, based on how incredibly generic it is. Is there perhaps nothing wrong with players paying one proficiency in order to increase ALL their Strength and mobility-related dexterity checks?

    Athletics
    This skill represents your character’s skill and overall ability to perform physical activities, whether they are feats of strength or full-body actions.

    Can I easily manipulate this heavy rock, since I used to train with rocks as a child?
    Can I perform an athletic feat, such as acrobatics, 15-feet jump, backflip or a sport, because it is a part of my character’s background?
    Can I move through a space occupied by a hostile creature?
    Can I vault past a hostile creature to avoid provoking an opportunity attack?
    Can I ignore an environmental effect that would limit my movement speed because I am Tarzan?
    Generally speaking, you as DM can also call for specific skills when PCs make an ability check; it's not just on the players to try to convince you:
    Quote Originally Posted by PHB/SRD
    Sometimes, the GM might ask for an ability check using a specific skill - for example, "Make a Wisdom (Perception) check."
    In addition, many published modules explicitly refer to specific skill proficiencies in pre-set checks to cover the most commonly-expected PC behaviours, such as searching a room. When the players say they're doing those things, the proficiencies automatically apply. Since you as DM are relating the contents of the adventure to them, you are also calling for the proficiency to apply to the ability check, even if you're not doing it "on the fly".

    The PHB/SRD is also pretty clear, at least IMO, on what sort of checks Athletics and Acrobatics apply to:

    - Athletics: This proficiency applies to situations involving climbing, jumping, or swimming in which the normal, don't-need-a-check rules are insufficient, such as climbing a slippery surface, jumping a distance longer than you can normally manage, or swimming in treacherous conditions. It also applies to making or resisting grapple or shove attacks. Note that lifting and manipulating heavy objects are excluded from the Athletics guidelines: for instance, "tip over a statue" and "keep a boulder from rolling" are both given as examples of other Strength checks (i.e. Athletics is not applicable).

    - Acrobatics: This proficiency applies to making acrobatics stunts, resisting grapple or shove attacks, and staying on your feet in tricky conditions (such as balancing on a tightrope or trying to move at full speed across a sheet of ice).

    I don't care to check up on them just now, owing to a time limit, but if memory serves a few pieces of equipment, such as ball bearings, also interact with these proficiencies.

    Of the examples that you provided:
    - the heavy rock example would not, using the PHB/SRD guidelines, allow the use of a skill proficiency
    - you can already move freely through the space of a hostile creature two or more sizes larger or smaller than you, triggering opportunity attacks notwithstanding; the PHB/SRD doesn't explicitly allow for making a check to do the same for other creatures (although nothing's stopping you as DM from allowing such things)
    - the other examples would be covered by the normal Athletics and Acrobatics guidelines.
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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    Generally, if the proficiency applies, it applies automatically. The player might have to explain how two abilities work together (how they're using a survival check to know about things, for example), but the point of writing out skills is to tell you which ones let you add the proficiency bonus in the first place. So you might need to debate if the PC is making a Dexterity check or a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, but not whether to add the proficiency bonus to a Dexterity (Acrobatics Check).

    For knowledge, allowing you to tie a skill off a different ability score is one of the variants listed in the books.
    Quote Originally Posted by Xanathar's Guide, page 78
    The rules are purposely open ended concerning mundane tasks like typing knots...

    The creature who ties a knot makes an Intelligence (Slight of Hand) check when doing so. The Total of the check becomes the DC for an attempt to untie the knot with an Intelligence (Slight of Hand) check or to slip out of it with a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check.
    The book them goes on the specify the skill being Intelligence based is intentional, despite Sleight of Hand being typically tied to Dexterity.

    Strength (Intimidation) checks are also common, for a character is trying to threaten brute violence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I've been tinkering with the skill list for a while, and it seems like I've hit a wall. I want to combine acrobatics and athletics, but am having a rough time creating a clear outline what this skill represents. Most of the time I feel like you could get away with just Dexterity or Strength ability checks :/

    I use skills in the RAW (I think) sense, in that I only ever prompt ability checks and the player then gets to make a case for his specific trained skill for applying in order to apply his proficiency bonus. I have another skill that could just as well be an ability check, but I found a way to explain it's use, since I want non-int characters to be given a chance to make these checks:


    Knowledge
    When adding knowledge to your intelligence check you are essentially rolling for “has my character spent time studying this subject, and can I apply it to this scenario”.
    Arcana, History, Nature, and Religion are based on 3.5e's knowledge skill (which was actually multiple skills). They aren't necessarily tied to Intelligence either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Can I gain this person’s favor by reciting his favourite poem from memory?
    I'd allow a Charisma check using the appropriate knowledge skill (Arcana/History/Nature/Religion) in this case. I'd use an Intelligence (Persuasion) in the case of an argument made to a being that doesn't understand emotions, or if the player is attempting to structure their argument using formal logic. Lower Modrones, for example, aren't going to understand subtext or inflection, so Charisma isn't going to make sense to model trying to convince one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Can I make sense of what they’re saying, although they are speaking a different dialect?
    That's usually not a roll, based on how Primordial works.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Can I recall any information about wererats, such as iconic traits or weaknesses?
    Does my character know if this berry is safe to eat?
    Have I seen these strange markings anywhere before?
    I'd say these are Nature, Survival, and History respectively, each using their "main skill." A character trained to know about lycanthropes wouldn't necessarily know about the cult of Tiamat or recognize spells being cast. But if you've learned about lycanthropes, you probably learned this while studying the natural world, and are also more likely to know about animal habits, the climates of other lands, trade winds, and similar phenomena. That's why they weren't the same skill in 3.5e. All 5e has changed to broadened the knowledge skills and removed the word "knowledge" from their namea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I am having trouble creating the same kind of generic outline for Athletics/Acrobatics without it just being "When you make a strength or dexterity ability check, you can add your proficiency bonus to the roll".

    How do your players back up their uses of the Athetics/Acrobatics skill? What do they say to 'convince' you to allowed them to add their proficiency bonus to the roll?

    This is what I have been working with, but I feel like I could just as well ignore the skill entirely,, based on how incredibly generic it is. Is there perhaps nothing wrong with players paying one proficiency in order to increase ALL their Strength and mobility-related dexterity checks?[INDENT]
    Considering most players will either have high Strength or high Dex, that shouldn't be a serious issue.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    I address all these specific points in the skill overhaul in my houserule document (see sig)

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    Considering most players will either have high Strength or high Dex, that shouldn't be a serious issue.
    Alright. Then I'll go forward with the general idea that if an action requires technique, an athletics check applies. So everything except re-actively dodging or simply "being strong". That should be a good guideline, thank you for your help :)

    EDIT:

    Wait, wouldn't that mean my suggested uses don't work anymore?

    Can I easily manipulate this heavy rock?
    Can I perform an athletic feat, such as acrobatics, 15-feet jump, backflip or a sport?
    Can I move through a space occupied by a hostile creature?
    Can I vault past a hostile creature to avoid provoking an opportunity attack?
    Can I ignore an environmental effect that would limit my movement speed because I am Tarzan?

    I worked the skills backwards, you see. I wrote up all the things I wanted skills to be able to do, and then started dividing them between proficiencies. One of my design goals when redoing the skill mechanic was to allow a player to achieve his desired character identity not only through stat but also his proficiencies. This makes a lot more sense when you look at my skill list as a whole. A low int character could pick Knowledge and feel knowledgable, and a +0 strength character could feel athletics with just Athletics. Not to the same degree as a +5 Strength-Prodigy, but still competent enough for it to be relevant. A lot of the time I ask "are you proficient in X" and give successes just based on that, without ever resorting to a roll. This makes the character feel competent in whichever field he used his proficiency on. Despite your natural talent, years of training counts for something.

    Apart from all of that, I rarely ever use swimming, jumping, climbing or balancing checks. I've used them in modules and used them a lot in 4e. This time around I want it to be more player-sided, in a sense that I will rarely write into my campaign "roll athletics here". It'll be more as reactions to events or some action decided by the player.

    List of Skills

    • Athletics
    • Deduction
    • Knowledge
    • Investigation
    • Leadership
    • Medicine
    • Non-Expertise Skills
      • Alchemist Supplies
      • Smith’s Tools
      • Herbalism Kit
      • Poisoner’s Kit
      • Finesse Tools (WIP)

    • Stealth
    • Speechcraft
    • Spellcraft
    • Performance
    Last edited by Bjarkmundur; 2019-08-15 at 06:01 PM.

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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    After reading your skill description, it looks like you're trying to set up a background system like 13th Age has, rather than a traditional skill system.

    Here's how that system handles them:
    Quote Originally Posted by 13th age SRD
    Backgrounds represent pieces of your character’s history that contributes to your character’s history as well as their ability to succeed with non-combat skills.

    Each character has a number of points to allocate to a set of backgrounds. These are broad categories of experience (cat burglar, for example) rather than specific implementations of that experience (climbing and hiding).

    Backgrounds don’t sync to a specific ability score, though some backgrounds obviously may get used more often with certain ability scores than others.
    In this case, having the player ask if their background applies makes sense to me. Being a religious acolyte tells me what a player would be able to apply that bonus when making a check to see if they know something. They might then have to ask whether the region they studied would cover specific information. The cult of the moon goddess probably teaches about lycanthropes such as Wererats. The order worshiping the sun god probably doesn't.

    In default d&d, the same principle is handled by the multiple types on knowledge skills, which are listed as "Knowledge ([Type])," in 3e and 3.5e, while being listed as "Arcana," "History," "Nature," and "Religion" in 5e. In 4e, they're actually spilt between Wisdom and Intelligence by default. So a character trained in "Religion" would add their proficiency bonus toward knowing things in the same cases a "Religious Acolyte" would in 13th Age. In the case of a follower of the moon goddess, a player could argue that I should treat knowing about wererats as a Religion check instead of a Nature check in the same manner. I'd be willing to flip the relevant skill in such a case. But the idea is that the DM can normally pick a relevant skill and relevant ability score up front (and the player only has to argue on either case applying when it makes a difference).

    Your system seems like a hybrid of the two, which is why I'm bringing up 13th Age. It may be easiest to switch over most of the way to that. So a PC with the "Sumo Wrestler" skill would apply their proficiency bonus in different cases than a PC with the "Ballet Dancer" skill despite both generally being covered under Athletics in your current system. This would make it easier to tell when proficiency applies, such as for different Strength (Athletics) and Dexterity (Athletics) Checks in your system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Can I easily manipulate this heavy rock?
    Can I perform an athletic feat, such as acrobatics, 15-feet jump, backflip or a sport?
    Can I move through a space occupied by a hostile creature?
    Can I vault past a hostile creature to avoid provoking an opportunity attack?
    Can I ignore an environmental effect that would limit my movement speed because I am Tarzan?
    Heavy rock I'd treat as "simply being strong." The athletic feats would be either strength based (ex: length of jump) or dexterity based (ex: backflip) but otherwise work the same. Jump height and length, avoiding opportunity attacks, and movement aren't based on skill checks for a reason, although I have been messing with limits on movement myself.

    Trying to land a tricky jump is Dexterity (Athletics) check by 5e RAW. Having the player ask when it applies, it would probably make more sense as coming from a skill involved with moving around (with Ballet Dancer applying but Sumo Wrestling not applying) vs. your current system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I worked the skills backwards, you see. I wrote up all the things I wanted skills to be able to do, and then started dividing them between proficiencies. One of my design goals when redoing the skill mechanic was to allow a player to achieve his desired character identity not only through stat but also his proficiencies. This makes a lot more sense when you look at my skill list as a whole. A low int character could pick Knowledge and feel knowledgable, and a +0 strength character could feel athletics with just Athletics. Not to the same degree as a +5 Strength-Prodigy, but still competent enough for it to be relevant. A lot of the time I ask "are you proficient in X" and give successes just based on that, without ever resorting to a roll. This makes the character feel competent in whichever field he used his proficiency on. Despite your natural talent, years of training counts for something.
    I can agree with allowing automatics success based on having proficiency in specific cases. I've most often seen the suggested for Knowledge skills, to represent that a character either knows something or doesn't.

    The rest of this feels overly limiting, and overly prescriptive as to how skills apply.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Apart from all of that, I rarely ever use swimming, jumping, climbing or balancing checks. I've used them in modules and used them a lot in 4e. This time around I want it to be more player-sided, in a sense that I will rarely write into my campaign "roll athletics here". It'll be more as reactions to events or some action decided by the player.
    Swimming and Jumping checks have been dropped in 5e, simply having speeds for each. I've assumed balancing was rolled into acrobatics and transfers accordingly.

    I don't think "roll athletics here," should be written into the campaign, but should be written into the rules. So a particular type of action (stealing, tying fancy knots, or otherwise making deft hand movements is one skill type) and applies a skill independently (stealing on the player's ability to be quick, tying knots on their knowledge of ropework). Hence both d&d's and 13th age's two tier systems. Yours looks like a tier-and-a-half system, where ability scores apply, but I can't quite tell when.

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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    This is an interesting confusion, and I'd love to clear it up.

    An ability check tests a character’s or monster’s innate talent and Training in an effort to overcome a Challenge. The GM calls for an ability check when a character or monster attempts an action (other than an attack) that has a chance of failure. When the outcome is uncertain, the dice determine the results. source
    The core rules say that a DM usually asks for a Ability+Skill combo, while I prefer to only ask for an ability, and let the player get creative with how his skill applies.

    Based on the approach the player is using, the GM determines which Ability governs the action. The GM also determines an appropriate Difficulty Class for the action. The GM – possibly with help from the player – determines whether the character has a relevant Proficiency. The GM also determines any circumstantial Modifiers. Modifiers can include a static bonus or penalty or the roll can be made with Advantage or Disadvantage. source
    This is all fine and dandy, but it's where proficiency bonuses apply where I take a different turn, away from the rules as written:

    Essentially, the idea is that a player’s job is tell you WHAT they want to accomplish and HOW they want to accomplish it. When a player says, “I want to pick the lock,” what they are saying is “I want to open the door BY picking the lock.” Because that’s different from saying “I smash down the door,” which is saying “I want to open the door BY breaking it down.” The OUTCOME is the same: the door is open. But the APPROACH is different: how they get the door open.
    According to the Player’s Handbook, skills represent specializations of various abilities. Athletics, for example, is a subcategory of Strength. It’s a particular application (PHB 174). That is a ridiculous interpretation and it is, frankly, a massive problem (...) .


    The PHB goes on to present a Variant rule called Skills with Different Abilities. Under that system, the GM can occasionally, in super rare and extra special cases not well defined, decide to connect a skill with a different ability.


    There is a GREAT benefit to divorcing skills and ability scores. It allows people to play to their strengths and apply their skills more creatively and it creates more options for engaging with situations. This is especially useful in social situations, where the skills are poorly defined and only characters who specialize in Charisma will ever have any options in social interaction. It allows an Intelligent character a chance to persuade with reason rather than personality or to deceive with complex verbal puzzles and doublespeak rather than personality. It also fixes some of the weirder assignments of skills to ability scores. Animal Handling, for example, could easily be under Charisma instead of Wisdom. Some applications of Athletics would certainly fit Constitution, as do some applications of Survival.


    My Core Mechanic explicitly divorces Skills from Abilities and explicitly tells the GM not to think along those lines. Moreover, it also explicitly divorces the skill from the outcome. And some skills are very explicitly tied to outcomes. And that makes some skills much narrower in focus than others. So, the GM must pick the Ability Score based on the Approach and then determine afterwards if any proficiencies for tools or skills are relevant.
    source
    I chose to paraphrase this with the following rules:

    Using Skills
    In 5e, skills come into play after the DM has asked a player for an ability check, either in response to player intent or an in-game event. When the DM asks you for an ability check, you get a chance to add your proficiency bonus to the check by explaining how applying one of your trained skills might increase your odds of succeeding.

    Player: Can I search the body for some valuables?
    DM: Sure, make an Intelligence check for me.
    Player: I am trained in investigation, can that help me look for hidden pockets other might miss?
    DM: Absolutely, you can add your proficiency bonus to the check.
    I have come up with a campaign-specific skill list, as discussed here, and then created guidelines on how these skills can be applied. My players don't speak english as their first language, so it's important to give examples on where a proficiency bonus can be applied to an ability check, in order for them to understand each skill's niche and how to get creative with it.

    I'm starting to despise the Athletics skill altogether, since it is very difficult to visualize it correctly. Each of my skills is clear in what it represents, and has some important mechanical benefit to it, in order to make every skill equally useful. I'm considering giving it up altogether, since I'm having a really hard time reaching a conclusion I'm happy with. This mostly stems from the fact that each ability score has several distinct definitions. Intelligence is for example logic, education, memory, or deductive reasoning. So it stands to reason to allow a player to specialize in one of these, divided into Deduction, Investigation and Knowledge.
    Strength is described as "bodily power, athletic training, and the extent to which you can exert raw physical force." and the athletics skill only representing a small portion of possible uses of that ability "Your Strength (Athletics) check covers difficult situations you encounter while climbing, jumping, or swimming" source

    (So swimming isn't a skill, but swimming while something is trying to pull you down is?)

    For this reason, that the RAW athletics skill is fairly limited, I thought it would make perfect sense to pair it with some of the uses of Dexterity, which are also described as active physical actions: A Dexterity check can model any attempt to move nimbly, quickly, or quietly, or to keep from falling on tricky footing.

    These uses are still so similar that breaking it down into skills either makes them super all-encompassing or super-specific. I could break down the full-body movements into many skills, like previous editions did:
    Jumping
    Swimming
    Climbing
    Balancing
    Tumble
    Sneak
    Athletics (one sport of your choice)


    But then each skill is far to specific, and falls behind other skills on my skill list in usefulness. Maybe I can use 'Movement' as a skill instead. That breaks it away from a lot of the 'generic' uses of the skill, while still being clear and descriptive.
    Mobility
    This skill represents your character’s ability to maneuver his body in various difficult situations.

    Can I move through a space occupied by a hostile creature?
    Can I vault past a hostile creature to avoid provoking an opportunity attack?
    Can I ignore an environmental effect that would limit my movement speed?
    Can I climb, swim, jump or balance in sub-optimal conditions?

    This still makes a clear distinction between dexterity and agility, avoids Dexterity saving throws sounding too similar to Acrobatics and clarifies that physical force is Strength and not Athletics. Note that this doesn't affect shoving or grappling, since those are contested rolls.

    I could also call it "Stunt" to emphasize how it is the ability to perform where the consequences are dire. This is an important distinction, since each creature has a jump distance based on its Strength score, in addition to a specific swimg and climb speed. Including it as a skill that governs movement seems right to me, but which word to you think describes its use best?

    For a fantastic roleplaying game, I think Stunt is best, since that's what we see all over the place. I'd say legolas pulled a stunt by climbing that olliphant. I wouldn't say he mobilized on top of it xD
    Last edited by Bjarkmundur; 2019-08-17 at 06:15 AM.

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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    IMO you're overthinking the use of the word Athletics. IMO, the term 'Athletics' more aptly covers the kinds of physical things that you want to have represented by a skill over and above an ability check than do 'Mobility' or 'Stunt'. Acrobatics as a sport, for instance, is a kind of athletics, and the quality of being acrobatic (e.g. able to perform various techniques of tumbling, rolling, etc.) qualifies as a kind of athleticism, generally speaking, so the Acrobatics skill folds nicely into the Athletics skill, conceptually.

    In keeping with your wish to have the skills be more broadly applicable, instead of inherently tied to a single ability score, an Athletics skill could key off of any of Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. (For instance, the DMG in the guidelines for using proficiencies on pg. 239, mentions using Constitution instead of Strength when using Athletics.)

    Athletes manipulate their bodies with specific techniques that they have trained to master in order to exceed the capabilities of the untrained. As far as a skill goes in D&D 5e, the level of specialisation modern athletes have is inappropriate: an adventurer doesn't need to run a 10-second 100-metre sprint (and probably couldn't, with all the weight they're usually carrying), but there are benefits to achieving a certain level of athleticism over and above the baseline for their species (that is, picking up the appropriate skill proficiency).

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    - Normal climbing requires only spending 2 feet of movement per foot traversed, while an ability check would be required to, say, move faster, or to stay on a vertical surface you're climbing that's icy, or when someone (or something) is trying to shake you off or attack you. Someone with extra training or experience at manipulating their body (i.e. proficiency) could make an Athletics skill check (possibly justifying either Strength or Dexterity) to accomplish either task. "Climb an oliphaunt" might qualify as a "stunt", but it's a stretch of the word to say that "climbing a treacherous surface" is - but both are examples of athleticism.

    - Normal swimming requires only spending 2 feet of movement per foot traversed. An ability check would be called for to try to swim faster than that, to stay afloat in stormy conditions, or to swim for very long periods (for instance, as per the example used in the DMG to substitute Constitution for Strength). Someone with extra training or experience (i.e. proficiency) could justify making an Athletics skill check to accomplish any of those tasks.

    - The PHB defines normal upper limits of either high or long jumping. An ability check would be called for to exceed those limits, or to accomplish some sort of stunt while jumping (such as grabbing onto a chandelier and swinging across a room). Someone with extra training and experience (i.e. proficiency) could justify making an Athletics skill check to accomplish such things.

    - The PHB defines maximum carrying and dragging/pulling/lifting capacities (15 and 30 times your Strength score, respectively). If you wanted to, you could allow someone to make an ability check to try to exceed those limits (hold back a massive rolling boulder for a few seconds, for instance), or to throw something very heavy. Someone with extra training and experience (i.e. proficiency) could justify making an Athletics skill check to accomplish such things.

    - The PHB combat rules do not currently allow you to move through a space occupied by a hostile creature that is your size or no more than one size smaller or larger than you. If you wanted to, you could allow someone to make an ability check to try to do so anyway. Someone with extra training or experience (i.e. proficiency) could justify making an Athletics skill check to accomplish such an acrobatic stunt.

    - Moving through difficult terrain usually requires spending 2 feet of movement per foot traversed. Depending on the nature of the terrain, you could call for an ability check to try to parkour or tumble through the terrain in order to move through it normally. Someone with extra training or experience (i.e. proficiency) could justify making an Athletics skill check to accomplish such an acrobatic stunt.

    - Running at high speeds over very long distances is not really covered in the PHB rules, but I could certainly see it requiring a check, and I could certainly see justifying benefiting from a proficiency.

    - Someone with training or experience in general athleticism (i.e. Athletics proficiency) would have an advantage over others when trying to either lock down enemies with wrestling techniques (grappling) or trip/push them over (shoving) - or resisting enemies who try to do the same to them.
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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    The core rules say that a DM usually asks for a Ability+Skill combo, while I prefer to only ask for an ability, and let the player get creative with how his skill applies.
    The core rules say the DM asks for an action, and then assigns an Ability + Skill combo to the action the player chose. From your linked source:

    Quote Originally Posted by [URL=Tweaking the Core of D&D 5E
    Essentially, the idea is that a player’s job is tell you WHAT they want to accomplish and HOW they want to accomplish it. When a player says, “I want to pick the lock,” what they are saying is “I want to open the door BY picking the lock.” Simple, right? But important. Because that’s different from saying “I smash down the door,” which is saying “I want to open the door BY breaking it down.” But it also isn’t. The OUTCOME is the same: the door is open. But the APPROACH is different: how they get the door open.
    Based your example (directly below), you're adding an additional step to determine the player's relevant skill, but I don't see what it adds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Using Skills
    In 5e, skills come into play after the DM has asked a player for an ability check, either in response to player intent or an in-game event. When the DM asks you for an ability check, you get a chance to add your proficiency bonus to the check by explaining how applying one of your trained skills might increase your odds of succeeding.

    Player: Can I search the body for some valuables?
    DM: Sure, make an Intelligence check for me.
    Player: I am trained in investigation, can that help me look for hidden pockets other might miss?
    DM: Absolutely, you can add your proficiency bonus to the check.
    This might work better if you used a less obvious example here. I'm familiar with when Investigation applies to Intelligence checks.

    For contrast, if I'm making the player pat someone down to look for hidden pockets, I'd probably make it a Dexterity (Investigation) check, as it combines their ability to recognize which parts of the other person's clothing to feel around in for a secret pocket. Note that because they don't know what they're moving their hands to do I wouldn't use an Intelligence (Slight of Hand) check.

    I will, however, admit I use a much larger variety of nonstandard checks, rather than making then rare the way Angry GM describes. In addition to helping the players be creative, it disincentivizes automatically choosing the skills tied to your highest ability score.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I have come up with a campaign-specific skill list, as discussed here, and then created guidelines on how these skills can be applied. My players don't speak english as their first language, so it's important to give examples on where a proficiency bonus can be applied to an ability check, in order for them to understand each skill's niche and how to get creative with it.
    I think this is the issue I'm having.

    Knowledge, Leadership, and Speechcraft are, I think, the worst offenders. Based on the description, Speechcraft applies to attempts to calm, convince, and trick, while Leadership applies to attempts to calm, convince, trick, and scare. And I've harped on knowledge a lot.

    I don't see when "Knowledge" would apply. If a Character is proficient in "History," I can say the bonus applies to heraldry but not marine life. The same goes for a "Knight;" bonus against heraldry but not to marine life. Meanwhile proficiency in "Nature" or as a "Sailor," would know about marine life, but not heraldry.

    It's also an issue in the other direction. Someone trained in "History" is likely to know not only about heraldry, but also old nations, major battles, and political actions. A "Knight" meanwhile, would be have a bonus to recognizing heraldry, knowing proper codes of conduct, political maneuvering, and ransom negotiations. I don't think your skills are specific enough to tell me about what they'de give bonuses to.

    Similarly, to the above, if remembering "Intimidation," "Deception," and "Persuasion," is a language issue, it might be easier to call them "Scare," "Trick," and Convince," respectively. A "Trader," might know how to convince, but not scare, acting in the same manner

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Strength is described as "bodily power, athletic training, and the extent to which you can exert raw physical force." and the athletics skill only representing a small portion of possible uses of that ability "Your Strength (Athletics) check covers difficult situations you encounter while climbing, jumping, or swimming" source

    (So swimming isn't a skill, but swimming while something is trying to pull you down is?)
    This works the same way walking does. Walking is a best a passive skill, but walking over something extremely narrow or leaping over something can fail. Similarly, swimming is at best passive, but fighting a current would require some skill. Climbing is passive, but you would have to put in effort to resist being knocked off.

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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    Why add an additional step?
    To teach my players to use their skills lists on their own prerogative. The skill list a tool for them to use, and I find this method to be the fastest to not only to teach a player how to use the tools at his disposal, but help him connect with his character. By increasing the number of instances he has to mine his own skill list for solutions he's more often forced to think "how would my character approach this situation".

    Why encourage pairing best stat with best skill when it can become very stale very quickly?
    It doesn't break verisimilitude, since this is mostly how we do things in the real world. To a hammer, everything is a nail. I am however an avid use or non-applicable skill checks, so using your best combo isn't always an option. The way you approach a problem decides just as much about the results as if whether you succeed or fail. If however things were to become stale, I will again theorize a solution, and the consult my fellow forumites. I am not because I think, I am because I grow.

    Speechcraft and Leadership are ill-defined in your rules.
    I need to find a way to fix this. I tried using descriptive terms like "force of personality" and "silver-tongue" to describe the skills uses, respectively. One is manipulating a person while the other is coercing him/her. Maybe I should use those two words instead. I am however unsure if my players know what coercion means without having to look it up, which kinda defeats the purpose of renaming those skills. I don't like intimidate due to the message it sends to a player, and deception doesn't imply things like simply being charming or articulate. Like I talk about more in the next question, these names are campaign-specific, implying to my player their intended uses. One is for choosing the exact right combination of words to get what the player wants, while the other one is simply overpowering the subject with your personality, causing him to be subservient, but not so aggressively it becomes full-on intimidation.

    Thanks to you I updated the definitions of both those skills in my google document (see sig). So thank you, and hopefully your reply will help me make these definitions even clearer:

    Leadership
    Your ability to command and coerce. It’s not so much what you say, but how you say it. Whether that means through inspiration, relatability, force of personality or intimidation is up to you.

    Speechcraft
    Speechraft revolves around choosing the exact combination of words needed to reach your desired end-point. Whether that means being manipulative, charming or simply very articulate is up to you.


    Knowledge is too broad a term, and it makes no sense having all knowledge grouped under one skill.
    That's the thing, the players can only know as much about the world as I know. I want my players to know about the world I'm trying to bring to life. Why make up a detail if it goes forever undiscovered. I use a lot of automatic successes for knowledge checks based on character backstory, such as your knight and sailor examples. The original reason for combining the knowledge skills was simply to lessen the load on the 'scholar' archetype, and having him need fewer skills to feel competent. With most characters only having 5 or so skills, dumping all 5 proficiencies into different knowledge skills makes for a very one-dimensional field of profession. I want to encourage a more generalist attitude, where each player has multiple different skillsets to offer to the party. In addition to all this, my list is campaign specific. If I were to design my campaign in such a way that made etiquette a game-changer, I would alter the skill list for that campaign. Like in my other post where I used the examples of a political campaign where the PCs serve as ambassadors, I would rename some skills 'blackmail' or 'negotiate' simply to be more align with that skills RELEVANT uses in that campaign. Because the world i'm currently playing does not dive deep into the story of the world or many different sceneries, a more complicated knowledge skill is not needed. All we need is a check that answers the question "did I ever spend time learning this subject to the extent of knowing the answer to my question" It is a knowledge check after all. That is, checking if your character has the appropriate knowledge applicable to a specific situation. Ok that's not how I see it, I just enjoy the wordplay ^^

    If I then learn that this might not be the best way to treat knowledge checks, I will revise my opinion.

    I couldn't mine your last comment for a question, but this text is in bold, so let's just roll with it.
    So you agree with me that both athletics and acrobatics mainly cover overcoming difficulties while trying to move from one point to another?



    I'm really enjoying this thread. Thanks for being creating such an engaging discussion :)
    Last edited by Bjarkmundur; 2019-08-18 at 05:57 PM.

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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Why add an additional step?
    To teach my players to use their skills lists on their own prerogative. The skill list a tool for them to use, and I find this method to be the fastest to not only to teach a player how to use the tools at his disposal, but help him connect with his character. By increasing the number of instances he has to mine his own skill list for solutions he's more often forced to think "how would my character approach this situation".
    Let me try the following to see if I understand:

    A PC wants to search a body for valuables. Lat's say an orc's body, as that's more concrete. I'm assuming that the relevant skill (of yours) would change with each of the following player questions:

    Can I guess where an orc would keeps it's valuables?
    Can I pat it down looking for secret compartments?
    Can I just tear up the cloth and see if I find anything?

    I'm assuming these would be an Intelligence (Deduction), Intelligence (Investigation), and Intelligence (Athletics) check respectively. After all, in your version of the example you've already told the player "make an Intelligence check for me."

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Why encourage pairing best stat with best skill when it can become very stale very quickly?
    I'm not clear where you got this question. I think I was referring back to one of your statements at the start of this thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I use skills in the RAW (I think) sense, in that I only ever prompt ability checks and the player then gets to make a case for his specific trained skill for applying in order to apply his proficiency bonus. I have another skill that could just as well be an ability check, but I found a way to explain it's use, since I want non-int characters to be given a chance to make these checks:
    My goal was to stop my players from refusing a specific skill because they assumed rolls using that skill would require them to add a -1 ability modifier every time. So a dumb rogue gets use out of being proficient in Investigation, and the off-putting wizard can get use out of being proficient in Persuasion.

    The hope (at least) is the following:
    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    I use a much larger variety of nonstandard checks, rather than making then rare the way Angry GM describes. In addition to helping the players be creative, it disincentivizes automatically choosing the skills tied to your highest ability score.
    (emphasis added)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I need to find a way to fix this. I tried using descriptive terms like "force of personality" and "silver-tongue" to describe the skills uses, respectively. One is manipulating a person while the other is coercing him/her. Maybe I should use those two words instead. I am however unsure if my players know what coercion means without having to look it up, which kinda defeats the purpose of renaming those skills. I don't like intimidate due to the message it sends to a player, and deception doesn't imply things like simply being charming or articulate. Like I talk about more in the next question, these names are campaign-specific, implying to my player their intended uses. One is for choosing the exact right combination of words to get what the player wants, while the other one is simply overpowering the subject with your personality, causing him to be subservient, but not so aggressively it becomes full-on intimidation.

    Thanks to you I updated the definitions of both those skills in my google document (see sig). So thank you, and hopefully your reply will help me make these definitions even clearer:

    Leadership
    Your ability to command and coerce. It’s not so much what you say, but how you say it. Whether that means through inspiration, relatability, force of personality or intimidation is up to you.

    Speechcraft
    Speechraft revolves around choosing the exact combination of words needed to reach your desired end-point. Whether that means being manipulative, charming or simply very articulate is up to you.
    Coersion is getting someone to do something when they know they don't want to. You could just say "I'll spill your secret," to get them to do what they want, and that would be covered by either "coersion," or "intimidation."

    Manipulation is getting someone to think they want to do what you want them to. By default, the books separates this by whether or not you have to give false information to manipulate them. "Simply being charming or articulate," I think is just Charisma.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    That's the thing, the players can only know as much about the world as I know. I want my players to know about the world I'm trying to bring to life. Why make up a detail if it goes forever undiscovered. I use a lot of automatic successes for knowledge checks based on character backstory, such as your knight and sailor examples. The original reason for combining the knowledge skills was simply to lessen the load on the 'scholar' archetype, and having him need fewer skills to feel competent. With most characters only having 5 or so skills, dumping all 5 proficiencies into different knowledge skills makes for a very one-dimensional field of profession. I want to encourage a more generalist attitude, where each player has multiple different skillsets to offer to the party. In addition to all this, my list is campaign specific. If I were to design my campaign in such a way that made etiquette a game-changer, I would alter the skill list for that campaign. Like in my other post where I used the examples of a political campaign where the PCs serve as ambassadors, I would rename some skills 'blackmail' or 'negotiate' simply to be more align with that skills RELEVANT uses in that campaign. Because the world i'm currently playing does not dive deep into the story of the world or many different sceneries, a more complicated knowledge skill is not needed. All we need is a check that answers the question "did I ever spend time learning this subject to the extent of knowing the answer to my question" It is a knowledge check after all. That is, checking if your character has the appropriate knowledge applicable to a specific situation. Ok that's not how I see it, I just enjoy the wordplay ^^
    There are things a character can do that they can just do (walk being the prime example). By this description, I would maybe call the skill "Research," and make checks to see if a character has or hasn't learned about a subject they may or may not know based on their background.

    So a scholar has proficiency in Research, which means they've spent a lot of time doing research and have studied techniques to perform higher quality and/or faster research. As opposed to proficiency in Knowledge, which means, what exactly? Particularly if the PC is treated as knowing things related to their background, I don't see what such a proficiency would add. It makes about as much sense to be as having proficiency in walking.

    Actually, I might try a Research skill myself, and reduce "Knowledge," to be an Intelligence check with the most relevant skill. That would separate "figuring things out," and "finding things in old books," into separate skills, and Research could also cover the duties of Gather Information/Streetwise from 3.5e and 4e. So an Intelligence (Research) check finds stuff in books, and a Charisma (Research) check finds things out from people. The key ability is different, but the underlying mechanism is about the same.

    Edit: On second though, there's stuff from Arcana, Nature, History, and Religion I can't find an alternative place for, so this could simply bring back Gather Information/Streetwise and clarify Investigation. The preceding paragraph is heavily edited to account for this.

    I'm not sure how the Knowledge domain's Blessings of Knowledge feature would need to be tweaked though. Perhaps a flat bonus to all Int checks made to know something?

    I couldn't mine your last comment for a question, but this text is in bold, so let's just roll with it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    So you agree with me that both athletics and acrobatics mainly cover overcoming difficulties while trying to move from one point to another?
    Basically, and under your system could be rolled into a single stat perfectly fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I'm really enjoying this thread. Thanks for being creating such an engaging discussion :)
    I'm enjoying this as well, as I feel I'm getting a better handle on the skill system.
    Last edited by sandmote; 2019-08-19 at 12:06 AM.

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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    I don't like the 'searching a corpse' question any more than you do, but I'll go with it for the sake of consistency.

    I wouldn't call it 'relevant skill', I just pick an ability. It's the player that suggests the use of a skill. I announce which ability applies after the character declares his intent. So for your examples I'd probably rule.
    - Can I guess where an orc would keeps it's valuables?
    - Yes, roll a wisdom check for me.
    - Can I pat it down looking for secret compartments?
    - Yes, roll an intelligence check for me.
    - Can I just tear up the cloth and see if I find anything?
    - Yeah, go nuts.

    The more I talk about it the more I realize maybe things aren't as black and white as I want them to be. For example, picking a lock can be done with dexterity, but it's pretty impossible without thieve's tools or lockpicks. This makes it weird to ask for a dexterity ability check when it's clearly a Dexterity (thieves' tools) check. I think Composer99 managed to articulate this pretty well, using his complexity rules. This is already stated under my "Some approaches automatically fail" clause, but he explains it so much better.

    As we discuss this topic, not in terms of RAW but in terms of what FEELS right, I'm leaning more and more towards ruling it on a case by case basis. Some request might have a specific ability+skill combo, others only a relevant ability, and even others might be able to accomplish with two different ability scores. I can definitely see myself asking for a skill check and completely forget to mention whether it should be strength or dexterity in some scenarios. I guess the general take-away is that no matter the mechanics or your intentions, everything just becomes guidelines when people are thrown into the mix in a improv situation like running a session of a roleplaying game.

    ------------------------------------------

    I created this small scene to help me think about this whole thing.

    The following is the conclusion to an encounter where the players fight an assassin who's employed by the main villain, whose true identity is yet to be revealed.

    After the fight
    The characters can capture and question the Assassin instead of killing him. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 charisma check learns the name of the Assassin's employer. The Assassin is loyal to his cause, and any attempts to forcefully interrogate him are made at a disadvantage, while attempts made to bribe or otherwise promise him something in return for information are made normally. A DC 15 wisdom checks while talking to him reveals this information to the players.
    If a player promises something in exchange for this information and does not pay within a tenday he then become's the Assassin's new mark (see chapter 4). If the Assassin is kept captive he manages to escape in 1d4+1 days.
    If the characters decide to kill the assassin a player can search the body to uncover information about the employer. The players automatically know to look for hidden pockets and a player who succeeds on a DC 10 Intelligence while searching finds a hidden compartment in the heel of the Assassin's boot, which contains the contract for the assassination.

    If the players leave this section without learning the name of the employer they automatically receive this information in encounter G-13 from Klaus Candlelight.
    Here there are a bunch of skill implied. The Wisdom (Deduction) to see what angle works best, the discouragement of Charisma (Leadership) and encouragement of Charisma (Speechcraft). Then ultimately the Intelligence (Investigation) check, which could be replaced by a number of checks based on a player's argument, for example by using the Bounty Hunter background. By not specifying any of these my players are free to surprise me with their creativity. If things aren't moving along I will suggest these applications of skills, but giving my players a chance to do so on their own means they'll sooner learn to "think in skills", which gives them a very good problem solving tool for future sessions.

    ----------------------------------

    Yeah, I see the benefit of breaking the tie between ability scores and skills, in the sense that players no longer start feeling useless at a skill because they have a low ability score in what they're made to believe is the "associated" ability score. Heck, if wisdom is basically 'life experience' it might well be used to substitute some intelligence checks.
    Your method is having many different skills, so each player has more options when creating his characters, while I use broader skills makes every single skill useful to any character. Am I understanding you correctly?

    ----------------------------------

    I can see your points about coercion and manipulation. I look at these two different tactics and find they are rarely shared by one person. One is the smooth talker and one is the brute-force Batman style. Rarely do you see Batman going 'Excuse me, what a lovely necklace that is..." My main reason for not wanting to call it intimidation is because I have seen what a player with the intimidation skill behaves like (to an orc, everything is a hostage that needs to be interrogated). I want a skill with more dimension and options. A fierce personality can also use his conviction for good, for example to motivate someone who's about to give up "You are stronger than this!". Both require the same FORCE, but at least it can be used in more ways that just scaring people.

    -------------------------------

    I feel this next part of your reply is the one I had the hardest time giving a satisfying answer to, maybe because I'm still trying to grasp your side of the matter. Debate is just as much about understanding the other person's point of view as it is about explaining your own.

    It seems like you understand exactly what I want from the knowledge skill, but do not like the name I chose. Research is an alternative name for it. The only problem I see with that is instantly I think it's a skill that tells you how well you CAN research, not how well you HAVE researched something at a prior date, akin to "Gather Information".

    I want skills to bring the years prior to the campaign to life. A player might not know something about his character, and gets to know him just by using his skills. I might make a character and not think at all about whether he knows what mushrooms are poisonous and which aren't, until I roll high on a Knowledge check, which then tells me that I do. It's a good way of fleshing out characters as you play. You slowly learn what they know, and start making up stories to justify it.

    Would you be ok with "Scholar". It feels a bit too academic, but might work fine. The act of seeking out information is learning, so a skill which governs the act of learning in the past tense would be "Learned" or "Studied", but neither makes sense as a skill. "Well Read"?

    Remember that I'm not working with the goal of having a comprehensive skill list. I'm working on creating a skill list for my specific campaign that implies to my players what their possible actions are. It's a manipulation tactics I use in order to encourage a certain playstyle, and this is my first time trying it out. The idea is that players more readily use options presented to them on their character sheet. In a campaign I want magic to be more otherworldy and mysterious, I would not give my players the options of the arcana skill, simply to imply how impossible to understand magic in that specific world is.

    I can see Gather Information being a very interesting skill to use, and I loved using streetwise in 4e. Maybe this would be a good way to mention that I have a Research downtime, which gives me a chance of saying "Nope, you don't know that, you'll have to spend your downtime researching the topic" whenever I feel like some knowledge would always be out of a character's reach. Maybe I'll start quizzing characters before knowledge checks.
    - Is this mushroom poisonous?
    - Maybe, but your character doesn't know.
    - Can I roll knowledge to see if my character knows?
    - Explain to me why your character would know such a thing.
    - Well, I have spent a lot of time travelling the wilderness, maybe I've learned something on my travels?
    - Well if you would've tried it, and it was poisonous, wouldn't you be dead?
    - Aw shoot. Okay, maybe not. Can the ranger roll for it, he's... well, a ranger.
    - Yes of course. Ranger, make a intelligence (knowledge) check for me. You gain advantage on the roll since, well, you are a ranger.

    I think my knowledge check is definitely the most complicated skill on my list, since it is based so heavily on DMs rulings. Maybe I should create separate guidelines about when a player knows something automatically, when he rolls at a disadvantage, when he can roll normally, and when he has to spend his downtime researching something. I just don't want a player filling up his skill list with different knowledge skills like nature, religion, history etc. I think having some concrete guidelines to help a DM determine whether a bit of information is inaccessible or readily available to a character based on things like class and background would really make the whole processs more streamlined.

    Just as a refresher:
    Deduction: Reaching a conclusion based on information readily presented to you.
    Investigation: Gain access to hidden information.
    Knowledge: Determine whether you already possess the information you seek.
    Deduction: Reaching a conclusion based on information readily presented to you
    Investigation: Gain access to hidden information
    Knowledge: Determine whether you already possess the information you seek.
    Last edited by Bjarkmundur; 2019-08-19 at 09:47 AM.

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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I don't like the 'searching a corpse' question any more than you do, but I'll go with it for the sake of consistency.

    I wouldn't call it 'relevant skill', I just pick an ability. It's the player that suggests the use of a skill. I announce which ability applies after the character declares his intent. So for your examples I'd probably rule.
    - Can I guess where an orc would keeps it's valuables?
    - Yes, roll a wisdom check for me.
    - Can I pat it down looking for secret compartments?
    - Yes, roll an intelligence check for me.
    - Can I just tear up the cloth and see if I find anything?
    - Yeah, go nuts.

    The more I talk about it the more I realize maybe things aren't as black and white as I want them to be. For example, picking a lock can be done with dexterity, but it's pretty impossible without thieve's tools or lockpicks. This makes it weird to ask for a dexterity ability check when it's clearly a Dexterity (thieves' tools) check. I think Composer99 managed to articulate this pretty well, using his complexity rules. This is already stated under my "Some approaches automatically fail" clause, but he explains it so much better.

    As we discuss this topic, not in terms of RAW but in terms of what FEELS right, I'm leaning more and more towards ruling it on a case by case basis. Some request might have a specific ability+skill combo, others only a relevant ability, and even others might be able to accomplish with two different ability scores. I can definitely see myself asking for a skill check and completely forget to mention whether it should be strength or dexterity in some scenarios. I guess the general take-away is that no matter the mechanics or your intentions, everything just becomes guidelines when people are thrown into the mix in a improv situation like running a session of a roleplaying game.
    I am glad for the clarification on when you assign an ability score vs. assigning a skill.

    To organize myself:

    Tier 1: An associated ability score.
    Tier 2: the level of Proficiency bonus that applies to the check.
    Tier 3: Complexity. (By far the best name for this concept I've seen).

    So when using your version of thieves tools:
    Tier 1: Dexterity
    Tier 2: Finesse Tools
    Tier 3: Impossible without the tools.

    It looks like you sometimes use this and other times don't which makes it harder for me to make sense of your system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Here there are a bunch of skill implied. The Wisdom (Deduction) to see what angle works best, the discouragement of Charisma (Leadership) and encouragement of Charisma (Speechcraft). Then ultimately the Intelligence (Investigation) check, which could be replaced by a number of checks based on a player's argument, for example by using the Bounty Hunter background. By not specifying any of these my players are free to surprise me with their creativity. If things aren't moving along I will suggest these applications of skills, but giving my players a chance to do so on their own means they'll sooner learn to "think in skills", which gives them a very good problem solving tool for future sessions.
    I haven't checked, but please replace the dead body example in your word doc with this if you haven't

    I don't see how your system encourages "thinking in skills," compared to the default system. For example, it mostly looks like your simplified from a Wisdom (Insight) check to determine Charisma (Intimidate) is discouraged and Charisma (Deception/Persuasion) encouraged. The players would still be able to use these skills/ their background as you describe. But if your checks don't regularly use skills or combine two ability scores instead, I don't see how that helps.

    Again, my solution to this is to have the skills apply in a lot more ways, so that the players can combine skills with ability scores in surprising ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Yeah, I see the benefit of breaking the tie between ability scores and skills, in the sense that players no longer start feeling useless at a skill because they have a low ability score in what they're made to believe is the "associated" ability score. Heck, if wisdom is basically 'life experience' it might well be used to substitute some intelligence checks.
    Your method is having many different skills, so each player has more options when creating his characters, while I use broader skills makes every single skill useful to any character. Am I understanding you correctly?
    Not really. I have two more skills that the books do (Psicraft and Bodily Autonomy). However, each skill has broader applications than the book, so the players can apply the skills in special ways, using multiple different ability scores with the stills they have. I'm not sure what a Charisma (Medicine) check would be, but twisting pressure points, certain medical procedures, and knowledge of medicine can include Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence in addition to the default application of Wisdom when making Medicine checks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I can see your points about coercion and manipulation. I look at these two different tactics and find they are rarely shared by one person. One is the smooth talker and one is the brute-force Batman style. Rarely do you see Batman going 'Excuse me, what a lovely necklace that is..." My main reason for not wanting to call it intimidation is because I have seen what a player with the intimidation skill behaves like (to an orc, everything is a hostage that needs to be interrogated). I want a skill with more dimension and options. A fierce personality can also use his conviction for good, for example to motivate someone who's about to give up "You are stronger than this!". Both require the same FORCE, but at least it can be used in more ways that just scaring people.
    I'm not sure that scaring people overlaps with other abilities, but I suppose wanting it not to be a sill that does this elusively makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I feel this next part of your reply is the one I had the hardest time giving a satisfying answer to, maybe because I'm still trying to grasp your side of the matter. Debate is just as much about understanding the other person's point of view as it is about explaining your own.

    It seems like you understand exactly what I want from the knowledge skill, but do not like the name I chose. Research is an alternative name for it. The only problem I see with that is instantly I think it's a skill that tells you how well you CAN research, not how well you HAVE researched something at a prior date, akin to "Gather Information".

    I want skills to bring the years prior to the campaign to life. A player might not know something about his character, and gets to know him just by using his skills. I might make a character and not think at all about whether he knows what mushrooms are poisonous and which aren't, until I roll high on a Knowledge check, which then tells me that I do. It's a good way of fleshing out characters as you play. You slowly learn what they know, and start making up stories to justify it.

    Would you be ok with "Scholar". It feels a bit too academic, but might work fine. The act of seeking out information is learning, so a skill which governs the act of learning in the past tense would be "Learned" or "Studied", but neither makes sense as a skill. "Well Read"?
    "Learning" is also a noun, although "Education," or "Schooling," might work as well. Alternatively, "Scholarship." The idea being that having proficiency in the skill tells you and the player than the character has received formal learning on the subject.

    I'm suggesting this because I don't find the name "Knowledge," to clearly mean that the skill decides whether or not the player knows something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I can see Gather Information being a very interesting skill to use, and I loved using streetwise in 4e. Maybe this would be a good way to mention that I have a Research downtime, which gives me a chance of saying "Nope, you don't know that, you'll have to spend your downtime researching the topic" whenever I feel like some knowledge would always be out of a character's reach. Maybe I'll start quizzing characters before knowledge checks.
    - Is this mushroom poisonous?
    - Maybe, but your character doesn't know.
    - Can I roll knowledge to see if my character knows?
    - Explain to me why your character would know such a thing.
    - Well, I have spent a lot of time travelling the wilderness, maybe I've learned something on my travels?
    - Well if you would've tried it, and it was poisonous, wouldn't you be dead?
    - Aw shoot. Okay, maybe not. Can the ranger roll for it, he's... well, a ranger.
    - Yes of course. Ranger, make a intelligence (knowledge) check for me. You gain advantage on the roll since, well, you are a ranger.

    I think my knowledge check is definitely the most complicated skill on my list, since it is based so heavily on DMs rulings. Maybe I should create separate guidelines about when a player knows something automatically, when he rolls at a disadvantage, when he can roll normally, and when he has to spend his downtime researching something. I just don't want a player filling up his skill list with different knowledge skills like nature, religion, history etc. I think having some concrete guidelines to help a DM determine whether a bit of information is inaccessible or readily available to a character based on things like class and background would really make the whole processs more streamlined.
    The system you're replacing broke down those knowledge skills into separate skills. In this example, a character trained in subjects like mushrooms has a specific type of knowledge skill.

    Recall it isn't just a difference between "you know the skill or your don't." when making a check to see if you know something, the player may or may not get to add a proficiency bonus to the roll. And when you add complexity to the roll the result partially depends on whether or not the player is proficient in the related skill. That's where I think this still requires a name change or to be restructured.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Just as a refresher:
    Deduction: Reaching a conclusion based on information readily presented to you.
    Investigation: Gain access to hidden information.
    Knowledge: Determine whether you already possess the information you seek.
    This makes sense; my concern was over figuring out when proficiency with knowledge would apply.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    You know what, brother, this whole discussion has made it hard for me to make sense of too...

    The intention was to lower the number of times where I feed them which of their skills they use, and instead have them figure it out. But the more scenarios I come up with the less that seems to be the case. Because my skills are so obvious in their use, it's never going to be the question of "which skill should I apply". It's always going to be perfectly obvious.

    I'm definitely going back to the drawing board, but now my design goals are all over the place. I'm going to read over my initial threads, this whole thread, my skill list, and try to make sense of it all. Thank you so much for your time, your insight has been invaluable.

    -------------------------------

    What are skills?
    Skills represent a combination of natural affinity, training, and experience in various fields of expertise. To represent these affinities, each character gains a set number of skills from his class, race and background that give him an edge when attempting various actions that have consequences if unsuccessful. You've probably seen this multiple times in real-life. A person that can quickly articulate his thoughts in a stressful situation, a person that doesn't cower when confronted but instead answers with force, a person who can recall information within a heartbeat to win a game show, and the person that knows exactly what to do if a friend gets injured. These are the kinds of abilities Skills attempt to emulate.
    Other skills can be seen more like professions; something a person has done so many times they've achieved a certain mastery over the subject. These skills aren't necessarily applied to dire situations, but rather actions that would be impossible, or near-guaranteed to fail drastically, to those that are untrained.

    ----------------------------------

    If this is the definition, I hope I can fine-tune and clarify the mechanics that support this, and the process to how they are prompted and applied in-game. I'm sure the Complexity mechanic will be a big part of it. So what is my design goal? I have no clue.

    Well, wish me luck :/

    --------------------------------

    I know where I'll start.

    Skills are suggestions to the player. Suggestions as to what courses of action could be taken in any given scenario. Using the ability scores, many actions are easy to imagine are a part of the game. Most ability scores almost sounds like skills by themselves. Most things a character can do innately, such as talk, think, move, see or search are easy for player to come up with on their own; they are all things they do themselves in real life. A player would suggest any one of these actions without thinking whether a game mechanic exists for it or not. It's only when additional tools are used when a player might need some guidance or otherwise wonder whether any mechanics are included for it in the game. Can a player naturally assume first aid kits are a thing, without knowing the rules? How about lockpicks or that playing an instrument might yield some sort of benefit? Would the ultimate 'use your abilities as you see fit' be simply allowing saving throw proficiencies to apply to ability checks, and then include a seperate list for tools and knowledge checks to account for the "mastery of the subject" part?

    But, what then teaches the group new ways to use their checks? A player might never think of some suggested uses. In a lesser creative group the players would only ever use ability checks for a handful of actions. Players love getting new toys to play with, aren't suggested uses of skills just that; new ways to gain additional in-game benefits?
    Last edited by Bjarkmundur; 2019-08-21 at 06:40 PM.

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  14. - Top - End - #14
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    Default Re: Reskinned Skill List and Athletics Confusion

    Apologies for holding things up.

    I seem to have dropped part of my last reply. The description of the three "tiers," I gave is in reference to how most systems decide a proficiency (or equivalent) bonus. I like to tell the player a default setting for the ability score ans skill they'll be using, and let them argue if they think they have a better use. Usually I'll just name the skill with the ability score, and let a player request a change if one would apply, as I described here:
    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    In this case, having the player ask if their background applies makes sense to me. Being a religious acolyte tells me what a player would be able to apply that bonus when making a check to see if they know something. They might then have to ask whether the region they studied would cover specific information. The cult of the moon goddess probably teaches about lycanthropes such as Wererats. The order worshiping the sun god probably doesn't.

    I will also suggest alternate options if I've thought of them. So if a druid tries to stop a beast, I may ask for a Strength (Animal Handling) check rather than Strength (Athletics) check, and on a success describe the druid forcibly catching the animal using their familiarity with an animal's body. Then the players know such alternate uses of skills are available. This doesn't calm the animal like a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check would, but can have a much lower DC (depending on the situation).

    In contrast, you seem to ask for an ability check, and only allow a particular skill if the player argues it. I think this makes it difficult for players to tell when a skill applies at any point it isn't completely obvious. Unless the player spends a lot of time guessing checking skills, they don't learn the basic uses you'll allow. And since this denys them an understanding of the basic things skills can do, they do't have the appropriate base for determining new things they could try.

    I think a useful consideration would be to work through (and hopefully write out so I can follow) why you want your players the request applying a skill to a check instead. Or to put it in your terms, why you want the player to have to come up with all the polential suggestions the skill gives them on their own (without your help).




    My design goal with this was to have the players focus on certain abilities that flavor their characters in specific ways. I'm not trying to make them argue that a particular skill applies, but to have two (or more) different characters trained in skills use them in different ways. One character uses Intimidation with Strength, a second with charisma, and a third with Intelligence. Each one is going to feel different, even if they use the skill a particular way most of the time.

    I think in your case, it may be more useful to force a few situations where the characters make a nonstandard use of a skill. For example, take a another character the orc is trying to interrogate challenge the orc to a drinking contest. A successful Constitution (Intimidation) check would allow the orc scare the other character with the way they drink. The player might decide not to have the orc's behavior change, but the party now knows they could use their skills in more creative ways.

    Having a few such situations would (I hope) get the creative juices flowing at the table. Particularly if the players have an understanding of what the skills do, they can try to mix and match various skills with their stronger ability scores.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    The intention was to lower the number of times where I feed them which of their skills they use, and instead have them figure it out. But the more scenarios I come up with the less that seems to be the case. Because my skills are so obvious in their use, it's never going to be the question of "which skill should I apply". It's always going to be perfectly obvious.
    I'm not quoting most of your last reply, but if your party is having trouble telling when a particular skill applies, this would be a very good thing.




    Mathew Colville's 5e conversion of skill challenges may be relevant if your party has trouble coming up with uses for skills. Basically forces them to try using the skills they have proficiency in. Hopefully I can make enough sense of the formatting for that to be here.

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