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 Skill System What is Great About It?

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Garthanos
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PostSubject: Skill System What is Great About It?   Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:55 pm

I personally have some issues with the 4e Skill System and it seems a virtual cut and paste of something in a previous edition with minor sanding at the edges instead of an actual 4e style (innovative) feature... technically skill challenges were only an adjustment/slight expansion on Complex Skill Checks from 3e . http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/buildingCharacters/complexSkillChecks.htm

My Question is what do people like about it? Cause its one of the elements of 4e that I wouldnt mind seeing some real changes in...

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:19 pm

Simplicity, simply put.

3.X had a real indepth skill system, but that created problems because a multi skilled character was often MAD, and it cut into class features rather than class features adding onto skills. 4e has none of these things, and only a miniscule amount of math problems tied to it. At best, it's biggest flaw is that some character classes are gimped on skills, and skills only run off of one ability mod for their bonuses. Both things are easy enough to fix through houserules.

With some spit and polish, 4e has the best skill system I've ever seen in a tabletop game. That it's lacking the depth of other systems helps in the end, because it allows the players and DM to work within the given skills to come up with new uses instead of adding more skills in to be the sole governors of those uses.
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Sat Oct 05, 2013 7:59 pm

The very first game system with skill mechanics I ran in to was RuneQuest (yes in the 70s).Skills were in multiple categories and those within each category got a bonus/malus from usually 2 to 4 stats if I recall correctly. The system was geared so that if you tried and succeeded in a lot of things you probably advanced a lot of things... (weapon striking and parrying were distinct skills and so was dodging) Any skill use could have a normal success special success and a critical success.(I dont remember if it had crit fails). They were using a consistent system for in combat and out of combat with regards to skill advancement. You could advance any skill up to 75 percent with explicit purchaseable training and tiem (that grade was considered fully trained). They did have skills in languages and other arenas but in some ways it wasnt an issue since advancement didnt really impair other advancement it wasnt like taking a feat for linguistics and missing out on the talent which turns your knockdown assault in to a killer combo. <- later versions did restrict the amount of advancement checks you could make cause the system seriously encouraged the golf bag combatant )

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Sun Oct 06, 2013 1:47 am

Chaosium and d100 games have really good skill systems typically. I prefer the more natural evolution of skills.

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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:54 am

Consider skill systems as a whole in rpgs? gotten better? or mostly been on cruise with elements lost along the way

I do think actually taking team-work in to consideration is one of the few advancements
we may have seen and its I think a very important element, to not abandon.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:21 am

I like the simplicity of it. Not a huge list and not a specialized list. Hated that some classes (usually defenders) got screwed on number of trained skills
One problem I see is that you are rewarded for min/maxing between skills and attributes. If you have a 10 or 12 in and attribute and trained in a skill, you are not really better off then someone with and 18 or 20 in the attribute. Even trained you only get a 55% or chance to meet easy dc. Hard DC is almost unachievable.
A secondary attribute would have been nice (maybe half modifier, round up?). Or decoupling skills from attributes all together.
I like group checks alot. I like the tension as you go around the table counting successes. I like that the party can still achieve surprise from stealth even thought he paladin has a -4 in stealth. Group check emphasize team aspects of the game and rewards spreading different skills among the party.
Skill challenges... They can be done well, but they can also be boring. I think much of it is how the DM presents the challenge. Maintaining the mood/tempo/suspension of bisbelief within the mechanical system.

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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:19 am

Durriken wrote:

One problem I see is that you are rewarded for min/maxing between skills and attributes. If you have a 10 or 12 in and attribute and trained in a skill, you are not really better off then someone with and 18 or 20 in the attribute.  
TjD
Being trained sometimes meant significant element like the Arcana allowing sensing of magic, it enabled skill powers (when they first came out I decided to give everyone one of these at level 1 free) and enabled martial practices (and also rituals). At one level I see some of these latter things as reliable stunt effects you can achieve. Making sure every skill training starts with some of that bling would be nice.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:57 pm

I like the idea of being able to use a smaller skill set over a wider array of problems, as opposed to the "skill for every facet of life", which then you were limited by *class* + Intelligence in terms of skill point acquisition, as opposed to the more "realistic" approach of gaining more skills through greater exposure (be it through study or experience). That's why 13th Age's Backgrounds work perfectly for me, especially when tempered with open talks with the GM, so that the backgrounds can fall within reason.
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:10 pm

There are a couple of things I like about the 4E skill system.

First off, it is fairly concise. There aren't a bunch of skills that cover all of the various nuances of skills. This makes it easier for players and DMs alike.

I didn't like in 3.x that you had both Spot and Listen checks. And so therefore you had both Hide and Move Silently skills. This ended up giving many players the idea that these checks were solely used for visual (hide/spot) and aural (move silently/listen) senses and this left nothing to cover olfactory or tactile methods of obscuring or detecting.

I think this helped a bit in having players simply look at their character sheet and use the name of a skill in their action. I can't stand it when a player says "Can I use Diplomacy to bribe the guard?" I prefer, by far, when they say, "I'm going to bribe the guard. I offer him 50gp to let us into the castle." and leave it at that.

Obviously reducing the number of skills didn't eliminate that issue, but it helped. It was easy for a player to say they were "Moving Silently" but it makes less sense for them to say they are "Stealthing".

Secondly, I like that there aren't skill points to be allocated each level. A character is either trained or not in a skill. If they wish to change that, they can retrain upon gaining a level. Also, feats can grant training, so it is a simpler system to manage.

I like this because it doesn't put more character resources that have to be allocated and can increase the "power gap" between equal level characters. I found that in 3.x, most players went heavy on the obviously encounter-type skills (like Spot or Acrobatics) and less on the "role-playing" skills. How many people spend skill ranks on Profession: Gourmet Cook?

Invariably, I found that I'd have 1 or 2 "power gamers" at my table that would min-max their skills (and feats) so much that to challenge them I had to put enemies that would take down the non-optimized characters in one or two hits. Obviously there was more than just the skill system that contributed to this, but the skills were definitely a part of it.

Overall, the 4E skill system was concise, manageable, and didn't take away from other aspects of the character creation. I agree that there are little tweaks that could be made, but overall, it is quite functional as written.

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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:42 pm

My major problem with 4e skills is the fact that the progression seems too gamey. 3.x also had this problem. Like I said in a previous post I like the way Chaosium systems progress. When you make a skill check you roll a d100, and if its below your skill number you succeed. You also don't level in those games (No extra HP or anything common to level ups. Leveling is too core to take out of D&D though), your skills progress by you using them successfully making you better.

I honestly think D&D could be a lot better if it would just look at all these other systems and borrow their ideas and philosophies. But sadly the only edition to do that was 4e. And of course since about 80% of D&D's fanbase are grumpy grogs who only want one game, the same game, we probably never see more out of D&D in terms of advancement especially since it seems that the old school players won the battle (Thanks to Mearls).

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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:13 pm

skwyd42 wrote:


Obviously reducing the number of skills didn't eliminate that issue, but it helped. It was easy for a player to say they were "Moving Silently" but it makes less sense for them to say they are "Stealthing".
Ah disconnecting single skill to action correlation nods. Since they are broad they are a category of action and implies many possible things under the hood so players arent locked perceptually to singular action its kind of the opposite of the impact of powers if you think about it.

Do we get cake and eat it too when we have skill powers and martial practices?

skwyd42 wrote:

Secondly, I like that there aren't skill points to be allocated each level. A character is either trained or not in a skill. If they wish to change that, they can retrain upon gaining a level. Also, feats can grant training, so it is a simpler system to manage.

I like this because it doesn't put more character resources that have to be allocated and can increase the "power gap" between equal level characters.
Over specialization issue basically... the difference between haves and have nots kept in a reasonable range.


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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:19 pm

Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
My major problem with 4e skills is the fact that the progression seems too gamey.
The naturalistic advancement of skills might not seem very approachable within a D&D context but remember in 1e how spells were learned? and martial practices and rituals in 4e?



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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:21 pm

I think if one ignores the current Development team you will become less of a Grumpy face yourself ;p or atleast that is my conclusion for me Cool 

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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:01 pm

Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
I like the way Chaosium systems progress. When you make a skill check you roll a d100, and if its below your skill number you succeed. You also don't level in those games (No extra HP or anything common to level ups. Leveling is too core to take out of D&D though), your skills progress by you using them successfully making you better.
I rather like this idea. The resistance table would be an easy way to keep tabs on conflicting rolls, and experience roll could be made on a few skills per level when leveling up instead of adding 1/2 level to skills. Bonuses and penalties could still apply normally as well. Might bump Training's value up to 10% instead of 5 though...

I like it. I'm gonna play around with it and see what comes of it :)
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Thu Oct 10, 2013 6:02 am

I remember a few issues I had with the RQ skill advancement system, one was that people learn in real life as much by failing as succeeding. Another was it seemed character skills over time converged

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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:36 pm

Compared to earlier editions of D&D, the 4E skill system and what it evolved into was far more sound and involved then the point system in earlier editions.  With the introduction of abilities that you have access to if your trained in a type of skill (powers, rituals, and martial practices) and not to mention Skill Challenges as a way to handle non-combat encounters, I really enjoyed these new elements and I know my players like them too.

IMO, I think they should have flushed out Martial Practices more and gave better examples for Skill Challenges, but the DMs, and the players have presented some really nice expansions and evolutions to these systems and I always look forward to seeing new ideas or coming up with my own.  Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:03 pm

Garthanos wrote:
I personally have some issues with the 4e Skill System and it seems a virtual cut and paste of something in a previous edition with minor sanding at the edges instead of an actual 4e style (innovative) feature... technically skill challenges were only an adjustment/slight expansion on Complex Skill Checks from 3e .  http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/buildingCharacters/complexSkillChecks.htm

My Question is what do people like about it? Cause its one of the elements of 4e that I wouldnt mind seeing some real changes in...
Honestly, I much prefer the subtly different Saga system. I don't have that much of an issue with the 4e system, but I wouldn't mind seeing it swapped out for something closer to Saga.

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PostSubject: Re: Skill System What is Great About It?   Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:41 pm

CHIA wrote:
Garthanos wrote:
I personally have some issues with the 4e Skill System and it seems a virtual cut and paste of something in a previous edition with minor sanding at the edges instead of an actual 4e style (innovative) feature... technically skill challenges were only an adjustment/slight expansion on Complex Skill Checks from 3e .  http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/buildingCharacters/complexSkillChecks.htm

My Question is what do people like about it? Cause its one of the elements of 4e that I wouldnt mind seeing some real changes in...
Honestly, I much prefer the subtly different Saga system. I don't have that much of an issue with the 4e system, but I wouldn't mind seeing it swapped out for something closer to Saga.
Care to elaborate on the Saga/skill system?

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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