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[Request] Analysis of Failed Design: d20 Skills
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Wiseman
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I was thinking about combing Spellcraft with Knowledge (Arcana, Religion, Nature, Psionics) and using the relevant knowledge for the type of spell. Is that workable?
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Voss
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

What's the 'relevant knowledge for type of spell?' Given how often spell lists overlap, it seems crazy to treat all wizard, bard and sorcerer spells the same, but somehow treat detect magic, protection from blah, animate dead and etc as different if cast by a wizard, cleric or druid.

If someone casts detect magic, does an observer have to guess which knowledge skill to try?


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fbmf
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The way I play it, any of them will get it done.

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Wiseman
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That works.
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Antariuk
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Not a fan of trating all knowledge skill the same, but I'd definitely combine Know Direction, Knowledge (nature) and Survival into one skill (maybe call it Wilderness Lore again) because goddammit are those skills redundant, and frankenstein Knowledge (local) and Knowledge (geography) into something like Knowledge (culture).
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Voss
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Knowledge local is problematic anyway. It slams really hard into the default conceits of the game, in that adventurers should be wandering around, and is going to have to relearned for seperate locations. It also implies that it should be really useful if you stay in one place for the entire campaign, and well... Not really. If anything it should be merged with gather info, if not just summarily dropped.
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Harshax
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So is something like this what you're going for? Less increments that are more meaningful:

Code:

Challenge:         DC  Apprentice   Journeyman     Master     GrandMaster
Very Easy          0       ***          ***          ***          ***
Easy               5       ***          ***          ***          ***
Average            10       5           ***          ***          ***
Tough              15      10            5           ***          ***
Challenging        20      15           10            5           ***
Formidable         25      20           15           10            5
Heroic             30      25           20           15           10
Nearly Impossible  40      35           30           25           20
*** = auto-success
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Emerald
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
Knowledge local is problematic anyway. It slams really hard into the default conceits of the game, in that adventurers should be wandering around, and is going to have to relearned for seperate locations. It also implies that it should be really useful if you stay in one place for the entire campaign, and well... Not really. If anything it should be merged with gather info, if not just summarily dropped.


Knowledge (Local) isn't that bad, actually; it isn't attached to a particular location by default unless you're in the Forgotten Realms, any more than History or Geography are. But yeah, it's not as useful as the name would imply unless you're in a largely urban intrigue-/politics-heavy campaign, and even then it's not great.

When using the skill list as-is I tend to interpret it the way this Dragonshards article does, where it sort of serves as a "Bardic Knowledge lite" skill:

Quote:
Knowledge (local) is a somewhat mysterious skill. What does it mean to have "local" knowledge about the entire world? The DM can interpret this skill in several different ways, depending on how challenging he wants to make things for a player.

At the broadest, most generous end of the spectrum, Knowledge (local) can be used in any location. This represents an amazing memory for trivia and a general ability to pick up local customs and gossip subconsciously without the need for a Gather Information check.

[...]

Knowledge (local) is more versatile than its counterparts and may overlap with them. Knowledge (nobility) can provide general information about a dragonmark house and its international alliances but Knowledge (local) can tell you about the size of the local enclave, the name of the local baron, and his personal feud with House Kundarak. Likewise, Knowledge (nobility) or Knowledge (geography) can provide you with the name of a nation's king but Knowledge (local) is more likely to tell you about his rumored taste for virgin blood.
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erik
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Knowledge skills are kind of a shitty thing to roll, since it is usually binary, having you either know what you wanted or you don't.

I'd rather have it be a gated thing where if you have this tag, then you can automatically know relevant information.

Knowledge local can almost always be supplanted by Gossip/GatherInfo, where you spend a couple hours and learn everything the MC wants you to know about whatever shithole you're in. It's a more active and illustrative pursuit than just checking to see if you already knew something, which isn't even a an action.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Antariuk wrote:
Not a fan of trating all knowledge skill the same, but I'd definitely combine Know Direction, Knowledge (nature) and Survival into one skill (maybe call it Wilderness Lore again) because goddammit are those skills redundant, and frankenstein Knowledge (local) and Knowledge (geography) into something like Knowledge (culture).


I'd be leery of combining Geography with Local; when it makes a lot more sense to erase; and make its component elements part of Dungeoneering (cthonic geography ) and Nature (visible geography ).

I've also treated Knowledge (Local) more like "trivia" than 3e Perform/Craft/Profession; as it's the specific skill used to identify what species of humanoids the PCs are encountering (no other knowledge skills actually ID non-monstrous humanoids, iirc).
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DrPraetor
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Knowledge: Local makes a certain amount of sense in Ars Magica, where you have Troupe style play. So unless you're going to London, Oliver the street rat just isn't in the party.

This has problems because Oliver wants to graduate into a master assassin or something and now what do you do? His power still wants to be that he's street-wise and worldly, but that means he has to know criminals in Rome or Bucharest or wherever he goes - or he needs to be able to get a refund on Knowledge: London and take a different schtick as he advances (wherein Ars Magica is an epic fail.)

Molly Millions has a similar power that she "knows the streets" and can solve problems by knowing a guy - but that power has to be "Knowledge: Local" where Local is wherever you are. So if you fly to Mongolia there happens to be an old mercenary buddy of hers selling yak-mounted radar detection equipment, or whatever.
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Lokathor
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I just take class skills as a "suggested starting point", and then give out bonus skill points at the end of every game session in addition to the level up points. Then cut down on a little of the magic item bonus crazy, and call it good.

Oh, and no "trained only" skills or Trapfinding limits and stuff, just roll whatever untrained if the appropriate situation comes up.
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G‚tFromKI
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
4th edition D&D has a short skill list and asks people to get creative with it and that's just a full fucking fail because Athletics doesn't really overlap with Religion very much.

4th edition has 18 skills, a class gives 3 to 6 skill, and a skill simply gives a +5. At that point, a better system would be "choose 1 or 2 abilities. You add 5 to every roll in those abilities, and you're formed to every skills using those abilities". At that point you're almost back to "OD&D skill pseudo-system", except you've written explicitly in the rules "a perceptive character automatically knows how to detect magical traps", all-in-all it's a net plus.

FrankTrollman wrote:
There are lots of places that the 3.5/PF skill list could be improved. The fact that Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft are different skills is and always has been puzzling. It's a relic of 2nd edition AD&D proficiencies and their conversions, but I am legitimately perplexed as to why that never got combined.

Knowledge : stuff is an aberration all by itself. Knowing about stuff should be included into the Doing stuff skill. Knowing about nature should be included into Survival and Herboristery, knowing about about painters and sculptors should be included into Estimate (this skill allows estimation of paintings and sculptures) and the relevant Crafts and Professions, Knowledge (local) should be included into Gather info (which is included into Diplomacy in Pathfinder), etc. There's no reason to have some skills not doing anything, especially in a world where you can learn how to fly by reading books.

Instead of creating a new Knowledge skill, you should always ask yourself "what can a character with this kind of knowledge actually do ?", and include the knowledge of stuff into the doing stuff skill.

Maybe there's an exception with the Knowledge : everything skill, aka Knowledge : nothing, aka bardic knowledge. This is not a standard skill anyway.


Wiseman wrote:
I was thinking about combing Spellcraft with Knowledge (Arcana, Religion, Nature, Psionics) and using the relevant knowledge for the type of spell. Is that workable?

At a time I used three skills : Spellcraft (Int), Religion (Sag), and UMD (Cha). Each of those had different non-magical applications, but where replaceable by one another for magical stuff. Sometime the character got a penalty of -5 because he wasn't using the right skill (identifying a wizard spell being cast using UMD, or identifying a sorcerer spell being cast spell using spellcraft), it was MTP for a large part, but it worked.


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Harshax
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

G‚tFromKI wrote:

Knowledge : stuff is an aberration all by itself. Knowing about stuff should be included into the Doing stuff skill.


But then you get into weird areas where knowing about Arcana seems implies you can cast spells and knowing about The Planes or Aberrations lets you do what exactly? And if you always fold know and do together, you can't create an Indiana Jones type character who has some ranks in Know: Religion on account of his Archaeology skills but can't cast spells.
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radthemad4
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm pretty happy with letting everything be a class skill and using Kaelik Skill Groups (though I think Knowledge Architecture and Engineering, Local, Geography, History and Noblility should either be in a separate Knowledge (Not monsters) group, or also be part of the Civilization group in that system. Oh, and monster knowledge uses the rules mentioned here (Under Tome of Tiamat). It's still clumsy unless you beat the DC by enough that you can just look at the stat block, but it's something)

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zugschef
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The craft, knowldege, profession and perform (x) skills (under 3.x rule premises) can die in a fire.

For identifying monsters simply use 10+CR and let the pcs make an intelligence or wisdom check with half their level as a bonus. Doesn't work worse than stupid knowledge mechanically, but at least accounts for experience as an adventurer and doesn't get blown out of proportion by bloated hds.


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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

There is a need for there to be a tag of sagacity where you know shit. And there is a potential space for knowing shit to be severely gradated, so that the players will sometimes want to go talk to sages whose knowing shit is at level 8 instead of their knowing shit at level 6 so that they can move forward with an 8th level quest.

Where this goes off the rails in 3e is that the knowing shit tag shouldn't have anything to do with power level. You don't go to the planar sage to tell you where the Font of Radiant Despair is because he's an incredibly powerful Cleric who could solve this fucking quest by summoning an Angel to do it in a few seconds - you go to him because he probably knows where the Font of Radiant Despair is because he's a sage who knows that kind of thing.

Another place this goes off the rails is the d20 roll. Simply put, that's way too much RNG for what is in essence an "are you tall enough?" measuring stick. The reality is that you probably don't want an RNG on your knowledge skills, you just want secrets to be gated at Knowledge 3 or Knowledge 12 or whatever. If you rolled a die at all, it should be a very small die like a d6 or even a d4.

While ranking Knowledges has real value at the table, having it work the way D20 skills work is universally bad.

And ranking Profession skills has no value at all.

-Frank
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G‚tFromKI
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Harshax wrote:
G‚tFromKI wrote:

Knowledge : stuff is an aberration all by itself. Knowing about stuff should be included into the Doing stuff skill.


But then you get into weird areas where knowing about Arcana seems implies you can cast spells and knowing about The Planes or Aberrations lets you do what exactly? And if you always fold know and do together, you can't create an Indiana Jones type character who has some ranks in Know: Religion on account of his Archaeology skills but can't cast spells.

Knowledge : aberration (or dungeoneering) is a stupid mechanic anyway, since "this monster is an aberration" often means "this monster is a Steve and it has tentacles". There are hentai tentacle monsters, magical chimeras, or chthulu-esque outer space monsters. Knowing about hentai tentacle monster is part of the Doing hentai stuff skill (and any skill related to Japan or fetish sex - using Evasion is as sensible as using dungeoneering), knowing about magical chimeras is part of SpellCraft (and any skill related to the creation of monsters), knowing about outer space monsters is part of any skill related to space exploration (and probably Spellcraft and Religion).

Anyway, as someone said before, "roll level + Int" is a good mechanic for identifying monsters. Add some NPC feats ("add +20 to any roll in some bullshit obscure knowledge area") and you're good.

If you really want a monster identification system using several skills, the usable skills should be included in the statblock of each monster. That's the only way to prevent stupidities like "Githyankis are humanoids living in other planes, you can know everything about them using Knowledge: local".


In the system I used, I didn't find a good system for knowledge : Plane. It's part of Religion for everything related to deities and angels, part of Spellcraft as "there are strange place you should know about to understand how summon spells work", and it's mainly part of Survival. The idea being: knowing about the plane of Fire should allow to survive in it. But I feel it makes Survival a bit too broad. As I said, the system I used was MTP for a large part, and "knowing about planes" was the biggest offender.

Anyway, Knowledge: Plane even more stupid than Knowledge: Steves with tentacles. There are several planes, many of them are infinite, ie "bigger than the PC's homeworld". There's no "Knowledge: homeworld" (except if you replace "local" by "the place I'm thinking about right now"), why is there a "Knowledge: everything else" skill ?

Here's the main problem: when you're level 1, knowing about who's charge in MudTown and where you can find the smuggler cantina, is a perfectly valid ability. So there's a Knowledge: local skill. But when you can travel anywhere in 20+ different planes, "Knowledge : EffritTown" is a shitty ability, as is "knowledge: EffritLand", as is "Knowledge: plane of fire"; Given the number of skill points you get, the only relevant knowledge is about everything in every plane you can go. So there's a broad Knowledge: planes skill, useful at higher level. But skills never progress, so Knowledge: local is still there at those levels, and is shitty compared to the knowledge about every place in every other planes.

That's one of the problems you have to address in order to create a better skill system, whether you think knowledge skills should exist or not.


FrankTrollman wrote:
The reality is that you probably don't want an RNG on your knowledge skills, you just want secrets to be gated at Knowledge 3 or Knowledge 12 or whatever. If you rolled a die at all, it should be a very small die like a d6 or even a d4.

Another possibility: you roll Knowledge normally. One hour later, you automatically take 10 : that's the part when you have finished an exam and think all of a sudden "oh yes, now I remember what I should have answered to that question !".

You can use a smaller RNG, but I think "roll to see if you remember it right now" should be part of the system, as "roll to see if you remember some stuff you shouldn't know at your expertise level".


Quote:
And ranking Profession skills has no value at all.

Professions should be NPC stuff, as are the NPC classes. It could be NPC skills or NPC feats ("Sailor : you have a bonus against sea sickness, to maintain your balance on a ship, and to climb on a ship"). It can be a very general and abstract rule : "minor NPCs don't get any feat or skill point, but they get +$TEXAS to useless stuff related to their activity".


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zugschef
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Skills not scaling and losing relevance or only being relevant at/after a certain level, is the same shitty design that item creation and prestige classes suffer from: lose power now for greater power later (aka an insurance deal) or gain power now for less power later (aka running a credit card). That kind of design which is never balanced and always breaks the level system (and as a result the cr system, too) also needs to die in a fire.

Btw, I totally agree that knowledge skills should've totally been merged into the "doing stuff" kind of skills. Basically, how should you even use a skill like survival without knowledge about the environment you are supposed to survive in?
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Voss
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

What?

Explain your logic, because it's fairly lacking. For prestige classes you set feats on fire to gain access to the prestige class at 6th or 7th level. For skills... You use your pool of skill points on skills and... Keep putting points into skills and someone comes along with spells that fly or dominate or turn invisible. You never sacrifice or gain anything. You keep the same shitty abilities that were never very good.

It isn't insurance or credit cards. It's rock farming when anyone can just stoop down and pick up gemstones along the road.
It's a huge messy subsystem that never has any payoff.


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zugschef
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You can spend your skillpoints on stuff like survival and climb which are useful early and cry later that you didn't spend them on diplomacy or umd, or you can spend your skillpoints on diplomacy and umd and wait a few levels until you have enough ranks to do something with those skills.

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Voss
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Generally, you can't do either. Most classes have maybe one of those skills, and it isn't the theoretically useful ones. If you do have access to one of the useful ones, you often have enough skill points that it isn't even an issue.

Either way, the problem isn't what you're talking about. If you can finagle the class skills and want to load up on survival at level one, then dump all your points into UMD to catch up when your max ranks cap is higher, you can totally do that. Zero things stop you from min/maxing the lowbie skills and the useful skills in a very fast progression. Completely the opposite of prestige classes. Non fighters and non clerics can max out any skill they want in one or two levels, at least until the double digit levels when they don't matter at all.
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JonSetanta
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

What about shrinking the skill list?

Or are you just talking RAW?
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zugschef
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Getting rid of skillpoints was one of 4E's very few good ideas. Then the length of skill lists doesn't matter as long as each character has the relevant ones on his class list. You can break down disable device even further if you're bored, the rogue just needs to have that stuff on his class list. No fucks given.

Then fighters get swim and climb and fighters turned witch kings get spellcraft and stuff.


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rasmuswagner
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

What I'd really like for knowledge skills used out of combat is a set of rules that quickly and robustly models Cliff Clavin, Homer Simpson and Ross Geller trying to agree on the attributes of a given Steve and moving forward with a plan. Having the usefulness of each characters contribution be hidden information, false information, each individuals evaluation of consensus opinion vs personal opinion, that sort of thing.
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