5e skills suggestion

In my Mearls D&D game in the sidebar, I’ve been ignoring skills: when someone calls for a Bluff check, I simply make a Charisma check. Since I started playtesting 5e, this has become my favorite way to run a D&D game: the +1 to +4 attribute bonus lends enough weight to a roll without an additional skill bonus.

However, if people want a skill system, you have to have skill bonuses.

4e gave you a +5 bonus for being trained in a skill. +5! If you gave first-level characters +5 swords, that would make a mockery of the combat system. Similarly, a +5 bonus to skills makes a mockery of the skill system.

5e’s skill bonus is +3, which is much more palatable. Still, I’d reduce it another step.

Here are the basic details about the current version of the 5e skill system:
1) +3 for being trained in a skill
2) If you get training in the same skill from two different sources, you choose a different skill. Thus, if a rogue gets Stealth from his class and his background, he gets Stealth and a random skill of his choice.
3) Every even level, you get +1 to a trained skill of your choice.

Here’s my proposed tweak:

1) +2 for being trained in a skill
2) If you get trained in a skill which you already possess, your bonus goes up one point. Thus, a rogue who gets Stealth from his class and background has a +3 Stealth bonus instead of +2.
3) Every even level, you can train a new skill of your choice. That means you can either train a new skill, at +2, or enjoy the fruits of point 2) and increase a skill’s bonus by one point.
4) What the heck, let’s say you can spend your skill point to learn a new language. (How does a language compare to +1 in your favorite skill? Not sure.)

It’s a tiny tweak, but it deflates runaway skill bonuses a tiny bit; allows a mechanism for learning new skills and languages; and provides for a synergy bonus for a focused class/background.


2 Responses to “5e skills suggestion”

  1. The only addition I’d make to this is placing a hard cap on how many +1 bonuses from leveling you can apply to one skill. The flattened scaling is great and all, but allowing characters to overspecialize means that anything that challenges the specialist is explicitly impossible for the non-specialist. There may be corner cases where this is okay, but on the whole it is not desirable, I think.

  2. Rory Rory says:

    Agreed; I propose a +5 cap with this new system!

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