On D&D Skills.

PolyhedralsThere’s an interesting post by Zak Smith on the skill list for 5th Edition D&D, the reasoning behind the skills, and how OSR games handle similar situations. Zak was a consultant on the 5e project, but even then there’s one skill he hates.

He raises some interesting points about skill checks versus attribute checks, noting that some skills only really exist because of game maths and could have been handled by attribute checks if the mechanics had been different. Expanding on that, Deceit and Persuade are different skills because a thief’s charisma is very different from a cleric’s. And finally, Perception is far more elegant than the mishmash of thief skills and racial abilities of AD&D.

DnD5e skill’s are a great example of a concise list that covers all the things needed for the genre the game is supposed to emulate, while avoiding the skill bloat that sank games like 4th edition GURPS, for me at least.

The whole thing is a useful read for anyone trying to build a coherent skill list for any game system.

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5 Responses to On D&D Skills.

  1. Which version does the cleric have – deceit or persuade? ;-)

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Your archetypal TV evangelist is closer to a Thief than a Cleric ;)

  3. Chuk says:

    Maybe some kind of Neutral Evil Bard.

    I like skill bloat! (I also like games like Fate and Risus though, there’s a whole cognitive dissonance going on.)

  4. Tim Hall says:

    GURPS just got silly when they had “Seamanship”, “Shiphandling” and “Sailor” as three separate skills, and your sea-captain character was expected to know them all. For me at any rate, FATE with its Aspects, Stunts and very broad skills handles that far more elegantly. YMMV, of course.