Dnd 5e skills

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5e SRD:Skills

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Skills

Each ability covers a broad range of capabilities, including skills that a character or a monster can be proficient in. A skill represents a specific aspect of an ability score, and an individual's proficiency in a skill demonstrates a focus on that aspect. (A character's starting skill proficiencies are determined at character creation, and a monster's skill proficiencies appear in the monster's stat block.)

For example, a Dexterity check might reflect a character's attempt to pull off an acrobatic stunt, to palm an object, or to stay hidden. Each of these aspects of Dexterity has an associated skill: Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth, respectively. So a character who has proficiency in the Stealth skill is particularly good at Dexterity checks related to sneaking and hiding.

The skills related to each ability score are shown in the following list. (No skills are related to Constitution.) See an ability's description in the later sections of this section for examples of how to use a skill associated with an ability.

Strength
Dexterity
Intelligence
Wisdom
Charisma

Sometimes, the GM might ask for an ability check using a specific skill—for example, “Make a Wisdom (Perception) check.” At other times, a player might ask the GM if proficiency in a particular skill applies to a check. In either case, proficiency in a skill means an individual can add his or her proficiency bonus to ability checks that involve that skill. Without proficiency in the skill, the individual makes a normal ability check.

For example, if a character attempts to climb up a dangerous cliff, the GM might ask for a Strength (Athletics) check. If the character is proficient in Athletics, the character's proficiency bonus is added to the Strength check. If the character lacks that proficiency, he or she just makes a Strength check.

Variant: Skills with Different Abilities

Normally, your proficiency in a skill applies only to a specific kind of ability check. Proficiency in Athletics, for example, usually applies to Strength checks. In some situations, though, your proficiency might reasonably apply to a different kind of check. In such cases, the GM might ask for a check using an unusual combination of ability and skill, or you might ask your GM if you can apply a proficiency to a different check. For example, if you have to swim from an offshore island to the mainland, your GM might call for a Constitution check to see if you have the stamina to make it that far. In this case, your GM might allow you to apply your proficiency in Athletics and ask for a Constitution (Athletics) check. So if you're proficient in Athletics, you apply your proficiency bonus to the Constitution check just as you would normally do for a Strength (Athletics) check. Similarly, when your half-orcbarbarian uses a display of raw strength to intimidate an enemy, your GM might ask for a Strength (Intimidation) check, even though Intimidation is normally associated with Charisma.

Passive Checks

A passive check is a special kind of ability check that doesn't involve any die rolls. Such a check can represent the average result for a task done repeatedly, such as searching for secret doors over and over again, or can be used when the GM wants to secretly determine whether the characters succeed at something without rolling dice, such as noticing a hidden monster.

Here's how to determine a character's total for a passive check:

If the character has advantage on the check, add 5. For disadvantage, subtract 5. The game refers to a passive check total as a score.

For example, if a 1st-level character has a Wisdom of 15 and proficiency in Perception, he or she has a passive Wisdom (Perception) score of 14.

The rules on hiding in the “Dexterity” section below rely on passive checks, as do the exploration rules.

Working Together

Sometimes two or more characters team up to attempt a task. The character who's leading the effort—or the one with the highest ability modifier–can make an ability check with advantage, reflecting the help provided by the other characters. In combat, this requires the Help action.

A character can only provide help if the task is one that he or she could attempt alone. For example, trying to open a lock requires proficiency with thieves' tools, so a character who lacks that proficiency can't help another character in that task. Moreover, a character can help only when two or more individuals working together would actually be productive. Some tasks, such as threading a needle, are no easier with help.

Group Checks

When a number of individuals are trying to accomplish something as a group, the GM might ask for a group ability check. In such a situation, the characters who are skilled at a particular task help cover those who aren't.

To make a group ability check, everyone in the group makes the ability check. If at least half the group succeeds, the whole group succeeds. Otherwise, the group fails.

Group checks don't come up very often, and they're most useful when all the characters succeed or fail as a group. For example, when adventurers are navigating a swamp, the GM might call for a group Wisdom (Survival) check to see if the characters can avoid the quicksand, sinkholes, and other natural hazards of the environment. If at least half the group succeeds, the successful characters are able to guide their companions out of danger. Otherwise, the group stumbles into one of these hazards.


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D&D: 10 Skills Every Beginner Should Be Proficient In

By Paul DiSalvoUpdated

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Some Dungeons & Dragons skills are important to be proficient in for a beginner. Others can be left alone for now...

In Dungeons & Dragons, there are countless ways that a player can customize their characters, making them distinct and one's own. On the surface, some of the most immediately notable ways t0 distinguish one's character are through the selection of a class, subclass, and race. However, there are many other integral elements that a player has at their disposal. One of the most paramount of these factors is a character's skill proficiencies. While spells and class-based abilities are often the most important elements of a character in combat, skill proficiencies are often the most relevant information about a character when outside of combat, in everything from dungeon-delving to conversing with NPCs. However, for newcomers, figuring out which skills are worth being proficient in can be quite daunting. So today, we're going to examine the five skills that are most likely to benefit a newcomer to D&D, and five skills that they likely wouldn't need.

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It is worth noting that each skill can be quite useful, and we're examining which are most likely to broadly assist a new player who is less familiar with the intricacies of D&D.

Updated August 22nd, 2021 by Paul DiSalvo: The various skills in the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons each have their own unique uses that players can plan and build characters around. The various skills can help parties in a variety of ways, whether it be in social scenarios, traversing through the wilderness, or even simply trying to maintain one’s balance on a ledge. The skills a player takes should compliment the type of character they want to play, as a player interested in the lore of a campaign may want to take skills that reflect this, while a player who wants their character to feel physically capable may want to take something like athletics or acrobatics.

10 History

Of the intelligence-based skills in D&D, History is often the most frequently applicable for those who want access to as much information in a campaign as possible. History is the skill that is used to recall information about key events, locations, and people within the world of a campaign, often allowing a player with proficiency in history to easily access lore and key worldbuilding details a DM may prepare to help flesh out a game.

9 Insight

Insight is without a doubt the most underrated skill a character can be proficient in. A skill that uses a character's wisdom stat, Insight allows a character to determine if they're being lied to, and hidden double-meanings behind what a character may be saying. This skill can be paramount for avoiding misinformation from villains and untrustworthy NPCs.

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8 Sleight of Hand

A common choice for rogues and other high-dexterity characters, Sleight of Hand is the skill used to perform actions in plain sight without being noticed. Whether it be quickly pocketing an item from a table, pickpocketing an NPC, or slipping something into the pocket of another, Sleight of Hand can be quiet useful when trying to perform actions inconspicuously without arousing suspicion.

7 Stealth

Stealth is a dexterity-based skill that while most commonly employed by rogues, can be beneficial in the hands of any class in the game. The skill for players that want to be subtle and sneaky, successful stealth checks can help prevent a character from being noticed when they don't want to be. This skill can be quite useful both in and outside combat, especially for players who are trying to avoid a direct approach to their problems.

6 Acrobatics

Acrobatics is a stellar skill that can allow characters to more easily maneuver through a campaign with grace. Acrobatics can distinctly be used in both practical and less efficient ways. While acrobatics is the skill that is used when a character performs a backflip or walk on a tightrope, it is also used for when a character is trying to maintain their balance on an unsteady ship or cracking ice.

5 Athletics

Athletics is a straightforward skill that is an excellent proficiency choice for characters with high strength such as fighters, barbarians, or paladins. The only skill that utilizes one's strength, this skill can assist a character when trying to perform feats of strength and athleticism such as climbing, swimming in rapids, or simply trying to lift or pull an incredibly heavy object. This skill is versatile and is likely to be useful on countless occasions.

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4 Survival

For those who want to be able to hold their own against the forces of nature, Survival is likely the skill for you. Whether a character is trying to hunt for food, scavenge, finding specific types of plants or wildlife, successfully follow tracks, or simply traverse the wilderness, this wisdom-based skill is used. As this skill utilizes wisdom and primarily relates to nature and the environment, both Druids and Rangers can make great use out of Survival proficiency.

3 Persuasion, Deception, or Intimidation

As a roleplaying game, it's safe to say that players need to talk to various NPCs and each other throughout a campaign. While each distinct and useful in their own right, Persuasion, Deception, and Intimidation are each Charisma-based skills that can benefit a character in negotiations. Though the approach needed for these skills varies, with persuasion incentivizing reason, deception utilizing lies, and intimidation wielding pressure, threats, and fear, each of these skills can go a long way in non-combative encounters. And as each of these skills can hypothetically be used to get a similar end result, a player would only need to take one of the three as a proficiency!

2 Investigation

While history is the skill used to gain information regarding background information in a campaign, investigation is the skill used to garner knowledge regarding one’s immediate surroundings. Whether it be to find hidden or important objects in a room, find clues, or even glean important details or a hidden message within a piece of writing.

1 Perception

If we're talking about skills that are used frequently across a campaign, it's hard to compete with perception. A skill that uses one's wisdom, Perception checks are easily the most frequent types of checks that players will likely be making outside of combat. Perception checks represent a character's awareness and senses, allowing players to determine how well they can see, hear, and grasp their surroundings for meaningful information. As players would ideally not want to miss anything in their travels, seeing everything that may be important that they come across, it's not a surprise that many players opt to take a proficiency in Perception by default.

Next: Dungeons & Dragons: A Complete Guide To Your RPG Adventure

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About The Author
Paul DiSalvo (220 Articles Published)

Staff Writer, Paul DiSalvo is a writer, comic creator, animation lover, and game design enthusiast currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts. He has studied creative writing at The New Hampshire Institute of Art and Otis College of Art and Design, and currently writes for CBR, ScreenRant, GameRant, and TheGamer. In addition to writing, he directs and produces the podcast, "How Ya Dyin'?" He enjoys collecting comics, records, and wins in Samurai Shodown.

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Ability Checks

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.

For every ability check, the GM decides which of the six abilities is relevant to the task at hand and the difficulty of the task, represented by a Difficulty Class. The more difficult a task, the higher its DC. The Typical Difficulty Classes table shows the most common DCs.

Typical Difficulty Classes

Task DifficultyDC
Very easy5
Easy10
Medium15
Hard20
Very hard25
Nearly impossible30

To make an ability check, roll a d20 and add the relevant ability modifier. As with other d20 rolls, apply bonuses and penalties, and compare the total to the DC. If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the ability check is a success--the creature overcomes the challenge at hand. Otherwise, it's a failure, which means the character or monster makes no progress toward the objective or makes progress combined with a setback determined by the GM.

Contests

Sometimes one character's or monster's efforts are directly opposed to another's. This can occur when both of them are trying to do the same thing and only one can succeed, such as attempting to snatch up a magic ring that has fallen on the floor. This situation also applies when one of them is trying to prevent the other one from accomplishing a goal--for example, when a monster tries to force open a door that an adventurer is holding closed. In situations like these, the outcome is determined by a special form of ability check, called a contest.

Both participants in a contest make ability checks appropriate to their efforts. They apply all appropriate bonuses and penalties, but instead of comparing the total to a DC, they compare the totals of their two checks. The participant with the higher check total wins the contest. That character or monster either succeeds at the action or prevents the other one from succeeding.

If the contest results in a tie, the situation remains the same as it was before the contest. Thus, one contestant might win the contest by default. If two characters tie in a contest to snatch a ring off the floor, neither character grabs it. In a contest between a monster trying to open a door and an adventurer trying to keep the door closed, a tie means that the door remains shut.

Skills

Each ability covers a broad range of capabilities, including skills that a character or a monster can be proficient in. A skill represents a specific aspect of an ability score, and an individual's proficiency in a skill demonstrates a focus on that aspect. (A character's starting skill proficiencies are determined at character creation, and a monster's skill proficiencies appear in the monster's stat block.)

For example, a Dexterity check might reflect a character's attempt to pull off an acrobatic stunt, to palm an object, or to stay hidden. Each of these aspects of Dexterity has an associated skill: Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth, respectively. So a character who has proficiency in the Stealth skill is particularly good at Dexterity checks related to sneaking and hiding.

The skills related to each ability score are shown in the following list. (No skills are related to Constitution.) See an ability's description in the later sections of this section for examples of how to use a skill associated with an ability.

Strength

Dexterity

  • Acrobatics
  • Sleight of Hand
  • Stealth

Intelligence

  • Arcana
  • History
  • Investigation
  • Nature
  • Religion

Wisdom

  • Animal Handling
  • Insight
  • Medicine
  • Perception
  • Survival

Charisma

  • Deception
  • Intimidation
  • Performance
  • Persuasion

Sometimes, the GM might ask for an ability check using a specific skill--for example, “Make a Wisdom (Perception) check.” At other times, a player might ask the GM if proficiency in a particular skill applies to a check. In either case, proficiency in a skill means an individual can add his or her proficiency bonus to ability checks that involve that skill. Without proficiency in the skill, the individual makes a normal ability check.

For example, if a character attempts to climb up a dangerous cliff, the GM might ask for a Strength (Athletics) check. If the character is proficient in Athletics, the character's proficiency bonus is added to the Strength check. If the character lacks that proficiency, he or she just makes a Strength check.

Variant: Skills with Different Abilities

Normally, your proficiency in a skill applies only to a specific kind of ability check. Proficiency in Athletics, for example, usually applies to Strength checks. In some situations, though, your proficiency might reasonably apply to a different kind of check. In such cases, the GM might ask for a check using an unusual combination of ability and skill, or you might ask your GM if you can apply a proficiency to a different check. For example, if you have to swim from an offshore island to the mainland, your GM might call for a Constitution check to see if you have the stamina to make it that far. In this case, your GM might allow you to apply your proficiency in Athletics and ask for a Constitution (Athletics) check. So if you're proficient in Athletics, you apply your proficiency bonus to the Constitution check just as you would normally do for a Strength (Athletics) check. Similarly, when your half-­‐‑orc barbarian uses a display of raw strength to intimidate an enemy, your GM might ask for a Strength (Intimidation) check, even though Intimidation is normally associated with Charisma.

Passive Checks

A passive check is a special kind of ability check that doesn't involve any die rolls. Such a check can represent the average result for a task done repeatedly, such as searching for secret doors over and over again, or can be used when the GM wants to secretly determine whether the characters succeed at something without rolling dice, such as noticing a hidden monster.

Here's how to determine a character's total for a passive check:

10 + all modifiers that normally apply to the check

If the character has advantage on the check, add 5. For disadvantage, subtract 5. The game refers to a passive check total as a score.

For example, if a 1st-level character has a Wisdom of 15 and proficiency in Perception, he or she has a passive Wisdom (Perception) score of 14.

The rules on hiding in the “Dexterity” section below rely on passive checks, as do the exploration rules.

Working Together

Sometimes two or more characters team up to attempt a task. The character who's leading the effort--or the one with the highest ability modifier--can make an ability check with advantage, reflecting the help provided by the other characters. In combat, this requires the Help action.

A character can only provide help if the task is one that he or she could attempt alone. For example, trying to open a lock requires proficiency with thieves' tools, so a character who lacks that proficiency can't help another character in that task. Moreover, a character can help only when two or more individuals working together would actually be productive. Some tasks, such as threading a needle, are no easier with help.

Group Checks

When a number of individuals are trying to accomplish something as a group, the GM might ask for a group ability check. In such a situation, the characters who are skilled at a particular task help cover those who aren't.

To make a group ability check, everyone in the group makes the ability check. If at least half the group succeeds, the whole group succeeds.

Otherwise, the group fails. Group checks don't come up very often, and they're most useful when all the characters succeed or fail as a group. For example, when adventurers are navigating a swamp, the GM might call for a group Wisdom (Survival) check to see if the characters can avoid the quicksand, sinkholes, and other natural hazards of the environment. If at least half the group succeeds, the successful characters are able to guide their companions out of danger. Otherwise, the group stumbles into one of these hazards.

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Handbooker Helper: Ability Checks, Proficiencies \u0026 Saving Throws

A Player’s Guide to Skill Checks in DnD 5e

What are skill checks?

In the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, a character’s ability to remain unseen, persuade a storekeeper to lower their price, or jump long distances are all reliant on skill checks. There are 18 skills in DnD 5e and they are broken down into subsets of different Abilities:

Making a skill check is something that should always be left up to the DM. If you want to roll an Insight (WIS) check against an NPC you think is lying, phrase your request as “can I tell if he is lying about X?” instead of “can I make an Insight check?”

Alternative skill checks

Keep in mind that, although the DM is the be-all end-all in terms of what skill checks can be made and when, if you are a Dexterity based Rogue it could be worth it to request to make an Acrobatics (DEX) check instead of an Athletics (STR) check in some circumstances such as climbing, jumping, or running. The Player’s Handbook has a collection of these instances where you could apply different Ability modifiers to skill checks such as:

  • Swimming or running for endurance rather than speed could be made as a Constitution (Athletics) check
  • Intimidating someone with your Half-Orc muscles could be a Strength (Intimidation) check
  • Tying a knot correctly so that your bound prisoner can’t escape could be an Intelligence (Sleight of Hand) check

As long as you describe what you are trying to accomplish in a meaningful, descriptive way, most DMs will allow it. Please do not argue with your DM if they rule your scenario a bit too “out there”.

Skill check flowchart

We’ve whipped up a Skill Check Flowchart to help you identify which Skill will be required for which kind of action:

What Skills are available?

Acrobatics

Modifier Type: Dexterity

Situations of Use: Your Acrobatics skill encompasses your ability to stay on your feet in a tricky situation. The following are examples of when you might be asked to make an Acrobatics check:

  • Running across a sheet of ice
  • Balancing on a tightrope
  • Staying upright on a rocking ship’s deck
  • Performing acrobatic stunts, including dives, rolls, somersaults, and flips

Animal Handling

Modifier Type: Wisdom

Situations of Use: According to the PHB, Animal Handling only relates to making checks with domesticated animals. These checks might include:

  • Calming down your mount if they have been frightened
  • Determining if your mount could make a jump

Arcana

Modifier Type: Intelligence

Situations of Use: Your Arcana skill reflects your knowledge in the realm of spells, magic items, eldritch symbols, magical traditions, the planes of existence, and the inhabitants of those planes.

Athletics

Modifier Type: Strength

Situations of Use: Athletics encompasses your ability to succeed in difficult situations you encounter while climbing, jumping, or swimming. Examples include the following activities:

  • Attempting to climb a cliff
  • Clinging to a surface while something is trying to knock you off
  • Jumping an unusually long distance or pulling off a stunt midjump
  • Struggling to swim or stay afloat in treacherous currents or something trying to pull you underwater or otherwise interfere with your swimming

Deception

Modifier Type: Charisma

Situations of Use: Your Deception skill encompasses your ability to convincingly hide the truth, either verbally or through your actions. This deception can encompass the following:

  • Trying to fast-talk a guard or con a merchant
  • Passing yourself off in a disguise

History

Modifier Type: Intelligence

Situations of Use: Your History skill measures knowledge about historical events, legendary people, ancient kingdoms, past disputes, recent wars, and lost civilizations.

Insight

Modifier Type: Wisdom

Situations of Use: Your Insight skill encompasses your ability to read the true intentions of a creature, such as when searching out a lie or predicting someone’s next move.

Intimidation

Modifier Type: Charisma

Situations of Use: When you attempt to influence someone through overt threats, hostile actions, and physical violence, the DM might ask you to make an Intimidation check.

Investigation

Modifier Type: Intelligence

Situations of Use: When you look around for clues and make deductions based on those clues, you make an Investigation check. Examples would include:

  • Deducing the location of a hidden object
  • Discerning from the appearance of a wound what kind of weapon dealt it
  • Determining the weakest point in a tunnel that could cause it to collapse

Medicine

Modifier Type: Wisdom

Situations of use: Your Medicine skill encompasses your ability to stabilize a dying companion or diagnose an illness.

Nature

Modifier Type: Intelligence

Situations of use: Your Nature skill measures your knowledge about terrain, plants and animals, the weather, and natural cycles.

Perception

Modifier Type: Wisdom

Situations of use: Your Perception skill measures your ability to spot, hear, or otherwise detect the presence of something. It measures your general awareness of your surroundings and the keenness of your senses. Examples of this would include:

  • Trying to hear a conversation through a closed door, eavesdropping under an open window, or hearing monsters moving stealthily in the forest
  • Spotting things that are obscured or easy to miss, such as whether there are orcs lying in ambush on a road, thugs hiding in the shadows of an alley, or candlelight under a closed secret door

Performance

Modifier Type: Charisma

Situations of use: Your Performance skill determines how well you can delight an audience with music, dance, acting, storytelling, or some other form of entertainment.

Persuasion

Modifier Type: Charisma

Situations of use: When you attempt to influence someone or a group of people with tact, social graces, or good nature, the DM might ask you to make a Persuasion check. Persuasion typically comes up over Deception when you are acting in good faith, fostering friendships, making cordial requests, or exhibiting proper etiquette.

Religion

Modifier Type: Intelligence

Situations of use: Your Religion skill measures your knowledge about deities, rites and prayers, religious hierarchies, holy symbols, and the practices of secret cults.

Sleight of Hand

Modifier Type: Dexterity

Situations of use: Sleight of Hand determines your ability to plant something on someone else without them knowing or to conceal an object on your person. The DM might also call for a Sleight of Hand check to determine whether you can lift a coin purse off another person or slip something out of another person’s pocket.

Stealth

Modifier Type: Dexterity

Situations of use: Your Stealth skill measures your ability to conceal yourself from enemies, slink past guards, slip away without being noticed, or sneak up on someone without being seen or heard.

Survival

Modifier Type: Wisdom

Situations of use: Your Survival skill encompasses your ability to survive in the treacherous wilderness. This could include:

  • Following tracks of game or a monster that you are hunting
  • Guiding your group through frozen wastelands
  • Avoiding quicksand and other natural hazards

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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5e skills dnd

Design Philosophy

Why have 18 skills when you can have FIVE?

Give your players more agency over the narrative implementation of their skillsets by conjoining skill groups and highlighting alternate ability score associations.

Alternate Ability Skills

There’s a great variant rule in the Player’s Handbook that tells DMs to call for skill checks with alternate ability scores. For example, a player can roll an Intimidation check by adding their Strength modifier to their proficiency bonus, instead of the usual Charisma modifier. Not only does this make a more favorable roll for the strong-not-suave character, it paints a better story of how that character goes about their business.

Alternate Ability Skill Checks

The problem is that D&D’s tools are not designed to support this style of play. Players don’t think of skills modularly because the skill bonus is already pre-calculated on their character sheet. So, they get stuck in using their skill in the same mode all the time. Every time I ask a player to roll a non-standard skill check, I have to explain it and often wind up calculating their bonus for them. This is a failing of the system. It has a better way to do things and it knows it, but it sidelines it as a variant rule.

How can we get player thinking about their skills modularly? We need to divorce the skills from their presumed associations. But, that leaves a lot of skills to contend with.

Combining Skills

What we can do is combine these skills into broader thematic skills and let the ability scores do the narrative modulation. For example, instead of having different skills for persuasion, deception, and intimidation, you combine them all into one speechcraft skill.

You might be saying, “but deception is more than talking!” That’s right! Speechcraft only covers the talking part of deception. Passing off a disguise might come under Stealth, but you’re using a Charisma modifier instead of the usually-associated Dexterity modifier. This illustrates the value of the mix-and-match system. Skills can be “combined” but still manifest in different forms due to the combinations we’ve made available.

Trimming the Fat

In the course of analyzing and combining these skills, it becomes apparent that there’s certain skills which could be subsumed under other rolls, or handled some other way:

Performance. Performance is a largely redundant skill. Requiring characters to learn instruments on top of taking the performance skill seems to be an unfair proficiency tax. If you don’t have an instrument, your oration should fall somewhere under one of the other social skills.

Medicine. Medicine has two applications: practicing medicine and knowledge checks (such as a diagnosis). If you’re practicing medicine, it can be subsumed under the use of equipment: the Medicine Kit. As for knowledge skills, we have a plan for those…

Knowledge Skills. No person is proficient in all of history or art or music or magic or medicine or religion. The further you get into these fields, the more they are specialized. Get rid of all this granularity.

Split knowledge mechanics were supported by the narrative in prior editions, where you spend additional skill points representing the time you spent in study. The proficiency scaling of 5e does not support this narrative, because you just get better at all your proficient skills as you grow more powerful, regardless of whether you invest in them.

Further, there should be more encouragement to just tell the players the thing they want to know if they know it. Rolling a check to see if your player knew something is a frequently dissatisfying experience that can halt the narrative.

Running knowledge checks should be situational. If there’s a reason in the character’s history why they might have some knowledge of a thing, they get proficiency. If you prefer to grant advantage in such a situation, consider setting a more approachable Difficulty Class (DC) on your knowledge checks.

Advantage vs. Proficiency

As you can see from the chart, advantage is better than most proficiency bonuses against lower DCs. Proficiency not only moves up your average, but also raises the cap on how high you can roll. You can see this in action when comparing Resilient (CON) vs. War Caster.

Now that you have a method for handling knowledge checks, let’s dive in to the rest.

The way this works is that you can gain proficiency in 5 skills: Fitness, Speechcraft, Stealth, Awareness, and Knack. When you have proficiency, you are proficient in all rolls you make with that skill. The variance comes into play based on the ability score that you associate with it.

The bullet points below are suggestions for implementing the current skills under a 5 skill system. The point is that the skills are not married to specific ability scores, but should be chosen by the player to support the narrative of what they want to accomplish. For example, just as I would a player now to roll Intimidation (STR), I would allow a player to roll Intimidation (CHA) under this format.

Fitness

  • Fitness (STR) – athletics
  • Fitness (DEX) – acrobatics
  • Fitness (CON) – endurance

The “endurance” skill is not canon, but it is useful when employing optional rules such as the Dash action limit under the Dungeon Master’s Guide’s chase rules.

Speechcraft

Speechcraft represents your skill with words.

  • Speechcraft (INT) – persuasion
  • Speechcraft (CHA) – deception
  • Speechcraft (STR) – intimidation
  • Speechcraft (CHA) – performance (oration)

Stealth

Stealth represents how sneaky you can be.

  • Stealth (DEX) – stealth
  • Stealth (CHA) – deception (passing a disguise)

Awareness

Awareness represents how attuned you are to your environment.

  • Awareness (INT) – investigation
  • Awareness (WIS) – perception
  • Awareness (CHA) – insight
  • Awareness (WIS) – survival

Knack

Knack represents the special skills of practiced hands.

  • Knack (DEX) – sleight of hand
  • Knack (INT) – medicine
  • Knack (WIS) – animal handling
  • Knack (CHA) – performance (instrument)

Knowledge

Knowledge represents study.

  • Knowledge (INT) – arcana
  • Knowledge (INT) – history
  • Knowledge (INT) – religion
  • Knowledge (INT/WIS) – nature
  • Knowledge (INT/WIS) – medicine

While the 6th category, this technically isn’t a skill. Knowledge proficiency should only be granted if something in the character’s background provides a basis.

The difference between INT and WIS for nature and medicine checks depends on where you gained the knowledge. If you read it in a book, that’s INT; if you learned it in the field, that’s WIS.

Implementation

Implementing something like this would require a significant rework of how many skills are available to different classes, races, backgrounds, and via feats. That’s a secondary balance issue, which would take significant time to properly curate.

As a very rough rule, divide all features that provide skills by two (rounding down). This gives you one skill from your background and one from your class (two for Rogues). The same division technique works for Expertise too, since it comes in pairs.

Features that provide specific skill proficiencies can instead provide advantage on those rolls. For example, consider how Dwarves get Stonecunning which gives them advantage on history checks to decipher the origin of stonework. The same concept could be applied to the Elf’s Keen Senses trait, which gives them proficiency on perception checks.

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Sours: https://thinkdm.org/2020/07/18/5-skill-dnd/
Handbooker Helper: Ability Checks, Proficiencies \u0026 Saving Throws

A skill represents a specific knowledge, and an individual’s level of proficiency in a skill demonstrates a focus on that aspect. (A character’s starting skill proficiencies and ranks are determined at character creation, and a monster’s skill proficiencies appear in the monster’s stat block).

Skills by Ability[]

Each skill is primarily bound up with one ability. These are as follows:

Strength[]

Dexterity[]

  • Acrobatics
  • Sleight of Hand
  • Stealth

Intelligence[]

  • Arcana
  • History
  • Investigation
  • Nature
  • Religion

Wisdom[]

  • Animal Handling
  • Insight
  • Medicine
  • Perception
  • Survival

Charisma[]

  • Deception
  • Intimidation
  • Performance
  • Persuasion

Sometimes, the DM might ask for an ability check using a specific skill—for example, “Make a Perception check.” At other times, a player might ask the GM if proficiency in a particular skill applies to a check. In either case, proficiency in a skill means an individual can add his or her proficiency bonus to ability checks that involve that skill.

Variant: Skills with Different Abilities[]

Normally, your proficiency in a skill is tied to one ability as described above. In some situations, though, your skill proficiency might reasonably be modified by a different ability score. In such cases, the GM might ask for a check using an unusual combination of ability and skill, or you might ask your GM if you can apply different ability to a skill check.

For example, if you have to swim from an offshore island to the mainland, your GM might call for a Constitution check to see if you have the stamina to make it that far. In this case, your GM might allow you to apply your proficiency in Athletics and ask for a Athletics check modified by Constitution.

Similarly, when your half-orc barbarian uses a display of raw strength to intimidate an enemy, your GM might ask for an Intimidation check modified by Strength, even though Intimidation is normally associated with Charisma.

Skill Description[]

Acrobatics.[]

Acrobatics covers your attempt to stay on your feet in a tricky situation, such as when you’re trying to run across a sheet of ice, balance on a tightrope, or stay upright on a rocking ship’s deck. The GM might also call for a Acrobatics check to see if you can perform acrobatic stunts, including dives, rolls, somersaults, and flips.

Animal Handling.[]

When there is any question whether you can calm down a domesticated animal, keep a mount from getting spooked, or intuit an animal’s intentions, the GM might call for an Animal Handling check. You also make an Animal Handling check to control your mount when you attempt a risky maneuver.

Arcana.[]

Arcana measures your ability to recall lore about spells, magic items, eldritch symbols, magical traditions, the planes of existence, and the inhabitants of those planes.

Athletics.[]

Athletics covers difficult situations you encounter while climbing, jumping, or swimming. Examples include the following activities: • You attempt to climb a sheer or slippery cliff, avoid hazards while scaling a wall, or cling to a surface while something is trying to knock you off.

  • You try to jump an unusually long distance or pull off a stunt midjump.
  • You struggle to swim or stay afloat in treacherous currents, storm-tossed waves, or areas of thick seaweed. Or another creature tries to push or pull you underwater or otherwise interfere with your swimming.

Deception.[]

Deception lets you convincingly hide the truth, either verbally or through your actions. This deception can encompass everything from misleading others through ambiguity to telling outright lies. Typical situations include trying to fasttalk a guard, con a merchant, earn money through gambling, pass yourself off in a disguise, dull someone’s suspicions with false assurances, or maintain a straight face while telling a blatant lie.

History.[]

History is your ability to recall lore about historical events, legendary people, ancient kingdoms, past disputes, recent wars, and lost civilizations.

Insight.[]

Insight is the ability to determine the true intentions of a creature, such as when searching out a lie or predicting someone’s next move. Doing so involves gleaning clues from body language, speech habits, and changes in mannerisms.

Intimidation.[]

When you attempt to influence someone through overt threats, hostile actions, and physical violence, the GM might ask you to make an Intimidation check. Examples include trying to pry information out of a prisoner, convincing street thugs to back down from a confrontation, or using the edge of a broken bottle to convince a sneering vizier to reconsider a decision.

Investigation.[]

When you look around for clues and make deductions based on those clues, you make an Investigation check. You might deduce the location of a hidden object, discern from the appearance of a wound what kind of weapon dealt it, or determine the weakest point in a tunnel that could cause it to collapse. Poring through ancient scrolls in search of a hidden fragment of knowledge might also call for an Intelligence Investigation check.

Medicine.[]

Medicine lets you try to stabilize a dying companion or diagnose an illness.

Nature.[]

Nature measures your ability to recall lore about terrain, plants and animals, the weather, and natural cycles.

Perception.[]

Your Perception lets you spot, hear, or otherwise detect the presence of something. It measures your general awareness of your surroundings and the keenness of your senses. For example, you might try to hear a conversation through a closed door, eavesdrop under an open window, or hear monsters moving stealthily in the forest. Or you might try to spot things that are obscured or easy to miss, whether they are orcs lying in ambush on a road, thugs hiding in the shadows of an alley, or candlelight under a closed secret door.

Performance.[]

Performance determines how well you can delight an audience with music, dance, acting, storytelling, or some other form of entertainment.

Persuasion.[]

When you attempt to influence someone or a group of people with tact, social graces, or good nature, the GM might ask you to make a Persuasion check. Typically, you use persuasion when acting in good faith, to foster friendships, make cordial requests, or exhibit proper etiquette. Examples of persuading others include convincing a chamberlain to let your party see the king, negotiating peace between warring tribes, or inspiring a crowd of townsfolk.

Religion.[]

Religion measures your ability to recall lore about deities, rites and prayers, religious hierarchies, holy symbols, and the practices of secret cults.

Sleight of Hand.[]

Whenever you attempt an act of legerdemain or manual trickery, such as planting something on someone else or concealing an object on your person, make a Sleight of Hand check. The GM might also call for a Sleight of Hand check to determine whether you can lift a coin purse off another person or slip something out of another person’s pocket.

Stealth.[]

Make a Stealth check when you attempt to conceal yourself from enemies, slink past guards, slip away without being noticed, or sneak up on someone without being seen or heard.

Survival.[]

The GM might ask you to make a Survival check to follow tracks, hunt wild game, guide your group through frozen wastelands, identify signs that owlbears live nearby, predict the weather, or avoid quicksand and other natural hazards.

Hiding
The GM decides when circumstances are appropriate for hiding. When you try to hide, make a Stealth check. Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that check’s total is contested by the Perception check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence.

You can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly, and you give away your position if you make noise, such as shouting a warning or knocking over a vase.

An invisible creature can always try to hide. Signs of its passage might still be noticed, and it does have to stay quiet. In combat, most creatures stay alert for signs of danger all around, so if you come out of hiding and approach a creature, it usually sees you. However, under certain circumstances, the GM might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain advantage on an attack roll before you are seen.

Passive Perception. When you hide, there’s a chance someone will notice you even if they aren’t searching. To determine whether such a creature notices you, the GM compares your Dexterity (Stealth) check with that creature’s passive Perception score, which equals 10 + the creature’s Wisdom modifier, as well as any other bonuses or penalties. If the creature has advantage, add 5. For disadvantage, subtract 5. For example, if a 1st-level character (with a proficiency bonus of +2) has a Wisdom of 15 (a +2 modifier) and proficiency in Perception, he or she has a passive Wisdom (Perception) of 14.

What Can You See? One of the main factors in determining whether you can find a hidden creature or object is how well you can see in an area, which might be lightly or heavily obscured, as explained in "The Environment.”

Sours: https://ocd20.fandom.com/wiki/Skills

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