Monthly Archives: July 2014

Fifth edition’s dropped; stats and skills.

Well, the next edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game is out ( ), in dribs and drabs.

In my opinion, there’s a lot to love. They wrote it well, they wrote it carefully, they wrote a very… D&D-flavored D&D. I’m charmed, and exclaim as such frequently. If you happen to be reading this post but were not charmed by 5e, then I hope you have a game by which you were charmed and are enjoying, but you are not my audience.

Anyway, as everyone knows by now,  I cannot resist tinkering. Charmed or not, I am not as beholden to Tradition!!! as the devs are.

Today we’ll be tinkering with your character’s stats. I cannot abide the wisdom stat as it currently stands, find the dexterity stat overpowered, and believe skills are distributed suboptimally. I know I’ve posted somewhere about this before but now cannot find it; forgive my monomania.

The unifying umbrella of “proficiency” is a very cool umbrella , but it’s a mistake to believe all proficiencies are created equally. As far as I can tell (so far) there are a few kinds of proficiency in the nascent game:
Weapon proficiency: granted by races and classes, trying to use the weapon without this proficiency imposes disadvantage on the attempt; with it, you get to add your proficiency bonus.
Armor proficiency: like weapon proficiency, but it’s all stick, no scales-by-level carrot: nonproficient use imposes disadvantage on checks and denies spellcasting, proficient use grants a flat bonus.
Skill proficiency: as weapon proficiency (though also granted by backgrounds), but it’s all scales-by-level carrot; proficiency with a skill lets you add your proficiency bonus, nonproficiency imposes no additional penalty. These are specific subsets of checks, which are raw uses of the related stat which don’t allow proficiency bonus to apply.
Save proficiency: as skill proficiency, though obviously rolled in a different set of circumstances.
The above are gated, expensive features. If you want to pick up stealth or perception proficiency, you’re going to need to multi class or take a feat, because you cannot acquire them in game.
Implicitly there’s also a sort of spellcasting proficiency, but there are no nonproficient casters, so it’s all a bit degenerate. Wizards effectively have a kind-of spell proficiency against Intelligence, and clerics against Wisdom.

In contrast, language proficiency (kind of like armor prof, in that you speak it or not) or tool proficiency (like skill proficiency but centered around a piece of equipment) may be trained in-game for a cost of time and money. So they’re not really protected;  anyone can do them. They’re also not explicitly tied to statistics, so it’s not yet clear whether locks are picked with dexterity or intelligence. But let’s be honest, you’re not going to use thieves tools off of strength!

So, my proposed new stats with their subtending effects and proficiencies:
Pretty much as normal, but note this loses Athletics. That’s a pretty severe debuff, but I’m not sure how to fix it. Many strength rolls will be raw checks to lift things or break things, for what it’s worth.
Armor speed minima.
Melee and thrown weapon proficiencies and damage, by default.
Grappling skill (same skill also applies to pushes and unarmed strikes; aggressive or defensive).
Encumbrance (and thus tool proficiency with “containers”).
Saves to resist physical force, such as a grapple, push or pull effect.

I keep playing with the name of this one. I also like athletics or acrobatics for it; it’s athe graceful moving part of dexterity.
Unarmored AC adjustment.
Athletics skill (climbing, swimming, running).
Acrobatics skill (balancing, wriggling, avoid/escape a grapple).
Stealth skill (hide, move silently).
Saves to avoid area effects, being touched by things, jumping to safety.

As ever constitution has been, but explicitly with more “willpower” than usual.
Hit points.
There are no skills associated with constitution.
Saves to resist fear, rage, despair, paralyzation, poison, death magic, disease, curses.

I’d like to name this wisdom but, alas, that would be confusing.
Starting Languages. You can substitute free tool proficiencies for languages, if desired.
Spellcasting proficiency for wizards.
Arcana skill.
History skill.
Nature skill.
Religion skill.
Medicine skill.
Spellcasting for wizards (and special abilities for monks).
Saves only rarely, to resist direct assaults on the intellect: maze spells, mind blasts. Maybe resist confusion effects?

I’ve also considered cunning of awareness for this. It’s the higher of a given monster’s dexterity or wisdom. It’s the pure awareness parts
Missile and finesse weapon proficiencies and damage.
Initiative checks.
Awareness skill (opposes Stealth).
Insight skill (opposes Deception).
Survival skill.
Animal handling skill (really?! Maybe not!).
Spellcasting for rangers and druids.
Saves against illusions.

Deception skill.
Intimidate skill.
Persuade skill.
Leadership skill.
Spellcasting for clerics and paladins.
Saves against enchantments (charm, suggestion, dominate).