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As a GM, I want a skill system that is simple (the rules are short and easy to remember), flexible (it can be applied to all sorts of game situations easily), and intuitive (its results seems reasonable and fair). The new system (from what little info we have) is a step in the right direction but seems to fall short on all three.
I’ll start with what I think system should be.
When your players encounter a skill challenge, you pick the skill and difficulty level. Picking a simple lock is Trained Thievery. A hard lock might be Expert or Master Thievery. Surviving in the void (to use Paizo’s example) would be Legendary Survival. That’s it! You’re done.
The rules would provide examples of skill challenges at each difficulty level, but those are just guidelines. You pick the difficulty that is appropriate for your game and group.
Now your players roll. If their proficiency level equals the challenge level, they just roll a d20. By default, a 10 or higher succeeds. For each proficiency level higher, they roll with some significant bonus (roll an additional d20 and take the highest or add +4 or +5). If they are one proficiency level lower, they roll with an equivalent disadvantage. Two or more levels lower and they cannot succeed.
My issues with the proposed PF2 system:
If there really is a list of new actions and abilities at each proficiency rank, we end up with 20 pages of skill tables that GMs have to memorize or constantly reference in order to know whether to allow a character to make a check or use an ability. Making them absolute rules instead of guidelines also encourages rules lawyering when a situation doesn’t exactly match up with the book.
The flat level bonus makes it hard to adapt content on the fly. What is a hard lock? Is it DC 12, 17, 27? Who knows, it depends on the party level. It also leads to very unintuitive situations like a high level untrained paladin being better at thievery than a low level rogue.
The proficiency level bonuses are too small (+1 per level). In a party of 5 players where one character is a master and everyone else is just trained, the master only has a 27% chance of being the highest roll. So his or her skill barely matters. If you used advantage and disadvantage (say for an Expert skill check), the master would have a 58% chance of being the highest.
That said, I am definitely in favor of using their system for things like saves and weapons. Those proficiency bonuses should be small since everyone needs to have a chance to make their saves or hit their attacks. Character level is obviously very important in combat, so adding in level here does make sense. And unlocking new abilities which used to be feats like evasion seems like a fun and intuitive method of character progression. Any thoughts?