Two key abilities for each skill


New Rules Suggestions

Sovereign Court

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I know this is way too divergent for Pathfinder and would wreak havoc with backwards compatibility, but I just wanted to toss it out there.

What about two key abilities score modifiers for each skill (or in a couple of cases, double the same one). Something like:

Acrobatics (Dex + Str)
Appraise (Int + Wis)
Bluff (Cha + Int)
Climb (Str + Dex)
Craft (Int + Wis)
Diplomacy (Cha x2)
Disable Device (Int + Dex)
Disguise (Cha + Wis)
Escape Artist (Dex + Con)
Fly (Dex + Str)
Handle Animal (Cha + Wis)
Heal (Wis + Int)
Intimidate (Cha + Str)
Knowledge (Int x2)
Linguistics (Int x2)
Perception (Wis + Str)
Perform (Cha + Wis)
Profession (Wis + Int)
Ride (Dex + Cha)
Sense Motive (Wis + Cha)
Sleight of Hand (Dex x2)
Spellcraft (Int x2)
Stealth (Dex x2)
Survival (Wis + Con)
Swim (Str + Con)
Use Magic Device (Cha + Int)

Just a crazy idea I wanted to share. Much like dropping the 3-18 ability scores in favor of just the ability modifiers, it might work for an all new game but not a revamp of D&D. Oh well.


Mosaic wrote:

I know this is way too divergent for Pathfinder and would wreak havoc with backwards compatibility, but I just wanted to toss it out there.

What about two key abilities score modifiers for each skill (or in a couple of cases, double the same one). Something like:

Acrobatics (Dex + Str)
Appraise (Int + Wis)
Bluff (Cha + Int)
Climb (Str + Dex)
Craft (Int + Wis)
Diplomacy (Cha x2)
Disable Device (Int + Dex)
Disguise (Cha + Wis)
Escape Artist (Dex + Con)
Fly (Dex + Str)
Handle Animal (Cha + Wis)
Heal (Wis + Int)
Intimidate (Cha + Str)
Knowledge (Int x2)
Linguistics (Int x2)
Perception (Wis + Str)
Perform (Cha + Wis)
Profession (Wis + Int)
Ride (Dex + Cha)
Sense Motive (Wis + Cha)
Sleight of Hand (Dex x2)
Spellcraft (Int x2)
Stealth (Dex x2)
Survival (Wis + Con)
Swim (Str + Con)
Use Magic Device (Cha + Int)

Just a crazy idea I wanted to share. Much like dropping the 3-18 ability scores in favor of just the ability modifiers, it might work for an all new game but not a revamp of D&D. Oh well.

Big fan of double abilities for skills myself. It worked rather well in Rolemaster/HARP. It also ends such things as ability supremacy. But then I also support this for Attack rolls, Hit Points and AC as well. FOr attack average of Strength and Dexterity bonus. For AC, the average of Dexterity and Wisdom (since wisdom covers intution and perception to a degree). For hit points, the average of Constitution and Strength.

-Weylin Stormcrowe

Sovereign Court

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Maybe we can get this into Pathfinder 2.0 ...


Had a similar idea myself, but never had the time and nerves to think it through.

Sovereign Court Contributor

I've seen systems like this in a few games, and I actually developed an SF game that used something like that as part of the base mechanic. It really helps a lot with making the game balance.

It would be hard to apply to d20 right now though.


Why? Just add another ability to each skill. Done. It's just one additional number to add to the roll, but since you already did this on your character sheet, no big deal.

Sovereign Court

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Naw, it would boost a lot of people's skill rolls by a few points. 16 Str and 18 Dex would add +3 and +4. I don't have a problem with that, and folks with no bonuses - average folk - wouldn't change at all, but exceptional people - PCs - would be even more exceptional at skills. Also, with DCs set the way they are now, they assume lower bonuses. Things might be a little too easy.


I love both the suggestions (for Skills and for HP, AC and Attack).
These are great ideas, and I don’t see a problem with backwards compatibility.
I think these rules reward a "balanced" character and get rid of (or almost get rid of) the "dump stat".

But if you're a Powergamer, or a DM that runs a Monty Hall campaign where every PC has three or four 18's on their ability scores... I think doubling the ability bonus would cause compatibility issues.


Three questions:

1. Are we talking about adding both to the roll? If so, that throws off the existing DCs of various skills. If you boost the DCs, what about people who don't have a bonus, or have a penalty, in one of the two stats? Now you've made things the same for the guy with good stats, and even harder for the guy with a substandard stat.

2. Is this a situational bonus, either/or? For example, is this like how skills work in Spycraft. I like Spycraft and all, but sometimes its frustrating when I know that if the CG thinks a check uses one ability, and I think it uses another, that its up to him. Plus, this makes things messy, as you have to have your two bonuses to your skill to figure out which one applies in a given situation.

3. Is this a choice that the PCs get to make? If this is the case, you are going to have a lot more PCs that can succeed in various skills because they can tailor their character toward being the best in the skills he is planning on using.

Overall, this is an idea that I think has some theoretical merit, but might be more trouble than its worth to actually implement.


KnightErrantJR wrote:

Three questions:

Overall, this is an idea that I think has some theoretical merit, but might be more trouble than its worth to actually implement.

You just hit the nail on the head.

Sovereign Court

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KnightErrantJR wrote:
1. Are we talking about adding both to the roll? If so, that throws off the existing DCs of various skills. If you boost the DCs, what about people who don't have a bonus, or have a penalty, in one of the two stats? Now you've made things the same for the guy with good stats, and even harder for the guy with a substandard stat.

Adding them both is what I originally had in mind. And yes, it would throw off existing DCs. In my mind, you'd have to create kind of a new scale. DC 10 would still be the norm for what average people (no bonuses) can do. But for heroes, combined bonuses of +5 would not be uncommon. You'd be able to reach DC 25 pretty easily. 30 might be the "new 25," and totally out of reach of most mundanes. You'd just have to make sure that nothing normal folk ever do has a DC that high.

And yes, this is meant to be a totally theoretical thread, kind of a "what if?" This would be a disaster for backwards compatibility. But sometimes good ideas arise when you think outside the box.


I agee that adding both stat modifiers would probably be more trouble than its worth, but the idea of choosing which stat to use will allow your character to be more focused on the things that he is trying to be good at (suggested by KnightErrantJR).

I don't see where it would be unbalancing to the game if you were only adding one or the other, and it gives that extra level of individuality for characters.


I just thought of something interesting. I can really see this idea working in a skill system that doesn't use skill points, but one in which skills are either trained or untrained. Instead of trained skills being your level + ability score modifier + 3, it could instead be your level + two ability score modifiers. This makes it much easier to remember, and on average I would think that adding another ability score modifier would come close to +3.


I would be against adding the bonuses. I would rather see either the attributes themselves or the bonuses averaged to determine the final bonus to skills. This would be easily and quickly done then noted on the character sheet where the ability bonus normally goes. This would add maybe 5 minutes to character creation tops. I would do what HARP does and apply this averaged bonus to the skill flat and not go into situational abilities. Averaging would mean not having to alter the DC system or result in any sort of power creep really. While I enjoy mix-and-match Ability-Skill use, I realize many dont so would not push for it here.

Regarding the powergamers/power DMs and their multiple 18s, nothing is going to stop them from doing so in any system they play. And honestly, I dont think powergamers should be a big factor in game design. A talented powergamer can exploit/break any system out there.

-Weylin Stormcrowe


"Averageing" is a good idea. But I can hear the voices moan already...

Dark Archive

Benoit Leblanc wrote:
KnightErrantJR wrote:

Three questions:

Overall, this is an idea that I think has some theoretical merit, but might be more trouble than its worth to actually implement.

You just hit the nail on the head.

Yep, I, too, share the same concerns Knight does. I think this change would be too radical and demand so many changes that it's simply not worth it.

It works in Harnmaster, Rolemaster and HARP, but those are way more "simulationist" games than D&D. I recall that we spent literally hours during each session (when we were playing Rolemaster) just calculating those bonuses and looking up tables.


I really dont see why some think averaging two abilities would be complicated. It's a simple procedure and once you have done it you wont have to adjust it until you hit an ability raise when levelling up. It would not add any spaces to the character sheet as there is already one for for ability score bonus. It should not take more than five minutes to go down the sheet and plug in the averages.

-Weylin Stormcrowe


This is one I've thought about a lot; in addition to the systems listed, Victory Games 007 used averaging (Fire Combat was (DEX+PER)/2 + skill ranks, for example) -- and is very simulationist (at least compared to D&D) as well. Yes, averaging would be easy, but on average (rim shot!), most people would in essence take a -0.5 penalty to their skills, because of the rule that you always round down.

But it'd be a HUGE headache for adventure writers, and for people proofreading adventures -- like most of the Paizo staff -- and they already have enough work to do. Overall, for D&D the benefit is probably far outweighed by that one side effect.

Sovereign Court

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I'm not a big fan of averaging. I can divide just fine but it is an extra step, plus I don't like losing that 0.5. I don't like choosing one skill or the other either, because it leads to too much variation, and more people end up good at more things; that's not what I was looking for. What I was looking for was players needing to be good at both abilities to be good at the skill.

Here's a non-skill example. The whole CMB idea is great but some people argued it should be Dex not Str, or a choice. Well I think it should be both. If you're strong but not quick, people are going to be able to out maneuver you. If you are Dexterous but weak, you won't be able to hold them. To be a really good grappler or whatever, you need to be both strong and dexterous.

That's how I would envision a new, from-the-ground-up skill system, two abilities that both contribute to each skill. But, yeah, that doesn't make sense for Pathfinder because it would change some of the basic assumptions, like the DC scale.


Instead of averaging, just pick the better. It allows people to choose, and is a better simulation of how people depend on their strengths.


Taliesin Hoyle wrote:
Instead of averaging, just pick the better. It allows people to choose, and is a better simulation of how people depend on their strengths.

Reasonable compromise between totalling and averaging, Taliesin. But it could easily lead to an even larger problem of superstat syndrome where one attribute rules many more skills than others.

Which is a common problem in many games where Dexterity becomes even more of a superstat that it is in D&D.

-Weylin Stormcrowe

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