Alternative to Skill Assurance


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


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As it is right now, Skill Assurance is a bit of a weak Skill Feat. I've been rolling around a few ideas on paper for the past few weeks and feel like I've got something that might work a bit better.

Right now, Assurance is a skill feat that needs to be purchased for each skill you wish to apply it to. It allows you to ignore some very basic skill checks based on your proficiency and ignores all other factors such as level, attribute modifier, and other bonuses.

Currently that comes out to the following results.

  • Trained - 10
  • Expert - 15
  • Master - 20
  • Legendary - 30

    While those results do allow you to ignore the majority of low level rolls, if you add the actual numbers up for someone who would even bother picking it up.. the actual results can be kind of depressing.

    Trained, Attribute Modifier of +4 and a level bonus of +1 means you're basically 'Taking a 5' on the check. When you level up past that it very quickly reduces the effectiveness unless you raise yourself up to a higher level of proficiency.

    On the high end, let's look at someone who is Legendary at a skill. Typically this is a skill that they will favor and have at least a +4 in (likely +5 to +7).

    Level Bonus +15, Proficiency Bonus +3, Attribute Bonus +4, Item Bonus +2. Based on these numbers alone you're looking at a result of 25. If you factor in a higher level, higher attribute bonuses, or higher item bonuses that quickly blows the assurance feat out of the water since you can get to a point you won't even have a chance to roll below 30.

    There are quite a lot of people who seem to miss the old 'Take 10' system and I feel that this might be a bit closer to that to fill the need.

    Skill Assurance [Varying Skill Feat]

    You are able to 'Take a 10' on skill checks adding all of your modifiers together and treating your die roll as if it had rolled a 10 to a maximum result based on your proficiency in that skill.

  • Trained - 15
  • Expert - 25
  • Master - 35
  • Legendary - 45

    Skill Focus [Varying Skill Feat]
    Pre-Requisite: Skill Assurance

    Select a skill that you are at least trained in. You roll your skill check normally and take the higher result between your rolled result and your Skill Assurance result.

    Special: You can select this feat multiple times. Each time you do, you choose a different skill, and gain the benefits for the chosen skill.


  • The problem with assurance is it doesn't scale.

    The DCs for skill checks increase with level, but assurance doesn't, so it quickly becomes a total waste of time.

    If it was a 10, 15, etc + modifiers it would be good.

    If it was a 10+level, 15+level, etc it would scale and be useful.

    As is its only useful for a few levels and then needs to be retrained to something useful.


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    Actually, Assurance on Expert/Master level Athletics is pretty good for ignoring multi-attack penalties etc in combat maneuvers vs. equal- and lower-level opponents.

    Theory-crafted here and verified in playtesting here. (The playtest link contains spoilers for "Rose Street Revenge".)


    I wish it just did something simple like when you roll for that skill you treat any roll less than a 10 as a 10. This allows it to scale and makes it all round better without making it too overpowered.


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    My favorite alternative to Skill Assurance is literally every other feat. Every one of them.

    Skill Assurance is awful. It "assures" that you get a low roll (5ish) and it only works at very low level unless you use it on the one skill you plan to train up to Legendary as you level.

    If I were playing a blacksmith (who never adventures, he just sits in his forge all day, every day, making blacksmithy stuff), I might want him to get Assurance on his primary crafting skill. Maybe. Not sure. The only reason I would consider is because there is a lack of good blacksmith feats to take instead.

    For any kind of adventurer, spending a precious feat slot for the ability to roll about a 5 on one some tasks of one skill is pretty weak. So weak that any adventurer should easily find plenty of better feats to prioritize ahead of Assurance. So many, in fact, that he'll never dig through them deep enough to reach all the way down to Assurance.

    Furthermore, most adventuring skill rolls are hard enough that a 5 will never succeed, making Assurance equate to "Assured to fail". You are literally better of rolling the d20 because that gives you about a 75% chance to do better than you will do with Assurance.

    And that is definitely not worth a feat slot.

    Change it to something simple and basic like "Pick a skill. You get +2 when using that skill. This stacks with everything". Now at least it's fairly assured to work, or at least work better, than not having assurance.

    Or change it to something like "Pick a skill. When using this skill, treat a success as a critical success, a failure as a success, and critical failure as a failure." This may be OP. Maybe take out the middle one.

    Something like either of these suggestions would make this feat worth taking, or at least considering.


    DM_Blake wrote:
    Furthermore, most adventuring skill rolls are hard enough that a 5 will never succeed, making Assurance equate to "Assured to fail". You are literally better of rolling the d20 because that gives you about a 75% chance to do better than you will do with Assurance.

    Sometimes even "Assured to Critical Fail" ;)


    "Instead of rolling, you can treat your result as your skill modifier plus 6/9/12/15 (TEML)"

    There, a better feat.

    Or even 3/6/9/12.
    Or 4/6/8/10.
    Or 6/9/12/15 + level rather than modifier.

    Seriously, anything works better.
    The DCs do not necessarily scale (unless we're talking about Treat Wounds), but your modifier does, and eventually you'll just automatically surpass your own Assurance. ESPECIALLY if it's not your best skill.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
    WizardsBlade wrote:
    I wish it just did something simple like when you roll for that skill you treat any roll less than a 10 as a 10. This allows it to scale and makes it all round better without making it too overpowered.

    This actually would be pretty powerful, which is why I suggested something similar to it as an option for a feat beyond Skill Assurance.

    Doing this would make all of your rolls for a skill count as 10-20, ignoring the worst half of the die. Almost entirely removing your chance for a Critical Failure and damn near guaranteeing success.


    Gloom wrote:
    WizardsBlade wrote:
    I wish it just did something simple like when you roll for that skill you treat any roll less than a 10 as a 10. This allows it to scale and makes it all round better without making it too overpowered.

    This actually would be pretty powerful, which is why I suggested something similar to it as an option for a feat beyond Skill Assurance.

    Doing this would make all of your rolls for a skill count as 10-20, ignoring the worst half of the die. Almost entirely removing your chance for a Critical Failure and damn near guaranteeing success.

    I think you misunderstood. He doesn't want "roll a d20, if it came up less than 10, make it 10." He suggested, "roll a skill check if the result (after modifiers) is less than 10, make it 10."

    That ignores the lowest 20% of the die in the best case.


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    Draco18s wrote:

    I think you misunderstood. He doesn't want "roll a d20, if it came up less than 10, make it 10." He suggested, "roll a skill check if the result (after modifiers) is less than 10, make it 10."

    That ignores the lowest 20% of the die in the best case.

    ... What?

    Their exact statement was:

    WizardsBlade wrote:
    I wish it just did something simple like when you roll for that skill you treat any roll less than a 10 as a 10. This allows it to scale and makes it all round better without making it too overpowered.

    If I misunderstood what they were saying then the alternative to what I thought would be woefully underpowered and pretty much pointless to pick up.

    I'm pretty sure they were only talking about the result of the d20 and not all of the modifiers and that the goal was:

    Roll 1d20 (If 10 or lower, treat as 10.) then add all relevant modifiers.


    Considering that the "get a ten" is equivalent to "Take 5":

    DM_Blake wrote:
    For any kind of adventurer, spending a precious feat slot for the ability to roll about a 5 on one some tasks of one skill is pretty weak

    A feat that prevents you from rolling that low and getting a critical failure is pretty good. A little better than "a critical failure is instead a failure" as if 10 is good enough to beat the DC (the current effect) you succeed.

    So, there you go.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Assurance is only useful if you combo it with something that has a beneficial effect if you fail (but not crit fail) since it lets you reliably activate that effect without risking the crit fail. It's extremely niche and basically useless if you don't have a specific combo in mind. A good one is the rogue's Sneak Savant, which allows you to auto-succeed most stealth checks using assurance.


    AND if you’re maxing the skill.

    Good luck Assuring anything that’s not maxed out first.


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    What about letting Assurance give you the result of the DC of your level. With:

    Trained = Trivial DC
    Expert = Easy DC
    Master = Hard DC
    Legendary = the next higher DC class, can't remember the name.

    Powerfull, yes but only if you are Master or Legendary. Now Assurance lets you really autosucceed on some stuff with investment.

    ...I also like OPs Skill Focus idea.


    masda_gib wrote:

    What about letting Assurance give you the result of the DC of your level. With:

    Trained = Trivial DC
    Expert = Easy DC
    Master = Hard DC
    Legendary = the next higher DC class, can't remember the name.

    Powerfull, yes but only if you are Master or Legendary. Now Assurance lets you really autosucceed on some stuff with investment.

    I like where you are going with this. A quick glance at the DC table and combining your idea and the idea of 'roll a d20 if you roll X or lower, treat roll as X', you end up something like:

    Trained: x = 3
    Expert : x = 6
    Master: x = 9
    Legendary: x = 12

    This only assures up to master at legendary (assuming you have invested in the stats/items to increase your mod) but it prevents most critical failures and will help to assure that easy DCs are passed.


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    WizardsBlade wrote:


    I like where you are going with this. A quick glance at the DC table and combining your idea and the idea of 'roll a d20 if you roll X or lower, treat roll as X', you end up something like:

    Trained: x = 3
    Expert : x = 6
    Master: x = 9
    Legendary: x = 12

    This only assures up to master at legendary (assuming you have invested in the stats/items to increase your mod) but it prevents most critical failures and will help to assure that easy DCs are passed.

    I think the most noticable effect of my suggestion is that you can choose to not roll for some actions if you have invested enough.

    A bard with master and assurance in performance can always choose to autosucceed for Inspire Heroics in a equal level party.

    Someone with expert and assurance in medicine can autosucceed on treat wounds.

    Which is what I expect Assurance to do: Not relying on the dice for stuff I want to do often. And I still have to roll if I want to critically succeed.

    Liberty's Edge

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    I started complaining about assurance within a day or so of reading the new rules, but I was mostly looking at it in the sense that it replaced "taking 10". Most of the "replace the die" ideas follow this same tactic.

    Though, really... what would it imbalance if Assurance did the following:

    "When making a skill roll that does not include the Attack trait, you may choose roll two d20 and use the higher result. You cannot critically succeed on this roll."


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

    There were several interesting suggestions in this thread, but it feels like they missed the mark on what the original Skill Assurance feat intended.

    From what my reading of the Skill Assurance feat determined, it seemed like they wanted a way for players to guarantee success on certain skill actions, and have that list be gated based on proficiency.

    Here is a Pro/Con list based on my interpretations.

    Skill Assurance - Original

    PRO

  • Ranks up with Proficiency.

    CON

  • Unnecessary Feat Tax to unlock an old mechanic of 'Taking a 10' by requiring this feat for each and every skill you wanted to apply it to.
  • Does not scale with level or modifiers.
  • Typically, the results that you will get through Skill Assurance, even when at a level appropriate for certain proficiencies will be lower then what you would be capable of by rolling a d20. Sometimes significantly lower than if you would have gotten an option to take a 10.

    With my original post I had several goals to kind of revamp the Skill Assurance feat and make it much more attractive to players. It was further expanded by the Skill Focus feat suggestion that I made. Here were the intents that I had behind each of my suggestions.

    Skill Assurance

  • Remove the Feat Tax from Skill Assurance based on the limited effect that the feat intended to have.
  • Keep in line with the intended effect having a lower skill result cap for lower proficiency skills.
  • Move the actual skill result to represent 'Taking a 10' on skills while respecting the intent of skill caps that the original feat had, which was meant to encourage ranking up the proficiency on skills that you wanted to succeed at with Assurance.

    Skill Focus

  • Add an additional feat for people who want to take advantage of Skill Assurance, but who also want to be able to roll for a possible Critical Success.
  • Feat tax appropriately here by requiring Skill Assurance, since this is a very powerful effect at all levels of skill training.


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    swordchucks wrote:

    I started complaining about assurance within a day or so of reading the new rules, but I was mostly looking at it in the sense that it replaced "taking 10". Most of the "replace the die" ideas follow this same tactic.

    Though, really... what would it imbalance if Assurance did the following:

    "When making a skill roll that does not include the Attack trait, you may choose roll two d20 and use the higher result. You cannot critically succeed on this roll."

    While I am not opposed to this suggestion, it kind of skirts around what Skill Assurance had initially intended which is an auto-success on certain checks limited by the proficiency you had in a skill.

    Your suggestion has merits but I think they may choose to go in a direction that doesn't resemble the 'Advantage' mechanics of 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.


    I guess the reason I still like the dice roll over the "take a 10' is because, as a player, I never know if taking a 10 will pass the DC. If skill assurance let the GM auto pass you on a check if the DC was below the assurance number or told you to roll if the DC wasn't, I think I would be much more satisfied with it. But I cant stand the idea of a character needing to cross a plank and taking assurance and falling to there doom, when they at least had a 50/50 change to roll a 10+.


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    WizardsBlade wrote:
    I guess the reason I still like the dice roll over the "take a 10' is because, as a player, I never know if taking a 10 will pass the DC. If skill assurance let the GM auto pass you on a check if the DC was below the assurance number or told you to roll if the DC wasn't, I think I would be much more satisfied with it. But I cant stand the idea of a character needing to cross a plank and taking assurance and falling to there doom, when they at least had a 50/50 change to roll a 10+.

    The Skill Focus suggestion that I made would still allow for a dice roll on skills that you wanted to focus on. :)

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Perhaps it was already mentioned, but Assurance is useful if you are suffering from a number of penalties, right?

    Despite the blacksmith...
    1. Being terribly sick (you should really be in bed...)
    2. Having one eye swollen shut from a bar fight the night before (I told you to put ice on it)
    3. Can't for the life of him find his lucky hammer (It's probably still at the bar)
    He is still able to accomplish something and not be completely shut down.

    Liberty's Edge

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    The inherent problem right now is that Assurance passes very few skill checks that aren't Easy for your level. Assuming you dump full advancements into the skill you have assurance in, you can only pass a Medium DC check at levels 2, 3, and 12-13 (where it actually makes a Hard check).

    With the new skill chart, it does always mean you pass an Easy check for your level, which would be a benefit except for:

    Quote:
    You can usually skip rolling and assume the characters succeed against easy DCs unless it’s necessary for everybody to try the check.

    So... Assurance lets you not worry about rolling a skill check that you really shouldn't worry about rolling anyway? Yeah, great use of a feat...

    ---

    More broadly, the reason I suggest a "roll twice, no crit" mechanic is because it achieves the same, general, result of buffering you against bad results while removing exceptional results from the table. It's not quite advantage due to the second part of that.


    Thewms wrote:
    Perhaps it was already mentioned, but Assurance is useful if you are suffering from a number of penalties, right?

    Sure...if your assurance value is high enough to succeed with.

    Combat maneuvers and multiattack penalty is one of the few things people have been able to find that work well with Assurance (as written).

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

    I've been wondering if Assurance shouldn't basically be built into skill proficiency while in Downtime and Exploration modes, with a new feat to unlock it for Encounter mode as well.


    Hmm I think it would be better if it just negated the fact that a 1 downgrades your success by 1 step. so a nat one at your assured would just be a 1 that you can try to add up.


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    Vidmaster7 wrote:
    Hmm I think it would be better if it just negated the fact that a 1 downgrades your success by 1 step. so a nat one at your assured would just be a 1 that you can try to add up.

    I wouldn't. Most times that works out to a crit fail anyway (because if you need to roll an 11 to succeed (that's how the math works!) then a 1 crit fails anyway).

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