A way to make skill proficiency mean more, without changing the math.


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


So there has been a common complaint on the forums that skill proficiency isn't as impactful as it should be. People complain that a Legendary PC at a particular skill is only 45% more successful at the same challenge (previously 35%) and is exactly as good at the task as any untrained mook 9 levels higher than them. The counterargument inevitably comes back that the benefit of higher proficiency isn't higher bonuses, really, it's more uses for the skill and access to skill feats. This fails to adequately refute the original complaint, because the complaint was specifically about the base uses of the skill, things that anyone, trained or not, can do. It makes no sense that a level 10 wizard, who has put only a modicum a Training into Diplomacy, can out-talk a level 7 Master Diplomat that has trained all their life to speak eloquently. And this is just using the basic "Make an impression" skill use. Sure, the diplomat can impress more people at once, or make a Shameless Request, but when negotiating with a foreign king to set up some trade routes, you're better off sending the wizard, over the person *explicitly trained for that job*.

So we need something to make skill proficiencies mean more, and it needs to work at any level of proficiency, and with any use of a skill, even the basic ones.

My solution is this: in order to succeed at any contested skill use (contested meaning the DC is set by the statistics of another creature) you need to be at least as trained in your skill as one step less than the creature you are affecting, or at least as trained if that creature is actively trying to disrupt your skill use, or two levels lower if the target is particularly distracted/ not able to disrupt you.

Example: You, a ranger who, while more focused on things like nature and your Animal Companion, has put one of their proficiencies in Stealth, becoming trained in it, are trying to sneak past a particularly perceptive guard, who is an Expert in Perception. Let's say this guard is just doing his normal routine, walking his rounds, but not paying too close attention to the shadows. Since you are just one proficiency down from the guard (trained vs expert), you're fine to attempt the check. On the other hand, lets say you flubbed a previous stealth check against another guard. That guard called out an alert to the other guards, but couldn't actually locate you and just went back on his rounds. Now the guard you're trying to sneak past is on high alert, closely scanning the shadows for intruders. Now, his Expert proficiency is on full display, meaning you, being only trained, aren't going to be able to sneak past him any more, but your party rogue, who has stayed true to form and is an Expert at Stealth, would be able to attempt that sneak. On the other hand, lets say the guard isn't being paid well, and instead of actually doing rounds is staying in the guard house with the other guards playing poker. Now, since the guard is distracted, even the Untrained in stealth Wizard could try to sneak past, since Untrained is only two levels lower than Expert. However, and Untrained character would never be able to sneak past a Perception Master unless they were truly incapacitated.

Now, this system has it's own problems, I'm sure, but I'd love to hear what you think in this thread!

Oh, and briefly going back to the negotiation example above: the king has an Master will save, because being a king is taxing on one's will and it takes something special to be able to withstand that. Now, the Master Diplomat is going to have no trouble trying to talk his way into some sweet trade routes, even if the king is on edge during the discusions, but the Wizard is going to make no headway. Unless, of course, he wants to risk an international incident by trying to Charm the king, bring the threshold down to two proficiency steps below, allowing the wizards Trained Diplomacy to attempt a check against the king's Master Will.


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While I like the way this sounds the porblems come out in combat. For example an master in athletics grapples an untrained in athletics and acrobatics wizard. The wizard can never escape.
Now I actually don't really see a huge problem with this as it make sense, but it does show where things could go wrong later down the line.


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IMO the fi would be to have every skill feat scale as proficiency scales. Like how cat fall works. I also would like to see a ability similar to evasion for all master level proficiency. Basically you don't get the auto fail bump from rolling a 1 if you have mastery in a skill.


The issue I see with this is that the players aren't generally supposed to know the exact stats of their enemies. Sure, over the course of a fight people will work out the opponent's AC etc, but it's not supposed to be upfront. People are supposed to play to what their character would do, and it undermines that roleplay if the mechanics don't line up with that.

And it isn't enough to say that the GM keeps it secret as they should. In order to adjudicate this rule, you'll need to compare the PCs' proficiency against their opponent's every time they try something. GMs aren't going to just know all their players' stats by heart, so they're going to ask. And in asking they'll reveal something about the enemy.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One potential complaint regarding this proposal is that it doesn’t seem to help with skills that aren’t opposed. And most skills aren’t usually opposed: Survival, Knowledge, etc. And we want being Legendary at Survival to mean something too.


sadie wrote:

The issue I see with this is that the players aren't generally supposed to know the exact stats of their enemies. Sure, over the course of a fight people will work out the opponent's AC etc, but it's not supposed to be upfront. People are supposed to play to what their character would do, and it undermines that roleplay if the mechanics don't line up with that.

And it isn't enough to say that the GM keeps it secret as they should. In order to adjudicate this rule, you'll need to compare the PCs' proficiency against their opponent's every time they try something. GMs aren't going to just know all their players' stats by heart, so they're going to ask. And in asking they'll reveal something about the enemy.

Yes and no. The GM would have to ask for the players proficiency, but only when the player was making a roll. So the simple solution would be when a player makes a roll they announce thier proficiency. The biggest problem is when the GM needs to make a secret check for a NPC or mob, but I don't see a difference between that and the secret rolls GMs already make for traps and the such.


So make Proficiency work somewhat like how in 5E creatures' Size matters in initiating grapples? Hmm... Frankly, I'm extremely tempted by the promise of advancement in PC-NPC transparency, but as others said, it's still much more simpler just to have like all skill feats scale to eye-bulging epic levels.


This is really just a codifying of the "DC 27 (Expert)" trap issue that came up in another thread (namely the one trap from chapter 2 of Doomsday Dawn, where it was highly likely that either: the party didn't have a rogue at all or the party rogue didn't invest their 2 opportunities to be an Expert in trapfinding, but a different rogue skill, like Stealth) and that as soon as a task is locked behind a proficiency gate a party that didn't expect "OH THAT SKILL WAS REQUIRED?" gets hard-locked out of the rest of the adventure.

Not saying this can't be done, but you have to be careful with it. And at the same time, you have to make it simple. "1 rank below, or 2 if distracted, but 1 rank above if alert" isn't simple. Or for that matter, careful ("I'm sorry, you rolled a 1 on that stealth check, the guards are on alert now, what's your stealth? Oh, Expert? Well you need to be Master now in order to be able to roll").


They need to gate a lot more uses of skills behind training level, or, impose more risks for using a skill untrained.

A few random ideas off the cuff:

For example, if you try a combat maneuver using Athletic or Acrobatics untrained, you treat all failures as a critical failure. If you are trained, a normal failure leaves you flat-footed vs. the target. At Legendary, treat a critical failure as a normal failure (but without the flat-footed).

If you use a Recall Information action untrained, it takes two actions. If you're an Expert or better, it's a free action.

If you are a Master at Deception, you can choose to treat a normal success as a critical success, OR, you can feint as a free action at a -2 penalty.

I think the fact there were very few real benefits for Master or Legendary was due to signature skills limiting players advancing to those ranks for most of their skills. Now that anyone can reach M or L, it's more sensible to make achieving them cooler.

As it is, the change to untrained being level -4, while welcome, really makes it much more useful to use skill training to become trained in a new skill, instead of raising a skill to Expert or above.


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Untrained/Trained isn't the problem really. It's the microdifferences between Trained, Expert, Master, and Legendary.


My suggestion is as follows:

Untrained: Level -2 and roll 2D20, take the lowest

Trained: Level and normal D20 roll

Expert: Level +1 and normal D20 roll, or can take 10 for typical/no stress tasks.

Master: Level +2 and roll 2D20, take highest, or can take 10 for typical/no stress tasks.

Legendary: Level +3 and roll 3D20, take highest, or can take 10, even in stressful situations.

This maintains the math spacing, while still giving significant value for higher proficiencies. Structurally, you could extend it beyond skills to just about all D20 rolls (attacks, saves, etc), although it would make monster stat blocks slightly more complex (although I don't think they would get bigger - there is mostly lots of whitespace to add a letter : U /E/M/L where needed.

Silver Crusade

I think that IF (and its a big, big IF) Paizo comes up with cool, interesting and ACTUALLY USEFUL skill feats gated by proficiency levels then a great deal of the problem goes away.

If my master performer is only a little better than your expert one BUT once every session or two I get to really shine then I think I'll be happy.

But "Really shine" does NOT mean "Cannot critically fail" (Master Diplomat) or "NPCs have heard of you and you get good audiences" (Legendary Performer).


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pad300 wrote:

My suggestion is as follows:

Untrained: Level -2 and roll 2D20, take the lowest

Trained: Level and normal D20 roll

Expert: Level +1 and normal D20 roll, or can take 10 for typical/no stress tasks.

Master: Level +2 and roll 2D20, take highest, or can take 10 for typical/no stress tasks.

Legendary: Level +3 and roll 3D20, take highest, or can take 10, even in stressful situations.

This maintains the math spacing, while still giving significant value for higher proficiencies. Structurally, you could extend it beyond skills to just about all D20 rolls (attacks, saves, etc), although it would make monster stat blocks slightly more complex (although I don't think they would get bigger - there is mostly lots of whitespace to add a letter : U /E/M/L where needed.

When you look at the numbers you are suggesting there is a huge difference in an average untrained and legendary. Because of the way roll 2d20 take lower works an average roll would be level +5 -2 or level +3, with double the normal chance of rolling a critical fail. Trained get an average roll of 10 so that works out ok. Expert is just 11 so not a big change. Master becomes an average roll of 17. And legendary becomes something close to 21 average roll. That is a very large spread. It's hard to mix +modifiers with a +mod system and keep the numbers close.


WizardsBlade wrote:
When you look at the numbers you are suggesting there is a huge difference in an average untrained and legendary. Because of the way roll 2d20 take lower works an average roll would be level +5 -2 or level +3, with double the normal chance of rolling a critical fail. Trained get an average roll of 10 so that works out ok. Expert is just 11 so not a big change. Master becomes an average roll of 17. And legendary becomes something close to 21 average roll. That is a very large spread. It's hard to mix +modifiers with a +mod system and keep the numbers close.

Master is more like an average of Level+15.8 and Legendary is Level+18.4. Untrained would be Level+5.1

T-Roll

Use:
max(2d20)+2
max(3d20)+3


WizardsBlade wrote:


When you look at the numbers you are suggesting there is a huge difference in an average untrained and legendary. Because of the way roll 2d20 take lower works an average roll would be level +5 -2 or level +3, with double the normal chance of rolling a critical fail. Trained get an average roll of 10 so that works out ok. Expert is just 11 so not a big change. Master becomes an average roll of 17. And legendary becomes something close to 21 average roll. That is a very large spread. It's hard to mix +modifiers with a +mod system and keep the numbers close.

That's exactly what I think their should be. Think about it in real world terms - untrained people vs people with serious skills. Have you ever seen the Joes vs Pros reality TV? (ps the Pros aren't people with legendary skills - their Experts and maybe some Masters in PF2 terms, the legends aren't on cheap reality TV shows...)


No no I still like my idea of codeing feats to all improve with proficiency like cat fall. added with master making it so a 1 no longer downgrades your success status by 1. maybe legendary can make you crit more often but that's a very thin line to walk right there.


The other thing that needs to be considered when making changes to skills based on proficiencies is its impact on Stats, namely Intelligence.

As its stands Int base benefit is to give the character a greater number of skills which they are trained in. If you start changing what being trained in a skill can do (ie comparative bonuses, whom/ what it can be used on ect.) you are also changing the base benefit Int provides.

This change also gets applied to classes starting skills, as most of these skills {greater for some classes, lesser for others} will mostly likely remain at trained, while the Rogue {and to a smaller degree anyone whom picked up the Rogues 'Skill Mastery' multiclass feat} will be affected by any changes to higher levels of proficiency.

Just something to consider {personally, I'm ok enough with how skills are handle, namely through the access of skill feats, but being ok and giving a thumbs up are different things. And there are merits to the ideas and suggestions in this thread to flesh out and perhaps help give it a thumbs up.)


Draco18s wrote:


Master is more like an average of Level+15.8 and Legendary is Level+18.4. Untrained would be Level+5.1

T-Roll

Use:
max(2d20)+2
max(3d20)+3

Thanks, my head math was a little off. Great resource though.


The more I think about this the more I like both ideas. Skill feats should become better as you become better (like cats fall) and increasing an average roll for a skill one is more proficient in makes since (adding more d20s and taking the higher). I'm not sure I would go so harsh on untrained though, maybe -4 or lower of 2d20. As lower of 2d20 really affects crits and crit fails.


WizardsBlade wrote:
Thanks, my head math was a little off. Great resource though.

T-Roll is fantasic. The guy who made it is also really responsive with questions and comments. Several years back I even got him to add an entirely new feature!

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