Background Skills (Variant)

Homebrew and House Rules

With this variant rule, all characters select two of their 1st-level trained skills to be their Background Skills, which automatically increase in proficiency at levels 2, 7, and 15 to expert, master, and legendary proficiency respectively.

Background Skills may not be freely selected. Instead, they must be chosen from among named skills which are granted by virtue of the character’s “ABCs” - namely, skills which are granted to the character from 1st-level Ancestry feats (including heritage feats), skills which are granted to the character from their Background, and/or skills that are granted to them from their Class features, subclass features (Deity, Order, Racket, etc), and/or 1st-level class feats.

As a final benefit, the character gains two free Assurance skill feats for each of their Background Skills (if they would already gain Assurance in this skill from another 1st-level source, they may instead select another skill feat which has a prerequisite of being trained in that skill as a replacement).

Ex. A dwarf with the Dwarven Lore ancestry feat, the Barrister background, and the Cleric class with the deity Abadar may choose two from the following skills as Background Skills: Diplomacy, Crafting, Dwarven Lore, Legal Lore, Religion, and/or Society. He chooses Diplomacy and Society, which now increase to expert at 2nd level, master at 7th level, and legendary at 15th level, and he also gains Assurance in those two skills at 1st level. This is all in addition to the "normal" skill increases he may freely choose at higher odd levels from his class.

What do folks think?

It is a minor power increase, but nothing outrageous. It will nerf Rogue and Investigator a bit, since getting extra Master and Legendary skills is part of their class power budget.

I'm not sure what you plan for characters that don't have enough skills from their A,B,Cs. There are backgrounds that don't grant any skills, though it looks like all of them except Tyrant Witness are Rare.

So what would a character gain if they choose Monk with Tyrant Witness background and no ancestry/class feats that grant skills?

I'd suggest granting an instance of Additional Lore, or two if lore categories are too niche to warrant equality with non-lore skills.

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A thought... if these are supposed to be Background skills, perhaps they shouldn't be un the upper cusp of the curve.

So a suggestion might be to push back the automatic advancement from 2/7/15 to something like 5/9/17 potentially. I moved all the levels back, and I got the impression that Expert at 2nd is supposed to be a 'specialty' of various Archetypes that comes with the price of longer term commitment.

I agree this concept waters down the benefits of those classes that are supposed to be skill monkeys by making things that only they could reliably get to become easier to achieve with other classes. However with it slightly delayed that may be less of a direct issue. Also, if the campaign expects more skills across the board, perhaps the skill monkeys can still stand out in their role by (one getting to ranks quicker, and getting an even wider range of skills). Thereby potentially leaving them some room for that part of their niche.

Really, what you are kind of creating is a variant of the old Signature Skills that got some rather bad feedback when it was in the playtest. I think some of the basic concept of the signature skills had merit so was potentially more salvageable than it was given credit for. But this might remind some others of that concept, which might not be seen as a general plus.

Hey Folks,
Thank you for your feedback - I think I will move the progression to 3/6/9/12/15/18 ("every full three levels") which may feel a little off-kilter (being non-divisible by 2 or 4), but spaces three increases in two skills otherwise evenly and leaving Rogue with nearly twice as many skill increases as other classes at any given moment of the progression.


To open the discussion a little deeper, I am currently playing a high-level game and have experienced some vicarious frustration in some of the DC scaling on behalf of my players. Playing the DCs by the book, instead of locking an entire encounter behind a single proficiency skill gate, I (somewhat unsatisfactorily) adapted one troublesome encounter in particular to allow other methods towards completion.

So, part of the idea of the houserule comes from wanting the "probability" that a given party has a fair-shot at some common proficiency gates at higher levels without:

□) Altering the DCs by Level table
□) Impinging on their ability to customize / play against type (wizard w/ Athletics, etc)
□) Taking the "shine" away from characters whose Class power comes in both breadth and depth of skill proficiency

This houserule has the added feature of giving greater mechanical emphasis to choice in Background too.

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