Wednesday, June 11, 2008

4e Skills

Looks like I spoke too soon, because I'm actually really enjoying the skills chapter. Go figure.

If there's one thing I think the various editions of D&D have steadily improved on, it's skills.
I realize the OD&D way of doing things really didn't need skills ("...the OD&D approach demands creativity and judgment from the players and the referee, apart from defined rules.") but a nicely defined set of skills I feel makes the game run more smoothly and more consistently and ultimately makes the DM's job easier.

Proficiencies were a step in the right direction, but were kinda, well, wonky, what with being based directly on ability scores and having very little room for growth. It's an oft-expressed opinion that third edition went a bit overboard, presenting us with a laundry list of skills that guaranteed that certain essential but infrequently-used skills (Swimming, for example) would be overlooked until it was too late. The underlying system, however, was solid and offered much room for PC growth and improvement, even if it was tied a bit too closely to leveling up.

Fourth edition gets it juuuuust right, I feel: the skill list has been consolidated (Swimming is now under Athletics, as is Climbing) and focused. Furthermore, the new system of skill checks has been tweaked from third edition, making it less dependent on levels (no more ranks--you're either trained or you're not). I also like how they handle passive skill checks--sneaking past guards just became a bit more challenging, which is always fun. This is definitely a skill system I would consider porting over to just about any other iteration of D&D.

The most pleasant surprise for me so far is the explicit inclusion of guidelines for "monster lore" using one of several Knowledge skills. I'm not sure how 3e handled this, but I don't remember seeing anything addressed up front in the old PHB. Back in our 2e days, my group actually created a proficiency called Monster Knowledge to cover questions of what our characters would know about their foes. I'm glad to see that gray area between total ignorance and "this requires the skills of a sage" finally explicitly covered.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...