Posted by : David Guyll May 16, 2012

"Characters get four things--skills or traits." 

This model kind of reminds me of a combination of 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons and Exalted, in that skills grant a flat bonus to a variety of related things, but you can opt to nab other things if you want. A workshop was specifically mentioned, but I could also see something like influence, followers, a familiar, and more. Not sure about languages. They would have to be pretty darned useful, or other things less so, to make them a compelling choice. This--along with wizards getting at-will spells without having to burn a feat, themes granting at-will spells, and the potential for a variety of magic systems (daily, power- and point-based, etc)--has been one of the few rare things to get my psyched for 5th Edition.

I like that they are not super specific like 3rd Edition (Climb, Jump, Swim, Knowledge skills, and Use Rope come to mind), but instead somewhat vague like in 4th Edition, allowing for more player input and creativity. Given that the DC's for many things at 1st-level was very low (like, 12-13), I often did not have the issue of players checking their sheets for the best modifier and trying to rationalize an application. I think that, if anything, it was that players were used to seeing massive bonuses of potentially +11 and assuming that it was the norm. Hopefully with skills only conferring a +2, at least initially, will help break that habit.

I think that I would like to have seen things like what Rob calls active and passive skills divvied up, which is something I recall happening in 3rd Edition Shadowrun; players had two pools of skills. Or maybe one was knowledges? I do not remember, really. Basically everyone got to spend things on both sets. Regardless, I really dig this movement of making characters more dependent on their ability scores instead of skill modifier. I think it will help encourage players to at least try things that they normally would not.

We will see what happens next week when the playtest finally starts.

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