Skill checks and ability checks are performed using a 3D6 instead of a D20. This gives a distribution that feels more “natural.”
Skills that had little bearing to adventuring and for which quantitative results were not really necessary have been incorporated into the new Proficiency mechanic. Basically, for a skill to remain in the game as a full skill, it has to offer enough for a player to feel good maxing it out.
Proficiency Skills: These use a binary “you have it or don’t approach,” mimicking the old 2nd edition proficiency system. One point in a proficiency skill means you can accomplish anything that a person with 100-200 hours of practical experience could accomplish. This system is reserved for skills where quantitative measurements of success aren’t generally needed. Higher degrees of proficiency is possible, but is probably best represented at the table rather than on the character sheet.*
Movement Skills*: Swim. Climb, and Fly skills grant a movement speed, just like spells and monster powers do. If your speed is reduced to zero or less, you cannot use that type of movement in the current conditions. This changed is intended to allow trained athletes to maintain parity (and eventually, superiority) to mages, and to also reduce the tremendous number of die rolls that these skills require.
Social Skills: Diplomacy, Bluff, and Intimidate should be opposed by the target’s level, not by a flat DC.
The tentative formula is:
DC = 12 + level + Wis Bonus
Level may be substituted with an appropriate number if the NPC lacks adventuring levels but should be more savvy than the average person. A diplomat may lack adventuring levels, but should be more savvy than the average person.
Acrobatics: Grat skill. Love it,don’t want to change it.
Appraise: Demote to proficiency
Bluff: Is fine, but the DC needs to scale with level/importance of the NPC. See Social Skills
Climb: Change to Movement Skill:
Every point of climb bonus grants 2 points (e.g. feet/round) of climb speed. For ease of play, this number should be rounded to the nearest 5 whenever practical. Climb speed cannot exceed 30, but I am interested in ideas for lifting this cap at higher skill levels.
Different surfaces modify your skill:
+15 (Untrained) A slope too steep to walk up, or a knotted rope with a wall to brace against.
+10 (Untrained) A rope with a wall to brace against, or a knotted rope, or a rope affected by the rope trick spell.
+5 (Untrained) A surface with ledges to hold on to and stand on, such as a very rough wall or a ship’s rigging.
0 (Untrained) Any surface with adequate handholds and footholds (natural or artificial), such as a very rough natural rock surface or a tree, or an unknotted rope, or pulling yourself up when dangling by your hands.
-5 (Trained Only) An uneven surface with narrow handholds and footholds, such as a typical wall in a dungeon.
-10 (Trained Only) A rough surface, such as a natural rock wall or a brick wall.
-15 (Trained Only) An overhang or ceiling with handholds only.
The following modifiers stack with the above:
+10 Climbing a chimney (artificial or natural) or other location where you can brace against two opposite walls.
+5 Climbing a corner where you can brace against perpendicular walls.
-5 Surface is slippery.
The tables above are simply the existing Pathfinder climbing tables, but with the flat DCs replaced with modifiers. For ease of play, players should simply calculate their unmodified climbing speed (climb bonus*2) and record it on their sheet.
Example: Rob the Rogue is 3rd level and has 3 ranks in Climb. As a Rogue, he gets the usual +3 class skill bonus. His Strength is 12, which grants him another +1. His total Climb bonus is 7 (so far this is all just standard Pathfinder rules). His basic climb speed is 7*2 = 14, meaning that he can scale 14 feet per round, before terrain modifiers.
If he’s trying to go up a tree (0 modifier) he gets to move 14 feet a round. A dungeon wall is harder (-5 to skill). This reduces his climb bonus to 7-5=2, only allowing a feeble 4 feet per round. If he can situate himself in a corner (5=7, letting him climb 14 feet per round.
Wally the Wizard has no ranks in Climb but is kind of buff at Strength 14. His total climb bonus is 2. Wally can climb a tree or a very rough wall at 4 feet a round. If Wally wants to go up a dungeon wall, well, he can’t, because that’s a Trained Only action and he has no real ranks in Climb. If Wally spends a skill point in Climb, he becomes trained and his total bonus becomes 3 (he does not get the class skill bonus because Climb is not a Wizard skill). However, he still can’t climb the dungeon wall, because the -5 modifier makes his total bonus -2. Climbing a brick and mortar wall is hard, and he’ll need to train harder or use magic if he wants to be cool like his buddy Rob.
Craft: Demote to proficiency
Diplomacy: Is fine, but should be task-based and DC should scale with level/importance of NPC. See Social Skills
Diplomacy is not used to change attitudes, it is used to make people agree to a specific task or condition. Checks should only be used in situations where there is ambiguity and no clear yes/no answer on the part of the NPC. You don’t need Diplomacy to get someone to accept a bag of gold, and no amount of Diplomacy will convince the man you just met to hand over the deed to his house.
Disable Device: Is fine, but somewhat tedious. Rogues now get the Trap Spotter talent for free at first level, and all characters with 5 ranks or more (ranks, not bonuses) also receive this talent. There is no stacking benefit for meeting both qualifications.
Disguise: Demote to proficiency. This lets you construct elaborate disguises (simple disguises, like wearing stolen uniforms, require no special skill). The success of the disguise depends on how you use it. You cannot use this duplicate a specific person.
Escape Artist: This is so narrow in application that I move that it be dissolved.We have only used it once, and it didn’t matter.
Fly: Movement Skill. Each point of Fly bonus grants 3 points of fly speed, up to the maximum allowed by the effect granting the ability to fly.
Handle Animal: Demote to proficiency. It’s a skill tax on classes that are granted animals.
Heal: We never even use the first aid check, and I don’t think it’s even a good mechanic.
Dissolve and combine the knowledge/diagnosis parts with existing knowledge skills.
Intimidate: Is fine, but DC should scale with NPC. Should only be checked in “softer” situations. Holding a dagger to a guard’s throat doesn’t require an intimidate check, it requires the guard to decide if he wants to cooperate or die.
Knowledge Skills: Are fine, but require careful DMing to make them fun.
-Engineering: Includes spelljammer ships
-Geography: Includes knowledge of the spheres
-Local: This skill is kind of weird and I’m not sure what to do with it
Linguistics: Is fine.
Perception: Is fine, but maybe too powerful. Search mechanic is tedious and uninteresting. Many/most searches should be handled by roleplaying. Trap detection aspect is fine when combined with changes to Disable Device.
Perform: Demoted to proficiency, but bards may continue to put points into this so that their class powers function. They get refunded these points by Versatile Performance, so it doesn’t matter.
Profession: Demote to proficiency
Ride: Is fine
Sense Motive: Is a pain in the ass. Recommend it be dissolved and replaced by roleplaying.
Sleight of Hand: Is fine.
Spellcraft: Confusing skill, and kind of a tax on spellcasters. Combine with Knowledge Arcana.
Stealth: Is fine. Should be conceptualized as hiding in shadows/soft cover and moving silently, not literal hiding (e.g. anyone can hide behind a wall, that does not require a check).
Survival: Tracking is the only useful part, but tracking is useful. Probably fine.
Swim: Movement skill. Every point of swim bonus grants 2 points (e.g. feet/round) of climb speed. For ease of play, this number should be rounded to the nearest 5 whenever practical. Swim speed cannot exceed 20, but I am interested in ideas for lifting this cap at higher skill levels.
Use Magic Device: Is fine