Wednesday, September 26, 2007

People skills and people's kills

Noonan teased about "skill challenges", "extended challenges" and "complex challenges." He also said that I can probably suss where they're going, but maybe I'm just thick.

What I'm hoping for is an expansion of what skills are used for, and how often. As a DM, I consciously try to add opportunities for characters with seldomly-used skills to shine: Move Silently, Hide and Tumble all see regular use; Concentration, Spellcraft and Knowledge: ____ all see some time as well; and the rogue's Disable Device and Open Lock are appreciated when the time is right. But there are some skills that just never get used, and I feel it a shame if a player caves to the reality of typical gameplay by avoiding the skill that their character should have taken, to fit their personality. Giving opportunities for these "lesser" skills to be used, especially when they allow the party to avoid a long trip, an awkward encounter, or certain death, is what makes me feel good as a DM, even if the characters never utilize it. Something about assuaging my guilt, for what's coming next.

If 4th edition provides more examples of alternate use or more opportunities to use them in combat -- because, let's face it, that's the meat-and-potatoes of D&D -- then they'll be greatly welcomed. I, for one, loved the synergy bonuses in 3rd edition, especially the Knowledge synergies in 3.5, so I hope they keep these around, and perhaps add more. I want to see my players get upset because there are so many useful skills to choose from.

However, no longer how much my players might wish it, the Diplomacy, Bluff and Sense Motive skills will never cross the meta-boundary and work on the DM.

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