Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons revolves around the ideas of ability checks and the proficiency bonus. When it comes to skill checks as ability checks, the check is written like this (for example): Charisma (Intimidation). The reason for this is Charisma is the applicable ability score and the Intimidation proficiency allows further modification of the ability check. Quick Disclaimer: a 5E D&D Dungeon Master can allow or require any ability check or skill proficiency, even outside this purview. This article is meant to act as a guide for new players and DMs to explain how skill checks work and what they look like narratively. The worlds of D&D are full of monsters, mayhem and all sorts of scary stuff, but suppose you want your character to be one of the scary things of the world? Maybe you want your cleric to put the fear of the gods in people? If you’re looking to coerce, bully or unnerve then Intimidation is the skill for you!
Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons has a variety of skill proficiencies a player character gains, especially at character creation. These skills represent a character’s capability in each designated area. In this series, we’re diving into a look at the different skill proficiencies that can modify ability checks. Skill checks, or ability checks are written like this (as an example): Wisdom (Insight). This is because Wisdom is the ability check being made, and Insight is the skill proficiency that’s further modifying the ability check. Quick disclaimer: a 5E D&D Dungeon Master can require or allow any ability check and/or skill proficiency, even outside this purview. This article is meant as a guide for new players and DMs as to how certain ability checks and skill proficiencies can be applied. Speaking of insight, that happens to be our focal skill check today!
Earth, fire, air, water: long ago, the four elements lived together in harmony within the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons beta. Then, everything changed when the Player’s Handbook was officially released. Only the Dungeon Master, master of the world itself can save what the Way of the Four Elements became, but I believe it can be reborn. Okay, okay. I promise I’ll try to keep the Avatar: The Last Airbender references to a minimum (even though it’s my favorite TV show of all time).
When 5E D&D was still in beta I eagerly downloaded each patch of new content, and when it was announced the Way of the Four Elements made the cut into the PHB I was absolutely ecstatic! Finally! I would get to play a character like the avatar! I’d played a four elements-based monk character in a homebrewed version of 2E AD&D in the past and I was so excited to make him into 5E D&D, officially using the rules for what had previously been just a dream for me to see Wizards of the Coast put out.
So, imagine my disappointment when I read how the once-epic Way of the Four Elements had devolved and nerfed into a ki-burning nightmare with fewer options than I’d ever feared they might reduce it to. A lot of the core problems with the Way of the Four Elements as it stands struggles for two primary reasons, in my opinion.
When it comes to fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons many newcomers will quickly notice the importance of the proficiency bonus and the prevalence of skills. In the system, ability checks determine outcomes at the will of the dice, but ability score modifiers and proficiency bonus modify the numbers rolled, potentially turning failure into success. In this series, we’re diving in to look at the different skill proficiencies that can modify ability checks. Skill checks and ability checks are written like this (as an example): Intelligence (History). The reason is because Intelligence is the ability check being made, and History is the skill proficiency modifying the ability check. Quick disclaimer: a 5E D&D Dungeon Master can require or allow any ability check or skill proficiency, even outside this purview. This article is meant as a guide for new players and DMs on how certain ability checks and skill proficiencies can be applied. Today’s focus is all about knowledge of the past and memory! That’s right; we’re talking about History.
Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons is a rich game that codifies cooperative storytelling in a way no other has. One of the primary ways it does this is by representing what characters are good at through the skill proficiency system. In this series, we’re breaking down the different skill proficiencies: what they are, how they work, and understanding when to apply a skill check. As a quick disclaimer, every 5E D&D Dungeon Master has their own right to call for any skill check in any situation; this is just meant as a general reference. Today’s featured skill proficiency has been used in many games I’ve participated in. To quote one of my friends’ characters, “When things go to s***, we will lie, and we will lie, and we will lie.” That’s right! We’re talking about Deception.
Skill proficiencies in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons can be confusing at times, especially for new Dungeon Masters. However, never fear! We’re here to help guide you on how to apply skill proficiencies and when to know if an ability check is a simple check using a certain Ability Score, or if a skill proficiency can be applied to make a skill check. As a quick disclaimer, every 5E D&D DM has their own right to call for any skill check in any situation; this is just meant as a general reference. Today’s featured skill proficiency is Athletics!
When it comes to fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons many of us take understanding ability checks and skills for granted. However, I’ve found many Dungeon Masters struggle with understanding the nuances of ability checks. As a quick disclaimer, every 5E D&D DM has their own right to call for any skill check in any situation; this is just meant as a general reference. Today’s featured skill proficiency is Animal Handling!
Skills are a staple of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, and in this series we’ll explore each skill in depth. Hopefully by the end of it all you’ll answer instinctively when asked to differentiate Sleight of Hand from Stealth from Performance. As a quick disclaimer, every 5E D&D Dungeon Master has their own right to call for any skill check in any situation; this is just meant as a general reference. Today’s we’re looking at Arcana, the quintessential skill when it comes to magical understanding.
Skills are a staple of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, but many Dungeon Masters find themselves unsure of when to call for a player to roll Investigation vs. Perception, or Deception vs. Performance. In this new series we’ll explore each skill in depth, and hopefully by the end of it all you’ll answer instinctively when asked to differentiate Sleight of Hand from Stealth from Performance. As a quick disclaimer, every 5E D&D DM has their own right to call for any skill check in any situation; this is just meant as a general reference. Today, we’re looking at the first skill you’ll see at the top of a skills list on your character sheet: Acrobatics.
The Nerdarchy crew experienced a tremendous year in 2019! We grew by leaps and bounds, earning a Silver Play Button for the YouTube channel, creating a wildly successful Kickstarter, organizing Nerdarchy the Convention and growing the website right here by hiring me full time along with staff writers Megan R. Miller’s increased role with us and the author and writer of this very post, Steven Partridge. Steven is a remarkable writer, a creative powerhouse and really a good-natured and great hearted fellow. The whole Nerdarchy crew is so happy to have him as part of the family. Steven regularly contributes fun, intriguing content here to help inspire better games and better friendships. Please go visit his website to see all the stuff he is up to here. But that’s enough of me hijacking his holiday tale! — Nerditor Doug
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Blessed Yule! Phew! Happy Hogswatch! *Wipes sweat from brow* There are a ton of holidays this time of year, and that last one mentioned is what sparked the inspiration for this article. Hogswatch is a fictional holiday presented in the Discworld. During my annual re-read of Hogfather by Terry Pratchett I got to thinking about creating original holidays in fantasy worlds.
Baby, it’s cold outside! Snow peppers the air, ice clings to roads and the frigid wind cuts through your layers like a cutlass. With the frigid weather upon us, it occurs to me there isn’t really a canonized condition for being overcome with cold as of yet. Granted, exhaustion technically covers this basis, but exhaustion doesn’t quite evoke how I would tend to think of cold affecting characters. With the current rules, a Captain America or Aang sort of scenario with a player being flash frozen into stasis doesn’t really work. That person would just die under the rules of exhaustion. This, compounded with the consideration that we have a couple of cantrips to codify how cold affects creatures, I propose a separate condition called “freezing.”
The holiday season is in full swing! Families gather around large meals and share time with one another… possibly even play a session of D&D together? In the spirit of the season, I was trying to think of a topic that might thematically represent this time of year. Ideas danced in my head like sugar plums… Sorry, I couldn’t resist. However, it did strike me that a common element when it comes to holidays is food.
Eberron: Rising from the Last War released! For those who aren’t familiar, Eberron is an arcanepunk setting with a brand new book for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Arcanepunk as a genre focuses on magic with a twist. In the case of Eberron, the twist is magical technology, AKA magitech! Magitech is an amazing way to inspire fantastical wonder and alien mystery into your world. By assimilating (no pun intended) elements of science fiction into our fantasy we build something new, something… more intense that hits the grandiosity of fantasy while still amping up the science fiction suspense. However, there’s something else I want to talk about when it comes to 5E D&D narrative, but rather than introduce it in the traditional sense, indulge me while I make a point through narration.