Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Turns Out I Hate The Skill Guy
At first glance, this seems reasonable. Of course fighters have the most options in combat. Of course, wizards and priests solve problems with spells. And of course, when it comes time to pick a lock or disarm a trap, you are going to rely on the skills of the thief. Makes sense -- each class has a role and gives up some other important abilities to excel in its role.
Then there is the concept of "class skills" which seriously limit which skills can be reasonably taken. The fighter’s class skills are climb, craft, handle animal, intimidate, jump, ride, and swim. You can take other skills, of course, but only at a penalty... and as noted before, skill points are already at a premium. Good luck if you want to be a warrior who is also a diplomat.
Certainly multiclassing helps with this situation, but it too comes with its share of pitfalls. In the case of mages and clerics, taking a level of rogue for the skill points makes no sense at all. Stylistically, it does not work for many characters and mechanically, the spellcasting level is inifitely more valuable than 8 skill points... especially when you take into account that many of the rogue's skills can be made obsolete with the proper choice of spells.
But still, your party probably needs a rogue, if only to gather information and deal with trapped chests and locked doors. And let's say your party is heading into an adventure littered with stuff for the rogue to do. There are NPCs with which to negotiate. There are traps to disarm and locks to pick. There are dangerous dungeon corridors with lots of listen checks and stealthy scouting...
All of which is a lot of action for the rogue. In the meantime, everyone else sits aound and probably waits for a blundered stealth check to thrust them into combat.
Scouting and other rogue duties aren't as bad as netrunning, but they can come close. When it is the rogue bartering and the rogue scouting ahead and the rogue listening at doors and the rogue disarming the traps and the rogue searching the room... it can get boring for the other five people at the table.
So after running Pathfinder for a few months, it turns out I hate the "skill guy" as a class concept. What would happen if we got rid of the rogue (and probably ranger) class, gave everyone something like 5-6 skill points each level and got rid of the idea of class skills. Class features for rogues would become feats (possibly with a limitation on the armor worn). That way, everyone would have part of the "skill guy" job. Mages and clerics could take many of the skills and knowledges they really ought to have. Scouting, stealth, negotiation and trap duties could be more evenly distributed among the PCs in a party and those wanting to be sneaky, fast killers could still do so by taking the proper feats.
Would a rogue-less Pathfinder game work? I'm not sure, but I may certainly try it.