I understand 4e’s Skill Challenge subsystem wasn’t the most popular innovation. I rather liked it because it helped me quantify some of the more abstract elements of roleplaying and assign awards based on the effort players put into a scene.

The main problem I had — and my group, by extension — was that the 4e skills weren’t a good match for the Skill Challenge system.

It’s like they’re from different games.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the simplicity of the 4e skill list, it’s just that trying to combine the skills with the Skill Challenge system means there are scenes where some PCs just can’t contribute — Wizards don’t get outdoorsy skills and Fighters don’t get academic skills and neither of them really gets the social skills…

And that seems counter-intuitive when compared to the rest of 4e’s inclusive attitude toward character classes and abilities and the whole shebang. By extension, the exclusive nature of the Ritual subsystem — you must have an otherwise useless feat to play — is stupid in the context of inclusive play.

So, I started working on a new skill list that was less exclusive. The skills are a little more generic, a little more abstract — so it should be way easier to apply them to lots of different skill scenarios. I drew inspiration from a bunch of sources.

Strength-based
– Break
– Speed

Constitution-based
– Effort
– Focus

Dexterity-based
– Escape
– Sneak

Intelligence-based
– Logic
– Lore

Wisdom-based
– Detect
– Discern

Charisma-based
– Charm
– Coerce

As before, races would gain a +2 “racial” bonus to each of two skills — though as you can see, the skills are quite a bit different from before. This is what a race provides as a bonus in lieu of an ability score bonus, giving the player more choice in combining races and classes. One skill has a combat application…

The Speed skill, which is Strength-based, will determine how many squares a character can move during a fight. This will shake things up, as the range of movement will drop from 5-7 to well, 0-7. It’s a pretty dramatic shift.

At the same time, leaders will get a lot more movement-granting powers — they can and must move allies around the battlefield — “shifting” (moving 1 square) will be the standard for many characters with low Strength. Forced movement will be a big deal with controllers — as will charging (move + attack as one action).

Skills will still receive a bonus from ability scores, and “skill training” will serve a different function. Instead of providing a stacking bonus, degrees of skill training will provide a replacement bonus similar to heavy armor in 4e. In other words, you can either rely on natural ability or choose to “un-learn” that through training.

I’m still going over ideas like “synergy,” and nothing is really set in stone yet. I’m excited for what’s come so far, and I’m looking forward to using it in play.