Note: Holes in this idea have been found. Read the next post for more.
So, we’ve been playing 4e regularly since September 2008, and like most groups have found some things that work for us, and others that don’t.
In 4e, however, there are a lot fewer things that we don’t use as written thus far. Up until now, I’ve only found need to house rule three things.
- Daily Magic Item Uses – As suggested by Wyatt:
Unlimited Item Power: You can use any item’s daily power once per day but have no restrictions on your own uses, so you can have 10 different items and use all of their powers. Once an item’s daily power is used once it is spent – you can’t give it to another character for a go, for example.
And if anyone decides to abuse the system by hoarding multiple cheap items, you smack them with the rulebook and take the privilege away. They don’t get nice things.
- Skill Challenges – I haven’t quite figured out what to do with these, but had my first really good one at the MM2 Game Day. They are not run by the book, however, and are affected by #3.
- Skill Check DCs – The errata’d DCs are too low, and make Skill Challenges a cakewalk. The original ones (with the +5 for being skill checks) were too high, and made Skill Challenges too hard. I use the new Skill Challenge system (X/3), as the old one didn’t scale properly, and the original DCs (sans the +5 for being skill checks). It seems to give the difficulty I want.
And of course the minor per-character house rules, such as reflavouring powers or making a Wizard into a Druid.
But recently, I’ve been thinking over another house rule, which I want to present to you here (and to the players on Sunday).
Let me start with a question.
Outside of the Grab and Bull Rush combat maneuvers, where would you use an Ability Check instead of a skill check?
I can’t think of a single case that isn’t better represented by either a skill check or an attack against the player. On top of that, there is a lot of confusion about when to add the 1/2 level or not, with some people never remembering to add it for ability checks, and some adding it for even damage rolls.
So I am putting forth the following hypothesis:
All Ability checks can be better represented by a Skill check.
Strength -> Athletics
Dexterity -> Acrobatics/Stealth/Thievery
Constitution -> Endurance
Int/Wis -> the various Knowledge skills
Charisma -> the social skills
I even propose that Grab and Bull Rush are just athletics moves, taken from wrestling and football (and many other sports) respectively.
Can any of you, dear readers, come up with a situation that is better represented by an ability check than anything else? Please, I’d like to hear it.
Well, I can’t, so I put forth this house rule:
Grab and Bull Rush are now Athletics checks. Ability Checks don’t exist until I am shown that they have some merit.
Doesn’t that make Grab and Bull Rush too powerful, you ask? I say no! The PHB2 already brings forward the Improved feats for both of them (which gives a +4/+6/+8 bonus), indicating that they needed a boost.
The Improved Grab and Improved Bull Rush feats no longer exist. Skill Training (Athletics) is sufficient. Skill Focus (Athletics) can bring it up to the full +8 bonus that the Improved Feats do.
And other abilities that affect the maneuvers still apply, such as the Goliath getting a +2 bonus and being able to roll twice.
As an added benefit, before, it was far easier to escape a grab than establish one. This fixes that.
These maneuvers are now not only viable alternatives, but they are potentially superior alternatives in some cases. And they don’t require a feat to become viable, if your class gets Athletics as a class skill.
With 4e’s emphasis on maneuverability and tactics, I can’t see that as a bad thing.
Thoughts? Comments? Uses for Ability checks that I missed?