Skill check DCs adjusted by WotC… again.

So WotC has announced that with the upcoming rules compendium they would be adjusting skill DCs. I’m floored with the changes. I simply cannot understand how such a fundamental part of the game gets constantly tweaked and altered. I really begin to wonder if serious play testing goes on at the company, or the desire to push new product out to the consumer is the driving force for altering game mechanics errata.

I can see if this game were based on using 2 or 3 D6 for everything. You’re working with some trickier probabilities and when you figure bonuses from abilities and magic items, it gets a little tough. A +1 to a 2D6 roll has a greater impact than adding it to a D20 roll. But come on, everything is based on a flat probability with a D20 system. Why couldn’t this have been nailed down at the game launch? Let alone be put to rest with the release of the DMG2.


At first I think the DCs were a little high. Even with skill training, easy DC 10 checks were tricky to pull off with a roughly 20% chance of failure. Granted if you were using a skill with some ability bonus, that reduced the difficulty sharply. Still checks were pretty darn tough to pull off when 4E released.

Fast forward about a year. Now the DC values were severely trimmed down. An easy DC check was 5 (and the +5 penalty for skill DC checks removed). If you had a pretty good bump to your ability (say a +3) and were trained in a skill, you had a 70% chance of pulling off a difficult check. While a moderate check at DC 10 was virtually guaranteed. I think it really trimmed down skill checks to the point where I didn’t even bother having players roll for them, and just used passive checks for just about everything.

Now they’ve been adjusted to … close to the original values. After all the public game days, LFR, the encounters program, WotC finally saw that things were a little too easy and that skill DCs should be closer to what they were at the release of 4E? That now WotC has decided a reasonable challenge would be to have a 65% chance at success on a flat D20 roll? I don’t get it.

It is pretty simple probability to work out. You could easily work out 10 skill checks and figure out how many times a player would succeed or fail. I don’t get how such a fundamental aspect of the game is constantly being tweaked. I’m astounded someone did not sit down and start working out potential ability scores, training, and feats to figure out that some characters could trivialize a lot a DC checks with the first change, and that the original values were a little too hard.

I’m happy WotC is willing to address problems they see in the game. But I tend to think so much material is shoveled out so fast, that feedback from the consumer with post-release errata being put out 3 months later seems to be the standard procedure. It’s like WotC is treating their product like a software company with frequent ‘patches’ being released to fix problems in the game. Yeah, I’m glad they make to effort to close loopholes and halt the munchkin builds. But it seems that making these changes to fundamental mechanics is something that should have been set in stone long ago.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Geek Ken likes games. Sometimes he likes to blog about them too.


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Geek Ken likes games. Sometimes he likes to blog about them too.
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