One thing that for some reason bothers me with 3.5 and Pathfinder is the mechanic of aiding another player in a skill check. I need to figure out how to reduce the influence of this, or more clearly put a limit on how it can be used. Maybe it’s just that I, as the GM, need to enforce more of a story-telling requirement on the mechanic.
The issue, I think, is that it slows the game down so much, and anytime someone attempts any kind of skill check, there is a race to see who can shout “Aid!” the fastest and roll a d20, to try and make sure they get the roll in before the person doing the action resolves their action.
Listen at the door? “Aid!” – now wait? How are you aiding their listen at the door? Or are you just listening at the door also? Great, now everyone wants to take turns listening at every door. Search the room? 5 d20s hit the table. Know anything about Basilisks? 5 more d20s. Trying to smooth talk the local witch into making a nice potion for you? Let’s aid each other’s Diplomacy check!
I’m wondering if feats are worthwhile anymore. Feats came around in 3e and persist into pathfinder and 4e. They too had their origins in Non-Weapon Proficencies (NWPs) though, so they’ve been around in some form for longer than 3e. The NWPs that weren’t related to skills were often more like powers or talents. In 3e, NWPs were formally split into a skill list and feats, which I think made a lot of sense given that construction and the evolution of the game at that time.
Player characters didn’t used to have skills with which to tackle non-combat challenges, but they’ve been around now for quite some time. Skills were born back in the day of non-weapon proficiencies (NWPs). They made an appearance in AD&D and came into their own in 2e (which was my first exposure to role-playing games). This incarnation of D&D realized that players wanted their character to be able to do more than fight in combat. Non-weapon proficiencies hovered somewhere in-between what we know from 3e skills and feats. They were broken down by class, so that a class had its own specific list of NWPs that were thought to make sense for the role of that class. I’ll discuss the feat aspect of NWPs later, but for now let me focus on Skills.