On Skill Deconstruction: The Fluff Fallacy, Perform & Profession

Perform is a skill reflecting your ability to entertain, Profession your ability to complete a task. Perform uses Charisma, Profession uses Wisdom

Hey! I have an idea! Let's take something awesome, and find a way to make  it really really boring.

Conclusions & Suggestions
Allow players to write down whatever profession/perform skill they want. Have them describe what they do, when they do it. Give them a increasingly random amount of gold based on the entertainment value of the description. Also: You could have them get better the more they do it! (note that this is opposed to "I roll a 7" "You get 7 gold")

Fluffing up the skill
This is a great opportunity to disscuss the Fluff fallacy.

This is the argument that if a shitty thing is entertainingly presented, then it is magically no longer shitty. The logic for this is understandable. If we see a curvy girl next to a whale (I'm not being sexist here, I MEAN AN ACTUAL WHALE, GEEZE) she will appear less significant.

If we hear someone make an entertaining comment or describe something well, we are likely not to be bothered by the anti-climax of rolling some dice.

How is my suggestion in the conclusion different from the roll? It frees you from the static d20 roll, and allows you to make the description an actual entertaining interaction between human beings. You can push forward more dice to be rolled for gold as the entertainment value increases. It rewards player skill and creates a fun environment for players.

Can't you entertainingly describe it anyway? Sure you could - and it will have the same effect as any non-die rolling action you take in the d20 system - NONE.

Could you just roll a die and skip all of the above? Sure - but why is rolling a die to skip having fun of value?


  1. Objective vs. Subjective maybe?

  2. A man is only as interesting as he lets on. So, let's pour on the skill points into perform guys, ho wait, now I can't do anything else, and still managed to roll a '1'. Well, fuck...
    - a common bardic issue in our 3.5 games

  3. Um, the rules pretty much say that the DM should be giving you a circumstance bonus for an entertaining description. So, there's that.

    I've always like the Perform and Profession skills as a way to add a bit of flavor to characters. My problem is that they don't do anything. Ever. I've made many Perform checks in my time.

    "I got a 12."
    "Okay, no one is impressed by your performance. Moving on!"

    "I got a 73!"
    "Okay, everyone is really impressed by your performance. Moving on!"

    I want the skills in the game. I even want to put points into them. But, it is never, ever worth it. And I have no good ideas on how to fix it.


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