You asked for it, and you shall receive!
More minimalist D&D is coming... hopefully, until it becomes an entire game.
I talked about skills before (read that first!) and I am 90% convinced that they are not needed. However, five skills remained useful in my analysis: sleight of hand, arcana, history, nature and medicine.
You might call them "skill sets", instead. Something like this:
- Nature: animal handling, survival, nature, maybe perception when in nature.
- Lore: religion, history.
- Thievery: sleight of hand + thieves' tools.
- Arcana: well, arcana.
- Medicine: just medicine.
I kept these because you can build interesting archetypes around them. The experience ranger or hunter that is not particularly wise (average wisdom), the thief who is better with lock-picks than with a rapier. Or a doctor and a wizard who are both very intelligent, but not in the same way.
I cannot see that with other skills. Acrobatics, for example - can you think of a hero in fiction which would have low Dexterity and STILL great acrobatics? Makes no sense to me.
I considered some kind of "influence" skillset for charisma skills (deception, intimidation, persuasion , performance). But nope. A knight who is a leader has high Charisma. A suave thief has high Charisma. That's enough.
But I am really tempted to add a sixth skillset. Which is:
- Observation: perception, insight, investigation.
Now, I can see how this is somewhat redundant to Wisdom... And, as I've said "wouldn't it be cool if perception were context-specific? So, the ranger notices everything in the wild, but the aristocrat measures every look in the court, etc."
I can see the opposite too. A thief with low Wisdom, but a great eye for detail. Maybe a skill set to find hidden stuff; secret passages, quiet noises... This stuff is so improtant in D&D! Or maybe that should be folded into thievery. So, the thief sees small secret doors, the ranger doesn't - but he gets too see an ambush in the woods in advance. And the wizard perceives magic stuff.
Thinking of it this way, the sixth skill set could be War (or a better name - any suggestions?). It wouldn't influence combat at all... but would allow you to see an ambush before it comes, the value of a good sword, some interesting tactics against another group of combatants... Maybe the can MAKE some simple weapons in extreme circumstances.
War certainly creates lots of interesting combinations. Barbarians do War and Nature, Paladins do War and Arcana, etc.
I'm thorn on this one. I confess having six abilities and six skill sets is very tempting.
HOWEVER, I wouldn't want skill sets to be something every character has (like abilities).
By learning medicine or arcana, you know things no one else knows, even if they have high Intelligence. This is NOT just a bonus.
In short... skills are feats. Common ones, but still feats. So they can contain whatever you find interesting... and can be multiplied infinitely.
Anyway. that's probably the direction I'm going. Skills are feats, they do relevant things, and not everyone is forced to pick them.