Is it mathematically possible for 5th edition to model the following situation:

Comment from discussion Is it mathematically possible for 5th edition to model the following situation:
“Two characters of the same level are attempting a reasonably difficult task. One character is sufficiently unskilled that they have almost no chance of success; the other character is an expert, who is experienced enough that they have no chance of failure.”
As a concrete example, let’s say that both I and a Nobel-laureate mathematician try to derive a complex (but unremarkable) mathematical proof. I have enough knowledge of math that I could take a crack at it, but I’d need many attempts to even come close to a solution. The mathematician would have no trouble solving it on her first attempt.
This is a pretty common thing in everyday life. Most people have no chance of picking even an ordinary lock, while someone with basic training can do it with no trouble. Most people can’t deadlift 200 lbs, but most weightlifters would find it trivial. 3rd edition can easily model this with its skills system: if a task has a DC of 25, any character with less than 5 in that skill has no chance of success, while any character with 25 or more has no chance of failure, and it’s pretty easy for (say) two 10th level characters to fit that bill.
It seems like this is impossible in 5th edition, because there’s a (very small) maximum difference between the skills of any two characters of the same level. If so, why design it this way? Essentially, it seems like in 5e no character can ever be an expert at anything. At least, not compared to other characters of the same level.That’s only if you define expert as something that excludes a chance of success for other characters. D&D, being focused on heroic fantasy, doesn’t follow that line of thinking. D&D errs on the side of giving you at least some chance of success.
That’s not a judgment on what is correct for any RPG. It’s just what’s correct for D&D.AMA: Mike Mearls, Co-Designer of D&D 5, Head of D&D R&D

Can you explain why the staggered release?

Comment from discussion 1.) I’m surprised there was so much of a gap between PHB, MM, and the still pending DM guide (especially since the books reference each other). Can you explain why the staggered release?
2.) I got into D&D with 4e (before that I was just a spectator on the sidelines — and I guess never winter nights 1/2 if that counts). What were some of the disadvantages of the ‘at-will / encounter / daily’ style of abilities (as opposed to the now minutes / full-rest).
3.) I’m still getting used to D&D 5e. I think having specific skills (e.g. athletics, bluff, etc.) was actually more clear than the 5e system; can you detail the design intent behind the change?
4.) I must admit that while I love D&D, I try my best to avoid the cannon fluff whenever I can. Mostly because I have a really hard time rationalizing things like hoards of treasure waiting to be seized (that would destroy economies), the long-term effects of magic on the development of society (e.g. arcane wind mills / necromantic farmers / any disease or ailment being ‘fixable’ regardless of what it was), the effect of different planes and ‘Gods’ directly interfering with mortals, etc. What can you tell me to rationalize this aversion?
Overall, I’m pretty giddy — I read my PHB every other night as bed-time material. Once the DM guide comes out in December, I’ll finally start a game that my friends and I have been planning for several years.
Also, just to reinforce what people have said (and I know you can’t talk about it), but the 4e DnD insider tools were some of the best things ever. The entire cost of the subscription was worth it just for the character builder. It was that same character builder that I used to rope so many others into this hobby as well. And now, with so many of my friends being spread all over the globe, having is a huge boon.
Follow up bonus 5.) Here is a link to the last AMA you did 2 years ago. Some notable topics you touched upon: feat support / relevancy of D&D in the future / logistics of large encounters, number mechanics (AC, adv/disadv) / play-testing feedback / caster-fighter balancing. Going back through that AMA now, are there any questions / answers that you think have changed in these 2 years?It was a hard lesson from 4e. Staggering the release allowed the same core team to work on every book. That improved consistency and solved a lot of quality control issues that plagued us in the past. Short-term pain for people starting campaigns, but worth it for the long term health of the game.
The big disadvantages of AEDU, based on feedback we saw in the playtest, come in two areas.
First, we saw that many players don’t want much complexity in combat. They’re happy to just attack. AEDU forced everyone to the same level of complexity.
Second, making it easy to get back encounter powers made each battle feel too similar. People could easily fall into a script they repeated fight after fight. It was not a result I expected, but pushing the short rest to one hour makes an encounter ability feel more precious. Using it is seen as a real risk now, rather than an automatic choice.
The skills in 5e gave way to a bigger emphasis on ability scores. We found that this approach made the game easier to understand and forced us to adopt a more streamlined system. The skill system used to hide a lot of complexity. By forcing that material into the core system, we had a better feel for the real weight it carried and could take steps in the core to simplify things.
I don’t think you need to rationalize it – every DM has a unique approach to D&D. My advice would be to meet it head on – how would you change your campaign setting to account for that? What are the interesting interactions that arise and what do they mean for the world?
Personally, I like how some of that stuff can twist things around and make a setting unique.
Prior AMA – Let me get to some more questions here before I go back through the old one, but it’s definitely an interesting idea.AMA: Mike Mearls, Co-Designer of D&D 5, Head of D&D R&D

Pact of the Blade, is there any mechanical reason that you can’t summon two weapons or ranged weapons?

Comment The Pact of the Blade Warlock feature seems to imply you can form any melee weapon you want, until you make a pact with a specific weapon, at which time you can only summon that weapon with the pact. Is that correct? Also, is there any mechanical reason that you can’t summon two weapons (for TWF) or ranged weapons? Wondering if this pact is limited for flavor reasons or mechanical ones. Thanks!That’s a correct reading of the pact.
I’d allow two weapons or a ranged weapon – it’s not a big balancing factor.from discussion AMA: Mike Mearls, Co-Designer of D&D 5, Head of D&D R&D.