Skills

This section describes each skill, including common uses and typical modifiers. Characters can sometimes use skills for purposes other than those noted here, at the GM’s discretion. For a complete summary of all of the skills, see Table: Skill Summary.

Table: Skill Summary
Skill Untrained Ability
Acrobatics Yes Dex
Appraise Yes Int
Bluff Yes Cha
Climb Yes Str
Concentration - -
Craft Mostly Int
Diplomacy Yes Cha
Disable Device No Dex
Disguise Yes Cha
Escape Artist Yes Dex
Explain Everything Yes Cha
Fly Yes Dex
Handle Animal No Cha
Heal Yes Wis
Intimidate Yes Cha
Knowledge (Arcana) No Int
Knowledge (Engineering) No Int
Knowledge (Geography) No Int
Knowledge (History) No Int
Knowledge (Local) No Int
Knowledge (Nature) No Int
Knowledge (Nobility) No Int
Knowledge (Planes) No Int
Knowledge (Religion) No Int
Linguistics No Int
Perception Yes Wis
Perform Yes Cha
Profession No Wis
Ride Yes Dex
Sense Motive Yes Wis
Sleight of Hand No Dex
Spellcraft No Int
Stealth Yes Dex
Survival Yes Wis
Swim Yes Str
Use Magic Device No Cha

Armor Check Penalty (ACP) (see Armor) applies to all Strength- and Dexterity-based skill checks.

Acquiring Skills

Each level, your character gains a number of skill ranks dependent upon your class plus your Intelligence modifier. Investing a rank in a skill represents a measure of training in that skill. You can never have more ranks in a skill than your total number of Hit Dice. In addition, each class has a number of favored skills, called class skills. It is easier for your character to become more proficient in these skills, as they represent part of his professional training and constant practice. You gain a +3 bonus on all class skills that you put ranks into. If you have more than one class and both grant you a class skill bonus, these bonuses do not stack. Characters who take a level in a favored class have the option of gaining 1 additional skill rank or an additional hit point. If you select a level in a new class, all of its class skills are automatically added to your list of class skills, and you gain a +3 bonus on these skills if you have ranks in them.

Synergy

It’s possible for a character to have two skills that work well together. In general, for each 10 ranks a character has in one skill they gain a +2 bonus on skill checks with each of its synergistic skills, as noted in the table below. In some cases, this bonus applies only to specific uses of the skill in question, and not to all checks. Some skills provide benefits on other checks made by a character, such as those checks required to use certain class features.

Table: Skill Synergies
Every 10 ranks in… Gives a +2 bonus on…
Acrobatics Swim checks
Appraise Checks to identify items (whether with Spellcraft, a Knowledge skill, or a Craft skill)
Bluff Disguise checks to act in character
Bluff Sleight of Hand checks
Bluff Sense Motive checks
Climb Survival checks made in mountainous areas
Craft Related Appraise checks. Multiple Crafts cannot benefit the same check.
Diplomacy Sense Motive checks
Disable Device Knowledge (engineering) checks when dealing with traps or mechanical systems
Disguise Perception checks to see through disguises
Escape Artist Disguise checks to appear as a different race or age
Fly Acrobatics checks
Handle Animal Ride checks
Handle Animal Wild Empathy checks
Heal Checks made to create medications (whether with Alchemy, Survival, a Craft skill, or even Heal itself)
Intimidate Handle Animal checks
Knowledge (arcana) Spellcraft checks
Knowledge (engineering) Perception checks involving secret doors and similar compartments
Knowledge (geography) Survival checks to keep from getting lost or for avoiding hazards
Knowledge (history) Knowledge (local) checks
Knowledge (local) Diplomacy checks to Gather Information
Knowledge (nature) Survival checks in above-ground natural environments
Knowledge (nobility) Diplomacy checks to propose deals
Knowledge (religion) Knowledge (history) checks
Knowledge (the planes) Survival checks when on other planes
Linguistics Use Magic Device checks involving scrolls
Perception Survival checks when following tracks
Perform All Perform checks you have less than 10 ranks in (only applies once)
Profession A single other skill (typically a Craft or Knowledge) determined by the type of profession (GM Discretion). Multiple Professions cannot benefit the same check.
Ride Handle Animal checks
Sense Motive Diplomacy checks
Sleight of Hand Bluff checks
Spellcraft Use Magic Device checks
Stealth Sleight of Hand checks
Survival Knowledge (Nature) checks
Swim Climb checks
Use Magic Device Checks made to identify a spell or spell effect

Taking 10 and Taking 20

A skill check represents an attempt to accomplish some goal, usually while under some sort of time pressure or distraction. Sometimes, though, a character can use a skill under more favorable conditions, increasing the odds of success.

Taking 10

When your character is not in immediate danger or distracted, you may choose to take 10. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the skill check, calculate your result as if you had rolled a 10. For many routine tasks, taking 10 makes them automatically successful. Distractions or threats (such as combat) make it impossible for a character to take 10. In most cases, taking 10 is purely a safety measure—you know (or expect) that an average roll will succeed but fear that a poor roll might fail, so you elect to settle for the average roll (a 10). Taking 10 is especially useful in situations where a particularly high roll wouldn’t help.

Taking 20

When you have plenty of time, you are faced with no threats or distractions, and the skill being attempted carries no penalties for failure, you can take 20. In other words, if you a d20 roll enough times, eventually you will get a 20. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the skill check, just calculate your result as if you had rolled a 20.

Taking 20 means you are trying until you get it right, and it assumes that you fail many times before succeeding. Taking 20 takes 20 times as long as making a single check would take (usually 2 minutes for a skill that takes 1 round or less to perform).

Since taking 20 assumes that your character will fail many times before succeeding, your character would automatically incur any penalties for failure before he or she could complete the task (hence why it is generally not allowed with skills that carry such penalties). Common “take 20” skills include Disable Device (when used to open locks), Escape Artist, and Perception (when attempting to find traps). If a character chooses to take 20 on a skill that imposes penalties for failure but there’s no logical reason they couldn’t spend the extra time and effort and (likely) cost, they incur the penalties for failure 19 times.

Ability Checks and Caster Level Checks

The normal take 10 and take 20 rules apply for ability checks. Neither rule applies to concentration checks or caster level checks.

Other Notes

Secret Checks

In general, when a skill check being made can result in a not-immediately-obvious failure and a character declines to or cannot take 10, the check should be made in secret by the GM. Checks with particularly consequential failure are often made by the GM as well. All opposed checks between two party members are made by the GM. A GM may, obviously, choose to forego making the check in secret (such as if the failure incredibly unlikely or is easily mitigated, or if the check is largely inconsequential). Most checks that should be made in secret are noted as such, but a GM may call for a check to be made in secret if he feels it’s appropriate.

Aid Another

You can help someone achieve success on a skill check by making the same kind of skill check in a cooperative effort. If you roll a 10 or higher on your check, the character you’re helping gets a +2 bonus on his or her check. (You can’t take 10 on a skill check to aid another.) In many cases, a character’s help won’t be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at once.

In cases where the skill restricts who can achieve certain results, such as trying to open a lock using Disable Device, you can’t aid another to grant a bonus to a task that your character couldn’t achieve alone. The GM might impose further restrictions to aiding another on a case-by-case basis as well.

Complex Checks

Many skills are made over considerable periods of time, such as Handle Animal, Survival, and Craft checks. Skills like this cannot benefit from spells, abilities, and items that benefit a limited number of skill checks or that do not last long enough to benefit all checks for the whole period.

Additionally, some questions or tasks may require successful checks with multiple skills to be answered or completed.

Skills

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