Several skills in the SRD bear further consideration, clarification, and elaboration. Some of the material presented here is from the Wilderlands campaign setting, but much of it is simply an attempt to sort out unnecessary ambiguities.
Skill Synergy Table (revised)
Some skills work better together. Skill synergy works as follows: purchasing 5 ranks in one skill grants a +2 bonus to another skill, either universally or in certain applications. Below is a revision/ clarification to the basic skill synergy table that can be found here in the SRD.
This table does not include synergy for Craft, Knowledge, Perform, or Profession skills (which are detailed later in the page), nor does it address language synergy.
|Autohypnosis||↔Concentration, →Knowledge (psionics)|
|Bluff||→Diplomacy, →Disguise (for staying in character), →Intimidate, →Sleight of Hand|
|Decipher Script||→Use Magic Device (using scrolls)|
|Escape Artist||→Use Rope (involving bindings)|
|Handle Animal||→Ride, →wild empathy|
|Knowledge (any)||(See below)|
|Psicraft||→Use Magic Device (involving power stones)|
|Search||→Survival (while underground)|
|Spellcraft||→Use Magic Device (using scrolls)|
|Tumble||→ Balance, ↔ Jump|
|Use Magic Device0||→Spellcraft (deciphering scrolls), →Psicraft (addressing power stones)|
|Use Rope||→Climb (involving ropes), →Escape Artist (involving ropes)|
A Craft skill is specifically focused on creating something. The most common craft skills for characters are listed here (differing from official sources, which are too sparse to be useful). To make or repair specific items, a character might need several skill checks (such as an arrow trap that requires Craft (trapmaking) and Craft (bowyery) checks).
For more detail on using the Craft skill, see the entry in the SRD.
|alchemy||alchemical items and solutions||↔Craft (cooking)|
|bowyery||bows, arrows, similar high-tension materials|
|bookbinding||making and binding paper, parchment, vellum, etc.|
|cooking||cooking, brewing, baking||↔Craft (alchemy)|
|illustration||drawing, painting, and carving images|
|lapidary||gemcutting, fine stonework, etching|
|glassblowing||making glass panes and shapes|
|leatherworking||curing, dying, and molding leather (including armor)|
|masonry||cutting, dressing, and building with stone (fine work may require Craft (lapidary))|
|metalworking||smithing metals, including for weapons and armor|
|sculpture||working with clay, ceramics, and similar composite materials (includes brickmaking)|
|textiles||weaving, felting, dying threads and fabrics|
|woodworking||carpentry, woodcarving, treating wood and plant matter|
Knowledge skills are the most likely skills to be restricted. Most people simply will not come into contact with enough texts, teachers, and experiences to justify increasing many of these skills beyond the first few ranks. Some of them have onerous requisites to meet before gaining even one rank (eldritch arcana). Others (Shadow, Dream) deal with subtle energies that are beyond the awareness of all but the most sensitive mortals, and lie almost exclusively among outsiders — while Knowledge (the planes) would entail knowledge about angels, fey, elementals, and the like, Knowledge (Dream) and Knowledge (planar) encompass an understanding of what it means to be them.
Knowledge skills are divided into topics. Certain class abilities and feats may give bonuses to skill checks on chosen topics.
When creating works of art (or putting artistic flourishes on more quotidian works), suitable Knowledge rolls may add to the quality of the finished product. [specifics TBD]
For more detail on using the Knowledge skill, see the entry in the SRD.
|arcana||magic traditions, schools of magic, famous mages, arcane symbols, cryptic phrases, magic items, constructs, dragons, magical beasts||→Spellcraft, ↔Knowledge (psionics)|
|architecture & engineering||modern buildings and structures, walls, modern building principles, aqueducts, bridges, castles & fortifications, cities||→Search (secret doors & hidden compartments)|
|art & literature||books & poems, sculpture, plays, music, poems, paintings, instruments, playwrights, authors & poets, musicians, artists, sculptors||→Performance|
|crafts & craftsmen||mercantile products, trade, trade routes, [craft skills]||→Craft|
|Dream||navigating the Dream and dreams (very rare in non-fey)||↔Knowledge (planar), →Diplomacy (with fey)|
|dungeoneering||underground survival, caverns & cave formations, underground life forms, spelunking||→Survival (underground)|
|eldritch arcana||[as per Knowledge (arcana), but referring to ancient and foreign practices; requires Knowledge (arcana) 10 or higher, and special instruction or texts]||←Knowledge (arcana), ←Knowledge (Dream), ↔Knowledge (physical universe)|
|flora||plants, herbs, flowers, grains, trees, medicinal properties of plants||↔Knowledge (nature), →Heal|
|fauna||animals, giants, humanoids, monstrous humanoids, vermin||↔Knowledge (nature), →Handle Animal|
|geography||lands, terrain, gemstones, rock formations, seismic activity, climate, population centers, survival||→Survival (navigation & natural hazards)|
|history 1||royalty, wars, colonies, migrations, founding of cities||→Bardic knowledge, ↔ Knowledge (history) [+1 per period if < 1 period]|
|linguistics||dialects, etymology, cryptography, semiotics, translation||→ Languages +1 per rank, ← Languages +1 per 5 languages, ↔Profession (translator)|
|local 2||legends, personalities, inhabitants, laws, customs, traditions, humanoids||→Gather Information|
|military||wars, leaders, strategy & tactics, training, military organizations, weapons, armor, sieges and siege engines||→Craft (to build or repair siege engines, weapons, armor), ↔Knowledge (history) (wars, leaders, organizations)|
|nature||seasons, climate, astrology, weather, elements, shapechangers||→Survival (above ground & natural environments), ←Survival, ↔Knowledge (flora), ↔Knowledge (fauna)|
|nautical||winds, currents & tides, navigation, sea battles, ships, shipbuilding, captains, nautical military strategy, nautical military history, nautical organizations, sailing||→Profession (sailing), Sail|
|nobility & royalty||noble houses, noble customs, hierarchies, duties, heraldry, family trees, politics||→Diplomacy (with nobles)|
|physical universe||mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, basic physics, elements, interstellar void||→Knowledge (nature), ↔Knowledge (eldritch arcana), ↔Profession (cryptographer)|
|planar||planar mechanics, outsider physiology, spirit ephemera, planar essence (very rare for non-outsiders)||→ Diplomacy (with outsiders), ↔ Knowledge (the planes)|
|the planes||interplanar travel, outsiders, fey, elementals, the void, alternate primes, netherworld, celestial realm, axis mundi, souls, elemental planes, demiplanes, planar membrane||↔Knowledge (planar)|
|psionics||ancient mysteries, psionic traditions, psychic symbols, cryptic phrases, astral constructs, and psionic races||→Psicraft, ←Autohypnosis, ←Autonomous (feat), ↔Knowledge (arcana)|
|psychology||group behavior, conflict resolution, hypnagogic contact, behavioral modification||→Gather Information, →Sense Motive, →Diplomacy, →Bluff, →Intimidate|
|religion||gods, domains, mythic history, ecclesiastic tradition, religious teachings, holy symbols, undead, outsiders||→Turn undead|
|region 3||[as per Knowledge (local), but broader detail about a whole region]||→Knowledge (local) [in region]|
2 Knowledge (local) must be purchased separately for each locality. A locality represents the space occupied by approximately 5000 people, though this varies depending on the homogeneity and openness of the communities in question. The GM can provide more specifics.
3 Knowledge (region) must be purchased separately for each region. A region is typically a Wilderlands map region or a plane, though some geographic or planar features may also be available as regions.
The Perform skill is usually invoked to extemporize or to produce works of live art, and thus relies on Charisma. Literate individuals may choose to create compositions for later performance; such compositions use Intelligence instead of Charisma. To understand a composition requires a Knowledge (art & literature) check, in addition to the Perform check to properly bring the composition to life.
Note: Perform skills fall into two groups: musical (singing, dance, instruments) and linguistic (acting, comedy, oratory). For each group, there is an additional synergy benefit of +1 per Perform skill after the first. Thus, a character with Perform (wind instruments), Perform (string instruments), and Perform (percussion instruments) would receive a +2 to each.
For more detail on using the Perform skill, see the entry in the SRD.
|acting||dramatic, comedic, pantomime||↔Bluff, ↔Profession (courtesan)|
|comedy||buffoonery, limericks, joke-telling||↔Gather Information|
|dance||↔Tumble, ↔Balance, ↔Profession (courtesan)|
|keyboard instruments||accordion, harpsichord, virginette, pipe organ||↔Sleight of Hand|
|oratory||epics, odes, storytelling|
|percussion instruments||bells, chimes, drums, dulcimer, gong, xylophone|
|string instruments||fiddle, harp, lute, mandolin|
|wind instruments||flute, ocarina, pan pipes, recorder, shawm, trumpet|
|singing||ballads, rimes, chorales|
Profession (Wis; trained only)
While a Craft skill represents ability in creating or making an item, a Profession skill represents an aptitude in a vocation requiring a broader range of less specific knowledge. The default texts supply precious little by way of guidelines for Profession skills, so here is a list of common Professions. Also available may be other professions that require skill/ training, but aren’t clearly covered by another skill.
For more detail on using the Profession skill, see the entry in the SRD.
|barkeep||witty banter, maintaining order, serving beverages||↔Perform (comedy, oratory, acting), ←Craft (cooking), ↔Diplomacy|
|clerk||dictation, shorthand, formal documentation, accounting, organization||↔Decipher Script, ↔Performance (acting)|
|courtesan||↔Performance (acting), ↔Performance (dance)|
|cryptographer||encode message, decode message, detect pattern||↔Knowledge (physical universe)|
|merchant||weights & measures, business dealings||↔Appraisal, ←Craft (per type of merchandise)|
|sage||research, tutoring, deduction||↔Knowledge (involving a library)|
The Sail skill is presented in the Players’ Guide to the Wilderlands. I have waived the “trained only” requirement, but it is still a rare skill. The waves are unpredictable, making sailors a superstitious lot. The secrets of sailing are only passed on to those who have proven themselves worthy.
Profession (sail) and Sail are complimentary skills. Not only are they synergetic (5 ranks of one grant +2 to the other), but they are somewhat interchangeable. The GM may allow Profession (sail) checks in lieu of Sail checks, or vice versa.
From the Players’ Guide to the Wilderlands:
The Sail skill works similar to the Ride skill, except that it allows a character to pilot a ship on the water.
Because the ability to sail is rare, it is considered a “trained only” skill.
Check: Boarding or disembarking from a vessel doesn’t require a check for those with this skill. Otherwise a Balance check is required. All other actions require checks, even simple ones. Difficult weather conditions, difficult maneuvers, night, open seas or unfamiliar waters make sailing more difficult.
Difficult maneuver: Includes coming about hard, rowing with extra speed, or any other non-routine sailing action.
Unfamiliar region: Most sailing is done in waters that are known to the sailor and in sight of land that is familiar. Removing that familiarity makes sailing more difficult.
Open water: Most sailors use landmarks for navigation and orientation. Sailing in open waters out of sight of land makes sailing more difficult.
In combat: Even simple maneuvers are difficult in ship to ship combat and difficult maneuvers are made more difficult. Combat includes ship to ship combat as well as combat with water creatures of a size large enough to threaten the ship. A merchant ship, for example, is not threatened by a few sharks, while a small row boat or sail boat is.
Crew modifiers: These apply only to large ships with teams of rowers or sailors.
Failure: Generally, failure simply means that the attempted action failed or that the ship makes no progress. In inclement weather or during difficult maneuvers, however, there is a chance of capsizing. After a failed check under such conditions, the character may make another Sail check. The DC of this second Sail check is equal to the number by which the initial Sail check was failed. A failed second Sail check means the craft has taken on significant water. In a small craft, the craft is swamped and sinks. In a larger vessel, the Judge may allow persons to bail the craft if sufficient hands are available.