Skill Clarification

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.

Skill Synergy
Autohypnosis ↔Concentration, →Knowledge (psionics)
Bluff →Diplomacy, →Disguise (for staying in character), →Intimidate, →Sleight of Hand
Concentration ↔Autohypnosis
Craft (See below)
Decipher Script →Use Magic Device (using scrolls)
Escape Artist →Use Rope (involving bindings)
Handle Animal →Ride, →wild empathy
Jump ↔Tumble
Knowledge (any) (See below)
Perform (See below)
Profession (See below)
Psicraft →Use Magic Device (involving power stones)
Search →Survival (while underground)
Sense Motive →Diplomacy
Spellcraft →Use Magic Device (using scrolls)
Survival ↔Knowledge (nature)
Tumble → Balance, ↔ Jump
Use Magic Device0 →Spellcraft (deciphering scrolls), →Psicraft (addressing power stones)
Use Rope →Climb (involving ropes), →Escape Artist (involving ropes)

0 The Use Magic Device skill now includes the Use Psionic Device skill. Both the Magical Aptitude and Psionic Affinity feats provide a +2 bonus on Use Magic Device checks.

Craft (Int)

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.

Craft Use Synergy
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
poisonmaking
sculpture working with clay, ceramics, and similar composite materials (includes brickmaking)
textiles weaving, felting, dying threads and fabrics
trapmaking manufacturing traps
woodworking carpentry, woodcarving, treating wood and plant matter

Knowledge (Int)

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.

Knowledge Topics Synergy
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]

1 Knowledge (history) must be purchased separately for each historic period ( recent, modern, distant, imperial). Earlier periods ( ancient, prehistoric) are not available for purchase.

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.

Perform (Cha)

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.

Perform Use Synergy
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.

Profession Use Synergy
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)
sailor ↔Sail
translator ↔Knowledge (linguistics)

New Skills

Sail (Dex)

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.

Task Sail DC
Calm water 10
Rough water 15
Stormy water 20
Difficult maneuver +5
Unfamiliar region +5
Open water +5
Night +5
In combat +5
Untrained crew +5
Veteran crew -5

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.

Skill Clarification

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