Skills basically work the same as they do in standard D&D – figure out your DC, figure out your modifier, roll for success. However, there have been some major changes to the system, so it’s important that you read this section.
Taking a level in a class grants you the number of skill points indicated in its description. You do not add your Intelligence modifier to the number of skill points you receive, but you still receive four times that amount at first level.
If you take a level in a class that gives you more skill points than any of your current classes, you immediately receive extra skill points equal to three times the difference between the number of skill points granted by the new class and the highest number of skill points granted by any of your current classes.
Each skill point can be used to purchase a rank in a skill, 1 point for 1 rank. If a skill is a class skill for any of your classes, your maximum rank in that skill is your character level + 3. Otherwise it is considered a cross-class skill, and the maximum rank for it is your character level.
Each of the new skill abilities include a rank minimum (even if that rank is Untrained), and characters with at least this many ranks may attempt that use of the skill without penalty. Characters who are one rank short may attempt the ability with a -5 penalty. Characters who are two ranks short may attempt the ability with a -15 penalty. These penalties apply to both passive and active checks made with a skill ability you do not have sufficient ranks to use normally. If a skill ability does not require a check, passive or active, you may not access it early in this way.
Your check result is compared against the task DC. This DC is either determined by the GM based on the obstacle or set by someone else making an opposed check. Your degree of success or failure against the DC is used to determine the degree of your success or failure with the skill ability. These results are listed in the skill abilities, which use this format:
Base DC: The basic DC required to use the ability. This entry also includes an indication of applicable modifiers.
- DC+10 and above: This entry indicates how the ability changes if you roll better than the DC by 10 or more. It may not be present in all abilities.
- DC+5 to DC+9: This entry indicates how the ability changes if you roll better than the DC by 5 or more, or it may be written as “DC+5 and above” if there is no greater success possible. It may not be present in all abilities.
- DC+0 to DC+4: This entry indicates the default level of success for the ability by meeting or exceeding the DC. It is present for all abilities, and may be written as “DC+0 and above” if there is no greater success possible.
- DC-1 to DC-5: This entry indicates the default level of failure for the ability if you do not meet or exceed the DC. It is present for all abilities, and may be written as “DC-1 and below” if there is no greater failure possible.
- DC-6 and below: If there is a more substantial failure possible than the default level, it is listed in this entry. It may not be present in all abilities.
Any “Taking X” rule may be used when you are not actively threatened or distracted. If you have at least 4 more ranks than are necessary for a given ability, you may “Take X” even if you are actively threatened or distracted.
- Taking 10 represents putting in an average amount of effort, and not attempting to reach for a greater result. It can be thought of as doing “just enough to get by”. For the purposes of your skill check, you treat your 1d20 roll as if it had come up 10. Taking this option takes the same amount of time as a normal use of the skill ability does.
- Taking 15 represents spending time and effort to do a good job, but without spending time to make it perfect. It can be thought of as “taking the time to do it right”. For the purposes of your skill check, you treat your 1d20 roll as if it had come up 15. Taking this option takes four times as long as a normal use of the skill ability does.
- Taking 20 represents putting in a great deal of effort in an attempt to make the check as “perfect as you can get”. It means doing it over, and over, and over until you get it right… even if you get it wrong once or twice along the way. If you would fail the check in a way that would not allow you to retry it had you rolled a 1, you treat your 1d20 roll as if it had come up 1. Otherwise you treat your 1d20 roll as if it had come up 20. Taking this option takes 20 times as long as a normal use of the skill ability does.
Oftentimes, you don’t have the time you need to normally use a skill, or you simply want it done now. By taking a penalty to your check as determined by the table below, you can rush certain skill abilities. This doesn’t apply to all skills, however; if a skill ability is rushable, it will be indicated in it’s description, and the check penalties will be listed again on the skill’s page. If not indicated as such, that use cannot be rushed.
|From…||…to 5 minutes||…to 2½ minutes||…to 1 minute||…to 5 rounds||…to 2 rounds||…to 1 round||…to a standard action||…to a move action||…to a swift action|
|1 round or full-round||—||—||—||—||—||—||-3||-5||-8|
|a standard action||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||-2||-5|
|a move action||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||-3|
Synergy bonuses no longer exist. Everything that provides a bonus to a skill, be it a class feature, feat, spell, item, or anything else, now provides a non-stacking competence bonus.
Acrobatics is a movement skill. It allows you to land a fall more gracefully, maneuver around opponents, and move over terrain that would otherwise block or simply not support you. Those really skilled in Acrobatics can even walk on water or catch a ride on passing arrows.
Affability is a social skill. It allows you to influence how people feel about you, and use their fondness for you to push them a bit farther than they would go for others. Those with exceptional skill in Affability can talk others out of blinding rages or into potentially suicidal actions.
Appraisal is an analysis skill. It signifies an attention to detail that allows you to recognize forgeries, doctored goods, or knockoffs as well as price and identify goods and even share your insights with those suffering from a lack of logic. Those with attention to detail are also those who make good adulterers and forgers of work, so this skill is also used to make objects appear to be worth more than they are. Those with substantial skill in Appraisal can even determine the functions of magical objects simply by examination.
Artifice is an applied skill. With it, you can craft almost anything you please, eventually even magic items, as well as repair damaged items. Those with exceptional skill in Artifice can enchant items better than any caster can.
Athletics is a movement skill. It allows you to ascend surfaces, swim through waters, or swing through a jungle on vines that would otherwise block you. Those with a lot of skill in Athletics can even climb walls of force or swim against tsunamis and in other conditions that have no terrestrial analogue.
Bluff is a social skill involving the art of trickery. With it you can convincingly lie, hurt the image of others, and take on the identity of another individual. Those with advanced training in Bluff can even implant false thoughts in their own heads and lie to divination sensors.
Ciphers is an analysis skill. With it you can piece together patterns in written work, translating ancient languages, cracking codes that hide meaning, and even determining what is missing from a scroll to release its power. Those with a great deal of skill in Ciphers can even become fluent in dead languages or avoid triggering written trap effects.
Concentration is a purely mental skill. Those trained in it can ignore distractions and focus on a complicated task and perfectly memorize complicated things. Those with a great deal of skill in Concentration can even focus their way past spell effects that would paralyze or alter their minds.
Creature Handling is a social skill where you spend a lot of your time talking to creatures unlikely to talk back. It allows you to make a creature perform a trick (even those it hasn’t been trained for), influence how creatures feel about you, train creatures to perform tasks, and even keep rabid beasts at bay without drawing blood. It is also the default skill used in riding, though there are alternative methods of acquiring the ability to ride well. Those with exceptional skill in Creature Handling can even train animals almost instantly, a skill prized among those who would teach their creature friends to defend their territory against invaders.
Cultures represents your dedication to the studies of the peoples of the world, their languages, and cultures. Those who spend time learning about others learn their language and can better recognize them when they meet, in peace time or war. Those who learn a great deal about Cultures can use that knowledge to try to activate magic items, even when they have no idea what the item would do. They can also pick up new languages just by being exposed to them.
Devices is an applied skill that helps you bypass dangers. With it you can disarm mechanical traps, disable waiting magics, open secured locks, and sabotage complex devices. Those with advanced training in devices can even trap magical items, lay false traps to slow pursuit, and even disable spell effects like Arcane Lock or Wall of Fire.
Disguises is an applied skill that allows you to change appearances and form. With it you can disguise your features, disguise the appearance of others, and even alter your weight or height. Those with substantial skill can craft creams and objects that bring a more substantial physical or magical change, and gain abilities to better emulate those they seek to impersonate.
Endurance is a reactive skill; you will only roll it in response to outside stimuli. It allows you to ignore your own physical limits and push on despite fatigue, aggravated wounds, or continually damaging environments. Characters who invest heavily in this skill can push themselves much longer than those who do not, ignoring or fighting off debilitating magical effects like disintegrate and sprint for hours at a time.
Escape Artistry is an active skill that you can use to remove yourself from tight situations. With it you can escape bindings or grapples and slip through tight spaces. Those with substantial training in Escape Artistry can slip free of magic that has grabbed hold of them and pass spaces where they couldn’t possibly fit.
Healing is an active skill that allows you restore the health of yourself and your allies. With it you can bind wounds, treat poison, accelerate natural healing, and determine what effects a patient is suffering under. Those skilled in healing can heal other an amount near instantly, find hidden health concerns, treat temporary and permanent physiological conditions, and even bring the recently dead back to life.
Intimidation is a social skill involving the threat of force, violence, and other unpleasantries. With it you can scare people into helping or running from you. Those who practice intimidation intensely can scare off larger groups of people, demand obedience from others, and break fear’s grasp over people.
Jump is a movement skill. It allows you to cross gaps in floors, hop over barriers, and quickly reach high ledges overhead. Those who train hard at it often jump as much as walk, as they can cross great distances with the combination, and can leap great distances into the sky.
Legerdemain is an active skill involving distraction, deception, and dexterity. With it you can trick people in combat, lighten pockets, poison drinks, conceal weapons on your person, and perform other feats of misdirection. Those with advanced skill in legerdemain can throw their voices, make large objects or people seemingly vanish, and even swipe attended objects without the target noticing.
Perception is both an active and a passive skill. It is used continuously in a passive state to determine what events characters are simply aware of, from whispered conversations to bursts of light to scents drifting on the breeze. It can also be used actively to learn more about an event or detect a forgery. Those who put effort into sharpening their senses can even pierce illusions or detect magical transformations in others, sometimes automatically.
Psionics represents dedicated study into the innate magic that underlies the world, commonly known as the Luminance. While that study manifests itself most strongly as the ability to better understand and recognize psionic powers and similar magic, those who study it also learn about creatures formed (or twisted) from the Luminance; namely, aberrations, elementals, and fey. Characters with substantial training in Psionics can command and create magic items they could not otherwise use.
Psychology is a generally reactive skill that you use to learn things about those that you interact with. With it you can spot lies and get a feel for a situation before it turns on you. Those who practice at it can tell when someone has been charmed, determine motivations of others, learn the secrets of others during casual conversation, and even predict the actions of others before they occur.
Sorcery represents dedicated study into the magic taught by the gods. While that study manifests itself most strongly as the ability to better understand and recognize the spells and abilities they grant, those who study Sorcery also learn the underpinnings of creatures tied into their divinity; namely, constructs, outsiders, and the undead. Characters with substantial training in Sorcery can even use and create magic items they could not otherwise use.
Stealth is a movement skill involving cover, concealment, and blind spots. With it you can walk past guards without their noticing, sneak up on a sentry, or slip unnoticed through a crowd. Those who specialize in stealth can help carry their friends when stealth matters and even tip toe past a creature that sees everything touching the earth nearby.
Survival is an active skill related to the great outdoors. With it you can bind foes or prey, set minor traps in the wilderness, find food while traveling, and tie some impressive knots. You can also recognize the creatures you encounter in the wilds, and thus know whether to fight or flee them. Those who learn the secrets of survival can fashion protective gear from natural resources, predict the weather, hide their own trail, and use their knowledge to survive on other planes.