wrecan
- Jun 2005 -
19235 Posts

Secondary: Skills

This is the second in my series of articles detailing a completely modular skill system that is not too complicated for new players.  In part one, I introduced the concept of the system, and also explained how the Background system currently in the Playtest Packet would fit in seamlessly with my expended module.  In the second, I explained the two options that are easier to apply but allow for less customization than Backgrounds.  The articles in this series are:

Secondary: Intro and Backgrounds
Secondary: Abilities and Subabilities
Secondary: Skills
Secondary: Proficiencies
Secondary: Skill Points

In this article, I present the option that allows you to make your own Backgrounds: the Skills Option.  As always, only the text in blue should be printed in the rules.  The rest of this text is merely my design notes to help explain my goals in designing this module.

The key to the Skills option is to make sure the Skills are not so broad that they are as useful as a Subability, but not so specific that they should be a Proficiency (to be detailed in the next article). A Skill should be something that is considered generally useful, but not a "must have".  In addition, the Skills need not encompass all the ability checks available to the character.  Some Ability checks may have no Skills that can modify it.

Unlike Subabilities and Abilities, Skills are not necessarily tied to any single Ability.  While some Skills naturally relate to a specific Ability, it is not a necessary feature of the Skill.  In this way, Skills tend to represent actual training in an area, while Abilities and Subabilities represent natural talent.

The Skills Option most closely resembles the 4e Skill system, although given bounded accuracy, the 4e Skill bonus of +5 is unneeded.  +1 is plenty and using the progression found in the Playtest, easily keeps par with the standard Background-using PC.

SKILLS
The Skills Option offers slightly more customizability than the default Background Option, because the Skills Option lets you make your very own Background.  Most Backgrounds contain proficiency in three preselected Skills as well as a "trait" that offers a miscellaneous benefit.  In the Skills Option, you get to choose any three Skills from a list of Skills, but you get one generic "trait".

The Skills Option Trait
If you choose the Skills Option, you also get the following ability.  Once a day, you may, before rolling a Skill check in which you are trained, decide that you have advantage for that check.  If both rolls fail, you do not lose use of this power for the day.

Skill Usage
Use the Skills delineated here, just as you use them when included as part of a Background.  If an Ability check would seem to implicate a Skill in which you have trained,ask your DM if you may add the Skill bonus to the check.

Skills Advancement
At first level, choose three Skills in which you are trained, which gives you a +3 bonus.  At each even-numbered character level, you may increase the bonus you receive in one Skill in which you are trained by +1.

The Skills
The following 23 Skills have been selected for you to choose three from.  However, you should feel free to, with the consent of your DM, design your own Skills.
  • Acculturate: You are skilled in learning new cultures.  The ability to blend in a new environment, to learn the customs, mores, and niceties or a new culture.  In short, you are worldlier than must of your peers.  Each time you take this Skill, you may also choose two languages in which you become proficient.  This Skill is most frequently associated with Intelligence and Charisma.
  • Contort: You have trained yourself to control your body in tight spaces and precarious positions.  You can stand on a ledge, or squeeze yourself into a box half your size.  This Skill is most frequently associated with Constitution and Dexterity.
  • Deceive: You are skilled in the art of deception.  You know how to apply disguises, to lie, to act, to improvise a story, and to create a blind to conceal another person or object.  This Skill is most often associated with Charisma, but applying a disguise or blind may be considered Dexterity or Wisdom.
  • Deduce: You are able to marshal the facts at your disposal to answer questions.  Deduction is useful when unraveling mysteries, playing games involving mental skill, and solving puzzles.  You are also skilled at mathematics and whatever passes for science in your DM's campaign world. Some DMs may prefer to let the players, and not the characters solve such questions using their own brainpower.  Check with your DM to determine whether it is worthwhile to take this Skill.  This Skill is most often associated with Intelligence.
  • Examine: You are trained in noticing small details at a close distance, using all of your senses.  You can find traps and secret panels, smell poison, and notice objects or other phenomena that are simply out of place.  This Skill is most often associated with Wisdom.
  • Intimidate: You are able to change a person's attitude by appealing to their base nature.  The reverse of Inveigle, this Skill allows you to appeal to someone's more negative emotions, such as greed, fear, and anger.  This Skill is most often associated with Strength or Charisma.
  • Inveigle: You are able to change a person's attitude by appealing to their better nature.  The reverse of Intimidate, this Skill allows you to appeal to someone's more positive emotions, such as happiness, pride, and adoration.  This Skill is most often associates with Intelligence or Charisma.
  • Know Animals: You are knowledgeable in the habits and handling of mundane creatures, from falcons to horses to bears.  This allows you to identify their droppings and tracks, to know their customary behavior and lairs.  You can diagnose and treat them when they are sick or injured.  This also allows you to train animals, and to perform extraordinary feats of equestrianism.  This Skill is most often associated with Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.
  • Know Monsters: You are knowledgeable in the habits and handling of exotic creatures, from dragons to griffons, to owlbears.  This allows you to identify their droppings and tracks, to know their customary behavior and lairs.  You can diagnose and treat them when they are sick or injured.  This also allows you to train monsters, and to ride exotic mounts.  This Skill is most often associated with Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.
  • Know Occult: You are knowledgeable in the ways of magic and the supernatural.  You can identify magical effects.  With enough time, you can identify most common magic items.  You can identify spells, spell components, and any rare items that may be used in the manufacture of potions, elixirs and rituals.  This Skill is most often associated with Intelligence.
  • Know People: You are knowledgeable in the habits and handling of intelligent creatures, from elves, to gnolls, to humans.  This allows you to identify them, and to tell when they are being deceitful.  You can also diagnose and treat them when they are sick or injured.  This Skill is most often associated with Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.
  • Know Places: You are knowledgeable about the natural world at large.  You know how to survive in most wilderness environments, can identify poisonous and/or edible plant life, and construct shelters, build crude traps, and hunt game.  You are rarely lost.  This Skill is most often associated with Constitution, Intelligence, and Wisdom.
  • Know Planes: You are knowledgeable about the worlds beyond the world.  You know how to survive in most extraplanar environments, can identify planes through which you travel, and know most of the gateways and passages back to the material world.  This Skill is most often associated with Constitution, Intelligence, and Wisdom.
  • Labor: You are trained in using your body for extraordinary physical exertion.  You can run marathons, lift enormous weights, bend bars, toil for hours, and even continue without sleep or rest for longer than others of your race.  This Skill is most often associates with Strength or Constitution.
  • Maneuver: You are skilled in getting your body to move quickly.  This generally includes activities such as running, jumping, swimming, and climbing.  This Skill is most often associated with Strength or Dexterity.
  • Manipulate: You are trained in all aspects of fine motor skills, and in operating most of the typical machinery of your era.  You can pick locks, disarm traps, or sabotage a catapult.  This Skill is most often associated with Intelligence or Dexterity. 
  • Reason: You are trained in appealing to a person's reason and logic.  You know how to construct arguments, to perceive the weaknesses in other people's arguments, and to persuade people through the marshaling of facts and numbers.  This Skill is most often associated with Intelligence or Charisma.
  • Sense: You have trained your non-visual senses to be keener than other people's.  You can hear whispered conversations from long distances, you can sense danger, you can even hear the footsteps or feel the rush of wind caused by unseen creatures.  This Skill is most often associated with Wisdom.
  • Sleight of Hand: You are trained to use your fingers and hands nimbly and faster than the eye can follow,or with a level of detail that others cannot master.  You can pick pockets, forge documents, palm objects, juggle, and perform other feats of mundane legerdemain.  This Skill is most often associated with Dexterity or Charisma.
  • Sneak: You are trained in keeping yourself unseen and unheard.  You know how to keep to the shadows and to tread as lightly as a footpad.  You know the herbs that can reduce your odor to avoid guard animals, the paints that best allow you blend in different environments, and how to avoid tripwires and other triggers. This Skill is most often associated with Dexterity, Intelligence, and Wisdom.
  • Spot: You have keen eyesight and have trained yourself to be ever-vigilant.  You can spot movement at a distance, find a nest, pierce a disguise, or simply see the movement in the trees that signals an approaching creature before anybody else is prepared.  This Skill is most often associated with Wisdom.
  • Streetwise: You know how to get around an urban environment.  You can spot the power players, weave through the rough and tumble world of politics, discover information, and know the typical denizens, humanoid and otherwise that might be found in urban environments.  Each time you train in this skill, choose a region of your campaign world.  You can appear to be a native of that region, and if you speak the native tongue, you do so without any trace of accent.  This Skill is most often associated with Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.
  • Track: You know how to spot tracks, follow tracks and can glean information from tracks, such as the condition of the creature you track, the time since the tracks were made.  If you are also trained in the appropriate knowledge skill, you may be able to identify the creature -- and possibly even the individual -- who made those tracks.  This Skill is most commonly associated with Intelligence and Wisdom.
At 1,500 words, this is the longest section in my Secondary Series.  Of course, this pretty much replaces the Skills section in the current playtest packet, while giving a new option for acquiring Skills, so I actually think that word-wise, it's a wash.  In my next article in this series, I will discuss the Proficiency Option!

Read more at Unearthed Wrecana!


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