Skills and Languages

Every time I think I have the system cracked and ready for playtesting, something else pops up that reminds me there is still work to do. In this instance it’s the Pathfinder skill system. Now I already did a lot of work on skills for HD&D that I don’t want to go to waste. Don’t panic: I’m not making any major revisions. I’m still using all the rules for skills as they appear in the Pathfinder game – skill ranks, class skills and so on will work exactly as published. However, Iourn throws a few more skills into the mix.

The Master Skills List

Below is a list of all the skills available in the game. This list differs slightly to that published in the Pathfinder book, so please pay attention! As there are more skills on this list than in the traditional Pathfinder game, I’m also going to give all classes some extra skill points. However, we’ll get to that in a moment.

Acrobatics (Dex): The skill of dodging, tumbling and balancing – indeed, this replaces the Tumble and Balance skills from 3.5. According to the Pathfinder rules, it should also replace Jump. However, I think that Jump is based more on Strength than Dexterity, so it is folded it into the new Athletics skill instead.

Athletics (Str): New skill! Consider this skill the other side of the coin to Acrobatics. If the physical feat you are attemping is dependent on Dex then use Acrobatics. If it’s dependent on Strength, then use Athletics. Athletics covers jumping, and general feats of strength such as bending bars, wrestling and so on. You can make an Athletics roll instead of a Constitution check when running and holding your breath – so it’s jolly useful.

Alchemy (Int): Under Pathfinder the skill is listen as Craft (Alchemy). However, I think that Alchemy is important enough that it merits a skill all of its own. I’ve not done much work with alchemy in the system so far, but I’m hoping that will change before the next weekly Iourn game. Alchemy is going to be bigged up.

Autohypnosis (Wis): This skill isn’t in the third edition PHB or in the Pathfinder rules. It’s in the Expanded Psionics Handbook and represents heightened mental discipline, and using the power of the mind to overcome the physical or emotional responses of the body. It’s an underused skill, and I’m happy to keep it in the game.

Appraise (Int): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Bluff (Cha): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Climb (Str): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Control Shape (Wis): A specialist skill from the third edition Monster Manual that hasn’t made it into Pathfinder. With this skill a character afflicted with lycanthropy can attempt to control his shape. I like this skill as it fits in very much with the way that lycanthropes work on Iourn. Those exposed to lycanthropy can be taught to control the affliction. I may get around the modifying the text of this skill at some point, but it’s important to note that it exists in the world. You could also use it to resist spells such as Baleful Polymorh or the touch of a Chaos Beast.

Craft (Int): Largely unchanged, but it would be a shame to let the massive amount of work I did on Craft skills to go to waste. I’ll integrate these into the final version of the rules, although it seems unlikely that many of them will see play.

Diplomacy (Cha): The third edition Gather Information skill is folded into Diplomacy in Pathfinder. However, I don’t agree with that. Instead I have introduced the new skill Streetwise (see below).

Disable Device (Dex): In Pathfinder this skill merges the 3.5 skills Disable Device and Open Locks. This seems like a good move to me.

Disguise (Cha): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Escape Artist (Dex): Unchanted from the Pathfinder rules.

Fly (Dex): A new skill for Pathfinder. It doesn’t let you fly, but it does allow you to expertly control your movement if you can fly.

Handle Animal (Cha): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Heal (Wis): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules, although I should mention that the Heal skill is more potent now and can actually restore hit points.

Intimidate (Cha): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Knowledge: The Iourn system removes Knowledge (Dungeoneering), Knowledge (Local) and Knowledge (The Planes) from the game. However, it adds knowledge skills in Aberrant, Ancients, Draconic, Elemental, Fey and Undead. That’s a new gain of three knowledge skills. Read on!

Knowledge [Aberrant] (Int): New skill for the Iourn game. This is the knowledge of Aberrations, as well as the environments that aberrations tend to live in. It also tells you information about the Far Realm on a high enough roll.

Knowledge [Ancients] (Int): In the Iourn setting the Ancient races are the first races that came into existence after the dragons. Angels, devils, demons, guardinals, eladrin (proper second edition eladrin), genies, rakshasha, geherleths, yugoloths and the slaad are examples of Ancients. If they were classified as an Outsider in third edition then they are probably Ancients on Iourn. This skill tells you all about those Anceints, as well as the planes on which they dwell and the Astral Plane.

Knowledge [Arcana] (Int): This is the same as Pathfinder. Knowledge of the Weave, magical traditions in general, artefact, constructs and other magical beasties.

Knowledge [Architecture & Engineering] (Int): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules, although I might increase the utility of the skill when I finally finishe my rules on siege warfare.

Knowledge [Draconic] (Int): Knowledge of all dragon races, dragon myths and dragon believes – as well as the planes closely associated with them such as the Maw of Io.

Knowledge [Elemental] (Int): Knowledge of the elemental realms, and the creatures that dwell there. Knowledge of Elementals also gives you an understanding of the nature and the power of the Moon Gods (from a non-dogmatic perspective), as well as the role the elements play in the six humours that make up all life.

Knowledge [Fey] (Int): Knowledge of fey creatures (pixies, nixies, sprites, nymphs, elves) and their planes of existence such as the Feywild.

Knowledge [Geography] (Int): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Knowledge [History] (Int): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Knowledge [Nature] (Int): This is the knowledge of natural (Animals, Plants, Vermin) creatures and the natural environments in which they live. As there is no Dungeoneering skill in the game any more, Knowledge Nature encompasses subterranean realms as well – as long as those realms are not compeltely alien.

Knowledge [Nobility] (Int): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Knowledge [Religion] (Int): Pretty much unchange from Pathfinder except that a knowledge of religion no longer gives you any understanding of the Undead. Knowledge Religion is designed to grant an understanding of the dogma and beliefs of specific churches as well gods in general.

Knowledge [Undead] (Int): This is the skill for knowing all there is to know about the undead. It also covers lands such as the Land of the Dead and the Shadowfell.

Linguistics (Int): I’m in two minds about this, as I’m worried that it will shake the current status quo a little too much – however, we’ll give it a whirl and see how things turn out. In Pathfinder the Linguistics skill plays two roles. Firstly it is the new name for the third edition skill, Decipher Script. Secondly, it is a measure of the number of languages characters can know. In Pathfinder all characters can speak a couple of languages determined by their race and additional languages equal to their Intelligence ability modifier. They also know one additional language for every rank they have in Linguistics. I am keeping the distinction between learning spoken languages and learning written scripts that I have always used so there is definitely a great choice for PC linguists. It will be interesting to see how this works in play.

Lucid Dreaming (Wis): The ability to be aware of your own dreams, master your own dreamscape and enter the dreams of others. An uncommon ability to be sure, but a skill that has been available in the campaign for a long time, I’m not going to change it now.

Perception (Wis): A combination of third editions Spot and Listen skills. Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Perform (Cha): Pathfinder returns to the version 3.0 description of Perform. It is a number of separate skills (they list act, comedy, dance, keyboard, oratory, percussion, strings, wind instruments and singing). The character has to put ranks into each one separately. This seems to be a tax on the bard, but it does make logical sense.

Profession (Wis): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules, but as with Craft all the HD&D work on the Profession skill will not be in vain.

Ride (Dex): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Sense Motive (Wis): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules but I might wind up taking a leaf from 4e and calling it Insight, as that’s a much cooler name.

Sleight of Hand (Dex): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Spellcraft (Int): Largely unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Stealth (Dex): The Move Silently and Hide skills combined into one package. And very sensible too.

Streetwise (Cha): New skill that folds together the third edition skills of Knowledge [Local] and Gather Information. This sits better with me than shoe-horning these skills into Diplomacy. There is no Urban Tracking feat as there was in third edition, but any one with this skill can attempt Urban Tracking if they wish.

Survival (Wis): As Pathfinder. It’s worth mentioning that there is no Track feat in Pathfinder. Instead everyone with this skill can use it to track. However, Rangers get a stonking bonus to tracking rolls – so Brack may be even better than Arvan under Pathfinder.

Swim (Str): Unchanged from the Pathfinder rules.

Use Magic Device (Cha): I was on the verge of dropping this skill from the game, as I can’t remember when I have ever used it. However, in the end I decided that it fills a niche that no other skill does – and there might be occassions when a rogue wants to cast a spell, or a sorcerer activate a holy relic of an alien faith.

Skill Ranks and Class Skills

There are 36 skills in standard third edition. In Pathfinder there are only 26. In my system above, there are 34 listed skills. When you consider that I have also introduced more Knowledge skills, I think you’ll agree that PCs in this system need more skill points than in traditional Pathfinder. Below are listed the skill points for each of the eleven core classes as well as any prestige classes patronised by my players. I also update the class skills for each class.


Class Skills: Arcobatics, Athletics, Climb, Craft, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Knowledge [Nature], Perception, Ride, Survival, Swim
Skill Ranks: 6 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Acrobatics, Appraise, Bluff, Climb, Craft, Diplomacy, Disguise, Escape Artist, Intimidate, Knowledge [all], Linguistics, Perception, Perform, Profession, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Spellcraft, Stealth, Streetwise, Use Magic Device
Skill Ranks: 8 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Bluff, Craft, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Knowledge [arcana], Knowledge [history], Knowledge [religion], Knowledge [any one], Linguisitcs, Profession, Sense Motive, Streetwise
Skill Ranks: 4 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Athletics, Bluff, Craft, Disguise, Knowledge [any one], Profession, Sense Motive, Swim, Use Magic Device
Skill Ranks: 6 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Appraise, Craft, Diplomacy, Heal, Knowledge [arcana], Knowledge [history], Knowledge [nobility], Knowledge [religion], Linguistics, Profession, Sense Motive, Spellcraft. Cleric gain additional class skills depending on their choice of Major Domains.
Skill Ranks: 4 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Athletics, Climb, Craft, Fly, Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge [fey], Knowledge [georaphy], Knowledge [nature], Perception, Profession, Ride, Spellcraft, Survival, Swim
Skill Ranks: 6 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Athletics, Climb, Craft, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Knowledge [engineering], Knowledge [choose any one], Profession, Ride, Survival, Swim
Skill Ranks: 4 + Int Mod

Glorious Servitor

Class Skills: Bluff, Craft, Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Knowledge [history], Knowledge [religion], Perception, Profession, Sense Motive, Streetwise, Survival
Skill Ranks: 4 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Athletics, Acrobatics, Autohypnosis, Climb, Craft, Escape Artist, Intimidate, Knowledge [history], Knowledge [religion], Perception, Perform, Profession, Ride, Sense Motive, Stealth, Swim
Skill Ranks: 6 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Athletics, Craft, Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge [nobility], Knowledge [religion], Knowledge [undead], Profession, Ride, Sense Motive, Spellcaft
Skill Ranks: 4 + Int Mod

Pious Templar

Class Skills: Athletics, Climb, Craft, Heal, Knowledge [religion], Perception, Profession, Sense Motive, Swim
Skill Ranks: 4 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Athletics, Climb, Craft, Handle Animal, Heal, Intimidate, Knowledge [geography], Knowledge [nature], Perception, Profession, Ride, Spellcraft, Stealth, Survival, Swim
Skill Ranks: 8 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Athletics, Acrobatics, Appraise, Bluff, Climb, Craft, Diplomacy, Disable Device, Disguise, Escape Artist, Intimidate, Knowledge [any one], Linguistics, Perception, Perform, Profession, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Streetwise, Swim, Use Magic Device
Skill Ranks: 10 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Appraise, Bluff, Disguise, Craft, Fly, Intimidate, Knowledge [arcana], Knowledge [any one], Perception, Profession, Sleight of Hand, Streetwise, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, Survival, Use Magic Device. Sorcers also gain an additional class skill depending on their Bloodline.
Skill Ranks: 6 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Autohypnosis, Climb, Craft, Hide, Knowledge [aberrant], Knowledge [arcana], Perception, Stealth
Skill Ranks: 6 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Athletics, Climb, Knowledge [all], Profession, Spellcraft
Skill Ranks: 4 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Bluff, Climb, Craft, Diplomacy, Escape Artist, Knowledge [any one], Profession, Sense Motive, Streetwise, Swim.
Skill Ranks: 6 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Climb, Craft, Disguise, Escape Artist, Stealth, Swim
Skill Ranks: 4 + Int Mod


Class Skills: Appraise, Autohypnosis, Craft, Fly, Knowledge [all], Linguistics, Profession, Spellcraft
Skill Ranks: 4 + Int Mod

And that’s about that. Back to the adventure writing!


11 thoughts on “Skills and Languages

  1. Not really a whole lot to say here. Personally i’m not such a huge fan of having so many Knowledge skills and i’d probably fold Swim and Climb into Athletics with situational penalties for lack of training or experience in those areas as i am somewhat of an efficiency nut.
    But skills tend to be a very subjective area of D&D and i know people who enjoy having dozens of skills on their character sheet, even if half of them almost never see use.

  2. Largely, I’ve tried to keep to the Pathfinder way of doing things (for simplicity’s sake if nothing else). On the whole I think 4e parsed things down a little too much. I wasn’t a fan of folding Climb and Swim into Athletics, as it strikes me that (logically) they are very different skills.

    Still, the list could have been much longer! I think that the skills that get the most use in my games are Perception and the Knowledge skills, so this list plays into that.

    • tbh, i think branching athletics, acrobatics, swimming and jumping into separate skills is just a waste of space to spend your skill points!!

      and i have to agree with Will that if you are creating a new skill set, athletics, then swim and climb should fold into it…for a fighter, the amount of skill points he gets is lower and he would have to balance spending it into three different skill locations…i may throw you back the same questions, listening and spotting are two different skills/senses, why should it fall under perception? and yes Pathfinder has made it simpler for gamers and now you are doing the complete opposite.

      if you want athletics, then fold swim and climb into it…else remove athletics completely. jump should go under acrobatics, logically in real life, it is a combination of dex and str…it requires a lot more finesse to pull of an agile jump more than just an accompanied strength role…besides acrobatics is a subset of athletics and so is swimming and climbing for that matter…so what is what then when you are making a role? if you are really fussy again, then drop athletics completely and create a new skill jump, but that is just more complexity

      well best use the pathfinder definition and leave it at that…

      • Have to say INdran that I profoundly disagree. The folding of climbing and swimming into Athletics was something I hated in 4e, because it makes no sense.

        Sure climbing, jumping and swimming is a mixture of strength and dexterity – but you can say that about all skills. It’s also about skill. You can be a skilled free-climber, but not know how to swim. They are two different skills. Sure a free-climber might be a slightly better swimmer than an unskilled Homer Simpson because he has a higher strength – but as the default Swim skill is a strength check then that makes perfect sense.

        Acrobatics isn’t a subset of Athletics. Athletics is about strength and toughness; Acrobatics is about agility. And I do think that power (Strength) is more important to jumping that dexterity.

        Athletics is also a darn useful skill to have in the game. It absorbs some of the properties of the 4e Endurance skill. So in addition to jumping you can also use it instead of a Con check while holding your breath or running a distance race. It can also be used in place of a Strength check for battering down doors – so you chance to destroy something by brute force has a chance of improving as you gain levels.

        Perception (and indeed Stealth and Disable Device) are not the same. I’m not really sure that Spot and Listen are separate skills. Sure they can be targeted separately – by blindness or deafness effects – but if you think about it we don’t interact with the world by using these senses separately. We don’t look and listen as separate actions: we do it all at the same time. It’s all a matter of Perception (hence the skill).

        The skills Acrobatics, Atheltics, Climb and Swim replace the 3.5 skills Balance, Climb, Jump, Swim and Tumble. It’s not as extreme a trim as Pathfinder but it’s still five skills down to four, and I’m giving you extra skill points on top of that.

      • Whether you use Dex or Str for a Jump depends on the jump. If you’re just trying to cross distance (which is what most Jump checks are for) then Dexterity doesn’t really enter the picture, if you’re trying to jump past a swinging axe blade, then Strength is probably less useful.

        I will say that given the way skills work in the D20 system, without implimenting some kind of background or seperate training system, keeping Swim seperate from Climb is probably the best way of doing it. Personally i don’t think the D20 system handles ‘similar but different’ skills all that well, but hey, nothing is perfect.

    • Tempted to say that it’s Pathfinder rules, and Pathinder says “no”. Also I don’t think that Raza has done anything diplomatic in the last 10 years. We can discuss it at the retreat, but Pathfinder is much more forgiving on cross class skills. You won’t notice much of a difference.

      • i am only iterating my point for continuity reasons…and yes raza has used his diplomatic roles previously, and quite a bit actually and given the role he may take eventually in the game, i prefer we keep diplomacy as a skill for monks…

        just for note sake, raza used his diplomatic skills to rally the githiyanki and githzerai in the astral plane…

      • But none of these in-game justify keeping Diplomacy as a monk skill. All they mean is that Raza has ranks in Diplomacy. Raza is 15th level. Assuming he put maximum ranks in Diplomacy he would have a base +18 in it if it was a class class, and +15 in it as a cross-class skill.

        It’s not really a huge difference. And as there’s no penalty for improving cross-class skills (there’s no double cost or anything) it does seem much of a chore.

      • Given the archetypes the Monk class embodies, i certainly don’t see any reason to have Diplomacy as a class skill. Sure a Monk can learn Diplomacy, but the ‘character types’ that a Monk embodies are not exactly diplomatic. Wise and insightful sure, but not silver-tongued.

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