House Rules: Skills

Table: General Difficulty Levels

Difficulty DC
Trivial 5
Easy 10
Moderate 15
Challenging 20
Hard 25
Expert 30
Master 35
Legendary 40
Mythic 45
Epic 50


Your proficiency level in each skill represents your general training as part of your class, whereas your ranks represent your extra effort, focus, and hard work in improving your skill. You can be very well trained in a skill, but have not mastered on how to use it beyond the basics.

Your proficiency level allows you to add a bonus related to your character level to that skill. In additional, certain uses of a skill can only be attempted when you reach a certain level of proficiency.

Your proficiency in all skills begin at novice level. Reaching higher proficiency levels requires investing skill proficiency increases in them. You gain one skill proficiency increase starting at 1st-level, and gain an additional one every level thereafter.

Novice: You have no interest in developing this skill beyond general training.

Skilled: You consider this skill as part of your core abilities. You gain a proficiency bonus equal to half of your character level (minimum 1).

Expert: You have specialized in this skill, and are more apt with it than the average person. You gain a proficiency bonus equal to your character level.

Master: You have mastered every use of this skill known to the common person. No one else can teach you anything new about this skill. You gain a proficiency bonus equal to 1.5 times your character level. You must be at least 7th character level to have master proficiency in a skill.

Legendary: You have developed this skill beyond the limits of common reasoning, capable accomplishing feats with it found only in myth and legend. You gain a proficiency bonus equal to twice your character level. You must be at least 15th character level to have legendary proficiency in a skill.

You can add as many proficiency increases to a skill as you can at any level, but the effective level remains at expert until you reach 7th level where it automatically advances to master if you had already added enough increases. It then advances to legendary at 15th if you had already added enough increases.

You can take the Increase Skill Proficiency general feat to increase your proficiency in one skill.

Trained skills can only be used if you have invested at least 1 rank in it.

Certain skills are composed of different specializations: Artistry, Craft, Knowledge, Lore, Perform, and Profession. Proficiency increases are applied separately to each individual specialization.

Class Skills

Each class has a number of favored skills, called class skills. It is easier for your character to become more proficient in these skills, as they represent part of your professional training and constant practice.

Unranked class skill: You are able to use trained class skills even if you do not have any ranks in them. In addition, you start with skilled proficiency in this skill even without any ranks allocated to it.

Ranked class skill: When you have at least one rank in a class skill, you start with expert proficiency in this skill.

Skills can later become class skills through leveling into new classes, gaining certain feats, or other means. Once they do, they increase in proficiency level by one step, but only if they were previously not a class skill.

For skills composed of different specializations, the class skill proficiency increase applies to all of the specializations, unless only the specialization is in the class skills list.

How It Works

Your 1st-level wizard has 18 Int and 11 Cha, with Knowledge (arcana) as a class skill, but not Diplomacy. You want to be a very knowledgeable mage, but also one with good social skills. Knowledge (arcana) is a class skill for wizards and Diplomacy is not, so your proficiency in Knowledge (arcana) starts at skill while Diplomacy is at novice. Without allocating any ranks to any skills yet, your wizard is able to make Knowledge (arcana) checks with a +5 modifier, and Diplomacy checks with a +0 modifier.

At 1st level, you allocate 1 rank to both skills. You also assign your skill increase to Diplomacy, raising its proficiency to skilled. Your skilled Knowledge (arcana) is now at +6, and your skilled Diplomacy is at +2.

At 7th level, you now have 7 ranks in both Knowledge (arcana) and Diplomacy. You also increased your proficiency in Diplomacy to master. Your skilled Knowledge (arcana) is now at +14, and your master Diplomacy is at +17.


Skill Substitution

Some skills have less uses on their own, and can be substituted by other skills that already encompass their subject area. Class skills and abilities, feats, and other references to these defunct skills can be replaced their substitute skills to, as listed in Table: Skill Substitution. However, abilities, feats, and other features that apply modifiers to a defunct skill only apply to its substitution skill only when the substitution skill is used for a use of the defunct skill. The reverse is not true, modifiers to a substitute skill still apply when the skill is used for its defunct skill use.

For example, the Persuasive feat grants a +2 bonus to Diplomacy. You can apply this +2 bonus to Perform (oratory) checks, but only for uses under the Diplomacy skill, such as Gather Information, and not to Perform (oratory) checks to generate income. However, the +2 bonus from the Prodigy feat is applied to Perform (oratory) checks when used for Diplomacy uses such as Gather Information.

You can still put ranks into a defunct skill and use it separately if it benefits you to do so (such as choosing to use the Strength-based Intimidate check instead of using the Charisma-based Perform (oratory).

Table: Skill Substitution

Defunct Skills Substitutions
Appraise Artistry, Craft, and Profession related to appraised item
Bluff, Disguise Perform (act)
Diplomacy, Intimidate Perform (oratory)
Handle Animal, Ride Knowledge (nature), Profession (animal trainer), Profession (driver), Survival
Knowledge (dungeoneering) Knowledge (arcana) for aberrations and oozes; Knowledge (engineering) for dungeon architecture)
Knowledge (geography) Knowledge (local) for local geography; Knowledge (nature) for nature of geography
Knowledge (history), Knowledge (nobility) Knowledge (local)
Spellcraft Knowledge (arcana) for arcane, psionic, and psychic powers and spells; Knowledge (nature) for spells cast by nature classes (such as druids and rangers) and those belonging to the animal and plant domains; Knowledge (planes) for spells with the summoning and teleportation subschools; Knowledge (religion) for divine spells

Background Skills

Adventure skills that can substitute background defunct skills cannot have background skill points. Background skill points can still only be placed in background skills, even if they are defunct.

Table: Skills

Skill Untrained Armor Check Penalty Key Ability Background
Acrobatics Yes Yes Dex
Appraise Yes Int Yes
Artistry Yes Int Yes
Autohypnosis Wis
Bluff Yes Cha
Climb Yes Yes Str
Craft Yes Int Yes
Diplomacy Yes Cha
Disable Device Yes Dex
Disguise Yes Cha
Escape Artist Yes Yes Dex
Fly Yes Yes Dex
Handle Animal Cha Yes
Heal Yes Wis
Intimidate Yes Str or Cha
Knowledge (arcana) Int
Knowledge (dungeoneering) Int
Knowledge (engineering) Int Yes
Knowledge (geography) Int Yes
Knowledge (history) Int Yes
Knowledge (local) Int
Knowledge (martial) Int
Knowledge (nature) Int
Knowledge (nobility) Int Yes
Knowledge (planes) Int
Knowledge (religion) Int
Linguistics Int Yes
Lore Int Yes
Perception Yes Wis
Perform Yes Cha Yes
Profession Int or Wis Yes
Ride Yes Yes Dex
Sense Motive Yes Wis
Sleight of Hand Yes Dex Yes
Spellcraft Int
Stealth Yes Yes Dex
Survival Yes Wis
Swim Yes Yes Str
Truespeak Int
Use Magic Device Cha
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