Knowledge Checks

KNOWLEDGE (Int; Trained Only)

Like the Craft and Profession skills, Knowledge actually encompasses a number of unrelated skills. Knowledge represents a study of some body of lore, possibly an academic or even scientific discipline.

Below are listed typical fields of study. • Arcana (ancient mysteries, magic traditions, arcane symbols, cryptic phrases, constructs, dragons, magical beasts) • Architecture and engineering (buildings, aqueducts, bridges, fortifications) • Dungeoneering (aberrations, caverns, oozes, spelunking) • Geography (lands, terrain, climate, people) • History (royalty, wars, colonies, migrations, founding of cities) • Local (legends, personalities, inhabitants, laws, customs, traditions, humanoids) • Nature (animals, fey, giants, monstrous humanoids, plants, seasons and cycles, weather, vermin) • Nobility and royalty (lineages, heraldry, family trees, mottoes, personalities) • Religion (gods and goddesses, mythic history, ecclesiastic tradition, holy symbols, undead) • The planes (the Inner Planes, the Outer Planes, the Astral Plane, the Ethereal Plane, outsiders, elementals, magic related to the planes)

Check: Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).

In many cases, you can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster’s HD. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.

For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.

You can attempt a Knowledge check to give yourself an advantage in a situation. You may attempt one such check per day for each Knowledge skill in which you have ranks. A basic check (DC 20) gains you a +1 competence bonus to AC, attack rolls, damage rolls, or the save DCs of your spells against one particular opponent , or a +2 competence bonus to one saving throw against a particular effect (a certain wizard’s spells, poison, or to avoid traps, for example), or a +2 competence bonus to one skill check to accomplish a particular task. A DC (30) check increases these bonuses to +2/+4/+4 respectively. You must specify the opponent, effect or task upon making the check, and the bonuses last until the conditions are met or a day passes, whichever comes first. You must describe how your knowledge produces these results; a knowledge skill which is incompatible with a particular result increases the check DC by +10, at the DM’s discretion. If you fail the Knowledge check, you may not attempt to gain an advantage through that Knowledge skill for the rest of the day, though you may still use a different Knowledge skill.

Action: Usually none. In most cases, making a Knowledge check doesn’t take an action—you simply know the answer or you don’t. Making a Knowledge check to grant yourself a situational advantage is a free action.

Try Again: Not usually. The check represents what you know, and thinking about a topic a second time doesn’t let you know something that you never learned in the first place. However, you may retry if your skill bonus has increased since your last attempt.

Synergy: If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (arcana), you get a +2 bonus on Spellcraft checks. • If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (architecture and engineering), you get a +2 bonus on Search checks made to find secret doors or hidden compartments. • If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (geography), you get a +2 bonus on Survival checks made to keep from getting lost or to avoid natural hazards. • If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (history), you get a +2 bonus on bardic knowledge checks. • If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (local), you get a +2 bonus on Gather Information checks. • If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (nature), you get a +2 bonus on Survival checks made in aboveground natural environments (aquatic, desert, forest, hill, marsh, mountains, or plains). • If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (nobility and royalty), you get a +2 bonus on Diplomacy checks. • If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (religion), you get a +2 bonus on turning checks against undead. • If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (the planes), you get a +2 bonus on Survival checks made while on other planes. • If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (dungeoneering), you get a +2 bonus on Survival checks made while underground. • If you have 5 or more ranks in Survival, you get a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) checks.

Untrained: An untrained Knowledge check is simply an Intelligence check. Without actual training, you know only common knowledge (DC 10 or lower), and you cannot try and gain a situational advantage.

Living With the Rule:

  • Short Examples: * 1* Boris the Brave raises his sword and begins to stalk towards the party, plate mail clinking heavily. Rosa the bard knows that the Brave family is an old and chivalrous line, and has a duty to protect women. She uses that to her advantage, unbinding her long hair and taunting, “You wouldn’t hit a girl, would you?” as she tries to stab him with her rapier. Boris is thrown off by her taunts, and fights poorly. (Rosa makes a successful Knowledge (nobility and royalty) check, and gains a +1 AC bonus versus Boris).

2* Marco squints around the ruined great hall and comments to his fellow adventurers, “You know, that support pillar there doesn’t actually support anything. And it’s not decorated. I wonder why it’s there?” A quick search later and the nimble halfling has found a secret tunnel hidden behind the pillar. (Marco makes a successful Knowledge (architecture and engineering) check, and receives a +2 bonus to his Search check to find the secret door).

3* Hedda growls as she sees the enemy wizard preparing to cast. Her sorcerous companion shouts, “It’s another fireball!” “Get down!” Hedda calls back, and her companions begin diving for cover. Hedda recognizes the tall grass to her left as not being flat land, but a recessed divot common to plains. She rolls into the sheltered hollow just as the fireball bursts overhead, safe from the flames. (Hedda makes a successful Knowledge (geography) check, and receives a +2 bonus to Reflex saves against area spells).

  • Extended Example: **

A party is facing off against a band of orcs. The party wizard targets the orcs with a fireball, and really wants the orc shaman to be affected. She first makes a Knowledge (arcana) check, gets a 22, and declares her understanding of the arcane mysteries to be so thorough as to increase the saving throw DC on her fireball by one, for the shaman only.

When the fireball clears, only a few orcs are standing. The party rogue dashes up to one, makes a Knowledge (local) check and gets a 20, and suddenly remembers these orcs consider spiders to be their totem animal. “Wow, what a big spider!” she calls, pointing. The orc turns to look, and the rogue gets a +2 competence bonus on her Bluff check to feint him.

The fighter is up next, and he first makes his Knowledge (geography) check. He gets a 20 as well, and declares he is using the slope of the ground to add momentum to his charge. He gets a +1 to attack the orc he singles out for his charge, lopping the orc’s head off.

Finally, the party cleric decides to just bash one of the remaining orcs with his mace. He knows the undead-infested tomb is just up ahead, and he wants to save his situational advantage for when he really needs to turn some of them.

Knowledge Checks

Big City Knights mystikphish mystikphish