Age of Heroes
- Acrobatics (DEX, Armor Penalty) Replaces Balance, Jump, Tumble, etc…
- Appraise (INT)
- Bluff (CHA)
- Climb (STR, Armor Penalty)
- Concentration (CON)
- Craft (INT)
- Debate (INT) Replaces Diplomacy, appeal to reason
- Disguise (CHA)
- Escape Artist (DEX, Armor Penalty)
- Forgery (INT)
- Gather Information (CHA)
- Handle Animal (CHA. Trained Only)
- Heal (WIS)
- Hekau (INT, Trained Only, Armor Penalty)
- Knowledge (INT, Trained Only)
- Medicine (INT, Trained Only)
- Perception (WIS) Replaces Listen and Spot
- Perform (CHA)
- Prayer (WIS)
- Presence Replaces Intimidation, Expanded
- Profession (WIS, Trained Only)
- Ride (DEX)
- Rhetoric (CHA) Replaces Diplomacy, appeal to emotion
- Search (INT)
- Sense Motive (WIS)
- Sleight of Hand (DEX, Trained Only, Armor Penalty)
- Solve Conundrum (INT)
- Speak Language (None, Trained Only)
- Stealth (DEX, Armor Penalty) Replaces Hide and Move Silently
- Survival (WIS)
- Swim (STR, Armor Penalty)
- Use Rope (DEX)
- Witchcraft (CHA, Trained Only)
Skills represent the different arts, sciences, branches of learning, crafts and physical disciplines that a character has learned. The character’s class has a major influence on the skills they can learn. A character has a certain number of ranks in each skill, with a minimum of zero. If buying a skill from a character’s list of class skills, they gain one rank – equal to a +1 bonus on checks with that skill – for each skill point they attribute to it. If you buy other classes’ skills (cross-class skills), you gain half a rank per skill point. The character class descriptions in the Characters chapter indicate which skills can be purchased as class skills and how many skill points (modified by a character’s Intelligence modifier, to a minimum of one per level) are gained when a character takes a level in that class. Your maximum rank in a class skill is your character level + 5. Your maximum rank in a cross-class skill is one-half of this number; do not round this figure up or down. Half ranks do not improve your skill check, but two ½ ranks make 1 rank. You cannot save skill points to spend later.
Acquiring Skill Ranks
Ranks indicate how much training, experience or innate talent a character has with a given skill. Each skill has a number of ranks, from 0 (for a skill in which a character has no training at all) to 13 (for a 10th-level character who has increased a class skill to its maximum rank). Skill modifiers can be much higher than 13 once ability bonuses, enhancements and other factors are added in, but skill ranks themselves can never be higher than 13. When making a skill check, a character adds their skill ranks to the roll as part of the skill modifier. Unless a Games Master wishes to role-play this process out and set his own prices for training, the Greek setting assumes that a character can always find a way to learn any skill and does so between levels of advancement. Of course, a soldier trying to find someone to teach him could make for a great story. For your convenience, the number of skill points gained by acquiring levels in the various classes is revisited here. Remember that only at the first character level, the value listed is multiplied by 4 to simulate the amount of experience gained before play begins.
Using a Skill
Various points in the game call for the use of skills. For example, if the witch Callaia has been tied hand and foot by brigands and her friend Xeno the thief (temporarily without a knife) is trying to untie the knots and free her, he would make a Use Rope skill check to achieve this. When a character uses a skill, the player makes a skill check to see how well they do. The higher the result of the skill check, the higher the degree of their success. Based on the circumstances, the result must match or beat a particular number (a DC or the result of an opposed skill check) for the check to be successful. The harder the task, the higher the number a player needs to roll. Circumstances can affect this check. A character that is free to work without distractions can take their time making a careful attempt and avoiding simple mistakes. A character that has lots of time can try over and over again, thereby ensuring the highest possible chances of their success. If others help, the character may succeed where they would otherwise have failed.
A skill check takes into account a character’s training (skill rank), natural talent (ability modifier) and luck (the die roll). It may also take into account their background training in performing certain tasks (background bonus) or what armor they are wearing (armor check penalty) or certain feats the character possesses. To make a skill check, roll 1d20 and add the character’s skill modifier for that skill. The skill modifier incorporates the character’s ranks in that skill and the ability modifier for that skill’s key ability, plus any other miscellaneous modifiers that may apply, including background bonuses and armor check penalties. The higher the result, the better. Unlike with attack rolls and saving throws, a natural roll of 20 on the d20 is not an automatic success; in turn a natural roll of 1 is not an automatic failure.
Some checks are made against a Difficulty Class (DC). The DC is a number (set using the skill rules as a guideline) that you must score as a result on your skill check in order to succeed a given task.
An opposed check is a check whose success or failure is determined by comparing the check result to that of another character’s. In an opposed check, the higher result succeeds, while the lower result fails. In case of a tie, the higher skill modifier wins. If these scores are the same, roll again to break the tie.
In general, a character can try a skill check again if they fail and can keep trying indefinitely. Some skills, however, have consequences of failure that must be taken into account. A few skills are virtually useless once a check has failed on an attempt to accomplish a particular task. For most skills, when a character has succeeded once at a given task, additional successes are meaningless.
Untrained Skill Checks
Some skills do not require formal training, because everyone has a certain degree of basic competence in them. For example, anyone can use the Acrobatics skill to try to balance on a narrow ledge; they do not automatically fall off just because they have not received training in a Spartan gymnasium. Generally, if a character attempts to use a skill they do not possess, they make a skill check as normal. The skill modifier does not have a skill rank added because the character has no ranks in the skill. Any other applicable modifiers, such as the modifier for the skill’s key ability, are applied to the check. Many skills, referred to as Trained Only skills, can be used only if a character actually has ranks in them; they cannot attempt a check using a skill that cannot be used untrained. For example, you cannot use a Knowledge skill untrained, because Knowledge skills represent an awareness of facts that have to be taught. A skill that is both Trained Only and is not available to a given character class represents a kind of skill check that the character will never be able to make. A warrior, for example, will never have access to the Witchcraft skill.
Favorable and Unfavorable Conditions
Some situations may make a skill easier or harder to use, resulting in a bonus or penalty to the skill check or a change in the DC of the skill check. The chance of success can be altered in four ways to take into account exceptional circumstances.
- Give the skill user a +2 circumstance bonus to represent conditions that improve performance, such as having the perfect tool for the job, gaining help from another character (see Combining Skill Attempts) or possessing unusually accurate information. For example, if Imhotep the artificer is looking for a secret entrance to a tomb and has been told what to look for, he receives a +2 circumstance bonus to his Search check.
- Give the skill user a –2 penalty to represent conditions that hamper performance, such as being forced to use improvised tools or having misleading information. For example, if Melissa the hetaera, having listened to inaccurate gossip, has dressed herself entirely in blue silks in the hope of impressing a local merchant whose real preference is for girls in red, she would receive a –2 penalty to her Presence skill check.
- Reduce the DC by 2 to represent circumstances that make the task easier, such as having a friendly audience or doing work that does not have to be done to a basic standard. For example, if the bard Lucius is playing for the entertainment of the customers in his regular tavern, they already know him and are appreciative of his talents, so he does not have to work so hard to make them happy.
- Increase the DC by 2 to represent circumstances that make the task harder, such as having an uncooperative audience or doing work that must be flawless. For example, the traps devised by a long-dead artificer to guard his liege’s burial chamber are of exceptional quality and Xeno the thief must work especially hard to deactivate them with his Disable Device skill. Conditions that affect your character’s ability to perform certain tasks change the skill check’s modifier. Conditions that modify how well the character has to perform the skill to succeed change the DC. A bonus to the skill modifier and a reduction in the check’s DC has the same ultimate result, namely a better chance of success. However, they represent different circumstances and sometimes that difference is important.
Time and Skill Checks
Using a skill might take, take no time, a round, several rounds or even longer. Most skill uses are standard actions, move actions or full-round actions. Types of actions define how long activities take to perform within the framework of a combat round (6 seconds) and how movement is treated with respect to the activity. Some skill checks are instant and represent reactions to an event or are included as part of an action. These skill checks are not actions. Other skill checks represent part of a character’s movement.
Checks without Rolls
A skill check represents an attempt to accomplish some goal, usually while under some sort of time pressure or distraction. Sometimes, though, a character can use a skill under more favorable conditions and eliminate the luck factor, as he either does a completely standard job, unmodified by luck or gives his whole attention to the task and does the best he possibly can. These two possibilities are called ‘taking 10’ and ‘taking 20’.
- Taking 10:
When a character is not threatened or distracted, they may choose to take 10. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the skill check; calculate your result as if you had rolled a 10. For many routine tasks, taking 10 makes them automatically successful, as indeed they would be in real life. It is not necessary to make a rolled skill check for every little thing. Distractions or threats (such as combat) make it impossible for a character to take 10. In most cases, taking 10 is purely a safety measure. A player knows or expects that an average roll will succeed but fears that a poor roll might fail, so they elect to settle for the average roll (a 10). Taking 10 is especially useful in situations where a
particularly high roll would not help. For example, Telemachus the warrior wants to moor a boat to a quay, which will require a Use Rope skill check. Tying up a ship is not especially difficult and there are no rewards for doing it well, but if it is done badly, the knot could come loose and the boat would drift away. If Telemachus takes 10 on his Use Rope skill check, he is certain to succeed, whereas if he rolled the check, he might roll low and lose his boat.
- Taking 20:
When a character has plenty of time, generally two minutes for a skill that can normally be checked in one round, one full-round action or one standard action, are faced with no threats or distractions and the skill being attempted carries no penalties for failure, they can take 20. In other words, eventually they will roll a 20 on 1d20 if they roll enough times. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the skill check, just calculate your result as if you had rolled a 20. Taking 20 means a character is trying until they get it right and assumes they will fail many times before succeeding. Taking 20 takes twenty times as long as making a single check would take. Since taking 20 assumes that the character will fail many times before succeeding, if they attempt to take 20 on a skill that carries penalties for failure, the character would automatically incur those penalties before they could complete the task. Common ‘take 20’ skills include Escape Artist, Search and Solve Conundrum.
Ability Checks and Caster Level Checks
The normal ‘take 10’ and ‘take 20’ rules apply for ability checks. Neither rule, however, applies to caster level checks. Combining Skill Checks When more than one character tries the same skill at the same time and for the same purpose, their efforts may overlap. This can be done in several different ways; each combination is adjudicated using its own set of rules.
Often, several characters attempt some action and each succeed or fail independently. The result of one character’s Climb check, for example, does not influence the results of another’s Climb checks. Each is working for themselves alone. Aid Another You can help another character achieve a successful skill check by making the same kind of skill check in a co-operative effort. If you roll a 10 or higher on your check, the character you are helping gains a +2 bonus to their check, as per the rules for favorable conditions. A character cannot take 10 on a skill check to aid another. In many cases, a character’s help will not be beneficial or only a limited number of characters can help at once. In cases where the skill restricts those who can achieve certain results, characters cannot aid another to grant a bonus to a task that the character could not achieve alone. For example, even if they have the Perform skill, they cannot help a bard perform bardic music unless they are a bard yourself.
It is possible for a character to have two skills that work well together. In general, having five or more ranks in one skill gives the character a +2 synergy bonus on skill checks with each of its synergistic skills, as noted in the skill description. In some cases, this bonus applies only to specific uses of the skill in question and not to all checks made with it. Some skills provide benefits on other checks made by a character, such as those checks required to use certain class features. Check individual skill descriptions for full details of skill synergies.
Sometimes a character tries to do something for which no specific skill really applies. In these cases, they must make an ability check. An ability check is a roll of 1d20 plus the appropriate ability modifier. Essentially, they are making an untrained skill check, since using a skill that a character does not have any skill ranks in is effectively an unmodified ability check. In some cases, an action is a straight test of one’s ability with no luck involved. Just as characters would not make a height check to see who is taller, they would also not make Strength checks to see who is stronger. The Games Master is responsible for determining what situations call for ability checks, which ones have skill checks as a more appropriate method of adjudication and when rolls are not required at all.