Skill unlocks are a fun way to get players more interested in their skills, something I always thought they should be doing more of. This week, we’re wrapping up our 2-part series of new skill unlocks, called scholarly skill unlocks. These work similarly to the occult skill unlocks, but without requiring your character to be psychically attuned. We will be focusing on the knowledge skills—skills that, for most players, end up overlooked unless they need to fight the appropriate monster. This article aims to get people more invested in their character’s education.
New Skill Unlocks
The following skill unlocks are available to all characters who get all Knowledge skills as class skills (either from a single class or as a result of multiclassing), or to any character with the Educated feat. They are listed in alphabetical order, by the name of the corresponding skill.
Battle Plan (Knowledge [History])
You have studied history’s great battles and legendary generals, learning strategies to gain tactical advantage. By laying out these plans in advance, you can gain the upper hand in the early moments of a conflict.
Check: Once per day, you can spend 1 hour creating a battle plan. If you do, make a Knowledge (history) check. You may choose to share your battle plan with up to 1 additional character for every 5 points by which your Knowledge (history) check exceeds 10. For the remainder of the day, you and anyone you shared your battle plan with can act in the surprise round of combat. This part of the ability only works if the result of your Knowledge (history) check is 20 or higher, and you and the character you shared the battle plan with take your surprise round turns at an initiative point equal to the result of your Knowledge (history) check – 20. Additionally, whenever you roll initiative, for each enemy that rolls an initiative result less than the result of your Knowledge (History) check, you gain a +2 bonus to your initiative for that combat. For every enemy whose initiative roll exceeds your Knowledge (history) check, you suffer a –1 penalty to your initiative.
Check: Creating a battle plan takes 1 hour.
Try Again: You can only create one battle plan each day. Additionally, a character can only benefit from a single battle plan at any given time.
Local Color (Knowledge [Local])
You have long studied the customs of other lands and can blend into any environment as though you had been living there your whole life.
Check: Whenever you enter a settlement, you may attempt a Knowledge (local) check with a DC equal to 30 – 1 for every 500 people living there. If you do, you learn the local lingo and common habits of the people in the settlement, and also gain a bonus on all Diplomacy and Disguise checks made with the local inhabitants of that settlement equal to +1 for every 5 points by which you exceed the DC.
Action: Blending in with the locals takes a standard action.
Try Again: You may use this ability in a particular settlement up to once per month.
Streetwise (Knowledge [Local])
You know the streets like the back of your own hand, rarely getting lost and knowing how to avoid potential hazards in a city.
Check: Whenever you enter a chase (using the optional chase rules presented in GameMastery Guide)while in an urban environment, you may make a special Knowledge (local) check in order to automatically avoid some of the obstacles. If you do, you may use your knowledge of the environment to avoid some of the obstacles by finding a different path. For every 5 points by which your check exceeds 20, you can ignore 1 obstacle in the chase progressing through that area without need of a check. Additionally, you never become lost in an urban environment.
Action: Using this ability is a free action made as part of entering a chase.
Try Again: No.
Cultivate (Knowledge [Nature])
You can use your knowledge of the natural world to grow enhanced and specialized plants.
Check: Whenever you plant seeds, you can spend 10 minutes augmenting them with special techniques learned in your study of nature, enabling them to grow faster and fuller than they normally would. You must spend 1d6 gp in special plant food and fertilizer in order to use this version of the skill. If you do, make a special Knowledge (nature) check. Reduce the amount of time it takes for the plant to grow by a number of days equal to the result of the check, to a minimum of 1 day. When the plant has finished growing, it will be 50% larger than a typical version of itself, and if the plant produces fruit or similar edible parts, it will produce 50% more. You may use this skill on a previously augmented plant that has not finished growing up to once each week, but each time it requires a new expenditure of 1d6 gp worth of plant food and fertilizer.
Action: Cultivating plants takes 10 minutes.
Try Again: No, but each week you can use the skill again to accelerate the growth of a plant that has not yet finished growing.
Tax Collector (Knowledge [Nobility])
Your study of the authority of lords and kings has given you an insight to the appropriate methods of taxation, and how to extract dues from those that owe them.
Check: You can attempt to collect taxes from individuals in the name of a noble. In order to attempt to do so, you must first correctly identify the noble that a person owes allegiance to. If you do, you may then approach the individual in the name of their liege and conduct a proper survey of their earnings and holdings, a process which takes 1d4 hours. You must make a special Knowledge (nobility) check to determine the taxes you can collect. You may collect up to a percentage equal to the result of your check of the individual’s wealth or yearly earnings; this can be collected in gp, or in some instances, other goods of equivalent value. You may collect some or all of this amount from the individual. Attempts to collect more than the tax rate traditionally owed to the liege in a given land, as well as tax collection attempts by those not a representative of the liege, must be accompanied by an appropriate Bluff check. While many factors might influence the DC of this Bluff check, a typical DC is equal to the percentage of taxable wealth that the character is trying to collect +5.
Action: Assessing and collecting taxes takes 1 hour.
Try Again: Attempting to collect taxes from an individual more than once is certainly possible; however, doing so more often than legally allowed or under suspicious circumstances may lead to undesirable consequences or lack of cooperation by the individual.
Ritual of Return (Knowledge [Planes])
Your extensive knowledge of planar mechanics allows you to perform sacred rituals and complex invocations in order to banish visitors from other planes.
Check: You can spend 1 minute performing a ritual to return an outsider within 30 feet to its home plane. At the conclusion of the ritual, you must make a successful Knowledge (planes) check with a DC equal to 10 + the target’s CR. If the check is successful, the target is banished to its home plane, as with the spell banishing, unless it succeeds on a Will save (DC = 10 + 2 for every 5 points by which you exceed the DC + 2 per previous attempt). This ritual requires intense concentration; you cannot perform other actions while you attempt the ritual.
Action: Performing the ritual of return takes 1 minute.
Try Again: Yes.
Sacred Prayer (Knowledge [Religion])
You can offer a prayer for the faithful in order to elicit divine protection.
Check: You can spend 1 minute in communion with a deity on behalf of one of that deity’s faithful. If you do, you must succeed on a Knowledge (religion) check (DC = 10 + the target’s Hit Dice + 5 for each previous prayer you have attempted that day). If the check is successful, the next time the target rolls a natural 1 on a d20, they may reroll the check. If the result of your Knowledge (religion) check exceeded the DC by 10 or more, they may instead choose to reroll any 1 d20 roll they make in the next 24 hours.
Action: Performing a sacred prayer takes 1 minute.
Try Again: Yes, but no more than once per person per day.