I’ve recently been running a game, as I have told. In this game I have tried very hard to encourage players to be creative with their skills and I think I am succeeding. But I think one obstacle I have found is setting knowledge. Of course, it is a homebrew setting (Eden) and so far players have found themselves doing well in it.
But there is a tendency that a DM’s suggestions are the word of God, even more so in a homebrew setting. I have a tumultuous relationship with this status. I like to be surprised and to see creativity, but running a homebrew sometimes requires me to make suggestions in order to ease play. These suggestions will be done. There is no question about it. If I suggest a skill, it will be used.
So with that thought in mind, I decided to go through every skill in D&D 4th Edition, and write about ways I can see them being improvised in skill challenges and the like. These skill uses of course have a very Eden slant and are very abstract. They will not fit all campaigns like a glove, but I feel they can fit many campaigns nonetheless and that given this blog’s general biases and themes, it fits extremely well with the Spirits of Eden.
Notes On Abstraction And Use
Some skills are sort of “lumped together” or mimic aspects of other skills in this list. To offset this, some skills would of course have higher Difficulty in their use than others. An example below is “hauling rocks.” Athletics, being a Strength-based skill, would more easily be used to haul rocks (a lower DC) than Acrobatics, a Dexterity-based skill (harder DC).
In various area, I also have certain skills as being able to “brew” or “create” things. This abstraction could be used to handle crafting without the ritual – you can make a magic item by getting the ritual components, and spending time to concoct the item. To balance this, have it take more time than the ritual would. For example, taking a day to craft a magic sword instead of the 30 minutes of the Enchant Magic Item ritual, if you have the Arcana and Athletics skills.
You would, whenever you have a short rest, work on your magic item this way – so as not to interrupt adventuring. But you get the product of your labor much later, though you saved yourself some money on learning the ritual. You could even have skill rolls affect the time it takes – good rolls would mean a faster creation, but never faster than the actual ritual.
You could also very possibly combine two skills, perhaps, to perform some kind of trick. Like Athletics and Arcana for a stunt during a skill challenge. This is up to individual GMs how to handle. I would have a higher DC, and allow players to pick a “primary skill” to roll, then add the +5 training bonus from the secondary skill, and roll the result for the stunt.
Improvised Skill Uses List
•Chasing after other creatures
•Climbing, swimming, jumping
•Maneuvering through rough terrain
•Performing physical stunts
•Contests of strength/evading physical contests
•Abstractions of hard physical labor or exertion (ex. hauling rocks)
•Performing a dance or other physical showmanship
•Ability to resist disease and harsh conditions
•Ability to physically overexert oneself (mimic Acrobatics/Athletics in a dangerous situation)
•Ability to focus and to withstand psychological trauma; mental grit
•Knowledge (as normal)
•Magic tricks that can give minor boosts to say, your physical abilities (ex. if you lack Athletics)
•Reading auras, magical tracking, identifying magic
•Priestly or Wizardly functions (singing a hymn, performing a baptism, concocting a magic brew)
•Solving magical puzzles
•Knowledge (as normal)
•Tracking in the wilderness or dungeon
•Gathering food and materials natural to the location
•”Parlaying” or taming unintelligent beasts
•Identifying natural processes or mechanical works (respectively) and perhaps reproducing them (ex. the ability to farm)
•Knowledge (as normal)
•Limited ability to use the mental aspects of other skills (the history of agriculture in a location can help you to farm there)
•Ability to store information you learned and recall it later (eidetic memory) with greater ease, “storing history”
•Lying to someone
•Making a disguise, faking a voice or mannerisms
•Cheating in games or contests, causing a distraction
•Crafting a Forgery
•Sleights of hand and fast hands
•Cheating in games or contests
•Pocketing or stealing objects
•Disabling traps, fiddling with mechanisms
•Fine manipulation (using small tools, or working with small objects, requiring attention to detail)
•Parlaying and negotiation
•Displaying proper etiquette and social knowledge
•Talent for melodic song
•Scaring, taunting, menacing a creature into submission
•Knowledge of torture and ability with inflicting torture
•Imposing your will/aura/chi upon an enemy in battle
•Focusing on small details
•Remembering faces and other physical details
•Tracking or spotting someone
•Determining if you are being lied to
•Keeping track of a fast moving object or predicting its trajectory
•Read moods, auras and tones of voice
•First Aid (as normal)
•Using and creating medicines
•Diagnosing diseases, medical history, knowledge of preventive measures
•Hiding, sneaking around, moving silently (as normal)
•Ability to resist being frightened or surprised (ex. keeping still and quiet in spite of a horrible creature searching for you)
•Ability to camouflage or disguise yourself visually
•Knowledge of local events, people, etc
•Ability to navigate the streets (ex. find or lose people during a chase)
•Tracking in urban areas
Got any more possible uses? Let’s add them to the list!