Ah, the wizard-relegated, much maligned knowledge skill. All too often does the knowledge skill either get pushed into slots the player has little care for, or reluctantly doled out amongst the party in fears that something critical will be missed along the way. We received a tip a little bit ago to get back to the Top Ten lists I used to do, and Spenser nudged me along with this suggestion.


It was extremely trying work to figure out, besides the obvious, what knowledge skills could be used for. Unfortunately, it is all too often that knowledge skills are more or less determined by the DM in their effectiveness - without a good DM with decent background information, you may not get anything useful out of the small monologue that typically follows a succeeded knowledge check.

Welcome to The Knowledge Check Strikes Back!

10. Having an Excuse to Know Monster Stats In-Character.
It's a beholder! He has a charm person ray! Or is it dominate monster? Is that sickly green ray an acid arrow or a deadly disentegrate?

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.
Bonus points for anyone who knows what a kyton is immune to (That's a DC 18).

As a DM, an easy way to arbitrate this is to allow the player character's to ask one specific question about a monster ("What kind of damage reduction does this creature have?") for each bit of "useful information" they've earned, in addition to a brief flavor overview for making the original DC. Just be sure to reward your players for their skill slot - it's just as expensive as, say, Tumble.

9. Getting a Bonus on Saves Where You Need Them Most.

Do you remember Tome of Magic? Pact Magic, Shadow Magic, Truenaming? No? Well, there is one thing I remember from Tome; Defense Against the Supernatural

For those of you too lazy to just click the link up there, the feat (which requires an investment of 2 ranks in Knowledge Arcana - something any class can have at first level) basically gives you a +2 bonus on all saves against supernatural special attacks. These, of course, are more or less exactly the sort of things you need your saving throws for - especially if you used the number 10 reason to find out exactly what a Medusa can do with her gaze!

In all honesty, though, the myriad of supernatural special attacks monsters pack typically represent the nastiest and most unexpected things D&D can throw at you. If you think failing a save against a spell sucks, try to keep in mind that they were balanced to allow players to cast them - monster abilities weren't.

8. Kick Major Ass Because You're So Damn Smart

Let me ask you this - what is organ in the human body that a person suffers the worst damage when it is harmed? Most people on earth will probably answer the Brain or the Heart, which are both legitimate answers, but what if I told you that a greater knowledge of the human (and nonhuman) anatomy might lend you amazing combat prowess?


Complete Champion introduced a wide variety of powerful Devotion feats, which are supposed to be themed on the different domains. This one, from the Knowledge Domain, allows you to make the appropriate knowledge check against a creature and, based on your result, gain a bonus on attack and damage against them for the entire combat. If you can score a 36 or higher, you get a obliterating +5 to attack and damage. (That isn't really that hard, to be honest.) Ugh!

It pays to be a nerd, I tell you!

To be continued...

For part 2, we'll cover numbers 7-4, where you'll learn how to divine the future through others dreams and lots more. Stay tuned!
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This entry was posted on June 9, 2010 at Wednesday, June 09, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 comments

Morgan  

Yeah, my D&D group has been really pestering the DM with all of our knowledge rolls... we have it worked out so that as a group we have almost all of the knowledge skills and thus we have quite a bit of insight into the world and into the encounters we face... pretty useful...

June 9, 2010 at 3:22 PM
Diamondeye  

Interesting Article (series)! I'm a fan of experiencing the setting more in-depth (which is easier if the PCs have knowledge ofc).

Your Pt. 8 got me thinking about the latest Sherlock Holmes film where he uses his premonitional analysis and knowledge of human anatomy to perform a series of attacks, incapitating his enemy :)

June 13, 2010 at 6:54 PM

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