I know you guys are hungry for more knowledge, so let's hop to it!
7. Telling the Future and Reading Dreams
What does it mean if I'm flying, in my dream? What if I'm having sex with kobolds? Furthermore, does all of this mean that our grand King is going to be murdered by kobolds eight days from now? With Knowledge (the planes) at your fingertips, Dreamtelling (Heroes of Horror) could be your ticket to fame, fortune, and prophecy.
By making a Knowledge (the planes) check after pondering your own dream or listening to someone else monologue theirs, you may read into and understand the symbolism at work within them. By adding 10 or 20 to the DC, you may possibly receive oracular or prophetic information from such knowledge checks; if your knowledge is high enough, you receive the effect of a commune spell. Wow!
While this is probably the coolest use of a Knowledge check on the entire list, its usefulness is determined heavily by the DM and therefore tends to slink back into the pitfalls of the Knowledge skill itself, which is something that we are trying to avoid. Therefore, it earns a lowly seven on the "usefulness" scale.
6. Totally Wreck a Wizard's Day
When I started writing this article I was absolutely sure I was going to find 10 absolutely awesome uses for the knowledge skills tucked away deep in books many had never even heard of.
I was wrong. There are actually very little non-variant uses for knowledge skills that didn't require some extra feat to activate; this is why so many of these uses are tied to an additional feature, such as a PrC or a Feat. I tried to make myself at least involve a knowledge check during some point in the process, but this particular feat jumped out at me too much to ignore.
Occult Opportunist (Dragon #340) allows you (for the price of Know (arcana) 5 ranks, Spellcraft 5 ranks) to take an AoO on enemy casters who dismiss a spell, redirect a spell, cast a quickened or swift spell, or even attempt to Turn or Rebuke undead. What!? That's sick!
I immediately realized that a large amount of intelligent undead must be really well-learned in the arcane arts, seeing as it would benefit them an incredible amount to be able to stab a cleric before he sends them away screaming in fear. The even better part of the above feat is that it forces the caster to make a concentration check or lose the effect. "Sorry, Mr. Pelor Jr., I'm here to stay."
5. Ludicrous Amounts of Skill Synergy
So yeah, it turns out people who are really smart can actually apply their knowledge skills to other activities. I'm not really going to say anything other than "look at the list below and grin wildly."
- 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 (psionics), you get a +2 bonus on Psicraft 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 Autohypnosis, you get a +2 bonus on Knowledge (psionics) checks.
- If you have 5 or more ranks in Survival, you get a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) checks.
Grinning yet? Keeping in mind that Diplomacy also gets a buff from Bluff and Sense Motive, the Know (Nobility) makes a total of +6 from skill synergy alone (or +9 if you're a Half-Elf with the appropriate character options). That's a lot of synergy.
4. Do a Little Research
The following feat, from the Ebberon universe, is one that I believe all characters should have for free - it's primarily why I'm including it, actually, because as something you have to burn a feat on, it definitely doesn't belong at number 4. When you imagine it as something a character might get as part of an expanded Knowledge skill, though, you can quickly appreciate it's usefulness.
Research (Ebberon Campaign Setting) basically allows the player to utilize their knowledge skills to search through records, books, tomes, and reports to find out information contained within, as specified by the player. More information and examples are located within the feat description itself, but the ability basically allows the player to utilize their own knowledges and a helpful repository of texts to make searching for information an interesting skill challenge, not just a completely arbitrary trip to the Library. ("Ok, DM, I start searching the tax records for the Governor's expenses. Is he scum?" "Uh..Yes. You find them. He is scummy.")
It takes a lot of the guesswork out of knowledge checks, too - a DM should more-or-less know how much this repository of knowledge (i.e., the Library) has to say about a topic and need not worry about revealing more than that.
To be concluded...
Like I always say, folks, I live vicariously through your comments, so if you read this, even saying high will improve my quality of life in this steel-barred basement Spenser keeps me in these days so I will be forced to write articles while he's slacking off (I do the same to him when I'm out cruising). Keep me company, my dear readers. Don't leave me all alone down here.
Part 3 of this series will conclude with some very fun ways to use your various knowledges to become omniscient. Stay tuned!