Make a Knowledge (Top Ten Uses For Knowledge Checks), Part 3  

Posted by Michael Donaldson in ,

And we have reached the exciting conclusion of our series today. Hold tight, folks, this is gunna be a well-educated and knowledgeable ride!

3. Knowing Stuff

And you thought I wouldn't stoop this low, didn't you?

One of the best reasons to take a knowledge skill is to know stuff. This includes, for example, knowing that the powerful overlord in front of you has no tolerance for jokesters, or that it's illegal to use magic within the walls of the Celestial Kingdom of Nullmagica. (The DC for the origin of its name is pretty low, to be fair.)

As long as you have a DM that can keep up with your questions then you can learn a lot of stuff that will probably come in handy. Most of the premade adventures I've skimmed through contain a lot of tables here and there with information to tell the players if they roll high enough.

One of the best ways to arbitrate knowledge checks is to ask the player to roll their check, and have the most difficult piece of information in mind while they're totaling. If you set a DC 25 and they roll above it, congrats! You don't need to come up with anything better. If the players rolled less, give them a smaller piece of the picture - the more they failed by, the less they know. ("You got a 4? You find that the moss is mossy.")

But it's incredibly important that a knowledge check not bog the game down. Every time someone makes a knowledge check and you reference two books and keep the whole party waiting on a piece of information that is more than likely passingly useful at best, you decrease the quality of the game. I'll get into game bogging in a later article, so we'll just leave this as a warning.

But what if your DM can't keep up with you? Well, harsh words ahead, but that's his fault. Which of course, brings me to number 2...

2. Forcing Your Story-Averse DM to Actually Think About His World.

Human Bard 1

Int of 18. Feel free to dump everything else. Wear Full Plate and use a Tower Shield, even though you aren't proficient. Dump all of your skill points into knowledge skills. Max out as many as you can but make sure you get every single knowledge, even if it means that you can't spend all the points you'd like in it. If you've got room, take Decipher Script. If you still have room, start accumulating languages.

The basic gist of this character is that you make yourself virtually unkillable by hiding worthlessly behind your tower shield every round. What, you ask, is the purpose of this?

To make knowledge checks every time the DM so much as mentions anything in his world. You've got every single knowledge skill, and if for some reason you don't have one, you can Bardic Knowledge it. This can be a sort of test for the DM to see how long he can keep up with your constant pestering (indeed, this sort of character should never be fielded in any campaign you are serious about, or even against a DM that you like and/or is pretty decent), but the point comes across eventually - if he finds himself totally unable to answer your questions he doesn't know enough about his world. If he hasn't written enough down about his world, and he's still stumped, he hasn't mastered the single most important thing a DM can learn.

Make it up.

(Disclaimer: The above character is a joke and should never be used in anything other than a joke campaign or a seriously terrible DM you're looking to seriously annoy.)

1. Knowing Everything and So Much More.

So who here is familiar with the Omnificer? He was a fairly popular example of over-the-top powergaming on the WotC forums for a long time, although since the archives have been cleared I can't locate who, exactly, came up with this idea first.

Engineered as a rebuttal to the omnipresent Pun-Pun, the Omnificer takes knowledge to a whole new level with a series of short tricks. By utilizing magic items crafted by an Artificer (Ebberon Campaign Setting), this can all be accomplished by level 4.

  1. You and four of your friends get together. You cast Shield Other on each of them. Then, they all cast Shield Other on you.
  2. You all cast Delay Death and Beastland Ferocity on yourselves. Delay Death makes you immune to dying by damage for a round/level, and Beastland Ferocity keeps you conscious while below 0 hit points.
  3. You cast Masochism on yourself. This spell, from Book of Vile Darkness, gives you (among other things) a +1 on skill checks for every 10 damage you take.
  4. You use some feat (there are like 5-10 that do this) to give yourself the ability to make knowledge checks as if they were trained.
  5. You jump off a cliff.
Jump off a cliff!? Why would you do that! Ugh! You take 20 damage!

...Well, actually, you take 10 Damage, and each of your friends takes 10 Damage. And actually, they only take 5 damage, and you take 20 damage (5 each). Really, if you think about it though, you only take 10 of that damage, because they each take half - 10. Which of course is really only 5 damage, because you're taking half of theirs, which amounts to 20 for you. Which really...etc etc etc.

You take infinite damage immediately. You do not die because of Delay Death. You do not go unconscious because of Beastland Ferocity. You immediately gain +INFINITY to all skill checks. In an instant (because knowledge checks take NO TIME to perform, as listed in the skill description) you make as many knowledge checks as you need to immediately learn everything there ever was to learn. No matter how high the DC could ever possibly be, you learn it. Everything.

I can see some of your jaws hitting the floor, but I assure you it's perfectly legit. You are, of course, at negative infinity hit points (and actually still taking hit point damage) so you should probably dismiss Shield Other. There are a variety of ways to get your hit points back, so the damage isn't really a big deal, only that you resolve it within the next couple of rounds before Delay Death wears off and you explode into nanoparticles.

The important part is that you have become Omniscient. I, for one, think that's a great way to end our article on Knowledge.

This entry was posted on June 15, 2010 at Tuesday, June 15, 2010 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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