View Full Version : [3.5] Alternate uses for skills

2011-04-12, 01:11 PM
In light of several threads asking things like what to do about Diplomacy, and how to make out of combat challenges tactically interesting, I'm opening this thread to discuss alternate mechanics for skills in 3.5ed D&D. Some of these are designed to entirely replace the basic function of the skill (Diplomacy), others would be additional things you could do with the skill.

The design philosophy I'm going for here is, every one of these should be a proactive effect rather than a reactive effect. That is, they're each tools a player can use to influence their situation, like a spell or a Tome of Battle maneuver.

So, without further ado, I'll start this off with some thoughts on Diplomacy:

Diplomacy (replaces current mechanics)

Take back: If you make a Diplomacy check (opposed by Sense Motive -10) you may take back something you just said before the person you're talking to responds to it. For +20 to the DC, you can hear what their response would have been before you choose to take it back. The DC of this check increases by 5 for every time it has been used in the current social encounter. For +20 to the DC, you can Take Back something someone else in your group said.

Know opponent: By making a Diplomacy check (opposed by Bluff), you can glean facts about the personality of the person you're negotiating with, starting with cultural information and moving towards personal information. You gain an additional fact for every 5 you beat the DC by. Examples:

Hrodgar the Manipulative rolls a 35 Diplomacy check against the elder of the Sunset Village, who scores a 15 on Bluff. He gains 5 pieces of information:

- The Sunset village is very laid back, and people who talk in flowery or rigid ways are distrusted as trying to get something
- The Sunset village culture puts heavy ritual significance on sharing food and drink
- The Sunset village culture is fundamentally one of shared resources, and the concept of ownership and payment are foreign to them
- The elder is a bit of a cynic, it looks like he has dealt with Hrodgar's people before and has been burned
- The elder seems to like board games, and opens up more to people who also play.

Know Desires: By making a Diplomacy check opposed by Bluff, you can determine if there is something the other negotiator wants that hasn't been said (i.e. the other negotiator seems to be stonewalling, but he actually wants his boss to get in trouble so he can advance in the ranks, so you get the fact that he wants something he isn't saying). At +10 to the DC, you get a hint of what this is. At +20 to the DC, you get a strong hint.

2011-04-12, 04:51 PM
The last one should definitely be a Sense Motive check. The second is a combination of Knowledge (local) and Sense Motive.

I can see how the first one might be useful, but it's edging in on Bluff a little bit, and it's difficult to describe the effects of. Plus, the DM'd have to wait after every line everybody says until they respond.

That said, this is a good idea. I'll think about a few more uses for some of the other skills...

2011-04-12, 06:58 PM
The low DC for takeback by the way is more for 'oh crap what did I just say' moments than something where the DM should really wait after everything for your decision. Perhaps it'd be better to merge that into the high DC where you can see the outcome just to avoid confusion in the application.

There's probably going to be a lot of overlap between Bluff, Sense Motive, and Diplomacy conceptually (they mostly give eachother synergy bonuses too!), so maybe I should just put down some ideas for the other two (as I interpret them) and then the various functions can be redistributed between them as seems fitting.

Sense Motive (Additional uses)

Gauge Enemy: By looking at how an enemy reacts to you, you can determine whether it thinks you're a threat or not and thereby determine its difficulty. The result of this check is descriptive, not CR-based (e.g. 'seems much stronger than you', 'seems much weaker individually than you'). The DC is a flat 20 if the enemy is not hiding their reaction, but one who wishes to conceal their reaction may make an opposed Bluff check (if this result is less than 20, the senser must still hit a 20 to succeed).

Determine Emotion: You can make a Sense Motive check at a flat DC 20 to determine the target's current emotional state (can be opposed by Bluff, in which case the higher of the Bluff check and 20 is the DC). There are situational modifiers for physical concealment of one's features (+10) and for very alien or nearly emotionless things (e.g. +10 to the DC to Sense Motive confusion in a golem's orders, +20 to Sense Motive an Aboleth)

Sense Aura (Epic use): You can make a Sense Motive check at a DC of 30 to determine the aura of a magical item. This gives you alignment information in the item is strongly associated with an alignment, things like 'dread' if the item is associated with things of horror, etc. At a DC of 50, you can do this to non-magical items based on their history (e.g. this knife was used in a murder, so it has an aura of violence and betrayal). This cannot be retried on failure for a given item.

Predict Action: As a standard action in combat (move action with a Feat), you can attempt a Sense Motive check against an opponent to predict things about what they will do given the current situation (opposed by Bluff). They may change their action based on changes to the situation between your round and theirs, but you get their current plan (roughly). You receive general information such as 'cast an area of effect spell on this group' or 'charge in and attack the Swordsage', rather than 'cast Fireball' or 'move via these particular 10 squares'. This use requires line of sight.


Bluff feels harder to pin down, since its current uses are pretty broad (all manner of lying, etc). Anyhow have ideas for specific lying-based actions?