View Full Version : [WIP, PEACH] Not lucky, but good: A ToB for skill monkeys

Jeff the Green
2013-11-15, 02:47 AM
Introduction/Author's Note
It's always bugged me that skill monkeys never got the Tome of Battle treatment. Oh, sure, there's the swordsage, but they're still fundamentally martial adepts with some good skills. So I thought I'd give it a shot.

The idea here is to create a class that has some battle capability (after all, D&D is combat-based), but is fundamentally about mundane options to non-combat situations. I've therefore created a system that builds on the existing skill system to give each skill much more interesting uses.

The equivalent of "spells", "powers", or "maneuvers" in this system is the Knack. As part of performing the knack the watchamadingle (I know, I know; it's a placeholder) rolls one or two skill checks. Each knack has a number of possible effects, each with its own DC (or DCs, if the knack requires multiple skills). Once the watchamadingle makes the roll, he chooses an effect from among the ones whose DCs he beat. (If he didn't beat any, the knack fails.)

I'm also a fan of wager mechanics, so I've included one in this system. When the watchamadingle makes a wager, he chooses an effect before rolling. If he beats the effect's DC, that effect occurs and the watchamadingle gains a payoff depending on by how much he beat the DC. If he fails on the skill check, though, the knack fails even if he beat another effect's DC and he suffers a forfeit.

Anyway, as indicated by the [WIP] tag, this is very much a work in progress. I've only created four knacks, and some of the class features need work. I'd appreciate any help, including knacks you want to write, anyone feels like giving. :smallsmile:

To do list:
Improve specialty feat list.
Improve specialty ability list.
Reword skilled strike/skilled resistance?
Fluff text.
Name it something other than "Watchamadingle"
Knacks. Lots of them.


quote from a watchamadingle


{table=head]Level|Base AttackBonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Special

+2|Knacks, specialty

+3|Exceptional ally

+3|Skilled strike

+4|Specialty feat


+5|Specialty ability


+6|Skilled defense

+6|Specialty feat



+8|Specialty ability

+8|Skilled resistance

+9|Specialty feat




+11|Specialty ability

+11|Specialty feat

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, x4 at 1st level): All.

[B]Class Features
All of the following are Class Features of the whatchamadingle.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
A whatchamadingle is proficient with all simple weapons, light armor, and shields. She may gain additional proficiencies depending on the specialty she chooses.

A whatchamadingle's greatest tools are her knacks, unique talents that in some ways may resemble spells but are in fact entirely mundane. They therefore function even in antimagic fields and cannot be dispelled. Each knack belongs to one of the whatchamadingle's specialties. While a whatchamadingle may choose knacks from a specialty other than her own, she must always have more knacks from her specialty than from any other. For example, if a whatchamadingle with the charlatan specialty has six charlatan knacks, five gumshoe knacks, and three outrider knacks, she cannot gain another gumshoe knack until she gains a new charlatan knack.

A 1st-level whatchamadingle begins knowing four knacks and gains an additional knack each level. Starting at sixth level, and every even level thereafter, a whatchamadingle can choose to learn a new knack in place of one she already knows. In effect, the whatchamadingle "loses" the old knack in exchange for the new one. A whatchamadingle may swap only a single knack at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the knack at the same time that he gains a new knack known for the level.

Whatchamadingles may be found in any walk of life, from prowling city streets to procuring military intelligence to stalking the wilds. While they share many features, each has a specialty, a group of knacks and other abilities that allow them to excel in their chosen path. At first level the whatchamadingle chooses her specialty; thereafter this choice may not be changed. Each specialty has associated skills and a key ability. At each level, a watchamadingle gains one rank in each of her specialty's associated skills without investing skill points. She can buy ranks in the associated skills normally, though she is still limited to a maximum number of ranks equal to her character level + 3.


An acrobat's associated skills are Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Jump, and Tumble. Her key ability score is Intelligence.


Charlatans approach every situation with deceit. Whether working a swindle or stealing secrets from their country's enemies, charlatans rely on their ability to deceive and mislead in even the most extraordinary situations.

A charlatan's associated skills are Bluff, Disguise, Forgery, Intimidate, and Sleight of Hand. Her key ability is Charisma.


A gumshoe's associated skills are Appraise, Forgery, Gather Information, Search, and Sense Motive. Her key ability is Intelligence.


A hunter's associated skills are Hide, Handle Animal, Heal, Listen, Move Silently, Spot, and Survival. Her key ability is Wisdom.

Hunters gain proficiency with all ranged martial weapons, bolas, nets, and lassosBoED.


An outrider's associated skills are Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Profession (siege engineer), Ride, and Spot. Her key ability is Wisdom.

Outriders gain proficiency with all martial weapons and a single exotic weapon of their choice

Exceptional Ally
A watchamadingle is so familiar with her specialty's associated skills that she proves to be exceptional when working to perform these skills with her ally's. Starting at 2nd-level, When successfully aided on a skill check in one of her specialty's associated skills, or when aiding another on these skills, the bonus a whatchamadingle applies or gains is increased by 1 + 1/five levels.

Skilled Strike
At 3rd level a whatchamadingle gains a bonus to her attack rolls equal to her key ability bonus under certain conditions depending on her specialty. An acrobat gains this bonus on any attack made during a round in which she moves at least 10 feet; a charlatan gains this bonus when attacking an enemy that is flat-footed; a gumshoe gains this bonus against creatures she has correctly identified with an appropriate Knowledge skill; a hunter gains this ability when she has concealment or cover; and an outrider gains this bonus when attacking an enemy that she is flanking.

Specialty Feat
At 4th level, and again every five levels thereafter, a whatchamadingle gains a bonus feat selected from a short list depending on her specialty. Some of the feats require the whatchamadingle to have reached a certain level, though whatchamadingle need not have any of the prerequisites normally required for these feats to select them. All whatchamadingles can select any Skill Focus as a bonus feat at any level, regardless of her specialty.


4th level – Acrobatic, Agile, Agile AthleteRotW, BrachiationCAdv
9th level –


4th level – Deceitful, Improved Feint, Persuasive, Wanderer's DiplomacyPHBII
9th level – Combat PanachePHBII, Fade into ViolencePHBII, Master ManipulatorPHBII, Pack FeintDrC, Sociable PersonalityRoD


4th level – Inside ConnectionRoD, Investigator, Negotiator
9th level –


4th level – Alertness, Self Sufficient, Track
9th level –


4th level – Alertness, Self Sufficient, Quick Reconnoiter, Track
9th level –

Specialty Ability
A 6th level, and then again at 12th and 18th levels, a watchamadingle gains a special ability chosen from a list depending on her specialty.

Sneak attack +1d6, +1d6/3 levels
Improved Evasion (requires evasion)
Uncanny dodge
Improved uncanny dodge (requires uncanny dodge)
Defensive Roll

Feign death (as Rogue ACFEoE)
Slippery mind
Voice of the city (as Ranger ACF (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20070228a)
Tongue of the sun and moon (requires voice of the city)

Trapfinding and trap sense +1/3 levels
Swift tracking (requires Urban Tracking feat; the gumshoe can cut the time between Gather Information checks in half without taking the -5 penalty, and can cut the time between Gather Information checks by 75% (so to 15 minutes), but takes a -10 penalty on the checks.)
Dark knowledge (as ArchivistHoH; requires bardic knowledge)
Bardic knowledge

Sudden strike +1d6/2 levels (rounded up)
Hide in plain sight (as Ranger)
Death attack (as Assassin; requires Sudden Strike; DC 10 + half the watchamadingle's class level + whatchamadingle's Int modifier)

Skirmish (as ScoutCA)
Animal companion (as Druid but from limited list; see below)
Expanded animal companion list (any animal from Druid list)
Distracting attack (as Ranger ACFPHBII)

Skilled Defense
At 8th level a whatchamadingle gains a bonus to her AC equal to her key ability bonus. This bonus does not apply when the watchamadingle is flat-footed or denied her Dexterity bonus to AC.

Skilled Resistance
At 13th level a whatchamadingle gains a bonus to certain saving throws equal to her key ability bonus. An acrobat gains this bonus on Reflex saves and saving throws against any effect that would restrict her movement; a charlatan gains this bonus on Will saves and any effect that would change her form, force her to speak truthfully, or read her thoughts; a gumshoe gains this bonus on saving throws on Will saves and saves against abjuration effects; a hunter gains this bonus on Fortitude saves and effects produced by animals, magical beasts, and fey; and an outrider gains this bonus on Fortitude saves and illusion effects.

Outrider's Animal Companion
1st level
Riding dog
Warhorse, heavy
Warhorse, light
4th level or higher (Level -3)
Dire Bat
Dire Hawk
7th level or higher (Level -6)
Dire eagleRoS
10th level or higher (Level -9)
Horrid HorseMMII/ECS
13th level or higher (Level -12)
16th level or higher (Level -15)
Dire Rhinocerous
19th level or higher (Level -18)
Horrid Elephant
Horrid Rhinocerous

Jeff the Green
2013-11-15, 02:56 AM
Performing Knacks
In order to perform a knack, you must be able to move. Some knacks also require that you be capable of other actions, such as speaking. You perform a knack by taking the specified action, which may be an immediate, swift, standard, move, or free action. Normally you can perform any knack you know—you need not prepare or ready them. Once you perform a knack, however, you cannot perform the same knack for a certain number of rounds. If the knack has an effect with a duration other than instantaneous, this cooldown period does not begin until the effect ends.

Like casting a spell, performing a knack generally requires concentration and provokes an attack of opportunity. If something interrupts your concentration while you’re performing a knack, you must make a Concentration check or lose the spell. The more distracting the interruption the higher the DC is. If you fail the check, the knack has no effect but you do not have to wait for the knack's cooldown period to end before performing it again.

Resolving a knack
Once you have chosen the knack you want to perform, you must resolve its effects.
Skill Checks
Each knack has one or more effects, each of which require succeeding on least one skill check. You make the skill checks as normal, applying every relevant bonus and penalty. You then choose one of the knack's effects for which you beat the DC. If you did not beat any effect's DC, the knack fails and has no effect. You may, if you wish, decide not to choose any of the knack's effect, in which case the knack also fails.


When you perform a knack you may choose to offer a wager on your skill check. To make a wager, you choose one of the knack's effects before rolling the skill check. If you fail to beat this effect's DC, the knack fails and you suffer the knack's forfeit. If you beat the effect's DC, the knack resolves using the chosen effect, and you gain the knack's payoff. If you beat the effect's DC by 10, the payoff's bonuses and duration are doubled, and if you beat the effect's DC by 20, the payoff's bonuses and duration are tripled.


Knack Descriptions
The various knacks available to whatchamadingles are described below. The description of each knack follows a standard format, which is explained below.

This is the name by which the knack is most commonly known. However, individual practitioners or schools may have their own names for the knack, or might not have a name for it at all.

Each knack belongs to one of the five whatchamadingle specialties. While a whatchamadingle may learn knacks from any specialty, she must always know more knacks in her specialty than any other.

Some knacks have descriptors that further define them. These descriptors appear on the same line as the specialty of the knack.

Some knacks have prerequisites that you must meet before you can learn a maneuver. These are usually skill ranks, but may also include feats or other knacks known.

Performance Action
This entry describes the type of action you must expend to perform a knack. In some cases, you perform a knack, and its effect lasts for the rest of your turn (or beyond). In other cases, knacks last only as long as the action required to perform them (1 swift action, 1 immediate action, 1 move action, 1 standard action, or 1 full-round action).

Swift Action: A swift action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. You can perform one swift action per turn without affecting your ability to perform other actions. In that regard, a swift action is like a free action. However, you can perform only a single swift action per turn, regardless of what other actions you take. You can take a swift action any time you would normally be allowed to take a free action.

Casting a quickened spell or manifesting a quickened power is a swift action, so you can’t perform a knack with an initiation action of 1 swift action in the same round that you cast a quickened spell or use a quickened power.

Immediate Action: Much like a swift action, an immediate action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort than a free action. However, unlike a swift aftion, an immediate action can be performed at any time—even if it's not your turn. Using an immediate action on your turn is the same as using a swift action, and counts as your swift action for the turn.
You cannot use another immediate action or a swift action until after your next turn if you have used an immediate action when it is not currently your turn (effectively, using an immediate action before your turn is equivalent to using your swift action for the coming turn).

You cannot use an immediate action if you are currently flat-footed.


A knack's range indicates how far from you it can reach. Many knacks are treated as Personal-range effects, because you perform the knack to give yourself a special bonus or capability for the round. Standard ranges include (but are not limited to) the following:

Personal: The knack affects only you (but might give you an unusual power or ability that affects others for the rest of your turn).

Touch: You must touch a creature or object to affect it. A touch knack that deals damage can score a critical hit just as a weapon can, although you do not multiply the extra damage from a maneuver on a successful critical hit.

Melee Attack: The knack affects any creature you make a successful melee attack against.

Adjacent: The knack affects creatures within 1 square of you. Sometimes you only affect adjacent creatures at the beginning of your turn or at the end of your turn, but other knacks might affect any creature you move adjacent to during the course of your turn. See the specific knack descriptions for details.

Range Expressed in Feet: Some knacks have no standard range category, just a range expressed in feet.

Targeting a Knack

You might have to make some choice about whom your knack is to affect or where it will originate. This entry describes the knack's target or targets, its effect, or its area, as appropriate.

Target or Targets: Most knacks affect a specific creature or object (or more than one creature or object) that you designate as your target or targets. You ust be able to see or touch the target, and you must specifically choose that target.

Some knacks can only be performed on willing targets. You can declare yourself a willing target at any time (even if you're flat-footed or it isn't your turn). Unconscious characters are always considered willing, but a character who is conscious but immobilized or helpless is not automatically willing.

Some knacks target you (but they might confer an unusual ability to affect other creatures for the rest of your turn). If the target of a knack is "You," you do not receive a saving throw—you receive the benefit of the maneuver automatically as long as you meet any other requirements for initiating it successfully.

Other knacks affect a creature or creatures that you successfully hit with a melee attack, and some affect a creature you successfully hit with a melee or ranged touch attack.

Area: Some knacks can affect an area. You might be able to choose the point where the knack's effect originates, but otherwise you usually don't control which creatures or objects an area knack affects.

Burst: A burst affects whatever it catches in its area, including creatures you can't see. It can't affect creatures that have total cover from its point of origin. The default shape for a burst is a sphere.

Emanation: An emanation functions like a burst, except that the effect continues to radiate from the point of origin (often you) for the duration of the knack.

Spread: A spread effect spreads out like a burst, but can turn corners. You select the point of origin, and the effect spreads out a given distance in all directions.

Effect: Some knacks create something rather than affecting things that are already present. You must designate the location where these things are to appear, either by seeing it or defining it. Range determines how far away an effect can appear.

Line of Effect: Knacks that affect a target other than you require line of effect. A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what an effect can affect. A solid barrier cancels a line of effect, but line of effect is not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight.

You must have a clear line of effect to any target that you perform a knack against, or to any space in which you wish to create an effect at range (if your knack allows that). A burst or emanation affects only an area, creature, or objects to which it has a line of effect from its origin.

An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least 1 square foot through it does not block a knack's line of effect.



Saving Throw

Spell Resistance

Descriptive Text



Specialty [Descriptor]
Prerequisite: Class Level
Saving Throw:

DC 10


Charlatan [Evil, Language-Dependent, Mind-Affecting]
Prerequisite: Persuasive
Action: 1 minute
Range: 30 feet
Target: One creature
Duration: 10 minutes/Diplomacy rank
Cooldown: 1d4 x 10 minutes
Saving Throw: Will negates

DC 15 Diplomacy: If the target would be forced to act in a way that would offend its moral code by a Compulsion or Charm effect it takes a -4 penalty on any saving throw to resist or end the effect and any opposed Charisma check to resist orders.

DC 25 Diplomacy: The target must make a Will save (DC 10 + half your ranks in Diplomacy + your Charisma modifier) or have its alignment shift one step toward Evil. This does not cause the target to lose class features or disqualify it for feats or prestige classes, though subsequent actions taken might.

DC 40 Diplomacy: The target must make a Will save (DC 10 + half your ranks in Diplomacy + your Charisma modifier) or have its alignment shift two steps toward Evil. This does not cause the target to lose class features or disqualify it for feats or prestige classes, though subsequent actions taken might.

Payoff: The target takes a -2 penalty to saves against Charm and Compulsion effects for the duration of the knack.
Forfeit: The target's attitude toward you becomes one step worse.

Flying Leaps
Prerequisite: Tumble 5
Action: Move action
Range: Self
Target: Personal
Duration: 1 minute/Jump rank
Cooldown: 1d4 minutes
Saving Throw: None

DC 15 Jump: So long as you are adjacent to a vertical surface or ceiling at least once during your turn you gain a fly speed equal to your land speed (maneuverability average). You must end your turn solidly supported or you fall.

DC 30 Jump: As long as you remain within 10' per 2 ranks in Jump of a vertical surface or ceiling you gain a fly speed equal to your land speed (maneuverability good).

DC 40 Jump: You gain a fly speed equal to twice your land speed (good)

Payoff: You gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls against enemies that are not airborne for the duration of the knack.
Forfeit: You fall prone.

Instant Locksmith
Prerequisite: None
Action: Swift action
Range: Self
Target: Personal
Duration: Instantaneous
Cooldown: 2d4 minutes
Saving Throw: None

DC 15 Disable Device: You can make one Disable Device check as a free action this round, using the result of the Search check you used to perform this knack.

DC 15 Open Lock: You can make one Open Lock check as a free action this round, using the result of the Search check you used to perform this knack.

DC 15 Search: You can make one Search check as a free action this round, using the result of the Search check you used to perform this knack.

DC 35 Search: You can move up to half your speed as a move action this round, using the result of the Search check you used to perform this knack to search each square you enter and each square you pass or end adjacent to.

Payoff: You apply a +5 bonus to your check to determine the result of the Disable Device, Open Lock, or Search attempt or attempts.
Forfeit: You take a -5 penalty to all checks of the same type as you attempted performing this maneuver for 10 minutes.

Supernal Mount
Outrider [Good]
Prerequisite: Class Level
Action: Standard action
Range: Self
Target: Personal
Duration: 10 minutes/Ride rank
Cooldown: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: None

DC 15 Ride For the duration of this knack, any mount you ride can move through difficult terrain normally and can move normally even if it becomes entangled.

DC 25 Ride For the duration of this knack, any mount you ride can move through difficult terrain normally and acts as though it were under the effect of freedom of movement

DC 30 Ride For the duration of this knack, any mount you ride gains the ability to fly with a speed of 100 feet (maneuverability poor).

DC 45 Ride For the duration of this knack, you, any mount you ride, and any equipment either of you carry become ethereal while your mount moves. If your mount becomes material while inside a material object (such as a solid wall), you are both shunted off to the nearest open space and take 1d6 points of damage per 5 feet that you so travel.

Payoff: Your mount gains a +4 dodge bonus to AC and a +2 bonus to Reflex saves for the duration of this knack.
Forfeit: Your mount becomes clumsy, taking a -10 feet penalty to its speed.

Jeff the Green
2013-11-15, 03:02 AM
Reserved, just in case.

Jeff the Green
2013-11-15, 03:04 AM
Alright, it's ready for PEACHing.

Just to Browse
2013-11-15, 03:34 AM
Before this goes any further, I'd like to say that the primary reason for me reading this thread is the fact that your class is named the whatchamadingle.

Best name ever.

EDIT: OK, that said, this confuses me. I like the idea of making skills useful, but it comes up with a few problems:
Skill boosting still runs rampant. You can get +10 to jump with a level 1 spell, or +30 to bluff with a level 3 spell. This makes tying skill checks to abilities... difficult.
From your examples, knacks span the range of useful out-of-combat abilities (Instant Locksmith), good in-combat benefits (Flying Leaps), and niche character-wrecking abilities (Corruptor). Balance is pretty much everywhere.
The Payoff/Forfeit mechanic seems like more effort than its worth.
It doesn't seem like there is much gained from making these abilities for characters to use--it seems much better to have these be parts of character skills and just making skills more valuable.

EDIT2: Have you heard of the tome of prowess (http://dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Tome_of_Prowess_(3.5e_Sourcebook))? It does a similar thing to what you're doing, but just makes skills a big deal instead of tying them to a new subsystem. Even if you continue with this, there are a lot of ideas there to steal.

2013-11-15, 01:40 PM
As direct skill modifiers are too far out of control to use for anything except a source of raw damage numbers in 3e, you could try an end-run around the problem: invent a new measure of skill specific to your class.

As an example:
Skill Mastery points are limited by your level in a skill, and by your level in this class. (what formula? do not know. Maybe the raw value, maybe half the value?)

When making a skill check, you gain a (untyped) bonus equal to your skill mastery to the check.

A skill mastery check is the governing attribute for the skill plus your skill mastery points.


Now, you replace your skill checks with skill mastery checks, and skill bonuses don't end up making the game strangely shaped.

In addition, you can have abilities that require a certain level of skill mastery. This lets you phase abilities in at higher levels that, even with an extreme check, shouldn't be doable at lower levels.

You could also introduce a quadratic component to the cost of skill mastery points. The first point might cost 1, the second 2, the third 3, etc. The class would gain a quadratic number of points as well. Then builds that are "jack of all trades" become more viable.

Example system:

Skill Mastery: For each skill you have trained you have a level of skill mastery. You cannot have more skill mastery in a skill than half your base (no attribute) skill modifier, rounded down.

At level 1, you can start with a skill mastery at level 2 and another at level 1, or 4 at level 1.

When you gain levels, you gain 2 times your new level in points you can invest in skill masteries. It costs 2 points to upgrade a skill mastery from level 1 to level 2, 3 to upgrade from level 2 to level 3, etc. You can only upgrade a given skill mastery by 1 level each time you gain a level.

You can save up to your level+1 in unspent skill mastery points for next level.

(This means at level 20 you can have 6 skills at mastery level 11, the cap, or far more at lower mastery levels)

Skill Mastery Level caps start at 2, and go up 1 every odd level, reaching 11 at level 19. So Mastery Level X roughly corresponds to a spell caster having access to level X-1 spells, and a DC of (10 + Mastery Level + Attribute) roughly corresponds to a DC of (10 + Spell Level + Attribute).

Mundane uses of the skill get a slight boost, but not a large one, from the Mastery Level. Your non-mundane uses of the skill end up being either gatekeeped by your Mastery Level, or based off of some check. Because of the steepness of the Mastery Level power curve (in theory, characters with a Mastery Level of X+1 are twice as powerful as characters with a Mastery Level of X based off of CR rules), direct Mastery Level checks are tricky base power off of...

Hrm, maybe not. It gets pretty crufty. And while the Mastery Level corresponding roughly to Spell Level makes some balance issues much easier, it also probably leaves a bad taste in some folks mouth.

So, what about a multi-roll subsystem? Someone with level X mastery doesn't get a +X bonus to their checks, but instead rolls X extra times on their checks, taking the best result (for mundane skill uses).

A direct mastery check might then involve counting the number of successes you get.

The DCs wouldn't have to be that well controlled (it would be *ok* for players to optimize to the point where the DCs are trivial), because the hard limit of *success count* means that only someone with enough mastery can actually pull off these knacks.

Characters might start with level 1 masteries (basically, double rolls), and ramp up to level 4-9 Masteries (depending on how many dice you want folks to be rolling).

Say 5 levels of Mastery, unlocked at levels 1/5/9/14/19.

Each Knack has a Tier, which is the number of successes required to use it. They go from Tier 1 (things that a non-skill master could do with training) through to Tier 6. Until you are a level 5 master, you cannot get 6 successes.

2013-11-15, 08:12 PM
If you're trying to make a "ToB for skill monkeys", I strongly encourage reading the Tome of Prowess (http://dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Tome_of_Prowess_(3.5e_Sourcebook)). It's much more comprehensive, and could be used as inspiration for a class (or for many things).