View Full Version : 3.5E Skill Groups

2017-05-06, 08:19 AM
Not sure if the homebrew forum is right for this.
The skills system is designed to quantify nearly every activity that a player character might encounter, and apply a skill check to it. I have thought a lot about condensing down the skills list, which stands at around 50 skills, but every time I do I end up compromising them by making certain combinations that kinda sorta make sense, but not really, and I'm trading logic for simplicity. Like it sort of makes sense to combine Knowledge Nature and Survival; but it makes no sense that both a scholarly wizard and a ranger would have the same capabilities in the woods.

So instead of shrinking the skill list by combining or removing skills, or giving players more skill points in general, I thought of being able to purchase a set of skills as a group.

Outside of the skill groups all of the normal rules for skills would still apply, max ranks, cross-class skills, etc. So any other class can continue to train in the skills just like they can now. Only members of the designated class can train in a skill group though.
What are Skill Groups
Each class can choose one skill group, from their class list, per 2 base skill points per level provided by that class (Cleric = 1, Barb = 2, Bard = 3, Rogue = 4). Each class should have a list of skill groups that is about 3 to 4 times more than what that class can choose (Cleric = 3-4, Barb = 6-8, Bard = 9-12, Rogue = 12-16).

By having many more skill group options than a class is able to choose should help ensure some variety among members of the same class.

I would encourage players and DMs to come up with skill groups they feel are appropriate to their characters, as whatever list we come up with here will not be exhaustive. However as a guide line, skill groups should be thematically appropriate to the role or style of play that the class is typically associated with. They are not meant to be a way to discount exactly the skills your player wants them to. For example: I don't care that you want your barbarian to be a master of disguise, you will not convince me to give you a skill group for bluff and disguise.

Their will likely always be some over lap between two characters of the same class, most rogues, regardless of their play style, may very likely take the stealthy skill group for hide and move silently. My vision for skill groups are to use them as a way to further define what your character is particularly focused on being good at, and as a result of that focus you can invest in your core skills more efficiently.

How do Skill Groups work
Upon taking the first level of any class, you choose the appropriate number of skill groups from your class list. You can invest a number of skill points, earned from that class, to buy ranks in your skill groups up to your class level. Each skill points put in a skill group counts as 1 rank in each skill in the group. Additional skill ranks are purchased using all the normal rules for class/cross-class and max ranks.

By limiting ranks in skill groups to class level, it means you can never earn max ranks in a skill through the skill group alone. You would have to spend additional skill points to reach max ranks. Some skill groups will include skills that are normally cross-class skills for the class, in which case you can exceed the normal rules for max ranks in a cross-class skill, however you still could not buy additional ranks, since you've exceeded the max ranks for a cross class skill. For example: a level 5 barbarian with 5 ranks in the hunting skill group, would effectively give him 5 ranks in Knowledge Nature, and Survival. He could then spend 3 more skill points to bring survival to the maximum 8 ranks, but since Knowledge Nature is a cross class skill for a barbarian, and the max ranks for a cross class skill is 4 at that level, he could not spend additional skill points to increase it.

If you are using skill groups you should not also use skill synergies.

Ways to Get Skill Groups
In addition to your class, I am looking at races as a way to get more skill groups.

Some examples:
Elves getting the Perception (Listen, Spot) skill group.
Gnomes getting the Tinker (Open Lock, Disable Device) skill group.
Humans and Half-elves getting to choose any one skill group.
Dwarves getting the Stone Craft (Appraise, Knowledge Arch/Eng) skill group.

Additionally, the plethora of feats that give +2 to two skills should all be changed as follows:
You immediately gain 2 ranks in the [feat name] ([skill one], [skill two]) skill group. Furthermore you can spend skill points, from any source, to purchase additional ranks, not to exceed your character level, in the skill group.
Special: If acquiring a skill group causes you to exceed max skill ranks in a skill, the excess skill points should be reallocated to another skill. Skill points reallocated in the way cannot be invested in skill groups.

While class based skill groups would limit ranks to your level in the corresponding class, groups gained from your race or a feat would be limited to your character level.
Skill Groups (I could use a hand expanding on this part) work in progress
Below are some of the skill groups I've thought up:
Academia - Knowledge (architecture and engineering), Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (history)
Acrobatics - Balance, Tumble
Athletics - Climb, Jump, Swim
Deception - Disguise, Forgery
Thievery - Escape Artist, Sleight of Hand, Use Rope
Spycraft - Bluff, Disguise
Linguistics - Decipher Script, Speak Language
Perception - Listen, Spot
Arcana - Knowledge (arcane), Spellcraft
Stealth - Hide, Move Silently
Psionics - Psicraft, Knowledge (psionics)
Hunter - Knowledge (nature), Survival, Use Rope
Tinker - Disable Device, Open Lock
Animal Affinity - Handle Animal, Ride
Nature Affinity - Handle Animal, Knowledge (nature)
Focus - Autohypnosis, Concentration
Spelunking - Climb, Knowledge (dungeoneering), Use Rope
Investigation - Search, Sense Motive
Steetwise - Knowledge (local), Gather Information
Cosmology - Knowledge (religion), Knowledge (the planes)
Medicine - Knowledge (nature), Heal
Persuasion - Diplomacy, Intimidate
Mercantilism - Appraise, Diplomacy
Interrogation - Intimidate, Sense Motive
Aristocrat - Diplomacy, Knowledge (nobility and royalty), Sense Motive
Agility - Balance, Escape Artist
Meticulous - Appraise, Decipher Script
Arcane Affinity - Spellcraft, Use Magic Device
Psionic Affinity - Psicraft, Use Psionic Device
Negotiation - Diplomacy, Sense Motive
Autonomous - Autohypnosis, Knowledge (psionics)

Class Skill Groups
Hunter (kn nature, survival, use rope)
Athletic (climb, jump, swim)
Perceptive (listen, spot)
Spiritual (kn nature, kn religion)
Animal Affinity (handle animal, ride)
Animalistic (handle animal, intimidate)

Linguist (decipher script, speak language)
Magician (escape artist, sleight of hand)
Arcane Affinity (kn arcane, spellcraft)
Mercantile (appraise, diplomacy)
Persuasive (bluff, diplomacy)
Deceptive (disguise, forgery)
Performer (perform any 2)
Artist (artistry any 2) <-- new skill, don't worry about it for now
Meticulous (appraise, decipher script)
Negotiator (diplomacy, sense motive)
Trickster (bluff, disguise)
Aristocratic (diplomacy, kn nobility, sense motive)

Cosmology (kn religion, kn the planes)
Healer (heal, kn nature)
Divine Affinity (kn religion, spellcraft)
Templar (concentration, kn arcane)

Animal Affinity (handle animal, ride)
Nature Affinity (handle animal, kn nature)
Empathetic (diplomacy, heal)
Healer (heal, kn nature)
Divine Affinity (kn religion, spellcraft)

Athletic (climb, jump, swim)
Animal Affinity (handle animal, ride)
Knightly (diplomacy, kn nobility and royalty)
Blacksmith (craft weapons, craft armor)