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I was wondering how others handle variants of monsters with knowledge checks.
Specifically I am looking at the following situation (spoilers in case one of my players walks into this thread)
Would my players who make knowledge checks know these will explode or would they just identify them as normal skeletons?
I could add some fluff to say "you see they've had their bones weakened in a way to make them explode" if need be.
I think someone who gathered a lot of knowledge about something should have a fair chance of knowing its variants as well, so I would allow the check to identify the skeletons variant. If its a particular uncommon one you could always increase the DC to 15+CR, but in your example 10+CR seems fine.
You want to reward your players for investing into knowledge skills after all.
For variants that are known to exist, increasing the DC of the knowledge check by 2 or 5 seems reasonable.
DC 5: this is one of the orcs who have been raiding your country out of the mountains ever since the memory of elves runneth not to the contrary.
Big, strong, dumb.
DC 7: this is a member of the Skullcrusher tribe, they favor fighting with two light maces rather than one big axe.
DC 10: this is a Grayskin orc from over the mountains. The tribe's a lot more honorable than most and you can probably trust the parley banner he's waving
DC 15: this is an orc, but the rune on his forehead isn't an evil battle tattoo, it's a symbol from the Fleshripper tribe the next continent over that he's slain a hundred humans in hand-to-hand combat, he probably has quite a few levels over the standard orc
For ones that are newly created or that nobody can reasonably know about, you might get:
DC 15: this looks like an orc, but it's got bigger muscles and blue skin and is probably some weird variant nobody's heard about for a while
DC 20: this looks like an orc, but no orc ever wore a monocle and smoked cigars, to the best of your knowledge, so expect the unexpected
DC 25: this female orc is wearing a slinky dress and talking to a singing frog; expect the really unexpected!