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Hello, everyone! How are you doing? Well, I hope.
This time, I'm here to ask you a question about skills:
How useful is each of them, relative to each other?
I ask this partially because I want to see what's the general opinion of the community and partially because I'm thinking of an idea for a future house-rule...
First, let's divide skills in three separate groups: physical/outdoorsy, academic/intellectual and social...
Then, we rank them by-
"Lemmy, you min-maxing muderhobo! All skills are useful!"
First off... I prefer the term "resource-efficient manslaughter nomad". Also, all skills can be useful, but how often and how much changes drastically. No sane, honest person will say Appraise is as good as Perception!
"It depends on the campaign! In my low-fantasy nautical campaign, Profession(Sailor) and Swim were amazing and UMD was useless! Stop generalizing, you a##*%#!!"
Everything is dependent on the specifics of each campaign... That means nothing. I'm asking about the overall value of each skill... How useful they are in games that face a variety of challenges and scenery. Also, I have a full human body, not just the end of my digestive track.
"What about character role? Your skills are more or less useful depending on what you want-"
I KNOW! Again... This is not about specifics. It's an overall analysis of skill utility, assuming the campaign includes a variety of challenges. Obviously Spellcraft won't be as useful to the Fighter as it is to the Wizard (although it'd still be useful, unlike, say... Fly, which is completely useless if you can't fly). Perform is awesome for Bards and useless for everyone else.... That's not the point.
I believe the base assumption of the game is that characters travel at least a little bit and face various challenges in various environments.
"What about skill unlocks?"
Well... I don't use it. In fact, I use almost nothing from Pathfinder Unchained. So I'm not taking anything from that book in consideration.
Ahem... Back on track...
After we split the skill list in the three aforementioned groups, let's rank them. And remember: This is a general analysis. It isn't taking in consideration specific campaign themes, such as game focusing political intrigue or one based on underwater exploration... Or anything like that, which would make some skills unusually valuable or insignificant.
So... The ranks I give each skills vary from 0 (almost never useful) to 5 (very useful very often). 3 is the average. i.e.: "This won't always be useful, but it'll be useful often enough. You won't regret putting ranks here but it's probably not a game-changer either.".
Now, this is my ranking:
3 - Acrobatics (I think it's an under-appreciated skill. Ignoring AoO is amazing, IMO)
1 - Climb
2 - Escape Artist (Doesn't show up that often, but it saves lives when it does)
0~3 - Fly (Value depends on whether or not you can fly, of course)
5 - Perception
1 - Sleight of Hand
4 - Stealth (Some spells can obsolete this skill... Those same spells can be easily countered by other spells that usually last much longer).
0~5 - Ride (Is your character focused on mounted combat? Yes: Worth 5 points. No: skip it).
1 - Swim
0 - Appraise (I hate this skill).
0 - Craft
2- Disable Device
0 - Heal (This one might barely qualify as a 1).
3 - Kn(Arcana/Dungeon/Nature/Religion) (All of these can identify common threats. Kn(Arcana) is somewhat better than the rest, but not enough to be a 4, IMO)
1 - Kn(All The Rest) (History is slightly better).
2 - Linguistics (A seriously underrated skill, IMHO)
0 - Profession
2~5 - Spellcraft (5 if you cast spells, 2 if you don't).
3 - Use Magic Device (I'm giving it a 3, but it can easily range from nearly useless to game-breaking).
3 - Bluff (I think a little bit of creativity makes this skill amazing)
3 - Diplomacy (Again: can easily range from nearly useless to game-breaking).
1 - Disguise
1 - Handle Animal
2~5 - Intimidate (This skill is much more useful if you can make use of it in combat without sacrificing action economy: Cornugon Smash + Hurtful, I'm looking at you!)
4 - Sense Motive
0 - Perform
As you may have noticed, I tend to value skills that increase your mobility and/or your variety of options. Stealth and Diplomacy may not be as good in combat, but they essentially give you access to areas that are otherwise out-of-bounds.
So, what do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? On what points? What skills do you think are not as good as people say? Which ones you think are underrated and deserve more recognition?
Cheers! Keep on finding and creating new paths!