Carver Hastings

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If at 10th level or so a character increases it's intelligence must that be spent on a new skill at the trained level, or can it be applied to increasing an already trained skill to a higher proficiency rank? I lean towards the latter, but can't find anything that explicitly allows for it.

So the party is coming up on an encounter with a 10th lvl CE Wizard. The Wizard has the Ride feat. The mount is a Nightmare, they've been a team for several years.

I'm planning on having him riding the Nightmare (it looks cool and free concealment) and while I'm fine with using the normal mounted combat rules, the Nightmare itself has a 12 Int and 18 Wis. This makes me think it should be able to act on it's own within parameters set up by the 2 in prior engagements. This frees up the Wizard's actions at the cost of precise movement. This would be suboptimal for a mounted melee combatant build, but for a Wizard who cares only for being in range of spells, not a huge deal.

AoO would still be provoked by the mount moving, in so much as that the mount's movement would be the triggering action and the AoO could be taken against the mount or the rider.

Really just wondering if anyone has seen comment on this situation yet. RAW rules seem to imply that when ever you turn a creature into a mount they immediately lose all individual thought and initiative and you might as well reduce their mental stats to 2.

Active skills targeting a static save seem to be far too successful. Unless we're doing it wrong, which is why I'm posting.

My current campaign features a 6th lvl Dwarven Fighter. An on level threat that attempts to trip him on it's first attack action generally succeeds on anything but a natural 1. Thing is, since the math is pretty steady as you level, that won't get much better. If the generic threat were to only get it's level and never increase str or mastery in athletics the Fighter will still be tripped around 70% (this isn't hard math, this is in my head) of the time at level 20.

(LVL+[Athletics Proficiency]+STR+1d20) vs (LVL+[Reflex Proficiency]+DEX)

Tripping isn't much damage, but it's a nuisance and an action loss that will very quickly frustrate a player who can't ever not be tripped.

(I made it a contested roll by DM fiat, as it feels like this is the correct mechanic)