Extra skill points for "background" skills


Homebrew and House Rules


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Every PC, regardless of class or INT score, automatically gets 2 skill points per level that can only be spent on Craft, Profession, Knowledge, or Performance skills.

Can anyone think of any reason why that house-rule would be problematic or overpowered?


Performance skills for bards would be a bit much.

Knowledge skills, in my games, are pretty powerful. At least the ones that identify monsters.

Craft usually isn't a big deal, unless you take Master Craftsman and start making magical gear.

I like the idea, but I'd limit it to something like this:
Craft (except weapons, armor, or anything to create a magical item)
Profession
Knowledge (Engineering, Geography, History or Nobility)
Perform (Cannot be used with Versatile Performance)

The latter is because bards get a lot of skills anyway, and Versatile Performance basically lets them triple dip on skills. Letting them triple dip for free is just a bit much.


I'm with Mauril on most of his suggestions except for the limitation on which Know skills.
Perhaps only allow ranks in skills that are not class skills? That way you get some rounded-ness and not a bump in a skill that would have otherwise been chosen anyways?

I like the idea. Maybe the DM can assign those skill points based on the background the character provides? If they provide no background, they get no extra points...


An alternate option would be to simply let the players get a free set of traits that boost those skills, maybe even a free skill focus in those skills. It lets it represent a background in those things without making it a free investment in class/game altering skills.


I have drafted a similar house rule (though mine excludes knowledge) for an upcoming campaign: one free rank in a chosen craft/perform/profession skill, but it cannot be used with class features. So that latter point is what prevents it being more useful for some classes than others. It's meant to be purely for fluff, after all. Unfortunately, we haven't started yet, so I can't say how well it's going to work out.

Though, with the mention of Master Craftsman, I might go ahead and add that it can't be used with feats, either, except for the "+2 to two" or "+3 to one" types. Though I'm not sure exactly the best way to state that. Either that it can't fulfill feat prerequisites, or just not allow it to be used in combination with Master Craftsman, if that's the only feat that makes this bonus more powerful than I intend.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Good point about the bard. I like the idea of simply disallowing class skills.


I've done and seen a lot of things along those lines that give extra points for craft, profession, perform, and knowledge skills at first level, but not many that give beyond that. Giving them at first level seems to be universally acceptable as a way to reinforce character background while not being game breaking. The real difficulty comes if you try to give it at every level; what works fine for a one time shot in the arm very often requires a lot of tweaking and refining to work a routine part of leveling.


If you really want to do this, one free rank in a craft or profession skill (and it counting as a class skill) will suffice.


I've been considering the issue with the bard. This is the only class I can think of that gets a boost with this alternate. Here are a few ideas I've had over the last couple of days:

1. It has already been mentioned, but skills used for class features always count as adventuring skills.

2. Limit the skills acquisition to 1/level after first

3. Maximum ranks are HD/2 with a minimum of 1. The player can choose to permanently make a skill an adventuring skill, so this allows a bard to still use the perform skill as normal.

4. Another idea I had is that the skills, or at least the options between skills, are awarded by the DM based on successful use. Lets say the characters travels. This would give a character access to Knowledge (Geography) due to learning of small towns and cultures along the way. If they ride a horse, they can also take Handle Animal. If they interact with some NPC's that speak languages they don't, then this opens Linguistics as an option. From this one trip, the PC's can choose between several skills. This is not supposed to be everyday skill use, either. Bards, who uses perform several times a day and/or adventure, doesn't have perform as an option.

Honestly, I'm thinking about option 3. 4 can take a lot of work and I'm sure there might be arguments with players as to what qualifies as a prerequisite to take a skill.

Oh, I forgot one:

5. Split skills into more categories and allow 1 rank/category at each level. For example:

Performance skills:
Perform and Sleight of Hand

Creation:
Appraise, Artistry and craft

Knowledge:
Knowledge, Linguistics, Lore

Life:
Handle Animal, Profession


I have adopted this variant rule and even extended it to all knowledge skills. Overall, my PCs feel they have more "freedom" with their skills, and have diversified. Some more than others, sure, but all of them to some extent.

I wouldn't sweat it too bad. If you are worried about Versatile Performance, I think it'd be better to come up with a homebrew solution for that, then use it as a reason to restrict Background Skills.

You might like what this guy is doing though.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I feel that it's best to allow the background skill points to be placed in "Lore" instead of "Knowledge". That would allow you to represent a specific expertise of your character rather than something as general as 'all of Engineering'.

So, something like this:

2 Background Skills that can be placed in Perform, Craft, Linguistics, Profession, Sleight of Hand, Appraise, Lore, or Artistry.

2 Background Skills that can only be placed on lore.


What is it you want out of the rule?


Check out the skills section of Pathfinder Unchained. They break it down a little differently for Background Skills (e.g. dividing Knowledge skills as 'Adventuring' or 'Background' based on whether they allow you to ID monsters or not), but I like what they did with it.


Cheburn wrote:
Check out the skills section of Pathfinder Unchained. They break it down a little differently for Background Skills (e.g. dividing Knowledge skills as 'Adventuring' or 'Background' based on whether they allow you to ID monsters or not), but I like what they did with it.

So do I. Especially since I've been investing in Craft, albeit to get towards making my own magic greataxes. (I'd still nix Performance as 'background' for a bard tho. It's just too key to their abilities, especially when Versatile Performance starts showing up.)


This houserules is in a Rogue Genius supplement. We've been using it in my home campaign for a while. It doesn't create unbalance issues because skills are still limited by level.

Bards will be maxed out anyway, so having points for other knowledge skills is not a big deal. I find that the players use them for creative profession or craft skills more than anything else.


Brother Fen wrote:

This houserules is in a Rogue Genius supplement. We've been using it in my home campaign for a while. It doesn't create unbalance issues because skills are still limited by level.

Bards will be maxed out anyway, so having points for other knowledge skills is not a big deal. I find that the players use them for creative profession or craft skills more than anything else.

Yeah, that's the general point as mentioned in Unchained. I'd put one in Knowledge (Nobility) and one ... well, I'd be getting one back for adventuring skills due to already 'wasting' a skill rank each level in Craft. Hm.


I've been using them in addition to the consolidated skills option in unchained. They've been working well..with the primary perform ability covering all performance types it's a non-issue with the Bard.
The 2 BG skills per level is really good for character development...I have a character who took Prof: Riverboat captain...because the captain was killed by a Merrow and he was forced to pilot the boat himself for the rest of the journey.
Using the consolidated skills reduces the points per level by half....making the two BG skill points especially welcome.
Those who want to craft don't have to neglect combat utility, same for random lore.


I give an additional skill point to be spent on craft, performance or profession. The only restriction I add is that it must not be added to a skill with direct mechanical benefits for the character (like a Performance skill affected by Versatile Performance), but I don't mind if the extra skill point is used to qualify for feats or PrCs (like Dervish Dance).


Here is an idea i have been thinking about.

Player ( and NPC, since i orgianl thought this out for them).

Start with there Intelligence score in skill points.

The player can spend these skill point however they wish, on skill. As a (zero level character). None of these skill are considered class skill, until the character chooses a class, which might add a class skill bonus.

They can even invest up to 5 skill point into skill as a max limit per skill.

Once these skill are chosen, they are locked in, and can not be changed. (sorry not a believer in re-training).

The player at 1st level and beyond, can not add skill point to these skill, until there character level is higher than the listed skill. (so at 6th character level, a character can add +1 skill point to a 5th level skill for a total of 6 skill points).

.....................................

Eample: Tom, with 14 intelligence. Has 14 skill point, that can be spend on skills. Tom grow up on a farm in the wild back-country, so he choose to learn Survival - 4 skill points, Handle Animal - 4 skill point, Profession Farmer - 5 skill points, and he had to learn to ride horse around the farm - 1 skill point.

Tom had just one problem, he did not want to become a farmer like his father. He wanted to become a explore and adventure, to travel the lands, and see the world. So he found himself a Ranger trainer, and trained to become a ranger.

At 1st level ( ranger) = He gains a class and a list of class skill = He gains a class skill bonus on Survival, Handle animals, Profession, and ride.

At 1st level = He gained 6 more skill point + Int Modifier (+2 mod).
This lets him learn 8 more skill with 1 skill point in each skill.

He is unable to use any of these skill point on his base skill, until his character level excess his base skill level.

..............................................................

Kind of like letting all PC/NPC have starting HP = to Con score.

Came up with the idea, because i wanted my NPC to have some profession/craft skill at zero level, and be able to have some skill ( up to 5 skill point ) in a few different skill to be able to better perform there desired Job/hobby/interest.

Also, since this is a one time bonus of skill point at zero level, it does not interfere with the main skill system very much.

.............................................................

anyway my suggestion.

Sovereign Court

Mauril wrote:

Performance skills for bards would be a bit much.

Knowledge skills, in my games, are pretty powerful. At least the ones that identify monsters.

Craft usually isn't a big deal, unless you take Master Craftsman and start making magical gear.

I like the idea, but I'd limit it to something like this:
Craft (except weapons, armor, or anything to create a magical item)
Profession
Knowledge (Engineering, Geography, History or Nobility)
Perform (Cannot be used with Versatile Performance)

The latter is because bards get a lot of skills anyway, and Versatile Performance basically lets them triple dip on skills. Letting them triple dip for free is just a bit much.

It mentions that the background knowledge does not include ALL knowledge's the ones that cam be used to identify monsters are not "background" skills.


Oliver McShade wrote:

Here is an idea i have been thinking about.

Player ( and NPC, since i orgianl thought this out for them).

Start with there Intelligence score in skill points.

The player can spend these skill point however they wish, on skill. As a (zero level character). None of these skill are considered class skill, until the character chooses a class, which might add a class skill bonus.

They can even invest up to 5 skill point into skill as a max limit per skill.

Once these skill are chosen, they are locked in, and can not be changed. (sorry not a believer in re-training).

The player at 1st level and beyond, can not add skill point to these skill, until there character level is higher than the listed skill. (so at 6th character level, a character can add +1 skill point to a 5th level skill for a total of 6 skill points).

.....................................

(example edited out)

This sounds a little overpowered, but that's just a first impression. The load of skill points means you're pumping some skills pretty far beyond what you'd expect from a first level character. While this might help a few concepts (that 7 Int fighter has 8 skill points at first level, yay!), it has a few other consequences (that 18 Int wizard has ... 24 skill points at first level, erk ... ).

That said, honestly, one thing I often worry about is just losing 'skill points' in any system if I want to have a less than intelligent character. I'm not sure how I would play someone like that, but it feels like I need someone with brainpower to have survival skills. I know tanking Int is a common trope amongst the more melee minded, but skill points themselves seem so vital that greed for them is the main reason why I might like this houserule.

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