Rare, but useful skills / abilities?


Pathfinder Society

The Exchange

Getting ready to start a new PFS character in the near future. I was considering approaching this one from a different direction (at least different for me). I’ve got one going for each of the major concepts I was really wanting to play (and that make sense for PFS). So for this one I thought I’d look at what seems to be usually missing in a PFS group. Yes, I know that can be very area specific, but 90% of my PFS gaming has been on the forums PbP for the last year or so. I don’t see that changing soon, so I’m playing with people from all over the world rather than just my particular local area.

So, when you have been at a PFS table, what types of things have you found yourself repeatedly saying “Man! I wish we had someone that could handle X for this group?”

Some example that I have tended to notice.
Monster knowledge ranks – A lot of people seem to have 1 rank in the ones that are class skills. But as soon as the DC’s start going up just a little bit for the higher level creatures, no one can make it. Seems to be a change to me. A couple of years ago, almost always had someone that could tell nearly everything about anything. Not so much now. Not sure why.
Other knowledge ranks – Almost no one has even a single rank in any of the others, let alone enough to make the skill checks. I understand, these just don’t come up as often and aren’t as game breaking when they do. Still, they can often provide some useful information and the DC aren’t usually all that high.
Sense motive – Oddly enough, we’ve usually had enough diplomacy, bluff, and intimidate. But we have no clue if anyone is lying to us.
Scouting ability – The last I think 9 games have only had 1 with even moderate coverage in things like stealth, disable device, and survival (or magic to cover the need). Always have perception covered.
Utility Magic – Rarely have anyone that can cast Detect Y (anything except magic), Dispel Magic, Comprehend Languages, Seek Thoughts, Endure Elements, Touch of the Sea, etc… or things like scrolls to cover the lack. All the spells known/prepared seem to be just combat related.
Less Common Basic Gear – People seem shocked if I have a potion sponge, skeleton key, anti-plague, manacles, caltrops, wire saw, portable ram, pen & paper, or whatever. Even though they aren’t expensive, they can often make a job substantially easier (sometimes even on the higher level scenarios). Yet almost no one is willing to buy them.

So what capabilities have you seen missing fairly often?

Obviously, I can’t make a single character that can cover everything. But I’m thinking about making one that can cover as many as possible.


Sounds like you are just playing with poorly prepared players. Where I play it is pretty rare that a table doesn't have everything covered.

1/5 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Good Ol' Block an' Tackle.... Good ol' sunrods...

And yes, I can personally attest to the fact that having ink and pen made a particular session a lot easier for our party.

Part of my build on my -1 is to have *all* of the knowledge skills, even at a very basic level, so they can at least be rolled. Was at a couple of tables last year at GenCon where there was maybe *one* Knowledge skill for the whole table...

The Exchange

I think having a scout character can be useful if yer party lets you scout. Some groups don't let people scout, so people stop playing them.

Healers. Playing a healer sucks at low level. Your role can easily be done by a wand. ive seen so many people turn down offers to heal by saying "don't worry I've got a wand". When you say that you are telling the person their role is redundant, the reason they are playing is not useful to you. It is rare to see a player who is willing to play rough the twenty or so odd sessions before they actually start becoming not just useful but actually life saving. Breath of life is great, the ability to cast restoration during the adventure is great, but you have to slog through a bunch of nothingness to get there. I think I've seen aunt a hundred or so characters in he local play group at high level and I've yet to see a dedicated healermin a 7-11, only people that can do it incidentally like a Druid or something.

dilpomancers. I've seen a few, but it seems any time I'm in a mod that I really want one there's none to be found.

Really though it depends on yer local. I like having a few different characters that are good at different things so I can play different types of scenarios with different groups

5/5 5/55/55/5

Stealths table variation and scenario variation make it very hard to use.

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Given that list, sounds like you should make an Inquisitor, as a fairly vanilla inquisitor can fill most of those rolls *plus* be decent in combat.

The Exchange

pH unbalanced wrote:
Given that list, sounds like you should make an Inquisitor, as a fairly vanilla inquisitor can fill most of those rolls *plus* be decent in combat.

Truth

Sovereign Court 4/5

I think this one is extremely region/group dependent, not to mention dependent on table sudoku. I have characters that can cover pretty much everything you mentioned (Knowledge monkeys as well as ones with a point in most/all, ridiculously good <insert skill here>, handy haversacks full of utility spells and scrolls, etc.) Lots of other players around here do too, but that still doesn't prevent the occasional table where nobody can identify the demon in the corner, or where the CHA 8 character is the best option for party face.

The Exchange

Ever since I found the feat 'Cut Your Losses' I've been looking at building a character(s) for that feat. It'll be a life saver (quite literally) in higher Tiers.

Grand Lodge

Survival for tracking/not getting lost (also potentially for the elements). It doesn't come up all that often, but when it does it's nice to have. Also, tracking DCs actually don't get very high - so only moderate investment needed, and there is a 2PP boon to let you use survival for day jobs.

Sense motive is IMO the most under-utilized skill (even by players who invest in it) at most tables.

UMD (for charisma characters or INT with a trait) can be uber helpful and powerful. A +19 is enough for most characters, unfortunately also kinda sketchy to use before then.

However, in my estimation, the most under-utilized resource in the game (by a lot of players) is gold (and by extension PP). Gold can be leveraged to make any class better, that monk, wizard, cleric, sorcerer, whatever. Sitting on 35k in a 7-11 and not saving it up for a reason. They could be buying those utility scrolls, metamagic rods, amulets of mighty fists, ioun stones for skills, whatever to make a better character (more survivable, more powerful, more skillful, what have you), but haven't. (PP especially for but not limited to casters can also be extremely useful for this. Some of many ways to do this are included in this blog post)

Liberty's Edge

Well, he's actually charisma 10, but I can't count the amount of times that my fighter had to be the party face simply because he took a vanity to have diplomacy as a class skill, and took one rank. Eventually I started putting addition ranks in there because it was happening so much.

The Exchange

Joe Ducey, I like that link. I think I will print it off for a couple of people I know.
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Dhenn wrote:
I think this one is extremely region/group dependent, not to mention dependent on table sudoku. ...

As I said, it is not just my local area. This also a couple dozen PbP games. It is also talking to some other people that are in PFS in areas other than my local.

I know not every table is going to be the same. But a lot of the people I talk to seem to feel there are some often missing capabilities.
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Bad guy one wrote:
pH unbalanced wrote:
Given that list, sounds like you should make an Inquisitor, as a fairly vanilla inquisitor can fill most of those rolls *plus* be decent in combat.
Truth

Yup. That is where I've been kinda leaning. Skills galore. Some magic. Can get a good UMD. Etc...

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Deighton Thrane wrote:
Well, he's actually charisma 10, but I can't count the amount of times that my fighter had to be the party face simply because he took a vanity to have diplomacy as a class skill, and took one rank. Eventually I started putting addition ranks in there because it was happening so much.

I have a 5 charisma dwarf with 1 rank and class skill that has been the party face several times.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Selter Sago de'Morcaine PFS wrote:


I have a 5 charisma dwarf with 1 rank and class skill that has been the party face several times.

I have a 5 Charisma dwarf with no ranks and no class skill and he's had to be the party face several times. Even succeeded twice.

The Exchange 5/5

Jessex wrote:
Sounds like you are just playing with poorly prepared players. Where I play it is pretty rare that a table doesn't have everything covered.

I'm agreeing with Jessex on this one.

Try different players... most of the tables I am at have all of the things mentioned covered, sometimes 3 deep. Last time we needed someone with Disable Device, over half the party had the skill, even the fighter had ranks in it (and it was a class skill due to a trait - so he had a +15 I think).

The Exchange

nosig wrote:
Jessex wrote:
Sounds like you are just playing with poorly prepared players. Where I play it is pretty rare that a table doesn't have everything covered.

I'm agreeing with Jessex on this one.

Try different players... most of the tables I am at have all of the things mentioned covered, sometimes 3 deep. Last time we needed someone with Disable Device, over half the party had the skill, even the fighter had ranks in it (and it was a class skill due to a trait - so he had a +15 I think).

Well I won't repeat myself a third time, but does that mean you have seen different capabilities not cover in your local area? Or do most of the tables always have all the potentially useful capabilities covered?

If so, that is great. I think you have some really fantastic players. A lot of what I've seen is not yet up to that caliber of expertise.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Worst case I have seen recently was a CORE game that had 4 players with no real healer. We had 4 CLW wands but the only one who could use one was a Druid who went down in the middle of the second battle. I was the only one who also had a Potion of CLW to force down the Druid's throat and got lucky enough on the role to make him conscious enough to use the Wands. Otherwise it might have been a short adventure.

The Exchange 5/5

there are always things that are not covered... currently in the groups I play in we are seeing a lack of Front Liners - classic Beat-sticks (Barbarians/Tank, etc.). Two months ago I would have said we had a shortage of Arcane casters...

One of the things I personally try to do (and several of the people I play with also do) is have more than one PC available to play each scenario I sit down to play. For example - I am planning to play the multi-tier special at a local CON next month, several of us have signed up for the Tier 3-4 table (because we like the judge at that table)... at Tier 3-4 I have...

3rd level - A Face PC (Flame Dancer Bard)
3rd level - Front liner (Gun Tank with a Dragon Pistol)
4th level - Summoner with a Stealth Eidolon with a LOT of trap skills
4th level - Street Performer Bard (Disguise skills/Ultra High bluff)

I will select the PC I am running depending on what the rest of the Players bring to the table.

Sovereign Court

Generally, effectiveness. I see a lot of people who want to play special snowflake characters who are built for one thing, and that one thing isn't a common occurrence. I've played with and GMed for a bad-touch Cleric who has spent entire scenarios hiding at the back of the party because at the start of the encounter, he literally says, "I have nothing for that." And God help you if he's the one who puts a party in the high tier and can't effectively contribute.

I've seen people who know better not know how their character works after 4+ levels, and new to RPGing players always want to play something with a lot of moving parts like a Druid and spend the entire scenario missing things with their spear, or casting Guidance on their animal companion because they don't know what else they can do.


In addition to the problems people have already mentioned with scouting it's potentially a suicide mission if you're caught. Being surrounded by enemies with your allies 30 to 60 feet back can get ugly really fast.

A combat skill that seems to be uncommon at most tables but highly valued when it's there is being able to get around your enemies as a melee character. Bottlenecks can easily become the bane of a melee heavy party. Whether it's something as simple as acrobatics or something a little more niche like the deception subdomain being able to get around your enemy can vastly help out party tactics.

Grand Lodge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

p-sto wrote:

In addition to the problems people have already mentioned with scouting it's potentially a suicide mission if you're caught. Being surrounded by enemies with your allies 30 to 60 feet back can get ugly really fast.

Yea, I had a Paladin in a previous campaign that had a running gag that her job was to run in and rescue the rogue every time he went scouting.

5/5 5/55/55/5

trollbill wrote:

Worst case I have seen recently was a CORE game that had 4 players with no real healer. We had 4 CLW wands but the only one who could use one was a Druid who went down in the middle of the second battle. I was the only one who also had a Potion of CLW to force down the Druid's throat and got lucky enough on the role to make him conscious enough to use the Wands. Otherwise it might have been a short adventure.

Where is your potion of CLW and how is it labled?

The Exchange 5/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:
trollbill wrote:

Worst case I have seen recently was a CORE game that had 4 players with no real healer. We had 4 CLW wands but the only one who could use one was a Druid who went down in the middle of the second battle. I was the only one who also had a Potion of CLW to force down the Druid's throat and got lucky enough on the role to make him conscious enough to use the Wands. Otherwise it might have been a short adventure.

Where is your potion of CLW and how is it labled?

Many Druids I play with prep a goodberry spell, and if the adventure runs more than a day, will have 2d4 berries per level ... We would start by feeding her those...

5/5 5/55/55/5

2 people marked this as a favorite.

CLW potion with a goodberry martini olive :)

The Exchange 5/5

p-sto wrote:

In addition to the problems people have already mentioned with scouting it's potentially a suicide mission if you're caught. Being surrounded by enemies with your allies 30 to 60 feet back can get ugly really fast.

...snipped out combat notes.....

I let Smoke handle the scouting while we wait outside the area. It takes a bit to convense the rest of the party that I don't worry about her getting caught (stealth is +25, Perception +16, at 4th level....), 'cause even when she's seen I just dismiss her... (Eidolon)... If the bad guys see her, she just turns into smoke.

After she maps the site, and disables the traps, we can decide how we want to approach the place.

Grand Lodge 3/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Bellevue aka Divvox2

Joe Ducey wrote:

Sense motive is IMO the most under-utilized skill (even by players who invest in it) at most tables.

...

However, in my estimation, the most under-utilized resource in the game (by a lot of players) is gold (and by extension PP). Gold can be leveraged to make any class better, that monk, wizard, cleric, sorcerer, whatever. Sitting on 35k in a 7-11 and not saving it up for a reason. They could be buying those utility scrolls, metamagic rods, amulets of mighty fists, ioun stones for skills, whatever to make a better character (more survivable, more powerful, more skillful, what have you), but haven't. (PP especially for but not limited to casters can also be extremely useful for this. Some of many ways to do this are included in this blog post)

Man, you are speaking my language. Folks I've run into who say, "I don't have anything to buy" have no idea. I've got a level 9 brawler who (I'm proud to say) has a Sense Motive of +19 atm (+27 next level) which has given my otherwise OOCombat worthless character some incredible insight into various situations.

I can't get enough money for the build either. There is ALWAYS something better to buy. If you have a frontliner and a ton of money, why aren't you resistant to half a dozen energy types?! Max out that cloak of resistance! Buy something to make what you do even better! A cracked Magenta Ioun stone is +2 competence bonus to a skill for only 800 GOLD! Why doesn't everyone have a dozen of these little bastards?! 2500 gold for a +5 competence to a knowledge skill. And if you don't like them flying about you can implant those things with no cost (unless you actually risk dieing from starvation due to ridiculously low CON and CHA). And those are just things EVERY player should strongly consider.

As to OP, as I mentioned above, Sense Motive is HIGHLY underutilized. Not to mention if you don't spend your swift actions often, you can use snake style to basically ignore 1 touch attack a round on top of being able to tell if any of your party's conversations are about to go pear-shaped, or if you're missing vital information.

The Exchange 5/5

Just remember that 2 competence bonuses don't stack. So an Ioun Stone won't stack with most other magic and items ... This has bit me more than once...

The Exchange

nosig wrote:

...

One of the things I personally try to do (and several of the people I play with also do) is have more than one PC available to play each scenario I sit down to play. ...

Well, I don't always have multiples at each level. Although, right now I have 3 at 2nd level. I often have 2 in the subtier, so I have a bit of choice. I am willing to run a pregen if we really need something that my PC or 2 can't provide.

4/5

In tables I play at the knowledges and the social skills are generally covered. However, nobody knows how to drive. (No profession sailor, handle animal, or ride at the table.) As far as uncommon but useful skills, seeing the face of the GM when I came up with a profession : barrister check when the scenario called for the party getting arrested was priceless.

Grand Lodge 3/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Bellevue aka Divvox2

Tweedle-Dum wrote:
Just remember that 2 competence bonuses don't stack. So an Ioun Stone won't stack with most other magic and items ... This has bit me more than once...

Yep! That's why you apply them to different skills. Said brawler has two of those cracked Magenta ioun stones to enhance Sense Motive and Perception. Though looking at the description of each bonus type it is worded differently, but I don't see any meaningful impact from that. Using them on different skills should work, but two competence bonuses on the same thing would not.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Some of the locals have invested ranks into Disable Device. It's been pretty useful even without trapfinding. Stealth can aid a ton too.

Profession(sailor) is still strong. Pesky (boatswain) though, that should just go and stay go.

The Exchange 5/5

Divvox2 wrote:
Tweedle-Dum wrote:
Just remember that 2 competence bonuses don't stack. So an Ioun Stone won't stack with most other magic and items ... This has bit me more than once...
Yep! That's why you apply them to different skills. Said brawler has two of those cracked Magenta ioun stones to enhance Sense Motive and Perception. Though looking at the description of each bonus type it is worded differently, but I don't see any meaningful impact from that. Using them on different skills should work, but two competence bonuses on the same thing would not.

where it gets me is on an Ioun Stone for Perception say, and Eyes of the Eagle. I get the Ioun Stone early (say level 2 or 3) and then pick up the Eyes some time later (say levels 4 to 6) and forget to check the bonus TYPEs... and later find I am stacking two competence bonuses. 'Cause I forgot about the Ioun Stone, nested in among all the other bonuses...

Grand Lodge 3/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Bellevue aka Divvox2

Tweedle-Dum wrote:
where it gets me is on an Ioun Stone for Perception say, and Eyes of the Eagle. I get the Ioun Stone early (say level 2 or 3) and then pick up the Eyes some time later (say levels 4 to 6) and forget to check the bonus TYPEs... and later find I am stacking two competence bonuses. 'Cause I forgot about the Ioun Stone, nested in among all the other bonuses...

Ahh, yeah. I try to regularly audit my characters every level or two for exactly that reason. I try to account for where I get all my bonuses from for things. For example, Sense Motive for my brawler gets a +3 from it being a class skill, a +2 (untyped) from Snake Style, +3 from Skill Focus(Sense Motive) (I think this is untyped, or a feat bonus), and +2 (competence) from that ioun stone.

It takes work to get that skill high when your Wis is 11. :(

-edit-

Feats are untyped unless they state otherwise it appears!

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas aka kinevon

If you can swing it, there is that 800 gp Ioun stone that gives a +2 competence bonus, but can be retuned once per day to a different skill....

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