Advice for the Less Skilled Classes


Advice


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For PFS play, when playing a character that doesn't have a vast amount of skill points to spend, is it generally more fun to

a) Spread the points around - still have a reasonable number of skills but with a lower number of ranks in each

OR

b) Concentrate - accept you can only get a decent bonus in 2-3 skills and just ignore the others.

My instinct as a player and in terms of what makes in-character sense would be to go for (a) as that seems to represent a more rounded character.

However I'm concious that as tiers / levels rise, DCs go up seemingly quite rapidly, especially when it comes to the various subsystems. Does that mean that a low skill becomes much the same as no skill and its better off concentrating on a tiny number to at least stay involved with those?


Concentrate.

I have a druid with a lot of stealth, perception, disable device, a few knowledges.

I have a sorcerer with maxed out diplomacy.

The sorcerer has made more relevant skill checks.

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I'm playing through Eyes of the Ten right now with a cleric. I've got +5 on a few Knowledges, and I might as well not have them at all. I'd recommend splitting the difference, and going halvsies on some skills. So at level 10, you could have one or two key skills at max ranks, and 2 or 4 other skills at 5 ranks each. Pick up those cheap ioun stones for a +1 too.


Concentrate, unless you have an absolutely insane amount of skill points (say, a rogue with Int 14 or higher), in which case you can afford to concentrate and sprinkle a few points here and there elsewhere.


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Is it worth putting just the first rank into some so you can at least make a roll, or is that a case of 'a little learning is a dangerous thing'


JulianW wrote:
Is it worth putting just the first rank into some so you can at least make a roll, or is that a case of 'a little learning is a dangerous thing'

I'd drop a rank into Climb and Swim regardless of class at first level. Especially a rank in Swim can save a character's life in the early game. I'd also drop a rank in class skills that can't be rolled untrained at some point before level 5. ...unless I'm rolling a character with 2 skill points per level, in which case I just take the one rank in Climb and Swim by level 3 and then laser-focus on two skills.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Mostly concentrate.

Since Aid Another is a thing, dropping a single point into some of the class skills can be useful. Allows you to help someone who is good at the skill.

I almost always put something in swim and climb just so that my character isn't totally useless if required to do something there. Be able to tread water or climb a rope.


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One thing to keep in mind is the scaling of whatever you want to do with a given skill.

Do you just need to count as trained in the skill for some purpose? Then one rank is enough. Or, if you just want to be somewhat competent at the skill in question and it is a class skill for you, you can take advantage of the fact that one rank nets you a +4 bonus.

Do you need to make checks with a fixed DC? Then you put in enough ranks to routinely make the checks. Heal is a good example of a skill of that type.

Do you want to qualify for a feat or prestige class that has a skill rank prerequisite? Then you want to gain enough ranks to qualify for whatever it is.

Only if a skill is involved in opposed checks or has DCs that go up with the level of challenge you are facing would you normally need to keep any given skill maxed out. Perception and Knowledge skills are example of skills of this type.


Seems that the answer would totally depend upon the skill and to some extent the campaign, as well as your character. For instance, you probably want to get your main Knowledge skills as near to max as you can afford, but you probably only want as many points in Linguistics as you need for extra languages unless you are some kind of Linguistics expert, while Swim and Profession (Sailor) each might be something you want to max in Skull & Shackles, but probably just invest at most 1 point and 0 points (respectively) for most campaigns (and Serpent's Skull is probably in between).

Edit: Super-Ninja'd.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

Seems that the answer would totally depend upon the skill and to some extent the campaign, as well as your character. For instance, you probably want to get your main Knowledge skills as near to max as you can afford, but you probably only want as many points in Linguistics as you need for extra languages unless you are some kind of Linguistics expert, while Swim and Profession (Sailor) each might be something you want to max in Skull & Shackles, but probably just invest at most 1 point and 0 points (respectively) for most campaigns (and Serpent's Skull is probably in between).

Edit: Super-Ninja'd.

We're in the PFS part of the boards now, so "the campaign" is pretty evident here.


With a low skill point character, I usually put skill point in perception because well most important skill in the game.

Then get a little climb and swim.

Then class skills with stat bonuses.

Then skills with stat bonuses

I spread them around in pfs because low skill point characters will never be better that those high skill point classes.

I will however be good enough at lots of things to assist in them and have a decent chance of success. I may not make the assist roll but at least I have a chance to be useful in the social encounters.

Silver Crusade

Starting out, I try to at least pick up the class skill bonuses of skills that fit the character build. You may also have better quality of life if you can hit DC 5-10 by taking 10 to swim or climb. Beyond that, you'd likely be better off focusing on certain skills and hope that the rest of the party balances you out. A jack-of-all-trades can do ok in the lower levels but in higher levels not even nat 20's will hit the DCs without help from skill ranks (and friends).

You may know this already but, just in case, don't forget that you can use your favored class bonus for an additional skill point if necessary.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Max out at least one skill, then aim to assist your party members with the others.

One rank in Swim and Climb, if it's a class skill.

Bring your Diplomacy to at least a non-negative number.

One rank in Linguistics, so you can assist in exploring the ruins.

One rank in Engineering, Geography, Local and/or Nobility, since their DCs don't generally scale as high as the others (though if your Int is negative, this probably isn't useful still).

Three ranks in Acrobatics, so you can up your Total Defense.

One rank in a Craft, Perform, or Profession, so you can earn gold that can be spent on useful things (I recommend things like Librarian, Soldier, and others that might actually appear in a scenario).

That sort of stuff.

The Exchange

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After GMing tables for many, many different builds playing a variety of high- and low-skill characters, my answer is: both. :)

First, max out the skills you absolutely MUST have either because of class features or the way you want to play the character (Handle Animal for a pet class, Intimidate for a fearsome fighter).

Second, put a few points in the skills that have fixed and relatively low DCs. Climb, acrobatics, swim, maybe ride. Especially if they are class skills. If there is a "trained only" skill that matches your best ability score (Disable Device, UMD) consider that as well if it is a class skill just in case you end up in a party with no one else who can use it.

Inbetween: Linguistics is a bit of an odd duck. You can make skill checks, of course, but the fixed benefit of one language per skill point shouldn't be overlooked.

Finally: if you still have points left I would say to max one or more of the less frequently used skills. Knowledge: History and Appraise (as examples) don't come up very often but when they do it's a pleasant surprise to find out that someone at the table is actually good at that skill.

And of course the most important factor is your character's motivations. There's a reason Nigel the Vegan Viking (wannabe) Orc has ranks in Profession: Greengrocer.

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I usually spend my first 2 to 4 levels spreading points around, because at those tiers the DCs are generally fairly forgiving. After that I start concentrating my skill points to catch up the skills I care about to the cap. My goal is usually to have a number of specialized skills at max equal to between a third and a half of my sp/level by 6 to 7.

Shadow Lodge

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I've got a few chars with just 3 or 4 skill ranks each level and what I've done is to max what I can and have maybe 1 or 2 skill ranks left over and spend them to tag the various class skills.

Some useful skill bonus milestones I've found. For those times you want to invest but can't decide on hom much:

* Acrobatics +14 (ignore the first 10 feet fallen, succeed at various easy checks unaided and even without a running start)

* Climb +7 (take 10 to succeed in most rope-related checks, take ten with spider climb to scale just about every surface)

* Diplomacy +9 (give aid automatically)

* Fly +14 (automatically succeed at checks to hover in place)

* Touch Fluffy Tail! +9 (succeed at tricks without rolling, aid automatically)

* Ride +9 (Fight with a combat-trained mount)

* Stealth +10 (to reach +30 with invisibility, fooling most foes within PFS's level scale)

* Survival +15 (you'll reach most typical DC's by just taking 10)

* Swim +7 (you can take ten with one rank, get a swim speed on top of +7 and taking 10 results in 25, enough for every check)

* Boy, I love Wands! +19 (never jam wands, always succeed at activating them)

Silver Crusade

Muser wrote:
* Touch Fluffy Tail! +9 (succeed at tricks without rolling, aid automatically)

Assuming Fluffy is uninjured. :)

Great list!


No skill welfare. Diplomacy, Linguistics, Bluff and whatever knowledge you can get your hands on (save for maybe Engineering). Then a little to other general skills to keep the character alive, such as Climb and what not. If anything, others have articulated my thoughts way better.

Shadow Lodge

I tend to spread my first skill points out a bit to be able to roll trained-only and also get that +3 class skill bonus. Then I focus on the skills I want to succeed often. The difference between no ranks and 1 rank can be anywhere from +4 to +infinity, while the difference between 1 rank and 2 ranks is usually +1.


Muser wrote:
* Boy, I love Wands! +19 (never jam wands, always succeed at activating them)

A natural 1 always jams a wand for 24 hours. This one keeps coming up with people who UMD to use healing wands.

As to what to do with skill points on a low skill character, I firmly believe in at least 1 point in climb and swim. When a scenario calls for those checks the difference that makes can be significant. After that I try to max perception, it is the most used skill and if you've ever been in a party without a high perception you know why. Then I aim for one social skill and an in class knowledge skill. You may not be the best ever at things but you can make most checks calling for those skills and you won't get surprised that often.

Grand Lodge

Jessex wrote:
Muser wrote:
* Boy, I love Wands! +19 (never jam wands, always succeed at activating them)

A natural 1 always jams a wand for 24 hours. This one keeps coming up with people who UMD to use healing wands.

No, a natural 1 that results in a failure jams the wand. If you have a +19 or better you never risk that.

Shadow Lodge

Jessex wrote:
Muser wrote:
* Boy, I love Wands! +19 (never jam wands, always succeed at activating them)

A natural 1 always jams a wand for 24 hours. This one keeps coming up with people who UMD to use healing wands.

Incorrect, but close.

PRD wrote:
Try Again: Yes, but if you ever roll a natural 1 while attempting to activate an item and you fail, then you can't try to activate that item again for 24 hours.

A natural 1 does not automatically fail on a skill check, so if you roll a 1 and still manage to activate the wand anyways, you can continue to use the wand unaffected.

Shadow Lodge

UMD wrote:
Try Again: Yes, but if you ever roll a natural 1 while attempting to activate an item and you fail, then you can't try to activate that item again for 24 hours.

That 'and' in there is important.

Silver Crusade

Jessex wrote:
Muser wrote:
* Boy, I love Wands! +19 (never jam wands, always succeed at activating them)
A natural 1 always jams a wand for 24 hours. This one keeps coming up with people who UMD to use healing wands.

Not quite.

Use Magic Device wrote:
Try Again: Yes, but if you ever roll a natural 1 while attempting to activate an item and you fail, then you can't try to activate that item again for 24 hours.

Emphasis mine. It jams on a nat 1 only if you still don't hit the DC 20 check.

Edit: Triple Ninja action. Nice!

Shadow Lodge

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Four ninja pile-up on aisle four...

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

4 ninjas at once. Is that a new record? ^_^

Shadow Lodge

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Kalindlara wrote:
4 ninjas at once. Is that a new record? ^_^

Well, they're ninjas, so there's no way to be sure.


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Kalindlara wrote:
4 ninjas at once. Is that a new record? ^_^

There's always at least 5 but you only see one.

Which is the plan

Sczarni

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Kalindlara wrote:
4 ninjas at once. Is that a new record? ^_^

yaaar, no, lass, far from a record! the secret is in the chainshot to get more ninjas at once!

/pirate

Sovereign Court

glares at all the ninjas


My characters usually max X-1 skills and spend one skill point a level in a different skill , preferably one i have a high modifier in.
For instance my int 12 sorcerer has max ranks in Perception, Diplomacy, spellcraft and single ranks in almost all charisma based skills.

Keep an eye out for trained only skills you can but a rank in as sometimes being able to roll is enough

Sovereign Court

My first PFS PC was a paladin and at first I kept amazing people by being skilled in all kinds of things. But later on, it became harder and harder to meet DCs even on the skills in which I'd put a point. Aiding other people was still possible, but that's just not the same.

Knowledge skills in particular: the DCs just go up and up. A paladin is never going to keep up with a bard or a wizard.

Social: Diplomacy accounts for 90% of all social skill roles, Sense Motive for another 5% and the rest is varied. You might be able to Bluff your way through stuff if the GM is flexible about alternative solutions, but almost always Diplomacy is the way the author wrote the scenario. The DCs can get into the 30s at some point though so if you want to do more than Aid Another you have to take it seriously.

Climb, Swim: these skills are kind of unusual in that the DCs don't go up so much. In particular, a knotted rope is only DC 5 to climb, and that basically replaces the DC for the surface before someone put the rope there. Swimming for your life is very rare. I recommend a bit of skill and some air crystals carried just in case, to bump your odds of living to get rescues.

Opposed skills (stealth, bluff): if you want to use these, you need to max them AND gather other buffs. Bluff in particular can be used to go off the rails of a scenario if you're good at it, confident enough, and the GM is ready to roll with it.


When I build a character I have them planned out way in advance before I ever start playing them.

You should have Someway to significantly aide in battle, and the same out of battle.

Outside of battle usually involves skills.

Now what do you want to do? DO you want to the star or the guy that helps other be the star?

My halfling gives +4 bonus on an assist so I took tons of rakes in trained only skills so I can assist people. Him assisting is usually better for the party with his bonus.

Then again, if you wanna be that guy that is the star of your skill you usually need to max it. Because you maybe the guy assisting him if you don't max the skill. I am fine with that, but i know many are not.


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My big things for allocating skill points, if the build makes it at all possible :

Always able to activate a wand (UMD+19)
Take 10 for a 15 foot jump (acrobatics+5 after armor check penalty)
Take 10 to climb a tree (climb+5 after armor check penalty)
Auto-aid another for diplomacy (+9)


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Thanks for all the replies - lot of useful tips here

Scarab Sages

Heavy Armor Classes are in dire need of spreading skills to cover the basic skills impaired by armor check penalties (Swim, acrobatics, climb, and maybe a few others depending on build.) After that, concentrate.

Those basic skills are just too impaired by armor check and they will often make your character a libility in situations where one of the checks is a must. This is especially an issue at low levels.

For non-healer classes, the heal skill is very practical.

For non-magic classes Sense Motive and Appraise can be very important. Sense motive can be used to identify characters under the effects of enchantments. Appraise can Identify if items are magical (super useful if the party lacks anyone with Detect Magic..it does happen).


Concentrating can actually sort've help out. If you max out Linguistics, and are willing to burn two feats than this looks quite promising. It also helps because a party face needs to know how to talk.

This is assuming you want to burn stuff on this. It's the best way to be a party face for a fighter, because you're just swimming in feats. It tends to be a bit easier for Lore Wardens. I normally like to have higher intelligence and try to make it as applicable as possible. For example grabbing the Lore Warden archetype, or grabbing craft and focusing on that a bit.

Or you could smash stuff if you want...


My general advice is that if you enjoy skills, avoid low skill classes like the plague. Want to play a Fighter or Paladin? Consider the Ranger, Slayer, or (Avenger) Vigilante instead. Sorcerer? Try witch or Wizard instead. Cleric? Try Iquisitor or Oracle. Summomers also give you great skill options.

Pathfinder already has too many must-have skills (Perception, Diplomacy, monster related Knowledges) to freely take flavorful choices when you're on a point budget. Restricting yourself with a less utilitarian class might not be worth it.

That said, if you want to be good at a skill with a scaling difficulty (Knowledge being based on a monster's levels, Perception opposed by Stealth, Bluff opposed by Sense Motive, etc) then you want to go all-in or not at all. Adding a rank here and there for flavor or to allow aid-another can be perfectly fine (I dip skills all the time in my roster) but not on any skill that you want to be your focus.


MageHunter wrote:

Concentrating can actually sort've help out. If you max out Linguistics, and are willing to burn two feats than this looks quite promising. It also helps because a party face needs to know how to talk.

This is assuming you want to burn stuff on this. It's the best way to be a party face for a fighter, because you're just swimming in feats. It tends to be a bit easier for Lore Wardens. I normally like to have higher intelligence and try to make it as applicable as possible. For example grabbing the Lore Warden archetype, or grabbing craft and focusing on that a bit.

Or you could smash stuff if you want...

two feats or a toilet paper roll of tongues scrolls.


Talk to your DM. She might allow you to cover more ground by putting a point into a profession of some sort.

Such as
Profession (adventurer)
Profession (explorer)

Heck profession (sailor) should let you try to do things like use the stars to tell direction, stay afloat, tie knots.....

Profession (gambler)
Bluff? Slight of hand? Distraction? Sense motive?

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