Making The Best Skill Monkey


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Mostly just for fun I'm interested in learning all the best ways to boost skills and designing characters with obscenely high total +skill bonuses, either in a specific set of skills or just any skill.

For the character I made below I gave each skill equal weighting, so +1 to Perception and +1 to Profession are both worth +1 to the total despite one obviously being more useful than the other. Any bonuses to Profession or Craft only count once despite the possibility of them applying to multiple sub-skills within those skills. No consideration was given for combat viability.

Level 5 Half-Elf Empiricist Investigator, 20 point buy, 12000g budget.

Stats: 22 Int (with headband), 16 Dex, 14 Cha, 8 Wis, 7 Str/Con

Half Elf: Favored class bonus adds 1/4 to inspiration checks (+22), Skill Focus (+3) Keen Senses (+2). Probably a few more minor alternate racial trait swaps that could be made.

Empiricist: Four and a half skills made int-based.

Traits: Student of Philosophy (Bluff checks to lie and all Diplomacy checks except gather information become int-based), Precise Treatment (Heal becomes int-based and +1 trait bonus).

Gold Spent: +2 Int Headband (4000g), 35 Ioun Stones that give +1 competence bonus to every skill (7000g), Heroism Potion (750g)

Feats: Elongated Cranium: Ovoid Compression (+2 untyped bonus to all int-based skills, -1 penalty to cha and wis based skills)

Deific Obedience: Magdh (+4 untyped bonus to all int-based skills),

Dilettante (+2 to knowledge skills if 1 to 5 ranks invested)

Investigator Talents: Expanded Inspiration (5 more free inspiration use skills),

Underworld Inspiration (5 more free inspiration use skills)

Adding Everything Up

I made the slight simplification of counting Bluff as entirely int-based, even though only about half of it is due to the trait. So some numbers are slightly overstated. 21 of the investigator's skills are int-based.

Ability Scores: Int (+126), Dex (+18), Cha (+8), Wis (-2), Str (-2)
Inspiration (assuming average roll): +99
Ioun Stones: +35

Dilettante: +20
Elongated Cranium: +36
Deific Obedience (Magdh): +84

30 class skill bonuses: +90
Skill Ranks to freely* distribute: +55 (*this build assumes 1 put in each class skill, 3 in Knowledge Religion, and 2 in 4 other knowledges)
Int Headband Skill Ranks: +5

Other Minor Bonuses: Skill Focus (+3), Keen Senses (+2), Precise Treatment (+1), Trapfinding (+2), 1 FCB in skill (+1)

Total Skill Bonus: 581

Also for 5 hours a day the Investigator can use extracts to maintain Heightened Awareness (+2 competence bonus, so only +1 due to ioun stones, to all knowledge skills and perception), and for 3 hours and twenty minutes a day he can maintain Heroism using Alchemical Allocation (+2 morale bonus on all skills).

- - - - - -

On a more practical note this build could be made reasonably combat viable without even losing very much of its skill bonus. Swap out Dilettante for Power Attack, Underworld Inspiration for Quick Study, shuffle ability scores around so Int only starts at 18, and spend the ioun stone money on standard gear. After all that the skill bonus still should be nearly +500.

Anything I miss? Items, feats, traits, class dips, things that could make this build, or any other, even more insanely good at skills? I considered the Breadth of Experience feat but as a Half-Elf being 100+ years old is nearly Venerable.

I'd also like to see how other classes can be built to maximize their skills.


I have a level 12 Aasimar Bard built around Pageant of the Peacock (Act or Dance). I didn't absolutely max it out, but it is still very high with a +34 on my Perform Comedy. Further maximizations: use Perform String Instruments with the Versatile Performance, and get a masterwork instrument; switch the Circlet of Persuasion for Bracers of the Glib Entertainer. Note that you are trying to buff up the Perform skill, and not the Bluff skill, so the +4 to Bluff from Pageant itself isn't directly helpful on the intelligence-based skills.

Pageant of the Peacock summary: ability is not PFS legal; requires a standard action
Use Bluff (Charisma) in place of Intelligence checks and skills:
Knowledge [any], Appraise, Craft [any], Linguistics, Spellcraft

Benefits at level 12 [example using Comedy to get Bluff + Intimidate with Versatile Performance]:
Ranks 12 Perform (Comedy) maximized at level 12
Class Skill +3 Perform (Comedy)
Charisma +8 total Charisma of 24 (includes racial +2; headband +4)
Skill Focus (Perform[Comedy]) +6 untyped bonus
Savant (Perform[Comedy]) +2 trait bonus to 1 perform skill
Circlet of Persuasion +3 competence bonus to Charisma-based skills
---
+34 to all of:
Perform (Comedy)
Bluff
Intimidate
Knowledge [all]
Craft [all]
Appraise
Linguistics
Spellcraft
+4 circumstance bonus to Disguise [e.g. as noble]

Buffs, other:
Guidance = +1 competence bonus to 1 skill check for 1 player [does not stack with the Circlet of Persuasion or Bracers of the Glib Entertainer]
Heroism = +2 morale bonus to skill checks for 1 player
Good Hope = +2 morale bonus to skill checks for the party
Good Hope, Encouraging = +3 morale bonus to skill checks for the party
Greater Heroism = +4 morale bonus to skill checks for 1 player
Greater Heroism, Encouraging = +5 morale bonus to skill checks for 1 player
Prayer = +1 luck bonus to skill checks
Bracers of the Glib Entertainer = +5 competence bonus to Perform checks [does not stack with Circlet of Persuasion, same slot as First Aid Gloves]
Prop, Masterwork = +2 [untyped] bonus to Perform (Comedy)
Pathfinder Chronicles Volume 14 = +2 circumstance bonus to Perform (Comedy) requiring 1d4 rounds to activate [PFS Primer, page 27]
Pageant of the Peacock = +4 circumstance bonus to Bluff [not useful for Performs using Versatile Performance in Hero Lab]

Costs:
Action Economy:
Knowledge checks are usually free actions; Pageant of the Peacock requires 1 standard action.
May not be able to use other performances simultaneously, depending on GM and FAQ.
Bardic Performance rounds:
1 performance round used for 10 minutes of checks
Other:
2nd level spell known
Skill Ranks or Gold Pieces:
Perform (Comedy) skill ranks 12 skill ranks [Performance 1 needed anyway for Versatile Performance]
Perform (Act or Dance) skill ranks 4 skill ranks [Performance 2 needed anyway for Versatile Performance]
Headband of Alluring Charisma +2 4,000 gp [great magic item anyway to boost all skills, spells/day, and save DC's]
Circlet of Persuasion = 4,500 gp [great magic item anyway to boost all Charisma skills] OR
Bracers of the Glib Entertainer = 7,900 gp [great magic item anyway to boost all performance skills]
Pathfinder Chronicles Volume 14 = 150 gp


Someone else may have done a better min-max of this, and I could write up a level 5 version with all the ability scores + skills, and get it under the 12,000 gold limit, perhaps tomorrow.

So, the level 5 build will give away 7 skill ranks, but add back 3 for using the gloves over the circlet and 2 for getting a masterwork instrument. And keep in mind the above list is just the 2 perform skills and all the benefits from Pageant; it is not a complete list of all skills (it's just from the 12 ranks in Comedy and 4 ranks in Dance).


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
JoeElf wrote:
Further maximizations: use Perform String Instruments with the Versatile Performance, and get a masterwork instrument;

This is questionable.

The Masterwork Instrument gives a bonus to Perform Checks involving its use. Are you really strumming along on it when doing your Bluff or Diplomacy check?


Conflicting posts from various Paizo persons/sites:
http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2n978?Masterwork-Tools-for-all-skills#4
Mark Moreland: "Yes, you need to actively use any tool. So passive checks wouldn't benefit from the use of a masterwork tool."

https://sites.google.com/site/pathfinderogc/extras/pathfinder-faq#TOC-Versa tile-Performance
"Unless errata is added, the Bard does not need to "Perform" to get the listed bonus, as it is not stated as a requirement anywhere in Versatile Performance."

Hero Lab [admittedly not a perfect product] applies all the bonuses for the Perform skill and subs that total for the other 2 skills, and that includes the masterwork tool bonus.

Since my bard is in a home game, and we're all using Hero Lab, getting the MW bonus on the 3 skills for 1 perform works fine for me. But if I were running a bard in PFS, I agree that the masterwork bonus would apply on the Perform skill when you roll it [day job checks and countersong/distraction], and not on the versatile skills [based on the "passive checks" quote from Mark above].


The level 5 build of my bard will give away 7 skill ranks [vs. my level 12 build], but add back only 2 for using the gloves (+5) over the circlet (+3) and 0 for getting a masterwork instrument.

The gloves though do include Glibness for a magical +20 to bluff a lie, and the Pageant of the Peacock magically makes it so that your bluff check on an Intelligence skill is true. So, at 10 min/level that's quite a skill boost, but you would have had to standard action activate Pageant in round 1 and standard action activate Glibness in round 2.


Multiclass a little so that all skills become Class Skills for you. Humans make good Skill Monkeys: +1 Sill POint/level.

Rogues get more Skill Points than anybody. Inquisitors get a lot of Skill Points. A little off-the-reservation, but the d20 Class with more skill points that I know of is the Smart Class from D20 Modern with 9 points/level.

There is the Flotsam Subdomain of Water which also lets you pull out of your [ahem, canteen] almost any kind of item you want, only broken.

There is a lovely Halfling Feat, Well-Preapared that gives you a chance of having just happening to have packed just the right tool for any random job that comes up on your adventure.

There are some spell dweomers to consider:

Ant Haul and Lighten Object
Mending
Prestidigitation
Make Whole
Fabricate
Wall of---

Some magic items that were left out:

Feather Tokens
Ioun Torch
Traveller's Anytool
Iron Spike of Safe Passage
Stone of Alarm
All-Tools Vest
Escape Ladder
Stubborn Nail
Iron Rope
Muleback Cords
Mallet of Building
Eversmoking Bottle
Caudron of Brewing, Elven Boots, Rope of Climbing, Chime of Opening
Decanter of Endless Water
Wondrous Pigments

and the Crown Jewel of any skill monkey's collection: the Lyre of Building!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Have you seen the Phantom Thief rogue archetype? More skill unlocks and Skill Focuses than you can shake a stick at.


true professional rogue gets a base 10 skill points, there are 2 feats that get 1 skill point per level, get human race, with 20 base int, that's 18 base skill points per level right there add some more options and vmc bard for half level to knowledge checks

The Exchange

I got to the 35 ioun stones and LOLed at the mental image - 'Dude, where's your face?' :)


JoeElf wrote:
Pageant of the Peacock Build

Impressive build. Since pageant of the peacock operates on int-based skills, a 2 level dip in Empiricist Investigator would allow you to boost some of the most useful skills in the game (Perception, Disable Device, Sense Motive, UMD, and the gather information part of Diplomacy).

Shame Pageant of the Peacock isn't PFS legal as that's all I'm playing right now.

ProfPotts wrote:
I got to the 35 ioun stones and LOLed at the mental image - 'Dude, where's your face?' :)

Yeah that would be pretty ridiculous. Alternatively with enough downtime you can implant all the ioun stones in your body. Then you can be more ioun stone than man haha.


I played around with a skill god build a few weeks back out of boredom. I went with Pageant of the Peacock (which doesn't help you for PFS) but thought why not share anyway? I took it to 20 but didn't fully gear it.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Pathfinder_RPG/comments/7nddvy/ways_to_take_10_on_ perform_checks_preferably_as_a

It ended with the ability to always get 70 on most skills in the game.


I did a level 5 Bard build with Pageant of the Peacock (swap for a level 2 spell)

Special Attacks: bardic performance 14 rounds/day (countersong, distraction, fascinate [DC 14], inspire competence +2, inspire courage +2)
Bard Spells Known (CL 5th; concentration +7):
2nd (3/day)— fox's cunning , heroism
1st (5/day)—borrow skill APG (DC 13), expeditious retreat, tears to wine (DC 13), timely inspiration APG (DC 13)
0 (at will)— detect magic, ghost sound (DC 12), mage hand, mending, prestidigitation, summon instrument

————— Statistics —————
Str 10, Dex 12, Con 6, Int 22, Wis 10, Cha 15 Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 14

Feats: Breadth Of Experience [APG], Prodigy [UM] [perform strings; perform dance], Skill Focus (Perform [string instruments])
Traits: barroom talespinner [perform strings], clever wordplay [perform strings]
Skills: Appraise +10, Bluff +24, Craft (alchemy) +12, Craft (armor) +12, Craft (baskets) +12, Craft (blacksmith) +12, Craft (boneworking) +12, Craft (bookbinding) +12, Craft (bows) +12, Craft (calligraphy) +12, Craft (carpentry) +12, Craft (clockwork) +12, Craft (cloth) +12, Craft (clothing) +12, Craft (firearms) +12, Craft (gemcutting) +12, Craft (glass) +12, Craft (jewelry) +12, Craft (leather) +12, Craft (locks) +12, Craft (mapmaking) +12, Craft (mechanical) +12, Craft (musical instruments) +12, Craft (painting) +12, Craft (poison) +12, Craft (pottery) +12, Craft (rope) +12, Craft (sculpture) +12, Craft (ships) +12, Craft (shoes) +12, Craft (siege engines) +12, Craft (stonemasonry) +12, Craft (tattoo) +12, Craft (traps) +12, Craft (weapons) +12, Diplomacy +24, Disguise +5, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (arcana) +14, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +14, Knowledge (engineering) +14, Knowledge (geography) +14, Knowledge (history) +14, Knowledge (local) +14, Knowledge (nature) +14, Knowledge (nobility) +14, Knowledge (planes) +14, Knowledge (religion) +14, Linguistics +10, Perception +6, Perform (act) +9, Perform (comedy) +9, Perform (dance) +14, Perform (keyboard instruments) +9, Perform (oratory) +9, Perform (percussion instruments) +9, Perform (sing) +9, Perform (string instruments) +24, Perform (wind instruments) +9, Profession [none trained], Spellcraft +10 (+12 to identify magic item properties), Use Magic Device +9;

Grand Total: 747 skills total before spell boosts

Racial Modifiers +2 Perception, +2 Spellcraft to identify magic item properties

Languages: Aquan, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Elven, Goblin, Ignan, Orc, Sylvan

SQ: bardic knowledge +2, elven magic, lore master 1/day, masterpieces (pageant of the peacock), versatile performance (perform strings)

Gear: circlet of persuasion , cracked magenta prism ioun stone (perform strings), headband of vast intelligence +2 (perform strings), traveler's any-tool UE, masterwork Guitar, and 2,350 gp remaining


Just learned that Magdh's Deific Obedience was toned down in the Campaign Clarifications. You get to choose three intelligence-based skills to increase by +4, changeable each time you perform the obedience. That's a lot worse, so I'd change my recommendation for that feat to Irori's Deific Obedience for +4 to all knowledge skills. My build loses 44 skill bonus from that modification.


Tears To Wine will give you +2 Enhancement bonus to Int and Wis based skills. And higher pluses at higher caster levels.

Threefold Aspect can make it seem like you are old, and gain the benefits to Int from age. [Up to +4 Enhancement on Int & Wis, but not stacking with the headband.]

Heroism and the like can give bonuses.

Aid another can give bonuses.

/cevah


I did a level 5 Bard build with Pageant of the Peacock (swap for a level 2 spell)

Feats: Breadth Of Experience [APG], Prodigy [UM] [perform strings; perform dance], Skill Focus (Perform [string instruments])
Traits: barroom talespinner [perform strings], clever wordplay [perform strings]
Skills with Pageant of the Peacock running: Appraise +24, Bluff +24, Craft (all) +24 * whatever, Diplomacy +24, Disguise +5, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (all) +24 * 10, Linguistics +24, Perception +6, Perform (act) +9, Perform (comedy) +9, Perform (dance) +14, Perform (keyboard instruments) +9, Perform (oratory) +9, Perform (percussion instruments) +9, Perform (sing) +9, Perform (string instruments) +24, Perform (wind instruments) +9, Profession [none trained], Spellcraft +24, Use Magic Device +9

[So, take that 747 number I had previously, and the activation of Pageant of the Peacock will add 100 just for the Knowledge boosts (+10 vs. before, across 10 knowledges), and even more for the boost to Crafts, toss on Appraise, Linguistics, and Spellcraft boosts, and you easily hit 1000+].

Silver Crusade

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To be the best skill monkey you need to be a vanara :)

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