Skill Calculations for Monsters


Rules Questions


So I'm trying to understand the way skill bonuses are calculated for monsters to understand if it differs at all to NPCs and PCs. Currently I'm trying to work out how the skill bonuses for a Bugbear calculate, just as an example and also because I'm advancing one with a Half-Fiend Template (everything else has been calculated already).

A standard Bugbear has 3HD and an Int modifier of 0 for a total of 6 skill ranks (2/HD for Humanoid creatures). Its stat block lists Intimidate +7, Perception +8, and Stealth +10. Subtracting the +4 racial bonuses to Intimidate/Stealth and +1 Dex bonus to Stealth leaves me with +3 Intimidate, +8 Perception, and +5 Stealth. Subtracting the feat bonuses to Intimidate and Perception results in +0 Intimidate, +5 Perception, and +5 Stealth, and Intimidate goes down to -1 because of the Cha penalty. Finally, removing the class skill bonus from perception and stealth granted by Stalker (Ex) leaves me with -1 Intimidate, +2 Perception, and +2 Stealth.

If my calculations are correct (which they might not be), the remaining points should come exclusively from skill ranks - balancing all three to 0 requires only 5, meaning one skill rank goes unused. Is there something I'm missing, or do monsters just have different rules I'm not aware of?

Sorry for the arbitrary question - I just get curious about the finer rules and like to know how things are calculated.


skill points gained are determined by type, class, and Int bonus(if any) per hit die or level, remember the minimum is 1 per HD or Level.

class skills (+3) are also determined by type, class, or possibly race.
IF the creatures Int score is less than 3 you are stuck with a small list of skills to choose from(animals).

Racial bonuses tend to be just flat out bonuses often with conditions, such as +4 in high grass.

Size has modifiers.

The game is chintzy with armor and weapon proficiencies. You generally only get what the type lists AND what's in the monster entry. I'm mentioning this as Feats may play a role in this and skills, so it's a balancing game.

that's it.

so bugbear with no class.
yep, 3HD -> 6 skl pts.
Intmd +7 (0cls -1abil, +0sz, +4race, +3feat{str})=1rnk
Percp +8 (+3cls +0abil +0sz, +0race, +3feat) =2rnk
Stlth +10 (+3cls +1abil +0sz, +4race, +0feat) =2rnk
yep - he's got 1 skl pt left... lol... welcome to editing.
to keep it simple I'd agree with the next poster and just add it to Intimidate.
With "The following are class skills for humanoids without a character class: Climb, Craft, Handle Animal, Heal, Profession, Ride, and Survival. Humanoids with both a character class and racial HD add these skills to their list of class skills."
you could put it in Survival. That's something everybody needs and the byproduct is the Bug Scouts.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yes, it appears the Bugbear has one unused skill rank. Slight errors in skill ranks are not uncommon in the bestiary, and if you reverse-engineer monsters you'll find quite a few that are off slightly in either direction. It's not a huge deal in a practical sense, though I can understand it would cause confusion for someone learning the rules.

As someone who designs his own monsters and falling into these pitfalls myself, I'd be willing to wager what happened in this case: the original draft bugbear probably had 15 strength (like the 3.5 bugbear it's based on) but a later revision increased that to 16 strength. Whoever made that revision forget that Intimidating Prowess adds strength bonus to Intimidate, short-changing the Bugbear one skill point. No one ever noticed the error before it made it to print, and it's too minor to errata, so it remains to this day. Feel free to give your bugbears 1 extra point to intimidate.


The rules are the same for monsters, but they are not always perfectly implemented. I agree that bugbears seem to be missing a skill rank. Drop it into Lore(bugbears) and call it a day?

Shadow Lodge

Chalk it up to the fallibility of humans, there's a lot of monsters in all those books published, it's not surprising that whoever wrote them messed up sometimes. If you look at the d20pfsrd site, they sometimes have side notes on bestiary entries pointing out errors and what they think are good fixes.


Thanks for your responses everybody - considering your comments I can see how there would be minor errors like this. In reality it's not a huge deal to play, but knowing that I was at least on the right track with my calculations is reassuring. I guess I just happened to pick a monster with a slight miscalculation as an example!


-1 acp to stealth for the light shield - 3 ranks stealth

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Rules Questions / Skill Calculations for Monsters All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.