The skills listed in the Sample Skills Table are described
here and are arranged alphabetically for your convenience. Roll skill rolls against the ability under which these skills were
listed in the table.
The character with this skill can perform impressive acrobatic feats, balance on taut ropes and wires, etc. A successful skill
roll is required to perform any acrobatic feat; failure may result in the character falling. A successful roll allows a character
to reduce the effective height of a fall by 10'. A DM can give an acrobatic character a +2 to save vs. mechanical traps where
agility would help—such as tilting floors and pit traps. Many entertainers, thieves, and nimble warriors have this skill.
This skill is not the equal of a mystic's acrobatics ability, but the mystic's special ability can be presumed to include
this skill; a mystic does not have to purchase the acrobatics skill.
This is the ability to make one's living as a stage actor, but it also imparts the ability to assume a different personality
or to show false emotions. Successful use of this skill allows a character to tell convincing lies over a limited period of
This skill provides the ability to recognize and identify common alchemical substances, potions, and poisons. Success with
this skill will allow a character to create an antidote potion for one specific type of poison—if the DM says that this
is possible in his campaign.
Successful uses of this skill allow the character to draw a weapon without losing any time, to avoid the effects of surprise,
and to wake up at the slightest out-of-place noise.
Magics: This skill gives a character basic familiarity with magics that are not related to standard spellcasting.
It includes knowing many magical abilities of well-known Prime Plane and extraplanar monsters and of Immortal beings. The
DM defines what types of knowledge this skill provides in his or her campaign.
Training (choose type): The character knows how to raise, train, and care for one type of animal. The animal can
be taught some simple tricks or simple orders. A character who wants to train two or more different animal types must choose
this skill more than once—Horse Training is one skill, Dog Training is another.
However, a horse trainer can train any sort of natural
horse or pony and a dog trainer can train any breed of dog. Any culture that features a strong bond with some animal type
will have many members with the corresponding Animal Training skill.
This is the skill of creating art. There are several different types of Art skill (painting, sculpture, woodcarving, mosaic,
etc.). The player must specify one sort of art his character practices; a character can take the skill several times and be
proficient in several different forms of art. Art skill can be used to improve the reaction of NPCs to the party; if the artist
can present an NPC with a portrait or sculpture of that person (and make his Art roll), the artist receives a + 2 to reaction.
The player can choose for his character's Art skill to be based on Wisdom instead of Intelligence.
A character must have this skill if he is to command the crew of a piece of artillery (catapult or trebuchet). He does not
have to make his skill roll with each shot; merely knowing the skill is enough. The DM can call on him to make his skill roll
each time the character or the crew aims at a new target; the skill allows the character to make all pertinent calculations
of trajectory, distance, and throw weight.
This skill can alternatively allow the character to oversee
the building and repair of all varieties of siege equipment. The character cannot know both how to build and how to effectively
operate artillery weapons unless he takes the skill twice.
A successful skill roll allows a character to get the best deal available for goods, services, or information. It's not usually
possible for a character to bargain someone into giving him very much for nothing.
Shooting: This skill is the ability to shoot at a target without being able to see it; it is typically used when
the character is in darkness or when the target is outside the range of his sight or infravision. The character must be able
to hear the target so that its position can be evaluated.
If the character makes his skill check, he can then fire
at the target; he needs an attack roll to hit the target, but the character doesn't suffer the normal darkness penalties.
With a successful use of this skill, the character can resist the effects of any magical fear. An NPC using this skill successfully
can ignore the results of morale checks or of skills such as Intimidation.
This is an ability to always know where one is while exploring underground caves, cavern complexes, rivers, etc. A character
with this skill will automatically know the route he has taken to get where he is (if he was conscious all the time). Many
dwarves have this skill.
The Caving skill can also be used in a maze. Skill checks
are necessary when the character has become disoriented. If he is forced to flee for a long stretch, he must make a skill
check to keep from being lost. (Characters without this skill automatically become lost in such a situation.)
(choose specific Immortal): A character with this skill knows how to honor an Immortal through ritual and ceremony;
the skill allows a cleric character to perform normal rituals of his clerical order and could even (if the DM allows) permit
a character to gain an Immortal's attention (through devout prayer, fasting, sacrifice of possessions, etc.). This skill includes
knowing the code of behavior and the rituals pleasing to the Immortal.
In earlier D&DŽ game products, this skill was often
referred to as "Honor (specific immortal)."
This is the skill of winning at gambling games by cheating—by dealing cards from the bottom of the deck, etc. The cheating
character should make his Cheating skill roll; each character he plays with can make one skill roll (Cheating at the normal
level, Gambling at a - 1 penalty, or a base Intelligence check at a -4 penalty, whichever is best) against the character's
cheating roll. If one or more of the other players makes his roll lower than the cheater does (see "Using Skills Against Each
Other" in this chapter), he detects the cheating. This skill is limited to characters of Chaotic alignment.
(choose type): The character knows one type of craft; examples include armor-making, bow-making, tattooing, leatherworking,
smithing, weapon-making, etc. The character must choose which one type of craft the skill pertains to; of course, he can spend
more slots and have several types of craft skills.
The character can make his living at this profession and,
with a successful roll, make expert opinions on subjects pertaining to his skill.
Sense: A successful skill roll means that the character can detect an imminent danger. The character will not know
the nature or source of the danger. The DM, not the player, makes the skill roll, and he or she should not tell the player
that a roll has been made unless the roll is a success (and there is danger present).
This is the ability to persuade a listener of the "truth" and sincerity of what the speaker is saying, despite the fact that the skill user is lying through his teeth.
Successful use of this skill causes an NPC to believe an untrue
statement or to accept a misleading statement as honest and sincere. Failure indicates that the character sounds unconvincing. This
skill cannot be used on player characters.
Deception: This is the ability to recognize deceptive behavior in an NPC. This does
not reveal the truth or falsehood of specific statements, the motivations
of the speaker, or the exact nature of the deception. This skill only warns the
character to distrust the deceptive NPC. The DM makes the skill roll for the character, informing
him of the result. The skill does not work on
This is the ability to make a character look like someone else. A successful Disguise check is required for each character or group of
characters that the disguised character is trying to fool with his disguise. The target that the disguised character is trying to fool
must make a Wisdom roll against the Disguise roll in order to penetrate
the disguise (see "Using Skills Against Each Other" at the end of this chapter).
This skill gives the character the ability to perform a tiring task for long periods of time. A successful check means that the character is able to run (or perform some
demanding task) for an hour without collapsing. The character must make
another check each hour he performs the task, with a cumulative penalty of +1 for
each extra hour. Once the character has completed his task or fails a skill roll and collapses,
he must rest for three times the amount of time he was performing that
This is the skill of planning, designing, and building large constructions such as houses, bridges, dams, and so forth. Unless built under the eye of a trained engineer,
a large structure—whether built by manpower and materials or pure
magic—will inevitably collapse or suffer some other calamity. Engineering skill can also be used to evaluate constructions the party is passing through or over: what
shape they're in, when and by whom they were built, and so on.
The character is often able to get loose when tied or locked up. A successful skill roll means that the character is able to get rid of his ties. Another roll is needed to
open a locked door. The DM can apply bonuses and penalties to the check
based on the quality of the ropes and knots, the intricacy of the lock, the lack of lockpicking tools, etc.
This is the ability to start a fire without a tinderbox. A character with a tinderbox and this skill is able to start fires automatically
(no roll necessary) in ordinary conditions. If the character is trying to build a fire without a tinderbox, he will eventually succeed;
he must make a 1d6 roll each round, and on a 1 or 2 he ignites the fire.
If the character is trying to build
a fire in adverse conditions (during high winds or using wet wood), he must make a skill check with penalties assigned by the DM.
Tasting: This is the ability to taste food and water to see if they have spoiled. Thus
the character can avoid suffering from food poisoning by carefully tasting
his food first. This ability will not detect poisons added to a dish unless the DM
determines that the poison has a taste (in which case it may be too late anyway).
This is the ability to win money in games of skill (competitive card games, for example) and betting. This involves honest games (cheating is covered elsewhere), and a successful
check increases the character's chances for winning money at the games.
This is the ability to treat wounds and diagnose illnesses among humans and demihumans. A successful skill roll allows a character to restore 1d3 hit points to a wounded
character. (A related skill, Veterinary Healing, allows similar treatment
of animals and monsters.) This skill cannot be used on a wounded character more
than once for the same set of wounds. If the character receives new wounds, Healing skill can be applied against the new wounds. The skill is rolled against a set of
wounds, not individually against each injury. (The term "set of wounds" usually refers to all the
hit points lost by a character in a single combat situation.) If a healer
rolls a natural 20 when using this skill, he accidentally inflicts 1d3 points of damage to the patient, and he may not treat that set of wounds again. Successful
skill rolls allow the healer to diagnose type of illness. In addition, a roll made by 5 or more will allow the character to determine whether an illness is natural or magically
This is the ability to locate, stalk, and hunt large and small game with the bow, sling, or spear. Successful use of this skill gives the character a +1 to hit with
a bow, sling, or spear against an unaware target in a peaceful outdoor
setting; the skill is not usable in most combat situations. The character
can automatically supply himself with food over a long period of time if he is in
a fairly fertile area and has a missile weapon, spear, or javelin. In areas not normally rich in
game he must make a skill roll and receive penalties to that roll (penalties
determined by the DM). If he is trying to supply more than just himself,
he must make a skill roll if he is supplying one other person, and he takes a - 1 penalty for each additional person after the first he is trying to supply. He must roll each
day, and failure indicates that he has not found enough food to feed
everyone that day. A character with the Hunting skill forages automatically in
fertile areas (even when on the move) and uses his Hunting skill roll to determine how successful he is during full days spent in search of game.
This is the ability to bully nonplayer characters into doing what the player character
wants them to do. Success means that NPCs are intimidated into doing what the character wants. This skill cannot be used against PCs. NPCs who have this skill used upon
them are unlikely to ever become friends with the intimidating player
character. Use of this skill means that the character is either implicitly
or explicitly threatening the target with violence or other dire consequences if the
target doesn't comply. For this reason, Intimidation works best against low-level characters. It does not work at all on player characters or on NPCs of 5th level or higher. The
DM can also, at his or her option, decide that it does not work on someone
who is obviously in a much stronger position than the character using the skill.
For example, a king surrounded by elite guards, even if he himself is a 1st level character, is unlikely to feel threatened.
(choose type): The character is an expert in one field of study such as the culture
or geography of an area, history, legends, theology, etc. A character
can usually make his living by teaching his skill or acting as an expert on the subject;
with a successful roll, he can make expert commentary on information relating to his skill. The character taking this skill must specif what sort of knowledge he is acquiring.
A character can select multiple Knowledge skills, using one for each
different field of study.
The character is very accomplished at one type of labor such as bricklaying, farming, mining, stonecutting, etc. The character can make his living with the skill. With
a successful roll, he can interpret information in light of his occupation.
A character must specify which type of labor he knows, and he can select multiple Labor skills to be proficient in many types of jobs.
(choose type): See "Optional Rule for Languages," later in this chapter.
and Justice: This is the knowledge of the laws and judicial system of one culture or
country; characters who wish to be a judge or advocate (lawyer) must
select this skill. Each empire or nation has its own codes, so characters who wish
to be conversant in different nations' codes should choose this skill for each set of laws they
wish to study.
Successful use of this skill adds + 1 to the morale of any NPCs under the character's control. It can also be used to convince other NPCs to follow the character's commands.
The DM can decide that any NPC who has a good reason nor to follow the
leader is automatically successful at resisting this skill. Unlike Intimidation, Leadership
does not bully, antagonize, or make enemies of the NPCs it is used upon.
Reading: To use this skill, the character must be able to see the lips of the target
person or creature and understand the language being spoken. A successful
check allows a character to "overhear" the conversation; if the lip reader understands
the language being spoken, he ca understand the speakers' words. The distance to the
target and the available light should be taken into account—the DM should apply skill roll
penalties for difficult situations.
Engineering: This is the ability to recognize the basic principles of some unfamiliar
magical devices. It does not include practical training in design or
fabrication of magical artifacts. It does allow the character to recognize most
common magical items with a successful skill roll. It doesn't allow a character to recognize uncommon magical items or to distinguish trapped or cursed items from safe ones.
(Cartography): If a character has this skill, he can understand and make maps even if
he cannot read and write. The skill allows the character to comprehend
simple maps without a skill roll; the character should make skill rolls to interpret
or draft complicated layouts or to map an area by memory. A character does not have to have this skill in order to map a dungeon as the
characters explore it. A character who can map but not read obviously cannot understand the words on a map.
Tactics: This skill allows a character to interpret the movement of enemy forces and
to move his own forces better. When using this skill, the player (not
the character) first examines the situation and decides what he thinks is right—what
he thinks the enemy is doing or how he should set up his units. The
DM, not the player, rolls the character's Military Tactics skill. On a successful roll, the DM will truthfully tell the player whether he has calculated correctly; if he has
not calculated correctly but the roll was successful, the DM should offer
some advice on how the player should set up his forces. If the roll is a failure, the DM should tell the player his character cannot interpret the enemy troop movements well
enough to use them to his advantage. The success of the roll determines
bonuses or penalties for the troops during mass combat.
This is the ability to mimic animal noises and foreign-language accents. This is a very useful skill in the wilderness especially. When characters use recognition codes
or signals that imitate the screech of a hoot owl or a noise from some
other animal, this skill allows them to mimic those noises convincingly so that enemy listeners are not automatically tipped off that there are spies in the area.
This does not replace a thief's special climbing ability; it is the skill of mountain-climbing
with the use of ropes, pitons, and other climbing gear. A character who has
Mountaineering skill can use such gear to climb difficult mountain and cliff faces and can rig lines to enable nonclimbers to tackle those faces as well.
This skill is experience with heavy lifting and hard labor. The character can direct groups of laborers so that their efforts are the most effective possible. This character
understands the use of simple machinery such as wedges, pulleys, and
levers. With a successful skill check, the character receives a + 2 bonus on Strength
rolls for tasks such as opening doors.
(choose type): This skill allows a character to play one group of related instruments
in a skilled manner. The player chooses the group of instruments that
his character knows, and the character can take the skill several times in order to
know multiple instrument groups. Groups include stringed instruments, brass, percussion, woodwinds, etc. This skill is often taken in conjunction with the Singing skill.
This skill, though similar to Ceremony (above), is taken by nonclerics. This skill allows the character to instinctively know the best course of action to please the
Immortals i general. A successful skill roll, for example,
means that the character recognizes an idol dedicated to an Immortal and that the characters should give it its due respects.
Lore: This skill is the knowledge of common plant and animal life forms of one specific
terrain: desert, forest, jungle, mountain/ hill, open sea, plains, or
arctic. The character can gain several Nature Lore skills by spending one skill
slot for each different terrain he learns. This skill gives the character knowledge of such things as edible and poisonous plants, healing herbs, and signs of unnatural
danger (such as unusual quiet, absence of normal plant or animal life,
atypical animal behavior, etc.). When the character uses this skill in his home territory,
he receives a - 2 bonus to the die rolled for the skill check. When he uses it in territory very similar to his home, he receives no bonus. The less it resembles his own home
territory, the greater the penalty he will receive, up to a +4.
By taking directions from the position of the sun and the stars (or of whatever atmospheric phenomena are appropriate in your campaign), the character can always know roughly where he is. Successful skill rolls, wit positive or negative modifiers for
the character's distance from his home territory and familiarity with
his surroundings, will tell the character more precisely where he is.
This is the ability to persuade NPCs of your character's honesty and sincerity. This
isn't a liar's skill; the speaker must believe the truth of what he says. Successful use of the
skill means the listener believes what the speaker tells him. It does
not mean that the listener will agree to actions proposed by the speaker. The DM
can assign modifiers from + 1 to + 8 to the skill roll if the audience is hostile. This is a good
skill for diplomats and negotiators to have.
(choose type): This is the equivalent of the Riding skill but applies to sailing vessels.
(It can also apply to large flying vessels such as aerial ships and
flying castles, if such things are present in a campaign. The use of magical items
such as flying carpets and flying brooms does not require the Piloting skill.) A character must use a different category of Piloting
for each different type of vessel, as defined in the Piloting Skill: Types
of Vessels Table. As such, he will need to spend more than one skill to pilot more than one type of vessel.
Geography: This skill gives the character a general knowledge of the Prime, inner, outer,
Astral, and Ethereal Planes as described elsewhere in this book. This
skill includes knowledge of techniques of travel among the planes and
common inhabitants of known planes.
The character is accomplished at one type of nonlabor profession such as politics, cooking, estate management, horse grooming, scribing (the character must be literate),
etc. The character can make his living with his skill, and (with a successful
roll) make expert commentary on subjects pertaining to his skill. The player must
indicate which specific profession his character knows; a character can buy several different Profession skills.
Draw: A successful skill check with this skill allows the character to nock and fire
an arrow with a + 2 bonus to individual initiative.
(choose type): This skill includes the basic care and feeding of a riding animal and
the ability to control it under difficult circumstances. Riding rolls
are required if a character is trying to use a weapon from the back of a riding animal;
failure means that the mount is moving too much for the character to use the weapon. Each Riding skill allows the character to ride one type of animal; if a character
wishes to know how to ride two different types of beasts, he must buy
two different Riding skills. Horses constitute one type of animal; giant eagles constitute another. When a character uses his Riding skill on the wrong
animal (for example, when a horse rider tries to ride a camel), he suffers a +4 to his Riding rolls. When a character with no Riding skill at all tries to ride an animal, he must
make a Dexterity check at a +8 penalty to his die roll. However, a character
doesn't have to make the
success roll except in difficult situations, such as when the animal is spooked. Otherwise, he can stay on the animal's back without difficulty.
(choose type): The character is an expert in one branch of scientific study such as
astronomy, geology, metallurgy, etc. Characters with this skill can
make their living with it, usually as specialists in large cities. The DM should not
allow this skill to characters belonging to more primitive cultures, but it is entirely appropriat
to characters from highly civilized areas of the world. The player must
indicate which branch of science his character has mastered; a character
can buy multiple Science skills to know multiple disciplines.
This is the skill of designing and building ships. It allows a character to supervise the construction of professional-quality ships, whether they are made by muscle or
by magic. The Shipbuilding skill will also let characters evaluate the
ships they encounter, determine who built them and when, etc.
(choose type): Successful use of this skill allows the character to leave messages that
can only be understood by another Signaling specialist of the same culture,
trade guild, military force, or "school." For instance, one dwarf character
with the Signaling skill could pile rocks into a cluster; it would communicate nothing to most characters, but another dwarf character with Signaling would recognize it as
a signal and be able to interpret its meaning When a character takes
a Signaling skill, he must specify the type and culture of signals that he
will be studying and he must have the opportunity to learn such signals. Appropriate types of signals include military trumpet signals, naval
flag signals, smoke signals, drum signals, etc.
This is the ability to sing in a skilled manner; a character can make his living with this skill and (if he is good enough) can become a famous entertainer or bard.
This is the skill of building traps to capture animals, monsters, and unwanted visitors. A successful skill roll means the trap functions properly. The DM can assign modifiers
to the skill roll based on the mount of time the character had to set
up the trap, the availability of materials, etc.
(choose terrain): This is similar to the thief's Move Silently ability, with some important
differences. The character taking the Stealth skill must choose one
type of terrain in which the skill works from the following list: city/ outdoors,
indoors/caves, forest/jungle, plains, desert, arctic, and mountains/hills. The skill only works in that type of terrain. (However, the character could conceivably spend seven
slots, one for each type of Stealth skill.) City/Outdoors is used in
the streets, in trashstrewn alleyways, on rooftops, and in similar urban environments.
Indoors/Caves is used in dungeons and catacombs, in caverns and caves, and
in most enclosed spaces. The other terrain types are self-explanatory. Humans,
demihumans, and humanoids can take the Stealth skill. The character will move very
quietly in the terrains for which he has the skill. When he is trying to sneak up on someone or when there is a chance that he will be heard, he must make his skill check. If
the DM doesn't want him to know that the DM can make the skill check
This is the ability to captivate an audience when telling stories. The character can earn his living as a teller of stories; if he also has Knowledge skills of such things
as history, he can be a storyteller of history.
(choose terrain): This skill allows the character to easily find food (especially vegetables
and fruits), shelter, and water in a single type of terrain, selected
from one of the following: desert, forest/jungle, mountain/hill, open sea,
plains, arctic. Desert Survival doesn't give the character the ability to survive in the forest;
he must also take Forest Survival for that. A character with the Survival
skill forages automatically in fertile areas, even when on the move.
If he is trying to supply more than just himself, he must make a skill check at a + 1 penalty to his die roll for each additional person that he is trying to supply. He must roll
each day, and failure indicates that he has not found enough food for
everyone he is trying to supply.
The character can follow tracks. The DM is free to increase or penalize the chance of success depending on the circumstances (age of the tracks, type of terrain, number
of tracks being followed, and so forth). This skill also allows a character
to track a character, monster, etc. (or hide his own tracks).
Recent track (within an hour) +1
Old track (over 6 hours) -1
Very old track (24 hours) -3
Elf level 1-3 -1
Elf level 7-10 +1
Elf 800,000+ XP +2
Elf raised in elven forest nation +1
Healing: This is the same as Healing (above), but this skill pertains to creatures that are neither humans nor demihumans—in other words, nonhumans, monsters,
normal animals, and so forth. A character can take this skill in one
of two ways: 1) as a General Veterinary Healing skill, which means that
he makes his roll with a + 1 penalty for every type of creature he treats; or 2) as
a Specialized Veterinary Healing skill that pertains to one class of creatures (for example, equines). The character with a Specialized Veterinary Healing skill takes no penalty
when treating the creatures that are his specialty, but he takes a +
2 penalty with all other types of creatures. (A character could take the skill twice, one General and one Specialized; he would have his listed roll for the creatures that
were his specialty and only have a + 1 penalty when treating all other
creatures.) A character with Veterinary Healing skill trying to treat a human or demihuman rolls at a + 3 penalty.
In wrestling combat, a successful roll will give the character a + 1 to his wrestling rating (see the "Unarmed Combat" rules in Chapter 8). Higher skill scores give higher
bonuses, so a character with Wrestling +1 would
receive a + 2 bonus, and so on.