House of the Magus
Special Skill Checks
Skill Exploits, Stunts, and other New uses.
Analyze Treasure Hoard: You can also use this check to determine the most valuable-looking item in a treasure hoard. The DC of this check is generally 20, but can increase to as high as 30 for a particularly large hoard.
Flawless Appraisal (exploit) : Increase the DC by +5 to accept this challenge. If successful, you estimate the item’s value with perfect accuracy, and in addition you notice some overlooked detail— a hidden code word, a maker’s mark or owner’s mark, a valuable gem hidden amongst a multitude of rhinestones. As a result of your obscure knowledge, you gain a +2 competence bonus to any other skill checks involving this item— whether haggling to buy or sell, attempting to activate or identify the item, etc.
Quick Appraisal (exploit) : You can try to appraise an item more quickly than normal. If you increase the DC by 5, you can make an Appraise check as full- round action.
Find Weak Point: As a full-round action, make an Appraise check (DC 20) to pinpoint a weak spot in a foe’s weapon.
This foe must stand in your threatened area in order for you to examine her weapon closely enough. If you succeed, you gain a +2 bonus on a sunder attempt against the weapon.
You can also use Appraise against armor. Make an Appraise check (DC 25) against a foe who stands in your threatened area. If you succeed, you gain a +1 insight bonus on attack rolls against this foe for the rest of the encounter. For this check to be effective, your target must have an armor bonus to Armor Class from a physical suit of armor. Your DM may judge that certain protective measures, such as bracers of armor, provide an armor bonus but are not subject to this use of Appraise. As a rule of thumb, this Appraise check works only against suits of armor, not magic devices that offer similar protection in a different form.
Perilous Balance (exploit): If conditions permit, you may rock, sway, or otherwise disturb the surface that you are balancing on in order to make it more difficult for others. For every -5 penalty you accept to your own check, if your check succeeds, you force your opponent to make a check at the same penalty. If you fail your check, you fall prone and your opponent suffers no penalty.
Rapid Movement (exploit): You can try to move across a perilous surface more quickly than normal. If you take a -5 penalty to your check, you can move at your normal speed (instead of half-speed) as a move action. If you want to run or charge as part of your movement, apply a -10 penalty to your check. If you fail your check while attempting to increase your movement, you fall prone.
Stunts: The following stunts are possible through the use of the Balance skill.
Daring Run: You move along a horizontal or sloped surface that normally might be impossible to walk along, such as a crouched ogre’s back or a collapsing tower—you run along its structure as it leans and falls to the ground. Modifier: +5 to check Difficulty Class for each 10 feet moved.
Hustle: You move faster than normal, taking advantage of the environment, such as scurrying down a slope or making a short jump off a ledge, to increase the distance you can move. Modifier: +5 to check DC for each additional 5 feet moved.
Failure: If you fail the Balance check to perform a stunt, you fall prone halfway through your move. You might suffer falling damage depending on the circumstances.
Notes: Balance is useful for all stunts that require movement along a sloped or horizontal surface that would normally be impossible to negotiate. Think of it as a character’s ability to move from point A to point B with skill and panache.
*Conjoined Skill Check: Balance and Climb *
Vertical Run:By building up speed and drawing on your Balance and Climb skills, you can run along walls, or even up them, for short distances.
Prerequisite (Feat): Run.
Mechanics: To use your skills in this way, you must first use a move action to move at least half your speed. Then, as a stan- dard action, you can move along a wall for a distance of up to 20 feet or half your movement, whichever is lower. Doing this requires a Balance check (DC 20) and a Climb check (DC 25). You can use the remainder of your movement (if any) to move as normal (across the ground, for instance) If for some reason you try to move a distance of more than 20 feet (or half your movement, if less) along a wall, you fall to the ground. Otherwise, treat your movement on the wall as a regular move for purposes of attacks of opportunity and other hazards.
While running, you can try to run along a wall. You can move up to 20 feet in this manner as part of your move. If you try to move more than 20 feet in this manner, you fall to the ground. You can move along walls that are directly adja- cent to the path you would normally have to take in order to run. These walls must be adjacent to the squares that you would normally run through. This movement is part of, not in addition to, your run.
You can extend your vertical movement, but doing so is difficult. For each additional 5 feet you want to move along a wall, the Difficulty Class of your Balance check increases by 5. You cannot move a distance greater than your speed regardless of your ranks in Balance. You must decide how far you want to move along a wall before making your check.
Feign Death: You attempt to play dead, absorbing an opponent’s attack and tum- bling to the ground. With luck, your opponent moves on to a different target.
You ready an action to make a Bluff check the next time you take damage. Make a Bluff check opposed by any interest- ed observer’s Sense Motive check. As a rule of thumb, only opponents directly engaged against you should make this check. You automatically fall prone and drop any items you hold. Your DM keeps the result of the Sense Motive check secret, and you lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class until your next action. You are not considered helpless, as you can try to dodge a coup de grace or similar attack at the last moment.
If you attack an opponent who thinks you are dead, she loses her Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against you until the end of your action. Once your action ends, your foes obviously know that you are alive.
Durable Bluff (exploit): Take a -5 penalty to your skill check. If successful, your bluff has the desired effect (including feinting in combat) for 1 additional round or attack. You can accept a second -5 penalty to extend this effect by yet another 1 round or attack.
Credible Diversion (exploit): If you take a -5 penalty when using bluff to create a diversion to hide, you gain a +5 bonus on your subsequent Stealth check if your bluff is successful.
Cautious Climb (exploit): If you do not have a natural Climb speed, you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC while climbing. You can keep your Dexterity bonus to AC by taking a -5 penalty to your check. If you fail, you fall. This exploit lasts until you make another Climb check to move.
Evasive Movement: By moving at half-speed, you can make a Climb skill check while moving to improve your AC against any attacks of opportunity your movement may provoke. Make a skill check (using all appropriate modifiers) to move. If your movement provokes an attack of opportunity, you may use your skill check in place of your Armor Class (whichever is higher). If your skill check fails to beat the Climb DC of the terrain, you fall.
Rapid Climb (exploit): You can try to climb more quickly than normal. If you take a -5 penalty to your check, you can climb at your normal speed (instead of half-speed) as a move action. If you want to run or charge as part of your movement, apply a -10 penalty to your check. If you fail your check while attempting to increase your movement, you fall.
Scaling Attack: Against a larger opponent, you grab hold of its belt, armor, scales, horned plates, or other footholds to scramble up its body and attack.
Against a creature that is at least two size categories larger than you, you may make a Climb check as a standard action opposed by the foe’s base attack check. If you succeed, you climb your opponent as per the Climb skill. You must use one hand to hold on as you take other actions, you cannot use a shield, and you lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class The opponent you climbed loses his Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against your attacks. You occupy the same space as your foe. You provoke an attack of opportunity for entering a foe’s space. In addition, you suf- fer a –2 penalty to your Climb check if you have only one free hand.
Your opponent can attempt to knock you loose by making a base attack check opposed by your Climb check. If he succeeds, you fall and take damage as if he hit you with a slam attack (consult the MM for damage for a slam based on the creature’s size) and from falling. You land prone in a randomly determined, unoccupied square adjacent to your foe. If all of the adjacent squares are filled, you land in the nearest empty square (determine randomly if necessary).
Stunts: The following stunts are possible through the use of the Climb skill.
Rapid Ascent: With the aid of the terrain or the environment, you make your way up a surface with incredible speed. You can move upward a distance in feet equal to your Climb check result. Note that this stunt assumes you have some method of aiding your ascent, such as handholds or a rope. Otherwise, you probably need to use Jump to move upward.
Rapid Descent: Using a rope or handholds, you scramble down a surface. You can move downward a distance in feet equal to twice your Climb skill check result, though you must move in increments of 5 feet as normal. Round down to the nearest number divisible by 5 to determine how far you can move. Note that this stunt assumes you have some method of aiding your descent, such as handholds or a rope. Otherwise, you probably need to use Jump to move downward.
Failure: If you fail your Climb check by 10 or less, you make no progress. If you fail by more than 10, you fall from your starting position and land prone. If you were standing on the ground, you still fall prone.
Notes: When using it to perform a stunt, the Climb skill works well for any situation in which a character moves straight up or straight down with the assistance of some object or handholds.
In times of dire need, you can clear your mind, focusing your attention on a single act, and blotting out any external distractions.
You can temporarily remove the effect of any morale penalties you suffer on attacks, checks, saves, and damage rolls. As a full-round action, you may make a Concentration check with a DC of 15 + the penalty you wish to remove. Do not treat the penalty as a negative number when you add it. If this check succeeds, you ignore the morale penalty until the end of your next action. You can choose to try to ignore only part of a penalty (thereby making the DC lower).
Fast Worker (exploit): A character can voluntarily increase the DC of crafting an item by any multiple of 5. This allows the character to create an item more quickly (since he or she will be multiplying this higher DC by his or her skill check result to determine progress). The character must decide the increase to the DC before making the check.
Quick Change (exploit): If you take a -5 penalty to your check, you can create a disguise as a full-round action. However, close inspection immediately sees through your quick change disguise; those within 10 feet of you do not need to make Perception checks to see through your disguise.
Disguise Weapon: You hide a weapon on your person, making it appear as some orna- ment or other harmless keepsake. When you strike with it, you may surprise your enemy and leave her vulnerable to your attack.
Prerequisite (Feat): Quick Draw.
Mechanics: You may spend 10 minutes hiding a light, one-hand- ed weapon on your body. You may hide only one weapon at a time in this manner. Later, you can use your Quick Draw feat to ready it and attack as normal. When you do so, make a Disguise check opposed by your foe’s Spot check. Your opponent also gains her base attack bonus (without modifiers for Strength, feats, magic, and so forth) as a bonus on this check. If your check succeeds, your opponent loses her Dexterity bonus to Armor Class on your next attack.
Anyone who searches you must make a Search check opposed by your Disguise check to find the weapon. They gain no special bonus on this check—unlike with weapons hidden using the Sleight of Hand skill (see next page)—because you have physically modified the weapon in order to disguise it.
Disguise Tampering (exploit): If you take a -5 penalty to your check, you leave behind no trace of your attempt to escape.
Manipulate Beast: Your knowledge of animals allows you to alter their emotions in com- bat. For example, you might bat at a wolf’s head to get its attention and compel it to attack you instead of another target, or you could so enrage an alligator that its attacks become frenzied and clumsy.
Mechanics: You may make a Handle Animal check against an ani- mal or vermin as a full-round action. The Difficulty Class of this check is the creature’s Hit Dice + 10. If your check succeeds, you may cause one of the following behaviors:
Anger: The target creature focuses all its attacks on you. It moves toward you if possible, but it does not provoke attacks of opportuni- ty to reach you. If it cannot reach you, it fights as normal. This effect lasts 1d6 rounds.
Calm: If the creature was not trained to fight, not set to guard an area, or not otherwise taught by a master, you can attempt to calm it. If the creature and other members of its pack or other allies are not subjected to an attack, spell, or other hostile act for 1 full round, it stops fighting. It resumes hostilities if anyone makes an aggressive move toward it.
Rage: The creature thrashes in rage, biting and snapping at its enemies. It suffers a –2 morale penalty on its next attack roll.
Handle Animal and Sense Motive: Study Beast
Animals rely on relatively simple tactics and maneuvers in combat, allowing you to get a handle on their plans with a close study of their actions and bearing.
Mechanics: You may make a conjoined Handle Animal and Sense Motive check against an animal or vermin as a full-round action. The Difficulty Class of these checks equals the creature’s Hit Dice + 5. If both checks succeed, you gain a +1 insight bonus on attack rolls and Armor Class against the creature as you learn to anticipate its actions in combat. In addition, you gain a +4 insight bonus on any Handle Animal, Intimidate, and Sense Motive checks you make against it for the rest of the encounter.
Fast Movement (exploit): Take a –5 penalty to move at your full speed. Take a -20 penalty to use Stealth while attacking, running or charging.
Sniping (exploit): If you’ve already successfully hidden at least 10 feet from your target, you can make one ranged attack, then immediately use Stealth again. You take a –20 penalty on your Stealth check to conceal yourself after the shot.
Mass Intimidation (exploit): You may take a -2 penalty to your skill check for each opponent beyond the first you wish to intimidate. You make a single skill check, and the result stands against every opponent you wish to affect. Each of your opponents resists your Intimidate result with his own check.
Power Demoralize: Take a -5 penalty to your skill check when you attempt to demoralize an opponent. If you are successful, you inflict an additional -1 penalty as a result of being shaken due to intimidation (increasing his penalty from -2 to -3, for example). You can take multiple -5 penalties to increase your opponent’s penalty if you are successful.
Blood-Kissed Threat: As you cleave through your enemies, you use threats, taunts, and a bloody display of your martial prowess to strike terror into your remaining opponents.
Prerequisites (Feats): Power Attack, Cleave.
Mechanics: If you kill an opponent outright by dropping her from positive hit points to –10 or lower, you may make an Intimidate check against a second foe as a free action. The slain foe must have been able to fight when you cut her down. A paralyzed or otherwise helpless opponent does not qualify for this use of the Intimidate skill. The Difficulty Class of this check is the second foe’s Hit Dice + 15. If your check succeeds, the foe becomes shaken. This is a mind- affecting effect.
Cunning Leap (exploit): Take a -5 penalty to your Jump check. If successful, you may leap over threatened squares in combat without provoking an attack of opportunity. You must begin and end your jump in squares that are not threatened, but you may jump over as many threatened squares as your Jump check allows.
Leaping Charge: As you rush at an opponent, you spring into the air, adding addi- tional momentum to your attack at the cost of accuracy.
Mechanics: When you charge an opponent, you can choose to attempt a Jump check to gain additional momentum toward your foe. You lose the standard bonus on attacks after a charge, but you inflict extra damage. Make a Jump check (DC 20) as part of your charge. If you succeed, you inflict +2 damage on your attack. If your check result is 30 or higher, you gain a +4 bonus to damage. Multiply this damage on a successful critical hit. You suffer the standard –2 penalty to Armor Class for charging as normal and end your movement as normal for a charge.
Stunts: The following stunts are possible through the use of the Jump skill.
Downward Leap: You leap down and land in such a way that you keep your feet under you and avoid taking damage. The DC for this Jump check is half the distance you fall in feet, rounded down, +10.
Precise Landing: You try to land in a precise spot, such as on top of an opponent, upon a horse’s back, or in a specific location (empty square,) ready to fight. If you want to land in a specific location, the stunt Difficulty Class modifier is +5. If you want to end your jump by landing on a target creature, the stunt Difficulty Class modifier depends on the target’s size in relation to yours:
|DC Modifier||Target’s Size|
|+15||2 or mor sizes smaller than you|
|+10||one size smaller|
Upward Leap: An upward leap is difficult but not impossible. You can jump up into the air a distance in feet equal to half your Jump check result. If you have a running start or other source of momen- tum, such as if you are starting out on the back of a horse, you can jump a distance in feet equal to your check result. As a rule of thumb, if you jump upward at 45 degrees or less, count it as a hori- zontal jump. If the jump’s angle is greater than 45 degrees, it’s a ver- tical jump. Round down the result to the nearest number divisible by 5, to account for the 5-foot spaces on the battle grid.
Predict Action: You can sometimes read an opponent’s body language and eyes to determine the nature of her next action.
Mechanics: As a move action, you can attempt a Sense Motive check opposed by either your opponent’s Bluff check or base attack check (opponent’s choice). If your check succeeds, you learn what your foe plans to do on her next action. You learn only general information, such as whether your foe intends to cast a spell, use a ranged attack against a specific target, or flee. You do not learn exactly which spell she plans to use, but you do know her target. You may then take your standard action as normal. Note that the result of your action, and others’ actions, could cause the target to change her mind. You only learn what she is planning to do at the moment you act.
Read Foe: You pause to study your opponent, reading her stance, watching how she sets her feet, and interpreting her mood. Using this information, you learn to predict and counter her moves.
Mechanics: As a full-round action, you may make a Sense Motive check opposed by your opponent’s base attack check. If your check succeeds, you learn to read your opponent’s reactions. You gain a +1 insight bonus on attacks against her and a +1 insight bonus to Armor Class against her attacks until the end of the encounter.
SLIGHT OF HAND
Conceal Weapon: You keep a dagger or other small weapon concealed in your cloth- ing or even in your hand. If you make a sudden attack with it, you can catch an opponent by surprise.
Mechanics: You may make a Sleight of Hand check, opposed by your foe’s Spot check, to ready a weapon in such a way that she fails to note that you are armed. Your foe applies her base attack bonus as a modifier on her Spot check. You may hide only one weapon at a time in this manner. If you then attack with this weapon on your current turn or your next action, your opponent loses her Dexterity bonus to Armor Class.
If you hold onto the weapon for more than 1 round, your oppo- nent gains another Spot check (modified by her base attack bonus) to notice it. You oppose this check with another Sleight of Hand check with a –2 penalty.
The modifiers listed under Sleight of Hand for different weapon sizes, billowing clothes, and so forth apply to checks made to con- ceal a weapon. Consult the skill’s description in Chapter Four of the Player’s Handbook for more information.
Note that the Disguise skill allows for a similar function (see previous page). The Disguise check takes longer to implement and requires the Quick Draw feat, but it works better when facing someone who may attempt to search you.
Fast Movement (exploit): Take a –5 penalty to move at your full speed while using Survival to track. Take a -20 penalty to follow tracks while running at up to double your movement rate, and an additional -5 penalty for each additional multiplier (x3, x4, or x5 if you have the Run feat).
Wilderness Tactics: Your knowledge of the wilds allows you to turn your surroundings to your advantage. You might pick out just the right spot in a snow- bank where you can find a steady position while your foes flail through the snow.
Mechanics: When fighting in any sort of terrain that restricts your movement, you may make a Survival check opposed by your opponent’s base attack check as a standard action.This single opponent must be in your threatened area. If your check succeeds, you can opt for one of several effects:
Hindering Terrain: You can confer a –1 circumstance penalty on attacks and Armor Class upon your opponent as long as she is in the difficult terrain. You kick snow at her, shift the stones on a gravel slope so that she loses her balance, and so forth.
Tangle and Drop: You pull on a vine to upset your opponent’s footing or hit her at just the right angle to disrupt her balance, causing her to fall prone in her current space.
Terrain Injury: You send a hail of stones, thorns, or some other environmental debris at your opponent. She suffers 1d6 points of damage.
Avoid Hazard (exploit): If you take a -5 penalty to your check while swimming, you do not have to make additional Swim checks if you take damage or encounter a hazard. If you fail, you go underwater. This exploit lasts until you make another Swim check to move.
Cautious Swim (exploit): If you do not have a natural swim speed, you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC while using Swim. You can keep your Dexterity bonus to AC by taking a -5 penalty to your check. This exploit lasts until you make another Swim check to move.
Evasive Movement: You can make a Swim skill check while moving to improve your AC against any attacks of opportunity your movement may provoke. Make a skill check (using all applicable modifiers) to move. If your movement provokes an attack of opportunity, you may use your movement skill check result in place of your Armor Class (whichever is higher). If your skill check fails to beat the DC of the terrain, you fall prone.
Rapid Swim (exploit): You can try to move through water more quickly than normal. If you take a -5 penalty to your check, you can move at full speed (instead of half speed) as a move action. If you want to run or charge as part of your movement, apply a -10 penalty to your check. If you fail your check while attempting to increase your movement, you go underwater.
Tumbling Strike: You somersault and twist to avoid your opponent’s attacks and make a single, critical strike. Your maneuver catches your foe off guard, allowing you to strike her from an unexpected direction.
Mechanics: As a full-round action, you may make a Tumble check with a Difficulty Class equal to your opponent’s base attack bonus +5. If your check succeeds, you may make a single attack at your best base attack bonus. Your opponent loses her Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against this attack. If your check fails, you provoke an attack of opportunity from your opponent.
Stunts: Free-Form Combat Skill Use
A monk runs up a bent giant’s back to leap to the ceiling.A sorcerer slides along a patch of ice to dive beneath an oncoming white drag- on. A daring rogue swings on a chandelier to barrel into the corrupt duke’s guards. These astounding acts are perfectly at home on the silver screen, where frenetic action and dazzling effects can wow audiences. They can also make a fantasy game more interesting and entertaining. A character can dive from a cliff to tackle a villain, or someone might decide to take falling damage in exchange for flop- ping prone in front of a dangerous enemy.
The following rules provide for a free-form use of skills to attempt stunts. You might use Balance and Tumble as a conjoined skill check to run along a rope, dive to the courtyard below, and somersault past a guard. You could use Climb and Jump to run up the back of a stag- gering ogre and leap to the balcony above the creature. Under the rules presented here, you pick out skills, describe what you want to do and the mechanical benefit you gain from it, and your DM gives you a Difficulty Class for the stunt you want to perform.
A stunt is a standard skill check or a conjoined skill check that allows you to make an astounding maneuver to slip past your ene- mies or attack them in a manner straight out of a high-octane action movie. With a sufficiently high check result, you can pull off a truly amazing act of acrobatics and athleticism. A stunt usually requires a move actionAs part of a stunt, you can move a distance of up to your speed as normal. In essence, a stunt combines a standard move with a skill check. For example, you might run across a balcony and flip through the air to land between the evil knight and the helpless old wizard. In this case, your stunt consists of a move followed by a skill check to land safely and to hit the exact spot between the two.
A stunt relies on a few factors to determine its difficulty and the benefit it grants you.A stunt’s base DC is 10. When you attempt a stunt, you must describe it to your DM, who assigns it a DC based on what you gain from it. You can attempt to gain more than one bene- fit at the same time, requiring you to make a conjoined check.
The basic formula for a stunt DC is:
10 + stunt DC modifiers + DM’s judgment factor
If you must succeed at a conjoined skill check to complete a stunt, determine the DCs for each check separately. If everything you want to accomplish uses a single skill, your DM may call for a conjoined skill check involving multiple checks using the same skill for each part of the stunt. For example, if you want to leap to a rope dangling from a ceiling, swing over the room, then leap down to a giant’s back, your DM may require two conjoined Jump checks. The first check is for your leap to the rope, the second for the jump down to the giant.
Descriptions and Stunts
One of the fun things about stunts is that they add a lot of fun visual details to the game. Rather than merely standing still and trading blows, a fighter dives from a balcony to attack a villain, a rogue rolls under a table and springs up to knife an orc, and so on. The descrip- tions of these maneuvers can add a lot of fun to the game for everyone.
Under this rule, the DM can reduce the Difficulty Class for a stunt based on your visual description of it or its plausibility. If you are entertaining, or if you provide a good reason why the stunt should be easier to perform, your DM might reduce its Difficulty Class. This rule doesn’t provide an excuse for players to be obnox- ious and badger the DM into giving them a bonus. Instead, look at it as a chance to describe your character’s skill and panache. As a rule of thumb, any description or justification that takes more than 15 seconds to verbalize is too unwieldy or convoluted to be a practical course of action in a six-second combat round.
|A logical, plausible description||-5|
|Worthy of a blockbuster action flick||-10|
|Sensible and obvious, though daring, course of action||-10|
|Brilliantly conceived or dramatically appropriate||-15|