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Jcosby
11-17-2008, 02:29 PM
Hello, everyone. I have a pretty simple question. How do you as a GM/DM handle the use of Knowledge Checks (Skill Checks) with in your game.

Do you have any special way of handling knowledge checks, do you require the players have something in there background and or class that would allow them to have a chance to know something, or do you just let the dice roll determine what they know?

JC

Kalanth
11-17-2008, 02:54 PM
In 3.5 and 4E I just let the dice tell me what they know. I love the knowledge skills but find that they serve more of a functional purpose than a roleplaying one, regretably.

MortonStromgal
11-17-2008, 03:19 PM
I hate checks for basic facts, something obscure sure I'll let you see if you can come up with it but 90% of the time a roll of 10 should be assumed and you move on with the game without rolling.

[edit] I think following the advise from Unknown Armies is that you should only roll in stressful situations otherwise it can be assumed with enough time you can figure out a way to do most things.

Grimwell
11-17-2008, 10:55 PM
I assume that a person with a knowledge skill knows enough to use that knowledge as their vocation in their setting. They are, our could work as, an expert and be called upon for knowledge that others just don't have.

I only make them roll for esoteric things, unless I'm not paying attention to what I'm doing and distracted when someone asks; but really, I think that knowledge skills should work like functional skills. A blacksmith in my game does not have to roll every time he makes a horseshoe. Just when he's trying to do something awesome.

tesral
11-18-2008, 12:47 AM
I'm with Grimwell there. If you have the knowledge (IE high enough ranks) that "take 10" will get you the knowledge, then you get it. no roll required. I restructured the knowledge skills to make them more in lime with Science as understood in the Renaissance.

My Knowledge skill

Knowledge: (INT or other; trained only)
Like the Craft and Profession skills, Knowledge actually encompasses a number of unrelated skills. Knowledge represents a study of some body of lore, possibly an academic or even scientific discipline.
Below are listed typical fields of study.
Anthropology -- The humanoid beasts, giants, their habits, cultures, histories
Arcana -- ancient mysteries, magic traditions, arcane symbols, cryptic phrases, constructs, undead
Art -- Proportion, composition, the basics of drawing and painting, history, themes, and allegories.
Architecture and engineering -- buildings, aqueducts, bridges, fortifications
Astrology -- The heavens, stars planets things beyond the sky, predictions and divinations.
Civics/government -- The local bureaucracy, laws, customs, squeeze, and principles.
Comparative Religion -- gods and goddesses, mythic history, ecclesiastic tradition, holy symbols
Etiquette -- Proper behavior, the fashionable dances, the current style.
Geography -- Lands, terrain, climate, people
Geology -- Rocks, caverns, oozes, spelunking things below the earth.
Heraldry -- Nobility and royalty (lineages, heraldry, family trees, mottoes, personalities
Herbalism -- Knowledge of plants, their medicinal uses and how to prepare them.
History, General -- royalty, wars, colonies, migrations, founding of cities.
History, Local -- legends, personalities, inhabitants, laws, customs, traditions.
Languages -- Forgotten tongues, ancient scripts. Currently spoken and used languages and alphabets.
Literature -- Writing composition, grammar and usage, the great works.
Logic -- Construction and reasoning.
Mathematics -- Algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus and so forth.
Military Engineering -- A sub-set of Architecture and Engineering. Skilled at designing siege works, war machines, military camps and other temporary structures as well as the mean of providing for an army on the move, logistics.
Natural History -- Animals, plants, fey, dragons, magical beasts, their habits, habitats, behaviors. seasons and cycles, weather, vermin.
Strategy & Tactics -- The knowledge of how to set up and fight battles. Regular and irregular. warfare
Theology -- The study of godhood itself, powers, planes, etc.
Check: Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).
In many cases, you can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster’s HD. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.
For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.
Some knowledge skills are also professions, such as Architecture and engineering, Astrology, and Literature among others. Characters with ranks in these skills can attempt to make a living at them. Treat them as any profession for checks.
Action: Usually none. In most cases, making a Knowledge check doesn’t take an action—you simply know the answer or you don’t.
Try Again: No. The check represents what you know, and thinking about a topic a second time doesn’t let you know something that you never learned in the first place.
Synergy: If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (arcana), you get a +2 bonus on Spellcraft checks.
If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (architecture and engineering), you get a +2 bonus on Search checks made to find secret doors or hidden compartments.
If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (geography), you get a +2 bonus on Survival checks made to keep from getting lost or to avoid natural hazards.
If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (history), you get a +2 bonus on bardic knowledge checks.
If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (local), you get a +2 bonus on Gather Information checks.
If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (nature), you get a +2 bonus on Survival checks made in aboveground natural environments (aquatic, desert, forest, hill, marsh, mountains, or plains).
If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (heraldry), you get a +2 bonus on Diplomacy checks.
If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (arcana), you get a +2 bonus on turning checks against undead.
If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (theology), you get a +2 bonus on Survival checks made while on other planes.
If you have 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (geology), you get a +2 bonus on Survival checks made while underground.
If you have 5 or more ranks in Survival, you get a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) checks.
Untrained: An untrained Knowledge check is simply an Intelligence check. Without actual training, you know only common knowledge (DC 10 or lower).

ignimbrite
11-18-2008, 12:38 PM
I try to remember to make players roll knowledge checks the first time they come across something new. I always give them the correct knowledge check to roll and then I am usually pretty lenient about the DC - anything over 15 give you a subtype and the monsters race and over 20 gives some immunities etc. I have always thought that 15+HD for 1 piece of info is way too high. There are some undead with HD of 20+ and CRs in the low teens which means a low teen character is almost never likely to ID anything about the creature.

In the future (next campaign) I am going to keep the same DC policy but put more emphasis on the players choosing the right knowledge to roll and once initiative is rolled I am going to make knowledge checks a move action.

frank634
11-18-2008, 07:19 PM
Well in 3 (and especially 4) we use the idea of "Passive Knowledge" which is basically taking 10 on the knowledge check. It represents something you know off the top of your head.

The players can roll for additional knowledge if they like which if higher then the passive knowledge, reveals more information.

4e encourages this especially with preception and insite checks.

Jcosby
11-19-2008, 02:12 PM
Well, I guess I was kind of torn between Roll-Playing and Role-Playing. I know the utility of the Knowledge Checks when it comes to playing D&D, but I also like to have the characters be more invested in the game. Give them reasons outside of the norm to interact with NPCs. Researching information is one way. But if a character (at later levels) has a super high knowledge skill then he just needs to make a roll and bam, he knows what ever he needs too.

But as I thought about it more, it's up to me as the DM to determine ahead of time if there is a certain piece of information that a PC just isn't going to know without extra research. Something, he or she just isn't going to know off the top of their head. Even the smartest person in any given field has to research things from time to time.

I will just have to weave this into the game when it makes sense and use the proper DC's when they are asking for information that they could already have access too.

In the end as with almost all problems with D&D a judicial use of the rules is usually the best answer. As long as you keep the goal being a fun game I think all people in the end will be happy.

JC

Grumpy Old Man
11-20-2008, 08:53 PM
Depends on what the situation is but I have to figure that a cleric with 9 skill points in religion and +3 doesn't have to roll unless its for a really obscure esoteric thing that I have made up and snuck into the campaign. If the skill point is only his int+ with no skill points I have to assume its out of his general range of knowledge and a roll will decide whether or not he came across the information coincidentally somewhere.

You never know how it will affect the situation. Kind of like a girl who watched her father change a tire 30 times then on a date they have a flat tire and her boyfriend doesn't know how to change the tire. no phone, isolated spot, curfew coming up and his girlfriend who is a cheerleader and art student gets out and changes the tire for her physics major/track star, happy ending. For her anyway.

DMMike
01-01-2009, 01:45 AM
Knowledge makes for a pretty boring skill check.
Probably best to make a DM judgment, based on the number of ranks a PC has to determine if a particular fact is known.

But more importantly, Knowledge skills are a decent way to qualify for a cash-earning job. They're a priceless synergy bonus to many other skills. Most importantly, they can be a major flavor component, because there's always some unlucky prince looking for the answer to a dragon's riddle, and only your PC with X ranks in Heraldry can answer the question.

cplmac
01-02-2009, 11:52 AM
Usually a players asks, and I make a decission at that time. If it is decided that the character knows the info, then they make a notation for future reference. Sometimes I say yes and others I say no. It just depends on what type of info they are inquiring about. Usually if it has something to do with the type of character they are, I do generally say yes.

DungeonMaster
01-02-2009, 04:51 PM
When i DM i dont allow specific knowledges eg. Knowledge (Royalty). I base all knowledge check off of, "will that character know that realistically?" An elf will probably know more about elven lore then a dwarf would but a dwarf would most likely know more about metals and shields... It's case by case and it should reflect your players actions. If you have a halfling bard who, for the whoole game thus far, has been hording treasures, i then assume he would know a bit more about treasure and bargaining than the average lad. Stuff like that.....

fmitchell
01-02-2009, 05:04 PM
Generally I use Knowledge skills as written, for whatever system I'm running.

However, a big problem with Knowledge skills, as the makers of the GUMSHOE system have pointed out, is that if a character fails the check he could derail the adventure -- or, if he makes the check, he could short-circuit the adventure.

Therefore, I suggest setting up an adventure so that anything crucial to going onward gets discovered automatically, and anything that would spoil the fun can't be found until the right time. A successful Knowledge check, then, gives some extra information that makes subsequent actions easier, but not trivial. Hopefully this doesn't lead to a railroad plot, but that's a larger issue.

Etarnon
01-02-2009, 07:00 PM
I play it as written in every system.

I try to identify ahead of time what DCs for what knowledge checks if it seems like it will be useful in an encounter. If not, I make it up based on the Rules as written.

Valdar
01-07-2009, 02:55 PM
If there's a remotely applicable skill, I let the player roll it. With enough people rolling, someone's going to figure it out.

If there's no applicable skill, I look at the character's backstory to see if they would have the knowledge. This is the built-in reward for having a backstory- players who didn't write one don't get the extra skills. Note that there's no Appraise skill anymore- if your character has a merchant background, you're good to go.

DMMike
01-08-2009, 01:01 PM
...oh yeah, and a decent Knowledge (local or history) should provide some clues on magic item usage and history. The DC should probably get harder as an item is less powerful, or less worth remembering.

Grimwell
01-09-2009, 01:09 AM
Actually, the DMG says to just tell the players what a magic item does after a short rest where they can stop and look at it. The statement says that the fun is using the item not spending weeks sorting out how it works.

I agree with them to a point, making people pay for identify on a +1 sword was a pain that I usually hand waved with a spellcraft check and some time to study; but for the really awesome stuff I would still want finding out how to use it to be a bit of a side quest.

Since I'm the GM I can make that happen no matter what the book says. :)

tesral
01-09-2009, 02:02 AM
Actually, the DMG says to just tell the players what a magic item does after a short rest where they can stop and look at it. The statement says that the fun is using the item not spending weeks sorting out how it works.

I agree with them to a point, making people pay for identify on a +1 sword was a pain that I usually hand waved with a spellcraft check and some time to study; but for the really awesome stuff I would still want finding out how to use it to be a bit of a side quest.

Since I'm the GM I can make that happen no matter what the book says. :)

Yea the 1e/2e rules made identifying magic a pain the keester. Info hiding was only fun for the DM. Heck, 0e didn't even have a way to identify magic outside of the vague "sages".

I prefer fairly up front identification. I don't make the identify spell abusive or expensive, why should it be?

DMMike
01-09-2009, 09:25 AM
It's the realist in me that wants to use Knowledge as an alternative to the Identify spell. Grimwell's +1 sword isn't going to have a sticker on it with a serial number and list of specifications. But it will feel like a very well-made sword. One that glows under Detect Magic. Players won't notice a +1 when using it in battle (unless you have hard-core rules lawyers), but there will be an ethereal notion that the sword is special. Why reduce that specialness to a "+1" unless you must?

Valdar
01-09-2009, 12:08 PM
I agree with them to a point, making people pay for identify on a +1 sword was a pain that I usually hand waved with a spellcraft check and some time to study; but for the really awesome stuff I would still want finding out how to use it to be a bit of a side quest.

Since I'm the GM I can make that happen no matter what the book says. :)

For the really fun stuff, check out artifacts. They're sentient, and they get more powerful the more you do what they want. So the better the character roleplays, the more powerful the item gets...

Etarnon
01-09-2009, 09:09 PM
I'm a big fan of having the party or owner of a new magic item try it out, pay to have it identified, or search out legends and such, or try to find witnesses who have seen it working.

To me, personally it's a lot more fun to go on an adventure to find out what something does or how it works, than "Okay, in the camp, you look at it, it adds +2 to hit, there's your fun."

I also enjoyed rolling on the gamma world artifacts investigation charts, back in the day, as player and GM.

Grimwell
01-10-2009, 05:19 PM
I don't think the rules can make for much of the fun. Magic items stand out.

Think back to the original Conan movie and the sword he found. It was completely crusted over; and when Conan wacked it against a rock (IIRC) all the gunk came free and it was shiny and awesome. That's a magic sword that didn't need a ritual, sage, or special trip to sort out. A +1 item is simple enough to make it's magical nature evident.

If I give out something more powerful in a campaign I'm running, I'm going to treat it more like an artifact. The more you use the item for it's designed purpose, the more the item will do for you. A symbiotic relationship. Magical and mysterious.

Not covered by the rules, and no rules are needed. I'm the GM. For folks who insist on relying on the rules its probably a pain, but that just means I'm not the GM for them. No harm in that at all.

Most hangups we have on rules are less about how the rules work and more how we want them to work. Some folks tinker when they find a flaw, others look for a new system. I'm a tinkering type.

kirksmithicus
01-20-2009, 03:20 PM
Just a thought, but you could use fixed qualitative expressions "in game" to convey game mechanic data. Instead of saying it's a +1 sword, it would be a "quality" blade. Or a +5 blade could be a "master crafted" or "renowned" blade etc. Adds a little fluff but also coveys important game data players will instantly recognize if you formalize the descriptions.

Drizzit red
01-26-2009, 09:08 AM
We are pretty straight forward in my group when IDing items.....although we do limit how many times a day the spell can be used...and how many strong magic items can be IDed a day. We figure it should be a stress on the mind to ID an item.

We also do the same for Detect Magic....if something is very very very strong magic, and a low level detects it.....major headache coming on for that PC.

As far as the knowledge checks go, we use them, but sparingly. We also don't believe in taking 10 for knowledge checks. How is that going to help you remember anything? Taking 10 on a skill check like picking a lock makes sense, because you spend that 10 minutes REALLY studying the lock. I know in real life, if I don't know something or remember something, it is going to take more than 10 minutes for me to remember or figure it out.

nijineko
01-26-2009, 09:20 PM
For the really fun stuff, check out artifacts. They're sentient, and they get more powerful the more you do what they want. So the better the character roleplays, the more powerful the item gets...

or you could go with the slightly more scaled approach of weapons of legacy. ^^

Etarnon
01-27-2009, 07:49 AM
as to taking 10...Could be that half-remembered thing. I do that all the time, then it takes me about 5 or 10 minutes to remember. Then I do.

Typically names of songs, and movie titles, or actor /actress names, from say 20 years ago.

TheDarkestOfAngels
01-30-2009, 04:51 PM
Hello, everyone. I have a pretty simple question. How do you as a GM/DM handle the use of Knowledge Checks (Skill Checks) with in your game.

Do you have any special way of handling knowledge checks, do you require the players have something in there background and or class that would allow them to have a chance to know something, or do you just let the dice roll determine what they know?

JC

Well, if their character knows something, then they make a relevant knowledge check to see if the character has knowledge of a particular thing.
For example, knowledge over a unique arcane phenomenon might be a DC 40 Knowledge (Arcana) check.
If they don't have the prerequisite knowledge skill, I might allow a different knowledge skill fill in the gap at a possibly different DC (if the phenomenon is related to a particular spell, a spellcraft check DC 45 or 50 might work, or knowledge (history) if historical events might describe something similar - so on and so forth).
I might also give special exception if a character would have good reason to be familiar with whatever it is they need to be knowledgable about.
For example, I would allow a druid who lived in a particular forest that was populated with green dragons to have knowledge of them despite having no ranks in knowledge (arcana).

upidstay
02-03-2009, 07:00 PM
I love knowledge checks. Use them several times every adventure. Rarely for magic item ID, but for other things.

The players were searching for a back door into the bad guys lair. They came upon a large mass of thorn bushes. One of the players' histories gave him some knowledge (horticulture), so I had him make a check. He realized that the plants had a disease called "Cheater's blight" which is caused by excessive use of Plant Growth potions. The bad guy had used the potions to make a living wall covering the back entrance to his lair. The player's knowledge allowed them to quickly find the secret way in by realizing that the plants had been magically altered.

tesral
02-03-2009, 07:24 PM
I love knowledge checks. Use them several times every adventure. Rarely for magic item ID, but for other things.

The players were searching for a back door into the bad guys lair. They came upon a large mass of thorn bushes. One of the players' histories gave him some knowledge (horticulture), so I had him make a check. He realized that the plants had a disease called "Cheater's blight" which is caused by excessive use of Plant Growth potions. The bad guy had used the potions to make a living wall covering the back entrance to his lair. The player's knowledge allowed them to quickly find the secret way in by realizing that the plants had been magically altered.

Yea, I can see that, "I grew too fast disease". I'll have to remember that one.

Good ideas, why I like this place.

nijineko
02-03-2009, 09:12 PM
i've always found that the idea of magic being a quick solution that is not as good as doing it the more laborious way appeals to me. i shall have to give thought on how to adapt this more fully into the magic system for d&d. ^^ thanks for the reminder.

Talmek
02-05-2009, 03:37 AM
It's a mixture for me. On the majority of "general knowledge" checks I'll forego the dice roll under the condition that the player is capable of answering the question himself/herself.

If they're unable to answer the question, or it's a specific/obscure bit of knowledge, I'll usually let them roll to see if their PC "remembers it".