D&D Skill Variants

Over the years, I’ve incorporated a number of house rules into my Dungeons and Dragons games. While many of them are intended for 3.5 edition, they are pretty easily translated to 4th. I always liked a skill-focused D&D game. I felt like the skills were never as much a focus as I would have liked. Sure they are useful or even necessary in certain situations, but I like to make skills more involved. “What’s the point of making a Knowledge check if I’m just going to kill it anyway?” Before these variant skill rules, my answer would have been “…to know how to kill it faster?”. But now I can smile wide and say, “MONEY!”

Harvesting (Intended for 3.5)

Upon the defeat of any monster, the PCs are able to use their skills to take bits and pieces of the creature that someone, somewhere will want to buy. 
                Harvesting from a creature takes 1 minute per HD and at the end of the time spent, the one doing the harvesting makes a Knowledge check and gains their check result times the creatures HD in valuable organs, fluids, etc.  Any amount harvested from a living creature will decay at least somewhat or partially.  Each hour the harvested parts go without being sold or preserved in some manner reduces their worth by 2%, to a minimum of 50%.  Some of the pieces harvested will not be able to decay (nails, scales, etc) or simply won’t fully decay to nothing, so the amount harvested will never decay to being worthless.  The bits and pieces sold will most often be sold to a spell component or magic shop.
                Certain skills and class or race abilities will grant a synergy bonus to harvest from certain creature types.  When a player has 5 or more ranks in the listed skill, they gain a +2 bonus to harvest from the listed creature types.  If a character has both 5 or more ranks in the skill and the listed class ability, they gain a +4 bonus to the Harvest check.
                A ranger’s favored enemy bonus also applies to Harvest checks.
Creature Type
Skill Synergy
Ability Synergy
Aberration
Survival
Ability to cast or use a (Calling) spell or ability.
Animal
Heal
Wild Empathy Ability
Construct
Disable Device
Trapfinding Ability
Dragon
Heal
Having Sorcerer levels
Elemental
Spellcraft
Resistance or immunity to the appropriate elemental damage type
Fey
Heal
Save bonus against Enchantment effects
Giant
Heal
Dodge bonus against giants
Humanoid
Heal
Having the same subtype as the creature to be harvested
Magical Beast
Spellcraft
Having a familiar
Monstrous Humanoid
Heal
None
Ooze
Survival
Resistance or immunity to acid
Outsider
Heal
Ability to cast or use a (Teleportation) spell or ability.
Plant
Survival
Ability to wild shape into plants
Undead
Heal
Ability to channel divine energy (turn, rebuke, etc)
Vermin
Heal
Resistance or immunity to disease or poison

Research(3.5 or 4th)

The Knowledge skills allow a PC to read at a library and learn that way, instead of being restricted to their own knowledge. The size of the library gives the character a bonus to this check. A small library might have a bonus of +4. A local library might have +8. A large library would have +16 and an enormous library could have +24 or more. However, every 1 point of bonus the library has, the time to find the information increases by 2 hours.  Although, the PCs can opt to reduce the bonus to whatever they want, and thus reduce the time researching. This method, generally, won’t allow a PC to find recent news or the like, as that is not typically found in a library. If the PCs can use a library to help with the Knowledge check, it is called a Research check, meaning the PC can use either of these skills in conjunction with a library.  Researching allows a PC to make any Knowledge check untrained, however the PC must gain at least a +1 bonus from the library to do so. 
With a very large library, the time required to fully benefit from the library’s resources could take multiple days.  Each day, the PCs can research for 8 hours without penalty.  For purposes of researching for a long time, the rules are similar for attempting to forced march (3.5 PHB 164).  If the PCs don’t want to deal with Forced Research, they will have to spread the researching out over multiple days.  Any extra researching time spills over to the next day. 
At the end of each hour past 8, the researcher makes a Constitution or Endurance check, if he fails, he passes out.  If not, he can keep researching.  The DC is 10 + 2 per extra hour. The researcher is allowed to sleep during the time he is researching, while this will essentially waste his time, it resets his Forced Research count, allowing him to research a further 8 hours the next day without penalty.
Once the researcher has either passed out or drawn the bonus he wanted from the library, he makes his Knowledge check with the bonus from the library.  Regardless of how long he searched, or over however many days, he only receives one check.  He may take a 10 on the check but not a 20.  A portion of the roll is representative of simple luck to determine if the library has books on the topic to be Researched.
Lastly, the researcher cannot continuously research a single topic at a library, over and over.  At a certain point, he discovers the library simply does not have any information on that topic.  This point occurs when the researcher has drawn twice the library bonus from it, over however many checks.  For example, Tardok wants to research Blue Dragons at his local library (+8 library bonus).  He spends his first day researching for 8 hours, giving him a +4 library bonus.  He makes his Research check and unfortunately, he discovers nothing he didn’t already know.  He pushes harder the second day, researching for 12 hours, granting him a +6 bonus.  Again, he learns nothing new.  At this point, Tardok has drawn a total of +10 bonus from this library, over his two days of research.  When he tries again the next day, no matter how long he researches for, he will only gain a +6 bonus.  The library grants +8 typically, twice of which is +16.  Tardok has already gained a total of +10 from this library, so he only has +6 library bonus left before he has checked every book the library has that might contain information about Blue Dragons.  Any further researching at this particular library about Blue Dragons will not give any sort of library bonus.

Taunting (3.5 Only)

The Intimidate skill can be used quite well in combat. In addition to demoralizing an opponent, it is possible to send him into a reckless anger.  To do this, the one doing the intimidating, must make a successful Intimidate check DC equal to the targets HD + target’s Wis modifier, a negative modifier will lower the DC. If this check is successful, the target must then make a Will save DC equal to that of the Intimidate result. If this check fails, the target becomes reckless.  This is a mind-affecting, language-dependent, fear effect and takes a standard action.
A reckless character gains +2 Str, but ‑4 to AC and Will saves. The reckless character will focus his attention on the intimidater. This does not mean he will completely ignore all other attacks, but his focus remains on the intimidator. If a reckless character is being attacked from all sides, he will get himself to a better fighting position and then go after his target. The reckless character remains in that state until either he or the intimidator has been defeated, or he has been out of line of sight of the intimidater for a full round or 1 minute has passed since becoming reckless, which ever comes first. For example, if a fighter intimidates a wizard, then the fighter runs out of the room, the wizard will run after him. If the wizard spots the fighter in on his round, the reckless state continues.  If the fighter is out of line of sight, then the state ends.
Once an attempt has been made to make a character reckless, all further attempts from that intimidator to affect that target will fail for the next 24 hours. If the person being taunted is willing, they can choose to automatically be effected to gain the bonus to Strength.  It essentially becomes a pep-talk at that point.



Cheaper identify (3.5 Only)

While using detect magic, the caster must make a Spellcraft check to determine the school of the effect.  The DC for this is 15 + spell level for a spell or DC 15 + one half caster level for a non-spell effect.  If the caster of detect magic beats the DC by 5 or more, he also learns the subschool.  If he beats the DC by 10 or more, he also learns any and all descriptors the effect has.
However, knowing more about an item, reduces the cost to identify it.  The base cost to identify an item is 110 gp, 100 gp for the material component, 10 for the service charge.  If the caster already knows the school (and the item does not have a subschool) of the item, the material cost is reduced by 10 gp.  If the caster knows the school of the item, and the item does have a subschool, knowing the school reduces the material cost by 5 gp.  If a subschool is available and known, that reduces the price another 5 gp.  Each descriptor known reduces the material cost by a further 5 gp.
                Attempting to identify an item with incorrect knowledge of school or subschool or descriptor causes the identify to automatically fail with wasted components.


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