Monday, December 26, 2011

An Idea for Knowledge Skills

As the players in my last session were searching through the books in Nagle Manor's library, it occured to me that maybe it would be a good idea to have some basic rules for knowledge acquired and that sort of thing. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • A book can be studied in week-long increments. At the end of the week, the PC makes a read languages check (percentage chance equal to Greyhawk's "% chance to know spell"). If the check is successful, the PC gains a knowledge point in the particular subject, or some other benefit. If the check fails, no gain is made.
  • Only one subject may be studied per character per game week. Also, only one week of study may be performed per each session played, so players that play more often will be able to make use of this more.
  • Knowledge points are used in an identical manner to LotFP's skill points. Each PC has a base 1 in 6 chance of knowing something useful (to be determined by the referee). Each additional point earned through research represents an additional 1 in 6 chance of success.
  • Subjects should be relatively specific, i.e. a specific monster or monster type, a specific type of potion (if trying to learn how to make one). "Magic" would not be a suitable subject, as it is too broad. Knowledge skills should never lend combat bonuses (like +1's, etc.), but they may give knowledge of certain monsters' strengths and weaknesses.
  • I'm thinking 4 in 6 should be the maximum level of any knowledge skill, at least until the PCs are rather high level.
  • The referee can of course modify any of these rules based on the circumstances at hand. For example, some very obscure arcane study that has a big payoff could require 4 weeks of successful research and significant monetary investment in order to gain but a single point of knowledge in that area. These are just meant as loose guidelines as a means for rewarding players that take the time to develop their characters in this way.

Here are some example subjects that PCs have already acquired books for that I would allow them to develop knowledge skills in:
  • appraising art and fancy furnishings
  • fishing
  • ecology of oozes/slimes/jellies (would give a chance to know strengths and vulnerabilities)
  • beginning magic for the mentally challenged (successful study and a minor monetary investment could perhaps lead to the learning of a random 1st-level spell or perhaps a cantrip).
  • first aid (ability to make minor poultices, etc.)

Here is the read languages table I use, borrowed from Greyhawk:

Thoughts and criticisms are always welcome!


  1. I like this. Not a bad idea at all, and as one of my player's characters keeps finding books and taking them back to HQ, this would give him some benefit to actually reading the books. As to the limit you suggest: how about something as simple as a maximum number of pips equal to a character's level?

  2. Yes, so I'm having trouble understanding when you would use this in play?

    There is a piece of information. It is either trivial and of no importance, or it is interesting providing some depth and background to the game and not vital, or it is a crucial piece of information.

    In any possible conceivable case is the game improved by withholding any of the above information?

  3. Which part is it you have the issue with, -C? Is it the read languages check for learning something, or the x in 6 chance of being able to use the knowledge in the field?

    Assuming it's the x in 6 part, let's take the oozes/slimes/jellies book as an example. I think it's appropriate for a PC that studies such a book to have a chance to recall some bit of useful information, like the fact that lightning will split a black pudding. I don't think it's appropriate for a PC who studies such a book to know everything about every creature all the time.

    Although the d6 roll is referenced in the post, I should be clear that it is not something I would require 100% of the time. I might automatically say that they know that black puddings are immune to cold, and let them roll to see if they remember anything else.

    Is that helpful?

  4. Another example, just for fun:

    First Aid, and what you might be able to do based on knowledge points earned:

    1 point: Spend 50 gp to create d6 poultices that take 1 turn to administer and heal d4 damage.

    2 points: 100 gp for d6 poultices that heal d6 damage.

    3 points: 150 gp for d6 poultices that heal d8 damage.

    4 points: 200 gp for d6 poultices that heal d10 damage.


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