Sunday, March 20, 2011

What Am I Gonna Do With All These Skills?

Some Awesomeness Courtesy of Belibr
Greetings!  Today I am very excited because I will be adding something slightly new to Do A Spot Check, which is featured D&D artwork.   Every week I will post a new piece of featured art in between my Player and DM tips sections.  My reasoning for this is twofold.  First off, I felt like my Player and DM tips sections needed some color and I couldn’t think of a better way to do this than to incorporate some cool D&D artwork.  The second reason is that art can be a very inspiring force when playing D&D.  Perhaps, as a DM, you see an interesting looking monster that you want to incorporate into your campaign or, as a player, you see a character that you want to play as in your next campaign.  Hope you enjoy all the artistic awesomeness!
But in the mean time, this week I thought would be good to do another layman’s rundown of the skills list.  While some skills are self explanatory, others can have multiple purposes that might not be immediately apparent.  Like last time, this will be split into two parts for your (and my) convenience.  Here’s part 1: [this post is property of Do A Spot Check]
Appraise: Your ability to determine value or identity of an item or person.  Ex: Identify a mysterious (non-magical) dagger or determine the profession of an individual. [this post is property of Do A Spot Check]
Balance: You ability to maintain balance.  Ex: walking along the top of a narrow wall.
Bluff: Your ability to lie.  Ex: Telling a shop owner that you are from the mythical kingdom of Nam, which is currently at war with the Viet, and are on an urgent quest to purchase his wares at a reduced price.
Climb: How much like Spiderman you are.  Ex: Climbing a tree to get a better view of the scenery.
Concentration: Your ability to cast spells while under adverse conditions.  Ex: Trying to cast Magic Missile while there are two fighters right in front of you and a Halfling taunting you in the background.
Craft: Your ability to build items.  Ex: Crafting a suit of armor, sword, alchemical mixture, or a spoon.
Decipher Script: Your ability to roughly understand and write in an unfamiliar text.  Ex: Trying to write a message in Draconic when you have only heard it spoken a few times. [this post is property of Do A Spot Check]
Diplomacy: Your ability to negotiate (truthfully).  Ex: Establishing peace between two opposing areas.
Disable Device: Your ability to deactivate traps.  Ex: Disabling a mechanical trap that drops a donkey on top of you if you step on a pressure plate.
Disguise: Your ability to appear or act like somebody else.  Ex: Disguising yourself to look like a guard to gain access to a fortress.
Escape Artist: Your ability to free yourself from constraint.  Ex: Escaping from shackles, rope, or a grapple.
Forgery: Your ability to create fake items or documentation.  Ex: Writing a fake digger's license that allows individuals to dig for artifacts buried in the area.
Gather Information: Your ability to find desired information.  Ex: Finding out where a secret monastery is located.
Handle Animal: Your ability to work with, calm, tame, and domesticate an animal.  Ex: Calming a wild Pegasus and then calming it so it won’t attack and then coaxing it to follow you.
Heal: Your ability to stabilize a dying character or cure them of a simple ailment.  Ex: Stabilizing an ally with -7 hp, -4 to Dexterity, is poisoned, and is suffering from a mild cold. [this post is property of Do A Spot Check]
Hide: Your ability to conceal yourself.  Ex: Hiding in a barrel from an angry mob.
Intimidate: Your ability to instill fear into another.  Ex: Scaring an opponent before battle by eating a bowl nails…without any milk.
Jump: Your ability to move your legs in a manner that projects you upward.  Ex: Jumping from rooftop to rooftop to escape from ensuing guardsmen.

To be continued…



Player Tip of the Week

Don’t over complicate things.  While there certainly can be some very challenging puzzles in D&D sometimes players can over-complicate the issue at hand.  Often times there are moderately simple solutions to any normal puzzle that you happen to stumble upon.  Sometimes even, a clever DM can make a puzzle intentionally simple, expecting you to overthink it. [this post is property of Do A Spot Check]
For instance, I was going through a personal trial where I entered a large room where, above the door, was the clue “get out”.  On the ceiling there were several bricks that were jutting out of it.  My first impulse was that I should try and fix the ceiling so I teleported up and down until the entire ceiling was smooth and I had a pile of bricks on lying on the ground.  So because that didn’t work, I decided to build an archway out of the bricks on the opposite side of the room.  Nothing.  So then I drew a doorway inside the archway. Nothing.  So then I decided that perhaps the clue meant that I need to “get out” of my mind and I promptly used my magic sword to make me go into berserk mode.  Nothing.  Finally, in rage, I went out the door that I came in at and I beat the challenge…  
More Awesomeness Courtesy of Django-Red

DM Tip of the Week

Use common sense when giving random monster encounters.  In an attempt to make life easier, it is perfectly acceptable to come up with a formula to randomly select a monster to fight in random encounters while traveling.  However, when you do this, you still have to access if the encounter is a) feasible to appear in the current terrain and b) not too difficult for the current party members to handle.  If you find that the randomly selected monster is too strong regardless of how much you reduce its stats, don’t hesitate to simply randomly select a different encounter.
For instance, in our current campaign our Cleric and I were traveling a short distance away from the city we were at in an attempt to train a little bit since we were the two lowest leveled characters in our party.  So after a short distance we heard a rustling in the tall grass and prepared for battle.  Unfortunately though, it was a Dire Lion that made a pounce attack against me from its concealed location.  Normally this would not be such a big deal except that Dire Lions have a +17 to grapple; I have a +7.
What happened from here on out was me futilely trying to escape while our Cleric healed me until eventually I used my magic sword’s ability that puts me into berserk mode.  I then proceeded to throw the Dire Lion off of me and kill it in one strike.  However in my berserker frenzy I continued on to attack my partner and myself.  Luckily our NPC Wizard friend was able to snap me out of the frenzy by turning me into a rat and then back into a human (only now I have a rat tail).  Admittedly it can be hard to figure out what random encounter to use, but just reducing HP alone is not always enough to make it a fair challenge.  
Otherwise your players may end up in a situation where they are in a constant cycle of getting their face eaten off by a large feline while your buddy gives you a new face… over and over again.  I never felt so much like Prometheus. [this post is property of Do A Spot Check]


  1. You really bring a reader into the game, and you are a good writer. You have a very interesting topic but it shows who you are through your words.

  2. That's deep, yo.