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The actions, activities, free actions, and reactions you can perform with a given skill are sorted into those you can use untrained and those that require you to be at least trained in the skill, as shown on Table 4–1: Skills, Key Abilities, and Uses. The untrained and trained uses of each skill appear in separate sections within the skill’s description.

Anyone can use a skill’s untrained uses unless some circumstance, condition, or effect bars them from doing so. You can use trained uses only if you’re at least trained in that skill and no circumstance, condition, or effect bars you from that use. Sometimes using a skill in a specific situation might require you to have a higher proficiency rank than what is listed on the table. For instance, even though a high-level barbarian untrained in Arcana could reliably use Arcana to Recall Knowledge regarding the breath weapons of the various colors of dragons, the GM might decide that Recalling Knowledge about the deeper theories behind magical energy of a dragon’s breath weapon might be something beyond the scope of the barbarian’s largely utilitarian and anecdotal knowledge about how to fight dragons. The GM decides whether a task requires a particular proficiency rank, from trained all the way up to legendary.

As you advance in level, you’ll gain a type of general feat called a skill feat, which often grants you a new use of a skill. Skill feats always have the skill trait.

Key Ability

Each skill is tied to a key ability. This is the ability whose modifier you add to checks when using that skill.

Skulking about the shadows of the a city at night with Stealth uses your Dexterity modifier, navigating the myriad personalities and power-plays of court politics with Society uses your Intelligence modifier, and so on.

The key ability for each skill is listed on Table 4–1 and in a parenthesis following the skill’s name in the descriptions that follow. If the GM deems it appropriate, she may have you use a different ability modifier for a skill check or when determining your skill DC.

While your ability scores represent your raw talent and potential, skills represent your training and experience. Each skill is a broad grouping of several different uses, and each is keyed to one of your ability scores.

In this section, you’ll learn about skills; their scope; and the actions, activities, free actions, and reactions they grant.

Skill Checks and Skill DCs

When you’re actively using a skill (usually by engaging in one of its uses), you’ll often attempt a skill check by rolling a d20 and adding your skill modifier. To determine your skill modifier, add your ability modifier for that skill’s key ability, your proficiency modifier for that skill, and any other bonuses and penalties that may apply.

Skill modifier = ability modifier + proficiency modifier + circumstance bonus + conditional bonus + item bonus + circumstance penalty + conditional penalty + item penalty + untyped penalties

Sometimes the DC of the skill check is listed in the skill’s use itself. Other times, the GM sets the DC of the skill check, using the guidelines in Game Mastering.

When someone or something is testing your skill, they attempt a check against your skill DC, which is 10 plus your skill modifier. A skill DC works like any other DC to determine the effect of an opposing creature’s skill use.

As with other checks, bonuses can increase the result of your check and penalties can decrease the result of your check. See Playing the Game for more information about modifiers, bonuses, and penalties.

Aiding Skill Checks

Sometimes the GM might allow you to use a skill to help another character perform a task more effectively. In some situations, you can simply perform one or more of a skill’s uses to grant a circumstance bonus to another character’s check for the task they’re attempting. Other times, aiding an ally’s skill check requires more exact timing, necessitating the Aid reaction.

Armor and Skills

Some armor imposes a penalty on specific skill checks and DCs. If a creature is wearing armor that imparts a skill penalty, that penalty is applied to Dexterity- and Strength-based skill checks and skill DCs, unless the use has the attack trait.

Table 4–1: Skills, Key Abilities, and Uses
Skill Key Ability Untrained Uses Trained Uses
Acrobatics Dexterity Balance (action), Escape (action), Grab Edge (reaction), Maintain Balance (free action), Squeeze (activity), Tumble Through (action) Maneuver in Flight (action)
Arcana Intelligence Recall Knowledge (action) Borrow an Arcane Spell (activity), Identify Magic (activity), Learn an Arcane Spell (activity), Read Magic (activity)
Athletics Strength Break Grapple (action), Break Open (action), Climb (action), Grapple (action), High Jump (activity), Long Jump (activity), Shove (action), Swim (action), Trip (action) Disarm (action)
Crafting Intelligence Repair (activity) Craft (activity), Identify Alchemy (activity)
Deception Charisma Create a Diversion (action) Impersonate (activity), Lie (activity) Feint (action)
Diplomacy Charisma Gather Information (activity), Make an Impression (activity), Request (action)  
Intimidation Charisma Demoralize (action), Coerce (activity)  
Lore Intelligence Recall Knowledge (action) Practice a Trade (activity)
Medicine Wisdom Administer First Aid (action) Treat Disease (activity), Treat Poison (action)
Nature Wisdom Command an Animal (action), Handle an Animal (action), Recall Knowledge (action) Identify Magic (activity), Learn a Primal Spell (activity)
Occultism Intelligence Recall Knowledge (action) Identify Magic (activity), Learn an Occult Spell (activity), Read Esoterica (activity)
Performance Charisma Perform (action) Stage a Performance (activity)
Religion Wisdom Recall Knowledge (action) Identify Magic (activity), Learn a Divine Spell (activity), Read Scripture (activity)
Society Intelligence Recall Knowledge (action), Subsist on the Streets (activity) Create Forgery (activity), Decipher Writing (activity)
Stealth Dexterity Conceal an Object (action), Hide (action), Sneak (action)  
Survival Wisdom Sense Direction (activity), Survive in the Wild (activity) Cover Tracks (action), Track (action)
Thievery Dexterity Palm an Object (action), Steal an Object (action) Disable a Device (action), Pick a Lock (action)

Secret Checks

In some circumstances, you will not know whether you succeed at a skill check. If a skill use has the secret trait, the GM rolls the check for you and informs you of the effect without revealing the result of the roll or the degree of success. The GM rolls secret checks when your knowledge about the outcome is imperfect, like when you’re searching for a hidden creature or object, attempting to deceive someone, translating a tricky bit of ancient text, or remembering some piece of lore. This way, you as the player don’t know things that your character wouldn’t.

Downtime Skill Activities

Some skill uses have the downtime trait. These activities can be used only when you have a lot of time on your hands, usually a day or more. If you’re not sure whether you have the time to use one, ask your GM.

Signature Skills

Your background, class, and some other abilities list several skills that you are especially good at; these are called your signature skills. Over time, you can increase your proficiency rank in these skills to master or legend.

Conversely, you are typically limited to a maximum proficiency rank of expert in non-signature skills.

Skill Descriptions

Each of the entries describes one of the skills in the game. The title for each entry provides the skill’s name, followed by that skill’s key ability in parentheses. A brief description of the skill is followed by a list of the actions, activities, free actions, and reactions you can attempt if you are untrained in that skill. Those are followed by the actions, activities, free actions, and reactions you can perform if you are at least trained in that skill.

As the uses of a skill aren’t comprehensive, there may be times when the GM asks you to attempt a skill check without using any of the listed actions, activities, free actions, or reactions, or times when the GM asks you to roll using a different key ability modifier.