How to Improve Dungeon& Dragons Game Skills


Skills represent your charcter’s training in tasks that don’t involve fighting or Spellcasting. The Dungeon&Dragons game has almost 50 distinct skills in the Player’s Handbook, ranging from Appraise to Use Rope.

The amount of training you characters has in any particular skills is measured by the number of skills rank he or she possesses in that skill.

For example, a 1st-lEvel fighter might have 4 ranks in Climb, 2 ranks in Jump, and 1 rank in Spot.

This character is pretty good at climbing, can manage a jump when he or she needs to, and has a little edge in spotting ambushes or hard-to-see objects.

The characters has 0 rank in all other skills, because he or she is just not trained in those tasks.

The number of skill ranks your character can spend depends on his or her class, Intelligence score, and level. Some character classes gain more skills than others — for example, rogues and rangers rely on their skills, while
fighters rely on combat ability and sorcerers rely on magic.

And, as you might expect, smart, high-level characters have more skills than not-so-smart, low-level characters.

We explain the skill selection process later in this chapter, in the “Choosing your character’s skills” section.

Every skill is associated with a key ability, which is simply the ability score that modifies any checks with that skill.

Balance, for instance, is a Dexterity-based skill—the reasoning is that if you have great dexterity, you’re good at balancing, and if you’ve got a crummy dexterity (like the authors), you’re terrible at it.

Sometimes a great ability score can easily count for more than a minimal amount of training.

A character with 1 rank in Balance and a Dexterity modifier of +0 is not as good at balancing as another character with 0 ranks in Balance and Dexteritymodifier of +3

A Sample skill

Here’s an example of a skill description from the Player’s Handbook, Chapter 4. (You can find description of all the other skills in the game there.)


You can pick padlocks, finesse combination locks, and solve puzzle locks. The effort requires at least a simple tool of the appropriate sort (a pick, pry bar, blank key, wire, or the like). If you use masterwork thieves’ tools, you gain a +2 cir-cumstance bonus on the check.

Check: The DC for opening a lock varies from 20 to 40, depending on the quality of the lock, as given on the table below.

Very simple lock20
Average lock25
Good lock30
Amazing lock40

Action: Opening a lock is a full-round action.

Special: If you have the Nimble Fingers feat, you get a +2 bonus on Open Lock checks.

Untrained: You cannot pick locks untrained.

The information following the name of the skill tells you that this is a Dexterity-based skill, so your character’s Dexterity modifier applies to Open Lock attempts.

Trained O nly means that you can’t try to use this skill unless your character has at least 1 rank in Open Lock.

The information under Check tells you what sort of Difficulty Class various applications of this skill have; this is the target number you’ll have to hit with a roll of 1d20 + your skill ranks + your Dex modifier in order to open a lock of that sort.

Action tells you how long it takes to use the skill, and Special lets you know about special modifiers or circumstances that affect the skill.

Using skills

To use one of your character’s skills, you make a skill check. A skill check is a twenty-sided die (d20) roll modified by your character’s skill ranks, the key ability score for the skill, and any special modifiers that might apply.

The most common special modifier is an armor check penalty — a negative modifier to
certain movement-based skills for wearing heavy armor.

If a skill is affected by the armor check penalty, the skill description will clearly state so.

In addition, a number of spells and magic items improve certain types of skill checks, and there may be various circumstance modifiers the DM decides to apply.

Your character doesn’t always have to have training in a skill to try to use it.

In fact, it’s not uncommon at all for you to have to make an untrained skill check.

Any character can try to climb a wall, balance on a narrow ledge, or make a jump, even if he or she doesn’t have a single rank in the Balance, climb, or Jump skills.

You simply have no skill ranks to add to the skill check, and so you have to live with whatever modifier your character’s ability score, magic, or circumstances provide.

You might succeed with the skill check
despite your character’s lack of training, provided the task is relatively easy or you get lucky with your d20 roll.

Skill Check = d20 + skill ranks + ability modifier + special modifiers (if any)

Your skill check yields a result that might range from less than 0 (you rolled poorly on a skill that your character had few or no ranks in and significant negative modifiers) to 30 or better (you rolled well on a skill in which your character has a lot of ranks or significant positive modifiers for his or her ability scores and magic).

The DM compares your skill check result to a Difficulty Class ( DC) or target number appropriate to the task your character is trying to accomplish.

Difficulty Class works a lot like Armor Class — it’s a target number you’re trying to reach or exceed by rolling a d20 and adding the appropriate modifiers.

For something easy, the DC might only be 5 or 10. For something fiendishly hard, the DC might be 35, 40, or even higher.

In fact, it might be completely impossible for your character to succeed at some tasks; no human is going to leap a 100-foot wide crevasse (a DC 100 Jump check, in case you’re wondering) without a lot of magical help.

The skill descriptions in the Player’s Handbook list specific DCs for all sorts of things you might have your character try to do with that skill. Your DM uses these skill descriptions to set the DC for any specific skill use you want your character to attempt.

Sometimes your DM just has to take a best guess at how hard something is, because you can try almost anything in a D&D game.

If you want your character to leap down from a rooftop and land astride a galloping horse streaking by below, it’s a Jump check of some kind, but you won’t find “jump into the saddle of a galloping horse” on the DC table in the Jump skill.

That’s why you have a Dungeon Master, so someone can take ashot at adjudicating things the rules don’t cover.

Sample Skill DCs

DCExample of a Task
5Climb a knotted rope with the
Climb skill
10Disable a simple trap with the
Disable Device skill
15Stabilize a dying character with
the Heal skill
20Balance on a surface less than
two inches wide with the
Balance skill
25Leap 25 feet with the J ump skill
30Notice a well-hidden secret door
with the Search skill

Six key skills

Not all skills are created equal. While skills such as Heal or Use Magic Device sound like they should be pretty important in the game, in practice you’ll fall back on your character’s class abilities and spells to deal with most situations involving those skills.

Here’s a short list of six skills with key game effect that you won’t want go ignore.

Bluff: Rogues can use the Bluff skill to manufacture sneak attack opportunities with the Fient in Comabat skill application.

It’s also a great skill for your charcter to use to talk his or her way past suspicious guards or getting into place he or she shoulden’t be.

Concentration: If your characters is a Spell-caster, you should buy up the concentration skill as high as you can for the first ten level or so of your character’s career.

Concentration lets spellcaster safely cast spells while enemies are standing right next to them; without this kill, spellcasters could find themselves in situations where they don’t dare to try to cast spells in the middle o big fights.

Diplomacy: This is a great catch-all skill for convincing nonplayer characters (NPCs) to help your character out, leave him or her alone, or give your character something he or she needs.

Hide: There are two sneaking-up-on-people skills: Hide and Move Silently. Hide is probably the more useful of the two.

If you’re playing a rogue, you can use your character’s Hide skill to set up sneak attack opportunities(or avoid fights altogether, if you prefer).

Spot: There are two I’m-hard-to-sneak-up-on

skills: Listen and Spot. Spot is probably the more useful one. If you don’t like monsters surprising your character, take some ranks in Spot so your character will see’em coming.

Tumble: This might be the best skill in the game. If your character has a lot of ranks in Tumble, he or she can move around a raging battle with impunity, rolling and leaping right past enemies who otherwise would get a lot of free attacks on your character.

Rogues who like to sneak attack their enemies find that Tumble is essential for flanking their enemies and making sneak attacks possible. It’s also a great technique for getting away from trouble.

Thanks for visting…