Saga of the Northlands
This campaign does not use class skills; all skill have a maximum rank of [character level + 3], and all ranks cost 1 skill point to purchase. Instead, each background and each class grants access to a number of skill groups. Note that a character only gains access to skill groups from his primary class.
Skill groups have two benefits: first, each skill point spent on a skill group buys one rank in its constituent skills, and any feats or other abilities that affect a skill of a character’s choice (such as Skill Focus or Skill Mastery) apply equally to all skills in the skill group. Secondly, each skill group has two associated ability scores, and whether or not a character buys ranks in any of the skills in that group he may use either of the abilities associated with that skill group to make checks with those skills instead of the normal ability for each skill.
For instance, a starting character with the Interaction skill group can buy 6 ranks of Bluff, 6 ranks of Diplomacy, and 6 ranks of Intimidate by spending only 6 points instead of 18, and he may use his Str modifier instead of his Cha when making a Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate check.
The skill groups are as follows:
- Acrobatics (Str/Dex): Escape Artist, Move Silently, Tumble
- Athletics (Str/Con): Climb, Jump, Swim
- Deception (Dex/Cha): Hide, Disguise, Sleight of Hand
- Discipline (Con/Wis): Concentration, Endurance
- Empathy (Wis/Cha): Handle Animal, Ride, Sense Motive
- Handicrafts (Dex/Int): Appraise, Craft, Disable Device
- Herbalism (Dex/Wis): Alchemy, Heal, Survival
- Interaction (Str/Cha): Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate
- Perception (Int/Wis): Spot, Listen, Search
Note that when spending skill points on Handicrafts, the character chooses a single Craft subskill to which to apply the ranks, as normal for buying Craft ranks. If the character wishes to take ranks in multiple Craft skills (see below for a list of available subskills), he can buy ranks in his second and subsequent Craft subskill at half the normal cost in skill points.
All skill synergy bonuses are removed in favor of the following system: Each character gains access to one or two skill groups from his background and two to four skill groups from his primary class, and it is possible that some of these skill groups overlap (for instance, a character can have access to Interaction from his jarl background and from his skald class). In such a case, the character gains 4 free ranks in each skill group that overlaps and a +2 bonus to all affected skills.
Some skills are too narrow in use for this campaign or are rendered redundant by proficiencies, and have been removed. These are as follows:
- Balance checks are rolled as Tumble checks instead.
- Decipher Script is now a function of the appropriate Language proficiencies.
- Forgery checks to detect a forgery are rolled as Appraise checks instead, and Forgery checks to create a forgery are rolled as appropriate Craft checks instead.
- Gather Information is removed entirely.
- Knowledge is now a function of the appropriate Knowledge proficiencies.
- Martial Lore is now a function of the Sagas proficiency
- Perform is now a function of the appropriate Occupation proficiencies.
- Profession is now a function of the appropriate Occupation proficiencies.
- Open Lock checks are rolled as Disable Device checks instead.
- Spellcraft is now a function of the appropriate Knowledge proficiencies (Runes for rune casters, Traditions for godly casters).
- Use Magic Device is now a function of the appropriate Knowledge proficiencies, as Spellcraft.
- Use Rope checks are rolled as Survival checks instead.
The Alchemy skill replaces Craft (Alchemy) and Craft (Poisons) for creating, modifying, and identifying alchemical devices and poisons, and can be used to find and identify plants and other substances that are useful for such crafting and modification.
Alchemy is also used for potion-making. Further details can be found in the rules for Minor Items.
The Endurance skill is rolled in place of any Constitution check to perform ongoing tasks and any Fortitude saves to avoid environmental effects; see the Endurance feat for an idea of what sorts of tasks are affected, though that list is by no means exhaustive.
Endurance can also be used for the following uses of the Autohypnosis skill: Ignore Caltrop Wound, Resist Dying, Tolerate Poison, and Willpower.
Finally, Endurance can be used to travel faster and longer overland; see the overland travel rules.
Concentration can be used for the Memorize and Resist Fear uses of the Autohypnosis skill.
Concentration also gains the following additional use:
Focus the Mind: If you are being threatened or distracted, you may attempt a DC 20 Concentration check as a swift action to focus your mind to better ignore distractions. If you succeed on this check, for 1 round you do not count as being threatened or distracted for the purposes of taking 10 on skill and ability checks. For each point by which you exceed the DC, you may take 10 on checks for 2 additional rounds. If you exceed DC 30, this means that your mind is focused for 21 rounds, which is long enough for you to take 20 on a task despite distractions (though you still cannot attempt a check that has penalties for failure).
Crafting progress is determined using a special proficiency-based formula for this campaign instead of the standard progress formula, but all other Craft-related rules are unchanged.
To condense the endless list of possible Craft subskills a bit, the following are the canonical ten subskills that will be used in this campaign:
- Armor (armor and shields)
- Carpentry (wooden items)
- Construction (buildings, walls, and stonework)
- Finery (jewelry, locks, traps, and other small and intricate items)
- Leatherworking (leather items)
- Pottery (clay, ceramic, and earthen items)
- Smithing (metal items)
- Vehicles (ships, carts, and the like)
- Weapons (weapons, staffs, and other hand-held implements)
- Weaving (cloth items)
The material-based and purpose-based subskills overlap, so for instance one could craft a spear with either Weapons or Carpentry, a ship’s hull with either Carpentry or Vehicles, a ship’s sail with either Vehicles or Weaving, cloth armor with either Weaving or Armor, and so forth.
For changes and additions to the Heal skill, see Healing