Episode 4 - Skills
In dungeons and dragons, your character has a range of skills that they know that they can use to accomplish different tasks, and today we're going to be talking about what they are, and how to use them.
To use a skill, you make a skill check which is done by rolling a d20, adding the relevant ability modifier, adding your proficiency bonus if applicable, as well as any other modifiers that apply, and comparing the result to the difficulty class set by the dungeon master.
Like with all things, if the result of your skill check is equal to or higher than the DC set by the DM, you succeed [YAY sound effect], otherwise you fail.
Skills are tied directly to your ability scores, which we talked about in the last episode, but they are specific enough to require addition skill to achieve.
Just because your character is naturally charismatic, that doesn't mean they are automatically a great performer, or can tell a convincing lie under pressure.
This is where your proficiency bonus comes into play. When you make your character, your race, class, or another rule will tell you which skills you are proficient in, meaning you can add your proficiency bonus to skill checks with those skills.
The skills available to your character in D&D are:
Acrobatics, which represents our ability to stay on your feet in tricky situations.
Animal Handling, which is used to calm and interact with animals.
Arcana which represents your knowledge of spells, magic items, and magical symbols.
Athletics which covers physical tasks like climbing, jumping, and swimming.
Deception which determines how well you can lie and deceive other characters.
History which is your ability to recall information about the world and its people.
Insight which helps you determine the true intention of a creature by reading body language, expressions, and speech patterns.
Intimidation which allows you to influence others using threats and coercion.
Investigation which allows you to gather clues and make deductions based on evidence.
Medicine allows you to stabilize the dying and diagnose illnesses.
Nature which represents your ability to recall information about terrain, plants, animals, and the natural world.
Perception which represents your awareness and allows you to see and hear things around you.
Performance which represents your ability to perform in front of an audience.
Persuasion which allows you to influence others in a social setting.
Religion which allows you to recall lore relating to the gods and religious practices.
Sleight of Hand which is your character's ability to perform manual tricks, such as picking a pocket or planting evidence on someone.
Stealth which is how sneaky your character is.
And Survival which represents your ability to live in the wilds, such as tracking creatures, hunting game, moving through treacherous terrain, or avoiding natural hazards.
Using Other Abilities
You'll notice that each one of those skills has an ability associated with it, meaning when you make a skill check, you are using the ability modifier of that listed skill as part of your roll.
For example, if you want to jump across a chasm, you would make a Strength Athletics check, rolling a d20 and adding your strength modifier, as well as your proficiency bonus if you were proficient in athletics.
However, sometimes you or your dungeon master may want to use skills in different and creative ways, allowing you to use a different ability modifier other than the one listed with the skill.
For example, if you wanted to threaten someone by breaking something or flexing your large muscles, your DM may allow you to make a Strength Intimidation check.
This is a great way to get creative with your character and do things differently.
If your character was super intelligent, instead of using their dexterity to sneak quietly into a location, they might spend some time monitoring guard patrol paths, use their knowledge of building construction to identify a point of entry, and apply the principles of leverage to open the door into the building.
Sometimes, your DM will rule that only someone who is proficient in a particular skill can attempt a task. This represents the divide between basic knowledge on a subject, and advanced training.
For example, most characters would know apply pressure to a wound stops bleeding, so would be able to use the medicine skill to stabilize a dying comrade, but only someone proficient in medicine might be allowed to attempt surgery on a character.
Before you make a skill roll, check with your DM if what your attempting is within the realms of possibility for your character.
Just like with ability checks though, a character can attempt to aid another character in a skill check that doesn't require specific knowledge, granting them advantage on their skill check.
So to recap, to perform a skill check you roll a 2d0, add the relevant ability modifier, add your proficiency bonus if you are proficient in the skill, add any other modifiers, and compare the result to the DC set by the DM.
If the result is equal to the DC or higher, you succeed and have performed the skill.
In the next episode we're going to be talking about saving throws, and the special dice rolls that determine if your character lives or dies.
If you're enjoying the series, subscribe to stay up to date with new episodes, and if you're new to the how to play D&D series, you can catch up with all the previous episodes here.
But until next time