JP On Gaming

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NeoExodus Legacies: Revisiting the Profession Skill

One of the things I personally dislike about Pathfinder (and 3.5 also) is the way the Profession skill is treated. Many simply ignore it in favor of some of the more "reliable" skills of the game. There is little argument over the Acrobatics, Knowledge, Perception or Use Magic Device skill, but what about Profession?

I remember that being one of my annoyances with 4e when it came out. How does a character represent that he's a sailor? Train yourself in Survival! a friend replied. His character who spent his life in the forest got on a boat and aced the checks. That made no sense to me.

However, I personally see Profession (not Craft), as a skill that is somewhat catch-all, that a player and GM should use to provide a sense of completeness to a character. A sailor should know how to: handle sails and other ship-specific skills. He would also have a basic knowledge of things like navigating (by the stars), know the majors ports, have heard of people in many places (ex-sailors, friends, drinking buddies), and do some basic repairs on a ship?

I believe so. But if you look at the skill checks involved per the core rules, the character would need to spend 4+ skill points: Survival (navigation), Knowledge (geography) (knowing cities), Knowledge (local) (knowing people), and Craft (various) (repairs). I maintain that a character with Profession (sailor) should be able to make all of these checks, IF the situation is relevant.

To address and encourage this, NeoExodus Legacies offers the following spin on the Profession skill. (from the NeoExodus Legacies Campaign Book - or NLCB).

The Profession skill is often a neglected skill in the game. The goal is to encourage PCs to choose and use Profession skills during the game. Professions add flavor and uniqueness to a character. It is generally much more interesting to travel with a soldier, a tailor, and a master brewer rather than a "fighter," a "rogue," and a "cleric."

Because of the wide array of choices linked to the Profession skill, almost any skill check can be replaced by a Profession check. This should not be a way for PCs to circumvent or maximize their character. If the imitated skill is hampered by armor check penalty, the penalty should also be applied to the Profession skill. A Locksmith trying to open a lock would suffer an armor check penalty for the roll. The GM is always the ultimate judge when determining what is and is not appropriate.

Here are a few of examples.

A PC with Profession (merchant) could roll a Knowledge (nobility) check to recognize the heraldic emblem of a merchant house as though he had ranks in the skill, but would not be allowed to know the intricacies of the local court without Knowledge (nobility).

A PC with Profession (locksmith) could pick a lock (normally done with the Disable Device skill) but could not disarm a trap.

A PC with Profession (scribe) could roll a Linguistics check to decipher the writings on a parchment but would not understand additional languages.

A PC with Profession (soldier) could roll a Knowledge (nobility) to recognize units of a given country or province, but would not necessarily know their history or their current leader.


1 comment:

  1. Nice. A practical way to make Profession skills more useful in the game, which I highly approve of.