Skill Tricks

Skill Tricks are an exciting new way of customizing your character, allowing her to perform such cinematic effects as swinging across a chasm hanging from a whip or leaping off a warhorse while swinging a sword.

The four types of skill tricks are interaction, manipulation, mental, and movement. Each type focuses on a different subset of skills. While any character can learn tricks of any type, members of certain classes favor particular types of tricks (whether due to the class’s skill list, the character’s areas of expertise, or both).

  • Interaction: These skill tricks influence social interaction between PCs and NPCs. They typically rely on skills used in those situations, such as Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive. Bards are the most common masters of these skill tricks, but anyone who relies on social interaction to achieve their goals—from bold paladins to boisterous sorcerers—can benefit from them.
  • Manipulation: A manipulation skill trick depends on the character’s manual dexterity to perform some act of legerdemain. Such tricks use skills that employ similar talents, including Disable Device, Open Lock, and Sleight of Hand. Rogues and ninjas often boast a few manipulation tricks in their repertoire.
  • Mental: These tricks pit the mind and senses of the character against an opponent. Mental tricks focus on skills such as Concentration, Knowledge, and Spot. Since this category includes a wide range of skills, many different characters dabble in such tricks.
  • Movement: As the name suggests, movement tricks typically involve the character physically moving from one location to another. They use skills that come into play during movement, such as Balance, Jump, Move Silently, and Tumble. Monks, barbarians, and scouts are most likely to learn such tricks, but anyone looking for an edge on the battlefield has something to gain from them.

Learning Skill Tricks

  • Learning a skill trick costs 2 skill points. Whenever you acquire skill points, you can choose to spend skill points to acquire a skill trick instead of purchasing ranks in skills.
  • You can learn any skill trick, as long as you meet the prerequisite and can afford to expend 2 skill points. If you later no longer meet the prerequisite for a skill trick, you can’t use it again until you once more qualify.
  • You can’t learn more than one skill trick at any given level, and your total skill tricks cannot exceed one-half your character level (rounded up). Certain feats and prestige class features allow a character to exceed these limits. If you use the retraining rules in Player’s Handbook II, you can choose to unlearn any one skill trick when you attain a new level, assigning the reclaimed skill points as you wish (either to buy skill ranks or to learn a different skill trick).
  • You can learn a skill trick only once; you either know it or you don’t.

Using Skill Tricks

Skill tricks are special maneuvers, so you can’t just use them as often as you want. Unless otherwise noted, a skill trick can be performed only once per encounter (or once per minute, for scenes that don’t involve combat or other conflict). This restriction sets skill tricks apart from feats and class features, which are often repeatable. Typically, performing a skill trick is either part of another action or an action in itself. Each skill trick’s description specifies what sort of action, if any, is required. A skill trick usually either requires a successful skill check to pull off, or it “piggybacks” on a skill check you’re already making. For example, the Extreme Leap trick functions only if you’ve already succeeded on a DC 20 Jump check (or DC 10 with a running start) to make a horizontal jump; it doesn’t require a separate Jump check. Exceptions to this general rule are noted in the skill trick descriptions.

Using a skill trick does not provoke attacks of opportunity unless its description specifically states that it does (or it involves an action that would normally provoke attacks of opportunity, such as moving out of a threatened square).

Skill Tricks List

Acrobatic Backstab [Movement]
You dart past your opponent’s attacks, ending up perfectly positioned for a devastating counterattack.
Prerequisite: Tumble 12 ranks.
Benefit: If you succeed on a Tumble check to move through an enemy’s space, you can treat that enemy as flat-footed against the next melee attack you make against it on your current turn. Your enemy must be standing on the ground or floor in order for you to use this trick.

Assume Quirk [Interaction]
You can perfectly imitate a small habit or idiosyncrasy of a person you impersonate in order to throw off suspicion.
Prerequisite: Disguise 5 ranks.
Benefit: When impersonating a particular individual, you can eliminate the normal Spot bonus granted to a viewer familiar with that individual (PH 73). The effect extends to all viewers. Using this trick requires no special action, but you can maintain the deception for only 1 hour per day.

Back on Your Feet [Movement]
You can hop back to your feet instantly if you fall.
Prerequisite: Tumble 12 ranks.
Benefit: If you fall prone for any reason, you can stand up as an immediate action without provoking attacks of opportunity.

Clarity of Vision [Mental]
You can briefly see invisible opponents.
Prerequisite: Spot 12 ranks.
Benefit: As a swift action, you can attempt a DC 20 Spot check. If successful, you focus your vision so clearly that you can pinpoint the location of invisible creatures within 30 feet. This clarity lasts until the end of your turn.

Clever Improviser [Manipulation]
Tools? Why would you need tools? It’s just a combination lock with a poison needle trap, after all.
Prerequisite: Disable Device 5 ranks, Open Lock 5 ranks.
Benefit: When making a Disable Device or Open Lock check without using thieves’ tools, you ignore the normal –2 penalty. You can use this trick any number of times per day until you fail a Disable Device or Open Lock check made without using thieves’ tools. After a failure, you can’t use Clever Improviser again until after you have rested for 8 hours.

Collector of Stories [Mental]
You’ve heard so many tales of legendary monsters that you remember all sorts of gory details.
Prerequisite: Knowledge (any) 5 ranks.
Benefit: When you attempt a trained Knowledge check to identify a creature or to learn its special powers or vulnerabilities, you gain a +5 competence bonus on the check.

Conceal Spellcasting [Manipulation]
You can cast spells without others noticing.
Prerequisite: Concentration 1 rank, Sleight of Hand 5 ranks, Spellcraft 1 rank.
Benefit: You can cast a spell without revealing that you are doing so. Make a Sleight of Hand check as part of the action used to cast the spell, opposed by the Spot checks of onlookers. If you are successful, an observer can’t tell that you’re casting a spell. That observer cannot make an attack of opportunity against you for casting, nor can it attempt to counter your spell.

Corner Perch [Movement]
You can brace yourself against walls to leave your hands free.
Prerequisite: Climb 8 ranks.
Benefit: If you succeed on a Climb check to ascend or descend either a “chimney,” where you can brace against opposite walls, or a corner where you can brace against perpendicular walls (PH 69), you can suspend yourself momentarily. Until the end of your next turn, you can use your hands freely for any other purpose (including attacking) without risk of falling. At the end of your next turn, you fall from the wall unless you succeed on a Climb check against the normal DC + 5 (made as a move action) or you have succeeded on another Climb check to move up or down the wall as normal.

Example: Ember the monk succeeds on a DC 15 Climb check to scramble up 10 feet (one-quarter of her speed) into a corner formed by two typical dungeon walls. Using Corner Perch, she then braces her legs against the walls and uses her remaining standard action to draw and throw a shuriken at a bugbear on the ground below her. On her next turn, still braced in the corner, she draws her quarterstaff and attacks an ogre that has moved next to her, gaining a +1 bonus on the attack roll for higher ground. At the end of that turn, she drops from the wall rather than attempting to hold her position. Since she has the slow fall
class feature, Ember takes no damage from the drop.

Dismount Attack [Movement]
You can leap out of the saddle onto a foe.
Prerequisite: Ride 5 ranks.
Benefit: If your mount has moved at least 10 feet in this round and you succeed on a fast dismount (Ride, PH 80), you can use a standard action to attack an adjacent opponent as if you had charged that opponent.

Easy Escape [Manipulation]
You can slip free from the grasp of a larger enemy with ease.
Prerequisite: Medium or smaller size, Escape Artist 8 ranks.
Benefit: If your opponent is larger than Medium, you gain a circumstance bonus on your Escape Artist check to escape a grapple or pin. The size of the bonus depends on your opponent’s size, according to the following:

Large +4
Huge +8
Gargantuan +12
Colossal +16

Escape Attack [Movement]

You can follow a successful attack with a swift attack.
Prerequisites: Escape Artist 8 ranks
Benefit: When you escape a grapple, you can make a single melee attack with a light weapon as a swift action against the opponent that was grappling you. The opponent is considered flat-footed against this attack. You must have the weapon in hand at the beginning of your turn in order to use this trick.

Extreme Leap [Movement]

Your extraordinary leaping ability carries you over great distances.
Prerequisite: Jump 5 ranks.
Benefit: If you make a horizontal jump of at least 10 feet during your turn, you can spend a swift action to move an additional 10 feet on that turn.

False Theurgy [Manipulation]
“How’s that magic missile feel? I’m sorry—did you think I was casting sleep?”

Prerequisite: Bluff or Sleight of Hand 8 ranks, Spellcraft 8 ranks.
Benefit: As a swift action when casting a spell, you can adjust the spell’s verbal and somatic components to
mimic those of another spell of your choice of the same level. Any creature using Spellcraft or any other means to identify the spell you’re casting believes it to be the other spell instead.

This trick renders your spell immune to the normal method of counterspelling, though dispel magic or a similar effect still works normally. Of course, once the spell takes effect, it can be identified and dealt with normally (a fireball still looks and feels like a fireball once you’ve cast it).

Group Fake-Out [Interaction]
You lean left, go right, and leave a whole group of enemies holding the bag.
Prerequisite: Bluff 8 ranks.
Benefit: You can use Bluff to feint in combat (PH 68) against more than one opponent. Make one Bluff check opposed by separate Sense Motive checks for each opponent. For each opponent after the first that you wish to affect, you take a cumulative –2 penalty on your Bluff check.

Example: Lidda wants to feint against a group of three orcs, so she rolls a Bluff check with a –4 penalty. Each orc rolls a separate Sense Motive check opposed by Lidda’s adjusted Bluff check result.

Healing Hands [Manipulation]
You can bring someone back from the brink of death.
Prerequisite: Heal 5 ranks.
Benefit: If you succeed on a Heal check made to stabilize a dying character, that character also heals 1d6 points of damage.

Hidden Blade [Manipulation]
You can quickly draw a hidden weapon to make a deadly strike.
Prerequisite: Sleight of Hand 5 ranks, Quick Draw.
Benefit: After you have used the Sleight of Hand skill to successfully conceal a weapon (PH 81), you can draw that weapon as a move action instead of a standard action. An opponent that was unaware of the concealed weapon is treated as flat-footed against the first attack you make in that turn.

Leaping Climber [Movement]
There’s no better way to start a tough climb than by leaping up the wall.
Prerequisite: Climb 5 ranks, Jump 5 ranks.
Benefit: If you begin a climb by making a Jump check as a swift action, you can add the vertical distance of your jump to the distance climbed in that round. Treat the Jump check as being made with a running start even if you didn’t move at least 20 feet.

Example: Ember the monk is standing at the base of a craggy cliff and wants to scale the cliff as quickly as possible. She spends a swift action to make a Jump check and gets a result of 24. Thus, she adds 6 feet to the distance she climbs in that round.

Listen to This [Mental]
You can perfectly repeat to others what you hear.
Prerequisite: Listen 5 ranks.
Benefit: Whenever you make a successful Listen check to hear a noise, you can describe that sound any time up to 1 hour later with such clarity that any individuals hearing the description are treated as if they had heard the sound themselves. This trick is particularly useful if you overhear a conversation but don’t understand the language spoken, since it allows you to repeat it verbatim to an ally who might be
able to translate.

Magical Appraisal [Mental]
You can judge the usefulness of magic items.
Prerequisite: Appraise 5 ranks, Knowledge (arcana) 5 ranks, Spellcraft 12 ranks.
Benefit: When you succeed by 5 or more on a Spellcraft check to determine the school of magic of the aura surrounding a magic item (by casting detect magic), you can then spend 1 minute concentrating to also learn the properties of the item, as if you had cast identify. You can use this skill trick once per day.

Mosquito’s Bite [Manipulation]
You can deliver a vicious strike without your target feeling a thing.
Prerequisite: Sleight of Hand 12 ranks.
Benefit: If you use a light weapon to hit a flat-footed opponent, you can choose to have the opponent not
realize that it has been hit until the start of your next turn. Instead, that opponent reacts as if you had attacked and missed. Using this skill trick doesn’t require an action on your part. This trick doesn’t allow the opponent to ignore any of the other effects of your attack, such as ability damage from poison on your blade or falling unconscious when reduced to fewer than 0 hit points.

Never Outnumbered [Interaction]
You can demoralize multiple enemies.
Prerequisite: Intimidate 8 ranks.
Benefit: When you use Intimidate to demoralize an opponent (PH 76), you can affect all enemies within 10 feet that can see you, rather than only a single enemy you threaten. Each enemy rolls a separate modified level check to oppose your Intimidate check, but the skill check otherwise works as normal.

Nimble Charge [Movement]
You can run across treacherous surfaces with ease.
Prerequisite: Balance 5 ranks.
Benefit: You can run or charge across a difficult surface without needing to make a Balance check (PH 67).

Nimble Stand [Movement]
You can rely on your acrobatic talent to stand up from prone safely.
Prerequisite: Tumble 8 ranks.
Benefit: You can stand up from prone without provoking attacks of opportunity.

Opening Tap [Manipulation]
“No time to waste on tools—a sharp tap should pop that lock!”
Prerequisite: Open Lock 12 ranks.
Benefit: As a swift action, you can make an Open Lock check with a –10 penalty by tapping a lock with a hard, blunt object such as the pommel of a weapon. You don’t take any additional penalty for making the check without thieves’ tools. You can use this trick any number of times per day until
you fail an Open Lock check made in this way. After a failure, you can’t use Opening Tap again until after you have rested for 8 hours.

Point It Out [Mental]
You can show others what you see.
Prerequisite: Spot 8 ranks.
Benefit: When you make a successful Spot check, you can spend an immediate action to grant a single ally a free Spot check to see the same thing (with a +2 circumstance bonus). Your ally must be within 30 feet of you and able to see or hear you to benefit from this effect.

Quick Escape [Manipulation]
In the blink of an eye, you can escape nearly any tight spot.
Prerequisite: Escape Artist 12 ranks.
Benefit: This trick has two options, either of which can be used once per encounter.
You can make an Escape Artist check to escape from a grapple or pin as a swift action. You can use this trick even if you have already used a standard action on your current turn to attempt the same escape. Alternatively, you can make any Escape Artist check that would normally require a full-round action as a move action. You can’t use this option more than once per day against the same kind of restraint.

Quick Swimmer [Movement]
You can push yourself to swim faster.
Prerequisite: Swim 5 ranks.
Benefit: If you succeed on a Swim check to move at least 10 feet, you can move an extra 10 feet as part of that action.

Second Impression [Interaction]
You can convince someone of your false identity even after your disguise fails.
Prerequisite: Bluff 5 ranks, Disguise 5 ranks.
Benefit: If an observer sees through your disguise with a successful Spot check, you can (as an immediate action) attempt a Bluff check to convince him that he’s mistaken. Use the observer’s Spot check result as the DC for your Bluff check; if you succeed, the observer ignores the evidence of his own senses in favor of what your disguise attempts to show.

You must be aware of the observer’s discovery in order to use this trick; for example, you can’t use it against someone viewing you secretly, nor can you use it against someone who sees through your disguise but keeps that information secret. When in doubt, the DM should allow a character to use this trick if she has any reason to fear that her cover has been blown. You can use this trick only once per day, but its effect extends to all viewers within 30 feet of you.

For example, you could attempt it against an entire patrol of guards confronting you just as effectively as against a single person. This trick doesn’t let you maintain a disguise that has been defeated by other means; for example, if your disguise self spell is penetrated by a true seeing spell, Second Impression
won’t help.

Shrouded Dance [Manipulation]
You can seem to be where you aren’t.
Prerequisite: Hide 8 ranks, Perform (dance) 5 ranks.
Benefit: As a move action, you can attempt a DC 20 Hide check. If you succeed, you have concealment until the start of your next turn.

Social Recovery [Interaction]
You can talk your way out of a problem you talked yourself into.
Prerequisite: Bluff 8 ranks, Diplomacy 5 ranks.
Benefit: If your Diplomacy check to influence an NPC’s attitude fails, you can spend another full round talking to the NPC, then make a Bluff check with a –10 penalty. Use the result of this check in place of the Diplomacy check result, except that it can’t improve the NPC’s attitude by more than one step. Once you use this skill trick (successfully or not), you cannot use it against the same target again for 24 hours.

Slipping Past [Movement]
You can slip through a tight space without breaking stride.
Prerequisite: Escape Artist 5 ranks, Tumble 5 ranks.
Benefit: As a swift action, you can ignore the additional movement cost and penalty on attack rolls and to AC when squeezing through a narrow space (PH 148). The benefit lasts until the start of your next turn.

Speedy Ascent [Movement]
You can produce a burst of speed when climbing.
Prerequisite: Climb 5 ranks.
Benefit: If you succeed on a Climb check to move at least 10 feet, you can move an extra 10 feet as part of that action.

Spot the Weak Point [Mental]
Your keen eyes allow you to place attacks where they’ll do the most good.
Prerequisite: Spot 12 ranks.
Benefit: As a standard action, you can attempt a Spot check to find a weakness in your opponent’s defenses. The DC of this check equals the opponent’s AC. If the check succeeds, your next attack against that opponent (which must be made no later than your next turn) is treated as a touch attack. If you use a ranged weapon to deliver the attack, your opponent must be within 30 feet of you in order for you to benefit from the trick.

Sudden Draw [Manipulation]
You can quickly draw a hidden weapon to make a deadly strike.
Prerequisite: Sleight of Hand 8 ranks, Quick Draw.
Benefit: If an opponent provokes an attack of opportunity from you, you can draw a weapon that you have successfully concealed using Sleight of Hand (PH 81) as an immediate action to deliver the attack of opportunity with that weapon. That opponent is treated as flat-footed against the attack with the concealed weapon.

Swift Concentration [Mental]
You can maintain your mental focus while attending to another task.
Prerequisite: Concentration 12 ranks.
Benefit: You can maintain concentration on a spell or similar effect as a swift action

Timely Misdirection [Interaction]
You can divert an opponent’s attention to avoid its attacks.
Prerequisite: Bluff 8 ranks.
Benefit: If you succeed on a Bluff check to feint in combat (PH 68), your opponent can’t make any attacks of opportunity against you until the start of its next turn. This effect is in addition to the normal benefits of a successful feint.

Tumbling Crawl [Movement]
You can safely roll away from danger.
Prerequisite: Tumble 5 ranks.
Benefit: By succeeding on a DC 15 Tumble check, you can crawl 5 feet as a move action without provoking attacks of opportunity. Crawling normally provokes attacks of opportunity from any attackers who threaten you at any point during your crawl (PH 142).

Twisted Charge [Movement]
You can charge in a crooked line.
Prerequisite: Balance 5 ranks, Tumble 5 ranks.
Benefit: When you charge, you can make one turn of up to 90 degrees during your movement. You can’t move more than your speed as part of this charge. All other restrictions on charges still apply, and you must have line of sight to the opponent at the start of your turn.

Up the Hill [Movement]
You can move quickly up a slope.
Prerequisite: Balance 5 ranks, Jump 5 ranks.
Benefit: You can move up a steep slope or stairs at your normal speed instead of at half speed. This effect lasts for 1 round.

Walk the Walls [Movement]
You can run straight up a wall for a few seconds.
Prerequisite: Climb 12 ranks, Tumble 5 ranks.
Benefit: You can move up a wall without making a Climb check. Each 5 feet of vertical movement costs you 4 squares of movement, and you must begin and end your turn on a horizontal surface.

Wall Jumper [Movement]
There’s no better way to end a tough climb than by leaping from the wall.
Prerequisite: Climb 5 ranks, Jump 5 ranks.
Benefit: If you have succeeded on a Climb check to ascend or descend a wall during this or your previous turn, you can leap horizontally from that wall as if you had a running start.

Whip Climber [Manipulation]
You can use a whip as a grappling hook.
Prerequisite: Use Rope 5 ranks, proficiency with the whip.
Benefit: You can use a whip as a makeshift grappling hook, lashing it around a protrusion or other firm, weightbearing object in order to climb a wall or swing across a chasm. You make Climb checks using the whip as if it were a normal rope. Using this feat requires a Use Rope check as normal for securing a grappling hook (PH 86) but takes only a move action.