Know Your Skills – Knowledge

How well do you know the skills in Pathfinder?  I’m guessing, “Not too well’, that’s fine, but you could probably learn a lot through simply reading the Core Rules descriptions for them. Seems silly to put points in a skill if you don’t know what it does in the game!

So, Knowledge… Think about it…  What could it be used for in the context of the game?


Pathfinder’s description of the various Knowledge skills, is this.

Various situations will crop up in the game that will require you to make checks (if you can!) based around a particular knowledge type.  The types of knowledge found in Pathfinder are essentially endless because you can put points in a type of Knowledge that you create (GM approved of course).  The ones listed in the Core Rules though are; Arcana, Dungeoneering, Engineering, Geography, History, Local, Nature, Nobility, Planes, and Religion.


The individual meanings for those you can find in the Core Rulebook, but there are two elements of this that I will get into:

  1. Not being able to roll on Knowledge skills that you don’t have; and
  2. Erm, the enemy is called a what?  Do I know anything about them?

The first point there can be quite divisive amongst players, especially in regard to Knowledge (Local),where PCs are not allowed to roll on Knowledge skills that they aren’t trained in.  “Come on!  Surely I’d know SOMETHING about ‘blah blah’!?  To me that seems soooo obvious!!

Yes, there’s a possibility that your character has come across or overheard something about ‘this’ before, but you can’t approach the game mechanic like that, because you could dilute any Knowledge check with the same ‘reasoning’.


The way to look at these skills is this, the knowledge that you have gained during your lives prior to the adventure, you won’t be asked to roll for.  You simply know that.  The Knowledge checks that you will be asked to roll on or, conversely, aren’t allowed to roll on, require you to have a far deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Luckily, you have a character that has Bardic Knowledge, and that skill allows you to roll on ANY Knowledge checks that could come up.  They’re such sluts for knowledge, they may have heard about it during their travels.

The second point is something that is often forgotten, and often over used. Certain Knowledge skills can give you the chance to find out something about the enemies you’re facing. Have Knowledge Arcana?  Worried about what little tricks that Tazelwurm might have up its sleeve?


You can use the relevant Knowledge check to identify monsters and possibly a special powers or vulnerability they have.  A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster. For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.

Creature Type Field of Study
Constructs,  Dragons,  Magical Beasts Arcana
Aberrations,  Oozes Dungeoneering
Humanoids Local
Animals,  Fey,  Giants,  Monstrous Humanoids,  Plants,  Vermin Nature
Outsiders Planes
Undead Religion

Feel free to use this but please remember that there’s nothing more metagame than every character at the beginning of every battle, saying, “I roll Knowledge (No Surprises Coz I Kan Haxxorz) to see if I can find out and avoid every possible unforeseen in this battle and cut the difficulty in half.



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