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The Skill Mastery feat lets you Take 10 on four (4) selected skills, regardless of the circumstances (including being in combat), though it does not allow you to Take 10 with skills that do not normally allow you to do so.  This cuts down on the amount of dice rolling, which speeds up play (and avoids any potential “cursed dice” issues). It also gives you a reliable benchmark to gauge your level of proficiency: someone with Skill Mastery for a skill that has a +10 modifier on can reliably hit a DC 20, while someone with a +10 modifier but not Skill Mastery will only hit it about half the time.  So it’s good for characters who have moved beyond the “fails a lot but learns a lot from those failures” level with a certain set of skills.

For some skills, this is a very useful feat!  For others, it’s largely useless. Let’s take a closer look.

 

Acrobatics

Being able to reliably Take 10 on Acrobatics checks while in combat is incredibly useful, so Skill Mastery is a fine choice for this skill.  Also, if you’ve got a +10 or better modifier to Acrobatics, you can Take 10 to stand from prone as a free action (DC 20), so it’s the same as having the Instant Up feat.

 

Bluff

Being able to Take 10 on Bluff while in combat means being able to Take 10 on attempts to feint or trick a foe in combat (or demoralize them if you have Taunt).  And if you take a -5 on the check (or take the appropriate Challenge feat), you can do so as a Move action, leaving your Standard action for making an actual attack.

 

Climb

Failing a Climb check by 5+ means falling (which will probably hurt!), so Skill Mastery can help avoid that.  Also, any time you take damage while climbing, you need to make a Climb check to avoid falling. You’ll need Skill Mastery to Take 10 while in combat, so if you foresee your character doing a lot of fighting while climbing -- and you don’t take any Super-Movement (wall-crawling), which removes the need for Climb checks -- then this could be a good investment.

 

Computers

You probably won’t be hacking mainframes while in combat, but failing these checks can have consequences (like alerting a sysadmin), so being able to reliably achieve a certain DC is worth it.  In addition, if you have both the Online Research and Well-Informed feats, you’d be making a Computers check in combat, and being able to Take 10 would cut down on time and randomness.

 

Concentration

You cannot Take 10 with this skill, so it is ineligible for Skill Mastery anyway.

 

Craft

You probably won’t be building or repairing things while in combat, so Skill Mastery is of little use for Craft skills.  (And you cannot Take 10 for the jury-rigging aspect of the Artificer or Inventor feats, so it’s useless for that.) However, there is one case where Skill Mastery will be very useful: when using Craft (Mechanical) to set a detonator into an explosive, because failing that by 10+ means it goes off in your face!

 

Diplomacy

If you want to insure you don’t make some grave faux pas that turns potential allies into determined enemies, Skill Mastery is just what you need!

 

Disable Device

You probably won’t be opening locks or disabling security systems while in combat, but there are penalties for failing a check, so being able to reliably hit a certain DC is worth it.

 

Disguise

You should have put on your disguise before combat, in a calm environment where you can Take 10 (or better yet, Take 20) anyway.  If you’re trying to put one on during a fight, something has gone very wrong.

 

Drive

The only times you’ll make a Drive check are hectic times when you wouldn’t be able to Take 10, so Skill Mastery is very applicable to this skill.

 

Escape Artist

You can Take 20 if not actively opposed (like trying to break a grapple or pin), and in those cases you wouldn’t be able to Take 10.  So Skill Mastery would be useful, allowing you to Take 10 in those cases.

 

Gather Information

The only time Skill Mastery might be useful for this skill is if you have the Well-Informed feat, and you use it on someone who you’ve spotted while in the middle of combat (say, if they’ve just entered the fight, against you).

 

Handle Animal

No penalty for failures, so no need for Skill Mastery.

 

Intimidate

Being able to Take 10 on Intimidate while in combat means being able to Take 10 on attempts to demoralize a foe in combat (or feint them if you have Startle).  And if you take a -5 on the check (or take the appropriate Challenge feat), you can do so as a Move action, leaving your Standard action for making an actual attack.

 

Investigate

You won’t be analyzing clues or collecting evidence while in combat.  But failing the check can ruin any evidence you collect, so Skill Mastery can prevent that (if your bonus is +5 or better).  Better yet, if you have a +15 or better modifier, Skill Mastery means you’ll hit the DC 25 check needed to do such a good job collecting evidence that attempts to analyze it gain a +2 bonus.

 

Knowledge

You’ll almost never need to make a Knowledge check while distracted or under pressure (or in combat), and there’s no real penalty for failing a Knowledge check, so there’s no need to take Skill Mastery for these skills. 

 

Language

You cannot Take 10 with this skill -- you don’t even make checks with this skill -- so it is ineligible for Skill Mastery.

 

Medicine

You won’t be using this skill in combat.  You may be using this skill while others around you are in combat -- like the middle of an active war zone -- so a GM might rule that such an environment is too distracting to Take 10.

 

Notice

Do you want to miss out on things?  Of course not! Skill Mastery will help make sure that doesn’t happen.

 

Perform

Knowing you can reliably make a [routine/great/memorable] performance, even while everything around you is in chaos, might be worth it for you.  Also, Skill Mastery here means stage fright/performance anxiety won't be a thing for you!

 

Pilot

The only times you’ll make a Piot check are hectic times when you wouldn’t be able to Take 10, so Skill Mastery is very applicable to this skill.

 

Profession

Never having a bad day at work?  Always having excellent days? I’m sorry, but that requires too much suspension of disbelief.

 

Ride

The only times you’ll make a Ride check are hectic times when you wouldn’t be able to Take 10, so Skill Mastery is very applicable to this skill.

 

Search

Knowing you can reliably hit a certain DC may be worth it, but nine times out of ten, you'll be able to Take 10 (if not Take 20) anyway.

 

Sense Motive

Want to reliably see through the deceptions and posturing of lesser beings?  Mastery with this skill has got your covered!

 

Sleight of Hand

Being able to nick or plant something requires a DC 20 check, and your result is checked against the target’s Notice check to see if they notice you.  Skill Mastery can help you reliably achieve the former, and avoid the consequences of the latter.

 

Stealth

Do you want to be seen?  Do you want to feel the eyes of everyone upon you, looking, glaring, judging?  Then grab Skill Mastery, at insure that (most) folks won’t be able to spot you!  

 

Survival

You’ll almost always be able to Take 10 on this skill anyway, so there’s little need for Skill Mastery with it.

 

Swim

Failing a Swim check means drowning, and that’s not good.  Skill Mastery helps prevent that. Also: having any ranks in the Swimming power lets you Take 10 on swim checks regardless of the situation, so if you have any of that, you don’t need Skill Mastery.


 

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