K20 Skills

Skills in take 20 start with the 3e base, and receive some of the least homebrewing. That said, in 3e, skills are one of the most tedious items, with the least impact (who cares about 8 ranks or 11 ranks?). Keeping with K20’s theme of less, more impactful choices, K20 follows some of the simplification of pathfinder, 4e, and 5e on this area. One key thing of note, is that to keep skills relevant at higher levels, many of the higher level, or epic, skill uses have had their difficulty classes dropped dramatically, and additional uses are added.


Skills are how a character interacts with the world around them when they do not have a specific class feature to do so. Skills are broad reaching, and your GM will generally let you know when to use them. Although players should feel encouraged to ask if they can use them on their own.

Unlike other RPGs, characters in K20 do not gain skill ranks, and their class does not influence their available skills. Most characters gain bonuses in a few skills from their Heroic class choices, but most often, a skill is an ability check with the appropriate ability. Other items and circumstances could modify these results.

All skills can be used untrained. All characters get bonus skill training (a +5 modifier) on a number of skills equal to 5 + their intelligence modifier. If their intelligence goes up, they gain a new skill. They cannot gain this training bonus on a skill they already have a bonus to. Some skills has multiple uses. When you are trained in the skill, your bonus applies to all uses. You may have class features, spells, etc that give bonuses to specific uses.

What a result of X means

All skills have specific uses and DCs for given tasks. It would be impossible to list every DC that may ever come up. With that in mind, the rough guidelines below should serve GMs to come up with appropriate DCs.

DCDifficulty of the task
10So easy anyone can do it without trying.
15People who are trained can do it without effort. Others can succeed if they are lucky.
20People with training can succeed if they are lucky.
25People with training, and a strong natural aptitude can succeed if lucky.
30Extreme luck is needed, even for the trained and apt.
40Would otherwise be considered impossible without magical means.
Take 1, 10, and 20.

The take X rules from 3.5 are designed to speed up game play and are strongly encouraged.

Take 1

Take 1 is an extension of the take 10 or 20 rules found in 3.5. Take 1 shows a player is so confident they would prefer not to roll, even if they are under duress. They can take a 1 and add their modifiers. This can be used if there is a consequence for failure and take 10 or 20 would not normally be allowed.

Take 10

Take 10 can be used when a character is under duress and there is no consequence for failure with a skill. They can ask to take a 10 and forgo rolling.

Take 20

Take 20 can be used when a character is not under duress and there is no consequence for failure. This saves the effort of a player rolling until they get the maximum possible result. This requires at a minimum 10 minutes of effort.

Appraise (Int)

This skill can be used to sell items. Make an appraise check to figure out the value an object is sold for. You receive the indicated value. You can take 10 for this usage, but not 20. This check can be done once per item, and the results do not change. Generally, it should be done when the object is given to the players for ease of play.

DC 1025% the base cost
DC 2050% the base cost
DC 3075% the base cost
DC 40100% the base cost
DC 50110% the base cost
Acrobatics (Dex)

The acrobatics skill governs any form of dexterous body movement performed by a character. It has 3 main uses. Balancing, Tumbling, and Escape Artistry.

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Walking across a narrow or precarious surface has the following base DCs. When balancing, you move at half normal speed. If attacked, you are considered flat footed, and must make a balance check each time someone attacks, regardless of a hit or miss.

13+ inchesNA
7-12 inches10
2-6 inches15
<2 inches20
Type of SurfaceDC Modifier
Lightly obstructed+2
Heavily obstructed+5
Slippery (wet)+2
Very slippery (Ice)+5
Sloped+2 (per 15 degrees)
Other ModifiersDC Modifier
Move at full speed+5
While hiding+5
While tumbling+5
Light Wind+2
Heavy Wind+5
Escape Artistry

This skill is used to break free from constraints or grapples. To break free from a grapple, simply roll the skill instead of your grapple modifier.

RopesBinders Use Rope Check
Tight Space (1 size category smaller than you)30 (+10 per category)

You can land softly on your feet, or dodge past opponents.

Reduce fall damage by 10ft15 (+15 per 10ft reduced)
move at ½ speed without attack of opportunity15
Move without attack of opportunity25
Light Rubble+2
Dense Undergrowth+5
Slippery (wet)+2
Very Slippery (Ice)+5
Sloped+2 (per 15 degrees)
Athletics (Str)

The athletics skill governs any form of strength-based body movement performed by a character. It has 3 main uses. Climbing, Jumping, and Swimming


While climbing you move at ¼ your normal speed and need to dedicate 1 hand to your movement. While climbing you are flat footed, and if struck while climbing you must make an immediate climb check vs the climb dc of the surface or fall.

Steep slope0
Knotted rope5
Unknotted rope15
Typical stone wall with uneven surface20
Brick wall25
Overhand ceiling with handholds but no footholds25
Smooth finished stone30
Wall of Force50
Climb ModifiersDC mod
Brace on 2 opposite walls-10
Brace on a corner-5
Slippery surface+5

All DCs below show jumping DCs for running jumps with at least 20ft of space. Without running, double the DCs.

  • Jump DC – Distance = DC = 1 per foot needed.
  • Jump DC – Height = DC = 4 per foot needed.
  • Jump DC Speed Modifier = +4 per 10ft faster than 30ft you are. -6 per 10ft slower.
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Characters move at ½ speed while swimming. Each hour of swimming deals 1d6 nonlethal damage.

Up a waterfall40
Through Air50
Swim at full speed+10
Bluff (Cha)

Bluff is used to trick or deceive another character. It is an opposed skill and opposed by sense motive. Bluff is a social skill. See the Reputation chapter for more information. Disguises can assist with many uses of this skill.

Circumstantial modifiersModifier
Target wants to believe+5
Puts target at risk-5
Craft (Int)

The craft skill is used to create mundane items. Each craft skill is taken individually, for example fletcher, wood working, jewelry, etc. Craft checks can be used in place of an appraise check for the given industry.

Most items have a DC of 15 to create and require 8 hours’ worth of effort per 5gp of the final cost. Items cost ½ the final cost in raw material at the start. Masterwork items require a DC 20. Works of art have no DC, and the higher the result, the better the good. A Craft check is rolled at the end of the crafting period, and a failed check results in wasted materials.

Decipher Script (Int)

You can decipher script written in an unfamiliar language.

Shared script with a language you do know20
Unknown script30
Written in an older dialect+1 (per 100 years since writing)
Diplomacy (Cha)

Diplomacy is a social skill. See the Reputation chapter for more information.

Disable Device (Int)

Disable device is used to break any working object, most commonly for adventurers, locks and traps. Disabling a device requires a full round action.

Jam a lock10
Sabotage Wagon Wheel15
Simple Lock20
Clockwork Toy25
Amazing Lock30
Leave no Trace+5
Done as a Standard Action+10
Done as a Move Action+20
Done as a Swift Action+30
Gather Information (Cha)

You spend an evening buying drinks and making friends.

10Major News
15Specific Rumor
20Secret Information
+10Without arising suspicion
Handle Animal (Wis)

This skill functions like the diplomacy skill, but only on animals. It can be used on magical beasts with a -10 penalty.

Heal (Wis)

Heal can be used to treat wounds, disease, and poisons. Heal checks usually require 1 hour to perform.

HP Restored from the Last Attack Received (within 1 hour)HP Damage Restored
Cure PoisonPoisons DC
Cure DiseaseDiseases DC
Intimidate (Cha)

See the Reputation chapter for more information.

Knowledge (Int)

Knowledge is a collection of skills, each of which is taken individually. It can be used to identify facts and tidbits of information, or to identify monsters and learn their abilities.

To identify monster knowledge, the DC is equal to 10+HD of the monster for one special quality, special attack, immunity, resistance, vulnerability, extraordinary ability, or spell like ability.  For every 5 you beat the DC, you gain another fact.

  • Magical powers (of any class).
  • Monsters: Dragons.
Architecture and Engineering
  • Buildings, bridges, fortification.
  • Monsters: Constructs
  • Caverns, spelunking.
  • Monsters: Aberrations, Oozes.
  • Maps, lands, climate.
  • Monsters: Giants, Monstrous Humanoids.
  • Wars, Colonies, Migrations.
  • Monsters: Magical Beasts
  • Legends, Famous people, Laws, Customs.
  • Monsters: Humanoids.
  • Seasons and Cycles, Weather.
  • Monsters: Animals, Plants, Vermin.
Nobility and Royalty
  • Lineages, Heraldry, Family Trees.
  • Monsters: Fey
  • Gods, Ecclesiastic Tradition.
  • Monsters: Angels, Demons, Devils, Undead
The Planes
  • Inner and Outer Planar Traits.
  • Monsters: Outsiders (not angels, demons, devils), Elementals.
Perform (Cha)

Perform is a collection of skills each taken individually that allows characters to put on productions for money. Each performance must last at least 1 hour. These performances are limited by the minimum city size, even if the indicated DC is met.

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DCQualityMinimum City Size
10Routine (1d10cp)5-6 people.
15Enjoyable (1d10sp)City
20Great (1d10gp)City
25Memorable (1d100gp)Metropolis
30Extraordinary (10d100gp)Metropolis
40Impossible (10d100pp)Planar Metropolis
Perception (Wis)

Perception is used to detect the unnoticeable. It is often rolled to counter Stealth. It can be used on its own for two primary purposes. Listening and Spotting.


Listening governs whether you hear a given sound. The DC for listening is 0 for people talking to you with the following modifiers.

+5Through a door
+15Through a stone wall
+1Per 10ft of distance

Spotting governs whether you see something. The base DC for spotting is 0 for someone standing near you with the following modifiers.

+1Per 10ft of distance
+40Invisible Creature
Profession (Wis)

Profession is a group of skills all taken individually. These skills represent basic jobs that characters may have, such as farmer, bartender, or prostitute. A profession check is made each week and shows the result of labors. Failure shows a loss of profits for the week, and a potential end of career. Most professions have a DC of 10-15.

Each job has a given salary outlined in the Arms and Equipment guide if required. The profession skill can also be used to replace any knowledge skill in its given area, or any skill the GM deems appropriate for a similar activity. Example: Profession sailor can replace Acrobatics checks made to walk on a swaying deck.

Ride (Dex)

Ride is used to control a mount. Ride has a base DC of 5 and is modified as indicated below. Mounting or dismounting is a full round action. A ride check must be made each round, as a free action, or the character is thrown from the mount.

+5Jumping Mount
+5Running Mount
+10Flying Mount
+5Mount/dismount as a move action.
+5Mount is not trained / Wild Mount
Damage TakenMount takes damage
Search (Int)

Search is used to find hidden objects. Generally, it is rolled in opposition to stealth checks made to hide objects. Small or hard to find objects that are not purposefully hidden, have a search DC of 15 modified by their size modifier.

Sense Motive (Wis)

Sense motive is rolled to oppose bluff checks. It can also be used to gain “A hunch” about someone’s intentions. When used to gain a hunch, it is opposed by their bluff check, and started by the sensor, not the bluffer.

Sleight of Hand (Dex)

Sleight of hand is opposed by perception checks made to prevent it. It is generally a standard action to use and can be used to palm or hide an object without being noticed.

Spellcraft (Int)

Spellcraft can be used to identify and decipher magical effects, whether as they are cast, or if they are ongoing.

The DC for this is generally 10+HD of the caster.

Stealth (Dex)

Stealth is rolled whenever a character has cover and would like to avoid being detected by the perception skill.


Survival is used to find one’s way in the wilderness and ensure that the travel is not lethal.

10Move at ½ overland speed while foraging for yourself.
15Move at ½ overland speed while foraging for a group of up to 6
15Avoid natural hazards like quicksand.
15Predict weather 24 hours in advance
20Move along in the while at full speed while foraging
30Move along in the while at full speed while foraging for a group of up to 6
20*Track a creature.
Creatures can make an opposed survival check to hide their own tracks if they are making an attempt to do so.
DCTrack Modifiers
+2Per additional creature
+4Every size over medium (per creature)
+124 hours since trail was made
+1Hour of rain since trail was made
+5Stone or hard ground
+10Flying targets
+2Fog or mists
Use Rope (Dex)

Use rope is the skill to tie knots. Use Rope is rolled when the knot is tested, not after declaring you are tying one. If you gain a new modifier to this roll that you did not have previously, use the original modifier.

10Basic Knot
15Slip Knot
40Animate a rope like a snake charmer.

Use Rope can also be used to bind a creature, in which case it is opposed by escape artist. Again, it is not rolled until the creature attempts to break free.

Speak Language (Special)

In other editions of RPGs, speak language is a skill. In K20, all creatures speak common, or their natural tongue (if specifically indicated). Common is essentially a natural combination of a variety of local dialects and languages that over time has formed as a sort of “Trade Language”. Many dialects of common exist and can be spoken, and two people communicating from across the world who have never met may experience some difficulty, but the core is the same. This is not represented mechanically.

In addition, a character can choose to gain proficiency in Speak Language. This skill is not rolled, and instead grants fluency in 5 written and spoken versions of languages from the list. Of note, this skill can be chosen multiple times, each time granting 5 new languages.

The alphabet shows which of the 5 given alphabets are used when writing the language, and Root Language is the original language from which the spoken version is derived. Some original languages have no root. Languages and their Roots often share phrases, words, or grammatical similarities with one another, but are generally still illegible to one another.

LanguageAlphabetRoot Language
CommonCommonElven/dwarven/ goblin/dead

Dead Languages: there are many origin based dead languages. In fact, most sentient societies had one. Most of these dead languages are no longer used due to the prevalence of common, and these beings have simply adopted common as their tongue, with a smattering of the dead language thrown in for a local dialect. Players should feel welcome to take any sentient origins native language (Ettin, Salamander, Orc, whatever) as a language but should also be aware that it will generally be less likely to come up in a game.

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