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Building Blocks 39: Skills 5

Skills 5:

Intimidate

Ability Modifier: charisma

Active/Passive: active – taunting takes specific intended action.

Class skill for: barbarian, Druid, fighter, paladin, and rogue

Untrained use? Yes

Armor check penalty? No

Feat modifiers: bullheaded, mark of the sentinel, and coin lord finishing school (400 coin lord favor) +2

What it represents: your ability to manipulate and influence others using threatening, bullying, and taunting behavior.

How it affects gameplay: on a successful intimidate use you will jump to the top of monsters’ aggro lists in your vicinity.  This includes not only a small buffer but grants the user a buff of 50% to their threat generation (100% if using a shield). 

There are also dialog options throughout the game that use intimidate.  Note that the use of intimidate is sometimes always a failure in such cases.

Special considerations: size matters. For every size category smaller than the creature being affected you are, you take a cumulative -4 penalty to your intimidate roll.  For each size larger than the creature you are you receive a cumulative +4 bonus to your intimidate roll.  Note that halflings are small creatures.

Creatures that have no intelligence cannot be intimidated.  This is a shorter list than the restrictions to bluff and diplomacy because less intelligence is required, but mindless creatures are still unaffected. This includes some undead and all vermin.

It is advisable that you be prepared to accept the incoming aggro lest you get squished.

Half-elves get a special second use of intimidate on a second cool down timer.

Who likes it: tanks.  The is a misconception that only intimitanks can effectively utilize this skill, but the extra threat generation can be useful to anyone “tanking” at the time. Also, dads with teenage daughters.

How much should you have? If you intend to do any tanking as part of your build invest in intimidate.  Even if you are unable to achieve the highest thresholds and tank the beefiest of raid bosses, there are plenty of bosses and even waves of trash where you can protect the rest of the party by grabbing aggro (but be able to take the heat, even if that requires some dedicated healing).  Serious intim tanks will also invest in an intimidate item (or items if they include a shroud skills and/or a select few other items).

Personally, I recommend all barbarians, fighters, and paladins invest in intimidate unless they are a specialized multiclass build.  They should have the skill points for this and its practically their only really useful class skill.  Also, any kind of tank build will benefit from this skill.  Take as much as you can get.  The only skills I’d place as a higher priority for a tanky type would be concentration (monks) and UMD if you are into that (though I place intimidate higher on my list than UMD).

 

Jump

Ability Modifier: strength

Active/Passive: passive – the act of jumping triggers a jump check, strange though it may be.

Class skill for: barbarian, bard, favored soul, fighter, monk, ranger, and rogue

Untrained use? Yes

Armor check penalty? Yes

Racial and feat modifiers: halflings +2

Acrobatic +2

What it represents: your ability to leap into the air, both in terms of height and distance

How it affects gameplay: when you jump this skill determines how high and how far you can do so before you land.  Jump also reduces the amount of damage you take from falling, but at a smaller rate than tumble.

Special considerations: a skill modifier of more than 40 does not further increase your ability to jump.  40 is the maximum modifier for height and distance jumped, but higher values do continue reducing falling damage.

Who likes it: pretty much everyone.  Casters and healers get the most benefit from it during combat because of jump casting (if you cast while air born you continue moving with no penalty to speed) but everyone uses jump and higher jump skills allow players to reach quest extras, jump over enemies or traps, and reach perch positions.

How much should you have? After balance, jump is my preferred skill to invest in with extra points after I have maxed the skills my build is relying on.  In some cases, if I only have enough to max 1 of these 2 skills I generally put enough skill points into jump to get to +20 and the rest into balance at most going half and half.

Oddly enough, those who typically find the skill to be most useful are the builds I don’t invest much into jump.  As a general rule, if my character can cast jump (the spell, not a clicky), I will put at most 10 points into the skill.  This is because the spell adds +30 and I really only care about my jumping ability not how much my falling damage will be reduced and actual jumping is capped at +40.

On other characters I keep either a jump clicky (morah’s belt from Shavarath) or a jump item for times where I need to reach heights. Boosts to strength (ex: rage) and speed (ex: haste) also increase your jumping ability. In cases where time is not a factor, consider taking your armor off and/or putting your shield away to get those last few inches of jump.

 

Listen

Ability Modifier: wisdom

Active/Passive: passive – not only do you listen passively without needing to declare it, even if you want to listen actively that action causes a listen check (yeah I know, it’s strange).

Class skill for: barbarian, bard, Druid, monk, ranger, and rogue

Untrained use? Yes

Armor check penalty? No

Racial and feat modifiers: drow, elves, and halflings +2

Half-elves +1

Alertness +2

What it represents: your hearing ability

How it affects gameplay: when monsters are hiding you are given 2 ways to find them before they come out of hiding and listen is 1 of them. Your listen check is compared to the monster’s move silently check and if your check wins you will hear the monster.  This is indicated by the red bursts at their “feet” and you will be able to target them.

There are also a few places throughout the game where you will get a listen check to detect something, usually a floor that will fall out (the chamber of raiyum, or wizard king, being a prominent example). These are few and far between however.

Special considerations: theoretically this skill should work even when blind, but the graphics of the game have never supported this, though you can still target creatures you can hear or that are unhidden.

Who likes it: no one cares

How much should you have? None.  Monsters tend to attack when they see you and doing so makes them unhidden, so finding monsters isn’t usually an issue.  At best they might get a couple of surprise swings, but monsters don’t move around much in quests so you can learn where they hide.  The exception to this *might* be stealth builds, but they would be better served by investing in spot instead.  Knowing where other hiding monsters are will improve your stealthiness.

The benefits of extra DM texts and hints are at best trivial.  Even the messages about floors breaking just tells you it can happen (often times right as it does).  These hints can also mostly be learned.  Once you learn where floors can break (and other listen hints) you don’t need them every time.  Invest in more useful skills.

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