Chapter 4: Skills

Profession Skills (Wis)

An activity qualifies as a profession if any one of the following criteria are met:

  • The work is provided as a service that does not produce a new tangible good.
  • The tangible good worked on is only repaired or improved in its current use or function, rather than transformed (finding, gathering and/or separating goods also qualifies).
  • The work is done by machinery or equipment that does not require constant (or near constant) hands-on attention or is larger or more complex than a simple hand-held tool.

Note that the definition of “profession” is not simply “any activity with which one can make a living.” This is the common definition in today's world, but such a definition is meaningless in the context we are using it here to distinguish from Craft and Knowledge skills.

Profession Skill
The apothecary is skilled at making non-magical medicines, balms, salves and potions from various herbs and other mundane substances. The apothecary must have a laboratory with all the suitable equipment (e.g. flasks, retorts, alembics, condensers, furnaces, etc.) in order to do this work, and thus is not a craft. [For the purposes of avoiding an excessively large skill list, such skills as soapmaker and perfumer are included in apothecary.]
You are skilled at using surveying equipment to marking plots of land and determine the value of the plots. In the Hurvan campaign, only Ravenloft natives from certain domains may take this skill.
You can make horoscopes, and birth charts for people based on the time of their birth and the positions of the celestial bodies, and can make prophecies and predictions based on them if such are effective in the game world, or if not to at least make general predictions that may become self-fulfilling for the recipients. This skill is particularly useful for those who use divination magic.
You are familiar with a variety of alcoholic beverages and are skilled at mixing and serving them.
You are familiar with the laws of this region. You understand the intracacies of dealing with both honest and crooked judges. You know of any precedents that affect current laws or their interpretation. You are skilled at writing legally binding documents and contracts.
[Note: This is a region-specific skill. See the note below on region-specific skills.]
You know how to safely keep and handle bees, and how to collect the honey they produce.
You are skilled at handling small watercraft. You are capable of efficiently rowing both steer and give speed to the boat.
You are capable of performing accounting and other financial functions to make sure that everything balances. If you have 5 or more ranks of Knowledge (Mathematics), you get a +2 synergy bonus on any Profession (Bookkeeper) check. [Note: The DMG uses the term 'Clerk' for this profession]
You can make various beverages (usually alcoholic in nature) from raw ingredients using a still and other such equipment. This skill does not allow you to make magical potions.
You are skilled at making good cuts of meat from a slaughtered carcass. You know what type of cuts are made from what parts of the carcass, and can divide up a carcass into a variety of cuts with minimal waste.
You are skilled at drawing maps based on the observations and measurements of others (especially surveyors) that you correlate into a consistent whole. Because coordinating various distance and angle measurements or estimates is a geometrical task, if you have 5 or more ranks of Knowledge (Mathematics), you get a +2 synergy bonus on any Craft (mapmaking) check involving making maps from such measurements.
You can produce prepared food dishes of some sophistication. You are familiar with various methods of food preparation (e.g. frying, baking, broiling, steaming) and the general types of food items (sauces, soups, stews, etc.), the uses and effects of various ingredients and spices, and can easily follow or modify a recipe, or even create new recipes.
This profession specialty is listed in the Player's Handbook, so I mention it here for completeness' sake. Handle Animal specifically states it is used to "drive a team of horses pulling a wagon over rough terrain," so use Handle Animal in place of this specialty.
Conv, MoF
You know how to build things and make things work. You are a real- world problem-solver, and have the practical and empirical skills to take plans and theories that exist only on paper and make them real. You are methodical and efficient in your approach to building or making things. For large projects, you know how to schedule and organize the work and coordinate the work of various specialty crafts in an efficient manner.
[This is actually part of the Knowledge (Architecture & Engineering) skill. The Conversion Guide lists this as a profession, so I mention it here for completeness' sake. Personally, I think it fits better as a profession than as a knowledge skill.]
You can cultivate and harvest food crops. You know how to best till the soil, when to plant different types of crops, how to plant seeds, cuts or tubers in terms of depth and separation. You know what types of fertilizers or other additives help which crops. You can irrigate your fields if necessary, and pick or harvest the crops when ripe.
You are skilled at catching fish from lakes and streams. You know what parts of lakes and streams are the best spots for catching various types of fish. You can identify the various types of fish and are familiar with their behavior and breeding patterns. You can use poles, lures and nets to catch fish.
You are skilled at a variety of games of chance involving cards, dice, or other such random implements. In a fair game, you can usually make enough money to live on (providing the goddess of chance allows). You can also detect when others are cheating, or even cheat others yourself. For each rank of Profession (gambler), you are skilled at another game of chance.
[Note: Personally, I don't think this should be a distinct skill. You should just use the Knowledge (local) or Wilderness Lore skills for this task. In fact, the Wilderness Lore skill specifically states it's used to guide people. This profession specialty is in the PH, so I must mention it here for completeness' sake.]
You are skilled at loading, aiming, firing, cleaning and otherwise maintaining cannon. You can function as a gunner's mate on a ship or an artilleryman with an army. Having any whole number of ranks means you know the basic procedures for firing the cannon safely. If you have at least 6 ranks in this skill, you can serve as a master gunner who can supervise others and coordinate massed cannon fire. In the Hurvan campaign, only Ravenloft natives from certain domains may take this skill.
The herbalist can correctly identify many herbs and know their uses. He knows where they can be found in the wild and how to properly gather and pick them. He can also cultivate and grow them himself.
This profession is essentially the same thing as the shepherd. The herdsman can tend and manage to smaller herd animals such as sheep, goats or swine and protect them from predators. He is skilled at keeping herd animals together and herding them to pastures and water as needed. He can also tell when animals are unhealthy, and often knows simple remedies to address the problem. He can also direct helper animals (e.g. sheepdogs) to aid him in his work.
[This profession specialty is mentioned in the Conversion Manual so I mention it here for completeness' sake, but the description of the Wilderness Lore skill is clear that hunting falls within that skill.]
You are skilled at the running of an inn. You can organize the cleaning and maintenance of the rooms, and keep track of reservations and vacancies.
You are skilled at washing, cleaning and pressing clothes. This profession has also been called bleacher and wringer.
You know much about the proper handling, care, and filing of tomes. You can find a tome in a filing system you are familiar with, no roll is required. An unfamiliar filing system requires a skill check, while a library that has no standardized classification system calls for a more difficult check at (the Librarian asks himself, "Where would I put that book if this were my library?"). The handling of brittle tomes is best left to a Librarian. A successful skill check allows them to handle brittle pages without any further damage to rare, ancient tomes. In addition, Librarians are experts at quick research, and can skim any book they could normally read at 2-4 (1d3+1) times the speed it would take the average person to read the tome. Because one is actually only looking for key words and ideas, one cannot skim one's spells to decrease memorization time, but it may help reduce spell research time at the DM's option. The skill assumes that the Librarian speaks the language that the books are written in, or has some similar method to discern the contents of the book or piece of information he is looking for.
A character with this skill can determine which trees are good for lumber and plan how to bring them down with the minimum damage to the surrounding forest. He is skilled with the various axes and saws of the trade and can perform well in team with another lumberjack to use two-man saws. He is also skilled at efficiently stripping unusable branches and leaves from the logs, and managing their transport to the sawmill. If a river is used for transport, the lumberjack is skilled at managing the flow and breaking up logjams.
The miller is skilled at operating a gristmill to grind goods provided into powder, e.g. making flour from grain. He can also maintain and repair the grindstones, the gears to keep them turning, and other equipment needed to run a gristmill.
You are skilled at tunneling into the earth to find and retrieve ores. You are skilled at judging the likelihood of the presence of valuable minerals from landforms, and can follow veins. You know how to make tunnels safe to work, and can tell if a tunnel is properly supported or is likely to collapse. You can also identify various valuable ores.
You are skilled at finding your current location on a map based on your surroundings. If you are at sea, you know how to determine your position according to visible shorelines, the sun, the moon and stars. If you are on land, you know how to orient yourself based on terrain and landmarks. If you have 5 or more ranks of Knowledge (Mathematics), you get a +2 synergy bonus on any Profession (Navigator) check.
This is the simple task of carrying things, in some cases on your back or head. Watercarriers, stevedores, dockyard workers and cargo handlers use this skill. The skill is so simple it really doesn't rate being a skill, but the Player's Handbook includes it so there it is.
You know how to use a printing press and type-setting equipment to make printed sheets of paper for books, flyers, announcements, notices, or other such publications. You know the proper inks to use and how to make them. In the Hurvan campaign, only Ravenloft natives from certain domains may take this skill.
You can manage large herd animals like cattle, rather than the smaller animals the herdsman does. This often is more difficult and dangerous, and requires a different set of skills, than the what herdsman does. Instead of herding from foot with the aid of sheepdogs, you herd from horseback and are skilled as a wrangler. You can also keep up an organized set of corrals and fences to meet the specialized needs of raising cattle, and organize cattle drives.
You are skilled at the operation of a sailing vessel. You know how to rig, furl and unfurl the sails, and are skilled at rope use in this context. You also know how to perform the other various tasks needed to maintain a sailing ship.
You can accurately transcribe or copy writings, and you can take down dictation. If you have 5 or more ranks of Craft (Calligraphy), you get a +2 synergy bonus on any Profession (Scribe) check.
You are skilled in the general management of a retail business where you do not make the product you sell. A general store is the classic example of this. Other examples included mercers (who deal with textiles, especially silks) general adventuring suppliers and shipchandlers. A chandler is a dealer of provisions of a certain kind. This skill includes dealing with suppliers and customers, maintaining inventory, and stocking. Essentially, it covers the aspects of running a business other than the financial bookkeeping. It should be presumed that one with this skill will also know the basics of bookkeeping, although not to the extent that someone with Profession(bookkeeper) would. If you have 5 or more ranks of Profession (Bookkeeper), you get a +2 synergy bonus on any Profession (shopkeeper) check involving the financial aspects of shopkeeping.
Siege Engineer
You are knowledgeable in methods of penetrating and reducing castles and fortifications, and skilled in organizing and carrying out siege operations. You are skilled at constructing, using, or directing the operation of siege engines in war, including towers, battering rams, catapults, ballistae, and trebuchets. You are also skilled at planning and organizing sapper teams. [Note: The Sword and Fist accessory lists the very similar Knowledge (war) skill that covers the same ground: siege engines, sapping, siege tactics and strategy. To avoid the duplication, use Profession (Engineer) for this with a synergy bonus from Knowledge (war).]
You are skilled at managing stables. You can care for, groom and feed animals, spot sickness or other unusual behavior in an animal, and provide the animals with clean stalls. If you have 5 or more ranks of Handle Animal, you get a +2 synergy bonus on any Profession (stablehand) check involving direct interaction with the animals.
You can take the raw hides or skins of animals and make them into leather. You are familiar with using alcohol and turpentine, salt and alum, bark, or oil and smoke to tan hides into leather, and you know how to oil and finish the resulting leather.
[This profession specialty is listed in the Player's Handbook, so I mention it here for completeness' sake. Handle Animal specifically states it is used to "drive a team of horses pulling a wagon over rough terrain," so use Handle Animal in place of this specialty.]
You know where best to set traps for animals and what baits to use to attract them. You also know how to kill and skin the caught animals in such a way as to not damage the hides.
You are a skilled worker at a sawmill. You can operate and repair the machines that cut the logs provided by the lumberjack into useful boards, and feed the logs to the machines properly to create boards of the desired size. This is not a craft because of the large equipment used in the sawmill.