Wizards' Handbook by Dictum Mortuum (3.5e Optimized Character Build)/Skills

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Class Skills[edit]

  • Concentration: This is very useful. Of course, theoretically, it would be best that you wouldn't have to make concentration rolls in the first place. This skill makes you able to avoid losing spells to stressful situations.
  • Craft: While crafting is for lowly peasants, there are quite a few prestige classes that list it as a requirement. Crafting alchemical items can be quite efficient at low to mid levels.
  • Decipher Script: Nice skill, but you can always use your spells to duplicate it. No need to spend skill points in this one.
  • Knowledge: Now this is something important. Intelligence will be one of your highest attributes and knowledges provide useful information on your opponents. The best course of action is for the party to split the various knowledges that creature types are related to. However since you have the skill points to spend, you can take quite a few. Consult the chart below for creature types and areas of knowledge relation:
    • Arcana: Constructs, Dragons, Magical Beasts.
    • Dungeoneering: Aberrations, Oozes.
    • Local: Humanoids (Native local humanoids probably)
    • Nature: Animals, Fey, Giants, Monstrous Humanoids, Plants, Vermin.
    • Religion: Undead.
    • Planes: Outsiders, Elementals.

As you can see, the nature area of knowledge provides tremendous amount of information on creatures. A close second is Arcana, which every wizard should have, since it's the area related to his own profession. Knowledge on the planes offers quite a few information, since outsiders are a pretty large category. Knowledge on religion area is quited limited, but no one can neglect undead.

  • Profession: I'd dump this. You can gain a lot more by selling your spells or crafting stuff. Also wisdom isn't actually important to you.
  • Spellcraft: This is one of the skills you would like to max out. Its applications are many and help identifying opponent's magical defenses, counterspelling, following tracks, learning new spells, identify potions and generally understand magical effects. Every wizard should possess this.

Cross-Class Skills[edit]

  • Appraise: Not exactly needed to wizards, but some times it's required for fulfilling requirements. Also thematically fits to the wizard figure.
  • Balance: 5 ranks in this will ensure that you won't be flat-footed when balancing. A rogue can easily disable with high sneak attack damage at low to mid levels. Of course this is not the way to deal with such threats directly, but every little bit helps.
  • Disable Device/Search: They're intelligence based and you can gain trapfinding by dipping to roguish classes. You can fill in the trapfinder role this way relatively easily and by not making a huge sacrifice.
  • Disguise: Wizards are crafty individuals. Appearing as the cliche wizard with the big hat and the robe, is probably going to draw enemy fire. This skill helps you survive this. The best part is that spells like disguise self, alter self and shapechange grant you huge bonuses to creating disguises.
  • Escape Artist: The grapple check is base attack bonus + strength modifier + size bonus, not particularly the wizards' forte. You can escape from a grapple by giving up an attack, while making an escape artist check to escape is a standard action. Since your base attack bonus is bad anyway, you will have as many as two attacks, so these two are pretty much the same. Using escape artist is superior, since you benefit from dexterity a lot more than strength and spending skill points in it are not that required, since custom magic items and spells help boost the check.
  • Forgery: It can have some serious roleplaying hit and it's intelligence based. Stealing the seal of the local lord and forging documents can boost your wealth, but it entirely depends on the choices you make in game and on your DM.
  • Hide/Move Silently: Hide is a skill that you can easily pump e.g. by being small and wearing magic items. Also enemies that cannot see you cannot actively harm you, which is great considering how fragile wizards are. Note that you should use these to stay away from danger, not to scout around.
  • Listen/Spot: Although the general wizard figure is usually aloof and doesn't pay much attention to his surroundings, spending some ranks in these two can help against surprising situations. Wizards are all about preparation.
  • Tumble: Great skill. The ability to get into a better position without provoking attacks of opportunity and casting your spell safe from harm is probably better than casting on the defensive.
  • Autohypnosis: Wow, this has great uses, even if it is keyed off wisdom. The DCs are relatively low, so it's worth it to spend some cross class skill points into this.
  • Use Magic Device: Many uses have a fixed DC, which you can hit easily with a few ranks and some items. Also your familiar benefits from this greatly if it can speak.
  • Use Psionic Device: As above.

Skill Tricks[edit]

  • Collector of Stories CS: Great bonus to identifying creatures, a role that wizards usually fulfill. Requires Knowledge (any) 5 ranks.
  • Conceal Spellcasting CS: Not that good since it is based on your sleight of hand check, which can't get really high since it's not on your class skill list. It's an interesting trick though. Requires Concentration 1 rank, Sleight of Hand 5 ranks, Spellcraft 1 rank.
  • Easy Escape CS: This actually offsets the bonus your opponent gains from his size to the grapple roll (well at least if you are medium sized). That said you can easily escape and cast a spell to somewhere safe. Requires Escape Artist 8 ranks.
  • False Theurgy CS: Trick opponents into thinking you are casting a different spell. Nice if you are dealing with counterspellers a lot and want to get an important spell through. Requires Bluff or Sleight of Hand 8 ranks, Spellcraft 8 ranks.
  • Magical Appraisal CS: This is great, because identify's material component is expensive. Also it has a casting time of 1 hour. Essentially you spend 2 skill points for a spell-like ability. Requires Appraise 5 ranks, Knowledge (Arcana) 5 ranks, Spellcraft 12 ranks.
  • Swift Concentration CS: One of the greatest skill tricks for wizards, this will enable you concentrate on powerful spells while being able to employ spells to deal with other threats. Requires Concentration 12 ranks.

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