(This article explains the mechanics of what a skill is. For a list of skills with their uses, see that article.)
A skill is an action your character can perform, it's success is affected by how much you have train the correct skill and by your natural capacities (for example, having a high Dexterity makes you better at tumbling). As you increase in level you can spend points into skills in order to be more successful at it.
- Humans have an additional 4 bonus skill points at 1st level and 1 each level after.
Example: A Human Rogue with 18 intelligence will have 52 skill points to spend, at 1st level, 13 each level after.
- The maximum rank that can be assigned to any single skill depends on the Character Level: 3 + Level ranks for class skills, and half this for Cross-class skills. For example, at Level 2, each class skill can have no more than 5 ranks (2.5 for Cross-class skills) assigned; at level 6, each class skill can have no more than 9 ranks (4.5 for Cross-class skills). This is the max assignable ranks per skill; it is not the max skill level. The skill can still be increased by Abilities, Feats, Enhancements or Item / Spell buffs beyond the max assignable ranks.
- Former class skills from previous classes count as Cross-class skills for purposes of cost (see below); however, you can still raise the skill to 3 + Level, if you have enough skill points to do so.
- Even if your Character starts with 6 Intelligence (Half-Orc), and your Character chooses a class with 2 base skill points per level, your Character will get 1 skill point each level.
Skill points can be distributed into skills depending on your class. When spending your skill points, it will cost one point to increase a skill's rank by one if it's a class skill, however, it will cost you two skill points to increase its rank by one if it's a cross-class skill. Note that you can only invest skill points in Disable Device or Open Locks if you have at least one level of Artificer or Rogue.
Skills and Difficulty Class
When using a skill, your are most likely trying to defeat a score. For example, when an Artificer or Rogue is trying to disarm a trap, he must beat a certain score to disarm the trap, that score is the difficulty class.
When using active skills, you are always trying to beat a DC. Whether you are intimidating a foe or searching for a secret door. Most of the time, you will have to roll a dice, sometimes you won't. When a dice is rolled, a natural 1 or a natural 20 does not grant an automatic failure or success.
When using passive skills, you are not necessarily trying to beat a DC. For example, when jumping, simply your skill modifier is taken in account to determine height of your jumps. Most of the time, you won't have to roll a dice when using passive skills, sometimes you will. When a dice is rolled, a natural 1 or a natural 20 does not grant an automatic failure or success.