Friday, March 31, 2017

Get ALL The Skill Points in Pathfinder With This Handy Trick

One of the most common complaints heard round any Pathfinder table is that characters never have enough skill points to go around. Even classes like the rogue, the bard, and the investigator, which were built for the skill monkey role in the game world, never seem to offer enough points for everything a player wants to do. And if you're playing a fighter? Or a sorcerer? Forget it... you're good at, like, two things. Three, tops.

Being an asshole is something any class can do, though.
It makes sense, though, from a game balance perspective. After all, skill points are a resource, and they have to be spent to achieve certain results. The classes that get fewer skill points, well, they get other resources to make up for it. Fighters get full BAB, proficiency in most weapons and armors, and more feats than a mutant centipede. Sorcerers? They get bloodline powers, bonus feats, and, in case you forgot, SPELLS! So limiting the skill points these classes get can be seen as a way to prevent any one character from getting a bigger piece of the resource pie.

If you want to widen your slice a little, though, try this tip on for size.

Humans, Traits, and Feats

Now, the easiest way to get more skill points is to play a human. After all, that bonus feat at creation, and the bonus skill point every level, is one of the reasons so many games are human dominated. If you combine that with the bonus skill point option for taking a level in your favored class, then that's two extra skill points per level, on top of your class plus your Intelligence modifier.

But who needs a bonus skill point instead of a bonus hit point from your favored class? After all, if you're dead, it doesn't matter how skilled you are. If you're rolling for hit points, then that bonus one can be the literal difference between life and death.

Though some characters are squishier than others.
Don't worry, though, because Improved Initiative has you covered. What you need to do is take a look at the trait Finding Your Kin, and the feat Fast Learner. The trait lets you select a favored class, and gain +1 hit point as well as +1 skill point when you gain a new level. The feat does the same thing.

What's great about these two is that they both provide untyped bonuses, which are one of the only varieties that stack. So as long as you're playing a human with both of these items on your sheet, and you're taking levels in your favored class, you gain +2 hit points, and +3 skill points every level (that's with your human bonus). That's not bad.

It's also important to remember that half-elves count as human for any effect related to race, and that they can pick two favored classes. So adding Fast Learner on top of that will ensure you always get a bonus skill point and a bonus hit point. Finding Your Kin only allows you to pick a single class, so if you're going to make use of it, make sure your favored class is the one you have the most levels in.

EDIT: Due to arguments, I felt I should add an additional warning here. This trait, originally titled "Finding Helene" comes from the Legacy of Fire adventure path. This path was released during the awkward transition from DND 3.5 to Pathfinder, and it is also a campaign trait. For these reasons, many DMs may ban its use outside of that campaign, and when playing with the rules from that time.

Even Small Numbers Add Up

A +1 here, and a +1 there doesn't seem like very much, but those are the things powerful character concepts are built from. Ask yourself what you would do if you have 30 bonus skill points and 20 bonus hit points by level 10. How would you spend them? More to the point, would you be able to achieve your concept without those bonus resources to spend?

Not every character concept needs them. But if you have a concept that does need a slightly larger slice of the pie, well, I won't tell if you don't.

That's all for this week's Crunch topic. Hopefully there are some folks out there who find it helpful when they next sit down to build a character, and they want a few more skill points to throw around. If you'd like to support Improved Initiative so I can keep making posts just like this one, go to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page, and become a patron today. All it takes is $1 a month to buy my everlasting gratitude, and to get yourself some sweet swag as a thank you from me. Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter yet, well, today's a great day to start!


  1. It's worth noting that Finding Haleen/Your Kin is a campaign trait(and one of THE most powerful), so it's likely not going to be allowed outside of Legacy of Fire.

  2. A trait that gives you free toughness feat AND a free skill point in exchange for sticking to one class forever? waaay too good, especially since many traits barely give you half a feat.

    1. no - the Feat does not give you an extra +1HP and extra +1SP. If you want to compare it to toughness it's actually equivalent to:
      * take +1SP each favoured level
      * add Toughness (relabelled)

      it does let the seeker-after-HP do better, as they can still add Toughness as well.

      So, really, it's "a second Toughness Feat"

  3. Campaign traits from 3.5 tended to be overpowered as Pathfinder Traits. That said, they were usually migrated to the Upbringing Feat category. Those are allowed at 1st level & you can only have one of them.

  4. I just read Fast Learner; it seems like it gives 1 HP and 1 Skill point *instead* of the normal Favored Class Bonus, not *in addition* to the normal FCB. That's kind of supported by the second half of the feat reading, which notes that you can give up both to get an FCB other than SP/HP.

    Still not a bad feat for someone who needs skill points and hit points.

  5. i'd allow Open Minded from Dreamscarred Presses Psionics unleashed long before i would allow the Finding Haleen Trait as just a Trait. Finding Haleen is worth a feat on its own, maybe two because it combined toughness and open minded as long as you stick with one class. but sticking with one class is easy in Pathfinder where entire archetypes and even hybrid classes exist to negate the need for your character to ever multiclass.