One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
I have always been a bit confused, and stat blocks I have seen have not really cleared up. My questions relate specifically to multi-classing. The answers will be simple but the explanation long-winded.
Suppose you have a character who picks up disparate classess (say fighter and mage). Suppose also that (among) the important skills to this character are concentration, ride, spot and sense motive.
If this character picked up a few levels of fighter, he / she could max out ride, and the rest would be cross classed. If he / she had only average stats, no racial or magical bonuses and no bolstering feats, at level 3 they would look like this:
concentration +3, ride +6, spot +3, sense motive +3.
At level 4, the character picks up a level of wizard. Concentration becomes a class skill and the rest are cross class. Thus we have this, again without any misch bonuses (and stop me if I am wrong):
concentration +4, ride +6.5 (6), spot +3.5 (3), sense motive +3.5 (3)
Here is the big question. At level 5 the character continues as a wizard. At this point, spot and sense motive are still cross class so they could each only to up to +4. But at this point are both concentration and ride class skills or only concentration? If the character picked up a level of fighter instead, would both concentration and ride be class skills or only ride?
Stat blocks that I see in published adventures such as Dungeon seem to favour the 'class skills are per level are only the class skills for the level you have just taken' (and so do the 3.5 CRPGs that I have played), but my interpretation of the PHB rules is that when you have taken a second class, any continuation beyond the first level of the second class, in either, regards all class skills for both as ongoing class skills.
One other question - if the character later qualified for a prestige class with a new class skill (tumble, for example), and that skill had not previously been taken - could the character spend all their skill points for that level to 'catch up', or only a maximum of +4?
For eg: ftr 5 wiz 5 PrC 1.
If the character has 6 skill points per level could they take 6 skill points in tumble or only 4?
If they went ftr 5 wiz 5 PrC2, could they take another 6 or another 1?
If they went ftr 6 wiz 5 PrC1, could they take another 6, or 1 or half?
Let me see if I can help. There are 2 uses of the classed/cross-class distinction. One is for Max Ranks. The other is for how much it costs to gain 1 rank of a skill for this level.
When you are a Fighter 3, no problem. Only your fighter skills are class skills, they cost 1 skill point per rank, and you can have a max of level+3. So you are fine.
When you gain a wizard level, you gain new class skills. The max rank for your old fighter class skills still goes up (in this case, Ride has a max of 7 ranks) and your wizard class skills also get set to a max of level +3 (in this case 7 for concentration) but other skills keep the same max.
However, the skill points you spend are spent as per the class you earned them with. So it costs you 2 skill points to add 1 rank to Ride at 4th level (F3/W1), and only 1 skill point to add a point to Concentration.
The reason that published stat blocks tend to be wrong, is that they don't take into account the order you took classes and what the max would have been at that time. They instead total up the points, and spend them all on the skills they want.
In this case, they take a F3/W2, determine he as a max rank of 8 in Concentration and Ride, and that he has 12 fighter and 4 wizard skill points to spend, and go ahead and let him spend 8 fighter points on Ride 8, when that would not have been legal, because he had a max of 6 at the time he earned those fighter skill points. But it is usually close enough for NPCs not to worry with that kind of detail - as they are likely to get killed off in less than 1 session. PCs should be carefully built to determine what each level was spent on and how skills were spent.
That's about right, although some people interpret cross-class Max Ranks as increasing at half value when the character gains levels. In other words, our 3rd level Fighter taking a rank of Wizard only gets a Max Rank of 6.5 to his Ride skill. I haven't seen an official WotC interpretation in either direction.
Also, a very common house rule is no more than 4 skill points spent on a skill per level, regardless of class or cross-class.
As for NPCs you cite, don't worry about it. If you attempt to live and die by the rules, you'll go nuts trying to make sure everything stays by the book.
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