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Are there rules for PCs making checks to identify class abilities of NPCs? For example, if a Monk uses Slow Fall, or a Druid uses Woodland Stride, or a Paladin uses Lay On Hands, can nearby PCs determine what the ability was, and possibly what class or class levels the NPC has?

There are rules for identifying spells and identifying monsters, but are there any (core or 3rd party) for class abilities? Obviously many players would be able to meta-game the information, but it stands to reason that a character may not have intimate knowledge all other class abilities, especially those of a high level.

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3 Answers 3

An excellent question, imo. I'm not aware of any official answer (hopefully others may provide such as well), but I thought I'd share how we resolve such issues. We rely on Knowledge checks.

Examples:

  • Knowlege (local) may tell you there's an order of monks living nearby whom the peasants admire for their wonderful ability of falling slowly.
  • Knowledge (nature) may let you know that the man you saw passing without a trace is something more than an average human.
  • Knowledge (religion) can speak of (the deeds of) armored, sword-wielding noble heroes blessed with healing powers by the gods.

Of course, these are just examples. Knowledge is a broad skill: all of the above points could be revealed by other fields as well. (Religion for the monks, History for the druid, Nobility for the Paladin, to name just a different set of alternatives.)

The details of the information revealed depend, as usual, on the level of success the PC achieves, and, also, as usual, on the DM's whim. :)

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I like the idea of making these checks more roleplay based (varying depending on where the NPC came from) and not strictly mechanical. –  dlras2 May 2 '12 at 20:08
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Knowledge: spellcraft checks seem to be used a lot in the games I have been involved with, not only to help determine magical properties of items determined to be magical, but also spells being cast and spells that may be in effect in an area or on a person/creature. Knowledge checks seem to be the most obvious way of determining class abilities of others and can be easily adjusted to higher levels of difficulty versus higher level abilities.

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My parties have always used Knowledge checks for such things. However, it's also worth noting that it would be a bit metagamed to be able to make a check and learn every ability a particular class can do, not to mention dangerous if you have a creative DM. Most of my main BBEGs or other important NPCs tend to have altered or unique abilities, and sometimes they're abilities that you couldn't discover.

Moral of the story - even if you successfully glean information, assume that you have not discovered it all, it's safer that way!

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