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On page 26 of the DMG it describes knowledge checks as giving the players particular information, such as a history check to identify a region. But wouldn't a skill check be the same? Or does the skill check take place when needed and the knowledge check used at the start of an adventure to discover what encounters they might face?

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Hi, Luke. Page 26 of which book, please? –  Jadasc Dec 8 '12 at 16:19
    
The DMG :) page 26 :) –  Luke Burgin Dec 8 '12 at 16:31
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@LukeBurgin - looking at a bunch of the questions you've asked, I get the impression that you're new to playing table top RPGs, and perhaps are feeling unsure if you know the rules well enough. I'd recommend diving in, and not fretting the rules - if your whole group is new, then who cares what the rules are as long as you're all having fun, and if you are playing with experienced players I would hope that they will be able to help you with the rules as they come up. As a co-operative game, getting the rules wrong, is not as much of a concern as is competitive games. –  Simon Withers Dec 8 '12 at 17:04
    
Yeah I am :) thanks for the advice, on the other hand I am learning the rules I read pretty well for a 14 year old haha :) –  Luke Burgin Dec 8 '12 at 17:17
    
Thank you I understand that a lot more :)))))))) –  Luke Burgin Dec 8 '12 at 20:47
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2 Answers

A knowledge check is a kind of skill check.

Skill checks involving answering the question "what do I know about X" or "do I know about X" are knowledge checks, and there are some specific rules governing knowledge checks that do not apply to other skill checks (such as using athletics to climb a wall)

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To elaborate on why they are different: Knowledge skills are different from other skills because they give a chance for your character to have useful information. You can compare it to jump checks (A usage of Athletics); if you roll low, you won't get far, but if you roll high, you will cover more squares. The same is true (in a sense) for knowledge checks; if you roll low, you know only a little about the subject, likely to not be of much use. If you roll high, your knowledge on the subject might be extremely useful. –  Undreren Dec 8 '12 at 17:57
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One distinction I'd make comes to retrying the skill. If you're trying to climb up the side of a building, you can keep trying all day. With knowledge checks you either know something or you don't. You roll the die to see if your character has heard that trolls regenerate. If you fail the check, you don't get to try again (although I'd make an exception if the PC was in a library and wanted to treat knowledge as a research check). I don't believe there's a hard and fast rule for this in any book, but part of the GM's job is applying common sense so the game world makes sense.

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Thanks :)I understand that :) –  Luke Burgin Dec 8 '12 at 20:41
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In the failure condition, it says "The DM might allow you to make a new check if further information comes to light." So whilst, for the most part, Knowledge checks do seem to outright determine what your character knows, rather than what they remember out of their knowledge at the time (which is an amazing way of looking at it), there can be those moments where something suddenly draws out a buried memory. "Oh! Of course! Why didn't I recognise this sooner!" –  Jonathan Hobbs Dec 9 '12 at 2:36
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