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Could you, for example, have one of your craft skills filled in as carpenter, but have no ranks in it? Being a very bad carpenter, but a carpenter nevertheless.

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In what way would you designate it or have it filled in as such? If you put no ranks into it, it's just an untrained skill like all the others you haven't put ranks into. –  doppelgreener May 5 at 11:04
    
@JonathanHobbs Racial or other bonuses would be the obvious reason. –  C. Ross May 5 at 11:16
    
@C.Ross Racial bonuses simply apply. They're still untrained, though. –  mcv May 5 at 12:43
    
@mcv What about the gnome's bonus to a craft of their choice. –  C. Ross May 5 at 12:48
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@C.Ross I'm not too familiar with Gnomes, but I suspect you have to choose at character creation which Craft skill gets the bonus, and you enjoy that bonus even when you don't put any ranks in it. Makes sense to write that one down on your sheet, since it can be used untrained, which it is, until you put ranks into it. –  mcv May 5 at 13:07

4 Answers 4

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Not only can you, you have to. You never roll a “Craft check” or “Perform check,” those skills don’t exist. Rather, they are categories of skills, like “Craft (basketweaving)” or “Perform (underwater basketweaving).” That’s still true even if you have no ranks, and it’s relevant for things like feats or instruments, which may need to be compatible with the chosen Craft or Perform skill.

Craft and Perform may be used without ranks, so if you have high Intelligence or high Charisma, and/or other bonuses to those skills, you could even be good at them without any training (e.g. ranks). It’d be hard to keep up with someone who is actually training it, though.

Profession’s much the same, but it actually goes beyond that. As a Trained-Only skill, you cannot beat any DC higher than 10, no matter what you roll, if you have no ranks in that specific Profession skill. So having ranks in Profession (woven-basket critic) doesn’t let you succeed on DCs greater than 10 on Profession (woven-basket recycler); they are separate skills, and you have no ranks in the latter.

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-1 not enough basketweaving :P –  Dakeyras May 5 at 11:29
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I'll give you a +1 just for making underwater basketweaving a perform check. –  Cthos May 5 at 16:49
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Slight error in your last paragraph: Being able to hit a DC of 10 using an untrained skill in which you have no ranks only applies to knowledge skills; For the most part, having no ranks in a trained-only skill means you don't even get to roll. Good answer other than that, though. –  GMJoe May 6 at 2:17
    
@GMJoe Huh, right you are. I'll have to rework my answer some to account for that. –  KRyan May 6 at 2:19

You can Craft and Perform, but you can't use Profession;

As stated here, Craft and Perform can be used without training. This means that you don't need to have ranks to use any of the Craft Skills (not limited to Alchemy, Armors, Bows, Traps, Weapons, Varies) or Perform Skills (not limited to Act, Comedy, Dance, Keyboard Instruments, Oratory, Percussion Instruments, String Instruments, Wind Instruments, Sing).

Unfortunately, this does not apply for Profession, and you'll have to get at least 1 rank in a Profession to use it.

It's worth noticing that every failure in a Perform check will give you a -2 when trying to Perform in front of the same audience (because they were not impressed by you and now have prejudices). Be aware of that and use Perform wisely when you don't have ranks in it.


Misc Bonuses

If you don't want to get ranks in these skills, there is still something we can do to improve your checks.

Artisan's Tools: You may want to get these to get a +2 on every Craft check;

Gnome Racial Trait: Gnomes get +2 to a Crafting Skill of their choice.

Masterwork Musical Instrument: If used during the performance, it will grant a +2 on the Perform check.

Skill Focus (feat): Choose a Skill; Without any rank in it, this feat gives you +3 on every check for that Skill (you can get up to +6 when you have 10 ranks, but this is not the case).

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@KRyan Saying you can use Craft untrained is the same as saying you can use Craft(Carpentry) untrained. Craft is the umbrella, and I wouldn't expect the answer to call out every Craft(X) skill directly (except for the fact that saying just Craft does exactly that). –  Jason_c_o May 5 at 21:00
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@Jason_c_o Wrong, because you cannot use “Craft” at all, because there is no skill by that name. There are numerous Craft skills, but not one that is just Craft. Seeing as the querent was explicitly asking about whether or not they can use Craft (carpentry) without ranks, I think this answer confuses the situation. In other words: I get what Vereos means, but that's because I understand the situation. I think for someone who doesn't, this answer may be misleading because it's taking for granted a few details that seem to be directly what are asked for. –  KRyan May 5 at 22:57

Yes, and you don't even have to be a bad carpenter, except that everybody who is not a good carpenter, is a bad carpenter. All skills you haven't put any points in, exist as untrained skills. And if it's a skill you can use untrained, you can use it. All sub-skills of Craft and Perform exist, you have access to them, so feel free to write them on your character sheet if you expect you may use them. Though rather than Craft (carpenty), it might be better to write down Craft (untrained), because the same number will apply to all your untrained Craft skills. Unless you get specific bonuses for one, or you want to write one down now because you expect to put ranks in it later.

If you get any bonuses to skills, you get them also to untrained skills. If you can use the skill untrained, you can use that bonus. If you can't use the skill untrained, you can't make use of the bonus (but you can as soon as you put a rank into it).

Anyone can try to make a table, weave a basket or use any other craft skill. And with enough talent (high ability modifier, or misc bonuses), it might even be a good one, despite the lack of training. Same goes for Perform. Profession skills can't be used untrained, however, so if you list it as a skill, you might forget that you can't use it, and accidentally use it untrained.

Using untrained skills is also relevant for Bards. The description of Bardic Performance suggests they need to use a Perform skill, but they usually don't have to make a skill roll, and it doesn't matter which Perform skill they use. So a Bard whose best skill is Perform (strings) can choose to use his untrained Perform (oratory) or Perform (comedy) for his Inspire Courage.

Knowledge skills also have a lot of subskills, and while they normally can't be used untrained, a Bard can. And considering how useful knowledge skills can be, it can be a good idea to write Knowledge (untrained) below all your trained Knowledge skills. In fact, PCGen does that for you automatically.

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Yes: from a roleplaying point of view, you can say that your character is a carpenter by trade, but one who never actually learnt any carpentry as such and just got by on intelligence (literally).

As far as I know, there is nothing special about "filling in" a Craft skill on your character sheet; sheets just have several Craft slots in the skill list so that you can fill them in if/when you take ranks. There is no reason I know of why you can't fill one of these in without actually taking ranks, and several reasons why you might want to: for the above roleplaying reason, or because you're a gnome and need somewhere to put your racial bonus.

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