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Wizards have a somewhat limited pick of really useful skills: Concentration and Spellcraft are of course mandatory, Decipher Script and Knowlege (arcana) are good ideas as well, but what about the others? Should you pour them all into your knowledge skills or should you cross-class into some others? Or perhaps take Able Learner and pick whatever you want?

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closed as too broad by Ernir, Jack Lesnie, Colin D, MadMAxJr, doppelgreener Aug 5 at 10:23

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This sounds awfully broad. Can you highlight your specific problem? –  Ernir Aug 4 at 15:33
This is vary broad and opinion-based, are you interested in using the rules for optimizing a wizard for a certain task (combat, usage of a specific arcane school, item creation, etc. etc.), or in building a character around a concept which interests you ("I want to build Saruman / Merlin /Jaffar", "How to make a Snow Wizard / Unicorn Tamer / Mystic Ninja Caster", "What are good skill choices for a 'Detective Wizard' / 'Ruins Researcher' / 'Mad Scientists'") I can go on forever - Please explain what you are actually looking for. –  G0BLiN Aug 4 at 16:07

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It barely matters.

Concentration is mandatory, spellcraft and knowledge (arcana) are expected and useful. The other “big six” knowledges (dungeoneering, local, nature, religion, the planes – the ones that can identify creatures and their weaknesses) are always nice, and they’re in-class so why not?

Beyond that, it doesn’t really matter. Decipher script might come up once or twice in a campaign, but comprehend languages or tongues tend to be useful anyway. Same for the other knowledge skills. Craft has pretty good saving rates (⅓ cost), but takes forever and most of the things you can make with it aren’t that expensive anyway. Profession is worthless.

Cross-class, the only really good skills are autohypnosis, diplomacy, listen, spot, tumble, and use magic device. None use intelligence, and you have the cross-class rank maximum, so you probably won’t do any of them well, though. At high levels, autohypnosis, tumble, and use magic device have static DCs that you can probably hit reliably. When you can, 5 ranks in Balance is really nice for avoiding being flat-footed while balancing, and 5 ranks in Bluff gets you the +2 synergy bonus on quite a few nice skills.

But you’ll probably have quite a few ranks to play with, what with your huge intelligence, and they’re not very valuable to you, so feel free to do whatever you want with them. Most of the effects will be obviated with spells anyway.

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It can greatly matter. Optimization is good and all, and IMO this answer covers it very well, but I think it can be greatly improved by touching the aspects of character concept and role-play. For example - my last character was a (PF) Gnome Air Wizard whose top skills where Knowledge: History, Knowledge: Engineering and Profession: Sailed-craft pilot, with Craft: Land-boats and Bluff a close second. He may not have been the most combat-optimized, but he was invaluable in getting the party around, gleaning information about the dungeons we crawled, and was a great fun to play... –  G0BLiN Aug 4 at 16:27
@G0BLiN The word "should" and reference to "any wizard" implies to me that the question is asking about which skills are critical to running the things a wizard is expected to do well. The answer is that Concentration is the only one that's critical, but various Knowledge (+Spellcraft) skills are expected and useful, and beyond that it doesn't matter and is totally dependent on who you imagine the character to be. I can't get into every possible wizard. Also, Profession is a useless skill for any character and no one should recommend it as a "skill tax" for having a particular backstory. –  KRyan Aug 4 at 16:39
@G0BLiN In short, this is the answer to what skills do you need to be a wizard? not which skills should my wizard, who is also XYZ, take? The latter would be a better question for this format, but it isn't what was asked. A wizard only needs these. Your particular wizard, who is also a sailor, needs those other skills. But not for his wizarding. –  KRyan Aug 4 at 19:05

It really, really depends upon what your wizard's concept is. There's so many different ways of building a wizard that it's hard to give you just a 'what skills to pick?'

Is it a land-based game? Ride skill might be useful. Are you a wizard on a pirate ship? Better take swim and/or profession: sailor.

Are you generating a battle mage wizard - ready to just start slinging fireballs and whatnot around? This, to me, is the weakest wizard concept, but you might want to have knowledge skills towards understanding what monsters are vulnerable or protected against which elemental energies. You might want to have professions or knowledges to lend itself to war tactics. And devoting skill ranks towards actually noticing things is always, always useful.

Are you generating an artificer wizard - always ready with the right tool for the right job? Then you might want appraise, use magic item, and a whole plethora of craft skills.

Are you generating an illusionist wizard? You might want a lot of performance skills to supplement your illusions.

'Wizard' is a class with SO MANY possibilities - you need to narrow down your focus before you can determine what skills will be useful for you.

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When you want to answer "it depends," that's usually a sign that you should comment asking for clarification, rather than post an answer, as @Ernir did. Cf. my answer, which is that it doesn't matter. –  KRyan Aug 4 at 15:44
@KRyan - Ah, good point. Thank you. I just didn't think my whole thing would fit into a comment. –  Wolfman Joe Aug 4 at 15:45
+1 for addressing this as more than an optimization question –  G0BLiN Aug 4 at 16:03

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