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When PCs make a Monster Knowledge Check they see what skill corresponds to the main keyword of the monster. But what about monsters that have multiple keywords?

For example, a Skeleton has both the Natural and Undead keywords, which correspond to the Nature and Religion skills respectively.

Can either skill be used to identify the Skeleton or does one win out over another?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The Rules Compendium p134 leaves the decision up to the DM.

If a monster's origin and keyword suggest the use of two different skills, the DM decides which skill can be used to identify the monster, and might allow the use of either skill.

One example given is for a Dracolich. Where it suggests that the DM might decide that the undead-ness of the Dracolich overwhelms the natural-ness and would only allow a Religion check for monster knowledge. That sounds like a good call to me!

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To Supplement @Pat Ludwig's answer, I would say that in that case each skill might give you different information about the monster.

To continue with the Dracolich example, a Nature check might get you that what you are seeing looks like the skeleton of a rather large dragon, and it shouldn't be moving around like that. Whereas a Religion check might give you that it is the undead remains of a dragon, animated by something vile.

What this means in terms of giving away it's abilities, you'd have to get creative. So your Nature check might give away that, even though it is undead, it has a fly speed, and that its bite is going to hurt, while the Religion check will tell you that it has typical undead traits, and probably has Resist Necrotic, and Weakness Radiant, or something similar (I don't actually know the stats of a Dracolich offhand).

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3  
I think this makes the most sense. You know different things based on different skills. It also allows the DM to spread it out over a couple party members, depending on who has the highest check for each skill. –  migo May 17 '11 at 0:26

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