I've recently seen a very strong claim made about knowledge skills:

If someone didn't take Knowledge: Nobility and Royalty and they can't identify heraldry, then you can wind up getting ****ed. This can actually happen in a published adventure by the way.

It's possible that this was only referring to a minor issue like not being able to progress a conversation, but was there ever a published adventure that locks the party in to a bad ending if they fail a check on an uncommon Knowledge skill (e.g. Knowledge: Nobility and Royalty)?

Although I'd love to hear about non-WotC examples as an extra, examples from adventures published by WotC are strongly preferred. Furthermore, I'm not strictly looking for the example that's been quoted. Anything sufficiently similar will do, as long as context is given.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ A follow-up question: are you sure you want to restrict it to WotC publications? Obviously it would be unreasonable for you to expect people to comb through every 3e adventure ever published, but it doesn't sound like that's what you're asking for. If someone knows of an example in a third-party module, are you really not interested in hearing about it? I'm sure that only a small subset of modules fit your criteria, so the list should still be a manageable size. \$\endgroup\$ – Wyvern Feb 14 at 1:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Wyvern I've got a strong preference for WotC, but it's not a total rejection of non-WotC. I'll make an edit. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Feb 14 at 19:13

This occurs in Bastion of Broken Souls; but does not occur specifically with Knowledge (nobility and royalty) in any 3e adventure module.

Let me first tackle the specific instance given in the quote—a mandatory Knowledge (nobility and royalty) check to identify heraldry—followed by the broader instance of any Knowledge skill.

The quote can be traced to Fenris_Lathiin in a GameFAQs forum thread in January 2014, so they could be talking about any 3e adventure. The set of adventures published for 3.0/3.5 by Wizards of the Coast is a known and fixed amount, assuming we count only published books and web modules, but not RPGA material, Dungeon magazine adventures, or third-party sourcebooks. This claim can thus be tested in practice.

In the specific instance of Knowledge (nobility and religion), only a few uses of this skill appear in published modules: Shadows of the Last War p.7 and 11, the Eberron Campaign Setting adventure The Forgotten Forge p.309, Expedition to Castle Ravenloft p.124 and 203, Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk p.162, Fane of the Drow p.15, Anauroch: The Empire of Shade p.79, Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave, p.53, 55 and 56, Shadowdale p. 51, Sons of Gruumsh p.5, Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil p.120, A Dark and Stormy Knight p.3, Bad Moon Waning p.13, The Thunder Below p.36,61, and White Plume Mountain p.25.

Of those, none of the checks block progress or increase danger if failed. Only two instances involve recognizing heraldry: Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave, to recognize the arms of King Azoun, and Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, to recognize Prince Thrommel of Furyondy.

However, there is a major instance where failing a Knowledge skill check makes progress impossible: Bastion of Broken Souls, p.5-6.

In this very high-level adventure, the PCs must pro-actively use divination and skill checks to determine how to proceed with the adventure. This stumped our group when we played it back in the day. Knowledge checks including history, local, religion, and the planes reveal links to one of several scenes necessary to progress. The PCs also need to learn of a specific hero of legend, because invoking this hero's name is critical to defeating the final boss of the adventure.

These checks are critical. If the PCs fail, the DM is actually suggested to have NPCs show up who have those skills.

Bastion of Broken Souls is technically a D&D 3.0 adventure. Some other adventures where an uncommon Knowledge check is required to avoid impeding progress or taking serious injury:

  • In Barrow of the Forgotten King, p.28, a DC 15 Knowledge (architecture) check reveals that the room is a puzzle which must be completed to find a secret door. However, but it only leads to one room with a bonus combat encounter, and isn't necessary to proceed with the adventure, nor is the skill check necessary to know that there is a puzzle here.
  • In Book of Challenges, p.54, a Knowledge (arcana) check is necessary to determine the safest path across a checkerboard of traps. On page 108, Knowledge (nature) or Knowledge (geography) are necessary to know that a hot spring is deadly, dealing 10d6 damage.
  • In Expedition to Undermountain, p.55, a Knowledge (local) check is required to know how to bypass the Hungry Face, which deals 1d6 per round for 10 rounds.
  • In Fields of Ruin, p.7, Knowledge (architecture and engineering) is needed to spot areas prone to collapse in a keep, which could potentially trap an entire party under rubble, with lethal results.
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the specific instance of Knowledge (nobility and religion), only a few uses of this skill appear in published modules: How did you ever make this list? A massive ctrl+f job? It's stunning. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Feb 15 at 0:31

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