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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.

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    \$\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
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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.
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    \$\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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In one I played potentially yes

In the Adventure:

Dungeon Crawl Classics#24:Legend of the Ripper (4-6 players level 1-3)

There is a very powerful Redcap boss that has a few scary abilities.

In my opinion his most powerful one is:

Draining Gaze (Su): Any living creature within 30 feet of a redcap that meets its baleful gaze must succeed at a Will save (DC 12) or gain one negative level. For each negative level bestowed, the redcap heals 5 points of damage. If the amount of healing is more than the damage the redcap has taken, it gains this excess as temporary hit points.

A Gaze ability (especially this one) is quite powerful because in this case you can die right away if you are level one on this boss.

There is an NPC that you encounter prior to this boss in the adventure that saw the creature:

If characters can get through to him, Treborne provides a good account of Carrick’s physical description and pinpoints him as the murderer.

He is the only one who saw the creature and that gives you the chance to make a Knowledge check (nature) and identify the Redcap wich gives info about it's abilities and that could save the party.

Check

Answering a question within your field of study has a DC of 10 (for really easy questions), 15 (for basic questions), or 20 to 30 (for really tough questions).

In many cases, you can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster's HD. A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster.

For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.

Of course the party could also ask a local wizard/specialist if there is one so he will be able to make a Knowledge (nature) check and inform the players, but still without a success on that Knowledge check, the party could die pretty easily with that monster, if they rushed and they were not level 2 or higher, even so those temporary level loss really hurt the players and this boss has other abilities wich could also kill the party, knowing it is a Fey,has fast healing and damage reduction 5/Cold iron, will probably make the party attack in range with cold iron ammos/weapons, plus if the Knowledge (nature)result is very high, I guess you could determine it is ''weak enough'' (4HD) to be affected by the Sleep spell (auto-win if you can survive the round of casting the spell) or even color spray wich would at least blind (1d4 rounds) and stun (1round) the redcap so he won't be able to use his gaze. All the other tricks given on the gaze ability to avoid directly looking at it helps too.

This weakness can greatly benefit the party, especially if the Cleric puts a Blindfold (and traps him in a room):

Weaknesses (Su): A redcap will recoil from a strongly presented holy symbol or religious tome. These things don’t actually harm the redcap; they merely keep it at bay to a range of 20 feet. A redcap can ignore its natural aversion to them with a successful Will save (DC 15 + opponent’s Intimidation score).

So it might not automatically doom the party, but I strongly suggest they go see someone that will succeed on the check or their chance of survival is slim in my opinion, even if a PC succeeds while they meet the boss, it is probably too late for that info.

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