The second level tattoo Ancestral Geometry reads as follows:

Geometric precision and perfect angles signify that an artist with exemplary knowledge of dwarven tattooing traditions created this body art. Your family's ancestral stories, recited throughout the tattooing process, bind your blood even tighter to theirs. During your daily preparations, you manifest a visitation by an ancestor—possibly via a dream, a vision, or a magical trinket left by your bedroll. Roll 2d20 and record the highest result. Then roll 1d6 and note a type of saving throw: 1–2 Fortitude, 3–4 Reflex, and 5–6 Will.

In addition, until the next visitation, you gain a +1 item bonus to one Lore skill related to the ancestor, as determined by the GM. Usually, the ancestor provides a kind of knowledge they believe you'll need. For dwarven ancestors, the Lore skill is usually Architecture Lore, Engineering Lore, Genealogy Lore, Labor Lore, Mining Lore, Warfare Lore, or Lore about a dwarven deity.

Activate (Reaction) envision (fortune); Frequency once per day; Trigger You rolled a saving throw of the noted type; Effect Replace the roll with the d20 roll from your ancestor's visitation.

I'm unsure how to properly implement the second paragraph. My character happens to be a kobold trained in Kobold Lore. If the GM knows our party is likely to encounter kobolds during the upcoming day, I assume they would give that lore skill a temporary +1 item bonus until my next daily preparations. What about a lore skill that my character does not possess but would make thematic sense for my ancestry like Trap Lore or Dragon Lore? Do I temporarily gain that lore skill with a bonus of my intelligence modifier +1 with no proficiency? What other lore skills would be reasonable for a kobold? I assume anything listed in the ancestry entry in the APG?

Typical kobold backgrounds include artisan, artist, criminal, hunter, miner, scout, and tinker from the Core Rulebook, plus bandit, cultist, scavenger, and servant from this book.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm a bit confused - are you the GM? Or the player? If you're the player, then you don't really get to choose the breadth of the Lore skills - that's entirely in your GM's hands. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Mar 15, 2023 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Player, but just wanted to get a general sense of how narrow or broad this benefit could be during play. Also, this is our first PF campaign so I wanted to be able to provide some examples to the GM since I don't necessarily expect him to have a deep understanding of each ancestry. \$\endgroup\$
    – Danforth
    Mar 15, 2023 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


You Don't Get Free Proficiency

The Ancestral Geometry tattoo does give you a (GM-determined) variable +1 to a Lore skill, but never mentions that it gives you any proficiency. So if you are untrained in the Lore skill, you would use: untrained proficiency plus your Intelligence modifier plus any bonuses (minus any penalties). If you have 14 Intelligence, and a +1 item bonus to Lore (Sewers), but were untrained, you'd simply have a +3 to Lore (Sewers) checks.

How To Make This Better

Since there are an infinite amount of Lore skills, you have a few options to try making this better:

  • Untrained Improvisation - this will provide some scaling to those Lore skills you don't have.
  • Additional Lore - it's likely the GM will be providing a common set of Lore skill bonuses, and grabbing this for a few of them can help keep those relevant.
  • Class abilities like Access Lore - this one provides a flexible Lore proficiency.

Some recommended Lores

You touched on a good place to find relevant Lore skills for kobolds. Here are seven recommendations to align with the 7 ones provided for dwarves - by no means is any GM restricted to this list, nor is it exhaustive. They are all from the Common Lore Subcategories though, and so should both be fair and potentially come up in pre-written adventures.

  • Kobold Lore
  • Dragon Lore
  • Specific Dragon Category Lore (e.g. Chromatic, Metallic, Imperial)
  • Dahak Lore (assuming Golarion)
  • Apsu Lore (assuming Golarion)
  • Terrain Lore (probably things like Caves and Swamps, but maybe even Sewers)
  • Absalom Lore (or other relevant city with a kobold population)
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for answering my question and also providing some avenues for getting the most out of the lore skills. Cheers! \$\endgroup\$
    – Danforth
    Mar 15, 2023 at 17:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I still find it kind of odd that Untrained Improvisation gives you Lore (all). I don't think it's wrong, but I don't think I'd allow it in my home games. Although I might make an exception for situations like this one \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Mar 15, 2023 at 20:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso it is weird, but it's a weird feat narratively in general... at level 20 you're 8 Int Barbarian knows more about arcana than a 7th level Wizard who is a master in it. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Mar 15, 2023 at 21:21

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