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I feel like Pathfinder skills are very compact when compared to 3.5 skills, as a result that makes each individual skill point worth more than each individual point in 3.5, due to combining some skills to form others that perform multiple functions.

Since skill points are more valuable, what are the best ways to gain as many skill points as possible as a character of any class? What's the best way to optimize a skills modifiers for each set of classes below without affecting combat stats?

I'd prefer if the answers were formatted in the following way, explaining how each group can more easily gain skill modifiers:

  • High skill point classes: Rogue, Bard
  • Medium skill point classes: Monk, Barbarian, Alchemist
  • Low skill point classes: Fighter, Magic-users, Paladins
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  1. Skill points aren't how you max skills. Modifiers are how you get skills. If custom magic items are allowed, competency bonus items are among the cheapest to purchase and even a +10 skill item only costs 10K gp. For 40K you can get +20 to a skill, which is equivalent to having put the maximum number of skillpoints you are allowed into it at level 20. Even if custom items aren't allowed, skills get all manner of untyped, circumstance, and other bonuses from everything ranging from the situation they are used in to mundane equipment.

  2. Maxing skill ranks is done by using the favored class bonus of the Orc Witch (or equivalent favored class bonus) to add skill ranks to a familiar in excess of what would ordinarily be possible for its level. This can be useful for early access to certain feats and PrCs.

  3. Maxing skill points is done by playing a maxed Int Human Rogue. It's not a very useful or exciting thing to do, though.


Brief general guide, YMMV as to what things are legal in your game:

  1. Buy masterwork tools for everything. If a specific non-masterwork tool also exists (e.g. Merchant's Scale, Magnifying Glass), get that too: they stack (except for a small and specific list listed inside the Tool, Masterwork description). Appraise in particular can be raised quite high in extremely specific but surprisingly common circumstances via this method and everything should get at least +2 sometimes.

  2. Have everything you own made with/out of sharkskin. Sharkskin is amazing.

  3. Make sure to manufacture the best possible situational bonuses if you have a lot of time to make a check

  4. They don't stack, but you should have some sort of morale bonus doubled with Moment of Greatness (and possibly further increased by dual-wielded high-enhancement-bonus Courageous weapons in non-WBL games, the increase from which would also be multiplied by Moment of Greatness) up when doing anything particularly important. The relevant skills should also be a class skill, from Karmic Blessing if necessary.

  5. For your most important skills, invest the maximum number of skill ranks

  6. For these skills also get crafted +competence bonus custom magic items. If WBL is not enforced, get these for all the skills at +10 or so; 10K isn't so bad, but 40K+ is probably a bit pricy.

  7. If you are a skill-based character, take Skill Focus in the skill you are really maxing out (probably Diplomacy)


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  • \$\begingroup\$ Seeing as there are no other answers and this offers multiple avenues for optimization, I'm going to award the bounty here. Congratulations. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Jun 14 '15 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd also note that humans get Focused Study as an alternate race trait. If you're going to play at 8th+ level, you'll get 2+ Skill Focus out of it. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Fry Nov 2 '15 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I went looking for the Orc Witch but was unable to find anything on getting more than normal skill ranks. Could you please point me towards that? \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 28 '16 at 22:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have also been unable to find anything on getting extra skill ranks with orc witch. Any pointers would be helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – frodoskywalker Feb 23 '18 at 16:29

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