History is one of those skills that many PCs are trained in but don’t really know how or when to use it. Here are 10 new and creative ways to get more out of History.
The basic assumption is that History can only be used to remember things that happened in the past. Sure it can be used in this way, but this is certainly not the only way to use History.
Eleven of the seventeen core classes can take training in History. Three races have a +2 racial bonus in History. So there is a very strong likelihood that every party will have multiple PCs who count History as one of their best skills. If everyone’s so good in History why isn’t it being used more? Lack of imagination, that’s why.
There are fewer skills in 4e than there were in 3e, but that doesn’t mean you can do less. Offering fewer skills means that those remaining become a catch-all for more things. This is true for History more than any other skill.
10 New Ways to Use History
Avoid social blunders
Spot the forgery
Knowing the trap-maker
Win over the crowd
Master of the game
During a strategy game you:
- remember an obscure rule that you can use to your advantage.
- recall a particular strategy that has achieved success in the past.
- recognize your opponent’s opening strategy and use the appropriate counter-move.
Recognize something out of the ordinary
Identify the deceased
Decipher the script
Cut through red tape
Your familiarity with local laws and customs helps you direct the party’s behaviour in social situation and not attract the wrong kind of attention.
Your familiarity with a particular culture’s art, artists and artistic movements helps you determine if a painting is a forgery.
When trying to determine the value of an item or artifact, you can make a History check to get a rough idea of its age, cultural origin, purpose, function and rarity.
Your familiarity with the ancient culture who built this abandoned castle allows you to recall that they often used traps triggered by pressure plates to guard important rooms. +2 to Search checks made to locate traps or +2 to Thievery checks made to disable traps.
While trying to make friends among the locals, you tell stories of their greatest war heroes and revolutionary leaders, winning over the crowd. +2 to your next Diplomacy or Streetwise.
Your familiarity with this architectural style allows you to notice a room that doesn’t confirm to it. +2 to Search checks made to locate secret passages.
While searching a monster’s lair the party discovers a number of bodies. You can identify the heraldic symbols on the armor allowing you to identify the nationality of these fallen heroes, and possibly even their lineage.
Upon discovering engravings on a tomb wall or symbols on an old treasure map you recall similar uses of this written language and have a good starting point for deciphering it.
Your understanding of this city’s intricate political structure provides insight into bypassing the elaborate bureaucracy.
Let us know what you think of these suggested uses of History. If you’ve come up with new and creative ways to use History, please share them.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out all of our Skill Aides, including other entries in the Skill Focus series.