The most common use for knowledge skills is to identify monsters and perform rituals. The knowledge skills tend to take a back seat to social and physical skills during most skill challenges. The knowledge skills are so tightly focused that most players assume these skills have a limited scope. But this doesn’t mean that they have limited uses. It’s up to players to be imaginative and creative.
Religion, more than any of the other knowledge skills, has tremendous potential. After all, if the gods are listening then anything is possible. If your campaign world is strongly influenced by the gods (pre-4e Forgotten Realms, for example) then you can always try to use Religion to gain divine favour. The more active the beings of higher power are in your campaign the more likely this kind of check will provide benefit to a given situation. In campaign worlds where the gods are absent, silent or simply avoid interaction with mortals (Eberron) PCs are less likely to rely on a catch-all call for help from their god.
PCs trained in Religion (all divine classes) have undergone some sort of formal training. This is not just limited to prayers and blessings. Religious training will overlap with other skills such as Diplomacy and History. A Religion check may not be suitable in every circumstance, but it is applicable in more situations than you might think.
10 New Ways to Use Religion
Know the hierarchy
Know your history
Know your tools
Know thy enemy
Hitting the books
Appraise religious art
Perform a marriage ceremony, officiate a baptism, give last rites during a funeral or lead fellow parishioners in some other important religious ceremony.
Many religions have their own unique prayers. A successful check allows you to remember the basics of a foreign religion. This may allow you to bypass basic traps or glyphs.
You know the appropriate religious titles and pecking order within the church’s hierarchy. This can provide +2 to a Diplomacy check made when dealing with senior clergy.
You have extensive knowledge of religious history. The church often plays an important role in the rise and fall of civilizations. You can use Religion to assist on a History check.
You can identify religious artifacts and determine their significance.
You have considerable knowledge about immortals (including demons and devils). In additional to being able to identify them, you have a basic familiarity with rituals and materials required for their summoning. You also know the signs for identifying someone who’s been dominated or is acting under the influence of another power.
You’ve spent considerable time studying the texts of your faith. You have an intimate familiarity with religious terminology. A successful Religion check provides a +2 bonus when conducting research.
Your familiarity with other religions allows you to hide the true nature of your own faith by masking it in the dogma of another religion. Your allies can assist you with a Religion or Bluff check.
The manner in which you perform the blessing before a meal provides a +2 bonus to your first Diplomacy check made during dinner.
The church often uses artistic imagery to teach the faith. Your extensive studies in religious art and iconography give you a unique insight when appraising works of art religious in nature.
Blessing in combat
These examples are very specific. They won’t be applicable very often, but when the right circumstances present themselves PCs trained in Religion are able to use the skill to gain an additional minor benefit. Work with your DM to create suitable blessings for your PC.
Intimidate during combat
Inspire you allies
Defend the mind
Feel the divine light
A battle cry to a deity of combat provides all allies within 5 squares with a bonus to their next Intimidate check equal to your Charisma modifier.
During the first round you give up your standard action in order to bless your allies. A successful Religion check allows you to provide a number of allies equal to your Wisdom modifier with a bonus to their initiative equal to your Charisma modifier.
As a minor action you can bless an ally who is under the effect of a charm, dominate or fear effect. A successful Religion check gives your ally +1 to his next save vs these effects.
As a minor action you can bless an ally who has ongoing necrotic damage. A successful Religion check gives your ally +1 to his next save vs this effect. If your ally is the same faith as you (i.e., worships the same deity) they can make an immediate save vs ongoing necrotic damage without any bonuses.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out all of our Skill Aides, including other entries in the Skill Focus series.