Skill Focus: Nature

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 10, 2009

Nature, like all the knowledge skills in 4e D&D, encompasses a great amount of information. Its scope is quite broad and its use is often limited only by the PC’s imagination. Here are 10 new and creative ways to use Nature.

Knowledge skills can be used for more than just monster knowledge checks. This is certainly a very useful feature of the skill, but its use shouldn’t end there. During skill challenges, Nature can often be used to assist other skills depending on the circumstance.

The Druid, Ranger, Shaman and Warden all receive automatically training in Nature. The Barbarian, Bard, Sorcerer and Wizard have it as an optional choice. Nature may not be the most common skill, but there’s a pretty good chance that someone in the party will have a good Nature check.

10 New Ways to Use Nature

  1. Travel faster

  2. A successful Nature check can be used to coax mounts to travel faster and longer then they normally would thereby allowing you to cover more ground, more quickly.

  3. Poisons

  4. Deadly poisons exist in nature if you know where to look. You can find and identify the sources of numerous poisons. You are also skilled in their safe handling.

  5. Avoid danger

  6. Some creatures are dangerous only if they feel threatened. By recognizing the signs of creatures living in this area you can safely avoid their territory, if you choose.

  7. Rural familiarity

  8. When dealing with NPCs in rural and agricultural settings, Nature can be used to assist Diplomacy or Bluff checks during social encounters.

  9. Herbology

  10. You have an extensive knowledge of plants and their medicinal properties. While in a wilderness environment you can use Nature to assist Heal checks if you are able to find the appropriate natural remedies.

  11. Tracking

  12. You know that tracking involves more than just looking for tracks. A successful Nature check provides you or an ally +2 to your next Nature or Perception check made to track prey.

  13. Cover your tracks

  14. Reduce or remove signs that you’ve passed this way. This may be done by finding and taking a route that makes tracking more difficult (e.g., through a stream, or over hard rocky terrain) or by actively covering your tracks. If your check exceeds the DC by 5 or more, anyone attempting to follow your tracks suffers an additional -2 penalty.

  15. Cook

  16. You’re able to forage for more than just edible vegetables, mosses and grasses. You’re able to add fantastic flavour to the blandest of trail rations by adding natural ingredients.

  17. Field dress animals

  18. After killing an animal, you can field dress it properly. You’re able to harvest a sizable amount of fresh meat as well as the creature’s pelt.

  19. Astronomy

  20. You can determine direction from the stars above. +2 to subsequent checks made to go in the right direction (and not get lost).

Nature Skill Powers

These are some examples of how to use Nature to provide additional bonuses in very specific circumstances. They won’t be applicable all the time, but when the right circumstances present themselves PCs trained in Nature are able to use the skill to gain an additional minor benefit. Work with your DM to create suitable skill powers for your PC.

  • Ignore difficult terrain

  • A successful Nature check as a minor action allows you to avoid difficult terrain until the end of your turn. Failure means that your movement stops as soon as you encounter difficult terrain.

  • Natural remedies

  • If the PCs possess the right herbs or natural medicines, they can be used to treat wounds. Applying salves to would or getting the wounded to chew on roots or leaves increases the amount healed the next time a healing surge is used.

  • Ambush

  • When preparing an ambush in natural terrain, a combination of successful Nature and Stealth checks can be used to provide two rounds of surprise attacks.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out all of our Skill Aides, including other entries in the Skill Focus series.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Neuroglyph November 11, 2009 at 1:18 am

I really like some of your choices for expanding the Nature skill and many of them would be useful during a good role-playing session. I did something similar in a blog, using Skills to qualify for certain skill related Feats – Adventuring Professions in D&D 4e

2 Ameron November 12, 2009 at 8:21 am

@Neuroglyph
I’m glad you found these useful. We’ve found that many players don’t realize how versatile some of the skills in 4e are. Providing some “outside of the box” examples should help stretch player’s imaginations when participating in skill challenges.

3 Risan November 12, 2009 at 9:03 am

Cover your tracks

Reduce or remove signs that you’ve passed this way. This may be done by finding and taking a route that makes tracking more difficult (e.g., through a stream, or over hard rocky terrain) or by actively covering your tracks. If your check exceeds the DC by 5 or more, anyone attempting to follow your tracks suffers an additional -2 penalty.

So what happens if you succeed but not by 5 or more? Or should this just be a hard DC? Maybe it is only a -1 penalty to track attempts.

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