Skill Focus: Streetwise

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 16, 2009

Streetwise can be more than knowing where to go, who to talk to and what to look for in an urban setting. The most common use for Streetwise is to gather information, but that’s certainly not the only way to use this skill. A clever DM can launch an entire quest beginning with a simple Streetwise check. The PCs may overhear a careless word at the tavern, a trader’s rumours in the market or the vain words of a noble. Streetwise may garnish information but determining its reliability is another matter all together.

PCs trained in Streetwise should have a clear advantage over those who don’t (in addition to the +5 bonus). If the player has provided a clever back-story for how the PC gained training in Streetwise, the DM may decide that certain avenues of exploration are easier than usual to that PC in certain circumstances. The exact nature of any additional fringe benefits is left up to the player and the DM to decide.

As with all skills, Streetwise is only limited by the player’s imagination. If you’re having trouble coming up ideas on how to use Streetwise creatively, here are 10 suggestions that you may find useful.

10 New Ways to Use Streetwise

  1. Perhaps you’re heard of me?

  2. Use Streetwise to establish a false reputation for the PCs. This might include embellishing their accomplishments. Of course if you’re trying to avoid detection, spreading false rumours can downplay the PC’s heroics.

  3. I know a guy

  4. You have fostered a relationship with a local guard, merchant or noble. This individual provides useful information in exchange for other services.

  5. Urban tracker

  6. You are familiar with crowds and the normal flow of people in an urban environment. A successful Streetwise check provides a +2 bonus on your next Perception check while following someone in an urban setting.

  7. The path of least resistance

  8. Much like Nature in a wilderness setting, Streetwise allows PCs to find the best routes through an urban setting, including shortcuts.

  9. Find the criminal element

  10. A successful Streetwise check puts you on the right track to find someone willing to fence stolen goods, sell you poison or contact an assassin.

  11. Blend in

  12. With a successful check you pick-up regional slang gaining +2 to Bluff check to pass as a local. After making a successful Streetwise check you gain +2 to Insight checks made to identify “posers” pretending to be locals.

  13. The best goods for the best price

  14. Discover the best place to purchase good including food and magic. Determine the going rate for supplies and equipment based on the local economy.

  15. Savvy

  16. Your knowledge of criminal enterprise gives you a +2 to Diplomacy or Bluff checks when dealing with known criminals on a successful Streetwise check.

  17. The fix is in

  18. Learn of any crooked dealings taking place, including any fixed contests or competitions.

  19. Member of the Court

  20. You have spent some time around the nobility. A successful Streetwise check provides a +2 bonus on your next Perception check to notice someone who doesn’t belong.

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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1 Alric November 16, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Well though-out post, sir. I especially like the conditional bonuses applied when dealing with criminal elements…
.-= Alric´s last blog ..A nigh – inexhaustible, role-playing plot resource =-.

2 Buccaneers Guild November 17, 2009 at 8:44 am

I’m going to write these down in my campaign notebook. I’m currently playing a rogue with high streetwise. Let’s see if my DM will let me pick up any of these threads.

I’ll just dive in with “I know a guy” and he’ll say “No you don’t”, and I’ll say, “Perhaps I could make a streetwise check to see if I do?”

It might happen, although we’ve yet to train him to join the “Say YES!” school of DMing.
.-= Buccaneers Guild´s last blog ..Hurried Handouts #2 =-.

3 Ameron November 18, 2009 at 10:29 pm

I’m glad you liked this. Our intention is that these skill focus articles will help get players thinking creatively when using their skills.

@Buccaneers Guild
I’m interested in how it works out for you. Remind your DM that he should try to “say yes” as often as possible, especially if your idea or suggestion is somewhat reasonable.

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