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D20 Modern Skill Groups


First Post
I'm posting this mostly as a resource for anyone that wishes to use it. I've been using these rules for a while in my D20 Modern game and have decided that the only "problem" is that players forget to put ranks into Profession.
Note that eliminating cross-class skills necessitates changing certain skills, such as Tumble. See the end for such changes.
Also, I'd like to appologize for the formatting of the tables but I'm not sure how to make that work correctly on this forum.

Design parameters:
1) Cross-class skills are dumb. Classes are methods of approach, not roles in society, thus anyone can use any skill and use it well. Additionally, the class / cross-class system is a double penalty, since skill points are an extremely limited resource; investing your resource in a skill is an exclusive choice, and the cross-class skill system punishes players for all but a few choices.
2) There are too many skills and not enough skill points. Skill groups allow skill points to go further and allow characters to have the skills necessary for their concepts and their adventures.
3) Being capable is cool. I want modern games to be cool with cool characters. Granting a balanced system to allow for increased capability and character concept achievement is cool.

Skill Groups:

Skill groups are a way of representing the interrelated nature of certain skills. One skill point in the group is the same as putting a skill point into every skill in the group. Note that for skills with expanded areas (Drive and Pilot) you must still spend extra skill points to gain access to those areas.
Each class grants access to certain skill groups, as do all starting occupations. Class groups may only be accessed when you take levels in that class. Skill groups from starting occupation represent a permanent basis of training, and thus are available at every level.

Base Groups:
Academic: Craft (Writing), Knowledge (any three), Research
Agility: Balance, Escape Artist, Tumble
Athletic: Climb, Jump Swim
Builder: Craft (Electronic), Craft (Structural), Knowledge (Current Events), Knowledge (Streetwise), Repair
Business: Computer Use, Craft (Writing), Knowledge (Business), Knowledge (Civics), Knowledge (Current Events)
Bypass: Disguise, Disable Device, Investigate
Clown: Disguise, Handle Animal, Knowledge (Popular Culture), Perform (Stand-up)
Computer: Computer Use, Craft (Electronic), Knowledge (Technology), Research
Crafter: Craft (Chemical), Craft (Electronic), Craft (Mechanical), Craft (Pharmaceutical), Craft (Structural), Craft (Visual Art), Craft (Writing)
Creator: Craft (Visual Art), Craft (Writing), Forgery, Knowledge (Art), Knowledge (Popular Culture)
Destruction: Craft (Chemical), Craft (Structural), Demolitions, Disable Device
Detective: Concentration, Investigate, Knowledge (Streetwise), Survival
Driver: Concentration, Drive, Intimidate
Educated: Knowledge (Arcane Lore), Knowledge (Art), Knowledge (Behavioral Sciences), Knowledge (Business), Knowledge (Civics), Knowledge (Current Events), Knowledge (Earth and Life Sciences), Knowledge (History), Knowledge (Physical Sciences), Knowledge (Popular Culture), Knowledge (Tactics), Knowledge (Technology), Knowledge (Theology and Philosophy)
Endurance: Concentration, Gamble, Survival
Handler: Handle Animal, Knowledge (Popular Culture), Knowledge (Streetwise), Survival
Investigator: Forgery, Investigate, Knowledge (Civics), Search
Linguist: Decipher Script, Knowledge (any one), Read/Write Language, Speak Language
Medicine: Craft (Pharmaceutical), Knowledge (Earth and Life Sciences), Spot, Treat Injury
Perception: Listen, Search, Sense Motive, Spot
Psionic: Autohypnosis, Concentration, Knowledge (Arcane Lore), Psicraft
Racer: Drive, Escape Artist, Tumble
Rider: Knowledge (Popular Culture), Knowledge (Streetwise), Ride, Tumble
Searcher: Computer Use, Knowledge (Behavioral Sciences), Knowledge (Streetwise), Research, Search
Secretary: Computer Use, Concentration, Listen
Slinger: Intimidate, Move Silently, Sleight of Hand
Social: Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Intimidate
Stealth: Hide, Move Silently, Sleight of Hand
Technician: Craft (Electronic), Craft (Mechanical), Knowledge (Physical Sciences), Knowledge (Technology), Repair
Theatric: Bluff, Knowledge (Current Events or Popular Culture), Perform (any three)
Transportation: Drive, Navigate, Pilot
Wilderness Lore: Handle Animal, Navigate, Ride, Survival

Class Groups:
Note that class groups are only available when you take levels in that class.
Base Class : Class Groups
Strong : Athletic, Builder, Handler, Wilderness Lore
Fast : Agility, Racer, Rider, Stealth, Transportation
Tough : Athletic, Detective, Driver, Endurance, Wilderness Lore
Smart : Academic, Builder, Business, Computer, Crafter, Destruction, Educated, Investigator, Linguist, Searcher, Technician
Dedicated : Academic, Detective, Educated, Medicine, Perception, Searcher, Wilderness Lore
Charismatic : Academic, Creator, Clown, Social, Theatric

Occupation Groups:
If the group(s) chosen for occupation is a class group at first level then you gain a +1 competence bonus on checks using those skills, as well as gaining the group as a permanent group. This only applies to skill groups, not overlapping skills within the groups.
Starting Occupation : Number Chosen : Available Groups
Academic : Two : Academic, Computer, Creator, Educated, Theatric
Adventurer : One : Destruction, Guide, Stealth, Transportation
Athlete : One : Agility, Athletic, Equestrian, Racer
Blue Collar : Two : Athletic, Builder, Driver, Equestrian, Technician
Celebrity : One : Confidence Man, Social, Theatric
Creative : Two : Business, Confidence Man, Crafter, Creator, Technician, Theatric
Criminal : One : Confidence man, Criminal, Stealth
Dilettante : One : Equestrian, Linguist, Sloth
Doctor : One : Business, Medicine, Psychology
Emergency Services : Two : Agility, Athletic, Medical Technician, Medicine, Transportation
Entrepreneur : One : Business, Computer, Social, Wheeling
Investigative : One : Criminal, Detective, Investigator, Perception, Searcher
Law Enforcement : One : Detective, Driver, Investigator, Rider, Social, Transportation
Military : One : Destruction, Guide, Stealth, Transportation
Religious : Two : Perception, Religion, Secretary, Social, Theatric
Rural : One : Guide, Motorist, Transportation, Wilderness Lore
Student : Three : Academic, Business, Computer, Educated, Technician, Theatric
Technician : Two : Builder, Business, Computer, Technician
White Collar : Two : Academic, Business, Computer, Social

Confidence man: Bluff, Disguise, Forgery, Gamble, Perform (Act)
Criminal: Disable Device, Forgery, Knowledge (Streetwise), Sleight of Hand
Equestrian: Handle Animal, Knowledge (Earth and Life Sciences or Popular Culture), Ride
Guide: Climb, Navigate, Survival, Swim
Medical Technician: Craft (Pharmaceutical), Knowledge (Behavioral Sciences), Knowledge (Earth and Life Sciences), Knowledge (Technology), Treat Injury
Motorist: Balance, Drive, Repair
Psychology: Craft (Pharmaceutical), Diplomacy, Knowledge (Behavioral Sciences), Treat Injury
Religion: Diplomacy, Knowledge (Theology and Philosophy), Perform (any one), Sense Motive
Sloth: Bluff, Gamble, Intimidate
Wheeling: Bluff, Diplomacy, Gamble

Skill Changes:

Drive: Drive is one skill with several subgroups, each accessed by spending a skill point to expand the area of application. Without access to an expansion, the character takes a -4 to all drive checks in such a vehicle. Basic driving skills cover cars, motorcycles and small trucks. The expanded areas are Heavy Wheeled, Powerboat, Sailboat, Ship and Tracked. Heavy wheeled is for large wheeled vehicles, such as eighteen-wheeled trucks or military LAVs. Tracked vehicles are any vehicle on treads, such as bulldozers and tanks. Powerboat is for small motorboats, such as speedboats and jet skis, designed for one operator. Sailboat covers all wind-powered sailing vessels. Ships are large, multi-crewed water vessels.
Pilot: Like Drive, Pilot is one skill with several subgroups, each accessed by spending a skill point to expand the area of application. Without access to an expansion, the character takes a -4 to all pilot checks in such a vehicle. Basic flight skills cover small propeller and jet aircraft, including cesnas and lear jets. The expanded areas are Heavy Aircraft, Helicopters, Jet Fighters or Spacecraft. Heavy aircraft include such vehicles as large passenger planes, heavy military transport planes, most bomber aircraft and most aircraft with three or more engines. Helicopters covers all rotary wing aircraft, transport, combat or otherwise. Jet fighters is for military fighters and ground attack jets. Spacecraft are any extra-atmosphere craft such as the space shuttle or lunar lander (this can also cover interstellar craft for science fiction games, or one or more areas can be added to the pilot skill).
Knowledge: Try Again: Yes, after eight hours of rest. Sometimes a night’s rest shakes loose things that had been forgotten in the recesses of the mind.
Tumble: Tumble checks are now opposed checks. To tumble through an opponent’s threatened area make a tumble check opposed by his tumble or base attack check (defender’s choice). If you tumble through an opponent’s space then he adds +5 to his opposed check. To tumble past multiple opponents, make one tumble check and each opponent opposes in the order you tumble past them, player’s choice if there are any ties. Each opponent after the first gains a cumulative +2 on his opposed check.

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First Post
3) Being capable is cool. I want modern games to be cool with cool characters. Granting a balanced system to allow for increased capability and character concept achievement is cool.

I like the look of it, playing a fantasy setting i need to rework it some before i can take it to my DM, but thanks for the ideas

I had been considering proposing multiplying all skill points gained by player by 2, class skills costing 2 pts and cross class skills costing 3 pts.

another way to look at is with standard skill rules change the cost of cross class skills to 1.5 points.

I have the Shadowrun 4E book and it does a similar concept with skill groups. it seems simple and intuitive.



I like the look of that as well.

Personally I've been thinking we should go even further, something closer to Iron heroes' approach where you combine many skills into one skill. Instead of Jump, Swim and Climb you have Athletics, instead of Balance and Tumble Acrobatics and so on.


First Post
Hooray for input!

Jubal, yeah, I designed this for d20 Modern but it was inspired by Iron Heroes. You can check out the IH groups here, and they already cover all the D&D fantasy skills. You and your DM may want to change up some of the groups, Lord knows many tables do.

Vigilance, this is the Iron Heroes approach. Group skills together into clumps that can be taken at the same time without changing the skills themselves. Are you thinking of True20 and how it combined Listen and Spot into the Notice skill, Hide and Move Silently into Stealth and Balance and Tumble into Acrobatics?

Frukathka, one of the reasons I have so many groups is so there will be a large amount of overlap. One of the things I dislike about the IH groups is that if I want a character that is a good cavalryman then it is most efficient for me to also make him a skilled woodsman and vakaro, even if it doesn't fit the character concept. This is because there is very little overlap between the IH skill groups. The source of which is that all groups were composed upon the same basic archetype.
With my system, I was trying to cover the same basic function from at least two different directions. For example, the Detective and Investigator groups. Both groups are meant to represent the skills of a trained and experienced criminal investigator, but because of the actual group they cover vastly different styles of investigation. The Detective group is a more intuitive style, relying upon focus, knowledge of local crime and personalities and the ability to track down someone that has just fled the scene. The Investigator group is a much more cerebral style, relying upon a mastery of the Law and how it is violated to locate clues and divine the perpetrator. Both are useful and cover the same basic concept but approach it from different perspectives.
The result of my approach is that there are almost as many skill groups as their are skills but you only need to take about half of them to get some ranks in every single skill.

As a side note, I've finally gotten my gaming wiki started up. You can find these skill group rule here. I'll have the groups for the non-FX advanced classes up as well.


First Post
Sorry, I like discussion too much. I wanted to get right to it and forgot one of the most important parts of my reply.

Thank you, all, for the compliments.

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