Tome of Prowess (3.5e Sourcebook)/Survival

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Survival is an active skill related to the great outdoors. With it you can bind foes or prey, set minor traps in the wilderness, find food while traveling, and tie some impressive knots. You can also recognize the creatures you encounter in the wilds, and thus know whether to fight or flee them. Those who learn the secrets of survival can fashion protective gear from natural resources, predict the weather, hide their own trail, use their knowledge to survive on other planes, and even find any location they have ever visited.

Key Attribute: Wisdom

Untrained Uses[edit]

Bind Adversary[edit]

The ability to bind objects and tie knots is extremely helpful when attempting to survive outside the bounds of civilization. You can apply that knowledge to binding adversaries, even if your knowledge is pretty rudimentary. It takes one minute (10 full round actions) to bind someone. There is no check involved in binding someone; your ranks are only used to determine the DC of the escape artistry check to escape your bindings.

Base DC: None.
Check Result: None. The DC to escape your bindings is 10 + your ranks in survival.

Rank 1 Uses[edit]

Creature Insight[edit]

Knowing how to get by in the uncivilized world means you also need to recognize the threats and creatures within it. Animals are the most common example of these creatures, and your knowledge of them includes rare, exotic, and even dire varieties. Magical beasts are those animals who have been enhanced by magic. Dragons are ancient and powerful creatures, the largest of which tend to shape their territory in ways important to one traveling through it. Oozes are creatures with neither spine nor nervous system that know neither mercy nor hatred, only hunger. Plants are no less dangerous, however, and you are familiar with plants that walk around and plants that swallow men whole. As an immediate action, you can attempt to identify a creature you are facing. The DC for this check is 15 + the creature’s CR. The creature does not have to be alive for you to try to gather information about it, though deceased creatures need to be largely intact.

Special: The Survival skill only allows you to identify animals, magical beasts, dragons, oozes, and plants, but there are several other skills that provide similar knowledge for other creature types. If your GM is a nice guy, he’ll just tell you which skill you need to roll to gather information about a creature. As this may reveal more information than they want, they may not tell you which skill you need. In that case, only roll once for all skills; just add your modifier from each skill to your roll and give him all 5 results separately.

Base DC: 15 + the creature’s CR
Check Result:

  • DC+10 and above: You correctly guess everything in the lower success results, as well as every other special quality and attack that the creature has. In a less serious game, you can just ask the GM for their notes and read up on it while everyone else gets into position.
  • DC+5 to DC+9: In addition to the information learned from a basic success, you also correctly guess 3 special attacks or qualities of the creature. These are either determined randomly from those you have not yet witnessed, or you may ask for further details on one you have witnessed (type of DR if you have witnessed it, type of breath weapon, etc.).
  • DC+0 to DC+4: You correctly guess the creature’s type, subtypes, and any traits that would come as a result of those categories. If the creature is sufficiently common, you also know its name, and that may provide other information.
  • DC-1 and below: You are unable to reach any conclusion that you are happy with. You can not retry this check until you witness one of its special abilities or qualities first hand; sometimes getting bathed in acid jogs a memory.

Hunter’s Traps[edit]

Hunting in the wild is as much about setting an ambush or trap for a quarry as putting an arrow through them. You can set traps for creatures, for eating or other reasons. With some work you can make a snare trap, a pit trap, an enclosure or net trap, or some other hunting trap that fits the environment. In a typical environment, you can spend an hour to make a trap for a creature of your size, or two hours for a pit trap. Smaller traps take one-eighth as long for each size category below yours, and larger traps take eight times as long for each category above yours. A medium trap fills a 5’ x 5’ square, bigger or smaller size traps fill the appropriate spaces. Some environments may disallow specific traps, or have options that take more or less time at the DM’s discretion.

After you finish making the trap, make a survival check. The result of your check is how long the trap will last in days. After that time the trap becomes useless and must be remade if it has not been triggered. Note that some extreme weather conditions can trigger a trap, like a strong storm, reducing that duration significantly.

The created trap has a search DC of 15 plus your ranks in survival. If the trap would allow a save, it has a DC of 10 + half your ranks in survival. If the trap would make an attack roll against a target, it uses your ranks in survival as the attack bonus.

Base DC: None. See text.
Check Result: Your check result determines how long your trap remains functional without further attention from you. Other aspects of the trap are determined by your ranks in survival.

Live Off the Land[edit]

When you’re between towns and have lost all of your food to bandits, you have to find more if you want to eat. You are able to find sustenance almost anywhere you are. This check is made at the beginning of the day, as you must decide to attempt to find food while you travel before you begin traveling. This generally requires 8 hours of work, but it occurs concurrently with normal walking and so doesn't require taking time out of your day to accomplish. Your surroundings determine the base DC for this check, since your surroundings determine the availability of food. The common woods and plains of the world have a DC around 20, with the actual DC varying around that number based on local conditions. Areas with little water, extreme heat or cold, or other issues may have a DC as high as 30. Well tended areas with available produce or livestock may have a DC as low as 10 while areas where near everything is edible may have a DC as low as 0, but these tend to be less common and may also involve legal concerns.

On a successful check you feed yourself and an additional number of people based on your check result without any interruption in your normal travel. Unlike other abilities, however, you can actually improve your check result after the fact. If you take 2 hours out of your daily travel to forage, you increase your check result by +5. If you take 4 hours out of your travel, you increase your check by +10. Lastly, if you really really need to boost your check, you can spend 8 hours foraging to increase your result by +15. Time spent foraging counts as time walking overland, and may combine with other movement to tire you out as described in the Revised Movement and Fatigue Rules.

Base DC: 10 to 30 as determined by surroundings; normal plains and woods are DC 20
Check Result:

  • DC+10 and above: You find sufficient food for yourself and seven others for the day. It’s a veritable traveling feast.
  • DC+5 to DC+9: You find sufficient food for yourself and three others for the day. Or you can take some of the surplus as supplies for one of those off days.
  • DC+0 to DC+4: You find sufficient food for yourself and one other for the day.
  • DC-1 and below: You do not find enough to eat or drink for yourself during your travel day, much less anyone else.

Rope Tricks[edit]

Fancy knots and special rope tricks are not particularly impressive, but are sometimes very useful. You can use some special knots with your rope as well as properly set a grapple. Firm knots, slip knots, and similar common knots do not generally require a check, and just behave as expected. You can tie a rope around yourself or someone else with only one hand with a DC 15 check. With a DC 20 check you can tie a firm knot that unties itself when you, or someone else who makes a check higher than yours, pulls on it. Each of these requires a standard action, and the success of your attempt is determined from the table below when it matters.

Your proficiency with rope extends to grappling hooks and making them stay up on roof ledges or rock outcroppings. You may use your survival check in place of a ranged attack roll to set the grapple. The DC for this check is 10, +2 for every 10 feet of distance, but the check is not made until you begin climbing the rope. If you succeed on the check, the hook is properly secured and will hold while you and anyone else (up to the weight limit of the rope or hook) follow. If you fail the check, it’s possible that it gave out while you or someone else was climbing. If everyone climbed during the period that it was stable then nothing bad happens, but if anyone would still be on it during the round when it fails they fall and take damage as appropriate.

Base DC: Varies, or 10 + 2 per 10 feet of throw for grappling hook use
Check Result:

  • DC+0 and above: Your knot or grapple behaves as expected.
  • DC-1 to DC-5: Your knot unravels or grappling hook slips its catch as soon as you attempt to use it, and you suffer no harm from this except from your wasted time. You may retry of course.
  • DC-6 and below: Your knot unravels or your grappling hook slips free 1d4 rounds after you start using it, generally by applying weight or pressure to it, with all of the bad stuff that entails. Since you couldn’t have known that this would happen, you don’t get to avoid this bad stuff if you’re still using it.

Track Game[edit]

You know how to spot the signs that an animal has passed by. Conveniently enough, people and monsters leave lots of the same signs. You can find and follow any trail with a DC of 15 or less. Locating or following any trail more complicated requires the Tracker feat.

Attempting to locate a trail in a 5' by 5' area requires 1 round and a check against the trail's DC. Your check result determines how quickly you can follow the trail, and for how long before you might lose it again, as indicated in the Revised Tracking Rules.

Rank 4 Uses[edit]

Navigate Wilds[edit]

It’s a big world out there, and lots of it will kill you if you get lost or don’t know what you’re doing. You can guide yourself through that big world with landmarks and generally avoid getting lost or killed by natural hazards. The DC to stay on track in the wilds is normally 15; trackless or guideless terrain, limited visibility, or magical influences may increase this DC significantly. The results of your check is determined by the table below.

Your result on this check is also used to avoid quicksand, unstable rocks, suddenly deep bogs, lightning sand, plant creatures, and any other "natural" hazards. The DC to avoid these objects is 15 + CR or 15 + EL depending on the structure of the encounter. If your check result to stay on track exceeds this amount, you learn about the above types of encounters or traps and may simply avoid them. If you elect to go through them anyway, you gain a +2 to all saves against terrain effects and may also surprise or ambush your foes. This remains true regardless of how lost you actually are, since you can recognize and avoid quicksand even when you don't know where you are. You must be able to see a creature or hazard to avoid it in this way, however. If you are unable to detect it due to camouflage or concealment, you may not avoid the encounter or "trap". The ability to avoid these dangers only works in environments which are common for your home world. It does not work on other planes or worlds which are substantially different from your home at this time.

If you are moving at a walking speed or below you are assumed to be taking 10 on this ability and will likely just avoid most natural things. You may not take 10, 15, or 20 with this ability if you move faster than a walk.

Base DC:15 + conditions to avoid getting lost; see text for "natural" hazards
Check Result:

  • DC+5 and above: You are safe from getting lost for the next 4 hours of normal overland movement.
  • DC+0 to DC+4: You continue for an hour before you need to make another check to keep your bearings.
  • DC-1 to DC-5: You lose your way for a time, but find your bearings after half an hour. You may continue without losing your way again for another hour of normal overland movement.
  • DC-6 and below: You are utterly lost and unable to make any further checks until you determine where you are or reach a known location. Further travel is done by guess work.

Rough It[edit]

If you have to spend a long day on the ice planes braving deadly icicle storms in sub-freezing temperatures, it's nice to do so in clothing that protects you. And at the end of that long day, it's nice to be able to return to a nice warm structure where those things can't affect you. If you find yourself unprepared for these conditions, you're well equipped to make your own gear. You can turn natural flora and fauna in an area into protective clothing and shelters for yourself or others.

Turning fauna into gear is largely accomplished by skinning them and working their skins into gear. You can skin a creature of your size with around 5 minutes or work. A medium creature skinned in this way provides approximately one square yard of material. Larger creatures require four times as long per size category difference, but also provide four times the material. Smaller creatures require one-quarter as long per size category difference, and also provide one-quarter the material. Turning flora into gear takes more time, but you don't have to hunt any creatures down. You still have to gather materials, which may take as little as 10 minutes or as long as a day depending on their availability withing the environment. After you have the materials you must spend 5 minutes working it together into a square yard of material, whether that means weaving it together or binding it with sap. This time requirement assumes a normal sized environment. Larger sized environments reduce this time by one-quarter for each size larger than normal they are, while smaller sized environments increase it by four times for each size category smaller they are. It's easy to craft gear in a giant's forest after all, but very difficult to craft it in a miniature garden. If you don't mind a bit of blood, sap, or glue you can wear these prepared materials immediately and gain the benefit of their protection. Otherwise you must wait for them to cure and dry, a process which takes about a day.

A medium creature requires 2 square yards of material to fashion a complete suit of protective clothing, or 3 square yards to fashion a protective (if small) shelter. Larger creatures require four times as much material for each size category larger than medium they are, while smaller creature only require one-quarter as much material for each size category smaller they are. Materials are generally only suitable for the similar environments as those in which they were acquired. They provide no benefit or even penalties in environments vastly different from the ones in which they were acquired.

Rank 6 Uses[edit]

Dead Reckoning[edit]

You are so used to making your way in the wilderness that you seem to have a compass installed in your head. As long as there is a "true north" or similar cardinal direction on your current world or plane you always know which direction it points in. Always. You gain no benefit on planes without such things, such as the elemental plane of water.


You know what that soreness in your bones means. You can be pretty accurate about the future weather in your area. With a successful DC 20 check and a minute to take in the world, you can learn what the weather has in store for your area. How far into the future and how accurate your knowledge depends on your check result. Note that your results are only valid for any particular area, and if you enter a new area, you need to make another check to have any knowledge of its expected weather. Area is a bit vague in this sense, as large open plains might well be considered the same area while neighboring valleys may not be.

Base DC: 20
Check Result:

  • DC+10 and above: You learn the natural weather conditions for the next 4 days, and can make educated guesses about the weather a couple days out from there.
  • DC+5 to DC+9: You learn the natural weather conditions for the next 2 days.
  • DC+0 to DC+4: You learn the natural weather conditions for the next 24 hours.
  • DC-1 to DC-5: You learn the natural weather conditions for the next 6 hours.
  • DC-6 and below: You’re only guessing about the weather at any point in the future, including a minute from when you make the check. Doesn’t mean you’re going to be wrong, though.

Rank 8 Uses[edit]

Break Trail[edit]

Being pursued is not fun, especially when they're using your own trail against you. You can mask the passing of an entire group of people, even if they continue moving at full speed. You need to spend at least one minute indoors or five minutes outdoors hiding a trail to provide a sufficient break to slow down a pursuer. After that time, your trail is as hidden as you can get it, and you move on. The first time that a pursuer reaches the spot where you broke your trail, you make a check to see how well your trail was hidden. The effects on the pursuer are determined at that time, based on your check result

Base DC:10 + your tracker's ranks in Survival
Check Result:

  • DC+10 and above: The DC to track your party increases by 20 when the tracker reaches this spot. If they fail this increased check, they must spend eight times as long as normal searching for the trail again, eight hours outdoors or eighty minutes indoors. Only really determined trackers make it past two hours outdoors.
  • DC+5 to DC+9: The DC to track your party increases by 10 when the tracker reaches this spot. If they fail this increased check, they must spend four times as long as normal searching for the trail again, four hours outdoors or forty minutes indoors. Only really determined trackers make it past two hours outdoors.
  • DC+0 to DC+4: The DC to track your party increases by 5 when the tracker reaches this spot. If they fail this increased check, they must spend twice as long as normal searching for the trail again, two hours outdoors or twenty minutes indoors.
  • DC-1 to DC-5: The DC to track your party doesn’t change, but the tracker must make an additional check to follow your trail. Failure on their part counts as a standard losing of the trail.
  • DC-6 and below: The DC to track your party doesn’t change, and the tracker doesn’t have to make an additional check to follow your trail.

Rank 12 Uses[edit]

Infinite Adaptations[edit]

The multiverse is a lot larger and a lot more varied than the little world you call home. You have learned how to apply your survival tricks to other environments, and can survive pretty much anywhere. You may use the Rough It ability to protect yourself from any environment at all, even those without terrestrial analogues. Your Navigate Wilds and Dead Reckoning abilities function on other planes as well, allowing you to navigate as if you were a native of that environment.

Rank 14 Uses[edit]

The Long Road Home[edit]

You have a sort of sixth sense about distant places you have visited before, as well as places where the world is thin and you could step across to another. With a bit of time to scan the horizon, you can determine direction and approximate distance to any location you have ever visited on your current world or plane. You can also determine the direction and distance to the nearest portal, conduit, or other magical link that leads to any other plane or world.

Getting a direction and distance to a location you have visited before requires one minute to concentrate and a DC 30 check. If you have only ever teleported to and from the location, the DC is 35 instead. Getting a direction and distance to a portal to a plane you have previously visited requires 5 minutes of concentration and a DC 30 check. Attempting to find a portal for a plane you have not visited requires a DC 35 check instead. Your check result determines how much information you learn from your attempt.

Note that regardless of your check result, you learn no information about the portal aside from its general location, and may not actually be able to open it when you reach it. Use of this skill will not necessarily provide the shortest path to a destination, as a trip through portals or across several planes might be the shorter route, but would not be indicated by this skill. It is a useful tool, but does not replace a bit of research.

Base DC: Determined by destination
Check Result:

  • DC+10 and above: You learn the direction to your target, and the exact distance in feet. It's a pretty amazing bit of insight, actually.
  • DC+5 to DC+9: You learn the direction to your target, and the exact distance in miles. Which will get you pretty close.
  • DC+0 to DC+4: You learn the direction to your target, and distance to the nearest 5 mile increment. Which is plenty close to find it in an afternoon of searching after you walk there.
  • DC-1 and below: You fail to locate your target, and suffer a cumulative -2 penalty to attempts to locate it again for the next 24 hours. Sometimes it's best to sleep on it and try again in the morning.

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