Pathfinder 2 General Skill Actions

General Skill Actions

General skill actions are skill actions that can be used with multiple different skills. When you use a general skill action, you might use your modifier from any skill that lists it as one of the skill’s actions, depending on the situation.

Decipher Writing

When you encounter particularly archaic or esoteric texts, the GM might require you to Decipher the Writing before you can understand it. You must be trained in the relevant skill to Decipher Writing. Arcana is typically used for writing about magic or science, Occultism for esoteric texts about mysteries and philosophy, Religion for scripture, and Society for coded messages or archaic documents.

Decipher Writing

Concentrate Exploration Secret

You attempt to decipher complicated writing or literature on an obscure topic. This usually takes 1 minute per page of text, but might take longer (typically an hour per page for decrypting ciphers or the like). The text must be in a language you can read, though the GM might allow you to attempt to decipher text written in an unfamiliar language using Society instead.

The DC is determined by the GM based on the state or complexity of the document. The GM might have you roll one check for a short text or a check for each section of a larger text.

Critical Success You understand the true meaning of the text.

Success You understand the true meaning of the text. If it was a coded document, you know the general meaning but might not have a word-for-word translation.

Failure You can’t understand the text and take a –2 circumstance penalty to further checks to decipher it.

Critical Failure You believe you understand the text on that page, but you have in fact misconstrued its message.

Sample Decipher Writing Tasks

Trained entry-level philosophy treatise
Expert complex code, such as a cipher
Master spymaster’s code or advanced research notes
Legendary esoteric planar text written in metaphor by an ancient celestial

Earn Income (Trained)

You can use a skill—typically Crafting, Lore, or Performance—to earn money during downtime. You must be trained in the skill to do so. This takes time to set up, and your income depends on your proficiency rank and how lucrative a task you can find. Because this process requires a significant amount of time and involves tracking things outside the progress of adventures, it won’t come up in every campaign.

In some cases, the GM might let you use a different skill to Earn Income through specialized work. Usually, this is scholarly work, such as using Religion in a monastery to study old texts—but giving sermons at a church would still fall under Performance instead of Religion. You also might be able to use physical skills to make money, such as using Acrobatics to perform feats in a circus or Thievery to pick pockets. If you’re using a skill other than Crafting, Lore, or Performance, the DC tends to be significantly higher.

Earn Income


You use one of your skills to make money during downtime. The GM assigns a task level representing the most lucrative job available. You can search for lower-level tasks, with the GM determining whether you find any. Sometimes you can attempt to find better work than the initial offerings, though this takes time and requires using the Diplomacy skill to Gather Information, doing some research, or socializing.

When you take on a job, the GM secretly sets the DC of your skill check. After your first day of work, you roll to determine your earnings. You gain an amount of income based on your result, the task’s level, and your proficiency rank (as listed on Table 4–2: Income Earned).

You can continue working at the task on subsequent days without needing to roll again. For each day you spend after the first, you earn the same amount as the first day, up until the task’s completion. The GM determines how long you can work at the task. Most tasks last a week or two, though some can take months or even years.

Critical Success You do outstanding work. Gain the amount of currency listed for the task level + 1 and your proficiency rank.

Success You do competent work. Gain the amount of currency listed for the task level and your proficiency rank.

Failure You do shoddy work and get paid the bare minimum for your time. Gain the amount of currency listed in the failure column for the task level. The GM will likely reduce how long you can continue at the task.

Critical Failure You earn nothing for your work and are fired immediately. You can’t continue at the task. Your reputation suffers, potentially making it difficult for you to find rewarding jobs in that community in the future.

Sample Earn Income Tasks

These examples use Alcohol Lore to work in a bar or Legal Lore to perform legal work.

Trained bartend, do legal research
Expert curate drink selection, present minor court cases
Master run a large brewery, present important court cases
Legendary run an international brewing franchise, present a case in Hell’s courts

Crafting Goods for the Market (Crafting)

Using Crafting, you can work at producing common items for the market. It’s usually easy to find work making basic items whose level is 1 or 2 below your settlement’s level (see Earn Income on page 504). Higher-level tasks represent special commissions, which might require you to Craft a specific item using the Craft downtime activity and sell it to a buyer at full price. These opportunities don’t occur as often and might have special requirements—or serious consequences if you disappoint a prominent client.

Practicing a Trade (Lore)

You apply the practical benefits of one of your Lore specialties during downtime by practicing your trade. This is most effective for Lore specialties such as business, law, or sailing, where there’s high demand for workers. The GM might increase the DC or determine only low-level tasks are available if you’re attempting to use an obscure Lore skill to Earn Income. You might also need specialized tools to accept a job, like mining tools to work in a mine or a merchant’s scale to buy and sell valuables in a market.

Staging a Performance (Performance)

You perform for an audience to make money. The available audiences determine the level of your task, since more discerning audiences are harder to impress but provide a bigger payout. The GM determines the task level based on the audiences available. Performing for a typical audience of commoners on the street is a level 0 task, but a performance for a group of artisans with more refined tastes might be a 2nd- or 3rd-level task, and ones for merchants, nobility, and royalty are increasingly higher level. Your degree of success determines whether you moved your audience and whether you were rewarded with applause or rotten fruit.

Extra Preparation

When Earning Income, you might be able to spend days of downtime to prepare for your task, which adjusts the DC of the skill check. This might involve rehearsing a play, studying a topic, and so on. The GM determines how long preparation takes and how much the DC changes. This is most useful when you’re trying a task that’s higher level than you; otherwise such tasks have an increased DC!

Ending or Interrupting Tasks

When a task you’re doing is complete, or if you stop in the middle of one, you normally have to find a new task if you want to keep Earning Income. For instance, if you quit your job working at the docks, you’ll need to find another place of employment instead of picking up where you left off. This usually takes 1 day or more of downtime looking for leads on new jobs.

However, you might pause a task due to an adventure or event that wouldn’t prevent you from returning to the old job later. The GM might decide that you can pick up where you left off, assuming the task hasn’t been completed by others in your absence. Whether you roll a new skill check when you resume is also up to the GM. Generally speaking, if you had a good initial roll and want to keep it, you can, but if you had a bad initial roll, you can’t try for a better one by pausing to do something else. If your statistics changed during the break—usually because you leveled up while adventuring—you can attempt a new check.

Income Examples

The following examples show the kinds of tasks your character might take on to Earn Income during low-level and high-level play.

Harsk Makes Tea

Harsk is a 3rd-level ranger and an expert at harvesting and brewing tea. He has a Tea Lore modifier of +7. He has 30 days of downtime at his disposal and decides to work at a prestigious local tea house. The GM decides this is a 5th-level task if Harsk wants to assist the tea master, or a 2nd-level task if he wants to serve tea. Harsk chooses the tougher task, and the GM secretly sets the DC at 20.

Harsk rolls a 4 on his Tea Lore check for a result of 11. Poor Harsk has failed! He earns only 2 sp for his efforts and continues working for 3 more days, for a total of 8 sp.

At that point, the GM offers Harsk a choice: either he can finish out the week with the tea master and look for a new job, or he can lower his ambitions and serve in the tea house. Harsk, now more aware of his own capabilities, accepts the less prestigious job for now. He moves to his new job and attempts a new Tea Lore check against DC 16. Rolling a 19, he gets a result of 26—a critical success! He earns 5 sp per day (like a success at a 3rd-level task). The GM rules that demand will be high enough that Harsk can work there for the remainder of his downtime if he so chooses, a total of 26 days. Harsk accepts and earns a total of 138 sp (13 gp, 8 sp) that month.

Lem Performs

Lem is a 16th-level bard and legendary with his flute. He has a Performance modifier of +31 with his enchanted flute. With 30 days of downtime ahead of him, Lem wonders if he can find something that might excite him more than performing in front of a bunch of stuffy nobles. He finds a momentous offer indeed—a performance in a celestial realm, and Lem’s patron goddess Shelyn might even be in attendance! This is a 20th-level task, and the GM secretly sets the DC at 40.

Lem rolls an 11 on his Performance check for a result of 42. Success! The engagement lasts for a week, and at the end, the grateful celestials present Lem with a beautiful living diamond rose in constant bloom worth 1,400 gold pieces (200 gp per day for 7 days).

With 23 days of downtime left, Lem accepts a 14th- level task performing at a prestigious bardic college for members of a royal court. The GM secretly sets the DC at 32, and Lem critically succeeds, earning 28 gp per day for a total of 644 gp. Between the two performances, Lem has earned just over 2,000 gold pieces during his downtime—though he’s not sure he’ll ever sell that rose.

Table: Income Earned
Task LevelFailureTrainedExpertMasterLegendary
01 cp5 cp5 cp5 cp5 cp
12 cp2 sp2 sp2 sp2 sp
24 cp3 sp3 sp3 sp3 sp
38 cp5 sp5 sp5 sp5 sp
41 sp7 sp8 sp8 sp8 sp
52 sp9 sp1 gp1 gp1 gp
63 sp1 gp, 5 sp2 gp2 gp2 gp
74 sp2 gp2 gp, 5 sp2 gp, 5 sp2 gp, 5 sp
85 sp2 gp, 5 sp3 gp3 gp3 gp
96 sp3 gp4 gp4 gp4 gp
107 sp4 gp5 gp6 gp6 gp
118 sp5 gp6 gp8 gp8 gp
129 sp6 gp8 gp10 gp10 gp
131 gp7 gp10 gp15 gp15 gp
141 gp, 5 sp8 gp15 gp20 gp20 gp
152 gp10 gp20 gp28 gp28 gp
162 gp, 5 sp13 gp25 gp36 gp40 gp
173 gp15 gp30 gp45 gp55 gp
184 gp20 gp45 gp70 gp90 gp
196 gp30 gp60 gp100 gp130 gp
208 gp40 gp75 gp150 gp200 gp
20 (critical success)50 gp90 gp175 gp300 gp

Identify Magic

Using the skill related to the appropriate tradition, as explained in Magical Traditions and Skills on page 238, you can attempt to identify a magical item, location, or ongoing effect. In many cases, you can use a skill to attempt to Identify Magic of a tradition other than your own at a higher DC. The GM determines whether you can do this and what the DC is.

Identify Magic

Concentrate Exploration Secret

Once you discover that an item, location, or ongoing effect is magical, you can spend 10 minutes to try to identify the particulars of its magic. If your attempt is interrupted, you must start over. The GM sets the DC for your check. Cursed or esoteric subjects usually have higher DCs or might even be impossible to identify using this activity alone. Heightening a spell doesn’t increase the DC to identify it.

Critical Success You learn all the attributes of the magic, including its name (for an effect), what it does, any means of activating it (for an item or location), and whether it is cursed.

Success For an item or location, you get a sense of what it does and learn any means of activating it. For an ongoing effect (such as a spell with a duration), you learn the effect’s name and what it does. You can’t try again in hopes of getting a critical success.

Failure You fail to identify the magic and can’t try again for 1 day.

Critical Failure You misidentify the magic as something else of the GM’s choice.

Magical Traditions and Skills

Each magical tradition has a corresponding skill, as shown on the table below. You must have the trained proficiency rank in a skill to use it to Identify Magic or Learn a Spell. Something without a specific tradition, such as an item with the magical trait, can be identified using any of these skills.

Magical TraditionCorresponding Skill

Learn a Spell (Trained)

If you’re a spellcaster, you can use the skill corresponding to your magical tradition to learn a new spell of that tradition. Table: Learning a Spell lists the Price of the materials needed to Learn a Spell of each level.

Learn a Spell

Concentrate Exploration

Requirements You have a spellcasting class feature, and the spell you want to learn is on your magical tradition’s spell list.

You can gain access to a new spell of your tradition from someone who knows that spell or from magical writing like a spellbook or scroll. If you can cast spells of multiple traditions, you can Learn a Spell of any of those traditions, but you must use the corresponding skill to do so. For example, if you were a cleric with the bard multiclass archetype, you couldn’t use Religion to add an occult spell to your bardic spell repertoire.

To learn the spell, you must do the following:

  • Spend 1 hour per level of the spell, during which you must remain in conversation with a person who knows the spell or have the magical writing in your possession.
  • Have materials with the Price indicated in Table: Learning a Spell.
  • Attempt a skill check for the skill corresponding to your tradition (DC determined by the GM, often close to the DC on Table: Learning a Spell). Uncommon or rare spells have higher DCs; full guidelines for the GM appear on page 503.

If you have a spellbook, Learning a Spell lets you add the spell to your spellbook; if you prepare spells from a list, it’s 1 added to your list; if you have a spell repertoire, you can select it when you add or swap spells.

Critical Success You expend half the materials and learn the spell.

Success You expend the materials and learn the spell.

Failure You fail to learn the spell but can try again after you gain a level. The materials aren’t expended.

Critical Failure As failure, plus you expend half the materials.

Table: Learning a Spell
Spell LevelPriceTypical DC
1st or cantrip2 gp15
2nd6 gp18
3rd16 gp20
4th36 gp23
5th70 gp26
6th140 gp28
7th300 gp31
8th650 gp34
9th1,500 gp36
10th7,000 gp41

Recall Knowledge (Untrained)

To remember useful information on a topic, you can attempt to Recall Knowledge. You might know basic information about something without needing to attempt a check, but Recall Knowledge requires you to stop and think for a moment so you can recollect more specific facts and apply them. You might even need to spend time investigating first. For instance, to use Medicine to learn the cause of death, you might need to conduct a forensic examination before attempting to Recall Knowledge.

Recall Knowledge [1 Action]

Concentrate Secret

You attempt a skill check to try to remember a bit of knowledge regarding a topic related to that skill. The GM determines the DCs for such checks and which skills apply.

Critical Success You recall the knowledge accurately and gain additional information or context.

Success You recall the knowledge accurately or gain a useful clue about your current situation.

Critical Failure You recall incorrect information or gain an erroneous or misleading clue.

The following skills can be used to Recall Knowledge, getting information about the listed topics. In some cases, you can get the GM’s permission to use a different but related skill, usually against a higher DC than normal. Some topics might appear on multiple lists, but the skills could give different information. For example, Arcana might tell you about the magical defenses of a golem, whereas Crafting could tell you about its sturdy resistance to physical attacks.

The GM might allow checks to Recall Knowledge using other skills. For example, you might assess the skill of an acrobat using Acrobatics. If you’re using a physical skill (like in this example), the GM will most likely have you use a mental ability score—typically Intelligence— instead of the skill’s normal physical ability score.

Sample Recall Knowledge Tasks

These examples use Society or Religion.

Untrained name of a ruler, key noble, or major deity
Trained line of succession for a major noble family, core doctrines of a major deity
Expert genealogy of a minor noble, teachings of an ancient priest
Master hierarchy of a genie noble court, major extraplanar temples of a deity
Legendary existence of a long-lost noble heir, secret doctrines of a religion

Subsist (Untrained)

If you need to provide food and shelter, you can use the Subsist downtime activity. This typically uses Society if you’re in a settlement or Survival if you’re in the wild.



You try to provide food and shelter for yourself, and possibly others as well, with a standard of living described on page 294. The GM determines the DC based on the nature of the place where you’re trying to Subsist. You might need a minimum proficiency rank to Subsist in particularly strange environments. Unlike most downtime activities, you can Subsist after 8 hours or less of exploration, but if you do, you take a –5 penalty.

Critical Success You either provide a subsistence living for yourself and one additional creature, or you improve your own food and shelter, granting yourself a comfortable living.

Success You find enough food and shelter with basic protection from the elements to provide you a subsistence living.

Failure You’re exposed to the elements and don’t get enough food, becoming fatigued until you attain sufficient food and shelter.

Critical Failure You attract trouble, eat something you shouldn’t, or otherwise worsen your situation. You take a –2 circumstance penalty to checks to Subsist for 1 week. You don’t find any food at all; if you don’t have any stored up, you’re in danger of starving or dying of thirst if you continue failing.

Sample Subsist Tasks

Untrained lush forest with calm weather or large city with plentiful resources
Trained typical hillside or village
Expert typical mountains or insular hamlet
Master typical desert or city under siege
Legendary barren wasteland or city of undead

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder Core Rulebook (Second Edition) © 2019, Paizo Inc.; Designers: Logan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, and Mark Seifter.