The skill list is hacked down to the following:
Academics (INT, includes Decipher Script, Heal, Knowledge: Geography, History, Nobility, and Religion, Speak Language). This just works as a catch-all for general book learnin’. Even though it has a bunch of knowledges wrapped up in it, they’re mostly not that useful. This is basically here as the Heal skill and Knowledge: Geography for Travel.
Acrobatics (DEX, includes Balance, Escape Artist, Tumble). I really don’t know why these were different to begin with.
Arcana (INT, includes Knowledge: Arcana, Concentration, Planes, Spellcraft, and Use Magical Device). Like with Acrobatics, it’s really weird that Knowledge: Arcana, Spellcraft, and Use Magical Device were different from each other to begin with. Concentration isn’t an INT skill, but CON doesn’t really need help to be a useful stat when it’s already a part of your Fort and HP.
Athletics (STR, includes Climb, Jump, Swim). This has got to be one of the most egregious “why aren’t these the same thing” skills.
Commerce (WIS, includes Appraise, Craft, Profession). When you take Commerce, you must choose one Craft and one Profession, two Crafts, or two Professions. Like the original Craft or Profession skills, you can take it multiple times to get multiple different Crafts/Professions. When appraising, use your highest Commerce skill even if it’s for an unrelated field. You must have Arcana trained in order to train Craft: Alchemy. You do not need to have levels in a caster class to train the skill or to use it to brew up alchemical concoctions. If you want to be a Fighter with a chem set, that sounds pretty cool to me.
Deception (CHA, includes Bluff, Disguise, and Forgery). These are kind of disparate skills, but if a character is good at one, it typically makes perfect sense that they’d be good at the others.
Engineering (INT, includes Disable Device, Knowledge: Architecture and Dungeoneering). So yes, being able to disable high-level traps also means you can design a cathedral.
Investigation (INT, includes Search and Gather Information). These are two skills that just about every adventurer should probably have.
Larceny (DEX, includes Open Lock and Use Rope). Again, why are these different? I considered rolling these together with Disable Device, but that’d give Knowledge: Architecture and Dungeoneering no useful home except maybe in Academics, which has more than enough Knowledges already.
Local Knowledge (INT). I initially added this in basically just because it was used for the Guide roll in the Travel system. However, on reflection, it also has a number of other uses. It’s not too hard to justify using it for some of the things covered by Investigation, Survival, and most of the knowledges in Academics, but only with regards to the one region.
Perception (WIS, includes Spot and Listen). Obviously. This may be added as a freebie to anyone with a PC class, because it really is by far the most useful skill to have trained.
Persuasion (CHA, includes Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive). Now clearly there is a difference between these two, but they’re used to accomplish the same basic thing and the details are mostly flavor.
Perform (CHA). This is a separate skill solely because so many Bard abilities run off of it.
Ride (CHA, includes Ride and Handle Animal). Choosing between CHA and DEX was kind of tricky for this one, since adventurers will probably be rolling it as Ride as often as Handle Animal. But DEX contributes to AC and Reflexes already, I think it’s good.
Stealth (DEX, inclues Hide and Move Silently). Again, we’re already using this one because of how straightforward it is.
Survival (WIS, includes Survival and Knowledge: Nature). This does mean the Guide and Survivalist can both use this skill.
Skill ranks are a thing of the past. Instead, we have the following equation:
Character Level + Training Bonus + Attribute + Infusion.
The bonus for being untrained in a skill is – 3, the bonus for being trained is + 0, the bonus for being an expert is + 3, the bonus for being a master is + 6, and the benefit from an Infusion is 1/3 level instead of 1/level. Rather than a huge pile of fiddly skill points, we instead have a much smaller pile of less fiddly skill points. If you invest a skill point into a skill, then it is trained. Forever. Investing a second skill means it is expert forever, and investing a third means that it is mastered forever. At level 1, Rogues get 8 + INT skill points, Bards get 6 + INT, Monks get 4 + INT, Fighters get 2 + INT, etc. etc. There are a total of 16 skills on the list, so Rogues can get more than half of them. At level 2, and then every 4 levels after (so, level 6, level 10, etc.), you gain a number of new skill points equal to your INT mod. Class skills do not exist. Having a Fighter who’s sneaky is totally cool, the Rogue will still outdo him as a skill monkey because the Fighter gets a dismal amount of skill points (especially since the Fighter doesn’t especially need INT for anything).
There are like a million things that can give you little bonuses to skills. In this system, all of those things (skill focus feat, racial bonuses, etc. etc.) give you daily rerolls instead. So if you have a racial bonus to a skill and also a skill focus, then you get two rerolls per day for the affected skill. So while skill bonuses will eventually lift off to insane levels, but a significant chunk of your bonus will always come from your level and it’ll take a while to go completely insane.
For purposes of determining whether or not you qualify for something’s skill requirements just take your level, add 3 if you are trained, expert, or master, and that is your number of skill ranks for purposes of determining if you qualify for stuff.