I often find myself assigning broad knowledge groups to characters based on their class. If a situation falls within the realm of knowledge for a given character, I will provide them with additional information, or give them a dice roll to understand something, depending on how challenging or obscure the situation may be.
This can be used in place or, or in addition to a formal skill system such as ones we have discussed before:
Some examples you can use:
Tactics, evaluate weapons and armour
Religious symbols and orders, knowledge of various deities
Magic users -
Sensitive to magic in the area, knowledge of languages and ancient history
Knowledge of city layouts, evaluate loot, city contacts.
You can extend this to other classes and even the various races.
I tend to rule that elves are sensitive to magic (being able to identify that an item is magic if investigated on a 2 in 6 roll), while humans tend to be the only ones who are familiar with the various nation states and political situations in the campaign.
Do you use anything similar?
Do you use a formal or an informal system?
Let me know in the comments.
Thing of the day:
Today's crass consumerism is one of my favourite collections of stories ever, by one of my favourite authors ever.
The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance. While Vance is generally a fantastic writer, with a sprawling vocabulary and an outstanding command of the English language, for D&D fans in particular, it is hard to overestimate the contributions he made to the D&D game.
The most obvious is the magic system of course, but spells, creatures and arguably even the writing style of Gygax has heavy influence from the works of Vance in general, and the Dying Earth in particular.
The Dying Earth stories are also a good example of an "evil" character (Cugel) that can act as an adventurer.