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Skills

What is a skill?

A character's skills represent a character's knowledge and experience. Any situation in which a character does something difficult likely involves the use of a Skill, also known as a Skill Check. Skill Checks are explained in the Resolution System. This page covers what skills are available, and how they are given to a new character.

Skill Levels

By default, unless otherwise specified, a character is assumed to know the basics of living as understood in their particular home setting. For instance, reading and writing in their national language (and their home dialect if any), ability to use basic tools such as screwdriver, knowing how to boil an egg, and other typical "day to day" skills. These do not need to be marked down. If a character has a handicap that precludes use of these basic skills, mark that down instead. Each setting has an additional set of default skills.

Anything more complex, such as being effective in combat, athletics (beyond walking around, light lifting, and other everyday stuff), stunt driving or flying, or anything else a person would spend time training specifically to learn, is a skill. The higher a character's Skill Level, the better trained that character is in that skill.

If a character has a stat listed at 0 on their sheet, they have received enough training to use it without penalty, but have no bonus. This may only be acquired by backgrounds.

Skill rankXP costXP cost from 0Notes
000Barely trained. For skill checks, use HIGHEST base stat instead, minus 2 for improvising.
111Apprentice.
234Journeyman.
3610Master. Not specializing after this requires storyteller approval.
41020Grand Master.
51535Genius.
6+21+41+Superhuman. PCs should generally not have access to this skill level.

Attributes and Skill Limits

Skills are dependent on one or more attributes, and cannot be raised higher than the LOWEST relevant attribute. For example, a character with a Body Ability (BA) of 3 may not have Brawling higher than 3 without raising BP first. If the same character has a Body Resilience (BR) of 2, they may not raise Persistence Hunting above 2, even though their Body Ability is sufficient.

Metanormal advantage (Narrative Control, Magic, Psionics, etc.), when present, has its own limit, indicated by the Special stat.

Improving Skills and Experience Points

Skills are bought with experience points: learning a completely new skill (rank 0 to rank 1) costs 1xp. To raise a skill to the next level, the player must spend experience points (XP) equal to the the total amount of XP already spent on that skill, plus the rank of the skill being gained. For example, going from rank 2 to rank 3 would require 1+2+3 = 6xp.

Experience points are given at character creation, and after a significant series of events in a game, as determined by the storyteller. Storytellers may decide that the group gets XP as a whole, or to individual characters; it's important to make this clear at the beginning of the game. Particularly experience-heavy games may give xp after a combat encounter, whereas more realistic games may give xp after an entire adventure, when the characters have some downtime to reflect and learn.

Learning a completely new skill should be roleplayed, if possible (a period spent in training, or a particularly successful improvisation that prompts the character to learn the basics of the skill next time they have the chance, for example).

Specialization and Improvisation

Sometimes a character will be specialized in an aspect of a skill, as opposed to having an equal level of knowledge in all areas of that skill. In fact, experienced generalists are very rare. Specializations require knowing the basics (skill 1) and cost one rank less than raising the base skill would. For example, a character with Ranged Combat 2 who wants to specialize in Marksmanship only needs to spend 3xp (as if going 1->2 instead of 2->3) and can from then on use a ranged combat skill of 3 when firing from long range, while retaining the skill of 2 when engaged in a close-quarters shootout. Expanding a specialization into a general skill improvement is done by "refunding" the specialization, then spending the XP to raise the skill normally. In this case, the character would get 3xp back, and then spend 6xp to raise the general skill to 3.

Specialization also has a narrative effect: if two characters have the same relevant stats and skill in a contest or duel, a character with a specialization has advantage over a character without. For example, between two characters with identical primary attributes who engage in a mortar duel across trench lines, the one with Indirect Fire(1) and Mortar specialization will actually enjoy an advantage over the one with Indirect Fire (2).

In the course of a scene, improvisation may become necessary. When improvising, the character is treated as having an effective skill of -2. Having a distantly related skill can be used to reduce this penalty: a distantly related skill at 2 will reduce the improvisation penalty to -1, and a distantly related skill at 4 will reduce the improvisation penalty to 0. For example, a skilled cobbler can use their knowledge of leatherwork to stitch a wound (although the patient won't enjoy it!).

A character who is particularly good at improvising may have a trait that reduces this penalty, but it should never go above zero.

Improvisation also has a narrative effect: if two characters end up having the same number to add to their dice rolls when all is said and done, just as a specialized character has advantage over a generalist, a character who is NOT improvising will have advantage over a character who is. This represents the "muscle memory" conferred by basic training in a skill (The two advantages do not stack).

Skills and Attributes

In a skill check for a skill that has two prerequisite stats, use the lowest.

A player should note their skill on the character sheet.

Action skills are normally tied to Ability. They are used in a time-critical way, when fractions of a second count; all combat skills are action skills, but the opposite is not necessarily true.

Endurance skills are normally tied to Resilience. They are used in a sustained effort, in which self-discipline and ability to pace oneself are as important as expertise; in general, these skills do not relate to combat.

By default, player characters start with 12 skill points.

Sample Skills

The following is a basic list of skills - skills requiring special conditions are not included, because they will be setting-specific.

For setting-specific skills, see the settings-specific skill table

Skill nameBase stat(s)SpecialDescription
AlertnessMRImprovise at +0The ability to make oneself pay attention to details even when tired or in a noisy environment. At least one rank is highly recommended for player characters. (Instinct)
ArtilleryMPNoneThe ability to effectively use large weapons, such as mortars, ship cannons and bombs. Compared to ranged combat, this is a skill that depends less on reflexes and more on precision.
ArtistSP,MFNoneAny artistic endeavour.
AthleticsBP,BFSituational statAny sort of physical effort that requires endurance and discipline; running other than a quick sprint, climbing a wall or cliff, and so on.
BusinessMPNoneAny financial or organisational work.
Close CombatBP,BRImprovise at +0Being formally trained in a martial art can be advantageous, but there's something to be said for the school of hard knocks. Most everyone has at least some brawling experience, as well as biological instinct. Brawling also covers improvised weapons. This skill can be specialized into a wide variety of martial arts.
CommandMP,SPImprov with CHAThe ability to give effective orders to underlings, as well as the ability to motivate them.
DetectionBR,MRNoneKnowledge of where to look for small details, clues and so on.
First AidMR,SFNoneEmergency treatment, the setting of bones, the stabilization of people who are bleeding out and so on.
GamblingSR,SFNoneThe ability to know when to hold'em and when to fold'em.
Info TechMPNoneThe ability to reprogram computers by changing their settings. This doesn't necessarily mean only solid-state electronics computers!
LinguisticsMP,SRImprovs at -3Having one rank in this skill allows speaking one extra base language. For more languages, a specialization is required.
ManipulationSP,SRUse highest statThe social equivalent of sleight of hand, used in the same way. A show of strength can intimidate, a show of strength in just the right way will be that much more effective. Manipulation covers bluffing and using logical fallacies, rather than legitimate persuasion, and should always be roleplayed to some degree.
MechanicsMP,BRNoneMechanics covers most forms of practical engineering, in addition to being handy with dealing with a recalcitrant engine.
MedicineMP,MRNoneOff-the-field healing, diagnosing of parasite infestations and diseases, and the knowledge of how to counteract poison. Most general practitioners have surgical cross-training.
Melee WeaponBP,BRNoneAll close range non-projectile weapons
NavigationMP,MFNoneKnowing where you are and where you're going
PerformanceSP,MFNeeds specDancing, playing an instrument professionally, and so on require great synergy between body and mind; specialization is necessary, otherwise this skill is fairly meaningless.
PilotingBR,MRImprovs at -1Knowing how to operate a vehicle. Higher ranks allow sailing in adverse weather, piloting an airplane, and so on.
PsychologySP,MPNoneUse to spot lies, calm people, etc.
Ranged CombatMR,BRNoneExpertise in both the use of ranged weapons, and how to defend against them (by the use of cover and so on).
RidingINS,CHANoneBeing able to hold on to a living creature in a way that gives some say about where the creature is going. Surprisingly, there isn't much difference between ground and air mounts.
ScholarMP,MFNeeds specDetailed knowledge of Scholar/2 related fields (round UP)
ScienceMP,MFNeeds specIt's unlikely that player characters will master any one field of science (mastering more than one is an incredible feat in real life in much safer environments!). However, a basic knowledge of physics or chemistry or even agricultural science can prove useful in many cases.
Sleight of handBR,MRNoneUseful to the entertainer, the debunker, and the pickpocket... or just in a game of keepaway.
StealthBR,SRNoneThe ability to move, or just to occupy a space, without being seen or heard.
StrategyMPNoneThe ability to see the big picture in a prolonged engagement, be it a war or a caper. (Grand strategy is going to need to be roleplayed, obviously).
SwimmingBP,BFSituational statThe ability to stay afloat in a liquid, hopefully some sort of water.
TacticsMP,SFNoneThe ability to quickly understand the flow of a fight and its relation to the environment. Close-combat and aerial tactics are different, but there are some common principles. Tactics is also used in team sports and coordinated hunting.
ThiefMR,SRNonePick pockets, locksmith, forgery, etc.while looking nonchalant.

All combat skills save for Strategy are time-critical; a specialization should be specified. Most combat skills are physical in nature.

  • Any martial art, from boxing to jeet kune do. There are a number of traditions out there, each offering advantages in particular situations (capoeira is probably superior to boxing if you are fighting in a piazza; less so if you're trying to punch your way through an airship's corridor); knowing more than one martial art gives a flexibility advantage. (Speed, Focus)
  • Brawling: Being formally trained in a martial art can be advantageous, but there's something to be said for the school of hard knocks. Most everyone has at least some brawling experience; this goes double for Tsuxians, as they are generally not allowed to carry weapons. Brawling also covers improvised weapons. (Strength)
  • Heliconian Twisting. This is discussed aside from other martial arts because it is less that and more of a technique to be able to perform high jumps, stay in the air for a few moments, and glide safely to a lower altitude using a wing cape. Twisters are generally at a disadvantage in confined spaces, but can easily outrun if not outfight most other martial artists in a 3D environment. (Stamina, Speed)
  • Swordsmanship: Expertise in the use of a type of contact weapon (knives, swords, heavy blades, batons, polearms). While most people have a favorite weapon, there is a surprising amount of fundamentals that remain the same, within the same category at least. Specialization is optional. (Strength, Speed)
  • Marksmanship: Expertise in the use of a type of launcher (bow, pneumatic, sprayer, blaster). While most people have a favorite weapon, there is a surprising amount of fundamentals that remain the same, within the same category. Specialization is optional. (Focus, Instinct)
  • Artillery: The ability to effectively use large launchers, such as mortars, ship cannons and droppable bombs. Compared to marksmanship, this is a skill that depends less on reflexes and more on internalized math. (Intellect, Focus)
  • Dogfighting: the ability to effectively use rig weapons to hit what you are aiming at. This is separate from rig riding: some of the best aerial marksmen in history have been brought down by target fixation and failure to dodge. (Instinct, Speed)
  • Tactics: the ability to quickly understand the flow of a fight and its relation to the environment. Close-combat and aerial tactics are different, but there are some common principles. Tactics is also used in team sports and coordinated hunting. (Intellect, Focus)
  • Strategy: the ability to see the big picture in a prolonged engagement, be it a war or a caper. (Grand strategy is going to need to be roleplayed, obviously). (Intellect)

NONCOMBAT SKILLS

Noncombat skills may or may not be time-critical. Specialization is in general required for skills that are not.

  • Swimming: The ability to stay afloat in a liquid, hopefully some sort of water. (Strength, Stamina)
  • Athletics: Any sort of physical effort that requires endurance and discipline; running other than a quick sprint, climbing a wall, and so on. (Strength, Stamina)
  • Acrobatics: Explosive physical effort such as jumping, rolling, and dodging. (Strength, Speed)
  • Alertness: The ability to make oneself pay attention to details even when tired or in a noisy environment. At least one rank is highly recommended for player characters. (Instinct)
  • Piloting: Knowing how to operate a ship, big rig, or small rig / ground vehicle. Higher ranks allow for aerobatics. (Intellect, Instinct)
  • Riding: Being able to hold on to a living creature in a way that gives some say about where the creature is going. Surprisingly, there isn't much difference between ground and air mounts. (Charisma, Instinct)
  • Performance: Dancing, playing an instrument professionally, and so on require great synergy between body and mind; specialization is necessary, otherwise this skill is fairly meaningless.
  • Science: It's unlikely that player characters will master any one field of science (mastering more than one is an incredible feat in real life in much safer environments!). However, a basic knowledge of physics or chemistry or even agricultural science can prove useful in many cases.
  • Sleight-of-hand: Useful to the entertainer, the psi-debunker, and the pickpocket... or just in a game of keepaway.
  • Manipulation: The social equivalent of sleight of hand, used in the same way. A show of strength can intimidate, a show of strength in just the right way will be that much more effective. Manipulation covers bluffing and using logical fallacies, rather than legitimate persuasion, and should always be roleplayed to some degree.
  • Detection: Knowledge of where to look for small details, clues and so on.
  • Mechanics: The Slipstream does not have many purely electrical devices, and most structures have non-static components to go with the wind. Mechanics thus covers most forms of engineering, in addition to being handy with dealing with a recalcitrant engine.
  • Stealth: Hiding, camouflage, sneaking, etc.
  • Command: The ability to give effective orders to underlings, as well as the ability to motivate them.
  • Medicine: Off-the-field healing, diagnosing of parasite infestations and diseases, and the knowledge of how to counteract poison. Most general practitioners have surgical cross-training.
  • EMT: Emergency treatment, the setting of bones, the stabilization of people who are bleeding out and so on.
  • Psionics: The ability to read (and thus use) and eventually write psi circuits.
  • Linguistics: Having one rank in this skill allows speaking the "other" language (Tsuxian for Slipstream people, and vice versa). Higher ranks refer to being able to write and read legalese, decipher pre-Invasion script, and so on.
  • Synchro: The ability to reprogram synchros by changing their settings. Includes being able to use strict-timing morse code to issue commands to remote synchros.
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Page last modified on February 02, 2020, at 07:02 PM