Skills

Overview

Skills are… kind of exactly what they say on the tin – a representation of a character’s quantitative learned abilities. They are essentially the key component of a character, and ultimately determine the success or failure of most actions.

There is no all-encompassing ‘list of skills’, you generally come up with new skills as needed. How specific and useful they are determines their price. There are, however, a few common skills, listed here.

Skills start from an absolute baseline of -3 (Poor). Barring any other factors, this is what you have in a given skill, and you can buy it up from there.

At their most basic level, skills cost 1 point per level, geometrically increasing, similar to attributes. So one rank (Bad, -2) costs 1 point. Two ranks (Mediocre) costs 3 points. Three ranks (Average) costs 6 points. And so on…


Depth

That is for a basic skill, covering a normal, unspecialized field. ‘Swords’, ‘Intimidation’, and ‘Blacksmithing’, and ‘Fishing’ are all Basic skills.
Besides basic skills, there are also Broad skills, which cover a somewhat larger area. ‘Blades’, ‘Domineering’, ‘Metalworking’ and ‘Survival’ are all Broad Skills. Broad skills have a cost modifier of 2.5x, rounded up. They are quite useful for generalists.
Also available are Open skills, which cover an entire category for a whopping 5x cost modifier. For instance, ‘Combat’, ‘Social’, ‘Craft’, and ‘Outdoors’ are all Open skills. They are exceptionally versatile but exceptionally expensive.
In the opposite direction, extremely specialized skills are narrow, costing two-thirds as much (round normally) as a normal skill. They also do not need to pay for Bad (-2) rank, starting at Mediocre (although at 2/3rds the price of Mediocre) ‘Rapiers’, ‘Blackmail’, ‘Iron Casting’, and ‘Angling’ are all Narrow skills. They are quite nice to define a specialization, and cheap, but give up a bit of versatility.

Mod Name Standard Broad (x2.5) Open (x5) Narrow (x2/3)
+5 Legendary 36 (+8) 90 (+20) 180 (+40) 24 (+5)
+4 Excellent 28 (+7) 70 (+18) 140 (+35) 19 (+5)
+3 Great 21 (+6) 53 (+15) 105 (+30) 14 (+4)
+2 Good 15 (+5) 38 (+13) 75 (+25) 10 (+3)
+1 Fair 10 (+4) 25 (+10) 50 (+20) 7 (+3)
0 Average 6 (+3) 15 (+7) 30 (+15) 4 (+2)
-1 Mediocre 3 (+2) 8 (+5) 15 (+10) 2 (+2)
-2 Bad 1 (+1) 3 (+3) 5 (+5) N/A
-3 Poor 0 0 0 0

Obscurity

Certain skills are also either particularly hard to learn, or simply difficult to access. These skills simply start their initial cost higher, effectively increase the cost of every level.

First are obscure skills, which are somewhat difficult to learn or just hard to find a good tutor. They cost one more than normal, starting at 2 points. Many kinds of magic are obscure skills, as well as some more technical arts, and in some places, combat and (especially) tactical skills.

Second, there are arcane skills. These are exceedingly difficult to learn, actively secret, or just lost. Or some combination of the above. They cost two more than normal, starting at three points. Some kinds of magic, as well as lost Pre-War sciences like, say, nuclear engineering, are arcane. As is any skill a character has no reasonable means of practicing.


Incompetences

A character might also be incompetent in a given field, which can likewise be standard, broad, or open. This earns the character a few points, but, of course, leaves a glaring weakness in its place.

There are two levels of incompetence. The first means that the character defaults to Terrible (-5) for all uses of that skill. This gains 2 points for Standard, 5 for Broad, and 15 for Open. This means that the character is functionally inept at that skill, but easy tasks are still possible.

The second means that the character cannot use that skill at all, any attempts automatically fail. This is unavailable for Standard, and costs 10 points for Broad, and 30 for open. This can readily be crippling.

Attempts to abuse this system will be mocked and derided.


Defaults

In addition to the baseline at Poor (-3), you can ‘default’ your skills off of several other sources. You can buy your skill up from this default, paying points to raise it as if you had that many number of ranks already.

The first such source is Broad/Open skills. If you have a category skill, you can raise a contained skill for a reduced price. For instance, if you Have Average (0) social, and you want to raise Charm to Good (+2), you only need to pay the 9 points for those two ranks, not the 15 it would require to raise Charm from baseline.

The second is similar skills. For things that are close to, but not quite what your skill covers, you can use that skill at a penalty. The penalty depends on how different the two things are. Survival (Rainforest) is much more applicable to Survival (Temperate Forest) than Survival (Desert).

As a series of examples:
Sword to knife: -1
Sword to axe: -2
Sword to spear: -3
Sword to cannon: -4

Narrow skills take an additional -1 penalty to defaults. Broad skills do as well, but generally start on a higher level. This is one advantage of basic skills. Open skills do not default… but they do more or less encompass everything that would be included in a basic skills defaults.

For instance, if you had the Narrow Skill Rapiers, you’d take a -2 default to use a longsword, and a -3 to use a dagger.
If you had the Broad Skill ‘Blades’, you could use a knife, axe, or sword without penalty, because those are all bladed weapons, but using a spear would impose a -2 default.
If you had the open skill ‘Combat’, you could use sword, spear, axe, or cannon without penalty.

Likewise, you can buy up from these defaults. If our sword-wielder had Swords at Fair (+1), and wanted to use Axes at the same level, they need merely pay the 7 points to raise that skill from its Mediocre (-1) default, not the full 10.

Most backgrounds give a smattering of (mostly Open/Broad) skills. You can freely buy up from these, of course, and this can be quite significant. For instance, someone from the Domain of the Mount pays only 5 points for a Good combat skill, while someone from the Central Imperium pays 14 points.

Conversely, feats may offer a flat bonus to a skill under certain circumstances. This is simply a bonus, added on the end, and cannot be bought up from. It is also possible to substitute a related attribute at -4 for a given skill. This is a substitution, not a default, and cannot be bought up from (i.e. someone with Excellent (4) strength can roll Unarmed at Fair (1)… but must pay the full 15 to raise it to (+2). (That, or the 15 to raise STR to Legendary)


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Skills

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