Fading Suns and Flaming Heresies
Learned skills may be picked up from books (as is the case with some Lores and Sciences), or learned from others.
In fact, most learned skills are difficult to pick up on one’s own and require a teacher.
To that end, many people join or ally themselves with guilds (or even certain sects within the Church) for the purpose of learning a particular skill. Of course, many guilds are choosy about whom they will instruct, and a prospective student who does not seem likely to remain with the guild for long will have a hard time finding a guild teacher. It is even rumored that some guilds, such as the Engineers, have been known to resort to extortion, kidnapping and worse to keep their secrets from getting out.
Certain skills, mostly those involving high technology lore, are only taught by the guilds. A Professional Contract (see Benefices) must be purchased before the guild will teach the skill. (The cost of the contract equals the levels learned in the skill.)
Certain skills, such as Social skills, may be learned with a minimum of formal instruction. Others, such as Arts, Sciences and languages require long periods of intense study in order to reach a high level of competency. Teachers who do not belong to a particular guild, noble house or sect are less likely to have access to the latest methods and materials, whereas the student doing an internship with a guild will probably have access to the best training and materials available in the area. Of course, there are exceptions. The independent freelancers have to be among the best in order to survive, and there is much a student can learn from someone outside the system.
Roll: Wits + Academia
This skill allows the character to locate information on a particular topic. This includes knowledge of church libraries, guild records and Second Republic lost libraries (although it is harder to use these). Academia is especially useful for those looking for information on lost tech. Academic research of this sort can often take a great deal of time — there is no Dewey decimal system to make all this easy. This skill is much easier for those who can read Latin (especially when using a Church library), Urthish or even Urthtech. To obtain information from people, Inquiry — not Academia — is the relevant skill.
General Research: The first step to locating any information is knowing where to find it. Is the information you’re looking for more likely to be found in the Charioteer guildhall’s records, or in a Church library? Roll Wits + Academia. Once the best location is determined the character must then sift through the available tomes or records to locate exactly what he is looking for.
Tech Research: To find the needed references, roll Tech + Academia. However, in order to locate technical information the character must have the skill Read Urthtech. Once she has found the manuals or references she needs, she may have to roll Wits + Read Urthtech to comprehend them.
• Lore: A Lore appropriate to what the character is researching may be used as a complementary skill. A character researching the mating habits of the Ur-Ukar would use the Xeno Lore (specifically Ur-Ukar).
• Read: When researching information on a particular race or culture the character may need to have the ability to read the appropriate language. Once the document is located the character may have to roll Wits + Read (appropriate language) to understand it.
• Sciences: A Science relating to what the character is researching may be used as a complementary skill. If the character is seeking information on starship drives, the Engineering Science would be useful.
Roll: Dexterity + Acrobatics
Acrobatics is the study and practice of complex movements of the body, such as flips, cartwheels, etc. This skill also provides a working knowledge of acrobatic actions involving equipment, such as parallel bars and horses. The character also has a superior sense of balance, useful in situations such as tightrope-walking.
Breakfall: The character has practiced falling many times and knows how to land without injuring herself. The victory points on a Dexterity + Acrobatics roll are subtracted from any damage points taken in a fall.
Leaping Dodge: When the character has some room to work with, he can tumble out of harm’s way, using his acrobatic skill to complement a Dodge roll. Roll Dexterity + Acrobatics; add the victory points to the Dodge goal roll. Leaping dodges can only be maintained for a number or turns equal to the character’s Endurance.
• Stoic Body: When performing acrobatics while in adverse conditions, such as intense heat or cold, a toughened body may allow the character to ignore or lessen any penalties due to these conditions.
Roll: Faith + Alchemy
The study of alchemy integrates aspects of chemistry, philosophy and physics into the art and science of matter — its different states, and how one type of matter may be changed into another type. Various elixirs and potions may be concocted, and it is said that the most talented among the Eskatonic Order are able to transform water into wine, among other things.
But beware — the Inquisition keeps an eye on known alchemists. They claim that alchemy treads too close to the high science of the Second Republic, and that the hubris of a single alchemist can be dangerous to everyone.
Alchemy involves knowledge and understanding of a substance’s spiritual purity and the sympathy it has with other substances — in other words, the spiritual reactions two (or more) substances will have when combined. Alchemists collect catalogs of the correspondences (mystical connections) between substances. They know, for instance, that a toad is impure, and that, when placed near a pure substance, such as a gem, will corrupt that substance, perhaps causing the gem to crack. Why this doesn’t happen all the time is a matter of great debate among alchemists.
Identify Substance: Given time, a character can identify a substance, determine how pure a substance is, and learn what other substances are present. Are the “jewels” in the box real, or merely cut glass? Is the wine poisoned, or merely lousy wine? Roll Wits + Alchemy.
• Focus: The ability to concentrate one’s energy and attention on the interactions between two substances can aid an Alchemist in understanding their relationship. The Alchemist must focus for at least one turn prior to attempting to learn anything.
• Science: Although the Church would be horrified to see base sciences being applied to anything sacred, characters may find that using sciences such as Chemistry to double check their work may be useful.
Roll: Dexterity + Archery
Archery is the study of marksmanship using a bow. While bows are primarily still used for hunting, they are the ranged weapon of choice on some backwater worlds. Characters skilled at Archery may refer to Technology for descriptions of different types of bows which they may specialize in (although use of crossbows falls under the skill of the same name).
Target Shooting: Target shooting is very different from shooting at a moving target. While combat shooting relies mostly on raw Dexterity, target shooting relies more on your ability to weigh a number of factors, including the wind speed and distance from your target, in order to make a perfect shot. Roll Perception + Archery.
Note: This skill has no levels and costs 2 points.
• Focus: A character using Focus as a complementary skill must spend at least one full turn taking aim at his target; no other action may be taken during this turn.
• Ride: Ride may be used as a complementary skill to lower the penalty a character would receive when firing a bow while riding a beast. The penalty is reduced based on the number of victory modifiers gained on the Ride roll. See the Ride skill for more details on using weapons from beastback.
Roll: Wits + (relevant Artisan skill)
The character is skilled in a particular craft. This skill allows a character to determine the quality of items related to his area of expertise as well as create items. A character must choose a particular specialty, which is his craft of choice, though more than one specialty can be chosen if the skill is purchased separately. The player may invent a craft of his own or choose from the following list: Blacksmith, Carpenter, Cartographer, Cook, Jeweler, Leatherworker, Locksmith, Mason, Potter, Tailor, Weaver.
Evaluate Work: The character may evaluate the work of another craftsman to determine the quality of the work. Roll Perception + (relevant Artisan skill). With a successful roll, the character may determine the approximate value in firebirds as well as any significant flaws.
Roll: Introvert + (relevant Arts skill)
The character is skilled in one of the arts. This skill is not the actual performance of art, but rather the creation of art — Performance is described under its own skill. There are many arts that the character may be skilled in and, as with Artisan, the character must choose one, though additional arts may be bought as separate skills. The following list details many arts common to humans, though some alien cultures may have arts not defined here, and players should feel free to create their own. The most common arts available to characters are: Calligraphy, Drawing, Embroidery, Illumination, Music Composition, Painting, Poetry, Rhetoric (writing), Sculpting, Stained Glass. Players must choose one or more Arts as specializations. Skill at various arts can be used for pleasure, as a vocation, or in a variety of other, more “useful” ways.
Evaluate Art: The character can determine the quality and approximate value of an artwork by careful examination. Roll Perception + (relevant Arts skill). More than a cursory glance is required, and the object in question must be carefully examined before the character can attempt to learn anything about it. The character may also be able to identify forgeries.
Determine Artist: In the process of learning a given art, a character learns about other artists in the field, as well the ways people express things through that artform. By carefully examining a work of art the character can attempt to determine who its creator was, though in some cases this may prove impossible. In most cases the character may be reasonably sure as to a piece’s creator. Roll Wits + (relevant Arts skill).
• Focus: Focus may be used as a complementary skill for some arts, particularly Illumination and Calligraphy, though depending upon the nature of the artist it may prove applicable to all arts.
• Lore: Certain Lores may be useful as complementary skills when attempting to identify an artist or recognize an art forgery. Knowing the mythology referenced in a tapestry may help immeasurably in determining who may have produced it.
Roll: Wits + Beast Lore
Beast Lore allows the training of animals and an understanding of how they will react in the wild. Characters skilled at Beast Lore know the ways of animals as well or better than the ways of their own people. Often characters with high scores in Beast Lore are more at home with animals than they are with members of their own race, and are considered uncouth by their peers.
Beast Lore also grants the character skill with training animals. While training domesticated animals (such as ferrets, cats and the gentle shazzles of Vera Cruz) is easier, characters may also work with wild animals. Their understanding of the animal’s habits and instincts make it much easier for them to anticipate what the animal is going to do.
Identify Animal: The character can identify an animal’s species and may even have particular knowledge of its habits, such as whether or not they consider humans to be a tasty snack. If a character has worked a great deal with a particular animal in the past, she may also be able to tell that animal apart from other seemingly identical animals of the same species by observing its movements and mannerisms. Roll Wits + Beast Lore.
Roll: Wits + Bureaucracy
Although it is usually possessed by those who work within “the system”, whether the setting is the Church, the merchant guilds or the nobility, knowledge of how to manipulate the network of forms and records can be useful to any character. The ability to cut through red tape — or, conversely, to cover your tracks through an endless maze of paperwork — can be invaluable to anyone seeking to circumvent the establishment.
Document Forgery: Characters with this skill are familiar with the language and layout of typical forms and documents. Roll Wits + Bureaucracy. While forging a tax waiver on Shaprut from the Senior Collector may require additional Regional Lore (and considerable chutzpah), faking a receipt, a will or other common document will be relatively straightforward.
• Lore: The appropriate area Lore can aid in understanding local customs and rules, especially when it comes to legal documents.
• Art: Any character attempting to forge a particular person’s signature on a document will also need a relevant Art skill. The result can be well worth it, however.
Roll: Dexterity + (relevant skill)
Some people spend more time than others training for action, whether it be with foil or fist. Combat Actions are not skills so much as trained maneuvers that provide the character with bonuses or special effects. Combat actions themselves are not rolled, but are instead resolved using Fight, Melee or Shoot skills. They are rated by the level of the relevant skill required to learn them. The more complicated the maneuver, the higher the level. For instance, a sword Parry is only level 1 — a student can perform this feat. But using a dagger in the off-hand without suffering a penalty is level 6 — this requires some practice. For more information and a list of available combat actions, see Combat.
Fencing: Roll Dexterity + Melee. Fencing in Fading Suns is considered to be any melee combat with a lightweight sword, including traditional foils and rapiers as well as extremely rare energy blades. It can also include more obscure fighting methods, such as the Kraxi knife dancing practiced by some Ur-Ukar.
Martial Arts: Roll Dexterity + Fight. Martial Arts may include any formalized school of unarmed combat, such as the noble Shaidan, the crafty Koto, the pious Mantok practiced by Brother Battle, or even the brutal Graa of the Vorox.
Roll: Dexterity + Shoot
Characters skilled with a crossbow are formidable foes, combining the power and range of firearms with a lower, more accessible level of technology. The Crossbow skill is a qualifier on the Shoot skill that allows a character to use a crossbow without a penalty. Without this qualifier, a character subtracts four from his goal roll (in addition to any range penalties) for using a crossbow at long or extreme range. Note: This skill has no levels and costs 2 points.
• Focus: As is the case with Archery, a character may take a turn to focus before shooting.
Roll: Perception + Disguise
A useful skill for anyone who wishes to change his identity, Disguise can effectively alter the appearance of a character.
This skill is easier against serfs and others outside the group you’re trying to impersonate, as many people recognize uniforms moreso than the people behind them.
When making a Disguise roll, keep track of the number of successes. When someone tries to see past a disguise, roll Perception + Observe and compare the successes to the Disguise roll’s successes. If the suspicious observer wins, he sees through the disguise; otherwise, he’ll probably take the disguised person on his word.
Alien Disguise: While even the best disguise master will usually not fool someone of an alien race he impersonates, it may be possible to convince humans (or aliens, if the character is an alien impersonating a human) of the veracity of the disguise. Aliens receive a +6 bonus on their Perception + Observe rolls to see through the disguise. Truly clever makeup can help offset this bonus.
• Physick: Cosmetic surgery can be helpful, or in some cases, necessary to achieve the proper body shape and features, especially when attempting to impersonate someone of a different race.
• Social (Acting): The correct body language, accent and mannerisms may all aid a character in her disguise. While people who have never met the person may be taken in with a simple disguise, more involved deceptions require knowledge and execution of personal quirks, dialect and other more personal details.
Roll: Dexterity + (relevant Drive skill)
Characters who possess the Drive skill are able to drive a given type of vehicle. In addition, this skill includes knowledge of common traffic rules, and the most basic knowledge of how to temporarily repair common problems (such as flat tires on ground vehicles). Anything more complicated will require the Tech Redemption skill. When taking Drive skill, players must choose a particular category of vehicle that the character is familiar with. Furthermore, players may choose, at the gamemaster’s option, to specify a particular type of vehicle (i.e.: skimmer) within a category (Landcraft).
• Tech Redemption: Any character attempting to fix or “soup up” a vehicle will need to know in great detail how it works. Choose an appropriate Tech Redemption skill for the type of vehicle.
Roll Tech + Aircraft. Flitters, suborbitals, jets, helicopters and other air vehicles that remain within the atmosphere. Barring the occasional hot air balloon or flying beastcraft, some form of advanced aircraft is usually found among the upper classes on most worlds, regardless of their Tech Level.
Roll Extrovert + Beastcraft. Vehicles powered by animals, including horses, giant cockroaches or dolphins. In many outlying areas, Beastcraft is still the dominant form of transportation.
• Beast Lore: Knowledge of the ways animals will react in a given situation can aid a character using Beastcraft.
Roll Dexterity + Landcraft. Land-based vehicles of all types, including skimmers, bikes, trains and cars. Land craft are found in increasing numbers relative to the amount of tech remaining on the planet.
Roll Tech + Spacecraft. All extra-planetary vehicles, from space transport freighters to star fighters. Rare and valuable as one of the most useful types of technology remaining from the Second Republic, obtaining a spacecraft as a non-guild member is nigh-impossible on some worlds.
• Lore (Jumpweb): Knowledge of the jumpweb of the Known Worlds, including the planetary bodies and satellites to be navigated in each system, is a must for pilots flying regular routes.
• Science (Astronomy): Any space pilot attempting to explore uncharted territory will, quite literally, be lost without knowledge of Astronomy to navigate from.
Roll Dexterity + Watercraft. Boats, subs and other vehicles for travel on or under water. In more primitive areas, this may be a conoe or even a simple raft, while more tech-oriented worlds may have speedboats and submarines.
Roll: Perception + Empathy
Empathy is the ability to sense what another person is feeling by “reading” him for non-verbal cues. A person’s stance, mannerisms and other body language can indicate his emotional state, and may help a character to determine if a subject is lying.
This skill may not be used to read the attitudes of aliens; that requires the Xeno-Empathy skill (see below).
Detect Lie: Although it is not foolproof, characters may attempt to determine if a subject is telling the truth by observing her body language. Like ancient “lie detector” machines, the empath looks for changes in breathing patterns, nervousness and other physical cues. But be warned — the subject may only be uncomfortable about the subject and not actually lying. Roll Perception + Empathy.
• Inquiry: Knowing the right questions to ask combined with knowledge of how to interpret changes in body language can greatly aid a character attempting to find out information. Does the subject become nervous whenever the duke is mentioned? Is he trying to appear confident — perhaps trying a little too hard?
• Lore (Folk): Familiarity with a particular culture can be useful in judging emotional and physical reactions.
Etiquette (High Society)
Roll: Wits + Etiquette
Every social group has unwritten rules of behavior, and outsiders unfamiliar with this code are likely to have a correspondingly more difficult time doing anything from getting directions to performing delicate negotiations. Lack of this skill may cause a character to unknowingly commit a dreadful faux pas, causing her ejection from the castle or any number of worse fates.
Presentation: When a character is admitted to noble chambers for an audience, first impressions are everything.
If the duke thinks you are a peer (in culture if not rank), then he may be more open and generous with boons. If you come on like a bumpkin, you may wind up being sold to the Chainers simply to prevent you from ever staining the chambers again with your uncouth tongue. Roll Extrovert + Etiquette. If a character is trying to present himself as haughty or above-it-all, he may substitute Introvert for the skill test. But beware — this could wind up insulting the lord if you can’t back your attitude up with some royal blood.
• Anthropology or Lore: Knowledge of a particular culture can help a character to understand the reasons behind social rituals. In addition, different alien races often have customs that are vastly different from those of human society, and thus anyone wishing to fit in needs to learn a very different way of behaving.
• Charm: Naturally charismatic individuals will more easily fit in to any given group, including high society.
• Knavery: The ability to quickly and skillfully cover up for any faux pas can be invaluable when one is trying to make a good impression.
Roll: Introvert + Focus
The ability to attain a deep concentration or focus can aid nearly any character, though it is most often possessed by those who are also skilled at prayer or occult powers.
Focus is required for meditation, but it may also be used to aid in long or deliberate tasks, such as studying for a test or aiming a sniper rifle. In order to focus for such a task, the character must spend five minutes or more meditating; if less time is taken, use the guidelines under Steady Hand.
When using Focus as a complementary skill, the amount of modifiers it adds to the primary skill is also the amount subtracted from any Perception rolls that character makes while focused (except for the primary skill).
• Arts or Performance: Some characters may find that singing, playing an instrument, dancing or sketching may help to focus their minds before beginning a task.
• Stoic Mind: Characters who possess the skill Stoic Mind are already adept at a specific type of focus, and thus may apply what they have learned in that respect to other tasks that require similar focus.
Roll: Wits + Gambling
Knowledge of the Gambling skill includes rules of play for the most popular games of chance, and usually includes the most common means of cheating at said games. Though characters from nearly any walk of life may understand the basics of gambling, the Scravers are known far and wide for their expertise.
Cheat: The character can cheat at games which involve a certain degree of skill. This includes card and dice games, though not games which are won completely through random chance, such as roulette. Roll Wits + Gambling.
Detect Cheating: Even if a character does not personally cheat, every good gambler learns to recognize when their opponent is trying to pull a fast one. Those who don’t learn are usually not very successful gamblers. Roll Perception + Gambling.
• Observe: Characters attempting to tell if an opponent is cheating will more easily notice things if they are naturally good at observation.
• Sleight of Hand: Some games of “chance” may be manipulated by introducing (or removing) certain cards, tiles or game pieces from play. Any character who can do so subtly will subsequently have much better “luck”.
Roll: Wits + Inquiry
Inquiry covers the footwork side of investigation, unlike Academia (the paper pusher’s version of this skill). The essence of Inquiry is the ability to obtain and correctly interpret information. Any character who engages in any sort of detective work, searching for the tell-tale clues that will indicate what happened at a scene, will find this skill invaluable.
Inquiry also includes knowing what questions to ask a suspect, as well as how to interpret what he does — and doesn’t — tell you. Inquisitors of Temple Avesti sometimes possess Inquiry, though they often tend to bully their way through the interrogation process rather than using subtlety.
• Observe: Knowing how to interpret the information isn’t much use unless you can get the information first, and this often depends on keen observation skills.
• Lore (any): Characters knowledgeable about a particular topic or region will find that their background comes in handy when investigating related subjects (“Ah, this tobacco is the finest quality platinum grade, grown only on the moon of Aragon. Whoever our suspect is, he has considerable resources and contacts within the aristocracy to be spending such an amount on tobacco!”).
• Science (any): Knowledge of certain sciences may come in handy for more advanced detective work. With the proper tools and knowledge, an entire subject profile may be derived by unraveling the DNA found in a single hair.
Roll: Extrovert + Knavery
The art of fast-talking one’s way into (or out of) a situation, or simply flat-out lying in a convincing manner. By using a combination of natural charm, verbal misdirection and all-out chutzpah, a character can attempt to bamboozle a target into believing almost anything from “You don’t need to see his identification” to “Yes, I really will look younger and sexier if I wear one of these fine hats”.
• Charm: Obviously, a charismatic character will have an advantage when using the Knavery skill.
• Empathy: Characters skilled at reading the emotions of others will have much better luck when attempting to tailor their arguments to an individual.
Roll: Dexterity + Lockpicking
Locks come in a variety of different styles in the Known Worlds, and only a character skilled at manipulating them will have much luck in opening them. While many locks can be circumvented by simply shooting them off, this attracts undue attention and simply is not stylish at all. To pull off a heist quickly and quietly requires that a character be able to utilize more subtle means to achieve her goals. Note that without the proper tools, Lockpicking is far more difficult.
Characters who find themselves faced with locks on a regular basis would be well advised to keep their tools on them at all times. Characters who are skilled at manipulating tech locks will find that the necessary tools are often expensive.
Tech Locks: Occasionally characters will encounter magnetic locks, keypads or even disused Second Republic retinal or palm scanners. In these cases, the character must also be knowledgeable about the technology being used in order to attempt to open the lock. Roll Tech + Lockpicking.
• Artisan (Locksmith): Characters who understand the construction of a wide variety of locks will have an immediate advantage when trying to figure out how to spring them.
• Tech Redemption (Mech Redemption): Knowledge of the way mechanical things work, as well as what can cause them to break, can help a character to determine how a locking mechanism works.
Lore is a general category, and requires a specialization.
Characters skilled at a particular Lore are familiar with the facts, theories and stories associated with it, as well as the particular sub-culture interested in similar things.
• Academics: Knowledge of where to find information can help any character who needs to research a particular Lore further.
Roll Wits + Folk Lore. Folk Lore includes the legends and culture of the serfs and commoners in a given area. Although the nobility are not usually as aware of folk beliefs, the legends of an area play an important part in the entire culture.
Roll Tech + Jumpweb Lore. Knowledge of the jumpweb — the solar systems comprising the Known Worlds — is essential for anyone who wishes to travel between star systems.
The Charioteers and Scravers guild comprise the largest groups knowledgeable about the jumpweb of the Known Worlds (and some unknown worlds, rumors say), but independents abound.
Roll Wits + (Object) Lore. Players may choose more specific Lores, such as Rapier Lore (which would grant the character knowledge of the best and worst manufacturers, various styles, etc.).
Roll Wits + Regional Lore. Characters who have lived in one place for a long time usually possess some amount of Regional Lore. This can include anything from the story of how the city was founded to which ale house serves the best brew.
Roll Wits + Xeno Lore. Any character with knowledge of alien races must have Xeno Lore. While information on races such as the Ur-Ukar, Ur-Obun, and Vorox is uncommon, lore on the Anunnaki and Vau is virtually impossible to obtain.
Roll: Extrovert + (relevant Performance skill)
Characters with the Performance skill are able to dance, perform music or otherwise use Arts skills in a public setting.
There’s always call for a bard at the local lord’s mansion or the tavern. But the bard better be good, or he may wind up contemplating his poor wit in the dungeon or while washing the splattered fruit stains off his tunic. Alliances have begun (and ended) as a result of many such performances. The great Ur-Obun poet Shanor vo Kirn is said to have caused an Ur-Ukar ambassador to weep — no mean feat — after hearing his moving tribute to those who fell in defense of the HanKavak citadel.
A character can perform many types of arts, such as Lute, Dance, Sing, Storytelling, etc., but each she must buy each one as a separate skill.
The Universal Performance Society (UPS) is active in bringing greater understanding between the disparate groups in the Known Worlds through the arts. This movement was begun by Alicia Decados, who, much to her family’s dismay, spent several years training with the famed Vorox dancer Shali-brandor. The reinterpretation of dance that followed was the first of many cultural explosions, bringing a greater understanding between all peoples.
• Arts: Even if a character has tremendous stage presence and confidence, his performance will be better received if he actually has talent to back up his showmanship.
• Focus: Performance is a delicate balance between energy and control, and characters skilled at Focus will be more able to maintain this balance.
Roll: Wits + Physick
Physick covers anatomy, surgery, diseases and preventative medicine. This may also include the implantation of cybernetic devices, if the character also has that knowledge.
Sanctuary Aeon and the Engineers guild are well known for particular specialties.
Characters wishing to use Physick on members of a race other than their own must first make a successful Wits + Xenobiology roll, or they will not be sufficiently familiar with how that particular race’s physiology works. Any character likely to encounter aliens in her medical practice would be well advised to bone up on the similarities and differences in biological systems. After all, certain assumptions may lead to the death of the patient.
Surgery: Surgery is a very delicate procedure which involves attempting repair to organs. Only a rare few physicians are skilled surgeons. Roll Dexterity + Physick.
Characters who wish to focus on cosmetic or reconstructive surgery will find that their skills are as much in demand from the Scravers, Chainers and fugitives from justice as they are from the nobility, and that commoners can often come up with as much money as the nobles can when their identity is at stake.
Technical Medicine: The use of certain high-tech tools to aid a physician in her work requires a knowledge of how such things work; while a barbarian may know how to dress a wound to prevent infection, it is unlikely that he will know how to use a laser scalpel. While anyone with Remedy may follow the basic directions for the items commonly found in a MedPak (such as tissue regenerative salves, stimulants and the like), anything more complex requires a Physick roll. Characters attempting to use medical technology in their work should roll Tech + Physick rather than Wits + Physick, due to the complex nature of the tools being used.
• Remedy: The ability to quickly and efficiently perform basic first aid without an assistant can greatly speed up and improve the quality of treatment.
• Science: A deeper understanding of Biology, Chemistry or even Physics or Cybernetics may be useful for anyone using Physick, depending on the circumstances.
Unless a character possesses the skill Read, it is assumed that she is functionally illiterate. On many worlds this is not uncommon, and may not carry a social stigma in small outlying communities. Even among the nobility literacy is not always a given. Languages players may choose from are listed below. Note: This skill has no levels and costs 2 points per language.
Contrary to what many believe, many barbarian tribes, such as the Kurga, do have a written language, often stretching back into the mists of time. The player should specify which particular barbarian tribe’s language she is fluent in.
A nearly forgotten tongue from Holy Terra, Latin is used for all Church rituals, documentation and official communication.
Actually, Dark Age Latin is also composed of many Greek and even Sanskrit words — all languages known to have been spoken and written by the Prophet — but consists mainly of classical Latin. Characters who do not have Read Latin will find research in Church libraries all but impossible.
The language of Holy Terra and the dominant language in the Known Worlds. It is usually the first language of most humans, and is commonly learned by many alien races as well.
Urthtech is not so much a language as a dialect of Urthish. During the Second Republic, the jargon used by technicians became outrageously specific and self-referential.
Since the Fall, understanding of technical terminology (especially odd words coined from forgotten tech) has become increasingly rare. Tech-speak, or Urthtech as it is called, is now practically a separate language, one nearly incomprehensible to people who speak Urthish. Knowledge of Urthtech is necessary for anyone researching lost technology.
(Read Urthtech automatically allows someone to speak it. In other words, he can pepper his conversation with “Tweak the frangewire on the carbcase by three dreks to kick it into chug-chug.”)
(Ur-Obun, Ur-Ukar, Vorox, etc.)
Each alien race has one (or more) language(s), each of which must be taken as a separate skill.
Roll: Wits + Remedy
Although not as all-encompassing as Physick, Remedy provides the all-important first aid that is usually necessary to sustain a character until help arrives. Remedy also includes an understanding of how to administer aid from a MedPak, including the popular tissue regenerative drug, Elixir. Sanctuary Aeon requires that all initiates learn something of Remedy, but many other groups and individuals possess some knowledge to greater or lesser degrees. Within 10 minutes after a wound has been inflicted, a character can attempt or receive first aid to prevent the wound from worsening. This requires a Wits + Remedy roll; if successful, the injured character heals one Vitality level immediately.
If the paramedic rolled a critical success, two levels are healed. (See Vitality under Attributes.)
• Physick: Any character with advanced training in Physick will sometimes be able to apply that knowledge to the more basic skill of Remedy as well.
Roll: Dexterity + Ride
The Ride skill allows characters to effectively control riding beasts, such as horses, llamas and other genetically similar creatures. To control beasts of burden the Drive skill is normally used.
Jumping: A characters may attempt to get her mount to jump over obstacles such as fences and small streams. This requires precise timing for both mount and rider. Roll Perception + Ride.
Mounted Combat: Not all animals are used to being in combat situations, and to control a mount during a combat can be a challenge even to veterans. A character’s combat skill cannot exceed her Ride skill. For example, Erian Li Halan is firing her gun from horseback. Her Shoot skill is 6 and her Ride is 5. Since her Ride is lower, her Shoot skill is only 5.
• Beast Lore: Understanding the ways of animals and how they will react in different situations can be invaluable in knowing how best to guide them. Will wild horses from Manitou react differently than their more civilized cousins on Aragon, or is the response the same for both?
Roll: Wits (or Tech) + Science
The study of science can be invaluable to characters in a variety of different situations. Because each type of science is a fairly broad category in and of itself, players should choose one or two types of science to specialize in.
• Lores: Lores may be useful in understanding data obtained from the study of different sciences. How does the information obtained apply to the local culture? What impact would new technology have on the area? What are the local beliefs, and how could new information effect those beliefs?
• Think Machine: Characters able to use a think machine to aid them may be able to decrease the amount of time needed to analyze data. Only the most sophisticated machines will be able to draw conclusions from data, but most functional think machines can at least determine trends and anomalies in the data.
Anthropology is used to study and understand other cultures, including alien cultures.
The study of lost civilizations through their artifacts. Characters skilled at archeology might be able to determine what culture or time period a given artifact is from.
The study of the heavens, including stars, planets and other heavenly bodies. Characters proficient at Astronomy will also have some familiarity with the legends and superstitions of their culture regarding the heavens. This can also be used for navigation within star systems.
The study of organic life, encompassing botany, zoology, anatomy, and a host of other sub sciences. Characters who understand Biology will find that it can be applied in a variety of different situations from Physick to Beast Lore.
The science of matter— its composition and properties, especially on an atomic or molecular scale. The secular cousin of Alchemy, Chemistry differs in that it is based solely upon demonstrable phenomena instead of the spiritual qualities of substances.
The study of communication and control processes in biological, mechanical and electronic systems. This can include anything from security systems to robotics and biotech.
The design and construction of buildings, vehicles, etc.
The study of genes, the blueprints for organic life. This science is often coupled with Biology for a more complete understanding of both.
The study of rocks and planetary bodies. This may also include diverse fields such as metallurgy and plate tectonics, and can be invaluable when constructing underground or stone structures.
The study of the atmosphere, especially weather and weather patterns. Many pilots learn basic Meteorology to aid them in determining routes, and even farmers learn the basics of determining what the weather will be like.
The study of motion and the transfer of energy. While abstract in theory, the practical applications can be used in a variety of different tasks, from Tech Redemption to Physick and even Artisan skills.
The premier science of the Second Republic, this highly technical craft involves knowledge of many other sciences.
A character’s Terraforming skill cannot be higher than his Geology, Meteorology and Biology (it cannot be higher than the lowest of these skills). Thus, to learn Terraforming 8, the character must already know Geology 8, Meteorology 8 and Biology 8. Too few folks know this science these days, with bad results for certain planets that are reverting in the absence of technicians to their pre-terraformed (often hostile) states. Legendary are the handful of terraforming architects who remade Byzantium Secundus, Criticorum and Pandemonium. Even more legendary is Doramos, the architect of Pentateuch, who is said to have raised the science to an art form (and an alchemy, say the Eskatonic priests of the planet).
Biology of non-Urthish races and creatures. A must for anyone engaging in Physick upon alien races, inventive characters may apply knowledge of Xeno-Biology to more diverse skills such as Martial Arts — after all, knowing the best place to hit an opponent can be a distinct advantage.
Roll: Perception + Search
This skill allows a character to conduct a methodical search of an area for hidden or concealed objects, doors or compartments. Search can also include frisking someone for concealed weapons or other objects. Characters skilled at Search have a sharp eye for the best hiding places, either from experience at hiding or at finding things. Members of Temple Avesti are known for their unwavering attention to detail when it comes to searching.
• Observe: Characters who are naturally observant have a much better chance of locating things that are hidden.
• Sneak: Characters skilled at not being seen have a natural advantage when searching for hidden things; they simply look in the places they would hide something.
Sleight of Hand
Roll: Dexterity + Sleight of Hand
A skill normally associated with charlatans and street entertainers, Sleight of Hand is also useful for anyone wishing to hide small objects, including small weapons. Sleight of Hand does not usually involve actually concealing an object so much as misdirecting the attention of any observers.
This skill can also be used to remove small objects from another individual’s person.
Conceal: Small objects up to the size of a knife may be concealed from observers. Roll Dexterity + Sleight of Hand.
This skill can be invaluable to anyone attempting to smuggle weapons, documents or tools into a secure area.
Pick Pockets: The character can remove objects that are in another person’s possession without their knowledge.
This includes wallets, rings, small holstered weapons and even necklaces for the truly daring. Objects in pouches simply tied onto belts are much easier to pilfer than things in deep or zippered pockets. Roll Dexterity + Sleight of Hand.
• Knavery: By supplying a constant patter the character can more easily distract those who are observing her. Knavery can also prove to be invaluable in getting out of the situation should the character get caught.
Each of the following skills are actually separate skills (and must be bought individually) that fall under the Social heading. Though all of these skills are somewhat related in that they deal with social interactions, they are each unique in their approach. For example: a church leader could use Oratory to sway a crowd but could not keep good control over them if she did not have good Leadership skill, once the initial effects of her speech wore off.
All the noble houses have tutors to instruct youngsters on social graces, but the Reeves guild also contains many people who put the average noble to shame.
Each of these sub-skills has its own roll and complementary skills associated with it.
Roll Extrovert + Acting. Acting may also be used as a Performance skill, but it most often comes into play when a character is attempting to act in a way that is unnatural to him, such as when impersonating a member of the House Guard.
• Disguise: A character in a disguise is more likely to be perceived as the individual he is trying to impersonate.
Roll Wits + Debate. Characters skilled at Debate have learned over time how to present concise, persuasive arguments and to likewise find the flaws in the arguments of others.
• Impress: Characters who are easily able to impress others will be more likely to sway others to their point of view.
• Charm: A character may attempt to use his natural charm when attempting to sway others in a debate. Though use of Charm in a debate can often backfire if those involved in the debate catch on to the fact that they are being bamboozled. In such cases a character’s Charm can act as a penalty rather than a bonus. This is always at the gamemaster’s discretion, of course.
Roll Extrovert + Leadership. Few leaders are born that way; most learn through trial and error, as well as observation of those who do it well. Characters skilled at Leadership will have an advantage when trying to organize groups of people. A good leader is skilled at both identifying the skills of others and determining how they can best be put to use.
• Impress: The ability to impress others can be very important for good leadership. Followers are more likely to listen to someone with a commanding presence and a great deal of self-confidence.
Roll Passion + Oratory. This skill is commonly used by politicians and generals alike when attempting to invoke certain emotions in a crowd. Budding revolutionaries will also find this skill useful, as will anyone attempting to plead a case in a court of law. This skill is also common among professional storytellers and bards. Unlike Leadership, Oratory does not have a lasting effect. Also, Oratory differs from Knavery in that it is generally used to incite emotion and passion rather than to out-and-out deceive.
• Empathy: Understanding the current emotional state of your audience can be an important factor when orating.
• Lore: Knowing the familiar stories and parables common to a culture, and using them to illustrate points can involve an audience on a more personal level.
The ability to function normally while inside a spacesuit or in a zero-gravity environment is not common, and members of the Charioteers guild often get more practice at it than others outside the guild. Many skills which seem straightforward when performed under normal conditions become much more complicated when the character is using a spacesuit or other type of large, bulky armor. The Spacesuit skill offsets any penalties levied for unfamiliarity with spacesuits or zero-g environments. Note: This skill has no levels and costs 2 points.
Characters who do not have this skill are not proficient at doing things in spacesuits; all physical actions are considered to be Demanding tasks (-4).
Speak allows the character fluency in each language chosen. Note: This skill has no levels and costs 2 pts per language. Assume that each character can speak her native language.
Each player should choose how and where the language was learned — was it taught to him by a tutor, or did he pick it up from listening to recordings of music? Did she learn the language on the streets, or from a guild trader? While anyone who possesses the Speak skill can communicate in her chosen language, particular dialects and slang can vary greatly, and may add a lot to roleplaying.
How well a character speaks depends on the situation:
If he is addressing a crowd, roll Extrovert + Social (Oratory).
If performing a dramatic reading, roll Extrovert + Performance.
If composing a letter, roll Wits + Arts (Rhetoric).
Additionally, understanding the body language of a culture is just as important as understanding the words of the language. Characters able to “get the basic idea” from nonverbal cues will pick up far more nuances of the language than those trying to understand solely by what they hear; roll Perception + Empathy (or Xeno-Empathy when interacting with aliens).
Some characters have compelling voices or speech patterns to aid them when addressing others; see Blessings.
There are two main barbarian tongues: Kurgan (from the Kurga Caliphate outside the Hazat border) or Vuldrok (from the Vuldrok Raiders outside the Hawkwood border).
When choosing Speak Barbarian the player should choose a specific dialect.
Al-Malik noble house skill
Not so much a language as a mode of speech, the Graceful Tongue — spoken exclusively by nobles of house Al-Malik — is a language of metaphors designed to put a poetic spin on statements or events, or to hide the true meaning of the speaker’s words so that only the enlightened may understand them. Often, an Al-Malik Lore skill roll is necessary to unravel the meaning of statements.
Players may choose different cultural or area dialects to reflect character backgrounds. For instance, the argot spoken in the streets of Pandemonium’s Hub is very different than that heard in the Port Authority on Byzantium Secundus.
An ancient Holy Terra tongue lost for centuries to the rest of the universe, Latin survives as the ritual language of the Church.
Scraver guild skill
Based on Urthish but incorporating both alien and invented words, Scravers Cant relies heavily on non-verbal cues and emphasis to give words entirely different meanings.
This is the most common language in the Known Worlds, and is possessed by all human characters. Xeno (Obun, Ukar, Vorox, Ascorbite, Gannok, Vau, etc.)
As with Barbarian, when choosing Xeno the player must choose a specific language as well.
Roll: Calm + Stoic Body
The study of Stoic Body is long and arduous, and not for the faint of heart. Still, many believe that the results are well worth the years of training required. Characters skilled at Stoic Body may ignore pain, hunger, sleep deprivation and torture. They can sometimes govern their normally involuntary activities, such as breathing and blinking.
Ignore Wounds: The character can try to ignore the pain of his wounds and continue on while suffering no wound penalties. Roll Calm + Stoic Body; each victory point offsets one wound penalty.
• Focus: Characters possessing Focus have a greater deal of control over their bodies, especially when dealing with pain. In order to use Focus as a complementary skill the character must have time to clear his mind and meditate, though this can be done before entering a situation in which the character feels he may need it, such as before a battle or before beginning an all-night journey through the desert wastes.
Roll: Calm + Stoic Mind
Like Stoic Body, the study of Stoic Mind requires intense training that often takes years of a character’s life. It includes the ability to resist occult powers, especially telepathic or empathic intrusion or perusal. It also allows a character to mask her aura, and at higher levels to project an illusory aura. More details can be found under Occult Powers.
• Focus: A character possessing Focus has more control over his mind and is better able to defend against psychic assaults of any sort. As with Stoic Body the character must have time to prepare herself for Focus to be used as a complementary skill.
Roll: Wits + Streetwise
The character is familiar with underworld and criminal activities. Characters with Streetwise often have lived in the “wrong” section of town, and have picked up a number of related skills and knowledges just to get by. This skill may be used to contact the criminal underworld or acquire illegal goods or services, including black-market items. While any character familiar with life on the streets may have Streetwise, it is nearly always found in members of the Scravers and Chainers guilds.
Fencing Goods: The character can attempt to sell goods which have been stolen or are otherwise illegal. Roll Wits + Streetwise. Once a buyer has been located the character will probably be required to negotiate to get the price he desires.
Word on the Street: Characters who know how to get the word on the street know who to talk to — and how to act when talking to them — to get the most valuable information and gossip. Roll Wits + Streetwise. Without skill at Streetwise, characters will have a hard time fitting in or getting the right people to talk to them.
Value Estimation: The character can estimate the value of black-market goods. This varies greatly from place to place and even from day to day, but characters skilled at this are able to second guess the market based on information picked up on the street. Roll Perception + Streetwise.
• Regional Lore: Characters who are familiar with a particular area are more likely to be able to make contact with members of its underworld, and will often know the best person to contact to get the highest possible price for goods.
• Speak (Language): Knowing the language in a place you are seeking illegal goods can be very important. Not only can knowing the native language act as a complementary skill, but gamemasters may decide to give the character significant penalties if she does not.
Roll: Wits + Survival
The character is skilled at surviving in adverse conditions — generally wild places far from civilization. This includes knowledge of how to improvise makeshift shelters, identify edible plants, trap and fish.
Fire Making: Roll Wits + Survival. Without the proper tools, building a fire in the wild can be a challenge. Knowing where to find dry wood, how to generate enough sparks and how to build a fire for maximum heat (not to mention how to do so without burning down the forest around you) are all essentials for anyone trying to survive in adverse conditions.
Hunting: Roll Perception + Survival. Skilled hunters incorporate knowledge of their prey, their weapon, and the region with patience to produce an effective combination.
This may also include the ability to set snares, make decoys or imitate mating calls. Beware, though — if used at the wrong time, this can put the hunter on the business end of a charging blue-striped mountain tiger!
• Beast Lore: Knowing the habits of local beasts gives a character a distinct advantage when hunting (or being hunted!).
• Lore (terrain): The more a character knows about a particular type of terrain, the better chance he has for survival.
• Shoot or Archery: Skill with a ranged weapon makes bringing down game considerably easier for the would-be survivalist.
• Tracking: Characters who know how to find their prey in the wild will have far better luck than those who simply wait for the prey to come to them.
Roll: Tech + (relevant Tech Redemption skill)
Any character who possesses the Tech Redemption skill should choose a specialty, as there are considerable differences between repairing the sole of a shoe and a think machine.
In some cases, more than one Tech Redemption skill may be needed to fix a particularly complicated device. While it is most common among the Engineers guild, there are many among the Charioteers and Scravers guilds, as well as some independents, who possess an understanding of Tech Redemption.
Jury-Rig: Roll Wits + (relevant Tech Redemption). This allows the character to effect quick repairs without the proper tools and materials. Such quick-fixes are only temporary and real repairs should be made as soon as possible.
Improve: Roll Tech + (relevant Tech Redemption). The character can attempt to make improvements on existing devices. Proper tools and materials are always required to make an improvement.
• Artisan: If a character is attempting to fix a crafted object (a leaking roof, a torn cloak), experience at constructing that type of object from scratch can help the character to produce more finished, long-lasting work.
• Science: An understanding of the science behind the construction of an object (particularly Physics) can aid a character to understand the best way to repair an object.
Roll Tech + Craft Redemption. This skill can cover the repair of any crafted, non-mechanical/tech item, from a worn scabbard to a cracked plate. Characters may chose to specialize, but anyone skilled at Craft Redemption is considered to be “handy”, and able to fix crafted items with a minimum of tools.
High Tech Redemption
Roll Tech + High Tech Redemption. With this skill, a character may attempt to fix complex or high-technology devices, such as think machines or starship jumpdrives. Without the proper parts at hand, this can be difficult; however, characters may attempt to jury rig improvised solutions that will work at least temporarily.
Roll Tech + Mech Redemption. This skill covers all mechanical devices, from to gas-fueled generators to scissors.
Roll Tech + Volt Redemption. This skill allows the character to repair electrical devices, including flashlights, radios, tasers and electronically powered vehicles.
Roll: Tech + Think Machine
One of the great achievements of the Second Republic was the invention of vastly powerful computers and artificial intelligence devices. After the Fall, many of these miraculous fonts of information were destroyed, either by Church inquisitors or peasants fearful and misunderstanding of a machine which thinks. Eventually, guildsmen and wealthy nobles began to build computers again, now called “think machines.” In addition, those ancient computers which survived were brought back into use. However, current operating systems (and there are many) differ from Second Republic ones, making it much harder to retrieve ancient data.
The think machine is a contraption largely incomprehensible to the average layman. Some have unlocked the mysteries of these ancient computers, and anyone skilled at using them will certainly be looked upon with awe — and more than a little distrust — by those who aren’t.
Think Machine skill is a rare ability found most often in members of guilds such as the Engineers and Charioteers, and it allows a character to access and use computers. Accessing information and simple programming are possible.
Some members of house Al-Malik are also said to know some of the mysteries of think machines, though they keep whatever knowledge they have secret.
The Vau have their own computers, vastly different from Known World machines. A special skill is required to use them, but it is nigh impossible to find a teacher for this skill.
• Read Urthtech: Understanding the Urthtech language is often useful for understanding the workings of Think Machines.
• Sciences (Think Machine): Knowing the science behind Think Machines can make operating them much easier.
Roll: Dexterity + Throwing
Knives, throwing stars, darts and even rocks fall into the category of thrown weapons, and only characters experienced with them will have much luck in hitting their targets.
Most folks can fling a rock at someone (roll Dexterity + Vigor), but to throw an object with an edge requires Throwing skill. Otherwise, the target may get hit with the butt of the handle or the flat of the blade, delivering negligible damage.
Some throwing weapons are small enough that a character can fit more than one in his throwing hand (throwing stars, darts, etc.). A character will suffer a -1 penalty to his goal roll for each extra weapon in his hand. See the Weapons Chart for further details.
Roll: Wits + Torture
Considered distasteful by some, a normal business practice by others and an art form by still others, Torture is a means of extracting information from an individual by causing physical or mental pain and discomfiture. Torture is still a commonly used method of obtaining information, particularly by Inquisitors. This means of information extraction is most commonly used on serfs and freemen without alliances to protect them. Temple Avesti, the Muster and the Reeves are among some of the groups most skilled at Torture.
• Empathy: Using Empathy as a complementary skill allows the torturer to determine what forms of torture would work best on an individual.
• Physick: Knowledge of how the body works and of the location of nerve centers is extremely useful when torturing a subject.
Roll: Perception + Tracking
The Tracking skill is often possessed by hunters and rangers, but some bounty hunters and Inquisitors have it as well. Characters skilled at Tracking are able to track their prey through the wilderness by following tell-tale signs of their passing.
• Lore (terrain): Knowing about the terrain can be useful when attempting to track.
This skill is a general category which covers several aspects of warfare, from knowledge of tactics to the actual use of engines of war.
Roll Perception + Artillery. This skill allows the character to operate and fire ballistae, mortars, cannons, rockets, etc.
Roll Tech + Demolitions. This skill allows the character to plant explosives to achieve a desired effect, such as to blow open a door or collapse a bridge.
Roll Dexterity + Gunnery. This skill allows the character to operate and fire starship weaponry as well as large mounted weapons such as machine guns and laser turrets.
Roll Wits + Warfare. This skill gives the character general knowledge of military strategy and tactics. Military Tactics is used to know the best method of attack as well as knowledge of how troops will react in combat situations.
• Lore (Xeno): Know thine enemy. Knowing the habits of an alien culture can often reveal a weakness that can be exploited.
• Lore (Terrain): Knowing the terrain you are fighting in can be the first step towards victory. Different types of terrain can have drastic effects on what type of assault or defense should be used.
• Lore (Regional): Knowing the layout of a particular region can give a significant advantage in warfare.
Roll: Perception + Xeno-Empathy
Characters with this skill are able to determine an alien’s emotional status by interpreting non-verbal cues. The player must choose to have Empathy with one of the following races, though this skill may be bought multiple times in order to have Empathy with multiple races. Some of the possible races are: Ur-Obun, Ur-Ukar, Vorox, etc.
• Lore (Xeno): Having a good background in the history
of a race can aid in interpreting their emotions.