What is a skill? A skill represents a character's learned ability to do something (or some combination of some things). There are no such thing as character classes; a PC in the World of Empire can learn--or attempt to learn--any area of human knowledge and endeavor. Even without the necessary skill, a PC may attempt to perform any action within the reasonable bounds of human ability (a PC can, for example, flap her arms and try to fly, but no amount of dice rolling will allow her to do so... unless, of course, she is either an Aven, a Pixie/Nixie, or a skilled witch--in which cases, she wouldn’t need to flap her arms).
Let's examine the parts of a skill. Usually, a skill has four parts: Name, Difficulty, Rating Base, Skill Base.
The Name of a skill is a succinct term for what the skill is about.
Difficulty is an abstract measure of how difficult a given skill is to learn in comparison to another. A skill may be easier for a character to learn if they have Fast Learner (see Positive Attributes) at that skill.
Rating Base - your ability at most skills is represented by a number, which is equal to your Rating Base (normally a Secondary Stat) for that skill plus twice your level with that skill (generally).
Skill Base is a representation of how long it takes to acquire the rudiments of a skill. Some skills, like Close Combat, are somewhat instinctive and have no extra cost. Other skills, such as physicker, require more extensive study before level 0 is reached. The skill base is what must be payed to reach Level 0 of a skill, without which a character cannot proceed further. If a skill has no skill base, it is not assumed that your character automatically has Level 0. However, it takes so little to reach level 0 that to list it would be meaningless, and it is assumed that your first few points towards level 1 will actually take care of this initial starting level for you.
Once a character is generated and placed in play, he will continue to evolve and, hopefully, advance. This process is represented by his earning of skill points through training and practice (see Learned Abilities Enhancement System). Each skill point earned by practice at a certain skill accumulates towards earning the next level of that skill.
To find the number of skill points needed to learn a level of a skill, multiply that skill's difficulty by the level the character is trying toattain. For example, to learn level 1 of the Painting skill (difficulty 3) would require 3 x 1 = 3 points. To learn level 2 of that skill would require an additional 3 x 2 = 6 points.
The following is a rough guideline to what the different levels mean for most skills.
0 Rudimentary Knowledge
1-3 Beginner / Apprentice
Level 0 is an important concept for players to understand. A Character who has paid the total base cost of a skill, but has not yet reached level 1, or, if the skill has no base cost, who has put points towards the skill but has not yet reached level 1, is considered to have level 0 of the skill. This means that, when attempting to use the skill, he may use the full Rating Base of the skill (generally one of his Secondary Stats). Characters who do not have even level 0 of a skill may still attempt to use the skill, but they must subtract 2 from the Rating Base. This is to simulate the fact that someone who knows even a little about, say, picking locks will have an easier time doing so than someone who is utterly ignorant of the skill.
For most applicable skills, Competent is the stage at which most people can make a decent living. Most career military men have reached Competent status with one or more weapons. A person who is an expert at a skill can usually make a cushy living at it (although starving artists are just as common in the World of Empire as they are everywhere else). A master at a skill will normally be well known throughout both his local region to the general public and throughout the general area of play to fellows in his particular profession.
Before you choose skills for the person you will be playing, you should consider what kind of person he or she is to become. For example, if you wanted to create a Forester, you might want to consider giving him such skills as Hunting, Wilderness Living, and Tracking. If, on the other hand, you wanted to create something such as a Mercenary, most of the skills will probably be combat oriented such as Weapon & Shield, Combat Position, Missile Deflection, etc. Remember, you can create the kind of person you want, but within the limitations of your skill points. A starting character will not be proficient at everything; after all, the person being played has just started his chosen profession, or has most limited experience.
When choosing your skills, there is one limitation you must follow and that is you must buy at least (Skill Points/10) skills, rounding fractions down. Native languages, "free skills" the DM may award due to unusual background, or any other skill the PC does not actually spend points on, do not count towards this number! Also, some skills may be easier or harder to find depending on the area you came from.
Once a character has been generated and is placed in play, they will gain points that they may use to buy new skills or increase ones they already have through Training, Practice, or Study (see the Learned Abilities Enhancement System). However, a somewhat different, although related, system is used to generate the skills that a character will begin play with.
First, a player should figure their character's number of starting skill points according to the simple formula given at the start of the book. There are three things about skills that are of importance to a starting character: Base Cost, Difficulty, and Level. A skill's Base Cost represents the amount of time and effort required to learn the necessary background to the skill. A starting character should simply pay this amount, subtracting it from his starting skill point total. Once this is done, the character is ready to attempt learning actual positive levels of the skill. This is done by paying skill points for random dice rolls that determine whether or not the character has learned the skill level he/she is trying for. This is to simulate that, although a character may invest time and effort in trying to learn to do something, other factors may interfere: the PC may have been distracted, tired, hurt, ill, or just feeling lazy, and the skill was not learned despite the investment of points (time/effort).
The mechanics of this are simple: once the base is paid for, a character should spend the skill’s Difficulty in skill points for each dice roll. Different sized dice are rolled for each level, with the player needing a result of higher than 1 (or higher than a 1-2 in event Slow Learner is taken). The dice sizes rolled for each level are as follows:
Level 1 d10
Level 2 d8
Level 3 d6
Level 4 d4
Level 5 d3
Level 6 d2
Dice for each level may be rolled any number of times until the level is successfully learned. Thus, a player can keep rolling for a particular skill level for as long as the PC’s skill points hold out.
Note: the higher a numbered skill level is, the more skilled and learned in that area a character is; for example, a level 7 artist is more skilled than a level 4.
Skill Name Skill Difficulty Skill Base Cost Skill Rating Base
Combat Position 3 (2) Initiative
The above example shows exactly what the numbers given with each skill means.
The vast majority of skills function very simply--each level of the skill adds 2 to the Skill’s Rating Base, to generate the total Skill Rating which is added to a d20 roll when trying to perform or accomplish some feat. In other words, most skills simply have a Rating, which is equal to the Skill’s Rating Base (usually a Secondary Stat) plus 2x skill level.
However, certain skills are an exception to the above simple rule. Such skills are explained below.
Skills that are italicized are rare and difficult to obtain training in; some sort of specialized training or Exotic Background must be taken to learn them.
Skills marked with * may not be attempted by those without any knowledge of the skill... they are skills that are exotic or difficult enough that there is effectively no way for the ignorant to duplicate their effects.
Block Pain4(6)* Fortitude
This skill allows the PC making a successful roll off to ignore the effects (minuses) generated by the pain from damage, exhaustion, fatigue, drugs, and other effects. In order to accomplish this, the PC must successfully roll off his/her rating vs. 8 + (the Pain minus being ignored). Making this roll off normally requires 10 rounds of intense concentration; for ever round subtracted from this time, 1 is added to the difficulty (thus, to do it at only -6 Initiative--in a second--, the PC would add +10 to the total difficulty rolled off against).
Breath Control4(6) *
This skill allows a PC using it to spend less Exhaustion than they normally would. For every level of this skill taken, a character may roll a d10 every round; if their level or less is rolled, they spend -1 Exh that round, if half their level or less is rolled, they spend -2 Exh that round. Note that characters with this skill may Guard (see Combat Options), spending no Exhaustion, and on a successful roll, actually recover Exhaustion that round! Characters should roll this d10 at the beginning of the Combat Round, for, if they are successful, they can spend up to 4/5 Exhaustion that round, as they will actually only be spending 3.
Close Combat3(0) Might
This skill does not generate a rating; rather, it is used to figure Attack, Defense, and Initiative for Close Combat; which is basically any combat where the opponents are actually grasping each other from round to round (see Close Combat rules, in Combat)
Combat Position 3(3) Initiative
While this skill does have a normally figured rating, used for various things in Combat (see Combat) it also has two other functions. At odd levels (starting with Level 1) it adds 1 per odd level to Base Defense. At even levels, it adds 1 per even level to Melee Initiative (any Melee Initiative, Armed or Unarmed).
Fumbles in Combat can be saved from by rolling half Combat Position level or less on a d12.
For each level of Easy Aim a character has--usually taken as Melee Weapon, MIssile Weapon, or Unarmed Easy Aim--they may subtract 1 from all Aiming modifiers when attempting to hit a specific target area. Most organized Unarmed Combat Disciplines--Jonasism, Shoito, Lao’Nyess, Genga K’Pow, zumai, etc.--require all unarmed attacks to be aimed at a specific area, but also give Easy Aim per level.
In addition to simply being the skill for riding a horse, Horsemanship also allows the skilled character to fight from Horseback. Normal modifiers for fighting from Horseback are -10 to Attack, Defense, and Initiative. A trained Horseman may add 2x his Horsemanship level to these modifiers; thus, at level 5, a Horseman fights at no modifier, while at level 6, he fights at +2 Attack, Defense and Initiative. Level 7 is the maximum level Horsemanship can be taken for purposes of Combat Modifiers. Fighting from Horseback has the additional advantage that any movement (Charging, etc.) costs the horse exhaustion, not the character. Also, mounted fighters can only be Swashbuckled (see Combat Position) at -10 to their opponent’s rating, except by other mounted characters, and such Maneuvers are at the same penalty as Attack, Defense and Initiative.
Imperial Swordsmanship6(4) Speed*
This fighting style, originating in the mysterious and hated Empire of Man, places far more emphasis on quickness and grace than on sheer brute force. Both Attack and Defense are based on Speed, and Imperial Swordsmanship adds 1.5 (rounding down) per level to Attack, Defense and Initiative. Imperial Swordsmanship requires a sword with at least a +4 Initiative modifier.
Imperial Two Weapons7(8) Speed*
This style, developed for the exclusive use of the dreaded Imperial Dragoons, combines the speed and precision of Imperial Swordsmanship with a peculiarly formidably Two Weapons style. This fighting style makes the following attacks possible:
The Teachings of Jonas are actually a series of skills, taught as in integral part of a school of philosophy based on the stated beliefs and ethical practices of the revered (perhaps divine) Master Jonas. However, most. River dwellers think of Jonasism as the unarmed combat discipline taught by the Great One, which is actually Karadalan Shoito (see Shoito variants).
For more information on the Teachings of Jonas, see Moving Finger #14.
Missile Dodge3(2) Initiative*
Quickdraw (Location)2(1) Speed
Quickdraw is taken, not per weapon, but per location, as the motions necessary for swiftly readying a bastard sword from your back are very different from those required for getting a throwing dagger out of a wrist sheathe. Quickdraw can even be taken "from the ground", meaning you have practiced recovering dropped weapons quickly. In order to successfully quickdraw, a character must roll off their Quickdraw rating vs. a chosen difficulty, ranging from 6 to 12. If they choose 12 and succeed, they will ready their weapon at -4 to Initiative that round and have an unmodified Attack and Defense. For every 1 under 12 they reduce their difficulty, they take an additional -1 to Initiative, Attack and Defense. Minimum Quickdraw difficulty is 6. Quickdraw modifiers for Missile Weapons are doubled (i.e, a -4 to Attack becomes -8, etc.) The base -4 initiative modifier for quickdrawing can be eliminated by cut-down quickdraw sheathes for some weapons. Such quickdraw sheathes are expensive, and cause +1 Fumble chance while quickdrawing.
Thrown Weapon3(v) Dexterity/2
See Combat for details as to Attack, Defense and Initiative modifiers.
Unarmed (Fist)3 (0)
Skill at nearly all individual weapons also conveys nearly the same skill at other weapons in that Category. Thus, a fighter who is skilled with a Shortsword is nearly as skilled with any other sword. Specifically, a character is one level off (with appropriate minuses for your Weapon Style) using a weapon from his category that is not his normal weapon. To switch "normal" weapons, a character need only put 1 point to familiarizing himself with any other weapon from his main weapon’s category, after which the new weapon becomes his "normal" weapon.
Most weapon categories also convey a certain amount of skill at other weapon categories, as well. Specifically, a character skilled in one category (Sword, Polearm, Axe and Mace) fights at half level with another category. Thus, a not yet competent (less than level 4) fighter is nearly equally skilled with all weapon categories (i.e., not very--if he is level 3 with a Broadsword, he’s level 2 with any other sword, and also with Polearms and Axes and Maces).
The only exception to the above among Melee Weapons is the Miscellaneous Category. These weapons are too unique to belong to any category (and have nothing in common with each other, either). Thus, they have no crossover value, but they are also one difficulty less (Difficulty 3 instead of 4). These weapons are Quarterstaff, Knife/Dagger, and Punch and/or Kick.
Melee Categories do not cross over at all to Missile Weapons, and most Missile Weapons are unrelated to each other (Thrown Knife has no crossover to Bow--or anything else. Thrown Rock might crossover to Thrown Spear--at four levels of difference.)
Note: In order to use a Spear’s listed B2 modifiers (see Weapons) the Quarterstaff skill must be taken.
Weapon and Shield5(4)
See Combat-Fighting Styles for details.
The secret of the above technique is jealously guarded by those adept at it, as it allows the initiate to be devastatingly effective in combat. At odd levels of this skill (starting at level 1) the Weaponmaster receives +1 per level to weapon damage. At even levels, the Weaponmaster receives -1 per level to the number he has to hit by to score increased levels of critical damage. For example, a level 4 Weaponmaster adds 2 to his normal damage with his primary weapon, and needs only hit by 8 or 28 to score +1/+2 critical levels of damage (see Combat-Basics).
Weaponmaster is taken per Weapon, not per Category.
The rating of this skill is equal to Precision + level. This rare and secret skill allows its adepts to spot weaknesses in a foe’s weapon or grip on his weapon, making a Strike to Break Weapon or Strike to Disarm much more effective. At level 4, the Weaponwise fighter may choose whether he strikes to Disarm or Break Weapon rather than rolling a d6. When Striking at Weapon, add Weaponwise rating to Manipulation if striking to Disarm, or to Weapon Damage if striking to Break Weapon.
Weaponwise is taken per Weapon Category.
Wearing Armor6 (0)
The Wearing Armor skill does not have a rating, and has a maximum level of 4. At odd levels, Wearing Armor will subtract 1 per level from armour’s Attack modifiers, at even levels, it subtracts from Defense modifiers. Each level of Wearing Armor subtracts from Initiative modifiers. Wearing Armor never subtracts from Movement or Exhaustion penalties (no matter how comfortable you are in your armor, it still has a certain weight and bulk that slows you down and tires you out).
Armor also takes a certain amount of time to don, equal to 5 x its Bashing protection in rounds for non-metal armor, 10 x its slashing protection in rounds for non-segmented metal armour, and 5x its Bashing protection in minutes for segmented (plate) metal armour. Wearing Armor subtracts 20% per level from this time. Thus, a warrior with Wearing Armor level 4 can don Heavy Chainmail in 14 rounds, rather than the 80 rounds it would take him if he were unskilled.
Entertainment and Art Skills
In general, Acrobat is the skill that allows one to perform gymnastic maneuvers. Acrobat is not considered to be useful in combat, as Acrobats do not train in performing their art while people are swinging weapons at them with deadly intent. Acrobat is useful for walking narrow ledges or on wires, performing cartwheels and handstands, swinging on ropes in non-combat situations, etc. To perform Combat Gymnastics, the skill Combat Maneuvers (Swashbuckling) should be taken.
Acrobat is also very useful as the only skill that allows a character to take less damage from a fall. Standard break fall difficulty is 12; if a character makes a successful Acrobat roll against that difficulty, falling damage is halved, and damage will go to an extremity, rather than a vital area. If the Acrobat roll is made by 10, fall damage is quartered.
A mixed game of different sized dice and wooden playing cards that is the most common game of chance on the River. The cards feature five suites -- Spiders, Serpents, Swords, Suns and Moons --- each containing 15 named mortal cards -- the Boy, the Girl, the Father, the Slave, the Slaver, the Merchant, the Ship Captain, the Shaman, the Singer, the Player, the Wizard, the Warrior, the Thief, the Farmer, and the Boss -- and 5 Greater Power cards -- the Dancer, the Rider, the Huntress, the Mother, and the Grandfather.
A game of scholars, merchants, and other intellectuals on the River, in which counters of differing colors and values are moved on a patterned board divided into two different halves by a length of silken cord which is dropped at random across the board at the beginning of each game.
Musician [Instrument]2(4)* Precision
NOTE: each characteristic may only be raised a maximum of 10 times.
Personal Training adds I per level to the appropriate Statistic. There is no Skill Base or Rating Base.
Animal Handler3(4) Charm
The skill for handling small boats or rafts requiring oars. For large ships or any ship with sails, Seaman should be learned.
The skill for finding food animals; one still needs to make successful Stealth and/or Weapons rolls of some sort to actually kill the critter. Roll off Hunting Rating vs. [22 - (# of hours hunting for that day)]. For each +1 character makes roll by, character rolls +1 encounter on Fauna Chart.
This skill adds to your daily travel time. For each level of Marathon taken, a character may add 1 to their TM for purposes of figuring how many miles they can travel on neutral terrain in ten hours (one day’s standard traveling time) without suffering fatigue. For example, a character with a TM of 12 and Marathon level 3 can move 15 miles in a normal day’s movement without suffering fatigue minuses.
Mountain Climbing3(4) Manipulation
This skills allows a character to move faster at a dead run. For each level of Sprint a character has, they may add 1 to their base TM, before multiplying for Sprint total distance. They only get this benefit when they are actually sprinting (i.e., spending 2 exhaustion per round of movement and moving at 3x their Base TM). For example, a character with a TM of 11 and Sprint level 7 would have a Base TM of 18 when Sprinting.
This skill is Terrain Specific. The Terrain Types are as follows:
Frozen Waste3(3) - Sotharka
Steppe/Veldt/Marsh2(2) - some areas of Abandoned Lands, Northern Fens, Jeopard Tribal Lands
Tropical Jungle/Swamp4(4) - Northarka
Rain Forest (Semitropical)3(4) - Ona Tengu
Temperate (Deciduous) Forest3(3) - Abandoned Lands, Holy Lands, Sottli Ban, Jeopard Forests
Dead Sandy Waste4(0)
The DM will allow little, if any, crossover between Terrain Types (there is none between Dead Sandy Waste and Frozen Waste, for example, but DM might give a four level difference between Tropical Jungle/Swamp and Temperate Forest.)
DM will judge as to whether a given character might need an Exotic Background to start with Survival in a certain Terrain Type (it’s unlikely that a Riverish PC would ever learn Dead Sandy Waste Survival).
Wilderness Stealth4(4) Acumen
Wilderness Stealth is assumed to include normal Stealth, on the assumption that, if you can move silently in the Wilderness, you can do it anywhere. Wilderness Stealth also covers such things as hiding your camp, covering your trail, etc.
Recognize Value2(2)* Insight
Scholarly and Aristocratic Skills
Chirurgeon 2(6) Precision
Courtly Graces2(6)* Eloquence
Like Sex Appeal, Persuasion, and Leadership, this skill is based on its Rating Base (in this case, Eloquence), plus 1 per level (instead of 2) plus a 2d6 Character Reaction roll that is made every time this skill is attempted. This 2d6 roll represents exactly how positive an impression your Character is making at the moment to this particular target. This 2d6 roll is modified by Grooming, if successful and applicable, or by the Attribute Likeable.
Generally, Courtly Graces is the skill used for Persuading those in high office, to whom manners and propriety and graceful words actually mean something.
Like Sex Appeal, Courtly Graces, and Persuasion, this skill is based on its Rating Base (in this case, Presence), plus 1 per level (instead of 2) plus a 2d6 Character Reaction roll that is made every time this skill is attempted. This 2d6 roll is modified by Grooming, if applicable, or by the Attribute Good Leader. Leadership is used to give commands that can be followed instantly, without conscious thought. While it is a great aid to a would-be leader for people to consent to his/her leadership, a skilled leader can snap out orders to strangers--or even opponents--and have a chance of being obeyed. To give commands, a Leader rolls off Leadership rating vs. WP of the target. If successful, the person will obey the command instinctively and unthinkingly.
If characters accept a Leader’s dominance, they receive only 1/2 Willpower to resist Leadership. However, a group with an acknowledged leader can work together; the entire group will function at their best member’s skill rating; in some efforts, the group gets a bonus for every additional person helping. In combat, a group with an acknowledged Leader adds his/her Leadership level to individual melee initiatives (the Leader only adds half his/her level to their own initiative).
While Scholar does have a rating, the rating is only very rarely used--for example, a Scholar roll off might be made to locate certain materials in a large Archive in a limited time. The normal function of Scholar, however, is to generate a chance of a character knowing something about a given subject.
For every level of Scholar a character has, there is a 1% chance of them knowing something about any given subject. At level 4, a Scholar Specialty must be declared (Giantish History, for example, or Ancient Lost Treasures). The character then, in addition to the normal % chance, has a 10% chance per level (normally rolled on a d10) of knowing something about their specialty.
Additional Scholar skills after the first need pay only 1/2 the base cost (6) and learn the first three levels towards their next specialty at difficulty 1. Level 4 and above are learned at normal difficulty, and as usual, a specialty must be declared at Level 4.
DM reserves the right to refuse to allow Scholar specialties he considers too broad or general--a character would not be allowed to specialize in Interesting Knowledge, for example, or Riverish History.
This skill is a general catch-all for every kind of scientific, laboratory procedure. Used primarily by alchemists.
Theological Studies2(8) Learning
Taken per god/religion, this skills functions identically to Scholar. Complicated religions may require more than one Theological Study (the Ancient Pantheon of the Nurr’yk Gods, as worshipped primarily by ethnic Durshi and Northarks, would require more than one skill, while the Winter Gods would require only one).
Veterinarian4(8) Reas. & Precision
This skill is generally used by groups to ambush single characters or other groups--when an individual tries to attack a single character without warning, Strike from Surprise is used. An individual could use Ambush to attack a group, but this would rarely happen.
Because generally only groups do this, the group must have a Leader to work together cooperatively. The group assigns a difficulty to the Ambush attempt, and rolls off against this (see Skill Function). The target then rolls Attentiveness vs. the chosen difficulty. If the Ambush succeeds by less than 10, the target(s) are at -10 to their Initiative in the first round. If the Ambush succeeds by 10 or more, but less than 20, the target(s) are at -30 to their Initiative for that round. If the Ambush roll succeeds by 20+, the target(s) may spend no exhaustion and make no skill rolls for that entire round of initial attack/combat; they’ve been taken completely by surprise!
The catch all skill for noticing things you’d really like to, and that in general your opponent doesn’t want you to. This skill can only be taken at maximum level of 4 unless for some reason your character has a special dispensation.
City Knowledge1/city(1/city) Reasoning
Taken per City, this skill allows a character to find their way around If you don’t take it, you get lost.
Familiar w/Undrground2(6) Fortune
Lip Reading4(2) Insight
Maximum level 4, and can only be used to gain a "gist" of a conversation.
Lying 2(3) Eloquence
This is the skill used for convincingly telling untruths, or just for (verbally) making someone believe something that isn’t true. Not Persuasion. Not Acting. Not Non-Verbal Communication. If you want to Lie (well), take Lying.
Pick Locks3(3) Precision
Pick Pockets3(0) Dexterity/2
Scrounging 2(1)* Fortune
This skill allows characters to locate useful items in urban environments. The successful Scrounge can turn up what you need in virtually any city, simply by knowing where to look or who to talk to. Successful Scrounging does not mean you actually have the item, but you will know where to get it. The attribute Contacts adds +1 per level to Scrounging rating.
Sex Appeal2(3) Charm
Like Persuasion, Courtly Graces, and Leadership, this skill is based on its Rating Base (in this case, Charm), plus 1 per level (instead of 2) plus a 2d6 Character Reaction roll that is made every time this skill is attempted. This 2d6 roll represents exactly how positive an impression your Character is making at the moment to this particular target. This 2d6 roll is modified by Grooming, if applicable, or by the Attributes Attractive or Unattractive.
A form of Persuasion based on the unspoken flaunting of sexual charms, a successful Sex Appeal roll will allow a character to convince another character to do just about anything not obviously hazardous to their life and limb. While a successful Sex Appeal roll certainly means a character can sleep with their target if they want to, they do not have to. Sex Appeal rolls cannot be made on targets that do not feel sexual attraction for the character attempting the skill.
Easily Seduced and Lecherous characters are especially susceptible to Sex Appeal rolls.
If a Sex Appeal roll is unsuccessful, a Persuasion roll may still succeed, but the target who has successfully resisted Sex Appeal will have to actually be offered something for it to work (i.e., you may actually have to deliver the goods instead of just seem likely to... or at least, you’ll have to offer).
Sleight of Hand2(0) Speed
Strike from Behind4(4) Precision
This skills allows a character to either Strike to KO or Strike to Kill. In order to Strike to KO, a bashing weapon is necessary. To Strike to Kill, a thrusting weapon is preferable, but a bashing weapon can be used , with the limitation that +1 crit levels will not be generated when Striking to Kill with a bashing weapon. Slashing weapons are useless for these sorts of attacks.
To perform these actions, the target must have a d10 only of Defense, i.e., the target must be unaware of the attack. To accomplish this, the attacker must previously have made a successful Strike from Surprise or Stealth roll off. The attack is then made, using whatever Weapon the attacker chooses (within the given limits), with the Attack Value modified by - [20 -2x Strike from Behind Level].
If the Attack hits, damage is done at +1 level (except if a bashing weapon is used to Strike to Kill). Hitting by 10 or 30 also adds normal critical effect levels. For every critical level of damage done to the target, there is a 20% chance of instantly causing the desired effect (i.e., Kill or KO). If this roll is failed, the target simply takes the normal damage effects of the strike (although, since all Strikes from Behind using proper equipment do +1 Crit Level of Damage, such strikes will always be more effective than a normal attack if they hit, even if they fail to instantly Kill or KO the target).
Targets that are successfully Struck to Kill are, well, dead, and presumably no further pragmatic problem. Targets that are successfully Struck to KO are actually considered to be unconscious for % minutes - their Fortitude, min 10.
Strike from Surprise4(3) Initiative
Rolled off vs. the target’s Attentiveness rating (see Skill Function), this skill, if successful, allows an unexpected attack to be made against a d10 of Defense. This cannot be done in combat unless the target opponent has already been Faked (see Combat Position options). If done in Combat, the attacker must specify an unorthodox and unexpected kind of strike to be used (kick in the groin, throw dirt in the eyes, quickdraw hidden knife and stab in the heart, grab around throat, trip, etc.), which generally must be aimed at a specific location. If the Strike from Surprise roll fails, the person must still carry through with the unorthodox attack.
This is the skill used for setting and disarming Traps. Attentiveness is used to actually spot traps set by someone else, although every level of this skill after level 3 adds 1 to Attentiveness ratings when traps are deliberately looked for.
For a roll off of Grooming rating vs. 10, a character can add +2 to 2d6 reaction rolls where being well groomed would help (i.e., the Queen of Ona Tengu will be impressed, but Barnacle Bill the Sailor would probably think you were a wussy.) If the roll is made by 10, +4 is added.
A roll off of Packing rating vs. 6 + # of extra spaces desired is necessary. Subtract total luggage spaces/4 from the difficulty (rounding down, i.e., if your luggage has 3 spaces, you get no bonus).
Non-verbal Communication4(0) Insight
This skill is primarily used to detect Lies, and is the rating used in roll offs against that skill. This skill can also be used to try and get an idea of what a person is feeling, i.e., "Is the Queen nervous or frightened?". Non-Verbal Communication works best on beings of the same race and social background as yourself (i.e., humans find Jeopards hard to read because their features are inhuman and they’re covered with fur, while a Sottle might have difficulty reading an Ulvane due to cultural differences--when an Ulvane bares his teeth in a "smile", it’s a deadly challenge). Thus, the DM will generally add to Non Verbal Difficulties when such situations arise. Of course, the true master of Non-Verbal Communication is so skilled that such trivial things don’t matter.
Non-Verbal Communication can also be used to try and communicate things to someone without words for a similar roll off. Finally, Non-Verbal communication will help a character lie if they’re very good at it; for every level of Non-Verbal after Level 6, add 1 to Lie ratings.
Persuasion 3(0) Charm
Like Sex Appeal, Courtly Graces, and Leadership, this skill is based on its Rating Base (in this case, Charm), plus 1 per level (instead of 2) plus a 2d6 Character Reaction roll that is made every time this skill is attempted. This 2d6 roll represents exactly how positive an impression your Character is making at the moment to this particular target. This 2d6 roll may be modified by Grooming or the Attribute Likeable.
This is the skill used to get someone to do what you want without using force. Successful rolls can cause characters to perform quite complex tasks. However, only people who have a positive emotional bond (friends, in other words) can use Persuasion on each other without offering something in return (i.e., characters do favors for friends just because they’re friends). To Persuade a relative stranger, or someone who just doesn’t have any particularly warm feelings towards you, something must be offered in turn, i.e., the character must be made to feel that they will gain something from doing this for you.
Nice and Altruistic characters (see Negative Attributes) are always susceptible to Persuasion rolls as if they were everyone’s friend. Note that those suffering from these Attributes will have to make WP roll offs not to do what is wanted anyway, before a Persuasion roll is even necessary!
Spoken Diff Written Diff Base Cost Maximum Level
Riverish/Tharkish 4 4 (2) 4
Durshi 4 4 (2) 4
Sothark 2 * (0) 4
Northark 3 * (6) 4
Hiss-Snarl-Hiss (Jeopard) 5 * (8) 4
Imperial, High 4 4 (6) 5
Imperial, Base 2 * (0) 3
Giantish 4 5 (8) 4
Wild Frodd 4 * (6) 4
Ulvane 3 * (2) 4
Romaine 3 4 (6) 4
Sottle 5 5 (8) 5
Samaqelian 4 4 (6) 5
Ancient Samaqelian 5 5 (8) 5
Squawk-Awk (Aven) 4 4 (8) 4 -
-Aven listed for purposes of completion only... only Aven may speak Aven
There are only five levels of written and spoken skills. The first level indicates you know important phrases ( "I want food","I Surrender", etc). At second level you know the language, but poorly. It's quite obvious you're a foreigner. At third level you speak the language as well as the average native but with your native accent. At fourth level you've pretty much lost any foreign accent and understand the language, idioms, and general native slang. At fifth level you are a master of the language. You have a rather large vocabulary, consisting of words the average native will not recognize or barely know the meaning of.
Several of the listed languages are actually oversimplified. For example, "Jeopard" is actually simply a "common tongue" most Wild Jeopards speak.as an intertribal lingua fraca. Each Jeopard tribe actually has its own distinct dialect. "Aven" is also similarly subdivided by Aven "nesting clans", but since only an Aven can actually speak Aven recognizably, it’s a moot point
Humans can only speak Jeopard at level 3, although the Cats all say they do so with an atrocious accent. There are also many different dialects of Durshi, Sothark, and Northark; the listed difficulties are for the "common tongues" most outsiders think of as those languages.
Riverish (more properly called ‘Tharkish’) is a mixture of tongues both human and non-human grafted on to an unknown root language. It is an argot/patoit, and it evolves quickly from generation to generation. Its written characters are different from both the 38 letter Giant language, the cursive pictogram/hieroglypsh of Sottle, the elaborate phrase symbolsof the Durshi lexicon, or the convoluted modified iconography of Samaquelian. Due to the brutish, squalid culture (or lack thereof) that has shaped the language’s evolution, Riverish is a tongue conducive to insult, invective, vulgar and sadistic pornography, and detailed descriptions of atrocity. The standard honorific in Riverish is ‘scum’, which is not regarded as an insult within the Urban Riversih culture, but israther used generically in the way an American might call someone ‘mister’ or ‘fella’.
Other human languages on the River have tended to remain relatively stagnant. For this reason, the small body of scholars within the Riverish population learns not only Tharkish literacy, but also Durshi and Giantish literacy, which many ancient texts are written. There are four major respositories of knowledge on the River -- the Libraries of the River College on Dour Island, the Grey Archives of the Giants in the Giant Mountains,the Cathedral of Sacred Wisdom, in the city of Miria, and the Golden Vault of Knowledge in the Secret City in Sottli Ban. As Sottle is a secret language not taught to outsiders, scholars do not study it, despite the fact that it is probably the most stable of any known human tongue.
In general, literacy is looked down upon on the River, as the vast majority of people think of it as something that destroys the vision, damages long term memory, and generally weakens the body and the mind.
All skill packages require the Attribute Unusual Background. They all also have minimum stat requirements. These requirements must be met naturally, without skill-based stat raises.
Level (0+1) at listed packages for listed cost:
Mercenary Experience Requires STR, CON, AG >13 50 pts (0+1)
Weapon Category and Crossbow
Weapon and Shield
Must be at least Quickdraw Weapon
19 years old Seaman
Jeopard OR Giantish
City Knowledge - Jampora, Jeressa, Sottli Ban, Tharkis City, Jennaru
Former Mercs also receive either a minor Windfall (d30 +d20 gold) or an equipment package consisting of:
Backpack Leather armour 1-H Weapon or Crossbow
Sleeping fur mess kit wineskin good boots
Traveling Bard Requires INTU, DEX, CHA > 13 40 pts(0+1)
Musician (Instrument) - must be level 4
(all instruments after first learned at 1 difficulty less as starting character only)
Singing - must be level 4
Survival - Choose Terrain
Medium/Hard Language (difficulty 3 or higher)
Easy Language (difficulty 2 or less)
Choose 1 - Persuasion/Non-Verbal Communication/Seduction /Scrounging/Marathon
Choose 1 - Acrobat/Acting/Juggling
Includes 1 musical instrument, backpack, beltpouch, 1 set traveling clothes.
Wandering Scholar Requires IQ, WP > 15 40 pts (0+1)
Scholar (must be taken at least level 4)
Hard Language (Difficulty 4 or higher)
Hard Literacy (" " ")
Medium Language (Difficulty 3)
Medium Literacy (" " ")
2 Easy Languages (Difficulty 2 or less)
(can be Spoken and Written of same Easy language)
Choice of 2
Magistracy / Courtly Graces / Mathematics / Stewardship / Naturalist / Engineer / Recognize Value City Knowledge
Includes 1 blank book, 1 quill and ink, one text in Scholar specialty, backpack, beltpouch, 1 set traveling clothes.
Professional Swindler Requires INTU, CHA, LUCK > 14 40 pts (0+1)
Choice of 3 Seduction / Scrounging / Sleight of Hand / Gambling / Lip Reading / Strike from Behind / Strike from Surprise / Stealth / Pick Locks / Familiar with Underground / Disguise / Recognize Value / Non Verbal Communication
Includes choice of 1: 1 set lockpicks, 1 blackjack, 1 knife in holdout/quickdraw sheathe, 1 comb and silver backed mirror, 1 disguise kit, 1 set marked cards & loaded dice, 1 traveler’s shirt w/hidden pockets up sleeve, d30 gold.
Tengish Militia Requires STR, CON, AG > 11 50 pts (0+1)
Spear/Halberd OR Short Sword & Buckler
Sling OR Crossbow
Survival, Rain Forest (Semitropical)
Former Militia also receive either Mustering Out Pay of their [Luck+WP] GP, or they may keep:
Backpack Leather armour Weapon & Missile Weapon used (includes buckler if taken)
Sleeping fur mess kit wineskin good boots
Camouflage traveling robes
Tengish Marine Requires STR, CON, AG > 11 50 pts (0+1)
Short Sword & Buckler
Former Marines also receive either Mustering Out Pay of their [Luck+WP] GP, or they may keep:
Backpack Leather armour Weapons Rope
Hammock mess kit wineskin oilskin cape
When a character sets out to do something there is almost always some skill pertinent to the particular thing he wants to do. That skill usually has a rating, based on a particular Secondary Stat plus 2x the character's level at the skill. This rating is used as the basis for a roll-off system that works one of two different ways:
When a character is pitting his skill against that of another character, he assigns his own initial difficulty. In other words, he tells the referee exactly what difficulty he wants to make his initial skill roll against. This difficulty can be anything from 0 on up. The referee will roll a die (generally a d20) and add it to the chosen difficulty; the character attempting the feat will roll a die and add it to his pertinent skill rating.
If this initial die roll is failed by the character, the attempt has failed. This does not assume that he has no further chance at doing this; only if he failed the roll by 10 or more does the person he was attempting to do something to notice, since this indicates a fumble, which is always bad. If he did not fail by 10 or more, he may make one more attempt, at +10 to whatever his previously chosen difficulty was. If he fails this one, he can make no more attempts and it is assumed that the other character has noticed his action.
If, on the other hand, he succeeds in this initial die roll, he still has not succeeded in his chosen action. Although he is doing as best he can, he may still have underestimated his opponent. Now his opponent rolls off his pertinent rating (for example, to notice a Pick Pocket attempt, a character would use his Attentiveness rating) against the chosen difficulty of the character. If the character initiating the roll off is 1-3 levels better than his target at the appropriate skill, +4 is added to the target's difficulty (see below). If 4-6 levels better, +8; if 7-9 levels, +12, if 10 or more levels better than the target, +20. If the opponent fails the roll, the character has succeeded! One further note: if the character attempting the feat succeeds in his initial roll by 10 or more, +10 is added to the chosen difficulty for the opponent to roll against.
Garth Butterhead, journeyman thief, is attempting to pick the pocket of Reuben Goober, hick from Hovair. Butterhead assigns himself a difficulty of 5, figuring this hayseed will be an easy mark. His Pick Pockets rating is 13; he rolls a d20 and generates a 9 for a total of 22. The referee rolls a d20 and adds 5. He rolls a 7, generating a total of 12. Garth has succeeded in his initial roll. He's doing everything right, just as he was taught, in fact, he's done so well that +10 is added to Reuben Goober's difficulty of 5 for spotting Garth's larcenous little fingers. However, Reuben Goober is really an undercover Captain of the Confederation High Patrol and has an Attentiveness Rating of 26. He rolls a d20, adds it to 26, and has a 37 total (he rolled an 11, which is average). The referee rolls, adds to 15, and has only a 28 (he rolled slightly better than average). Despite the fact that Garth is doing well, he grossly underestimated his opponent and didn't try hard enough.
As the full regard of Confederation justice drops on Garth like a large, weighty stone, let us turn our attention elsewhere: If a character is attempting to perform a feat that does not involve interaction with another character, like climbing a wall or successfully negotiating a field filled with nasty little pits full of sharp pointy sticks, he simply rolls off against a difficulty assigned by the referee. This difficulty will take various factors into account, such as how accomplished the character is at this particular skill (a character who is competent will have an easier time than a character who is still a beginner), conditions under which this skill is being performed (it's harder to pick locks underwater with your left leg being eaten by a crocodile than on dry land with no one bothering you) and various other things that might make the feat more difficult. If the character succeeds in this roll off, he did it! Hooray! If he fails, well, that's a bummer. He may continue to attempt it (unless he dies or something) at +5 to the difficulty, accumulative, for each succeeding attempt.
If, while making such a roll off, the character should roll a 1 on his d20, he has Fumbled. This is always bad. It makes no difference what the characters total is, on a 1 he fumbles. However, unlike Fumbling against another character (which happens when you blow the roll by 10, remember) here there is a chance to avoid the Fumble. A character may attempt to roll 1/2 his pertinent skill level or less on a d10. If he does it, he still fails in the roll but nothing utterly awful befalls him (and the DM pouts). If he doesn't, ha ha ha ha ha HA, you fool, now you're MINE!!!!