Knowledge & Skills

Copyright © 1998-2005 Ken St-Cyr. All rights reserved. This is a work in progress.

Skills & Tasks

Skill levels rate the competency of a character, including experience and training, but do not include natural attributes. Instead, an attribute most appropriate to the task applies.

Characters perform actions, embodied as tasks, and use skills and attributes to modify their chances for success. When a task is to be performed, the Gamemaster decides (or looks up) its target level, the appropriate skill or skills, and the applicable attribute or attributes. Tasks are resolved according to Basic Dice Use rules, above.

Tasks are rated for the level at which the performer has a 50% chance of success, or in other words, the level at which success does not occur the majority of the time. So if my character's skill level is rated at Beginner, he can expect to succeed at Beginner tasks about 50% of the time. The focus is on challenges to the character, not on routines. If a task is deemed routine for an experience level, then that task would be rated at most two ranks (6-10 levels) lower than the character level.

Some tasks are not associated with any skills. These unskilled tasks may also be called attribute tests, since only attribute values will modify chances of success.

Skill Rolls

  1. Roll 3d6, skewed by luck, open-ended
  2. Apply modifiers:
    • Add skill and attribute bonus.
    • For an uncontested roll, beat the task target level.
    • For a contested roll, the target level is the opponent's skill and attribute bonus, plus 10.
  3. Beat the target to succeed; otherwise fail. See also Finesse and Potshots, below.
Task Category Target to Beat
Unskilled 10
Beginner 15
Intermediate 20
Advanced 25
Master 30
Master's Challenge35

These are base level guidelines only. A task target level can range anywhere from 5 and up. For any given base level, an additional modifier (-3 to +3) may be applied.

3d6 Target%Chance

Eyeballing Chances

This game uses 3d6 as its primary method of determining success or failure. Because it is not a linear range, some people may find it difficult to judge their chances of success initially. Here is a simple method:

If you think you need more resolution than that, then you're probably paying too much attention to the numbers.

Prerequisites & Minimums

Some tasks may be based on a particular skill, but require another skills (or skills) as prerequisites. For example, interpreting sky omens falls under the divination skill Augury, but requires knowledge of astrology to perform.

Other tasks may require minimum attributes to perform. For example, a character swinging a very heavy club may need a STR 14 or higher even though his skill with two-handed clubs is very high.

Tasks automatically fail for characters lacking prerequisite skills or minimum attributes.


Players may increase the target level of easy tasks in order to embellish the results of their actions. This is called adding finesse. Players are not limited in the amount of points added to increase the finesse of actions. However, failing a task at the new difficulty target means failure, even if the roll would have been successful at the original difficulty level. If the task was hazardous, attempts at finesse worsens any penalty for failure, at the GM's discretion.

A called shot in combat is an example of adding finesse. Finesse in contests is the basis for judging success. Craftsmen use finesse to determine the quality of items they produce. The table below shows simple degrees of finesse.

Table 22: Quality Levels
Mediocre +0
Good +5
Example: Tividant the Swordsmith, whose proficiency at construction is 16, wishes to create an Excellent sword. If a sword's normal target level is Intermediate (20), then making an Excellent sword is +10, or 30. With a skill of 16, Tividant needs to roll a 15 or higher on 3d6 to make the sword. If he fails, he ends up with scrap metal, but aborts the task early. If he succeeds, even if his open-ended roll is higher than 35, he gets no better than an Excellent sword.

Pot Shots

Some tasks are opaque enough to the character that finesse cannot be reliable. One example is causing injury to someone. In such a case, the task's degree of success, though based on skill, is subject to chance. Every five points made higher than the target gives the skill user an extra degree of success. Likewise, every five points made less than the target is an extra degree of failure.

Degree of Success if Result is
this many points
from Target
Example: what I need to roll
if I my target is 10
Abysmal-11 or less 0 or less
Poor-6 to -10 01-05
Inadequate-1 to -5 06-10
Mediocre+0 to +4 11-15
Good+5 to +9 16-20
Very Good+10 to +14 21-25
Excellent+15 or higher 26 or more
Example: Faced with the difficulty of creating Excellent swords, Tividant decides to take a few pot shots, hoping to get something Excellent or better, but taking the time to finish any weak starts so that he could at least sell those. This time, the quality of weapon depends entirely on his roll: on a 5-9 he produces a mediocre sword, on a 10-14 a good sword, on a 15-19 an excellent sword, and if he is lucky enough to roll a 20+ he produces a masterpiece. An important difference with Finesse is that he must take the full time to produce a weapon whatever result he gets.

Using Multiple Skills & Attributes

Often several skills and attributes appear to be applicable to a task. The task may need more than one skill as a prerequisite. Alternatively, a skill may serve to enhance the results of a task.

The former case applies when using one skill that requires specialized knowledge. For example, the blacksmith skill is pretty generic. In order to create a particular item — for example a replica of a famous sword — the blacksmith needs to have additional information on hand to complete the task. In this example, having a detailed diagram of the sword would do; only one skill roll is required. If no such item is available, the smith may use a plan by memory. In this case one roll is needed to determine accuracy of memory, the second for the resulting quality (limited by the first roll).

The second case may be a merchant buying a product from another. The bargaining skill is used for the task, but knowledge of the items in question is helpful. Since this is a contested roll, simply add all the applicable skills together. If it were not a contested roll, add the skills together but double the target level.

Skill Training Class

A skill's training class indicates the minimum level of civilization required for the learning of that skill. A teacher (or written work) is required to learn advanced skills. Each skill also has a minimum intelligence requirement for learning it.

Class (TC)
Fortified DwellingC

Teaching a skill level is a task 5 levels higher than the skill level taught, so generally a teacher should be at least 10 levels higher than the student. Most characters will have a single mentor who teaches the secrets of a particular trade. However, in developed cultures, established schools and academies provide a standardised regimen of instruction.


A rote is a memorized procedure. Rotes are used to learn dance steps, songs, spells, weapon katas, recipes, and the like. Each rote is given a complexity by the game master that is a rough indication of how difficult it is to memorize.

Rotes are not skills; they cost no experience points, since they can be learned in a matter of minutes (about 2 minutes per difficulty level). Memorizing rotes doesn't take much thinking, so a person who spends all day learning rotes is at LR 1. On the other hand, characters who are studying (at LR 3 or 4) may pick up as many as 40 (at LR 3) or 60 (at LR 4) minutes' worth of rote learning for “free”.

To use a rote, the character rolls against the appropriate controlling skill. If the roll fails, the rote is considered forgotten and must be memorized again.

Adventurer Skills

The Adventurer is a catch-all term for explorers, guides, scouts, and travellers. This field thus encompasses the skills of confronting the outdoor environment, including survival, orienteering, and vehicle handling. To enter the adventurer field, the character must spend a season in the wilderness (or at sea) with a knowledgeable mentor.

Basic Skill Base TC Prereq
Boating AGL X INT 6
Cart/Wagon AGL X INT 6
Desert Lore INT X INT 4
Fishing INT X INT 6
Forest Lore INT X INT 4
Mountain Lore INT X INT 4
Plains Lore INT X INT 4
Searching PER X None
Advanced Skill Base TC Prereq
Navigation INT D INT 8
Seamanship INT D INT 6
Tracking PER X INT 4
Weather Lore INT X INT 4

Boating: Operate small craft

Desert Lore: Survive in the desert

Fishing: Catch fish

Forest Lore: Survive in the forest

Mountain Lore: Survive in the mountains

Navigation: Identify stars and constellation; and find directions

Plains Lore: Survive in the plains

Seamanship: Operate large seafaring craft

Tracking: Trace and identify animal tracks

Weather Lore: Understand clouds and climatic patterns

Artisan Skills

The artisan field subsumes general familiarity with the fundamentals of designing, constructing, repairing, and analyzing man-made or man-modified objects and mechanisms. As skill level increases, the artisan acquires mastery of the design process, quality control, and material acquisition.

Sample crafts: Armorer, Bowyer/Fletcher, Blacksmith, Brewer, Calligrapher, Carpenter, Cook, Gemcutter, Jeweller, Mason, Miller, Painter, Potter, Sculptor, Tailor, Tanner, Tinker, Weaponer, Weaver.

Basic Skill Base TC Prereq
Simple Item Craft DEX C INT 8
Simple Item Repair DEX C INT 8
Advanced Skill Base TC Prereq
Complex Item Craft DEX C INT 10
Complex Item Repair DEX C INT 10
Engineering INT D INT 10
Lockpicking DEX D INT 8
Trap Building DEX D INT 6
Trap Disarming DEX D INT 6

Simple/Complex Item Craft: Once a design is obtained and the necessary materials are procured, the artisan does the work of actually building the project. If the necessary time exceeds a single session, then a skill roll should be made for each session until the work is complete.

Simple/Complex Item Repair: Broken items require troubleshooting skills that often have little to do with the knowledge of how something is designed. This skill is basically a troubleshooting and remedy skill. Repair both items made and the tools needed to make those items.

The Artisan Guilds

Artisan skills are typically protected secrets of families, clans, or guilds, depending on the society. Generally, as a guild increases in importance (i.e. the more money involved), it becomes more protective of its secrets and imposes more difficult requirements for joining.

Members of a guild are generically known as associates.

Requirements for Joining as an Apprentice:

Benefits of Membership:

As an apprentice, the character will learn a single craft by spending experience points in each of the craft's four skills as desired. A typical apprenticeship educates the apprentice at LR2. Most of the time is spent working.

Requirements for Promotion to Journeyman:

Requirements for Promotion to Master:

Requirements for Election to Guild Office:

Athlete Skills

Everyone has some ability to push their body to its limits. The athlete specializes in this, fine tuning the physical attributes of Strength, Endurance, and Agility. The athlete becomes intimately familiar with the internal dynamics of motion and the relationship of the body's movement to space and objects. Because of this, the level of knowledge as an Athlete can be used as an emergency Defense, but its use as such does not allow attack responses.

Basic Skill Base TC Prereq
Climbing STR X None
Jumping STR X None
Lifting STR X None
Running END X None
Sprinting STR X None
Throwing STR X None
Advanced Skill Base TC Prereq
Acrobatics AGL X None
Balance AGL X None
Swimming END X None

Acrobatics: Control self airborne or landing.

Balance: Walk a tightrope or narrow beam.

Climbing: Scale walls, trees, and other vertical surfaces.

Jumping: Propel self through the air.

Lifting: Use strength efficiently to elevate heavy loads.

Running: Move long distances at low to moderate speeds.

Sprinting: Move short distances at high speed.

Swimming: Move through water.

Throwing: Propel an object through the air.

Caregiver Skills

This field encompasses occupations that specialize in caring for people and animals — including feeding, raising, training, healing, and sexual relations. Caregiving fundamentals include sensitivity to the needs of others, observation and recognition of symptoms, and a practical approach toward matters that untrained people may find distasteful.

Basic Skill Base TC Prereq
Animal Husbandry CHR X INT 4
Animal Riding CHR X None
Farming INT D INT 6
First Aid DEX X INT 6
Massage DEX X INT 6
Service CHR X INT 8
Advanced Skill Base TC Prereq
Animal Training CHR X INT 4
Cures INT X INT 8
Surgery DEX X INT 8
Veterinary INT X INT 8

Animal Husbandry: Breed and raise animals.

Animal Riding: Ride animals in non-combat situations.

Animal Training: Train animals for riding, war, tricks.

Cures: Treat diseases.

Farming: Work the land like the peasant that you are.

First Aid: Treat superficial and minor wounds.

Lovecraft: Make love.

Massage: Treat aches, pains, and fatigue.

Service: Treat customers nice.

Surgery: Treat serious and critical wounds.

Veterinary: Treat animals medically.

Entertainer Skills

The skills of performing for an audience, presenting or packaging something in a way that alters its apparent reality, and in understanding the psychology of an audience that makes deception effective.

Entertainer skills are generally learned by attaching oneself to a personal tutor or mentor. The best way to learn them is through practical experience. Only minimal supervision is required, as feedback from the audience (or victim) comes swiftly, for better or worse. Therefore, the Entertainer may train his skills on his own at LR2. Periodic visits to a qualified mentor are still required to increase field rank.

Basic Skill Base TC Prereq
Acting CHR D INT 8
Camouflage DEX X INT 6
Conceal Item DEX X INT 6
Dance AGL X None
Disguise CHR D INT 6
Hiding END X INT 4
Juggling DEX D INT 8
Playing DEX X INT 8
Sneaking AGL X None
Song CHR X INT 8
Advanced Skill Base TC Prereq
Filching DEX C INT 8
Legerdemain DEX X INT 8
Storytelling INT X INT 8

Acting: Assume the role of a character.

Camouflage: Conceal yourself by using of blending materials.

Conceal Item: Disguise or conceal objects on yourself or in a place.

Dance: Move your rhythmically to music.

Disguise: Use stuff to assume a misleading appearance.

Filching: Pick pockets and cut purses.

Hiding: Conceal yourself through use of cover.

Juggling: Keep objects in the air by alternately tossing and catching them.

Legerdemain: Sleight of hand, prestidigitation.

Playing: Use a musical instrument.

Sneaking: Move silently.

Song: Sing.

Storytelling: Tell stories.

Fighter Skills

Fighting is the skill of the noble. It is the art of offense and defense in conflict. The Fighter rank itself serves as the character's basic Defense rating. Fighter rank also directly modifies initiative rolls in combat.

Entering the Fighter field means learning how to fight with skill and technique. A skilled fighter can deliver more damage, strike with greater accuracy, and expend less energy doing so. A skilled fighter can adapt many techniques across different weapons, and can pick up new weapons after some practice. A skilled fighter understands the proper use of body mechanics, strategy and tactics, timing and distance, and will have a growing bag of tricks (for recognizing opponent's intentions, not necessarily for using).

The table below summarizes combat benefits from fighter skills. Use the lower of either Fighter field rank or weapon skill level when determining the benefits. In a fight Defense is based on the Fighter field rank, not on any skill. Also note that Athlete field can be used as an emergency Defense, but forfeits attacks (and ends a flurry).

Rank ActionsDamage
Rank ActionsDamage
12+1-0 114+3-2
22+1-0 124+3-2
32+1-0 134+3-3
42+1-0 144+3-3
52+1-1 154+3-3
63+2-1 165+4-3
73+2-1 175+4-4
83+2-1 185+4-4
93+2-2 195+4-4
103+2-2 205+4-4

The art of combat requires constant physical training, practice with suitable partners, and attentive study under a competent master. Fighters are always trying new weapons, observing the techniques of others, and incorporating new techniques into their own styles. Fighting may be learned by taking an “apprenticeship” with an experience fighter, by joining a militia, by joining a fighting society (e.g., mercenary company, tribal fighting band, or gladiator pool), or by enrolling in a military academy.

Basic Skill Base TC Prereq
Archery DEX D INT 6
Blowgun DEX X INT 6
Boxing AGL X INT 6
Flexible Weapons AGL D INT 8
Knife Fighting AGL X INT 6
1-H Hacking Weapons AGL X INT 6
1-H Slashing Weapons AGL X
1-H Thrusting Weapons AGL D
Polearm AGL D
Shield AGL D
Sling DEX X
Spear AGL X
Staff AGL X
Throwing Blades DEX D
Throwing Darts DEX D
Throwing Tumblers DEX X
2-H Hacking Weapons AGL X
2-H Slashing Weapons AGL D
Wrestling AGL X None
Advanced Skill Base TC Prereq
Ambush INT X INT 4
Fast Draw DEX D None
Fleet Tactics INT D INT 10
Logistics INT C INT 10
Mounted Charge AGL X INT 6
Mounted Fighting AGL X INT 6
Off-Hand Fighting AGL X INT 6
Siegecraft INT C INT 10
Tactics INT X INT 10

Magician Skills

Knowledge and use of magic and psychic powers. The heart of magic is the use of rituals, so the magician's field rank determines the maximum number of rituals the magician may memorize at any time. This is equal to two times his field rank. See the Magic & Religion chapter for more information on memorizing rituals.

The magician field is taught by a master to a pupil on an individual basis or in a special school.

Basic Skill Base TC Prereq
Psychic Skills
Clairvoyance PER X INT 8
Telekinesis WIL X INT 8
Telepathy WIL X INT 8
Teleportation WIL X INT 8
Advanced Skill Base TC Prereq
Psychic Skills
Meditation WIL X INT 8
Scrying PER X INT 8
Spell Skills
Astrology INT X INT 10
Augury INT X INT 8
Potions INT X INT 10
Sortilege INT X INT 8
Spellcraft INT X INT 8
Talismans INT X INT 10
Ritual Skills
Abjuration WIL X INT 8
Binding WIL X INT 8
Evocation WIL X INT 8
Invocation INT X INT 8
Unbinding INT X INT 8

Astrology: Divination by star charts.

Abjuration: Compel a supernatural to disappear.

Augury: Interpret meaning of signs and portents.

Binding: Imprison a supernatural in an object.

Clairvoyance: See into the Astral Plane.

Evocation: Compel a supernatural to appear.

Invocation: Communicate with and channel spirits.

Meditation: Recover sanity and reduce fatigue.

Potions: Create a spell by cooking it.

Scrying: See afar with a crystal or mirrored surface.

Sortilege: Interpret meaning of cast lots.

Spellcraft: Fabricate magic with miscellaneous objects.

Talismans: Create a spell by writing out sigils and seals.

Telepathy: Detect feelings and thoughts.

Unbinding: Free a supernatural from captivity.

Magical Traditions

Tribal: The tribal magician is commonly known as a shaman or witchdoctor. Tribal magicians raise energy through singing and dancing, and make use of plant and animal parts. They may communicate with spirits, but do not conjure them.

Rural/Peasant: The village magician is solitary and illiterate, and yet is still considered a member of the community. Village magicians are commonly healers. They raise energy through incantation or song, and make use of plant and animal parts. They do not practice conjuration or the sicences, but may practice divination and herbalism.

Rural/Noble: Nobles who live in the country are literate, but their isolation from towns leads them to use both urban and peasant traditions. They raise energy through incantation or meditation, and make use of metals, plants, and animal parts. Rural noble magicians may practice conjuration, divination, and herbalism, but not the sciences.

Urban: The literate magicians of the towns are either noble or middle class. The urban tradition raises energy through incantation or meditation, and makes use of metals, gems, plants, and animal parts. Urban magician may practice conjuration, divination, and the magical sciences.

The aspiring magician will seek out a teacher or venture into researching written works, although some gifted individuals discover and develop their psychic abilities completely on their own. Here are some places where an individual might learn to practice magic:

Merchant Skills

The Merchant symbolizes the effective personal communicator. Merchant skills are like personal combat with words and ideas. Fundamentals of this field include persuasion, supply and demand, diplomacy, compromise, and an intuitive understanding of game theory applied to a social context.

Basic Skill Base TC Prereq
Bargaining CHR B INT 9
Bribery CHR D INT 8
Carousing CHR D INT 8
Etiquette INT C INT 8
Gambling INT D INT 8
Interrogation CHR X INT 9
Liaison CHR X INT 9
Persuasion CHR X INT 9
Seduction CHR X INT 9
Speak Language CHR X INT 8
Streetwise CHR B INT 8
Advanced Skill Base TC Prereq
Administration INT D INT 10
Interview INT B INT 9

Administration: Oversee lands and business.

Bargaining: Haggle; make a deal when buying or selling stuff.

Bribery: Exchange gifts or money for unethical favors.

Carousing: Drink and revel.

Etiquette: Act in polite society.

Gambling: Play games.

Interrogation: Get information from people by being mean.

Interview: Get information from people by being polite.

Liaison: Communicate with people nicely.

Persuasion: Argue a point with rhetoric.

Seduction: Get someone into bed.

Streetwise: Survive in the urban environment.

The Guild Merchant

The most powerful guild in a town is the Guild Merchant. It consists of the town's wealthiest individuals who monopolize trade and often control the government. Not every town will have a Guild Merchant, but the largest trade centers will.

Scholar Skills

The knowledge possessed by thinkers and men of learning. The scholar field subsumes an understanding of critical thinking, the research process, and the organization of information.

The following table describes language skills, but may also be useful for describing the ability to communicate ideas encompassed by other skills.

01-03RecognitionCan't speak the language, but can recognize it when it is spoken.
04-05SimpleKnows a few words and phrases.
06-08BasicKnows enough to get by and can follow conversations when spoken simply.
09-10BrokenCan engage in conversation with a thick foreign or dialectic accent (if applicable), but must pause often for clarification.
11-15ConversationalCan carry on normal conversations, though with a noticeable accent or occasional grammatical errors.
16-20NativeSpeaks with native accent.

The scholar skill is taught via a personal tutor or in a University.

Basic Skill Base TC Prereq
Counting INT D INT 8
Customs INT X INT 8
Observation INT X INT 8
Research INT C INT 10
Advanced Skill Base TC Prereq
Astronomy INT X INT 10
Chemistry INT C INT 10
Folklore INT X INT 8
Herbalism INT X INT 10
History INT C INT 10
Investigation INT X INT 10
Law INT D INT 10
Literacy INT X INT 10
Mineralogy INT X INT 10
Music INT X INT 10
Religion INT X INT 8

Astronomy: Celestial bodies.

Chemistry: Analysis and synthesis of drugs, potions, and poisons.

Counting: Enumeration and basic mathematics.

Customs: Habits and practices of a particular culture.

Engineering: Designing public works and fortifications.

Folklore: Traditions and legends of a particular culture.

Herbalism: Identification and use of plants.

History: Study of past events.

Investigation: Examination of evidence and acquisition of information.

Law: Knowledge of legal procedures.

Literacy: Reading, writing, and basic literacy.

Mineralogy: Study of rocks.

Music: Study and composition of songs.

Observation: Learning through seeing.

Religion: Knowledge of the gods.

Research: Finding or uncovering information.

The Universities

Medieval universities taught theology, law, medicine, and the seven liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric, and logic which comprised the trivium; and arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy which comprised the quadirivium.

Guild of Masters: A university might be thought of as a guild of master scholars, organized to provide education to paying students.

Student Associations: Some societies have students organized into guilds, whose purpose is to hire teachers for instruction. Such associations may be powerful enough to create or ruin a school, whether literal physical existence or reputation.

Last modified Thu, Jan 13, 2005
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