ARRGS – Skills

Skills are how characters interact with the world. There are innumerable skills, too many to list, that cover everything from hunting to programming a robot, the skills have been grouped into broad categories that should cover the needs of most games.

Each Skill has an ability score associated with it which determines a person’s natural talent for such a skill without any further development. Each skill also has a number of areas of expertise which can only be used if a character has special training in that skill.

Using a skill requires a skill check of some sort ( with the addition of modifiers to determine the final check result which is compared to the Difficulty Class required to determine the degree of success or failure of the skill check.

Using Skills

In order to use a skill one must first perform a Skill Check to determine if the use of that skill is successful.

The formula for a Skill Check is as follows.

Skill Check: Check (1d20 or 10) + Skill + Ability Bonus + Inherent modifier, + Augmented modifier, + Assisted modifier, + Magic modifier, + Tech modifier, + Size modifier, + Circumstance modifiers, – Check penalty

A Skill Check uses a 1d20 roll plus modifiers if it is used as an Action, i.e. the character in question indicates he is actively using the Skill in question. A Skill Check uses a base value of 10 plus modifiers if it is used in a passive or reactive fashion, i.e. the Character instinctively reads a noticeboard he passes by without realising it.

Difficulty Class (DC): The Difficulty Class of any check is the target result that a Skill Check must equal or exceed. For each point the Check result is greater or less than the DC increase or decrease the Success Value by the same amount.

Success Value (SV): Every successful Skill Check achieves a base Success Value of 5. This value measures a rate of achievement particular to the skill in question, for example when using Stealth the SV equates to the number of squares a character can move while stealthed, when using Tinker it equates to the progress made picking a lock or disarming a trap.

For each point the Check Result is higher or lower than the target DC, increase or decrease the Success Value by the same amount.

Completion Criteria: Some skills are binary in that they either succeed or fail, such as recalling a piece of information. Such uses of skills take a very short amount of time and are fairly simple tasks. Other skills are very complex or time consuming and can be completed with lots of attempts over an extended period of time. In order to account for both scenarios a skill has a Completion Criteria that is decided by the GM when designing the Scene.

A Completion Criteria is a numeric value that the sum total of Success Values made over a period of time (or in one go) must exceed for the task to be completed.

For one shot skill attempts the Completion Criteria should be fairly small, (5 or less) unless the GM wants to make the task particularly difficult. For movement related Skill checks the Completion Criteria might equal the number of squares to be moved or the number of feet to be jumped.

For more complex or lengthy skill attempts the GM can select a Completion Criteria that takes as much time as they desire for the Scene and add in events at particular intervals. For example a Scene might require a door lock to be picked which has a Completion Criteria of 20 which would take on average 4 attempts to complete, with a potential interruption from the guards on the 4th turn that can be bypassed if they complete the task early. Knowledge Skill checks to research information or Linguistics Skill checks to translate a passage could take a lengthy amount of time lasting several days, as could Craft Skill checks to make certain items, and the Completion Criteria values for these could be in the hundreds. Such lengthy checks could involve support from other characters and multiple characters involved in the Scene to speed up the attempt.

Knowledge Skill Check: Every Skill can be used to recall knowledge and information about subjects relating to that skill. Recalling information usually only requires 1 Action Point to perform the task. See the separate Knowledge Skill for more information.

Failing Skills: Failing a skill check is a common event in the course of a scene, an adventure, or a campaign. Failing a skill check of any kind should have consequences, but should not prevent progress in the overall adventure/campaign.

In combat the consequence of failing an Attack or Defence check is obvious in that they miss an opponent or fail to resist an attack and will likely incur damage as a result.

During non combat scenes failing a check can mean the difference between life and death or even the failure to continue with the adventure.

Imagine climbing a cliff and failing one of a series of skill checks, the easy result would be for the character to fall, however that would mean certain death and the end of the game for that character. Instead failure should mean the character stumbles and loses his move that turn, a greater fail could a character falls a short distance before catching themselves but incurs a loss of vitality in the process (or worse suffers a serious injury and is dying).

A locked door that a character fails to open can easily prevent a party from progressing further (unless they possess other means to knock down the door), instead a failed skill check could result in the character setting off a number of traps or alerting their presence to nearby guards.

In general, a failed skill check should result in a measured negative consequence as determined by the GM. Severe negative consequences should be limited to the end game Scene only when dealing with the final obstacle or enemy.

Switching Skills: There is a lot of overlap between skills that may occur during the infinite combination of circumstances that may happen during a campaign. For example the Linguistics skill may overlap with the Arcana skill when a character tries to decipher magical runes written in another magical language. The character in question could use his Arcana skill or his Linguistics skill, but the DC modifiers used by the GM to construct the target DC could come from either skill.

Similar overlap exists between Arcana and Nature when harvesting reagents from a particular type of creature. The Knowledge skill overlaps with every skill in that it can be used to provide knowledge on any subject (or skill) and being trained in any skill provides a level of knowledge about that subject.

A GM may use DC modifiers from any skill to construct the target DC for a skill check. A character may use any skill modifier for a skill check if the GM agrees. The skills and their modifiers are only guides to the construction of skill checks.

Criticals: Any check that achieves a natural, unmodified roll within the Critical Range of that check may perform another check roll against the same target DC.

The character may add the Success Value again and it is increased or decreased depending upon how much greater or lower the Check Result is than the target DC.

If this second check roll is also a natural unmodified result within the Critical Range then repeat the process again.

Critical Range: The Critical Range of any check is by default a natural 20 on a 1d20 dice roll. This Critical Range can be modified by Options, Magic, and Equipment, for instance many weapons have a greater Critical Range (19-20).

Skills in Combat

Many of the Skills detailed below are used during a Combat Scene for similar tasks. Combat and Skill Scenes use the same rules for Skills, first roll the Skill Check then determine the Success Value.

Skills Template

Expertise: Some skills are split into particular areas of specialism. Possessing training in the skill but not in a particular area of Expertise does not allow for equal utility in all areas of that skill. In game terms a character with a Skill Training Option but without the required area of Expertise relative to the activity (appraising artwork) may only apply half the modifier from his Skill Training Options to the Skill Check.

Synergy: Some skills increase a character’s ability to use other skills, granting an Assisted modifier depending upon how many Skill Training Options are obtained for that skill. Where indicated by the Synergy detail, a character gains a +1 Assisted modifier to the indicated skill check for every 5 Skill Training Options he possesses in this skill.

Action Points: Skill checks require different numbers of Action Points to perform depending upon the situation. In a non combat Scene Action Points may not have any relevance but do give an indication of how much effort is involved and how long it takes to perform a task.

DC: The DC is the target score required by a skill check in order to achieve a measure of success, this result can be modified by a number of external factors.

Below are some example target DCs

DC 10 – The default DC for any skill check, a task of this difficulty should be achievable by your average person without any thought or effort required (i.e. a passive Reaction check will be enough to achieve success)

DC 15 – A task of this difficulty should require some training or considerable luck for the average man to perform, such as swimming several metres, picking a lock, reading a sentence in a foreign language, identifying a strange herb, etc. It should be possible for the average person to complete a task of this nature if trained or if lucky, but not with guaranteed success.

DC 20 – A task of this difficulty should only be possible if performed by an expert with years of training and study or to an extremely lucky individual. Examples include translating for a foreign speaker, disarming a complex trap, performing an acrobatic display.

DC 30 – A task of this difficulty should only be possible if performed by a master who has devoted his life to a single pursuit. Examples include balancing upon a wire, climbing a cliff face, translating a previously unknown language without any experience of it.

DC 50 – A task of this difficulty should be almost impossible for a typical person to perform no matter how much training or time is devoted to it, only the truly exceptional should even attempt this and even then will require considerable assistance (magical or otherwise). Examples include leaping a chasm, walking on water, sprinting for many miles, picking a lock with both arms tied behind his back.

DC 100 – A task of this difficulty should be possible only if performed by a divine being. Examples include walking on a cloud, squeezing through a wall of force, speaking to the dead.

DC Modifiers: A character’s skill check result can only be modified by his own abilities, or the assistance from his allies, or by the magical or equipment based enhancements he possesses, or lastly by favourable circumstances. The DC (Difficulty Class) required to achieve success in the skill check is determined by the nature of the check performed and how inherently difficult such a task may be with other modifiers relating to environment and other factors.

Each skill check will list the suggested DC modifiers relating to the difficulty of actions to be performed and what factors may modify that DC. As always the GM is the final arbiter in determining the DC of a skill check.

Success: This details what happens if you succeed at a Skill Check

Trained Only: The Trained Only label indicates that only a character possessing the Skill Training Option for this skill may perform this particular skill check with any chance of success.

Retry: It is possible to retry a skill check again and again until success is all but guaranteed. Such a situation may only occur if there is no consequence to failing the skill check, and the skill check does not take a significant amount of time (greater than 1 minute) – unless the character is willing to devote days to accomplishing the task. As a minimum skill check can be retried a minimum of once per character’s turn.

The option to retry a skill check until successful is up to the GM but if allowed assume that the skill check result was 20 (no Critical allowed) and if this is enough to achieve success then the check is successful. The time taken to retry the task until successful is a minimum of 1 hour and cannot be achieved if interrupted in any way.

Special: Most skills have special rules that are detailed here.

Athletics (Bod)

The Athletics skill encompasses a range of activities involving a degree of physical skill, this can involve running, climbing, jumping, swimming, dodging, etc.
A general acrobatics check involves usually involves moving in a graceful manner, maintaining balance, posture, avoiding obstacles or attacks or some other acrobatic feat such as swinging from a chandelier or sliding down a stair banister, etc.

Expertise: Acrobatics, Climbing, Flying, Swimming, 

Synergy: +1 Assisted modifier to Discipline, Stealth, and Thievery for every 5 Skill Training Options in the Athletics skill.

Action Points: Usually 1. Most Athletics checks involve movement of some kind and so require only 1 Action Point to run, or jump, or climb, or squeeze.

Some uses of the Athletics Skill are Complementary Actions and so do not use any Action Points by themselves (instead being used as part of another action). Other uses of the Athletics Skill can be turned into Swift or Immediate Actions (for a higher DC) in which case they require the use of an equivalent number of Additional Action Points instead of Action Points.

Example Uses: Jump, Climb, Escape a restraint, Catch yourself when falling, Free stand, Rappel, Safe fall, Squeeze through a gap, Tumble through occupied space

Example DCs

Example TaskBase DC
Run10
Jump10
Swim15

DC Modifiers:

Example CircumstanceDC Modifier
Per threatened square passed through+1
Per square of obstructed terrain passed through, per square occupied by enemy passed through+1
Per square of Light obstruction (scree, gravel, light rubble), slippery surface (wet floor), sloped surface passed through+1
Severe obstruction (dense rubble, natural cave floor), severely slippery surface (ice)+5
Check performed as a Swift Action+10
Check performed as an Immediate Action+20
Per square less than 12 inches wide passed through+1
Passing through or grabbing a moving surface (slight, rough, heaving, earthquake)+5 per category
Climbing with handholds-1 per handhold
Climbing with ledges large enough to allow a man to stand-5 per ledge
Climbing a perfectly smooth surface+15

Success Value: Base Success Value of 5. This value may indicate the amount of feet jumped or the number of squares moved or an arbitrary value used to determine the completion of an acrobatic feat (swinging from a chandelier or somersaulting over an enemy).

Achieving success in an Athletics skill check allows the player to complete or partially complete whatever task they were attempting (jumping a gap, climbing part of a cliff, squeezing partway through a gap). If a movement related check is partially completed, then the character moves an amount relative to the Success Value

Reflex Defence Checks: A Reflex Defence check is in practice just an Athletics skill check and subject to all the modifiers and restrictions that affect other skill checks, typically most Defence checks are Reaction checks (although persistent effects of extended duration – such as a binding spell – may allow the target to perform action Defence checks to escape its effects).

Retry: A character can retry an Athletics skill check as long as he is able to, he cannot however normally retry an Athletics skill check until success is achieved because failing an Athletics skill check usually has negative consequences to failure such as falling off a wall or failing to jump a chasm.

Special: Performing an Athletics check generally does not provoke an Opportunity Action from anyone whose threatened area the character passes through, as the check itself is graceful and dexterous and allows a character to naturally dodge any incoming attacks.

Performing an Athletics skill check is part of any reflex Defence, or Movement related check while in combat, in which case use the details in the Combat section to determine DC)

Appraise (Int)

The Appraise skill encompasses the valuation and identification of items.

Expertise: Jewellery, Trade Goods, Art, Magic, Technology (by era), Currency

Synergy: None

Action Points: 2

Example Uses: Identify magic properties, Appraise an item’s value, Appraise creature properties

Example DCs

Example TaskBase DC
Appraise an Item or creature10

DC Modifiers

Example CircumstanceDC Modifier
Item or creature is commonly available+0
Item or creature is rare (specialist item or equipment, precious metals, gemstones, artwork, fine jewellery, all magic items are at least rare)+5
Item or creature is exotic and not found in certain regions (note, familiarity in this exotic region may reduce this category to rare)+10
Item or creature is unique (royal regalia, unique magical items+15
Item or creature is unknown or is an artefact (has only ever been encountered by a handful of people in the Multiverse)+20
For every 10 items in the collection being appraised (not including coins)+1
Per item or magical property the item or item possesses+1
Per Option the creature possesses+1

Retry: A character may retry an Appraise check as often as possible.

Special: The GM may require that a character have access to a library or or significant amount of resources to perform an appraisal of an item or monster depending upon the rarity of the item or monster.

Arcana (Int)

Arcana is the skill through which wizards and sorcerers and practitioners of arcane magic manipulate the magical energies that surround them.

Using the Arcana skill a character can cast a spell, imbue magical properties into an item.

Expertise: Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, Transmutation

Synergy: None

Action Points: 2

Example Uses: Identify magic properties, Decipher arcane script, Draw arcane runes, Activate magic device without knowing what it does, Emulating requirements for a magic device or effect, Enchant an item, Ritual casting, Appraise creature properties (Dragon, Magical Beast, Outsider, Aberration, Construct)

Example DCs

Example TaskDC
Appraise an item, creature, or spell (see Appraise skill)10
Cast a spell or ritual10
Imbue an item with magical properties15
Emulate an Option to use a magic item15
Decipher or write in magical runes (see Linguistics skill)10
Use magical item10
Harvest reagents10

DC Modifiers

Example CircumstanceDC Modifier
per spell level+1
per additional school of magic+5
per Rarity category (Rare, Exotic, Unique, Unknown / Artefact)+5
per Magical property+5
As a Swift Action+10
As an Immediate Action+20

Retry: Yes, although reagents or spells may be consumed during the casting which makes retrying certain tasks difficult.

Special: Performing an Arcana skill check provokes Opportunity Actions.

The GM may require that a character have access to a library or or significant amount of resources to perform an Arcana check.

Craft (Int)

Craft is the skill of making and manufacturing items using raw materials to produce crafted goods. It can also be used to repair damaged, broken, or destroyed items or even modify and augment existing items.

Craft cannot be used in combat, typically a check can be used once per non combat Scene.

Expertise: Alchemy, Armoursmithing, Artistry, Basketweaving, Bookbinding, Bowmaking, Blacksmithing, Calligraphy, Carpentry, Cobbling, Gemcutting, Leatherworking, Locksmithing, Painting, Poisonmaking, Pottery, Sculpting, Shipmaking, Siege Engine, Stonemasonry, Trapmaking, Weaponsmithing, Weaving.

Synergy: +1 Assisted modifier to Appraise for every 5 Skill Training Options in the Craft skill.

Action Points: It is not possible to use the Craft skill in combat so any measure of Action Points to complete a task is meaningless. Crafting an item takes a significant amount of time and usually comes with a large Progress Completion target

Example DCs

Example TaskDC
Craft an item10
Repair an item5

DC Modifiers

Example CircumstanceDC Modifier
Item is of greater or lesser technology level than character (Stone Age, Medieval Age, Industrial Age, Space Age, Computer Age, Fusion Age, Interstellar Age (I, II, III, IV, etc)+/- 10 per Age
Item has the Broken condition+5
Item has the Destroyed condition+10
Item has special property+5 per property

Retry: A Craft skill check can be retried as often as desired, but each a failed check may ruin the item being crafted and any progress made towards its completion.

Special: Performing a Craft skill check provokes Opportunity Actions, but as the check cannot be performed in combat this event is unlikely to occur.

Discipline (Per)

Discipline is the process of mentally preparing yourself for a mental or physical task at hand. By organising and controlling your thoughts your mind and body are better prepared.

Expertise: None

Synergy: +1 Assisted modifier to Athletics for every 5 Skill Training Options in the Discipline skill.

Action Points: 1

Example Uses: Concentration when spellcasting is disrupted, Controlling voluntary or involuntary shapechange (lycanthropy), Resist a Willpower related spell effect.

Example DCs:

Example TaskBase DC
Concentration10
Control Shape15

DC Modifiers

Example CircumstanceDC Modifier
Per point of damage inflicted during spellcasting+1
Movement related disruption during spellcasting+5 per category (slight, rough, heaving, earthquake)
Size change+5 per size category
Creature Type change+5

Success Value: Base Success Value of 5. This value may indicate the amount of damage resistance applied when resisting a spell effect. 

Achieving success with a Discipline skill check allows the character to complete the casting of a spell despite distraction or injury, it could also allow a character to complete or resist a transformation to another shape. In both instances the result is usually a binary result (either it succeeds or it does not), but undergoing a transformation could take a prolonged period of time with grotesque results in between.

Willpower Defence Checks: A Willpower Defence check is in practice just a Discipline skill check and subject to all the modifiers and restrictions that affect other skill checks, typically most Defence checks are Reaction checks (although persistent effects of extended duration – such as a charm spell – may allow the target to perform action Defence checks to escape its effects).

Retry: A character can retry an Discipline skill check as long as he is able to.

Special: Performing a Discipline check generally does not provoke an Opportunity Action as it is a mental activity that takes place within a short span of time. Longer activities that require prolonged bouts of concentration may provoke Opportunity Actions.

Performing a Discipline skill check as part of any Willpower Defence or other check while in combat uses the details in the Combat section to determine DC.

Influence (Per)

Influence is the act of affecting the opinions and thoughts of others. Through the use of threats, lies, and negotiation you are able to sway others into behaving as you would prefer.

Expertise: Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Forgery, Intimidate

Synergy: +1 Assisted modifier to Thievery for every 5 Skill Training Options in the Influence skill.

Action Points: 2

Example Uses: Bluff, Haggle, Disguise, Forgery, Obscure thoughts, Diplomacy, Rally allies, Demoralise foes, Gather information or resources, Encode a conversation or writing, Emulating requirements for a magic device or effect.

Example DCs:

Example Taskbase DC
Influence another10

DC Modifiers:

example circumstancedc modifier
Per 5 points of disposition of the NPC (if disposition is +ve then modifier is -ve and vice versa)+/- 1
Target is of a different type+5
Per Intellect of target (higher or lower intellect target’s make influencing them more difficult)+1

Success Value: Base Success Value of 5. For influencing an NPC, this value represents the change in the target’s disposition. If intimidation or lies are used to influence an NPC then this change is temporary and may be followed by a corresponding negative change.

NPCs and monsters have a range of disposition from -100 to +100 which correspond to a variety of attitudes; Murderous (-100 to 70), Hostile (-69 to -40, Unfriendly (-39 to -10), Indifferent (-9 to +9), Friendly (+10 to +39), Helpful (+40 to +69), Fanatic (+70 to +100)

Achieving success with an Influence skill check allows the character to positively influence the disposition of an NPC or NPCs, or allow the character to disguise or obfuscate some part of themselves.

Retry: A character can retry an Influence skill check as long as he is able to.

Special: Performing an Influence check generally does not provoke an Opportunity Action as it involves conversation and interaction with other individuals and is not normally be performed in combat.

Knowledge (Int)

Influence is the act of affecting the opinions and thoughts of others. Through the use of threats, lies, and negotiation you are able to sway others into behaving as you would prefer.

Expertise: Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Forgery, Intimidate

Synergy: +1 Assisted modifier to Thievery for every 5 Skill Training Options in the Influence skill.

Action Points: 2

Example Uses: Bluff, Haggle, Disguise, Forgery, Obscure thoughts, Diplomacy, Rally allies, Demoralise foes, Gather information or resources, Encode a conversation or writing, Emulating requirements for a magic device or effect.

Example DCs:

Example TaskBase DC

DC Modifiers

Example CIrcumstancedc modifier

Success Value: Base Success Value of 5. For influencing an NPC, this value represents the change in the target’s disposition. If intimidation or lies are used to influence an NPC then this change is temporary and may be followed by a corresponding negative change.

NPCs and monsters have a range of disposition from -100 to +100 which correspond to a variety of attitudes; Murderous (-100 to 70), Hostile (-69 to -40, Unfriendly (-39 to -10), Indifferent (-9 to +9), Friendly (+10 to +39), Helpful (+40 to +69), Fanatic (+70 to +100)

Achieving success with an Influence skill check allows the character to positively influence the disposition of an NPC or NPCs, or allow the character to disguise or obfuscate some part of themselves.

Retry: A character can retry an Influence skill check as long as he is able to.

Special: Performing an Influence check generally does not provoke an Opportunity Action as it involves conversation and interaction with other individuals and is not normally be performed in combat.

Linguistics

Medicine

Nature

Perform

Profession

Religion

Ride

Stealth

Thievery

Tinker

Weaponry, Melee

Weaponry, Missile

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