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 perform a skill one must first perform a Skill Check to determine if they are successful, then as with all Skill Checks, a supplementary roll must be performed to determine the measure of success (in combat that supplementary roll is usually a damage dice)

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.

Progress Rolls: Once a Skill Check is successful it remains for the amount of progress to be determined, some tasks to be performed are so small that they can be achieved in a single check, others require effort and dedication over a longer period to achieve success.

A Progress Roll is the supplementary roll after each Skill Check which is used to reduce the Progress Completion of the Skill (as determined by the GM). In combat the Progress Roll is the Damage Roll used to reduce the Vitality of an individual. For Skill Scenes it is possible that the Progress Completion is the Vitality of an individual, but it is equally possible that the Progress Completion is an arbitrary value decided by the GM based upon the perceived difficulty of the task.

By default the formula for a Progress Roll is as follows:

1d4 + Skill + Ability Bonus + Inherent modifier, + Augmented modifier, + Assisted modifier, + Magic modifier, + Tech modifier, + Size modifier, + Circumstance modifiers, – Check penalty

The modifiers and penalties used for the Progress Roll are the same as those used for the Skill Check.

Reduce the Progress Completion value by the Progress Roll result. Progress Completion is reduced to 0 or less then the task is complete.

Some Skills are single use only, requiring a character to achieve 100% Progress Completion in a single Progress Roll (the value of the Progress Roll plus all the modifiers must be equal to or greater than the Progress Completion value). A character may fail to perform these Skills if his Skill Check is lower than the DC (indicating he failed to attempt the Skill), or he may fail to perform it if his Progress Roll is lower than the Progress Completion value, in which case he partially completes the task.

For tasks with a large Progress Completion, reduce the value by each Progress Roll result until it reaches zero at which point the task is complete, or until the time runs out in which case the task has ultimately failed after a long period of time.

The average Progress Completion is 5 for a typical task that everyone can perform; jump half your height, climb a wall equal to your height, balance across a beam, swim a few feet.

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 but the Progress Completion can be large depending upon the complexity of the information required. 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 skill 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 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 occur 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, Atheltics and Acrobatics overlap a lot due to the similar nature of the skills. 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 achieve critical success. The character must first perform a Critical Confirmation roll which is another Skill Check (with the same modifiers), if the Critical Confirmation roll achieves success then the character gains the Critical Bonus, if the Critical Confirmation roll is within the Critical Range then the character gains the Critical Bonus and may attempt another Critical Confirmation roll to gain another Critical Bonus.
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).
Any time a check is rolled, if the natural result (before any modifiers) is within the Critical Range, then the character must roll a Critical Confirmation check which, if successful, grants a Critical Bonus to the character.
Critical Bonus: A Critical Bonus is obtained by achieving critical success on a check. The Critical Bonus is a 1d6 (this can be increased or decreased by other effects such as Options and Magic) which may be applied to any one supplementary roll related to the check being performed that achieved critical success. A supplementary roll could be the damage roll made after a successful Attack check, or the Progress Roll of a Skill. 

Optional Rule – Degrees of Success
Optional Rule – Degrees of Success
All skill checks have varying degrees of success or failure, both major and minor. To achieve a minor success a skill check result must be equal to or greater than the DC by up to 10 points, a minor failure occurs when the skill check result is less than the DC by up to 10 points. To achieve a major success the skill check result must be greater than the DC by 10 points or more, a major failure occurs when the skill check result is less than the DC by 10 points or more.
The individual skill check determines the results of major and minor success or failure, although the GM is free to determine their own consequences for success and failure. If the GM does not wish to use this optional rule then use the results of a minor success for every check result that exceeds the DC, and use the results of a major failure for every check result less than the DC.

Skills in Combat

Many of the Skills detailed below are used during a Combat Scene for similar tasks. Combat and Skill Scene use the same rules for Skills, first roll the Skill Check, then perform the Progress Roll (in Combat this is more likely a Damage Roll), however due to the itemised nature of Combat a Progress Roll is often not required for activities like Defence (which is a success or fail check), or Movement (which has progress controlled by the number of squares a character can move).

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 Skill Training 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 and the Progress Roll.

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 success, this result can be modified by a number of external factors.

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 but general categories of DC are below.

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

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.

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.

Untrained: A character is considered Untrained in a skill if he does not possess the Skill Training Option for that particular skill.

Untrained characters may not be able to perform the full range of skill checks available as they will be restricted from using any skill check with the Trained Only label.

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 (minor success only). 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.

Acrobatics (Dex)

The Acrobatics skill encompasses  the finesse and speed of movement, and includes such actions as jumping, fighting, dodging, flying, 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: None

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

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

Some uses of the Acrobatics 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 Acrobatics 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 DCs

Example TaskBase DC
Jump half your height10
Climb a slope (angle 45 degrees or less)10
Climb a vertical surface15
Climb a horizontal surface (above you)20
Catch yourself when falling20
Escape a restraintVaries depending upon the method of restraint (eg manacles or rope binding depends upon the Thievery skill of the binder, magical bindings are equal to the magic related skill of the caster.
Free Stand (allows a character to stand from prone as a Complementary Action instead of the normal Move Action)25
Rappel down a slope10
Safe Fall (reduce falling damage by 1d6)15
Squeeze through a gap10
Squeeze through a solid wall30
Squeeze through a wall of force50

DC Modifiers:

Example CircumstanceDC Modifier
Per square of movement+1
Per threatened square passed through+2
Per square of obstructed terrain passed through, per square occupied by enemy passed through+2
Light obstruction (scree, gravel, light rubble), slippery surface (wet floor), sloped surface+2
Severe obstruction (dense rubble, natural cave floor), severely slippery surface (ice)+5
Acrobatics check performed as a Swift Action+10
Acrobatics check performed as an Immediate Action+20
Move across or grab a surface less than 12 inches wide+1 per inch less than 12
Move across or grab a moving surface (slight, rough, heaving, quake)+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

Progress Completion

Example TaskValue
Jumping, Moving, Climbing, Squeezing, FallingEqual to distance
Escape a restraintEqual to Vitality of restraint

Success: Achieving success in an Acrobatic Skill Check allows the player to complete or partially complete (depending upon the Progress Completion) 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 Progress Completion.

Minor Failure: Suffering a minor failure with an Acrobatics skill check results in the character provoking Opportunity Actions from every threatened square the character occupies or passes through. The character suffers 1 point of damage from the failed manoeuvre and if struck by an  attack from an Opportunity Action then his movement ends in the nearest empty space. The character may otherwise roll his Progress Roll as normal.

Major Failure: Suffering a major failure with an Acrobatics skill check results in the character failing to perform the specified action. The character suffers at least 1d6 damage from stumbling or otherwise injuring himself, if he is attempting to climb or jump then the character may fall partway through the attempt (but only if such a result does not kill the character outright). The character may not perform the Progress Roll.

Reflex Defence Checks: A Reflex Defence check is in practice just an Acrobatics skill check and subject to all the modifiers and restrictions that affect other skill checks, typically most Defence checks are Reaction checks and the DC is determined by the attack (although persistent attacks of extended duration – such as a binding spell – may allow the target Action Defence checks to escape its effects). To perform a Reflex Defence check determine the check result as normal for a skill check. Success or failure results are typically determined by the attack.

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

Special: Performing an Acrobatics check generally does not provoke an Opportunity Action from anyone whose threatened area the character passes through (unless he suffers a minor or major failure), as the check itself is graceful and dexterous and allows a character to naturally dodge any incoming attacks.

Performing an Acrobatics Skills Check is part 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

The Appraise skill encompasses the valuation and identification of items.

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

Synergy: None

Action Points: 2

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)+10
Item or creature is exotic and not found in certain regions (note, familiarity in this exotic region may reduce this category to rare)+20
Item or creature is unique (royal regalia, unique magical items+40
Item or creature is unknown or is an artefact (has only ever been encountered by a handful of people in the Multiverse)+50
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

Progress Completion

Example TaskValue
Appraise an itemEqual to 5 per rarity category, plus 1 per monetary unit (cp, sp, or gp)
Appraise a creatureEqual to 5 per rarity category, plus 1 per Vitality point

Success: Achieving success in an Appraise Skill Check allows the player to complete or partially complete (depending upon the Progress Completion) whatever task they were attempting. Once the task is completed the character is able to estimate an items value to within 1d10 percent of its actual cost price. In addition the character may learn 1d6 Options, Vulnerabilities, Resistances that the item or creature possesses, chosen at random by the GM.

If the task is only partially partially completed then the GM may allow the character to determine the cost to within 1d10+ 1 per point of Progress Completion value remaining.

Minor Failure: A minor failure check result with an Appraise skill check means that the character adds 2d20+10 to the final cost estimate (in addition to the 1d10 percent from achieving a final success). The character also incorrectly learns an additional +1 Option, Vulnerability, or Resistance that the item or creature possesses but this is a false piece of information chosen by the GM. Keep these final additions secret until the task is completed successfully. The character may perform a Progress Roll as normal.

Major Failure: A major failure check result with an Appraise skill check means that the character adds 1d100+100 to the final cost estimate (in addition to the 1d10 percent from achieving a final successful completion of the task plus any additional failures). The character also incorrectly learns an additional 1d6 Options, Vulnerabilities, or Resistances that the item or creature possesses but these are false pieces of information chosen by the GM. Keep these final additions secret until the task is completed successfully. The character may not perform a Progress Roll as a result of a Major Failure.

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

Synergy: None

Action Points: 2

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 and write in magical runes (see Linguistics skill)10
Use magical item10
Harvest reagents10

DC Modifiers

Example CircumstanceDC Modifier
per spell level+2
per school of magic+5
per Rarity category (Rare, Exotic, Unique, Unknown+5
per Magical property+5
As a Swift Action+10
As an Immediate Action+20

Progress Completion

Example TaskValue
Cast a spellEqual to spell level
Perform a RitualEqual to cost in gp
Enchant an ItemEqual to cost in gp
Harvest ReagentsEqual to Vitality of creature

Success: Achieving success on an Arcana Skill Check allows the player to complete or partially complete (depending upon the Progress Completion) whatever task they were attempting to perform. If the character is casting a spell then the Progress Roll is normally a Damage Roll.

Once the task is completed (Progress Completion is 0), then the spell or ritual is cast, the magic item is created, or the reagents are harvested.

Minor Failure: A minor failure check result means that the character makes no progress in their task, be that casting a spell or ritual, or enchanting a magic item.

Major Failure: A minor failure check result means that the character suffers 1d6 points of damage as a result of the added stress as well as making a serious mistake in whatever activity they were attempting to perform. If casting a spell or a ritual then the magic misfires and has some random consequences (roll on the wild magic table). If attempting to decipher or write in magic runes then they incorrectly do so and misinterpret or miscommunicate the meaning. If attempting to harvest reagents then the reagent in question is ruined. If crafting a magic item then the item is ruined or a different magical property is added to the item (it could even be a cursed property)

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

Special:

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

Progress Completion

Example TaskValue
Craft, Repair, or Modify an item+1 per sp

Success:  

Minor Failure: 

Major Failure: 

Retry: 

Special: 

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