6. Basic Skills

For most relatively modern settings, the following list of skills will nicely supplement occupations for rounding out characters’ abilities, though specific settings may require some modification—at the game host’s discretion.

Note that an occupation might well include one or more of these skills without the character specifically listing them. For example, a race car driver would be able to drive an auto without specifically owning the “Vehicle” skill. Even an auto mechanic would likely be able to drive.

  • Athletics: For purposes of these rules, the term “athletics” includes running, jumping, and feats of balance by a physically fit person. As a profession, athlete would fall under Performer and would mean Olympic-level abilities.
  • Bargaining: From finding the best value online, to haggling in an Old World marketplace, to negotiating employment details, this skill covers them all.
  • Computers: This is basic computer operation, though perhaps with some secrets like “hot keys” and “task bar” manipulation. Computer programming, repair, and hacking are occupations with much deeper knowledge.
  • First Aid: More than applying bandages, but less than a medical occupation, the first aid skill is useful for treating dangerous wounds on the job, in the woods, and in combat.
  • Lockpicking: Although not that common in the real world, this skill shows up a lot in fiction, making it a virtual necessity on this list. Occupations like locksmith and burglar would include the ability without buying the specific skill.
  • Martial Arts: Anybody can brawl. (In game terms, use your choice of Brawn or Grace.) But martial artists benefit from specific training in hand-to-hand combat. Depending upon the setting, this may mean boxing, sword fighting, wrestling, or something different. Shooting and throwing are separate skills, below.
  • Navigation: Finding one’s way across country using a map, a compass, and/or basic clues of nature requires some training. This knowledge is also part of many outdoorsy occupations. More advanced, long-distance navigation is part of piloting aircraft, naval ships, starships, etc.
  • Persuasion: More than natural wits, this is the ability to lie or reason convincingly. Many influential or nefarious occupations include the ability as well.
  • Pickpocketing: Perhaps more common in the real world than lockpicking (above), picking pockets is still a relatively rare skill. It is, however, a part of the stage magician’s and street thief’s repertoire.
  • Ride Animal: Unlike mechanical devices, which just need basic maintenance, riding animals have personalities and feelings. To ride one effectively means knowing how to get along with and care for it. Occupations that involve this knowledge would include cowboy, jockey, and circus trainer, to name a few.
  • Second Language: A character with this skill has some fluency with the second language but still speaks it with a noticeable accent and has difficulty reading technical documents. True fluency requires either that the character grew up speaking both his or her native language and the second one, or that the character is a translator (Scholar) by occupation. Note: This skill can be purchased more than once to represent multiple second languages.
  • Shooting: This is training with a one- or two-handed firearm; it is also part of many occupations, often with weapons unavailable to civilians.
  • Sneaking: Using cover to move and avoiding noise can be useful in many situations. That is why this skill is also an innate part of so many clandestine occupations.
  • Swimming: At its most basic, this is a skill of how not to drown in water, and maybe even move across it. Depending upon the historical setting, an occupation like sailor might include knowledge of swimming (though some cultures viewed it as just delaying an inevitable death).
  • Throwing: To accurately (and perhaps forcefully) project something by hand takes much skill and practice. Occupations with this ability could range from baseball pitcher to ninja.
  • Tracking: This is the ability to follow a creature by evidence left behind. Many occupations possess this skill, from hunter to forest ranger to private investigator.
  • Vehicle: This is the basic operating skill for cars, motorcycles, and motorboats (each is a separate skill, as with “Second Language,” above). Stunt driving, racing, semi truck driving, construction equipment, aircraft piloting, and spacecraft piloting are occupations.

2 thoughts on “6. Basic Skills

    • Hi, John.

      We did consider a Notice skill early on, but decided that this would better be a reflection of either Wits for reactive situations (do you notice the figure lurking in the shadows) or occupation for most situations (as an architect, do you note the hidden door; as a burglar, do you spot the trap; as an accountant, do you locate the discrepancy; as a police investigator, do you see the partial footprint).

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