Skills define what a character knows or can do. Each character knows several Skills, and more can be learned through training later in the game.
Each Skill a character knows is rated with a number, the Rank. Generally, to use a Skill the player states what he or she intends to do; then the GameMaster judges the possible results, and informs the player when to roll dice for the result. Normal Skill rolls require a 1d20 roll to be less than or equal to the Skill Rank for success.
If the player is attempting something difficult (according to the judgement of the GameMaster), additional dice may be assigned (usually 2 or 3d20 total) and all dice rolled must be equal or less than the Rank. This is called a Stunt.
When a normal Skill Roll is being made (using 1d20) against a Rank or Ability Score of 3 or more, and a natural 1 is rolled, the player may try to make a second roll for an automatic Stunt. This is called a Critical roll, and is not always allowed. If the player rolls less than or equal to the Rank, the Stunt is successful. Failure on this roll causes no penalty, but a Fumble (see below) on the Critical roll makes the original roll a failure. For this reason a player may choose not to try the Critical roll.
If the player was already rolling 2d20 (for difficulty), a Critical happens if either die is 1; but if more that two dice are being rolled, Criticals are not allowed.
A roll of a natural 20 may be a Fumble, at the GameMaster's discretion. This will almost always be the case in combat situations, and may apply at other times as well.
If a character manages to have a Skill Rank or Ability Score of 19 or higher, he or she is no longer subject to Fumbles; however a natural 20 will still be a failure regardless.
The exact results of a Fumble are entirely up to the GameMaster, but a suggested Fumble table for combat is given in the Combat section.
If a character is eligible for a bonus to a Skill Roll for some reason, the GameMaster will assign one or more Free Dice. Free Dice directly cancel Stunt (penalty) dice on a one-for-one basis. If the character has one or more Free Dice left over after all penalties are cancelled, the player is allowed one re-roll.
For example, a concealed archer wishes to fire on a guard who is in short range. Due to concealment, the archer is eligible for a bonus to hit (as the guard is unsuspecting). If the player fails to hit on the first 1d20 roll, he or she may re-roll one time.
Suppose the archer has Arrows of Targetting which add a Free Die automatically; even though the archer is now eligible for two Free Dice, the player may only re-roll once if the first roll fails.
If it were dark out (a one-die penalty), the archer would then have a total difficulty of 2d20 and two Free Dice; after cancelling the penalty die, the archer would still be allowed a re-roll if the first roll fails.
In non-stressful (i.e. non-combat) circumstances, a character may take more time to prepare for and perform a Skill roll. This is normally three times normal time, but not less than one minute; if this much uninterrupted time is taken, the player gets a Free Die for the roll.
Skill rolls made in non-stressful circumstances may sometimes be allowed to automatically succeed. This is only allowed if the character has 15+ Rank or Ability, or if the character has Rank 10+ and, after Free and Penalty Dice are cancelled, the character is eligible to roll a Free Die.
The GameMaster may disallow this any time he or she wants, for no reason whatsoever; in particular, if the consequences of failure are serious, the dice must be rolled.
This is often used cumulatively with the Taking your Time option, as detailed above, especially when casting the Healing Spell after combat (to avoid the possibility of Mana loss). Loss of small amounts of Mana, such as from casting a level 1 Healing Spell, is not considered "serious" consequences.
Sometimes the GameMaster will instruct a player to make an Ability Roll, such as a roll vs. Dexterity. All the normal rolling rules may apply here, but Advancement is different with Ability Scores (see below).
Sometimes two characters or creatures must engage in a Contest. The classic example is an arm-wrestling match, which is a Contest of Strength.
Assuming the Contest does not have to be completed in a single round, each round each contestant must roll against the chosen Ability Score or Skill Rank. If both fail, or both succeed, the contest continues in the next round. If one succeeds and one fails, the former is the winner and the Contest is over.
An "instant" Contest is rolled all at once; each contestant rolls, and if there is no winner, they repeat until one wins; all other play stops until this happens.
Successful Critical rolls must be counted, too. Basically, if both contestants roll success, but one has the option of a Critical roll, he or she may make the roll immediately; success grants the win, failure is a loss.
Fumbles count also; even if both fail, if one Fumbles and the other doesn't, the fumbler loses.
When a character is created, he or she knows several Skills automatically (see below for list). Add the appropriate Ability Bonus to each starting figure; if a Rank of less than 1 is computed, the Rank is 1.
The other Skills the character starts with are assigned using Skill dice; apply the Ability Bonus here, and again, less than 1 is 1.
Many Skills have Prerequisites; in particular, all weapon Skills have Combat as a Prerequisite. It is difficult to raise a Skill above the Rank of it's Prerequisite; see Advancement, below.
In some cases, a player may want to use a Skill his or her character does not actually know. This may be allowed, as a Stunt roll against the Prerequisite Skill if there is only one, at the GameMasters' discretion. This might happen if a character who does not have Mace Skill needs to use a mace in combat; attacks by that character would be Combat Stunts of 2d20.
Such Non-Proficient rolls can never be Critical, but if either or both dice come up 20 they may well be Fumbles.
A very few Skills can be attempted which have no Prerequisite; Swimming, in particular, is one of these. In these few cases the player rolls his or her Stunt against the associated Ability Score.
Sometimes there will be events which require multiple Stunts. For instance, attempting a Special Attack (Stunt) at the second range increment (Stunt again) is such a case. When this happens, each Stunt adds a die to the roll; so in the example, 3d20 would need to be rolled. Whenever more than two d20's are being rolled, Criticals are no longer allowed.
Whenever a character successfully uses a Skill in combat or other stressful environment (i.e. "where it counts"), and that Skill can be advanced by experience, the player marks a check next to the Skill on the character sheet. If the Skill has one or more Prerequisites and is equal to at least one of them, the mark may instead go to one of the Prerequisites, at the player's option. This means that it is possible to get two (or more) experience checks for using one Skill in an adventure.
For instance, a character with Sword Skill (which has Combat as a Prerequisite) has Sword: 10 and Combat: 10. He strikes a foe in battle, and earns a check; this check may be applied to Combat or to Sword, at the player's option. If he successfully uses his sword again, the other (unchecked) Skill may be checked.
The individual Skill descriptions will note whether or not experience may be applied; in particular, most Lore-type Skills don't improve by experience. (In some special circumstances the GameMaster may override this rule.)
No more than one check may be applied to any Skill in a single game session, and the player may not check more Skills in a session than the character has points of Intelligence.
At the end of the game session (or whenever the GameMaster allows it), the player rolls 1d20 for each check on the character sheet. If the roll is higher than (not equal to) the Skill Rank, the Skill gains one point of Rank.
If the character's Skill Rank is equal to the associated Ability Score, no further advancement is possible (unless the Ability Score is increased). If an Ability Score is reduced, this automatically lowers all associated Skills to no more than the new amount; if the Ability Score is later increased again, the lost Skill Ranks must still be relearned normally.
If the Skill Rank is equal to or higher than one or more Prerequisites, each such Prerequisite adds a d20 to the roll. All such die rolls must be higher than the Skill Rank to get the increase.
Ability Scores may only be improved by means of training, and then subject to the limitations given in the Characters section. Specifically, Strength, Dexterity, and Endurance may not be increased above the Physical Score, and Intelligence, Will, and Charm may not exceed the Mental Score.
Each 400 hours spent training allows one check, rolled just as for a Skill Advancement roll. The character must train a minimum of 40 hours per week, but may not benefit from more than 80 hours in the same period. Time required is halved (200 hours) if a training facility with appropriate trainers/instructors is available. Fitness training facilities may increase any of Strength, Dexterity, or Endurance. Colleges and Universities may train a character in Intelligence, and magical Colleges may also train Will. Some spy organizations may provide Will training also.
Charm training is a special case. It is very hard to self-train Charm; 800 hours are required if no proper instructor is available. With an instructor, time required is normal (400 hours). There are no Charm training facilities.
A character can learn or improve a Skill with training by someone with a higher Rank in that Skill. At the end of the training period, the player may roll a Skill advancement roll just as if the Skill had been checked. Most Skills require a training period equal to the current Rank in days, but some scholarly and/or arcane Skills may take the Rank in weeks or even months to improve.
Alternately, self-training (i.e. research) is possible, at two times the time given above; no Skill may be raised above 10 this way, and research materials such as books and/or scrolls may be required.
Learning a new Skill requires that the character spend a training period with a master, and then roll against the associated Ability Score. Success grants a Skill Rank of 1d4 + the Ability Bonus. The training period in this case is figured as if the Skill Rank were 7, i.e. if the training period would ordinarily be the previous Rank in days, the period to learn the Skill from scratch would be 7 days.
Self-training new Skills is allowed only for a few Skills. In particular, most Weapon Skills (except Kick) can be learned this way.
It is possible to gain a new Skill by experience if a Non-Proficiency Roll is successful; the Non-Proficient Skill may be checked if it can be improved by experience, but in this case the roll to improve is not against the Skill Rank (which is obviously zero) but rather against the associated Ability Score (as a normal roll, less than or equal, not greater than).
This allows a character who has never used a particular weapon, but who has Combat Skill, to learn the weapon Skill by experience. Note that simply practicing with it doesn't count for this purpose; that would be self-training, as described above.
Below are listed the various Skills available:
Dexterity Skills may all be improved by experience.
Climbing Initial: 2
Dodging Initial: 2
Jumping Initial: 2
Sneaking Initial: 2
All combat Skills have the Combat Skill as a prerequisite. As the Combat rules describe in detail the use of these Skills, they are not detailed here. Note that all Combat Skills may be improved by experience.
The only combat Skill with an initial value is Fist, at base Rank 8.
All Charm Skills can be improved by experience.
Some Intelligence Skills may only be improved by training or research; these are noted by the comment "Experience: No" after the Skill title.
Animal Lore Experience: No
Appraise Experience: No
Human Lore Experience: No
Listening Initial: 5
Mineral Lore Experience: No
Plant Lore Experience: No
Read/Write (Language) Experience: No
Scan/Search Initial: 5
Scent Initial: 2
Speak (Language) Initial: Special
Taste Initial: 1