The Shattered World  Skills   

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.

Critical Rolls    

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.

Free Dice    

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.

Taking your Time    

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.

Automatic Success    

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.

Ability Rolls    

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.

Initial Skills    

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.

Stacking Dice    

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 Training    

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.

Skill Training    

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.

Skill Lists    

Below are listed the various Skills available:

Dexterity Skills

  • Climbing
  • Conceal/Sleight
  • Dodging
  • Juggling
  • Jumping
  • Open Locks
  • Pick Pockets
  • Play (Instrument)
  • Ride (Animal)
  • Skiing
  • Sneaking
  • Swimming
  • Tightrope Walking
  • Tumbling

Combat Skills

  • Axe
  • Bow
  • Club/Mace/Morningstar
  • Combat
  • Crossbow
  • Dagger/Knife
  • Fist
  • Kick
  • Parry
  • Spear/Polearm
  • Sword
  • Thrown Weapon

Charm Skills

  • Command
  • Disguise
  • Fast Talk
  • Oration
  • Singing

Intelligence Skills

  • Animal Lore
  • Appraise
  • Cartography
  • Craft/Trade
  • Engineering
  • First Aid
  • Forgery
  • Hiding
  • Human Lore
  • Listening
  • Magic
  • Mineral Lore
  • Navigation
  • Plant Lore
  • Read/Write (Language)
  • Safecracking
  • Sailing
  • Scan/Search
  • Scent
  • Speak (Language)
  • Survival
  • Taste
  • Tracking

Dexterity Skills    

Dexterity Skills may all be improved by experience.

Climbing Initial: 2
The character can climb trees, walls, etc. This Skill also includes rappeling. The GameMaster will determine the difficulty level of any climb. Generally, failure indicates the character has fallen at the halfway point of the climb. The GameMaster may break long climbs up into several smaller ones of 100' or less each.

This Skill allows the character to palm items, fooling the eye in various ways. The chance of success is figured just like the Pick Pockets Skill.

Dodging Initial: 2
This Skill permits the character to try to avoid attack by Dodging. Dodging may be done while making a full move, at no penalty. Success on the die roll means the attack has been avoided. A character who is Dodging may not make attacks at the same time.

The character can juggle small items. Juggling large items or very many small ones add penalty dice as determined by the GameMaster. Failure usually indicates that all the items are dropped.

Jumping Initial: 2
This Skill is used when the character wishes to jump (across a chasm for instance).

Open Locks
Given an appropriate lockpick, the character may try to open normal keyed locks. Using an "impromptu" lockpick (hairpin, etc.) applies a one-die penalty to the roll. Additional penalties may be applied for puzzle locks, etc.

Pick Pockets
The character can lift items from other character's pockets, purses, etc. To pick a pocket, the character makes a Skill roll. On a failure the item was not taken; on a success or better, it was. The victim must make a Reason roll to notice the theft attempt, at normal odds on a failure, plus one die penalty on success, plus another die on a Critical success, etc.

Play (Instrument)
The character can play an instrument. This Skill is taken once per each instrument the character wants to learn. Rolls are made only if the playing is for money, or other important purpose. Otherwise, the Rank simply indicates the musician's relative talent.

Ride (Animal)
The character can ride one specific type of animal (horse, camel, elephant, etc.) The type of animal must be specified when the Skill is taken; to learn to ride more than one type, the Skill must be taken once for each type.

The character knows how to ski, both downhill and cross-country.

Sneaking Initial: 2
When hiding or attempting to move silently, a character must make a Sneaking roll. Failure gives a bonus die to others attempting to hear the character, or if no attempt is being made, gives an automatic check. A Stunt or successful Critical gives those trying to hear the stealthy character a one-die penalty. Scan/Search or Listen rolls are made to detect a Sneaking character, as determined by the GameMaster. A one-die penalty will be assessed if the character is wearing metal armor.

The character knows how to swim. Rolls are required to swim in difficult situations, and Endurance rolls may also be required for long periods swimming.

Tightrope Walking
The character can walk tightropes. This Skill works similar to Climbing, in that long distances may be broken up into shorter walks of 50' or less. A bonus die is given for wooden beams; a Stunt is needed for wires or thin lines.

Combat Skills    

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.

Charm Skills    

All Charm Skills can be improved by experience.

This Skill indicates the character's ability to lead troops. A roll is made once per combat, when the character first issues an order. Success on the roll gives all troops a bonus die on any morale check.

This Skill permits the character to attempt to disguise himself or herself. The GameMaster will determine the exact difficulty of the roll. A single die is needed to obscure the character's identity; two dice to change gender and/or race, three to duplicate another character's appearance. A successful Critical result adds a die of difficulty to seeing through the Disguise.

The character knows how to behave in social situations. A character with a Skill Rank of less than 10 must roll once per half hour; failure on the roll indicates an embarassing mistake. Those with 10 or better Skill Rank ordinarily need not roll. In any event, if the character must perform a ceremonial duty (a toast for instance) a roll is always required.

Fast Talk
This Skill is used to convince other characters (NPC's) that the idea(s) of the speaker are correct. The difficulty of this roll will be determined by the GameMaster. A normal roll will convince the NPC to purchase something the player is selling, if it isn't too expensive. A successful Critical roll or Stunt will convince the NPC to purchase the item whether it is expensive or not, and a double Stunt roll will convince the NPC of something totally against his or her beliefs. This effect may not last long, however, so the Fast Talker should be prepared. Fast Talk may not be used on groups of five or more.

This is similar to Fast Talk but on the large scale. The character can give rousing speeches which sway opinion in his or her direction. A normal roll will give moderate results, changing opinion by about 20%. A Critical or Stunt roll can give a 50% change of heart, and a double Stunt or equivalent will give 80% results. Note that those already in favor of the speaker's opinions do not count in these percentages. Oratory cannot be used on groups smaller than five individuals.

The character can sing. Rolls are made only if the singing is for money, or other important purpose. Otherwise, the Rank simply indicates the singer's relative talent.

Intelligence Skills    

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
Provides both general and specific knowledge about normal animals.

Appraise Experience: No
This Skill allows the character to determine the value of a normal (non-magical) item. The GameMaster rolls this for the player. Failure results in lower (75%) or higher (25%) figures, 2d100% difference.

The character is skilled in making and reading maps. Failure on the Skill roll results in a map which is misleading or otherwise critically inaccurate.

This Skill covers all crafts or trades. When taken, the specific craft or trade must be specified, and this may be taken repeatedly if more than one craft or trade is to be learned.

A cryptologist can crack codes. Individual code methods have various levels of difficulty to crack; the GameMaster will determine this. Cracking a coded message takes at least one hour, and sometimes much more than that. Cryptology cannot be learned without at least one Read (Language) Skill, but this is not a prerequisite per se.

An engineer can design devices and/or buildings. The plans created by the engineer may be used by one or more craftsmen/artisans to construct the item. An engineer cannot design items above the current technical level without the assistance of an appropriate scientist or other expert.

First Aid
This Skill allows the character to treat wounds (from attack or accident). Once per character per battle, some lost Hit Points may be restored. The First Aid roll is made, with 1 point is restored for a normal result. A successful Critical restores 1d4+1 points. One minute (10 rounds) are required for First Aid use on a single character.

Given a sample to study, the character may forge documents. When the document is forged, the GameMaster rolls against this Skill. Failure gives a bonus die to anyone attempting to detect the forgery; success means the roll to detect is normal. A successful Critical makes the detection roll a Stunt. Detecting a forgery is done with the Scan/Search Skill or the Read (Language) Skill (for the appropriate language) whichever is lower; this means that forgery detection may already be a Stunt for many people.

This Skill permits a character to hide himself or herself, another willing character, or an object. The player rolls for this Skill; failure gives a bonus die to a searcher, success means odds are even. A successful Stunt or Critical makes the detection roll a Stunt. Then, the searcher rolls a Scan/Search check. If not actively searching, an onlooker may only roll against a failure and then without the bonus die.

Human Lore Experience: No
This Skill grants the character knowledge of customs, traditions, etc. in a variety of "nearby" foreign nations. If a distant nation is being discussed, add a die of difficulty.

Listening Initial: 5
This is the Skill rolled against when the character tries to listen for noises.

This is the prerequisite to all magic spells (see the Magic section for details). If a character without this Skill wants to learn Spells, the only way is by training, and time required is doubled. The Rank of the Magic Skill is used when attempting to read magical written works.

Mineral Lore Experience: No
The character is knowledgable about minerals, in particular about where they may be found and how they may be identified.

The character may attempt to determine his or her location by celestial navigation. The stars must be visible, and a sextant is normally used. Without a sextant, the roll is made at a one-die penalty. A normal result gives location to within about 500 miles; A successful Critical roll gives 50 miles accuracy.

Plant Lore Experience: No
The character is knowledgable about plants, in particular about where they may be found, how they may be identified, and what they may be used for.

Read/Write (Language) Experience: No
Read/Write must be purchased once for each language the character wishes to be literate in. The regular Speak (Language) Skill for the given language is the only prerequisite.

To open a safe without the combination, Safecracking Skill is used. The difficulty of opening a safe will be determined by the GameMaster. Time required is usually about 5 minutes.

Allows the character to sail and/or command any type of ship or sailboat. Large ships may require a crew, but crew members do not have to have Sailing Skill so long as the captain does. Unskilled crew members may slow the ship, however.

Scan/Search Initial: 5
This is the Skill used to search for hidden items or creatures.

Scent Initial: 2
This Skill is used to detect unusual scents and possibly identify them.

Speak (Language) Initial: Special
For each foreign language a character wishes to learn, he or she must purchase the Speak (Language) Skill. Ranks of a language are interpreted as follows: Rank 1-5 allows very basic conversation; 6-10 points give fluency. At 11+ points, the character has no accent, and at 16+ points he or she may attempt to imitate dialects. All characters begin the game with their native language at the same Rank as their Intelligence.

The character knows how to live off the land, surviving with minimal supplies in hostile terrain. Survival rolls must be made daily; failure indicates the character has failed to find food and/or water for that day. A successful Critical result gives three days food and unlimited water (so long as the character remains in the same area).

Taste Initial: 1
This Skill is used to identify unusual flavors.

The character knows how to find and follow the traces left by creatures moving through the wilderness. A penalty die is assessed when using this Skill in urban areas, and additional penalty dice may be assessed when the creature being followed is actively covering it's tracks.

The Shattered World  Skills   
Last Updated 01/12/2002