As you explore the ruins of the world, you’re going to need a wide array of skills to keep you alive and achieve your goals. Being naturally apt (by having good stats) will not be enough. You’ll need specialized skills to hone your talent.
This chapter contains a list of the skills that are commonly found among the world’s population. Skills serve to help you apply your stats toward a roll (see Using Skills).
The use of any weapon that uses torsion to accelerate projectiles. When the war first began, many dwarves mocked torsion weapons as antiquated. As the war raged on, it soon became apparent that having quieter weapons that were easier to resupply was advantageous. The Frostbeard Ice Strikers and Barkenholdt paratroopers both proved the effectiveness of their arms many times.
Archery is the skill used in combat to attack with weapons that use torsion to propel projectiles.
During the fiend war, the primary fighting force of the enemy was the cowardly and unintelligent imp. Though they were diminutive, they were vicious and enough of them could ruin the day of even the most skilled of fighters. It didn’t take long to learn that the best defense against an onslaught of them was to run, jump into water, climb trees or cliff faces, or do anything that they were too lazy or too afraid to do themselves. Athletics is the skill for all these cardiovascular activities.
Although every nation has lost their taste for war and the demon invasion did convince many to set aside their differences, nobody can say for certain that all the other nations are completely dedicated to peace. More than a little suspicion remains among the several nations and so they all maintain at least a little bit of an army.
The Command skill denotes your character’s ability to lead troops in battle; to give clear and motivating instructions that will yield meaningful results on the battlefield. It is most often used to perform an Assault (see Assault) on a location.
The Command skill is used in combat to coordinate maneuvers with a group of people.
The reconstruction of cities after the Fiend War was not cheap and anything people could do to subsidize the process was in dire need. Those who became especially skilled at navigating the world of exchanging and maximizing available resources were in high demand. It was common for cities to hire market consultants to help boost their economy in some way.
This skill pertains to barter, entrepreneurialism and anything else that relates to the voluntary exchange of goods. It could possibly be used to find best prices, negotiate business deals, or know what kinds of merchandise will sell best in certain places.
This skill pertains to all things related to long distance communications including the use of a heliograph, training of homing pigeons, stenography and cryptographic ciphers. Whenever you’re trying to send, receive or intercept and crack an encoded long distance message, this skill would be used.
The Frostbeard clan excels at this skill and has several “embassies” around the world where they maintain Heliography Towers where people can purchase telegraph services. Many nations use these services as a means of maintaining their governments.
Though the customers always employ their own ciphers, there are some who suspect that the Frostbeards know how to break them.
The art of being friends with people who aren’t technically your friends. Humans and dwarves don’t tend to be great at this skill in part because they tend to be rather racist. (Who doesn’t love a good Frostbeard joke?) Elves tend to excel at this skill precisely because their cultures tend to abhor racism and deeply value acceptance of all other people. Insensitivity is a criminal offense in some elven societies — this is also why the dwarves and humans aren’t usually allowed in some elven societies.
A skill employed by hunters, law enforcers and politicians, empathy allows you to sense the motivations or sentiment of others. Interacting with wild animals or wilder politicians requires a keen sense for their delicate mood. The slightest thing could upset either of them and the results could be deadly.
There are two things people usually want an engineer to do: erect a building and demolish one. This skill encompasses doing either of those things as well as the use of any of the tools needed to do those things; math, statics, fluids, tensile strength, levers, pulleys, gears, wheels, cogs and glorious trebuchets. If it involves any of those things, this skill can help.
When a succubus ambush cuts off your supply lines and enemy raids hit before you can load your mortar, the very best weapon is not the tank without fuel or the machine gun without ammo but the one you have at the ready. This is why the sword has never fallen out of use in today’s world; monsters love to bite faces and still have faces of their own to chop open.
Fencing is the skill of being able to use a long, bladed weapon effectively in combat.
The skill of being deceptive, manipulative, and otherwise sneaky. It’s the skill of infiltrating foreign courts and sneaking around border sentries and talking your way out of a fight. Not necessarily a skill of criminality, Guile is still useful for spies, assassins and thieves alike.
During the Fiend War, Stoneglaive dwarves fought strange devils that would magically ignite gun powder whenever it was nearby – making ammunition more a liability than an asset. These devils tended to wear armor and, in response, the Alliance used heavy weapons that smashed plates and turned links of chain mail into gnarly teeth that shredded the skin of its wearer.
This skill is used in combat when attacking with a weapon that uses its weight to inflict harm.
There are multiple accounts from the Fiend War where devils would glower over wounded and cornered enemies, reveling prematurely in their victory only to be impaled or dismembered by a hidden blade. A truism often spoken by the Stoneglaive Alliance is this: A knifeless dwarf is a lifeless dwarf.
This skill is used in combat when attacking with short-bladed weapons.
Before the world’s societies were reduced to heaps of carnage and rubble, there were dozens of languages spanning the continent. As the survivors struggled to band together and coordinate their war against the demonic invaders, there emerged a universal dialect that was a pidgin form of all the other spoken languages and it’s been used by most people ever since.
The Common tongue is the first language for most people in the world and is understood by just about everybody. A dialect of Common is accepted as the official language of the Royal Court of the East Isles Kingdom. If you speak this language well, you can get around pretty much everywhere.
Elite has retained more of its pre-war linguistic roots than the other languages spoken today. Its grammar is strictly ancient elven but it borrows vocabulary from many human societies — most of which are now extinct or forgotten.
Elite is the official language of Barkenholdt and a pidgin form of it is spoken by the several Greenwalker tribes. It’s used as the language for formal situations like political discourse and religious rites in many countries.
Infernal is a dialect that emerged during the war; it’s mostly derived from the Vulgar tongue but it contains what little Demonic vocabulary could be picked up from the enemy in addition to a bunch of noise that people claim is actual demonic speech. It’s almost certain that the pronunciations and interpretations are grossly inaccurate if they have any basis in fact at all.
Just like Common, Vulgar emerged during the Fiend War as a smattering of several other languages cobbled together. Where Common evolved with the purpose of clearly communicating between the world’s allied forces, Vulgar became a way for the downtrodden to express their disdain for their situation.
Vulgar eschews clarity through grammar and precise definitions but has a great deal of eloquence afforded it through its timely pop culture references, coy rhythmic patterns and expansive vocabulary of cuss words. It’s most commonly spoken among poor people, noble dwarves when they’re trying to annoy elves, and human refugees.
In order to navigate the complex, intertwining catwalks and taxi schedules that form basic transit in the city of Barkenholdt, you have to know a little bit about everything. Different districts were built with their own distinct rationale, melding colloquial iconography into their road signs and local history into their rationale behind every aspect of city planning.
Thunderously loud and devastating, the flintlock weapons are the signature of the Earthhewn clan and are widely accepted as an irreplaceable component in the militaries around the world. While they don’t sport the rate of fire of torsion weapons like the bow or even the crossbow, firearms penetrate harder surfaces more readily and, at the very worst, still deafen the enemy when fired up close.
This skill is used in combat when attacking with firearms.
The skill of aiding the body’s recovery from illness or injury, knowing the difference between a poultice and a bandage wrap, and having a hard to pronounce, smarty-pants name for every body part.
This skill covers such things as first aid in combat, surgery out of combat, anatomy, and knowledge about the medicinal uses (or lack thereof) of random pharmaceuticals that one might find at the local apothecary.
The skill of surviving in the cold, rocky, harsh terrain of the mountains. Climbing, abseiling, identifying nutritious and poisonous plants, preserving body heat, avoiding predators and other dangerous animals, treating frostbite, enduring the thin air of high altitudes, and other skills necessary for not dying in the mountains.
The skill of surviving on the plains and living the nomadic life. It pertains to riding animals, sensing the moods and movement of herds and fowls, conserving food, finding underground water anticipating any inclinate weather accurately, using sunlight to cook, and the like.
When the Greenwalker tribes fought the imp legion, one of their main tactics was setting bear traps throughout the whole forest. It was an easy way to thin the enemy’s forces without putting one’s self in direct danger.
While effective, this strategy was problematic as not everyone who laid traps survived the whole length of the war. For the next century it was incredibly dangerous to walk on the ground lest you trigger such a trap. The elves got very good at parkour because leaping from tree to tree was safer than walking on the ground.
If you want to spot a bear trap as you’re traipsing through the woods, this is the skill you’ll need. It’s also handy for spotting other things but getting your leg bitten off by steel, spring-loaded jaws is among the most humiliating notice failures.
Having a good presence and being able to remain calm and collected while everyone’s watching you. Useful for artistic and theatrical applications but bravado and a commanding presence are also the main way for Earthhewn diplomats to set the tone at international summits.
Performance can also be used to bluff or beguile without being outright dishonest. It’s a skill of being sincere and controlling the way others may sense your emotions.
Where the sword may be iconic of a mighty warrior, the polearm is iconic of a mighty army. Cutting weapons tend to require more room to swing but a long polearm is effective even when standing in close quarters as when defending a castle or forming a phalanx. Many an imp legion has learned the hard way that you can’t simply rush ferociously into a wall of halberds and expect to do much more than make a drippy mess on the ground.
This skill is used in combat when attacking with weapons such as the halberd or the spear.
The skill of surviving at sea or near it. Talents that come with this profession include swimming, fishing, running all or part of a ship, navigation without landmarks, tying knots, avoiding and enduring scurvy, operating a cannon, sensing the moods of sea life, the weather, and holding your breath and your rum.
Humanity once had massive, sprawling urban utopias that stretched as far as the eye could see. These great wonders were reduced to rubble in the first few days of the demonic invasion. The scavenging skill includes all the talents necessary to survive the demented wasteland, labyrinthine dungeons, sadistic traps, and insane bandits that now abound in these areas.
The skill of surviving under ground. This skill includes the knowledge of which mushrooms are safe to eat, which underground creatures are dangerous, how to avoid cave-ins and pockets of natural gas or carbon monoxide and navigating dark, winding tunnels.
The skill of being able to sense the flow of combat, to focus amid its chaos, to think clearly under pressure, and to maneuver in a way that is least likely to get you impaled.
For the most part, the Tactics skill is used for the random actions that you wish to perform that don’t fall into any of the existing rules. The uses of the Tactics skill will be subjected to GM fiat according to the circumstances.
City-dwelling folk have a mystical reverence for the wild that they think is totemism. One of the ways you can tell they’re deluded is because they easily die when left in the wild. Totemism is the art of understanding one’s connection to nature then exploiting it to be better at hunting, avoiding predators and the other innumerable dangers that nature entails.
In those dire situations where you’re in California or are otherwise demeaned to the point of disarmament, you must resort to self defense with naught but the tabernacle of clay that Heaven has given you.
This skill is used in combat when attacking without an object that was designed for that purpose including your own limbs and improvised weapons such as rocks, chairs, broken bottles, etc..