A "skill" is a particular kind of knowledge. Judo, nuclear physics, swordsmanship, auto mechanics, marksmanship and the English language are all skills. Every skill is separate, though some skills help you to learn others.
Each of your skills is represented by a number - for instance, "Rifle -7" means a skill level of 7 with a rifle. The higher the number means the greater the skill. When you attempt to use a skill in game, you (or the GM) will roll dice against the appropriate skill combined with that skill’s governing Ability Score (ABL). This sum, called the Talent is modified by a number set by the level of difficulty of the task. That number is the target number for success on a d100 roll. The target number may be modified as the GM sees fit for that particular situation. If the number you roll is less than or equal to your (modified) Talent score for that skill, you succeed. But a roll of 95 higher or is an automatic failure, just as a roll of 05 or less is an automatic success, no matter what the target number.
Just as in real life, you start your career with some skills and you can learn more if you spend time training and spend your earned XP.
Each skill’s governing ABL is listed in brackets after the skill name. In cases where 2 are listed, both are applicable to the skill and the player should use whichever is higher, unless the skill description says otherwise.
These skills can easily be learned in farm and ranch country in any culture at all. A "city kid" might have trouble finding a teacher unless he is wealthy. Any of these skills can be learned with an optional specialization in one general type of animal (e.g., horses, cats, raptor birds).
Animal Handling (STR)
This is the ability to train and work with all types of animals. To train an animal, the Animal Handler must make his success roll once per day of training. A failed roll means the animal learned nothing; a badly-failed roll means the Handler was attacked. The time it takes to train an animal depends on the animal's intelligence and tractability.
When working with a trained animal, the animal handler rolls against his skill for each task he sets the animal.
Modifiers: -10 if the animal is not familiar with the handler, -10 if the circumstances are stressful to the animal, -10 to -25 depending on the complexity of the task being trained.
This talent can also (sometimes) be used to quiet a wild, dangerous or untrained animal. Modifiers: -5 if the creature is wild or very frightened, -10 if it is a man-eater or man-killer.
Finally, this talent gives an advantage in combat against animals. If you have this skill at level 8 or better, any animal's attack and defense rolls are at -05 against you, because you can predict its behavior. If you are an expert (skill 10or better), the animal's rolls are at -10.
Prerequisite: Animal Handling
This is the ability to efficiently and speedily get loads on and off of pack animals. It includes the skill of getting the best performance from the beasts, judging them before purchase, and selecting the best routes for pack trains.The U.S. Army used thousands of pack animals in WWII, and would have used many more, but couldn't find enough skilled packers - and four years of war was not enough time to train them!
A skilled packer with a successful task roll can choose to pack either 20% more load on a beast or increase the speed of their overland travel by 20%.
This ability is different for each animal type (in other words, you must pick an animal to "specialize" in). If you encounter an unfamiliar riding animal, default to the closest Riding skill you have. For instance, if you know how to ride a horse, you would be at -15 for a camel, -30 for a dolphin, and no penalty for a mule.
You must make your Riding roll when you first try to mount a riding animal, and again each time something happens to frighten or challenge the creature (e.g., a jump). Modifiers: +25 if the animal knows and likes you; -60 if the animal is not an "ordinary” riding creature and/or has not been trained for riding.
These skills may be learned anywhere, anytime and as long as the skill is known to the character's culture. Many people seem to have "inborn" artistic aptitude. For simplicity, all artistic ability is treated as a skill rather than an advantage - but to balance this, assume that you can start with any level of artistic skill regardless of your age or availability of a teacher.
Artist (INT or PER)
This is the ability to draw and paint with both accuracy and beauty. A successful roll against this skill would let you (for instance) draw a recognizable picture of someone to help identify him; draw a map that would be easy to follow; or even paint a picture good enough to trade for a meal. (Note that, for the last case, the GM should use PER for the roll. Intelligence can let you draw an accurate picture but not a beautiful one.)
This is the ability to tell stories and to speak extemporaneously. Successful use of this talent would (for instance) let you give a good political speech; entertain a group around a campfire; incite (or calm) a riot; or put on a successful "court jester" act. Modifiers: +10 if you have the Voice advantage; any CHA or COM bonus.
If you try to perform in a language other than your native tongue, a 20% penalty to the roll is applied, unless you’re skill in that language is above 8.
This is the art of beautiful and decorative handwriting. It is of use primarily to earn a living. Note that character with the disadvantage of Illiteracy cannot take this skill.
Dancing (DEX or CHA)
This is the ability to perform dances appropriate to your own culture, and to learn new dances quickly.
Modifiers: -10 if the dance is unfamiliar. Once you have successfully performed a dance three times, it is familiar. Note that certain physical handicaps make this skill effectively impossible!
Musical Instrument (DEX)
Each musical instrument is a separate talent. A successful use of the talent will allow you to perform competently on the instrument in question. Roll again for each new performance.
Photography (INT or PER)
This is the ability to use a camera competently, use a darkroom, et cetera, and to produce recognizable and attractive photos. A default roll is allowed to use a camera, but not to develop film or prints in a darkroom. Modifiers: -05 for an unfamiliar camera; -10 for a motion-picture camera.
This is the ability to compose "good" poetry of any type native to your culture, in any language you speak. A successful Poetry roll lets you write one good poem, in an appropriate amount of time (GM's decision). A failed roll means you couldn't come up with good rhymes or (for whatever reason) your audience just didn't care for your work. Modifiers: -15(or worse) if you are under unreasonable time pressure: +15 (or better) if you have a lot of time; foreign language penalties as for Bard (above).
Sculpting (DEX or PER)
This is the ability to fashion a reasonable likeness of a person or object, using clay, wood, stone, ivory or whatever comes to hand. A metal smith skill is also required to produce a metal sculpture. Time required is up to the GM. Sculpting is primarily of use in earning a living, but can have useful applications for a survivor. I dare you to come up with a few…
Modifiers: -25 if the appropriate tools are not available; -20 if the medium is unfamiliar; -25 if the medium is difficult (e.g., marble).
Singing (DEX or CHA)
This is the ability to sing in a pleasing fashion. A successful roll means the audience liked your song. Modifiers: -10 if the audience does not understand the language; +10 if you have the Voice advantage.
Writing (INT or PER)
This is the ability to write in a clear and/or entertaining manner. A successful roll means the work is readable and accurate. Modifiers: -15 if you were rushed; +15 if you had a generous amount of time; -20 if you are writing about an unfamiliar subject.
This ability is of most use to earn a living but can sometimes be of use on adventures . . . or after them. The report of a spy, military man or private investigator will be far more useful if it is well-written!
This is the ability to perform acrobatic and gymnastic stunts, roll, take falls and so on. A separate skill roll is required for each trick. This can be handy; tightrope walking, human pyramids and trapeze swinging all have useful applications.
An Acrobatics roll may be substituted for a DX roll in any attempt to jump, roll, or avoid Knockdown. Characters with acrobatics skill get to add their skill level to Dodge attempts. A successful Acrobatics roll will also reduce the effective damage by half from any falls of non lethal height. The GM may apply penalties as he sees fit for an especially difficult trick.
This is the ability to ride a bike well on or off road. Successful task rolls are required to pull off tricks and jumps.
Breath Control (END)
This is the ability to breathe at maximum efficiency. On a successful task roll, the user can triple the time the breath is held for any reason (e.g., underwater). A successful roll will also allow a point of fatigue to be regained in only two minutes.
Jumping (STR or DEX)
This is the trained ability to use your strength and dexterity to their best advantage when you jump. Characters with this skill can jump further and higher than those without it.
This is the ability to survive a parachute jump. A failed roll could mean anything from a slight drift off course to panic that makes you drop your gear - GM's option. A critical failure means the chute did not open, or was fatally fouled.
For a jump under bad conditions, a roll on landing may be required as well. . . for instance, to survive an "ankle-breaker" landing without injury, or to dodge trees on the way down.
Running (STR or END)
This skill represents training in sprints and long-distance running. Characters with this skill add its rating to their running speed and use it to resist fatigue when running for distance.
This is the ability to use an underwater breathing apparatus. One roll is required when you first go in the water and once every 30 minutes, to avoid inhaling water and drowning. A successful roll will also let you spot problems with the equipment if you inspect it before use.
This is the ability to ski. A roll is required when you start down any but an easy slope and another every 30 minutes (or every hazardous situation). A failed roll means you fall. On a critical failure your character will take damage to a random hit location as determined by the GM.
Sports (STR or DEX)
Every sport is a different skill. These skills are mostly useful in building a good character background and/or earning a living, but a clever player or GM can make a sports background useful ingame.
Swimming (STR or END)
This skill is used both for swimming (on purpose, or to keep afloat in emergencies) and for saving a drowning victim. Further rules on swimming, drowning, and lifesaving will follow shortly.
This is the general ability to throw whatever you can pick up. It helps both accuracy and distance. Add the skill level to the task roll for thrown weapons and to the range.
End of Part 1... Comment? Suggestions? Leave 'em here, folks...