^Skills are in a state of flux. please excuse out construction work^
Skills are beneficial abilities and training that a character has. Skills are defined in relation to 5 (or 6, if they can cast magic) groups, each relating to a stat pair (for example, Force and Finesse). The last group is Soul, and is used in magic.
These groups are rated Untrained, Trained, Adept, Expert, and Master, in that order.
Each group has nodes associated with it, which are also rated in the same manner. For example, the Melee node is associated with Force/Finesse. The Medicine skill is part of the Intelligence/Wisdom group. Soul nodes are general spell types.
As a group grows, the nodes associated with it can become more powerful. For example, an Adept in Force/Finesse allows purchasing the Melee node to the Adept level, which would then grant a +2 bonus to all melee attacks. Untrained groups receive no bonus, while Master-grade Nodes receive +4 when a node applies to the situation.
In addition, an Expert or Master group gives a +1 or +2 to skill checks made with the refined statistic of the group, to show the extensive effort a person has put into refining that aspect of themselves. Please note - these do not change the stats, but serve as bonuses, like the racial stat boosts. 10 is still the trainable limit on a statistic, even if a Master can have a functional 12.
The Soul group works a bit differently. Instead of granting a bonus, it affects the maximum Tier value of a spell, and effects things like boosting (click here to see more about casting spells). A Trainee can only cast Tier 1 spells, while an Adept may cast Tier 2 or 3, Experts can cast 4 or 5, and Masters may cast 6+. Further, Trainees and Adepts are limited to boosting with 1 piece, while Experts and Masters may use as many as they like.
Spell nodes define an effect, like "Create Fire" or "Transmute Motion into Sound." So, an Adept with a node for "Change Water into Ice" can cast that spell at Tier 1-3, enough to freeze a good amount for a short period, or a moderate amount for a moderate time (or make an ice cube for 15 minutes at tier 1, or several hours at tier 3), but not a grand causeway's worth for several hour. Spell Nodes do not have a rank, and are bought at the price of an Adept Node (see below)
On Starting SkillsEdit
All characters start with a selection of nodes they pick for themselves that work as described above, and some basic skills, listed now, unless otherwise noted - these basics are not attached to any group, and don't improve unless taken as a skill independently. All characters know basic arithmetic, an Adept language (Galactic, or a native language for non-spacefaring races), basic natural movement, basic literacy, and cooking (which, in this case, means making toast, microwaving leftovers, and boiling water; nothing fancy).
Most characters start with 9000 SP to buy their initial skills. If a character starts as a magic user, they generally gets a free Soul Trainee rank and 2 spell nodes as well (at the GM's discretion; the GM may instead decide to have players buy these nodes out of their starting resources, with or without bonus SP for that purpose). All skill nodes must be spent in groups that have at least a Trainee rank. If a character desires to buy spell nodes, it is done as if they were buying an Adept skill node. Finally, no character may start with more than an Adept rank in anything without GM's permission.
If a GM desires to play an Advanced game (one starting at a level above the first), simply add 750 SP per level above the first (it is assumed that a character, up to the start of the adventure, has been leading a relatively boring existence (yes, even the Mercs; you were on contract to guard a warehouse that didn't get hit, congrats]), leading to a sort of growth; easy to grasp, but not really anything exception).
Skills groups and nodes are purchased with Skill points (SP). Skill points are a derived function of Experience points (XP), using the following formula (Intelligence/5)*XP=SP. Smart people learn more from the events they lived through, basically.
Each level of Skill Group costs a certain amount, and each must be bought in turn. Buying a node is done along the same lines. Again, the Node level may not exceed the associated tree's.
|Level||To Buy||Node Cost|
|Trainee||1000 SP||100 SP|
|Adept||1500 SP||200 SP|
|Expert||2000 SP||300 SP|
|Master||2500 SP||400 SP|
Firstly - it is expected that a player will let a GM know when they buy a skill or upgrade, and that the GM needs to confirm it. This is mainly so someone doesn't spontaneously go from untrained to expert in the midst of battle. Unless the GM likes that sort of thing. It is recommended that a Player takes skill upgrades and nodes that make sense in terms of the XP that generated them (combat experience creating SP spent on better combat skills; a new Writing node earned after working on a book), but this can be as strictly enforced (or not) as the GM likes.
Occasionally, a GM may award additional skills based on things like setting, story, or backstory (for example, if the players are a team of mercenaries, the GM might let all of them have an Adept Team Battle History node as a freebie (containing things like shared code phrases, memories of past battles and battle plans, and deployment gestures). Celesti often speak "Tone" as well as using it to give commands, and thus often get it as a free "language." A character who mends the party's clothes might find they suddenly have the Trainee Tailor skill after a while). These skills are usually not greatly important, but add flavor. These do not have to go into a Trained group, though a node in an Untrained group usually gives no benefit until the group is improved. These sorts of skill nodes are generally handed out at the start of the game.
The other thing to say on the subject of nodes, skill or spell, is that a GM should be relatively lenient about what a given node can do - if the given node sort of applies, go ahead and let it do it's thing. Similarly, don't be afraid to say that a given node can't do something wildly off base. Nodes are relatively cheap, and this sort of consideration adds drama and let's players set goals for how they want their characters to grow.
Certain skills may or may not be used untrained, at the GM's discretion. Running, for example, can reasonably be used Untrained, while Medicine, as it pertains to surgery, probably can not.
Now, obviously, there are a huge range of skills possible. We've included several below [generally ones that we reference elsewhere in the wiki], but they are by no means a limit, nor does it mean that a GM can't change things around, or do some codifying of their own. We will go into some alternate rules near the bottom.
Some skills will have overlap. For example, I've had a character with both Civil Engineering and Architecture - two skills that are oriented towards building buildings. Of course, Civil Engineer included knowledge about how to construct roads and sewers (and the materials to use in such construction), while Architecture had more information about making a space not only functional, but livable (and doing things like finding fuse boxes in houses that the party had never been in before (don't ask)). This is perfectly legitimate, though a GM gets to make a call about whether 2 skills are different enough, or if they just want to sandwich the two together without a player having to pay twice. When in doubt, ask the GM what sort of things a given skill can do.
Professions are potential the most powerful skills - they tend to be grab bags that give many benefits. For example, Profession: Private Investigator gives a bonus to trying to interrogate someone, trying to determine if someone is lying, searching for evidence, certain forms of diplomacy and bluffing, and things like knowledge about local organized crime. As such, we encourage most GMs to limit most characters to 1 profession, or to deny their use, and have players take the individual skill nodes instead. If a GM does use Professions, we strongly encourage the GM to be specific about what benefits each does, or does not, give. Most professions do not have a combat skill node in them, even when it makes sense to include it. We feel that combat skills are generally too valuable, and should be bought separately - especially if your game expands on the minimum three we've listed for you at the bottom of the page (unless, potentially, the profession only gives combat skills. Such professions are the only such that are not intelligence/wisdom based, but instead reside in force/finesse).
^Professions are a recent addition, and are still in the experimental phase^
Most Spell nodes are pretty straight forward. Occasionally, not so much. For example, the spell nodes "Fool the Senses" and "Hologram" look like they'd do similar things - make an illusion using Sensory effects. In the game they both appeared in, "Fool" specifically affected 1 sense for each level of power involved, and functionally was of limited size and effect, while "Hologram" was specifically limited to 1 sense (Sight), and enhancing it's power would allow for more effects, such as increasing it's size, complexity, and realism. The first required a number of checks to get the effect just right (one for each sense involved), while the other was much more straight forward - just cast and the spell went. These sorts of details should be worked out when the node is bought, to keep the confusion and expectations in tune between a player and the GM. First time GMs are moderately encouraged to focus players on using Material, Immaterial, and Brawn spells - these are often the most straight forward types of spells, which make them easy to define. Quick is probably the hardest to use well, especially if the GM allows time travel - even moving a few turns towards past or future can be very complicated.
Some skills imply other skills to one degree or another. Your average pistoleer knows enough to make a guess at the model of a gun when they see a new one, for example, even if they couldn't tell you who it's maker is. In cases where a skill might vaguely apply, a GM may choose to declare a skill substitution - allowing a player to use half of the related skill node's bonus - rather than giving a straight yes or no.
Skill examples: Edit
There are a few skills that get mentioned often:
Melee (F/F) - adds to the attacking To Hit rolls in melee combat with weapons, may substitute poorly for Knowledge (hand-held weapons)
Ranged (F/F) - adds to the attacking To Hit rolls in most ranged combat, may substitute poorly for Knowledge (guns)
GM's NOTE: the above two skills can be divided up in several ways, if you want your combat to have a more nuanced approach.
Fisticuffs (F/F) - Punching all the things. This skill is a little different than Melee, only effecting unarmed attacks. For each level, unarmed attacks become treated as a weapon with +0 Force/ (Skill bonus) Finesse / (Skill Bonus) Agility (yes, this does mean that Trainee Fisticuffs is no better than normal punching). A Master with Fisticuffs has a unique and interesting position of having the only 8-pool weapon in the game (0/4/4), even if it is one of the least damaging.
Manual Driving skills (includes most terrestrial vehicles, including most ships and airplanes) (F/F) - this is a group of skills - each must be taken separately. They govern driving certain vehicles; in particular, vehicles which rely on direct control (ie - you move a control device with your hand, and you get a direct response - such as turning the steering wheel on a car, or pulling on the yoke of a biplane) (Occasionally, certain massive vehicles, mostly ships, are "piloted" with computer assistance). Drive (Car), Drive (speedboat)
Professional/Craft/Knowledge skills (including scientific knowledge) (I/W) - this is a group of skills - each must be taken separately. These skills cover basic knowledge and experience with a certain discipline, or knowledge pertaining to a certain craft or profession.While rarely useful in combat, these are often very useful in other aspects of play (and it's always handy, being able to determine where the lode-bearing walls are, or have the craft to make something to disguise a bomb). Knowledge (Old Terth), Craft (tailor)
Piloting/Indirect Weapons skills (mostly starships) (I/W) - this is a group of skills - each must be taken separately. These skills are relating to applying formulas and calculations to get something somewhere, whether that's to drop a mortar on an unseen target, a laser fired at a space craft several light-minutes away, or to set a course for said space craft (rarely, Fighter-type starcraft, who engage other ships at relatively small galactic distances (1-100 km) are "driven" manually, instead of with the direct assistance of a computer). Pilot (Destroyer-class starship), Indirect Fire (orbital gunnery), Indirect Fire (Catapults)
Meditation (I/W) - the process of clearing one's mind through some method. Traditionally, it is done seated and by focusing on some idea or sound. Functionally, it can be done through any activity that a character finds calming and can be done without thought - an activity a character can get lost in. Mediation can be used for several things, like focusing thoughts (in or out of combat), enhancing mental and physical recovery, resisting mental intrusions, and keeping control when a Madness strikes (Survivor can also help with that last one; use only 1 skill to resist these effects, players choice). The most basic form of meditation, intended to assist in recovery (enhances Stamina, and eventually Sanity, recovery) requires a Mediation check 12 made at the start of each hour (Sanity recovery is enhanced only after 4 successful checks in a row). Keeping your cool.
Language skills (C/C) - this is a group of skills - each must be taken separately. English, Do You Speak IT?! - Probably not, in this game. Most people speak Galactic. But most races also have at least one or two languages of their own, and most of them have some chance at learning and speaking those of other races. This also covers non-verbal languages, like American Sign Language, and superverbal Languages like Tone. In general, you buy "families" of languages, like Language (Terth Indo-European), which would include Spanish, French, German, Russian, English and Italian, and then treat each individual language as a hard dialect check (Communication + Language + d6 vs. 15 initially) until the character gets used to the differences in each case. This is done because there are over 5,000 individual languages on Earth alone, but fewer than 25 language families. Multiply that by hundreds of planets, and the book keeping for "X, Can you speak it" is pretty nightmarish if you work at anything more defined than the family level. A player may learn a language specifically - treat it as you would the larger family, but with no check needed for the basic language, and a slightly harder checks for every other language in the family (17 initially). If a planet only has one language, this really isn't an issue, of course.
Performance skills (C/C) - this is a group of skills - each must be taken separately. Do you sing? Are you an Orator? Maybe you just edit books. All of these fall under the Performance skill (editing is mostly part of Performance (writing)). Any creative endeavor where something is meant to be conveyed or expressed or communicated through an indirect medium. Some of these may have secondary stat requirements (most dances use the worst of the Communication and Agility stats, or have a base Agility requirement. Juggling requires a Finesse check, or a minimum Finesse requirement based on what is being juggled).
Gymnastics/Acrobatics (S/A) - Move your body! For the sake of clarity, in using these as in game terms, Gymnastics favor ground-based tumbling, while Acrobatics is more air-oriented. Most GMs treat the 2 as synonyms. Noteworthy for being useful in recovering from being knocked around or falling, in addition to the more plebian effects.
Dodge (S/A) - adds to defense to avoid being hit - effectively, it can counter Range and Melee skill bonuses.
Armor skills (H/H) - this is a group of skills - each must be taken separately. Adds to the defender's To Penetrate check value, if you are wearing the matching armor type. Light Armor can be used without training - heavier armors require more practice. Light Armor, Medium Armor, Heavy Armor. NanoArmor is also a skill. Rather than avoiding damage, it's used to program and optimize the use of the suit's function through it's haptic systems. As long as a character doesn't try and mess with a suit's presets, the armor can be used untrained*. Some GMs place NanoArmor under I/W. *Note: using nanoarmor untrained receives a "luck check" each turn. Critically failing the check means that the armor de-activates, leaving the character without any armor (and thus, no ToPenetrate defense).
Resistance skills (H/H) - this is a group of skills - each must be taken separately. Each Resistance skill is used to oppose a certain type of affliction or effect - for example, Resist(Poison) allows a player to try and mitigate getting poisoned by the cyanide they just ate (hope you are a master), including both the initial rolls and subsequent attempts. Resist (illusions), Resist (mind effects)
Survival Skills (H/H) - Living off the land. Knowing what to eat, where to sleep, and how not to die of exposure. This can be a group of skills, by biome or planet, or the GM may choose to simplify things by just making it a single skill.
Survivor (H/H) - Sometimes...sometimes things go badly. Your character has Seen Things that would make a normal person ill. Maybe someone close to them died badly. Maybe they were abused. Maybe they went to war. Or whore, for that matter. Street life isn't exactly pretty. This skill represents the sturdiness to survive and overcome these tragedies. Call it mental fortitude, determination, badassery - doesn't matter. When the world shows itself to be a hideous place, this skill will keep a character walking when weaker people fall to their knees in horror. It's a common skill for anyone who has engaged in violence, or had violence engaged on them. It's used to keep a character sane and in control when everything goes nuts, or their personal demons come calling. (Mediation can also help with that last one; use only 1 skill to resist these effects, players choice)