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March 24, 2011


by Game designer

A brand new character has got four, the average non-player character has got three… What am I talking about ? Skills, of course ! What is a skill ?  How to know the base value of a skill ? When my character must use them ?  When you’ll finished to read this article you will know enough to play and survive most of the hellish game situations.

A skill in this game represents the learned capacity of a character to carry out pre-determined results with the minimum outlay of time and energy. A skill is ok when its name is written represent by its name on the character’s card.

In this role playing game, skills are designed to have a good balance between domain-specific and game play. On one hand, you choose “Small Arms” if you want using Grevolvers, G-pistols, submachine G-guns, G-carbines, assault rifles… Because the marksmanship requirement and weapon manipulations are nearly the same. On the other hand, you will find more specific skills like “Sniper G-riffle” and “Machine Guns” because they have specific requirements, maintenance operations to be used effectively.


A numerical values ranged form 00 to 100% are assigned to skills. These numerical values represent how good the character is when using that particular skills. On the middle part of the character’s card, the skill is systematically follow by the appropriate numerical value. For example : Small Arms 84%, Camouflage 45%…


Some psychic abilities or mutations may increase or decrease a skill value, but a modified skill value cannot exceed the 100%. Reciprocally, a modified skill value cannot fall behind the 00%. Some device can provide a bonus to a skill, but they never change its value. This bonus information is always provide on the back of the gear card.


The base value of a character skill is directly linked to his traits. Some skills are linked to only one trait. For example : “Exobiology” is only linked to the intelligence (INT) of the character. Some skills can be linked to two or more traits. For example : “Small Arms” is link to the coordination (COR) and response speed (RSP) traits of the character. The skill named “Hand-to-hand Combat” is linked to four traits : strength (STR), endurance (END), coordination (COR) and flexibility (FLX). This information will be systematically given with each skill’s descriptions.


The formula to determine this base value is very simple. If the skill is linked to one trait, you take the value of this one and multiply it by the appropriate number according to the game situation. If you have two or more traits linked, you add the value of the two best traits linked to the skills  and multiply it with the appropriate number according to the game situation. Basically, you have four typical game situation cases.


  1. The required skill is not acquired and the player need a knowledge type skill : you multiply by 0%.
  2. The required skill is not own but the game master consider that can the character can improvise something: you multiply by 1%.
  3. The required skill is not possessed but its written in the character’s occupation description : you multiply by 2%.
  4. The required skill is acquired and written in the character’s occupation description : you multiply by 5%.


In short, characters are considered to have 00% to any skill they cannot possess, especially those of the knowledge type. Often a player wants his character to attempt an action but does not have the necessary skill. The system here grant that the character can still act but the action will be more difficult. Skills written in the appropriate section in the occupation’s descriptions are very easy to used : because it’s only a multiplication by two. Therefore, it helps players to stay focused on the strong points of their characters and avoid risky decision that their character will probably  hasn’t taken. Please note that the skills chosen are always written on the character’s card.


A skill usually requires certain environmental stimuli and situations to assess the level of skill being shown and used. It means that a skill test must only be done if the character is under some stress conditions otherwise you can consider an automatic success. For example :

  1. The character checks his weapon for a potential malfunction : you don’t need to do a skill test, consider it like an automatic success.
  2. The character checks his weapon for a potential malfunction while being under heavy enemy fire : you must do a skill check based on his “Small Arms” skill.


You can break skills in two categories : basics  and learned ones. A basic skill belong to the occupation skill group and can be chosen during character creation process. A  skill can also be  learned during game play, but this is another story… What do you think about this skill management system ?

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