Skills are primarily talents that any character can learn, given time. You don't need to be born with freakish mutations, be exposed to dangerous radiation, or have alien DNA to master a new skill - just the dedication and opportunity to do so. Skills operate in one of two basic fashions: they either give characters an ability they would otherwise lack, or increase their ability to perform some task or another.
While the former are pretty self-explanatory (the Artist skill allows a Fortune bonus for creating art, for instance), the latter can be a bit more involved. Generally, if a skill increases the likelihood of success in a given action, it will enhance the rank value rolled against by +1 RS (unless otherwise noted). This is the 'base' level of a skill, and covers most examples of trained individuals.
Edition 13 of the 4C System rules technically recognizes eighty eight skills, those listed below. Of course, several are presented either as 'general' skills that are made more specific during character generation (like weapon skill), or such that additional skills can be 'grown' out of the existing skills as 'specialties' - particularly where sciences are concerned.
There is certainly room for additional skills, should a Gamemaster decide his or her campaign needs more - or if they feel one was given the 'short end of the stick' and deserves its own entry. And that's fine. The idea here is to cover most everything that should come up in the course of regular play, whether the game makes use of the entire Edition 13 rules or just bits and pieces of it.
Special Skill Rules
Some people will focus on a given skill above and beyond the patience or prowess of others, and will thus receive an additional bonus to related actions. For example, say someone wants to be very good at physics, so they study their entire life and perform esoteric research to that effect. This allows them to 'double up' their skill, providing a +1 RS above and beyond the normal bonus (if applicable).
Such skills are designated to indicate their increased bonus (the physicist in the above example would show that they have Physics 2, instead of 'mere' Physics). Any skill that is offering a double bonus should count as two skills (or cost two points), for the purposes of a character's total skills. Other than an explanation as to why said character is so good at what they do, nothing else is really necessary.
On the other hand, rare individuals are the 'best of the best' in their given fields. These folks may 'triple up' their skill in a given area, allowing for a +2 RS beyond the standard bonus to related ACTs. This is costly, however. If our example physicist wanted to have Physics 3, they would have to sacrifice four of their skill slots (or four points) for this purpose. And, of course, offer a compelling reason for that level of ability.
Additionally, skill bonuses may be stacked. If a character has multiple skills that could reasonably assist an ACT, add a +1 RS for each skill that applies, to a maximum of +3 RS. For example, a character with spatial combat and vehicular combat can add a +2 RS to combat maneuvers when piloting a spacecraft in space, while a scientist with electronics and chemistry gains a like bonus when developing chemical sensors.
Purchasing New Skills
Once play has begun, it may be more difficult for characters to acquire new skills, but it's not impossible - they just need the proper time to study! Assuming a character does indeed have such, he or she can master new lines of knowledge or talent at their leisure, as long as they have enough Fortune to pay the cost. A new skill can be purchased for one thousand Fortune points, twice that for skills that count as two.
One cannot purchase a new skill at a higher level to start with - everyone begins with but level 1 mastery in any skill they have begun to study after play begins. Once a skill is mastered, however, the character can continue to work on elevating its significance and extent if he or she wishes. Raising a skill to level 2 status costs a character twice as much Fortune as they would pay to acquire it at level 1.
As is the case during character generation, the player need only offer a simple explanation as to why they've 'escalated' their knowledge in an area to level 2. It's a bit more difficult to learn a level 3 skill once play begins, though. This requires extensive work on the part of the character that may well draw him or her away from adventuring for large amounts of time - as well as a rather good reason for such a boost.
Finally, there's the Fortune cost. To elevate an existing skill to level 3 costs a character three times the skill's base Fortune price. That final Row Shift is an expensive affair, both in the time and effort involved and the Fortune expenditure. However, it usually pays off in the long run if one really wants to express a mastery of any given subject, but it's often easier to just acquire a level 3 skill during character generation.
The possession of a skill implies a large amount of education and/or field training to account for the bonus(es) it provides. As such, people attempting to perform the actions covered by a skill without the skill to back them up should do so at a distinct penalty. Untalented characters may attempt to duplicate the actions described by a skill, but they suffer a -1 RS penalty when doing so.
This applies whether firing a hand gun without the guns skill or trying to fix your television without the electronics skill. Sometimes natural ability will make up for this disadvantage, but trained individuals almost always have a leg up on their untrained brethren. This penalty does not apply where common sense overrules; for example, punching does not require martial arts style b, being an essential component of the Melee trait.
Unlike most skills, background skills are usually something you only pick up during character generation. They often provide an origin (or part of such) for a character, or explain something about their abilities (or lack therein). Furthermore, background skills usually don't offer Row Shift bonuses like other skills do, instead giving a unique benefit that other talents will generally lack.
Typically, a character will only have one background skill, though several can be taken together if one's history indicates a necessity (law enforcement and military for an MP, or possibly an heir to fortune and student for a rich kid about to learn the family 'trade'). There are four background skills in all, each of which provides its own advantages (and drawbacks):
Heir to Fortune: this background skill helps to describe a character that was born into (or simply inherited) a whole lot of money. It offers a +1 RS to the character's Lifestyle, which the player can then gamble upon to determine their final amount. The advantage here is that the character need not actually work in order to maintain his or her lifestyle (no job necessary).
Depending on the nature of the fortune, though, it may come with complications. For one thing, there's the family; if the character is a member of a wealthy or influential family, their fortunes may wax and wane dependent on the character's actions (and vice versa). If the character merely inherited their fortune, it's possible that stipulations in the will that gave it to them may hinder their activities.
Conditions such as these should be worked out with the Gamemaster during character generation, though it's generally not fair to over-burden a character just because he or she was born into wealth. The overall idea is to enhance a character's background after all, not weigh it down to the point of silliness. Heir to Fortune costs three skill slots (or three points) during character generation.
Law Enforcement: the character with the law enforcement skill has a background in, well, law enforcement. He or she may currently be a police officer or served as one in the past, and active law enforcement officials can legally carry a gun and make arrests while in their jurisdiction. This tie to the authorities gives a character two additional contacts, the first being the agency they work (or formerly worked) for.
The second contact provided by law enforcement can be anyone the character worked with on the job, from a fellow officer to an informant on the streets or anything else that makes sense. Trained law enforcement officials also gain the benefit of learning the guns and law skills, as both are essential requirements to their line of work. Law Enforcement costs two skill slots (or two points) during character generation.
Military: this character has served (or is currently serving) with the armed forces of some country or another, usually noted with the skill itself ('Military / United States', or 'Military / France', for instance). The military builds strong bonds amongst its personnel, and a character with this skill gains two additional contacts, the first being the military agency they serve (or formerly served) with.
The second contact will be anyone of the player's choice, from a superior officer to a platoon mate or whoever else seems to fit. Trained military operatives gain the benefit of two additional skills as well, those being guns and martial arts style b - soldiers must be able to fight armed or unarmed against their country's enemies. Military costs two skill slots (or two points) during character generation.
Student: a student is a character who does not begin play with any skills to speak of, but instead is in the process of learning them. As such, the student skill costs all of a character's skill slots (or five points) during character generation - unless they also want heir to fortune. In that case they must have at least four skill slots - three for heir to fortune and the rest for the student skill.
This may seem a harsh penalty, but it pays off over time, as the cost of a student's skills is reduced by twenty five percent.
The amount of time a character may remain a student is technically infinite; there's really nothing stopping them from racking up new talents at a discount, and truth be told, that's not a bad thing considering the disadvantage they start out with. However, a character does need to remain in good standing with the source of their skill(s) in order to keep receiving this benefit; if lost, it may be a proper adventure to regain this favor.
Note: a character who possesses the student skill as well as the quick learning quirk can benefit from the Fortune discounts of both when purchasing new skills after play begins. However, this 'stacking' of discounts does not apply to the base cost of learned skill-equivalent powers, such as magic spells and psionics. Only one such discount can apply to the acquisition of ascendant abilities.
Skills of this stripe usually involve indirectly influencing a character - when you want something from someone, you know exactly what to say and how to say it. This may involve the alteration of actions, emotions, or whatever else is desired. Some talents of this type overlap with the professional skill category, but those that are listed here are not exactly a direct source of income.
Animal Handling: this is ability to train otherwise wild animals to do what you want. Through either positive or negative reinforcement, you can ultimately bend animals to your will, possibly even turning them into companions during adventures. Animal handlers are well versed in animal behavior, and should receive a +1 RS reaction modifier when dealing with them.
Hypnosis: this is a special ability related to any number of mental disciplines, and may be learned through any of them. Hypnosis can be used to place someone in a trance, a trick which is much easier when they are willing. If resisting hypnosis, a character may need... added persuasion, often in the form of torture or other manipulations.
Once a trance has been established, a character is highly suggestible, and the hypnotizer can impart commands and the like as if they possessed mesmerism at their Intellect value. Hypnosis is fickle, however, and will generally wear off after 1d10 days. Furthermore, it cannot force someone to perform an act that is diametrically opposed to their personality, such as forcing a pacifist to kill.
Leadership: true leaders are somewhat hard to come by. This skill allows a character to make use of their wits and other talents to lead a tight-knit group of people, in or out of battle. When heading up a group, leaders add 100 points to its Fortune pool while others are following their direction, a bonus that is freshly applied at the beginning of each new adventure.
Manipulation: on the other hand, some people get folks to do their bidding by less savory methods. Manipulation includes methods of coercion, deception, intimidation, and seduction, all of which give a manipulator a +1 RS to get their hooks into someone. Or, in game terms, to Repute ACTs, whether working in a positive or negative direction.
Performer: this represents the work of an actor, rock star, dancer, mime, or whatever other form of entertainment you prefer. While related to the artist talent, the performer skill reflects immediacy; can he or she put on a good show for those before them? Performers gain ten Fortune points for a week worth of work, whether doing stand-up comedy or acting on a movie set.
Service: the service industry always has a need for good people. Maybe you tend bar or perhaps do technical support, but the idea is you have the ability to listen to others and help them to solve their problems. You should receive a +1 RS to such efforts to reassure others, even if it means reading 'between the lines' because someone doesn't know what they're trying to tell you.
Sleight of Hand: this is the skill of misdirection, often used by stage magicians - though real sorcerers have made use of it now and then. With quick movements and fluid gestures, not to mention just a little bit of showmanship, a character using sleight of hand can seemingly make objects disappear right before your eyes, doing so at their Coordination +1 RS.
Tactics: a natural complement to leadership, the tactics skill represents someone well-versed in thinking several moves ahead, and able to reason out a solution to most any problem - either in or out of combat. While people follow the lead of a tactician executing his or her plan, they should receive a +1 RS on related actions when doing so - though this bonus ends if events evolve past said plan.
The four environmental skills involve specialized knowledge that assists a character in navigating or surviving the world around them. Whether it involves climbing an extreme vertical surface, following an elusive target's trail or even thriving in the harshest of climates, this class of talent will get you there. The skills represented here are primarily non-combative in nature.
Climbing: while most heroes climb with the assistance of super-human abilities, some individuals are just really good at doing so under their own power... or with the help of a bit of gear here and there. Climbers excel at ascending or descending vertical surfaces, from brick walls to craggy mountains, and should receive a +2 RS on any such attempts to do so.
Stealth: stealth is the ability to move without being conspicuous. Perhaps the character can tread silently, or maybe they're good at looking innocuous while doing so. When in use under practical conditions, stealth applies a -1 RS to Awareness ACT rolls required to detect the stealthy character - a bonus that works well with characters who possess super human abilities of this stripe.
Survival: individuals who have been trained in survival techniques excel at keeping themselves alive no matter how dire an environment or situation may be. All things considered, a survivalist can usually dredge up enough food, water and shelter to persist in any locale, from urban wastelands to the most overgrown of jungles to the coldest of tundra.
Tracking: while there is a super tracking power, perfectly normal humans can learn to follow others as well. The tracking skill allows a body to detect the signs of a person's passing, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. They do so at their Awareness rank value +1 RS, using advanced intuition and situational awareness to notice those blades of broken grass, changes in animal chatter, or whatever.
Fighting skills are capabilities that enhance a character's unarmed combat performance. It is important to note that fighting without related fighting skills will not incur a penalty. You can punch a foe without martial arts style b, grapple a foe without wrestling, or even attempt multiple actions without the multiple attacks skill, and not suffer a -1 RS penalty. There are fifteen fighting skills in all:
Acrobatics: an acrobatic character is incredibly nimble, either naturally or thanks to intensive training in this regard. The acrobatics skill offers several benefits in combat, granting characters a +1 RS to any dodge, escape, evade, feint, or weave maneuver they attempt. Acrobatics also offers a similar bonus to other feats of balance, such as walking a tight rope or rolls to avoid falling.
Aerial Combat: this specialized fighting skill involves training in airborne combat. It provides a +1 RS to all combat ACTs attempted while in the air, whether the character is flying under their own power or in a vehicle of some sort. This bonus can stack with other skill Row Shifts, but is often countered by the high movement rates of other aerial combatants anyway.
Astral Combat: one who masters this skill excels in fighting while in a disembodied state. This can be while traveling in an astral form or a cyber-spatial avatar - or anything in between. Astral combat grants a +1 RS to all combat maneuvers attempted while bodiless, whether armed or unarmed, a bonus that readily stacks with other fighting and weapon skills (where applicable).
Martial Arts style A: this fighting style involves using a foe's energies against them, and is representative of pacifist styles like Aikido and more aggressive Judo stances. Using martial arts style a, a character can inflict Concuss or Pound results regardless of the Brawn or Fortitude differences between them and their foe, as said foe's own energies are being used against them to determine damage.
This works by making a Melee ACT roll when attacked, on the weave row of the Master Table. If the attacker misses, his or her offensive power is redirected as the defender chooses, either into the ground or a nearby object - or just into the surrounding space (a throw). The use of style a martial arts does not require initiative to succeed, even though it is technically an offensive action.
Martial Arts style B: this fighting style is indicative of the likes of boxing, and involves inflicting damage in quick, decisive strokes. A character trained in style b martial arts may strike in unarmed combat at his or her Melee trait +1 RS, no matter what form of attack they attempt; punches, kicks, head butts, elbow drops, knee smashes, and many more maneuvers fall under this heading.
Martial Arts style C: style c martial arts focuses on the application of holds and the execution of escapes from such. It provides a combatant a +1 RS to their Brawn trait for the purposes of escape and grapple maneuvers (even where damage is concerned), and a +1 RS to one's Coordination for the purposes of dodging and weaving attacks. It excels for purposes of containing and wearing out unruly opponents.
Martial Arts style D: a contemplative and deadly technique, style d martial arts allows a character to find and strike out against a foe's weak points. After two turns of study, characters with style d martial arts may ignore body armor (though not force fields) for the purpose of inflicting Concuss or Pound results - even if no damage is inflicted by their attack!
Martial Arts style E: this fighting style involves striking fast and unpredictably, in order to act with surprise. The actions of a style e martial artist are difficult to predict, and their general speed grants them a +1 initiative modifier in unarmed combat. While a character with style d martial arts can still receive their benefits against a style e fighter, they cannot defeat the style e initiative modifier.
Multiple Attacks: the character with this skill is trained in making a burst of melee attacks in the shortest amount of time possible. After extensive training, a character with the multiple attacks skill should receive a +1 RS on multiple (offensive) actions ACT rolls, and no longer suffer the -1 RS penalty incurred when doing so (the -3 RS penalty for failing a multiple actions ACT still applies, however).
Spatial Combat: characters well versed in spatial combat are trained in the effects of alien environments on their fighting styles. They suffer no innate penalty to hit due to the effects of gravity on their body (whether it be zero Gs or multiples of earth gravity), whether in melee or ranged combat, and can maneuver with (relative) ease no matter the gravitic conditions on their body.
Targeting: characters with this skill have been trained in the use of their ranged powers, allowing them to make to-hit rolls at a +1 RS to their Coordination. This skill works no matter the emission point of said ranged powers on their body, whether it come in the form of hand blasts or eye beams, but can be somewhat difficult to obtain in the first place, as it's an uncommon skill.
Tumbling: tumblers know how to take a fall, both literally and figuratively. Whenever a character with the tumbling skill falls (or is thrown) any distance which does not inflict damage, they may attempt a Coordination ACT roll to land on their feet. This makes them ready for action immediately, and of course prevents unnecessary Concuss or Pound results that may occur due to, say, landing on one's head.
Underwater Combat: masters of this environmental fighting skill have the ability to engage in combat underwater effectively. They know how to compensate for underwater effects, and may attempt maneuvers beneath the waves without the normal to-hit penalty. Though water resistance and breathing may still be valid concerns, the skilled undersea combatant definitely has a leg-up on untrained foes.
Vehicular Combat: a specialized combat talent, this skill involves a character being well trained in the use of vehicles while fighting. Whether it's an airplane or custom built car or even a spacecraft, the vehicular combatant knows the ins and outs of such combat. They may attempt vehicular combat ACTs (either offensive or defensive) at a +1 RS to the applicable rank value (usually Coordination).
Wrestling: a wrestler is adept in applying holds, of either the standard or Sumo variety. By itself, wrestling allows a +2 RS to a character's Brawn for the purposes of placing an opponent in a hold, a bonus which stacks with style c martial arts quite nicely. While wrestling does not allow for additional damage, it does let the holding character maintain his or her hold each turn to inflict repeat damage.
This bundle of skills represents abilities that usually have practical use, but don't fit neatly into other categories. Miscellaneous skills encompass a wide variety of capabilities, some offering increased ability in some fashion. There are only six miscellaneous skills in all, though there's always room for more that may not necessarily fit into the other, more focused skill categories available.
First Aid: a limited form of the medicine skill, first aid is nonetheless a very useful skill to have in that it can be applied immediately during a fight (no ambulance ride required). When administering first aid, a character can immediately halt the loss of Fortitude rank values in a dying individual, going so far as to actually add one lost Fortitude rank value back as well.
Similarly, if caring for someone who has slipped to rank value 0 Fortitude, the character with first aid can bring them back from the brink if they reached that point within the last five turns. This period of time is added to the maximum amount of time a character can be resuscitated within if the wielder also has medicine (for 25 turns maximum), and boosts 'emergency care' ACTs for those with both skills by +1 RS.
Power Skill: this skill represents a character who has trained hard in the use of one of their super human abilities, which may or may not have combat applications, depending on the nature of said power. When using this power, the character should receive a +1 RS on all actions they attempt, save where damage is concerned. The power so trained in is noted in the skill listing, such as 'Skill / Fire Generation'.
Repair / Tinkering: tinkerers are great at taking apart an existing item and either fixing or modifying it in either a minor or major capacity. Tinkerers should receive a +1 RS on such efforts, whether fixing a toaster or adding a nitrous oxide feed into the fuel supply of their automobile, a bonus which is readily aided by other skills such as engineering or electronics.
Resist Domination: bearers of this skill have been trained in the use of various techniques to avoid mental control in all its many forms. Whenever facing the effects of the manipulation or hypnosis skills, or even the blatant use of psionics, characters with resist domination should receive a +1 RS to their Willpower for the purposes of shaking off such control.
Trance: severe meditation and intense mastery of one's body and mind can allow a person to enter a deep, restive trance. While in this state, a character's body functions slow to the point that they are undetectable, and he or she appears to be dead (Awareness ACT to make this distinction). Also, individuals in a trance have a minimal need for food or water, and recover lost Fortitude rank values at a rate of one per day.
Trivia: experts in trivia know a whole lot about obscure categories of knowledge that are typically not covered by other skills. An expert on baseball cards may know everything there is to know about the cards, but not necessarily baseball itself (though he or she may have the sports / baseball skill as well). Those with this skill gain a +1 RS on knowledge ACTs regarding their trivial area of expertise.
The seventeen professional skills represent occupational paths. As opposed to scientific talents, these skills primarily lean upon practical experience to function. Sure, plenty of studying may be involved, but you mainly learn these crafts by doing, not reading. Furthermore, these skills lend themselves to a decent Lifestyle rank value - or at least a practical means of making money besides inheriting (or stealing) it.
Artist: the artist is a person who creates works of, well, art. Unlike performances, these are lasting works that linger long past the actual performance proper (not counting recordings of such), such as photography, painting, sculpture, and writing. One work of art will typically take 1d10 weeks to finish, and offer a Fortune reward equal to ten times that value upon completion.
Astronaut: similar to pilots, astronauts can fly... except their rides glide through the inky blackness of space instead of the sky. Space flight has several challenges above and beyond standard aeronautics, including zero gravity operation, incredibly hostile environments, and navigation on a galactic scale. Astronauts receive a +1 RS in all of these areas, in addition to their actual flying ability.
Boating: piloting a water-based vehicle is typically more complicated than comparable earth-bound rides. Whether handling a jet-ski, a fishing boat, a battle ship, or even a submarine, a boater does so at a +1 RS. They also receive this bonus on efforts to spot / avoid water-based hazards (such as reefs), building rafts, attempting rescues on the sea, swimming, and even holding one's breath.
Business / Finance: this is the art of running a business, or otherwise growing available resources. Financiers and business people gain the benefit of a minimum Lifestyle rank value of 10, and a +1 RS in monetary matters (whether actually handling it or in dealings with the business world), in addition to one free contact related to their field in some fashion.
Crime: crime is a sort of catch-all for capabilities that aren't specifically covered by other skills, which are primarily useful for engaging in larcenous behavior. Whether keeping an eye out for the police, picking a lock, disguising oneself as another person, or even appraising the 'street value' of stolen goods, a criminal may add a +1 RS to any such efforts.
Some enterprising criminals excel in one area of this skill, which should be so noted. A 'master of disguise' might have a +2 RS for the purposes of posing as others, while being useless where locks are concerned (and would be noted with 'Disguise' instead of 'Crime'.) Alternately, a criminal may specialize in an area of crime as can a scientist, spending another skill slot for the additional +1 RS on top of crime in general.
Demolitions: a limited and specialized form of the Engineering profession, this skill involves the knowledge to build, arm or disarm explosive devices. It allows a character to perform these actions at a +1 RS to their Intellect trait, and is representative of explosive ordnance disposal professionals or, alternately, military engineers who excel at destroying enemy gear with bombs.
Detective / Espionage: detectives are good at connecting the dots and finding the clues necessary to solve a mystery, while spies, on the other hand, excel in liberating information from their targets. Both should receive a +1 RS on ACT rolls to dig up or discover the information they require, and receive not one but two additional contacts to assist in their line of work.
Driving: while most people in modern societies can operate an automobile without too much hassle (no penalty), professional drivers excel behind the wheel. They may attempt most maneuvers while driving at a +1 RS, and know how to handle almost any ground-based vehicle, from cars to tractor trailers to tanks. As a bonus, drivers may maintain their vehicles with a similar bonus.
Education: including aspects of behavior modification, politics and performer, teaching involves passing knowledge on to others. Educators should receive a +1 RS when attempting to teach things to others, whether for keeping their attention or making things comprehensible. Educators should receive two additional contacts, usually people they've taught in the past.
Engineering: the craft of building, an engineer knows how to make things - from cars to skyscrapers. On the other hand, engineers also know how to take them apart, and make great demolitionists. An engineer should receive a +1 RS on ACT rolls related to designing or building an object or device, including the Lifestyle ACT required for such.
Journalism: journalists master the craft of conveying the news to the world, whether they do so with words or pictures (or both). This character excels in generating compelling accounts of current events, receiving a +1 RS when doing so, and should receive three additional contacts related to their field - possibly an editor, fellow journalist, or even a trusted 'reliable source'.
Law: armed with an extensive knowledge of the legal system, lawyers are put into play to sway judges and juries over to their line of thinking - and that of their client's. They should receive a +1 RS concerning legal knowledge and procedure, and benefit from one additional contact - either in legal circles or perhaps a client they made a particularly good impression on.
Piloting: more than anything else, pilots are experts in aeronautics. After all, you want to know the hunk of metal that is the only thing between you and a five mile drop very, very well. Pilots receive a +1 RS in the operation of any aircraft, whether Coordination, Intellect or Handling ACTs are required, and gain a similar bonus for the design and maintenance of aircraft as well.
Politics: politics is the fine art of making decisions for and influencing groups of people, and politicians excel in doing just that, whether in a diplomatic fashion (bringing people together) or in an abrasive manner (fear mongering, rabble rousing). Politicians should receive a +1 RS on efforts to sway a crowd to their point of view, and receive one bonus contact related to this purpose.
Riding: those increasingly rare individuals who possess this skill are adept at riding a large creature, whether into battle or just for leisure. Most often this involves a horse, but can be any number of animals both mundane and fantastic, from elephants to pegasi to dragons! Controlling a riding animal may be attempted at a +1 RS by those who have mastered this skill.
Salesmanship: some people train hard to influence other people, while others... just have an inherent knack for it. Salesmen are very, very good at convincing people that they absolutely need something - whether or not they actually do. They should receive a +1 RS on efforts to sell anything, whether in person or through the media (often known as marketing).
Sports: while most everyone can play a game without formal training, the individuals with actual skill in their sport of choice have elevated their recreational passion into an art form - often with monetary benefits. The sports skill offers a +1 RS bonus to knowledge relating to athletics in general (rules, statistics, etc...), as well as actions made in the course of play.
But that's not all. Athletes typically specialize in one form of sport above others. Instead of a general knowledge in sports (often possessed by sports commentators), a character may instead be really versatile in knowledge related to one sport. This sort of character should receive a +2 RS in their game of choice, instead of having an all-around bonus, and are noted specifically (e.g., 'Sports / Lacrosse'.)
Skills of the scientific variety almost exclusively involve the study of some area of knowledge or another. The skills listed below are generalized into 'major' sciences, which allow for further specialization. If a character would like to specialize in a specific area of a skill (as an example, the doctor with medicine wanting to go into neurology), they can buy that specialization as a second skill.
While this can be expensive (particularly if one wants to have more than one specialized science under their belt), the specialist benefits from an additional +1 RS in their area of expertise, while keeping their basic level with a skill unchanged - which is a bit cheaper than 'doubling up' in a general science. There are fifteen scientific skills in all, each covering a vital area of knowledge:
Archaeology: archaeologists research the past in order to learn from it, for various reasons. The character with archaeology as a skill should receive a +1 RS on any ACT roll dependent on knowledge of the past. It also lends itself to various specialty fields, such as anthropology, or even a focus on the history of specific nations (e.g., 'History / Spain').
Biology: students of biology become well versed in the basic processes of life, involving both humans and other life forms. Biologists are familiar with a wide variety of organisms, and should receive a +1 RS on any ACT concerning knowledge of such, either for identification purposes, the treatment of organic poisons, or even the researching and treatment of a disease.
Biologists can specialize in many specific forms of their science, such as botany (plants), mycology (fungi), zoology (animals), epidemiology (illness and plague), agriculture (growing food), pharmacology (drugs and their effects), exobiology (alien life forms), veterinary science (the care and treatment of animals), and many, many more. Biology readily overlaps with most other scientific talents, as well.
Chemistry: this is the study of interactions between different chemical substances, the changes they undergo, and the resultant energies produced. Characters with the chemistry skill can add a +1 RS to all chemical ACT rolls required, whether remembering chemical structures, mixing new compounds, identifying substances by taste or touch, or even brewing antidotes for inorganic toxins.
Computers: a study of computer technology allows for a significant understanding of how 'thinking machines' work. Whether operating, assembling or programming such devices, a computer expert should receive a +1 RS on necessary Intellect ACT rolls. This bonus applies whether working on regular computers, computer-controlled or assisted equipment, or even artificial intelligences.
Criminology: criminologists are experts in the criminal mind, knowing how it generally operates thanks either to personal experience or extensive study. They should gain a +1 RS on Intellect or Awareness ACT rolls related to criminal practices, and receive the benefit of one additional contact in either police or criminal circles (whichever is most convenient).
Electronics: a study of electronics allows one to bend the electron to their will! Whether building analog or digital circuits, a student of electronics can create all manner of devices to power their world, from the mundane to the fantastic. They should receive a +1 RS on any Intellect ACT related to this field, particularly when designing, building, or repairing electronic devices.
Genetics: related to both biology and chemistry to an extent, genetics is a study of the essential building blocks of life, such as deoxyribonucleic acid. While genetics has several beneficial uses, it lends itself to abuse by the more 'twitchy' members of the scientific community, particularly those who think it's time to 'improve' on a species - with or without thinking through the consequences.
Either way, a geneticist should receive a +1 RS on matters concerning genes in general, particularly where mutation is concerned. They share a benefit with biologists, having the skills to research and treat diseases (with the added benefit of being able to cook up their own). Finally, a geneticist has the ability (if not necessarily the resources or safeguards) to create new life forms from scratch.
Geology: the study of the earth, geology is a way to look at how our planet formed and functions. It provides a +1 RS on ACTs called for in regards to volcanic activity, the identification of particular rocks or stones, or even determining the characteristics of nearby strata. Common specializations of geology include ecology, paleontology, meteorology, and (in futuristic campaigns) astrogeology.
Linguistics: this is the study of languages. A linguistic expert may begin play with at least one additional language, which they can read, write and speak in fluently, in addition to their native tongue. Mastering additional languages after the second is much easier; each further language learned only counts as half a skill during character generation, or is purchased at half price during character advancement.
This skill can also indicate mere mastery of specific languages, instead of an actual study of such. This is functionally the same, only differentiated in order to distinguish true linguists from characters who may just happen to have an extra language or two in their 'pocket'. Non-linguists with multiple tongues are indicated by listing the languages they can use as skills (e.g., 'Languages / English and Farsi').
Lore: while most sciences focus on what others consider common knowledge, the student of lore digs deeper, into areas some consider fantasy at best. Lore is a sort of accumulated wealth of knowledge on mystic cults, antiquities, and forgotten (or forbidden) knowledge. The character who is a student of lore should receive a +1 RS in such matters, no matter how obscure.
There is room for many specialties of lore, as it is a science - if somewhat mysterious. A bibliophile may be an expert on magical books, while a scholar of antiquities may know everything there is to know about mystic artifacts, and a cryptozoologist might be the go-to person when freaky monsters from other planes of existence run amok down in the industrial district.
Mathematics: the 'queen of the sciences', mathematics is an advanced and rigorous discipline. Beyond the basic maths most children master in school, this skill deals in abstract concepts evolved from quantity, real or imaginary. These include geometry / trigonometry, calculus, information theory, probability / chaos theory, and more - all of which a mathematician handles at their Intellect trait +1 RS.
Medicine: characters with this skill have studied the human body extensively, and can treat a variety of conditions it may be suffering from. As you can guess, doctors and nurses benefit from a +1 RS on any Intellect ACT roll required in matters of medical problems or emergencies, medicines, poisons, surgery, or the treatment of most any ailments. Being a doctor has several additional benefits, however.
While anyone can stop a dying person from losing further Fortitude ranks simply by checking on them, characters with the medicine skill can actually resuscitate wounded individuals who have slipped to rank value 0 Fortitude within the last twenty turns. Furthermore, when treating the wounded, they may restore one lost Fortitude rank value per week, in addition to those regained thanks to normal healing.
Physics: the science of physics involves a study of matter and how it moves through space-time. This is a fancy way to describe a study of how things work, from the largest to the smallest. This skill offers a +1 RS on all Intellect ACT rolls regarding energy, force, motion and time. Some specialty fields of physics include astronomy, nuclear physics and quantum physics, among others.
Psychology: a psychologist studies the human mind and how it works. This is different than a psychiatrist, which is actually a medical specialty, in that a psychologist has no medical background, per se. They should receive a +1 RS on Intellect ACT rolls related to determining the behavior of others, either individually or in groups. Specialty fields include related disciplines such as sociology and political science.
But wait, there's more. An intense knowledge of how people think and behave has benefits above and beyond academic work and the treatment of mental illness. A trained psychologist knows the ins and outs of thought processes, which comes in handy when wielding psionics of any stripe. Psychologists attempt efforts to read, control or influence thoughts or emotions with a +1 RS bonus to their power rank value(s).
Theology: this is the study of spirituality, or of religious faith, practice and experience. Theologists are keenly aware just what major (and most minor) religions represent, and should receive a +1 RS on ACT rolls concerning such knowledge. Theological specialists are those who focus on just one faith for the most part, and are noted as such (say, with 'Theology / Pastafarianism'.)
The opposite of fighting skills, weapon skills involve armed combat in some degree or another. They primarily offer a +1 RS to the use of the weapon(s) in question, or provide the ability to use an entire class of weaponry without penalty. There are nineteen weapon skills in all, each of which greatly expand the lethality of a character no matter their choice in personal armaments:
Advanced Guns: characters with the advanced guns skill have a knack for the use of high-tech, hand-held projectile weaponry. These weapons, which include laser pistols, particle beam emitters, blasters, concussion cannons and the ever-popular death ray, behave differently than standard hand guns and require special training - training which provides a +1 RS in the use of such devices.
Blunt Weapons: this 'package' skill provides a character the ability to wield all blunt melee weapons without penalty. Whether they're brandishing a staff, a club, a Louisville slugger or even a nunchaku, a combatant may use it at their base Melee trait, as opposed to the usual -1 RS penalty. Blunt weapons costs one additional skill slot or point (or an extra 1,000 Fortune) to 'double up' or 'triple up'.
Bows: this skill allows a character to fire stringed weaponry at their Coordination trait +1 RS, whether it be a standard, compound, or cross bow. This skill assumes the ability to fire and reload the bow as a single combat action. Also, a character with the bows skill may attempt to fire several arrows at once (if not using a crossbow), though this requires a blue Coordination ACT, and the usual penalties apply.
Concussion Weapons: concussion weapons are melee devices that produce a focused field that, when striking another, inflicts Force damage. This may come in the form of concussion gauntlets, charged melee weapons or even solid energy constructs like a force bat. This skill allows the use of this class of weaponry without penalty, though related skills readily stack with the concussion weapons skill.
Energy Weapons: on the other hand, energy weapons are melee devices that generate a power field which inflicts more deadly, Energy damage instead. This class of weaponry includes power gauntlets, vibro blades, or even photon swords. This skill allows the use of focused energy weapons without penalty, though related skills readily stack with the energy weapons skill (for example, swords and energy weapons).
Guns: the character that is trained in the fine art of gunplay may use such weapons as though their Coordination was +1 RS higher than is listed. This applies whether the gun in question is a standard, semi-automatic, or fully automatic rifle or pistol, and includes all applicable modes of fire for a given gun (semi-automatic guns can fire one round or a small burst, for example).
Marksman: firing large-bore weaponry requires special training, including a lot of math, as well as practical skill. A trained marksman can use this education to fire weapons with a line of sight range effectively, whether they come in the form of mortar shells, fire-and-forget portable missiles, or even large caliber tank or ship cannons. These weapons may be fired at a +1 RS to the character's Coordination trait.
Natural Weapons: this class of weaponry is not the kind that can be easily removed, as it is inherent to one's own body. It includes claws, quills, razor skin, battle tails and the like. One can use such 'additions' without penalty if they lack this skill, but training in one's natural weapons allows the character so armed a +1 RS in the use of such unique, built-in physical enhancements.
Oriental Weapons: this 'package' skill lets one wield Oriental-style weapons without penalty. Whether brandishing a sai, katana, crossbow, shuriken, nunchaku, or even a wakizashi, a character can use it at their base Melee or Coordination trait, where applicable, as opposed to the usual -1 RS. Oriental Weapons costs one additional skill slot or point (or an extra 1,000 Fortune) to 'double up' or 'triple up'.
Quick Draw: the quick draw skill represents a character that has trained to wield their weapon of choice fast - very fast. This skill can apply to any one type of weapon, but not a weapon class (it can work with a hand gun or a sword, but not all 'blunt' or 'sharp' weapons). In play, it offers the character with this skill a +1 initiative modifier when wielding their preferred weapon.
But wait, there's more. Thanks to this inherent speed with one's weapon of choice, the quick draw talent allows its user a +1 RS to their Melee regarding multiple actions with said weapon. This helps a body get off just one more shot with that rifle, or perhaps an extra stroke with their sword. This bonus can stack with the automatic extra attack from two weapons if both revolve around the same weapon type.
Sharp Weapons: the opposite coin of the blunt weapons skill, this 'package' skill allows the character to wield any edged melee weapon without penalty (as opposed to the usual -1 RS handicap). This can come in the form of a sword, a dagger, an axe, a scythe, or just about anything else with a blade attached. Sharp weapons costs one additional skill slot or point (or an extra 1,000 Fortune) to 'double up' or 'triple up'.
Shields: just about any slob can make effective use of a shield, assuming at least a passing familiarity with the device. The true skill comes in wielding it offensively as well as defensively, and this skill allows a body to strike another with a shield - either in melee or when thrown in the case of aerodynamic shields - at a +1 RS to the applicable trait.
Spontaneous Weapons: the character with this skill has practiced in the use of turning almost anything into a weapon. Whether it's a chair, a couch, a television, a lamp post, or even a city bus, he or she can wield it effectively; think of this as 'blunt weapons' on steroids. Whenever using an item as a makeshift weapon, the character with skill may do so without penalty (though with no actual bonus to hit).
Thrown Objects: the ranged equivalent of the above talent, the thrown objects skill allows characters to wield almost any object in long distance combat. It doesn't matter if they've palmed a rock, a crate, an automobile, or even a dumpster, the character can throw it as long as he or she has the strength to lift the thing. Characters with the thrown objects skill can fling any object at their Coordination trait +1 RS.
Thrown Weapons: persons who are trained in the use of thrown weapons can wield them at range without penalty, receiving a +1 RS to their Coordination when doing so. Any weapon specifically designed to be thrown (boomerangs, shuriken, darts, and certain daggers and axes, for instance) falls under the purview of this skill. Other items (even weapons) not specifically designed to be thrown refer to thrown objects.
Two Weapons: difficult to master, the two weapons skill allows a character to effectively handle two similar (in shape, size, or weight) weapons at the same time. Two weapons provides one extra attack per turn when using similar weapons at the same time, which allows for either two separate attacks or bursting. The weapons a character can dual wield are generally indicated as part of the skill name (e.g., 'Two Guns'.
Weapon Skill: while most of the weapons skills listed above showcase general types of weapons (blunt weapons, sharp weapons, energy weapons, etc...), this skill represents a character who has worked hard to master one specific type of weapon, usually indicated in the name of the skill (such as 'Skill / Swords'). When wielding weapons of this type, a character does so at the appropriate trait +1 RS.
This skill is the one amongst weapon skills that most readily stacks with others. For instance, the wielder of a force bat with a skill / clubs and concussion weapons would allow a +2 RS to hit (the clubs skill backed up by the concussion weapons skill). This sort of combination allows a general mastery of one class of weapons, with another the character can wield above and beyond others of that class.
Weapon Specialist: a character can train above and beyond the call of duty with a specific weapon in order to attain even greater mastery with it - say, a family heirloom or unique artifact they discovered by chance. By becoming a weapon specialist with this item, he or she can add a +2 RS to their to-hit rolls when wielding it, which can stack with the normal weapon skill for its type.
Say our heroine finds a strange hammer with the power to control the weather itself! She trains long and hard, and masters hammers in general (skill / hammer), and then specializes in the use of this specific weapon, gaining a further +2 RS. The only danger is in losing this weapon, either if it's stolen or destroyed. If this occurs, and the weapon cannot be replaced, the bonus (and Fortune spent to gain this skill) is lost.
An additional bonus a weapon specialist receives is that he or she may add a +1 initiative modifier when using their weapon of choice (which does stack with the quick draw bonus).
Weapons Master: something of a misnomer, this skill represents a person who has trained hard enough to be effective with most every weapon available to them. While it offers no bonus, weapons master allows a character to literally wield any weapon, melee or ranged, without penalty. Of course, being a weapon master can be somewhat expensive, costing two of the character's total skill slots.