Beloved skill of cheerleaders and circus performers, this is the ability to perform tumbles, somersaults and other complex maneuvers. It is also used to dodge attacks, climb obstacles, and perform similar tasks of agility. Acrobatics can replace Crime when trying to move silently (use the higher of the two skills for sneaking- around attempts).
Using the Skill: Acrobatics is used with Dexterity to perform most maneuvers, including avoiding close combat attacks and gunfire. When jumping for distance, climbing, or swimming, use Strength along side Acrobatics instead.
Ever wanted to create some masterpiece for the ages, or just have your CD go platinum? All you need is a high enough level in Art. All the arts are covered by this skill: music, painting, sculpture, creative writing, and so on. That does not mean your character knows all artistic skills though. When creating the character, decide which art or arts are the character’s specialty.
Using the Skill: There are two types of rolls that use this skill. First, to create art, use Intelligence and Art for writing and painting, Dexterity and Art for dancing or playing an instrument, or Constitution and Art for singing. The Success Level determines how good the creation or performance, for things like music or dance, is. To judge someone's art, use Perception and Art.
Call it brawling, martial arts, fisticuffs, or flailing your arms around wildly, this skill covers the art of using your hands and other assorted body parts to hurt your fellow man (or critter).
Using the Skill: Dexterity and Brawling for hitting someone or avoiding being hit—many Combat Maneuvers are based on this skill. Intelligence and Brawling may be used to identify a fighting style, or to feint an opponent. Perception and Brawling counter such feints.
This is the nerdly art of keyboard slinging for fun and profit. With this skill your character can make computers do what she wants, including both programming and hacking. People don’t need this skill to use a computer. Just about anybody can find the “on” switch and use a mouse. The Computers skill lets your character do fun things like breaking into confidential databases, writing her own programs, programming her VCR, and other cool stuff.
Using the Skill: Intelligence and Computers to write a program or hack into a secure system. For hacking, the system’s security imposes penalties, from -1 for a high school record system to -8 or worse for the FBI database. Perception and Computers help diagnose software or hardware problems without having to call a help line and being on hold for two to three days.
Sometimes your character needs to break into a suspicious locked room, or maybe find an important clue in someone’s pants . . . pocket. Breaking and entering, skulking around, lifting evidence—if it’s illegal, this skill covers it, with two major exceptions: computer hacking uses the Computers skill, and conning people the Influence skill. Your character doesn’t have to be a criminal to have this skill; cops, private investigators, and other honest but street-wise folks have it as well.
Using the Skill: Dexterity and Crime are used for things like moving stealthily (although Acrobatics can replace Crime here), lifting someone’s wallet, and picking locks. Victims resist such activities with their Brains Score, or Perception and either Notice or Crime (whichever is better). Intelligence and Crime are used to identify criminals and street contacts (as modified by familiarity with the local criminal scene).
This is the ability to sit behind the wheel of a car or motorcycle and get it to go the way you want. This skill covers all wheeled vehicles, although if your character is not familiar with a specific vehicle (trying to drive an 18-wheeler or a motorcycle if she has only driven cars before), rolls will be at -2 to -5 or worse. Your character can’t pass Driver’s Ed without at least one level in this skill.
Using the Skill: Dexterity and Driving for your basic high-speed chases, dodging rush hour traffic, and other complex maneuvers (there is no need to roll for routine driving). Use Intelligence and Driving for basic mechanic maintenance stuff—for the big stuff, you’ll need the Mechanics skill.
This skill covers your basic things that go “bang”—shotguns, pistols, and the like.
Using the Skill: Dexterity and Guns for pointing and shooting. Aiming slows your character’s attack to the end of the Turn, but you add the Success Levels of a Guns and Perception roll to the shooting roll. Intelligence and Guns help clear a jammed gun.
The ability to deceive, seduce, intimidate, or manipulate people for kicks and giggles . . . or money . . . oh yeah, or a good cause. Influence allows your character to pick up somebody at a bar, scare people into giving up important information, or otherwise persuade others to do what she wants.
Using the Skill: Intelligence and Influence for fooling, scamming, or fast-talking others. Willpower and Influence to intimidate people. If your character is trying to seduce somebody, for example, any Attractiveness levels act as bonuses or penalties to the roll; the proper circumstances add bonuses or penalties (in the one to five range).
All non-scientific disciplines are covered by this skill. History, sociology, psychology, and the like are part and parcel of this skill. Knowledge can be useful in identifying the background of vampires and other creatures. For example, if you know a vampire was sired during the 17th century, it might be helpful to know what was going on in the 17th century. Knowledge can also help with occult research, and it lets characters say cool stuff like “This gauntlet is Late Medieval, probably from Florence; the markings are unmistakable.” Chicks really dig that.
Using the Skill: Knowledge is used with Intelligence for the most part. Knowledge skill rolls often add their Success Levels to Occultism or Influence rolls.
If you want hablar español, or sound good ordering at a French restaurant, or read the Old Church Latin edition of the Necronomicon, you need to learn a few languages. This skill covers any language other than one’s native tongue.
Using the Skill: This skill is different from the rest. Each level indicates fluency in one language (player decides which ones). When trying to decipher some arcane inscription, use Intelligence and Languages (knowing more languages helps). When trying to use a known language that you are familiar with, but less than fluent in, use Intelligence and Knowledge instead.
After character creation, picking up new languages is difficult. This skill cannot be improved unless your character spends several months studying (see improving the Languages skill through experience).
If it’s broken, this skill can fix it. If it ain’t broken, it can improve it (sometimes into not working at all). If it just ain’t, it can build it. Mechanics covers all technical and craft skills, from carpentry to mechanics to roadie work. This is what your character needs if she wants to rebuild the engine of that mean machine she’s tricking out, or to make sure the rock concert comes through loud and clear. Adventure-wise, it could be used to set up elaborate and interesting traps.
Using the Skill: Perception and Mr. Fix-It for spotting a problem. Intelligence and Mr. Fix-It to do the repairs or construction work.
After a tough fight, it pays to know some first aid. This skill covers the ability to heal injuries and cure disease through modern medicine. A full-fledged doctor has a skill of four or higher. Anything below that represents some training in first aid or emergency treatment.
Using the Skill: An Intelligence and Medicine roll is used to treat injuries; each Success Level restores one Life Point of damage (only one roll per patient per day). The victim also does not lose any more Life Points from bleeding and such. Perception and Medicine can be used to diagnose a medical problem, or determine the cause of death of some unfortunate victim.
Medieval Weapons Edit
When a fist is not enough, it’s time to break out some old-fashioned sharp metal whatsits and start a-hackin’ and a-slashin’. This skill is used for all archaic weapons, from swords and quarterstaffs to crossbows and throwing axes. It also covers driving stakes into the hearts of those pesky vampires.
Using the Skill: Dexterity and Medieval Weapons cover most combat maneuvers. Feints use Intelligence (or Perception) to recognize them. Many Combat Maneuvers use Medieval Weapons.
Need to get a clue? This is the skill. Without Notice, your character might miss the bloody handprint on the wall, the vampire sneaking past the window, or the oh-so-friendly smile from Daisy in Chemistry.
Notice measures a person’s focus and discipline in observing her environment. This is the skill to have for spotting a critter lying in ambush around the corner or when you absolutely, positively need to find Waldo.
Using the Skill: Perception and Notice to spot things. Intelligence and Notice to remember something your character saw before but didn’t realize was important until now.
Notice is an active skill; it is relevant when a character specifically focuses her attention on something. Without the Notice skill, active sensing rolls suffer penalties from -1 to -3. For passive sensing (your Director will let you know when this is applicable, such as when resisting a Crime roll), a Perception and Notice roll or a Perception (doubled) roll may be used, whichever is more beneficial to the character.
Forbidden knowledge, the black arts, the stuff you only find in outlawed books or some really dark heavy metal songs. This is the skill of the truly arcane. It includes things like the basics of vampire-slaying (what works and what doesn’t), identifying demons and their weaknesses, researching spells and rituals, and otherwise learning Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. Access to a good arcane library is a huge help. Your character needs the Occultism skill before she can become a proficient magician.
If your Director is feeling munificent, she might grant your spellcasting character a number of starting spells equal to her Occultism skill (of the Director’s choosing, no doubt).
Using the Skill: Intelligence and Occultism to recognize or research some supernatural name. Perception and Occultism to identify a creature on first sight. Occultism is also used to cast spells, with bonuses from the character’s Sorcery Level, if any.
This skill covers all your basic sciences— physics, biology, chemistry and so on. It can come in handy when dealing with the supernatural, if only to figure out if something is really supernatural. Characters with this skill earn the privilege of saying “That’s just scientifically impossible” a lot. At higher levels (five and above), weird science is possible— things like robots and a spray that will clean up those most-troublesome stains.
Using the Skill: Intelligence and Science for most things, from mixing a chemical formula to inventing a new device to repairing a broken thingamajig. Perception and Science are used to spot science-oriented clues, like identifying an unusual biochemical residue.
The ability to hit a ball with a stick, throw a ball, or do other things that may or may not involve balls. All sports are covered by this skill, except things like boxing and martial arts, which use Brawling, and gymnastics, which is part of Acrobatics. In a pinch, Sports can be used instead of other combat skills to do things like swing a baseball bat at a vampire’s head or tackle a monster— if you really want to get that close to an icky.
Using the Skill: Depending on the nature of the sporting event, one of the three physical Attributes is used. Coordination- and agility-based tasks (throwing a baseball) depend on Dexterity, brute force activities (weight lifting or tackling) relies on Strength, and endurance sports (marathon running) use Constitution.
Wild Card Edit
Let’s face it, some of you might notice that some skills are not covered in the list above (and you’re probably right). To take care of that problem without resorting to fisticuffs, we have the unsung 18th skill on the list— the Wild Card. This is your fill-in-the-blanks skill—it can cover anything you want, with one caveat: The Wild Card skill cannot be broader than pre-existing skills (Weapons, for example, which would cover both Guns and Medieval Weapons).