Below are the rules for the use of skills in the game. Skills can seem daunting at first. However, realize that not all skills or skill rules will apply to your character. It is unlikely that you will ever use all the skills available for even a fully leveled up character. If you want to review the skills themselves a list of all skills can be found in the Skills section.
- A quick summary
- Skills are actions Characters can do in the game that requires confirmation. Skills have Ranks, the Rank helps determine the Skill Die that a Player rolls along with the standard d20. To gain more ranks a player spends Skill Points which are earned at every level. Before skills can have ranks in them, the Character needs to Train the skill which requires spending 1 skill point. Being Trained means that the Character can use the skill and apply the Ability Modifier to improve Skill Die level. Some skills are Natural which means that they do not need to be trained to be used. Unnatural skills, however, require the skill to be trained first. Character path or Class provides Class Skills which are skills that the Character has a familiarity with. All Class Skills only cost 1 skill point to rank up while nonclass skills require 2 skill points. Whenever a Character gets a Class Skill either at level 1 or at any other level they get 1 Skill Point they must spend directly on that Skill. Characters can hold onto Skill Points that they cannot or do not want to spend. Some skills are considered "Rank Dependent" which means that their Skill Rank predetermines the level of reward for a successful roll. Success is determined by beating the Difficulty Class (DC). This is usually a number between 5 and 40 and is determined by the GM.
- Skills can have multiple uses and can be useful in multiple scenarios. They also take in-game time to use. Sometimes a Character can retry a skill, but the rules are on a per skill biases. A player can choose to take 10 or take 20 which means that the Character takes roughly 10 or 20 in-game minutes to perform the skill respectively and do not have to roll the dice but get a predetermined static value. Players can also choose to aid one another for a bonus to the person that is performing the task.
The Rank dependent skills are special and have a few extra rules and require more attention. Language skill is unique. The things different about Language are discussed on its Skill page here. But first please review the base rules.
All About Skills
Skills are common abilities or groups of capabilities considered to be actions that the Character can do in the game. These actions are usually out of combat situations that can affect the story or direction of the game. A Character cannot merely say that they do something difficult without some chance of failure. Sometimes skills can also be used inside of Combat. All Skills are also associated with an Ability score. For example, the Skill Athletics represents a set of different actions like "Swimming," "Jumping," "Climbing" and so on. They all fall under the Ability of Strength.
- What do I Roll?: A d20 + Skill Die are rolled to determine the output of any skill action. Players add bonuses to the roll Misc Mods or Miscellaneous Modes. Ranks in a skill show that a Character has trained to get better at that skill. More on Skill Die Level below in section Skill Ranks.
- What number do I need to beat?: Skill checks are usually against some Difficulty Class or DC. Typically, this number is predetermined by the GM using rules in the Skills section. Some Skills have Opossing checks. Which is when a Skill roll is pitted against another Character or NPC's Skill roll. Such as someones Stealth check may be used as the DC for someone's Perception check.
- How do I get Skills?: At each level including level one, a character gets Skill Points that can be spent to make a Skill Trained or improve skill Rank which improves the Skill Die. The Character's Path and Intelligence modifier determines the number of points per level a character gets. The minimum is 1 even if the Intelligence modifier is negative. The maximum Rank a Skill can be is 1/2 Character Level roundup. Skill Points do not need to be spent and can be held onto until the Player wishes to spend them. Meaning any unspent skill points roll over to the next level.
- How do I use Skills?: The Player declares that they are going to use a Skill and for what purpose. The Player may also want to declare what they hope the outcome would be and how their Character is going to act. The GM has the ability to tell a Player no or inform the Player of any Advantages or Disadvantages. To learn more about using a Skill review the Using Skills section below.
- How do Skills differ?: To learn about each skill visit the Skills page. However, there are different types of Skills. These types are: Class/Non-Class, Natural/Unnatural, Trained/Untrained, Rank Dependent. The different types will be explained in more detail below.
In addition to other customization, each Path and Class has a number of favored skills, called Class Skills. It is easier for your character to become more proficient in these skills, as they represent part of his/her professional training and constant practice. There are several advantages too class skills. First, when a Character gains a Class skill the Character also gains a free Skill Point that has to be spent on that Skill. This also counts if the Character already has that Skill as a Class Skill. Secondly, in order to add ranks to a class skill, the Player only needs to spend 1 skill point. All non-class skills require 2 skill points to gain a Rank.
NOTE: Skill Point gained from getting a new Class Skill must be spent instantly unless the rules specify it cannot. IE: The Skill Rank is already at maximum. Then that Skill Point is saved and spent on that Skill as soon as it is possible.
Modifying Character Sheet: To record what skills are Class Skills on your character sheet there is a checkbox on the far left of the skill in question. There are actually two little checkboxes. The first box to the left of the skill name is for recording if the skill has been Trained by spending a point in it. (More on Trained/Untrained in the following section). However, the next box over is where you can record that the skill is indeed a class skill.
A Natural skill implies that the average person in the Future Path universe knows how to perform this particular action. While Unnatural implies that it requires training Before use. For example, Skill Perception is a Natural skill. Being able to perceive the environment around yourself using some form of sense like smell, sight, sound or others. This should come Natural to people. However, there are also Unnatural skills such as crafting. Crafting is not something that a person is just born knowing how to do. And even if the knowledge was implanted genetically that knowledge has to have come from somewhere first.
The biggest difference is that Natural skills do not require that the be Trained first. (More on Training in the section below) Unnatural skills cannot be used at all unless the Character spends a Skill Point to make that Skill Trained. Even though Natural skills can be used without being Trained it cannot use any Skill Die or Ability Modifiers. A Skill Check with a Natural untrained skill is d20 + Misc Mods.
Character Sheet: On the Character sheet skills that are Unnatural are identified with a '*' next too there name. You can also see by looking at the Skills page.
Training implies that your Character is more familiar with the actions associated with that Skill and can attempt to perform the action to the best of their Ability. Training a skill requires a single skill point. Unnatural skills require training before use while Natural skills do not require training to use but without training, a Character cannot apply his/her associated ability modifier to improve the Skill Die. Once a skill is Trained when rolling for that skill the Player can add the Character's Ability Modifier to the Skill Die Level.
Modifying Character Sheet: To denote that a skill is Trained there is a small checkbox to the left of the skill in question. To the right of the class skill check box. You can use that checkbox to record that you have Trained the skill. However to show what a skill type is you do not need to edit the character sheet. Skill types are a predetermined part of the game rules. The character sheet denotes trained skills from natural skills with a '*' next to the skill name.
Rank Dependent Skills
The third and final type of skill is "Rank Dependent." All "Rank Dependent" skills are considered to also be Unnatural. All Rank Dependent means is that the best possible outcome is predetermined by the rank of the skill and that the Rank has another static effect on the Character. This does not affect the Difficulty of the task. The target "DC" is still the same.
The best way to explain Rank Dependent is with the Language skill. Let's say there are two Characters one with a Skill Rank of 1 in "Common Human." That Player is just learning to speak/write and understand that language. The second Character with a Skill Rank of 3 in "Common Human" it means that you are fluent in it. The second Character may not completely sound native, but the Character will likely fool most. Both Characters are handed a holo-message in the Human language that happens to be garbled. The Players must still roll a Skill check to see if each Character can understand the message. DC is the same 15 for both players. Not only does the second Character with a rank of 3 have a better chance (because the player can roll +1d8 to his skill check) but the Character also has the best possible outcome in that he can completely understand the message. However, the best possible outcome for the first Character with only 1 rank is only a word here or there. DC is the same for both. But the outcome if they succeed is different.
'NOTE: Language has even more special rules than other Rank Dependent Skills. Such that the Language skill is considered a Class Skill for all Paths and is already considered Trained at level 1.
Here is a list of all Rank Dependent Skills:
Rank Dependent skills usually have extra rules. For example: Language skill is considered a Class Skill for all Paths and is already considered Trained at level 1
Skills have Ranks. The skill ranks are 1 thru 10. The maximum Rank a skill can have is one halve the Character Level roundup. IE: At level 2 it is still just 1 while at level 15 it is Skill rank 8. As a Character levels up they gain more Skill Points. These points can be spent to Rank up a Skill and thus a better Skill Die. It costs 1 skill point to move a Class Skill up a rank and 2 skill points to move a Non-Class Skill up a rank. You cannot gain ranks in a skill that has not yet be trained.
Skill Die Levels
Ranks help determine the Skill Die Level which in turn tells the Player what Die too roll when doing a skill check. The Skill Die Level is equal to the associated Ability Modifier + Skill Rank. A Skill cannot be negatively affected by an Ability so a -1 Modifier simply acts like a 0 when it comes to Skill Die Level. An untrained Skill cannot have a Skill Die when doing a Check as it cannot have Ranks and it cannot add the Character's Ability Modifier.
Below is a list of Skill Dies and there associated level.
- 1d12 + 1d2
- 1d12 + 1d4
- 1d12 + 1d6
- 1d12 + 1d8
- 1d12 + 1d10
- 2d12 + 1d2
Using a skill is as simple as rolling a d20 + Skill Die if there is one and then adding any additional Miscellaneous Modifiers.
1d20 + Skill Die + Miscellaneous Modifiers
This is called a Skill Check and it is usually rolled against a Difficulty Class or DC. Some Skill Checks are Opposing Checks. Opposing checks are when the outcome of the skills action is determined by how good another Player, GM controlled character, monster or object performs.
However, there are several side notes to consider before a Player should commit there Character too a Skill action.
- Is this skill usable in combat?
- How much in-game time does it take to use this Skill?
- Can I simply take 10 or 20 or do I have to roll?
- If I fail what is the consequences?
- Can I try again?
Figuring out the answers to questions above is part of the strategy and choice making within Roleplaying Pen&Paper games. A Character may only have time to make 1 or 2 checks while analyzing a situation and they may not be able to try again. Figuring out what skill to use and when is important and having a full party of team members who have different selections of skills is important.
Information about each skill is provided on a per skill basis which you can get a list of all Skills and links to there pages on the Skills page. Knowing about how each skill can be used can help the players make the right choices. Luckily Characters at level 1 usually only have a few skills so a player doesn't need to learn how to use all the skills. However, if you are the GM you should review all the skills in the Skills page before gameplay. You may also want to record what skills each player has.
Below is a list of all the skills under there associated Ability.
In some situations, characters can cooperate to accomplish a given task. One character is designated as the leader in the effort, while the others try to aid the character in his or her efforts. A character aids another by making a skill check (DC 10). This is a Full Round action if done in combat. The helping Character can’t take 10 or 20. The attempt to aid can only occur if the helping character can also perform the same skill. If the check succeeds, the Character’s ally gains a +2 circumstance bonus to apply to his or her skill check to complete the task. Unless they have a feat or class talent that says otherwise. They gain an additional +2 for every 5 the DC is beaten.
- Limiting Number of Helpers
- In some cases, a character’s help won’t be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at the same time. The GM limits the number of other characters can aid as he or she sees fit for the conditions. A general rule of thumb is 1 additional Character can help. The GM may find that some tasks can be large enough that it would be reasonable for more Characters to help. An example is constructing a large object such as a space ship.
- Dividing up the Task
- Aiding and dividing up a task are two different things. Dividing up a task means that all Characters perform a section of the work and all have to succeed in order for a successful outcome. Crafting large items such as structures is an example of when tasks can be divided up.
- Cooperative Check
- Another scenario is cooperative work. This is when all characters can perform the same task and roll for themselves. However, not all have to be successful for a positive outcome. An example of this would be searching for clues. Each Player rolls a Perception skill check for there respected Characters but only one has to be successful at spotting the clue.
If a character fails on a skill check, he or she can sometimes try again. Check the skill description to find out if, and under what circumstances, a character can try again. Many skills, however, have natural consequences for failing that must be accounted for. Some skills can’t be tried again once a check has failed for a particular task. If the use of a skill carries no penalty for failure, a character can take 20 and assume that he or she keeps trying until he or she eventually succeeds.
A skill check usually takes 1 to 2 minutes of in-game time. So why not just keep rolling till you succeed? Well, firstly it does take up time. Think of the gameplay like a movie. There are scenes and the characters in those scenes often do not have time to spend wasting about. The GM should consider the time the Player is spending attempting the skill checks. Also sometimes the GM may set up ambushes or other actions. The GM can set a time limit which is usually just 2 minutes. That gives the players enough time to perform the check before the next scene occurs.
Taking 10 and Taking 20
A skill check represents an attempt to accomplish some goal, usually while under some sort of time pressure or distraction. Sometimes, though, a character can use a skill under more favorable conditions, increasing the odds of success. If a Character is not under a time constrant such as combat then a Character can take 10 or 20 minutes to perform the necessary actions. Taking 10 or 20 means actually taking 10 or 20 minutes in-game to perform the action associated with the skill. The character must be willing to spend that amount of time doing just that and nothing else. (Except for talking too other Characters) A Character cannot take 10 or 20 if they do not have the time in the game.
- NOTE: The Player must also be aware of the time constraints within the game and the GM should inform them of any issue with time before they commit to an action. This doesn't mean the GM tells the Players the odds of something negative happening or even what will happen. However, Players should be reminded that in-game time is a resource that needs to be spent carefully.
- Taking 20
- When the Character has plenty of time, at least 20 minutes, and is faced with no threats or distractions, and the skill being attempted carries no penalties for failure, the Character can "Take 20". This means the Player doesn't need to roll instead of the d20 automatically counts as a 20 and the Skill Die Level and Miscalious Mods are directly added for the total. In other words, the total for the Skill Check is 20 + Skill Die Level + Misc Mods.
- Taking 20 means you are either trying until you get it right, and it assumes that you fail many times before succeeding or that you take your time to carefully perform the task to the best of your abilities. However, this doesn't mean automatic success the end result could still be a failure if the DC is simply higher then your Character's Take 20 Skill Check total.
- Taking 10
- The same as Taking 20 except that the total Skill Check is 10 + Skill Die Level + Misc Mods.
Ability Checks are when a Character performs a task associated with a Skill but also can be seen to have a generalized association with an Ability or it has no association with a Skill but non-the-less needs to be rolled to be confirmed and can be linked to an Ability. The check uses the Ability Modifier to determine the Die Level using the Skill Die Level rules. Also, a Character may have an Affinity with one or more Abilities due to Character Path.
An Ability Check Roll is:
- d20 + Die Level (using Ability Mod) + Advantage Die (if Character has Affinity with Ability) + Misc Mods
There are also Ability Saving Throws. These are when actions are done to the Character and they must react to avoid the consequences usually negative such as damage. The roll is the same as the Ability check.
A Character can aid another Character in Ability Checks as long as that Character has at least a score of 10 in that Ability. They cannot aid in Ability Saving Throws. The Take 20 rules do not apply for Ability Checks.
GM Related Skill Information
Below are rules and information that will likely be important for a GM too know but not necessary for a player to understand to be able to play a Level one character. A Player may find it useful to read on however it is not necessary.
Most checks are made against a Difficulty Class (DC). The DC is a number set by the GM (using the skill rules as a guideline) that a character must attain to success. Difficulty Class is the opposing number that is compared to the final total of the roll. This DC is used not only for skills but for other roles as well such as Saving throws.
|Difficulty (DC)||Example (Skill Used)|
|Very easy (0)||Notice something large in plain sight (Perception)|
|Easy (5)||Climb a knotted rope (Athletics: Climb)|
|Average (10)||Hear an approaching security guard (Perception)|
|Tough (15)||Disarm an explosive (Demolitions)|
|Challenging (20)||Swim against a strong current (Athletics: Swim)|
|Formidable (25)||Break into a secure computer system (Computer Use)|
|Heroic (30)||Leap across a 30-foot chasm (Athletics: Jump)|
|Superheroic (35)||Convince the guards that even though you’re not wearing an ID badge and aren’t on their list, they should let you into the building (Bluff)|
|Nearly impossible (40)||Track a trained commando through the alien forests on an overcast night after 12 days of rainfall (Survival)|
A level 1 character should have no way of succeeding against a DC of 30 or higher. And find DC of 25 nearly impossible to them. While a level 20 character may find a DC of 40 the way the use too for DC 25 at level 1. With the right modifiers and possible advantage, a level 20 character should be able to have a 50/50 chance of succeeding a DC 40 task if it is in a Skill that they have fully ranked up.
Some skill checks are 'opposed checks'. They are made against a randomized number, usually another character’s skill check result. For ties on opposed checks, the character with the higher key ability score wins. If those scores are the same, roll again.
|Sneak up on someone||Stealth||Perception|
|Con someone||Bluff||Sense Motive|
|Hide from someone||Stealth||Perception|
|Win a car race||Pilot||Pilot|
|Pretend to be someone else||Disguise||Perception|
|Steal a key chain||Sleight of Hand||Perception|
|Create a fake ID||Language||Perception|
Advantage and Disadvantage Conditions
Advantages can represent favorable conditions while disadvantages represent unfavorable conditions. Some situations may make a skill easier or harder to use, resulting in a bonus or penalty to the skill modifier or a change to the skill check’s DC.
Option 1) The GM can alter the odds by simply adjusting the DC. This is best by changing it by either +/- 5. As the GM it is important to understand the success rate of the dice. The easiest way to do that is to take maximum possible dice roll before modifiers and divide it by halve. For a d20 that would be 10. If it's a d20 + d10 that would be 15 and so on. If the DC is that number say DC of 15 then the player before modifiers has a ~55% chance of success. A Character who rolls d20 + d10 would have roughly a 50/50 chance at a DC15 with a slight lean toward success. However a DC20 the player would have about 30% chance of success. If you make the DC10 then the number is about 80% chance of success.
The real numbers are a tad different but that is close enough. Keep this in mind when you are attempting to provide a challenge to the players.
Option 2) The GM can simply keep the DC whatever it was before and give the Player an advantage or disadvantage following the Advantage rules. Note that the maximum number of dice that can be added to a d20 roll is 3. So the total amount of dice for conflict resolution can never be more than 4. A d20 + up to 3 additional die. Advantage allows a Player to add their Affinity die to the roll to help boost the total and gain a statistically higher chance of success. The same happens for disadvantage except for the opposite. The Affinity die is added to the roll but its roll is subtracted from the total.
Disadvantage dice have to be rolled after the normal roll.
Here is a little trick for figuring out which option to take when dealing with a favorable or unfavorable condition if you cannot deiced. Although in the end, it is up to the GM.
Conditions that affect a character’s ability to perform the skill change the character’s skill modifier. Conditions that modify how well the character must perform the skill to succeed change the DC.
Time and Skill Checks
Using a skill might take round, several rounds, or even longer. It might take no time at all. Types of actions define how long activities take to perform within the framework of a combat round (3 seconds) and how movement is treated with respect to the activity. See the skill description for specifics on how long a skill takes to use.
In general, using a skill that requires concentration while in close combat is dangerous will provoke an Attack of Opportunity against a character when he or she lets his or her guard down. To learn more please visit the Combat page.
Some skill applications require the use of tools. If tools are needed, the specific items required are mentioned in the skill description. If the character doesn’t have the appropriate tools, he or she can still attempt to use the skill, but the character takes a Major –4 disadvantage on his or her check.
A character may be able to put together some impromptu tools to make the check. If the GM allows it, reduce the penalty to Moderate –2 (instead of –4) for using impromptu tools. It usually takes some time (several minutes to an hour or more) to collect or create a set of impromptu tools, and it may require a skill check as well.
Sometimes, the GM may decide that having one skill provides a bonus when a character uses another skill in certain situations. The character must have at least 5 ranks in the related skill to gain this synergy bonus, and the GM must agree that the two skills can complement each other in the given situation. In such cases, the character receives a Moderate +2 synergy bonus on the skill check. Any additional bonuses must follow the Advantage/Disadvantage rules.
Sometimes a character tries to do something to which no specific skill applies. In these cases, the character makes an ability check: Roll 1d20 and apply the appropriate ability modifier. The GM assigns a DC, or sets up an opposed check when two characters are engaged in a contest using one ability against another. In some cases, a test of one’s ability doesn’t involve luck. When two characters arm wrestles, for example, the stronger character simply wins. In the case of identical scores, make opposed Strength checks.
Example Ability Checks:
- Forcing open a jammed or locked door
- Tying a rope
- Holding one’s breath
- Navigating a maze
- Recognize a person you’ve seen before
- Getting yourself noticed in a crowd
There is also Ability Saves which are explained in the Combat section.