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VERS -> Making a Character -> Mechanical Aspects -> Skills

If attributes are a character’s inborn talents, then skills are the things that a character has learned over the course of their lives. Every skill is (loosely) tied to one of the nine attributes, but this connection is not set in stone. What this means is that, while Close Combat is normally based on Agility, in this case, based on the events in the game, the GM could decide that for this one attack, Logic should be the related attribute. This won’t happen often, but this is the GM’s decision to make. Remember, attributes determine the Target Number of a roll, while the skill provides a bonus to the roll.

When advancing a character with Character Points, skills cost 1 CP per new rank. In other words, going from rank 2 to rank 3 costs 3 CP, while going from rank 3 to rank 4 costs 4 CP, etc. Like Attributes, Skills must be raised one step at a time. A character cannot go from rank 2 to rank 4 for 4 CP. It would cost 7 Character Points, 3 CP for the 3rd rank and 4 CP for the 4th.


In addition to the normal skills a character has access to, a character also has a Background which gives them access to specialized knowledge and skills related to their careers, training, hobbies, and general life. For example, a pirate character might apply their Background bonus to sail a ship, read a map, or maybe know the laws of a port city. They probably wouldn’t get it on a roll regarding the obscure points of a religious doctrine or if they try to forge a blade. Of course, if the character’s concept that they were raised in an orphanage ran by a temple dedicated to the smith god, all bets are off.

GMs are encouraged to keep this loose and nebulous, but those that like more consistency can instead have players make a list of five or six “Special Skills” (see below) to serve as their Background. Backgrounds are treated as skills of rank 2 (they give a +2 bonus, in other words).


Sometimes one skill may influence the use of another skill. This may be one character helping another, or maybe one of the same character’s skills coming into play. A good example of this might be gaining a bonus on an Influence roll due to the character’s knowledge of etiquette (either represented by a Noble background, or perhaps ranks in the special skill Expertise (Etiquette). Regardless, if the GM decides that a synergy bonus is warranted, the primary person making the roll gets a +1 bonus for every 2 ranks of the related skill, rounded down. Multiple synergies can come into play on the same roll, however this is solely at the GM’s discretion.

Basic Skills

  • Animal Handling: Training and manipulating animals, including calming, riding, and otherwise working with them. This does not, however, confer any supernatural ability to communicate. Typically based on Presence.
  • Armor Use: Training with the wearing and use of armor, giving the character an understanding of how to work with the armor instead of against it. Can be used instead of Dodge to avoid damage. Successful use allows a character to ignore all damage, while failure means the character does not get the damage reduction from their armor. A character using this skill is always hit, only the outcome changes. Typically based on Intuition.
  • Athletics: Training with using the body, including running, jumping, climbing, swimming, lifting, pushing, pulling, and nearly any other similar situation that is not otherwise covered by another skill. Typically based on Strength, Agility, or Stamina.
  • Close Combat: Training with fighting with the body (as in punches, kicks, elbows, knees, head, etc) and non-ranged weapons (such as swords, clubs, spears, baseball bats, crowbars, laser swords, etc). In some settings the GM may choose to break this up into smaller skills. A character can also use this skill in place of Dodge to protect themselves, with successful use parrying the blow with the weapon in question (including bare hands), and failure meaning the character is hit. Typically based on Agility.
  • Contortion: Training with bending and moving the body in atypical ways, allowing access to small spaces or escaping from bonds. Typically based on Agility.
  • Deception: Training in fooling a target, either by outright lies and fabrications or half-truths and bluffs. This deception can be both verbal and/or in body language, and also covers disguises. Typically based on Intuition.
  • First Aid: Training in basic medical procedures, such as field dressing a wound, splinting and binding a broken limb, CPR, and other similar techniques, depending on the genre and setting. This is not analogous to the actual medical knowledge needed to practice medicine, as that would fall under Background or a Special Skill. Typically based on Logic.
  • Influence: Training in convincing others, whether it be by honeyed words or unsubtle threats. Covers intimidation, diplomacy, persuasion, seduction, or any other methods of coercion not covered by another skill. In some settings and genres the GM may decide to break this down into smaller skills. Typically based on Charisma or Presence.
  • Insight: Training in recognizing patterns, and/or logically connecting events. Also useful for seeing through Deceptions. Successful rolls can provide players with hints. This skill mostly exists to allow players to play detective characters or other similar archetypes without actually being personally good at these types of activities. Typically based on Logic or Intuition.
  • Investigation: Training in seeking information. This can be research, questioning witnesses or other persons of interest, or searching for physical evidence at a crime scene or the like. Typically based on Intuition.
  • Linguistics: Training in communication, specifically languages, although this also includes sign languages, dialects, creoles, and pidgins. This can help a character decipher a script, understand a spoken language based on cognates, or emulate dialects to pass themselves off as a native of a different place or being of a different social strata. Typically based on Logic.
  • Meditation: Training in focusing concentration, often with the added benefit of calming the mind and soothing the emotions. This can be traditional sitting meditation, moving meditation like yoga, or even prayer. Can be used like First Aid for Mental and Social damage. Typically based on Resolve.
  • Perception: Training in using a character’s senses: sight, hearing, and smell being the most common, but could even be used for taste, touch, hot, cold, pressure, or any other information that the body can obtain about the outside world. Typically based on Intuition.
  • Ranged Combat: Training in attacking at range, be it thrown weapons, archery, or firearms. In some settings GMs may break this down into smaller sub-skills. One important note, muscle powered ranged weapons (throwing axes, bows, etc) get a bonus to their damage based on the character’s Strength, however they can be Dodged (and parried and deflected with armor use). Mechanical ranged weapons, like crossbows, guns, and the like do not get a bonus from strength, however they also travel too fast to be Dodged. For more information, see the Gameplay section below. Typically based on Agility.
  • Security: Training in opening locks, bypassing alarms, and hacking firewalls, this skill can also be used to enable better security. Some settings may warrant breaking this up into multiple skills, at the GM’s discretion. Typically based on Logic.
  • Stealth: Training in hiding and remaining undetected, either while still or in motion. Typically based on Intuition.
  • Survival: Training in living off the land and navigating the wilderness. Typically based on Intuition.
  • Teamwork: Training in working with others, this skill allows multiple characters to synchronize their efforts to maximize their effectiveness. All characters taking part in the team-up will roll Teamwork, and everyone involved gets a bonus to their next action equal to the Degrees of Success on the worst roll (including giving all parties a penalty for a failed roll). Typically based on Intuition.
  • Trading: Training in haggling, appraising, and general economic concepts. Successes can give discounts while shopping, depending on the method of Gear acquisition being used (see the Gear section below for more information). Typically based on Intuition.

Special Skills

These skills are generally more often used as part of a Background, however, players wanting to specialize, have a larger bonus than +2, or just especially want to emphasize this aspect of their character may decide to take ranks in these skills directly.

  • Art: Training in the creation of works of physical art, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and even poetry and literature. Degrees of Success increase the “quality” of a piece (whatever that really means), increasing the amount it can be sold for, etc. Typically based on Intuition.
  • Engineering: Training in the design, creation, and repair of functional technology, objects, and buildings. The output can also be artistic, but this skill is primarily focused on function. Typically based on Logic.
  • Expertise: Training in academic fields of study, such as philosophy, religion, mathematics, science, history, and many others. This also covers non-academic interests in which there also exists a large body of knowledge, such as comic book history, movie trivia, video game genres, or cosmetic application techniques. It is important to note, however, that Expertise is theory and abstract knowledge, not practical application of that knowledge, which falls into the other special skills. Typically based on Logic.
  • Performance: Training in the creation of works of temporal art, such as acting, music, or dance. The major difference between Art and Performance is the longevity of the actual creation. Writing a play is Art, performing the play is Performance. Typically based on Intuition.
  • Pilot: Training in the operation and guidance of a vehicle, especially under duress. In some genres this could also include animals such as horses or camels used for locomotion, especially if the character is able to ride but is not otherwise good with animals, like with Animal Handling. Typically based on Intuition.
  • Profession: Training in the day-to-day workings of a job or occupation, such as tavern keeper, janitor, or professor, especially those which would not fall under Art, Engineering, Performance, or Pilot. Typically based on Logic or Intuition.

VERSIcon.png VERS Playtest v20.7 - Online Rule Reference
General Rules Basics
Making a Character Character Profile - Mechanical Aspects (Attributes - Skills - Abilities - Gear)
Gameplay Mental Conflict - Physical Conflict - Social Conflict - Stunts
GM Info NPCs
Optional Rules Not Yet Complete
Gamemastering Not Yet Complete
Storytelling and Drama Not Yet Complete
Advanced Techniques Not Yet Complete
Appendices Example Abilities Fantasy - Psionics - Superheroes
Example Gear Prehistoric to Dark Ages - Medieval to Renaissance - Modern - Sci-Fi
Example NPCs Animals - People - Fantasy - Horror - Sci-Fi