Kalos Mechanism 4e EN:Skills

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Skills allow a character to solve problems and accomplish tasks. Kalos Mechanism ranks a character's skills on a scale from 0 to 5. Most people have skills of 1 or 2. Few people reach 3 in any skill, and 4 reflects a world-class expert in their field. Skill level 5 is effectively superhuman.

A character may attempt a task in which they have no skill, if the GM says it is possible. The player rolls 2d6.

Buying a new skill costs 1 character point. To increase that skill from level 1 to level 2 costs 1 character point. To increase a skill from level 2 to level 3 costs 1 character point. And so on.

Rolling dice for skills is covered in the Actions chapter.

Typical Skills

Kalos Mechanism divides skills into broad disciplines. However, just because a character could do everything encompassed by a skill does not mean that they should. For example, a character with the Engineering skill could, in theory, do everything from repairing a camera to designing a bridge. That doesn't mean it makes sense for them to do so. It's up to you as the player to know what makes sense for your character and what doesn't, and to communicate that information to the GM.


Table: Skills
Skill Examples
Athletics Climbing, gymnastics, riding, running, swimming, throwing objects
Coercion Blackmail, extortion, interrogation, intimidation
Computing Artificial intelligence, forensics, programming, security systems, sensor operation
Culture Art, fashion, history, music, philosophy, politics, popular media, religion
Deception Bluffing, disguise, lying, sales
Engineering Architecture, carpentry, cartography, cooking, demolitions, electronics
Finesse Disabling a trap, forgery, lockpicking, pickpocketing, sleight of hand
Gambling Card games, dice games, dominoes, formal combat, races, sporting events
Hand-to-hand Combat Axes, clubs, hand-to-hand powers, spears, swords, unarmed strikes
Insight Deducing motivations, discerning intent, intuiting desires
Investigation Analyzing evidence, collecting evidence, identifying clues
Medicine Diagnosis, field medicine, pharmacology, surgery
Mental Combat Defending against mental attacks, resisting coercion
Occultism Analyzing artifacts, remembering obscure lore, deciphering ancient texts
Performance Comedy, dancing, music, painting, theater, writing novels, writing poetry
Persuasion Bribery, fast talk, leadership, negotiation, seduction
Piloting Aircraft, drones, ground vehicles, heavy machinery, spacecraft, watercraft; navigation
Ranged Combat Bows, crossbows, pistols, ranged powers, rifles, shotguns, thrown weapons
Science Anthropology, biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics, psychology
Self-control Abstinence, composure, concentration, meditation, resisting unhealthy influences
Socializing Carousing, conversation, etiquette, streetwise
Stealth Hiding, shadowing, sneaking, stalking
Survival Foraging, hunting, orienteering, scavenging, tracking
Warfare Command and control, guerrilla warfare, logistics, military doctrine, strategy, tactics


Athletics

The Athletics skill covers the entire spectrum of non-combat sports, as well general feats of athleticism such as running, jumping, climbing, swimming, and throwing.

In an athletic competition where one competitor has a higher skill level, that competitor wins the competition: no roll is necessary. In the case where two competitors in a sport have the same skill level, the winner is decided with a roll, or perhaps a series of rolls.

Athletics is typically a competitive task.

Examples: Climbing, gymnastics, riding, running, swimming, throwing objects


Table: Athletics, Strength
Athletics Max Lift Examples Throw 10 kg Jump
0 10 kg sixpack of beer, domestic cat, pumpkin 0 m 0 m
1 30 kg small dog, mountain bike, car tire, case of beer, cinder block 2 m 0 m
2 100 kg single bed, small sofa, wood bookcase, large dog 5 m 1 m
3 300 kg manhole cover, large human, oil drum, weapon locker 10 m 2 m
4 1,000 kg vending machine, large desk, telephone pole, speedboat 20 m 5 m
5 3 t grizzly bear, large missile, SUV, granite monument, large car 50 m 10 m
6 10 t meteor, large SUV, Jersey barrier, helicopter, school bus 100 m 20 m
7 30 t armored car, fighter jet, passenger bus, dump truck 200 m 50 m
8 100 t fire truck, bank vault, Easter Island stone head, battle tank 500 m 100 m
9 300 t 60 m radio tower, blue whale, fishing trawler 1,000 m 200 m
10 1,000 t locomotive, brick house, large passenger plane, yacht 2 km 500 m

Max Lift indicates the greatest weight that the character can "deadlift" (pick up off the ground to the level of the hips). A character carrying or supporting such a weight can take at most one or two steps per turn. A character can move normally while carrying a weight corresponding to one less than their Level. For example, a character with Level 4 could carry up to 300 kg and suffer no penalties to their movement while doing so.

Throw 10 kg indicates the farthest distance that a character could throw a compact object weighing 10 kg. To see how far a character can throw heavier objects, subtract the Level required to lift the object from the character's total Level. Look up the difference in the "Level" column: this indicates how far the character can throw the object. For example, a character with Level 6 could throw an object weighing up to 100 kg up to 20 m.


Table: Athletics, Movement
Athletics Base Sprint Swimming Base Swimming Sprint
0 1 m 6 m (2 km/h) 0 m 0 m (0 km/h)
1 2 m 9 m (5 km/h) 0 m 0 m (0 km/h)
2 3 m 18 m (10 km/h) 1 m 6 m (2 km/h)
3 6 m 36 m (20 km/h) 2 m 9 m (5 km/h)
4 15 m 90 m (50 km/h) 3 m 18 m (10 km/h)
5 30 m 180 m (100 km/h) 6 m 36 m (20 km/h)
6 60 m 360 m (200 km/h) 15 m 90 m (50 km/h)
7 150 m 900 m (500 km/h) 30 m 180 m (100 km/h)
8 300 m 1,800 m (1,000 km/h) 60 m 360 m (200 km/h)
9 600 m 4 km (2,000 km/h) 150 m 900 m (500 km/h)
10 1,500 m 9 km (5,000 km/h) 300 m 1,800 m (1,000 km/h)

Sprint is the farthest the character may move during their turn, either walking or swimming. A character who travels a distance greater than their base movement during their turn, up to their sprint, incurs a standard penalty (-3 AV, -3 DV). For example, a character with Athletics 5 could travel up to 30 meters during their turn and suffer no penalties while doing so, or they can travel up to 180 meters and suffer a standard penalty. If the character sprints, the standard penalty applies until the beginning of the character's next turn.

Coercion

The Coercion skill pertains to eliciting cooperation or information from others by using flirtation, threats of violence, or just verbal trickery. Interrogation usually hinges on convincing the subject that hope is futile and that resistance will only make things worse, while seduction can sometimes be successful even if the target is aware that they are being seduced.

Failure of a Coercion roll could result in the subject of interrogation convincingly giving false information, or in the target of a seduction finding the would-be seducer repugnant.

Coercion typically requires a roll, or perhaps a series of rolls, with the Difficulty Value equal to a subject's 7 + Self-control.

Examples: Bribery, fast talk, interrogation, intimidation, leadership, persuasion, seduction

SIDEBAR: Social Skills

A quick guide to social skills. Start at the first question, and stop when you answer "yes".

Do you want to compel obedience through violence, threats, or intimidation?
That is Coercion.
Do you want someone to believe something that is not true?
That is Deception.
Do you want to change someone's mind or course of action?
That is Persuasion.
Do you want to fit in and mingle?
That is Socializing.

Computing

Computing allows the character to write new programs, take apart old ones, and follow data trails across networks. It also allows a character to create or circumvent computer security programs and protocols. If a character is extremely familiar with the program in question, the GM might decide that the attempt is automatically successful.

Failing a Computing roll might mean that an attempt to circumvent a computer security system is simply unsuccessful, or it may mean that the character has set off an alarm or left a "trail" which may be followed back to their location.

Computing typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll. Attempting to break into a computer system is typically an extremely difficult (DV 12) task.

Examples: Artificial intelligence, forensics, programming, security systems, sensor operation

Culture

The Culture skill covers the wide range of largely useless information that fills news feeds and dinner conversations. It also includes more serious literary, artistic, or political tidbits of information, such as the name of the directors of the ten richest corporations, or the origin of the laws of robotics.

Culture typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll.

Examples: Art, fashion, history, music, philosophy, politics, popular media, religion

Deception

The Deception skill is used to convince someone of the truth of a given statement or situation, usually with the aim of getting them to act on it. Deception could be used to convert someone to a point of view, sell someone something, or simply win an argument. It is not necessary for the deceiver to actually believe their own statements, but if they do they gain a standard bonus (+3 AV, +3 DV) -- nothing is as convincing as sincerity.

A failed Deception roll usually means that the subject simply does not believe the lie, but it could mean that the attempt has backfired, firmly convincing the subject of the opposite of what the character was trying to convince them of.

Deception typically has a Difficulty Value equal to a subject's 7 + Insight.

Examples: Bluffing, disguise, lying, sales

Engineering

Engineering is the relevant skill when a character attempts to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, or materials. An Engineering roll would be required to design a bridge, to hot-wire a vehicle, or to construct a bomb from household chemicals.

Failing the Engineering roll might indicate that the device simply does not work, or that it will fail catastrophically during use.

Engineering typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll.

Examples: Architecture, carpentry, cartography, cooking, demolitions, electronics

SIDEBAR: Diagnostics

In futuristic and science fiction settings, a large part of an engineer's job is running diagnostics. Diagnostics are largely automated, but an engineer much be present to monitor the progress and periodically make choices. Generally speaking, once a diagnostic has been initiated, it can't be interrupted without damaging the system.

Initiating a diagnostic is a routine Engineering task: no roll is needed, but the Engineering skill is required.


Table: Diagnostic levels
Level Downtime Bonus
1 6 minutes +1
2 1 hour +3
3 10 hours +6


Level indicates the diagnostic level.

Downtime indicates how long the system will be offline in order to complete the diagnostic.

Bonus is the bonus on the character's Engineering roll at the end of the diagnostic. If the character does not succeed at that roll, they may run the diagnostic again. There is no penalty for failure.

Finesse

Finesse is the relevant skill when a task requires fine control of the hands and fingers. A Finesse roll would be required to pick someone's pocket, to disable a trap, or to pick the lock on a pair of handcuffs.

Failing a Finesse roll indicates that the deception is easily spotted by the casual observer, or that the lock resists the attempt to pick it.

Finesse typically has a Difficulty Value equal to an observer's 7 + Investigation.

Examples: Disabling a trap, forgery, lockpicking, pickpocketing, sleight of hand

Gambling

Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome, with the intent of winning more than you risked. Gambling thus requires three elements: the stakes, a risk, and a prize. A character with Gambling knows where to play, when to play, and with whom to play, in order to win more often than they lose.

Gambling typically has a Difficulty Value equal to another gambler's 7 + Gambling.

Examples: Card games, dice games, dominoes, formal combat, races, sporting events

Hand-to-hand Combat

The Hand-to-hand Combat skill covers the myriad ways that people have found to maim and kill one another up close and personal.

Hand-to-hand Combat typically has a Difficulty Value equal to the target's 7 + Hand-to-hand Combat.

Examples: Axes, clubs, hand-to-hand powers, spears, swords, unarmed attacks

SIDEBAR: Unarmed Combat

Making an unarmed normal attack requires a successful Hand-to-hand Combat roll against 7 + Hand-to-hand Combat of the target. If the attacker succeeds at this roll, then the attacker deals Endurance damage equal to their Hand-to-hand Combat level. The target subtracts their Damage Resistance from the amount the attacker rolled. The target's Endurance is reduced by the remaining amount. This damage can be increased with the Iron Fists gift or the Strike power. You will want one of those if your character focuses on unarmed fighting.

Insight

The Insight skill covers most of the tasks involved in discerning others' desires and intentions. This usually involves interacting with a subject, but it is also possible by observing as a subject engages with others.

A failed Insight roll might mean that the character has no insights, or it might mean that they believe whatever facade the subject is trying to project.

Insight typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll.

Examples: Deducing motivations, discerning intent, intuiting desires

Investigation

The Investigation skill covers most of the tasks involved in solving mysteries and researching obscure topics. This includes searching for clues, collecting and analyzing evidence, sifting through police reports and bank records, and so on.

A failed Investigation roll might mean that the character hits a dead end in the investigation, or it might mean that they seize on a red herring and draw the wrong conclusion from the evidence.

Investigation typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll, or perhaps a series of rolls.

Examples: Analyzing evidence, collecting evidence, identifying clues

SIDEBAR: Performing research

If a character has access to a library or the Internet, they may attempt to use it for research. Finding a needed piece of data on an unfamiliar topic requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) Investigation roll, while researching an esoteric topic may require a more difficult Investigation roll. If the researcher has a more appropriate skill to use for their research (Science, for example), they use that instead of Investigation.


Table: Research difficulty
Difficulty Value Example
-- Routine Search for detailed information on a topic or person
9 Moderately difficult Search for technical or specialized information on a topic or person
12 Extremely difficult Search for technical or specialized information on a rarely studied topic or person

Medicine

A knowledge of Medicine can be very useful in a violent world. Any medical procedure, from taking a person's temperature to performing open-heart surgery, is covered by the Medicine skill. Knowledge of Medicine also gives the character familiarity with common drugs and toxins, and a competent knowledge of their effects on Human physiology.

Medicine typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll.

Examples: Diagnosis, field medicine, pharmacology, surgery

Mental Combat

Any form of mental or psychic combat is covered by the Mental Combat skill. The Mental Combat skill is also used to defend against mental attacks.

Mental Combat typically requires a Mental Combat roll, with the Difficulty Value equal to the target's 7 + Mental Combat.

Examples: Defending against mental attacks, phantasms, mind control, telepathy

Occultism

The Occultism skill allows the character to identify mysterious objects, recall obscure lore, and decipher ancient manuscripts.

Occultism typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll.

Examples: Analyzing artifacts, remembering obscure lore, deciphering ancient texts

Performance

The Performance skill is used to entertain an audience, making them forget their worries for a brief while.

Performance typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll.

Examples: Comedy, dancing, music, painting, theater, writing novels, writing poetry

Persuasion

The Persuasion skill is used to change someone's mind or course of action without using lies or threats.

Persuasion typically has a Difficulty Value equal to the target's 7 + Self-control.

Examples: Bribery, fast talk, leadership, negotiation, seduction

Piloting

The Piloting skill covers the navigation and control of a mechanical contrivance, be it a sports car, a jet boat, a forklift, or a dirigible. Piloting also covers the control of tiny mechanisms, like radio-controlled helicopters and missile-launching drones.

A failed Piloting roll could result in being unable to attack because the vehicle is in the wrong position, a temporary loss of control, or even a collision.

Piloting typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll to chart a course for a craft, and a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll to control it.

Examples: Aircraft, drones, ground vehicles, heavy machinery, spacecraft, watercraft; navigation

Ranged Combat

The Ranged Combat skill covers the myriad ways that Humans have found to maim and kill one another from a distance.

Ranged Combat typically has a Difficulty Value equal to the target's 7 + Ranged Combat.

Examples: Bows, crossbows, pistols, ranged powers, rifles, shotguns, starship weapons, thrown weapons

Science

The Science skill can cover a variety of fields, depending on the character's interests. A character with the Science skill may be conversant with any discipline that's reasonable for their background.

Science typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll.

Examples: Anthropology, biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics, psychology

Self-control

Self-control pertains to the ability to manage one's impulses, emotions, and behaviors to achieve long-term goals. A character with the Self-control skill has developed an awareness of the triggers that derail their plans and disrupt their long-term goals.

Self-control typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll.

Examples: Abstinence, concentration, meditation, resisting unhealthy influences

Socializing

The Socializing skill is used to adapt to one's social environment. It allows a character to navigate red tape, know the proper manners for a given environment, or survive an excursion to the dark side of civilization. A Socializing roll would be required to circumvent a bureaucratic obstacle, to socialize with a group without offending them, or to get the word out that the shipment at midnight is a set-up.

A failed Socializing roll could result in the character being snubbed by polite society, or in being maimed by a coarser crowd.

Socializing typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll.

Examples: Carousing, conversation, etiquette, negotiation, streetwise

Stealth

Stealth is the art of sneaking around. A Stealth roll would be required to hide from a monster, to sneak up on a sentry, or to shadow a suspect back to their hideout. Terrain, available cover, camouflage, and background noise will all affect the difficulty of the Stealth roll.

Failing the Stealth roll usually indicates that the furtive prowler is spotted by an observer.

Stealth typically has a Difficulty Value equal to an observer's 7 + Investigation.

Examples: Hiding, shadowing, sneaking, stalking

Survival

The Survival skill pertains to living off the environment, avoiding predators, and finding one's way based on landmarks, the stars, and dead reckoning. The difficulty is dependent upon the terrain, temperature, and availability of food and shelter. Survival in a temperate environment with available sources of food and water requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) Survival roll. Harsh, hostile environments, such as a desolate wasteland or an urban hellscape, have a higher difficulty.

Failing a Survival roll once might mean that the character has caught a cold, has lost the trail of their prey, or has eaten something that has made them sick. Failing numerous Survival rolls could be quite serious.

Survival typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 9) roll, or perhaps a series of rolls.

Examples: Foraging, hunting, orienteering, scavenging, tracking

Warfare

Warfare covers every aspect of using large numbers of combatants to attain your goals. A common focus of warfare is the defense and capture of defined strategic points, but it also includes the overall plan beyond the current battlefield, as well as the supply chains and communications required to support your forces.

Warfare is typically a competitive task.

Examples: Command and control, guerrilla warfare, logistics, military doctrine, strategy, tactics