VERS:Skills in Detail
The following descriptions detail the standard definitions and uses of each of the skills, as well as some ideas for more genre specific versions of some skills. The descriptions and uses are really just guidelines, however. GMs have final say on specific uses during game.
Animal Handling measures a character’s skill with animals, teaching tricks, calming, and even riding them. Working with animals is a tricky thing, and working in the right environment (one without distractions where the animal feels safe) and with the proper equipment (treats and toys) is imperative. Lacking these necessities imposes anywhere from a -1 to a -3 penalty, depending on the situation. In addition, Animal Handling can be used to make social attacks on animals, or to aide in their recovery.
A typical use of Animal Handling is teaching animals new tricks or behaviors. Tricks are limited commands that cover a very narrow scope of situations, while behaviors are a grouping of related tricks into a cohesive package allowing an animal to do a job or fulfill a role. To teach an animal either a trick or a behavior the character makes his Animal Handling roll, with any Degrees of Success reducing the amount of time required to teach the animal. An animal can learn a number of behaviors equal to twice its trainer’s Logic or three times its trainer's Logic in separate tricks.
- Alert: This trick allows the animal to alert its master when a given circumstance happens (typically when an unknown person or creature approaches). This trigger circumstance is part of the training, and must be set at the time of the training, and cannot be changed thereafter, although the trick can be trained multiple times.
- Attack: This trick allows the animal to attack a target designated by its master. It will continue attacking the target until it is killed, the animal becomes Impaired or worse, or it is called off with another trick, such as heel or down.
- Defend: The trick allows the animal to protect a target, which it will do with its life. If threatened (or it witnesses an action it deems as threatening) the animal will attack the threat head on. This does not require the Attack trick.
- Down: This trick allows an animal to break off from an Attack or Defend action. Unlike Heel, Down does not require a Discipline roll to comply, as Down acts on the inherent dominance in the master/pet relationship.
- Hardened: This trick allows an animal to endure the chaos of battle, including the sounds of shouting, the smell of blood, and the swift movement of people. An animal without this trick will not willingly enter mass combat, and may bolt from fright if they are made to.
- Heel: This trick allows the animal to drop any action it is currently engaged in and return to its master’s side. Predator animals engaged in the Attack or Seek actions must make a Discipline roll to comply, as those tricks have a chance to waken their dormant bloodlust.
- Herd: This trick allows the animal to keep together a group of other animals, such as a sheepdog and a herd of sheep. Without the Defend or Alert tricks, the animal will simply keep the creatures together, but will not necessarily protect them or alert its master to evil’s presence.
- Patrol: This trick allows the animal to protect an area, walking its perimeter and actively seeking intruders. Without Defend or Alert, however, the patrolling animal will not necessarily do anything with any intruders it finds.
- Play Dead: This trick allows the animal to entertain by falling over on cue.
- Retrieve: This trick allows the animal to bring a targeted object back to its master. The animal must be able to see the object, or to have seen where it fell/went to be able to retrieve it.
- Roll: This trick allows the animal to entertain by turning itself over on its back, possibly multiple times, before springing back up.
- Seek: This trick allows the animal to find objects or creatures (usually by scent). When coupled with other tricks, the animal could Attack the found target, Retrieve it, Defend it, or Alert its master to the object or creature’s location. Without other tricks, it will simply lead its master to the object or creature’s location.
- Speak: This trick allows the animal to entertain by calling on cue. Birds capable of language can say actual words, although they do not actually understand them.
- Stay: This trick allows an animal to remain in one place when its natural inclination would be to follow or otherwise move.
- Summon: This trick allows the animal to come to its master’s side when called. This is typically its name, but could be any other words or even sounds, like a whistle.
- Tame: This trick allows a wild animal to be tamed and willing to work with humans (or even be around them). It does not remove their wild instincts, and a Tamed animal must make a Discipline roll to perform any trick that goes against its nature (Attack for an herbivore, for example).
- Teamwork: This trick allows an animal to move in unison with its master, having learned what actions are expected in a given circumstance and to anticipate those actions.
- Work: This trick allows an animal to do labor, such as plow a field or pull a cart, which an animal will not willingly do otherwise. This also includes carrying riders or heavy loads.
|Animal Handling: Training Times|
|Degrees of Success||Time Required (Trick)||Time Required (Behavior)|
|0||96 hours||144 hours|
|1-2||48 hours||72 hours|
|3-4||24 hours||36 hours|
|5-6||12 hours||18 hours|
|7+||6 hours||9 hours|
- Attack: This behavior consists of the tricks Attack, Down, and Heel, and is perfect for any animal used for war or trained to bring down prey.
- Entertain: This behavior consists of the tricks Play Dead, Speak, and Roll, and is perfect for any animal that is a pet, or is to be part of a show.
- Guard: This behavior consists of the tricks Alert (or Defend), Heel, and Patrol, and is perfect for any animal that is used for protection, or perhaps as security.
- Hunt: This behavior consists of the tricks Alert, Retrieve, and Seek, and is perfect for hunting dogs or those that seek out targets.
- Shepherd: This behavior consists of the tricks Alert, Defend, and Herd, and is perfect animals used for farm work or to protect families or other animals.
- War: This behavior consists of the tricks Hardened, Teamwork, and Work, and is perfect for animals ridden into battle or otherwise working in some capacity on the battlefield.
Art measures a character’s skill with creating physical works that detail the struggles of humanity, the heroism of a great leader, or simply just entertain. A character must choose which subsets (painting, sculpture, etc) they are proficient with, but can take Art multiple times to cover more types.
Creating a work of art takes an amount of time appropriate to the work; no one can write down a saga in an afternoon, for instance, but it is perfectly possible to carve runes in a sword in that time. The artist makes an Art roll with any modifiers for equipment (or lack thereof) and the roll result is the quality of the piece, an objective measure of its artistic merit. Just like in the real world, a critically beloved artwork may not actually have a high artistic or monetary value but quality should factor into determinations of worth or importance.
Examples of Art
The following are suitable sub-skills for Art. They apply across most settings, although for some settings they may still not apply. Unless the setting or the characters focus on art there is no need to break these down further.
- Animation: The art of making successive images in such a way that when viewed in rapid succession they appear to move. This would include both traditional and digital animation techniques.
- Composing: The art of writing or otherwise creating music, but not performing or playing music, which is Performance. In settings where music notation exists this includes the ability to preserve this in a hard format, otherwise it is purely a function of memory.
- Cuisine: The art of cooking, including baking, grilling, and all other forms of food preparation. This is more than just knife skills and knowing what temperature to turn the oven to, however, and includes all of the knowledge for creating artistic flavor combinations and plating displays.
- Drawing: The art of making purposeful marks, lines, and shapes which have some meaning or the illusion of representing other objects, persons, places, or concepts. This is regardless of media, and could easily involve a stick and sand, charcoal, graphite pencils, ink, or even digital forms, depending on setting availability.
- Fashion: Not suitable for pre-modern style settings, this allows the character to design and create clothing. Not just mundane clothing, however, which would be covered by Profession: Tailor or Seamstress; Fashion is about pushing the envelope and embracing the artistic combinations of textures, colors, and cuts to make unique and daring designs.
- Engraving: Similar to drawing or sculpting, Engraving is the art of making purposeful cuts or scratches into a surface and removing material in such a way as to make marks, lines, shapes, and patterns. These could be for their own purpose, such as decorative detailing on furniture or other objects, or it could be for use in other creations, like printing plates or molds.
- Jeweling: The art of cutting gemstones to maximize their luster and radiance, as well the ability to set these jewels onto rings or into pendants and the like. It also includes the ability to craft precious metals and other forms of jewelry such as semi-precious stones.
- Painting: The art of purposely making patterns, lines, and shapes with pigments suspended in some form of liquid. This includes the use of brushes, knives, digital media, and even splashing techniques, and often involves complex strokes and layering techniques to make meaning or represent an object, person, place, or concept.
- Photography: The art of capturing the image of a person, place, or thing using a camera in order to evoke emotions, represent ideas, or illustrate concepts. This also includes filming with a video camera, editing, enhancing, or manipulating images (digitally or using darkroom techniques) and even making collages.
- Prose: The art of using everyday language to present concepts, tell stories, and store information. This can be fiction, non-fiction, journalism or even theater and screenplays (similar to composing). The most important aspect is that it does not contain meter, rhyme, or any other hallmark of verse.
- Sculpting: The art of purposely making shapes and forms from materials, either my working with soft materials and building them up additively or working with hard materials and cutting and chiseling them down subtractively. This includes both pottery and other ceramics as well as digital work.
- Verse: The art of using carefully constructed language to convey emotion, meaning, and message, often through extended use of metaphor or simile. The can be poetry or lyrics to be sung, but it does not include the ability to sing, which would be a Performance.
Athletics measures a character’s skill with running, jumping, swimming, scaling cliffs, climbing rope, or to doing any other action that requires a degree of manual dexterity, balance, physical strength and stamina. A character’s base Movement is also based on Athletics, equal to 5 + Agility + Size + Athletics.
An Athletics roll is not required to climb a ladder or stairs, although in stressful situations such as being chased or during a fire the GM may decide they pose a significant enough danger. Equipment and environment play a large part in the ease of a climb, and lacking any of the core climbing equipment (climbing axes, shoes, pitons, glove, and rope) will add to the DR. Consider a free hanging rope (not hanging near a wall or other surface) a smooth vertical surface (DR 8) while a knotted free hanging rope (ropes with knots at regular intervals) or thick chain would be a vertical surface (DR 6).
A character can, after after at least a simple action move, jump horizontally a number of meters equal to Agility + Athletics (half that from a standing start). Similarly, after a simple action move a character can vertically jump ¼ of that amount (again, half for a standing start).
Close Combat measures a character’s skill with striking an enemy at close range, either with fists and feet or with weaponry. Close Combat combines natural hand-eye coordination and trained muscle memory and covers everything from the untrained farm boy who fights in desperation up to the Jarl’s champion who has dedicated his life to rigorous training in formal fighting forms. Degrees of Success from a Close Combat roll can be used to purchase Stunts.
In some settings it may make sense to break Close Combat into a series of smaller skills. For instance, a fantasy game may split Close Combat into Axes, Blades, Blunt, Empty Hand, Martial Arts, and Polearms, while a game based on martial arts movies may break them into fighting styles, like Jujitsu, Karate, Kung Fu, etc. Always check with the GM before making your character.
Contortion measures the character’s skill with bending, stretching, and squeezing their body in ways that most cannot. A typical use for contortion is wiggling out of constraints like ropes, while it can also be used to enter small, tight places such as crevasses, and to escape Grappling. A character pinned or held by another character can substitute a Contortion roll for the standard Grappling roll. A successful escape in this way does not give the character control of the grapple like a successful Grappling roll would, the character simply escapes.
Deception is a measure of a character’s skill with tricking others, such as telling a lie, pretending to be someone else, or passing off an object as something it’s not. This skill not only details the language of the character, but also the little things such as mannerisms and body language that go into a convincing performance. This does not require makeup or costuming, which would be Performance (Acting), although that may be a Synergy. If the character is impersonating an existing person and the target is familiar with that person, the character takes between a -4 to a -6, depending on if the person in question was very different in appearance from the character.
Deception can also be used to run confidence games, pick pockets, or do “magic tricks.” All of these things primarily work off of a character’s ability to distract the watcher while making his move. Similarly, characters can use Deception in combat, feinting or feigning injury to force an enemy to drop their guard or get them to overextend themselves. Treat this roll as a Focus attack in addition to the standard damage.
Engineering measures a character’s skill with creating or maintaining any item that could be considered technology. Engineering, like Art, is actually a nebulous collection of possible sub-skills united by a common theme. A character does not have ranks of Engineering, but instead has ranks of Engineering (Chemical) or Engineering (Electrical). Engineering varies greatly between settings, with the word “engineering” really only applying since the Industrial Age. Ancient or fantasy settings would instead use the “crafting” variant, which is less science and technology oriented.
Examples of Modern and Sci-Fi Engineering
The following are some examples of Engineering sub-skills applicable to most settings ranging from those roughly analogous to the renaissance to the near future. Unless the game consists of lots of engineering based scenarios or characters, the following list is broken down far enough and there is no need to go deeper (breaking mechanical engineering into military engineering and so forth).
- Chemical Engineering: The study of chemical properties and how their manipulation can lead to better living for humans. This would be used to design new chemicals, determines the properties of existing chemicals, or create or manufacture chemicals for use by the character or troop.
- Civil Engineering: The study of building and construction and how to maximize those constructions chances to survive disasters and other problems while still maintaining comfort for humans. Used to plan and construct bases and discover structural weaknesses to exploit.
- Electrical Engineering: The study of transistors, diodes, silicon wafers, circuits and more, including how to optimize their performance and minimize their footprint. This does not include programming said devices (apart from the rudimentary programming possible by arranging circuits in certain arrangements). Used to design, create, and repair devices powered by electricity including gadgets for the troop to use.
- Genetic Engineering: The study of genetics and their manipulation, either to minimize negative traits or to maximize positive traits. Genetic engineering can even be used to give creatures wholy new traits or traits from other creatures. Used to design and create medicines and other drugs.
- Mechanical Engineering: The study of machines and their applications, from simple devices like pulleys and levers to laser guided missiles and sports cars. Used to design, create, and repair machines, observe and discover weaknesses in machines, and, in conjunction with Electrical and Software Engineering, design and create robots.
- Software Engineering: The study of computer programming, building complex applications that function as tools or even weapons. This is not the same as Hacking, which is the specific use of tools often developed with this skill. Used to design, create, and repair digital systems, and diagnose bugs and other weaknesses in software.
Examples of Fantasy or Historical Engineering
The following are examples of the Crafting version of the skill suitable for games set in ancient times up through the late Middle Ages. Like the above specialties it should not be necessary to break these down any further (such as Blacksmithing into Armorsmithing and Weaponsmithing, for example) unless there are multiple characters who are crafting or the game story focuses on it.
- Blacksmithing: The craft of taking raw metal and, through heating and striking, creating useful tools and other objects. This skill allows a character to design, create, and repair metal armor, weapons, and tools as well as appraising the workmanship of these items.
- Bowyery: The craft of making bows of all kinds (except compound bows, which are made with Mechanical Engineering). Allows the character to design, create, and repair bows, crossbows, arrows and bolts as well as appraising the workmanship of these items. It may also allow for the creation of ballista and other siege weaponry that rely on stored mechanical energy when combined with Carpentry in appropriate settings.
- Carpentry: The craft of taking wood and using it to create objects useful to people. The skill allows a character to design, create, and repair buildings, structures and objects out of wood, including homes, carts, and barrels and crates as well as appraising the workmanship of these things.
- Enchanting: Fantasy Only The craft of imbuing an otherwise mundane item with magical properties. This skill allows a character to design, create, repair, or otherwise alter magical items, as well as appraising the workmanship of such things.
- Masonry: The craft of using stone and mortar to create structures. It allows the design, creation, and repair of buildings, fortifications, and bridges as well as appraising the workmanship of these things.
- Shipbuilding: The craft of making seaworthy vessels. This allows the the character to design, create, and repair boats, rafts, ships or any other type of floating vessel as well as appraising the workmanship of these things.
Expertise and its historical and fantasy cousin Lore measures a character’s skill with knowing or retaining data relating to a specific topic, such as history, mathematics, or clan heraldry. Like Art and Engineering, Expertise is actually a subset of skills, each dealing with a different focus. This means a character could have multiple instances of the skill, each for something different and each with their own ranks and costs.
Examples of Expertise
The following are common examples of the Expertise skill. They should apply across most settings, although some settings may need to be more specialized.
- Culture: The study of the arts, crafts, and customs of a society. This includes their literature and other forms of expression, both modern and historic. In more modern or even sci-fi settings it may be necessary to narrow this to specific periods or geographic locations, or types of culture, like literature, pop culture, etc.
- History: The study of what came before, using both textual information like written accounts and physical clues like buildings, remains, and art works. In more modern or even sci-fi settings it may be necessary to narrow this to specific periods or geographic locations, depending on realism requirements.
- Law: The study of the legal system, both in practice and in theory. This knowledge does not make a character a lawyer or judge as both of those are Professions, however it does make each of these professions better at what they do. In more modern or even sci-fi settings it may be necessary to narrow this to specific types of law, such as commercial, defense, etc, depending on realism requirements.
- Mathematics: The study of numbers and their relations. This includes the knowledge of the background theories, the practical uses, and the general ability to do the calculations. In more modern or even sci-fi settings it may be necessary to narrow this to specific branches or applications, depending on realism requirements.
- Philosophy: The study of logic and its use to try and make sense of the world. This is the background out of which science arises, and many philosophers are after the same goals of understanding our place or purpose in the universe and how we should behave as part of it. In more modern or even sci-fi settings it may be necessary to narrow this to specific branches, periods, geographic, or ideas, depending on realism requirements.
- Politics: The study of how governments work, how power can be used to both control a population or to set it free, and more. This does not just include these theoretical underpinnings however, and experts of politics also know where power is concentrated and who welds it.
- Religion: The study of faith and its manifestations. This includes both knowledge of beliefs themselves but also how various religions interact with one another and the various interpretations of scriptures and traditions. In more modern or even sci-fi settings it may be necessary to narrow this to specific periods, geographic locations, or traditions depending on realism requirements.
- Science: The study of the natural world with a focus on trial and error experimentation and rigorous peer review. This is not just the knowledge of current scientific understanding but also an understanding of the methodology of science and how it can be applied to life in general. In more modern or even sci-fi settings it may be necessary to narrow this to specific field or even subfields depending on realism requirements.
First Aid measures a character’s skill with basic medical procedures, specifically those simple and quick life saving procedures typical of emergency responders. First Aid is all most characters have between themselves and death when a battle goes against them.
First Aid gives knowledge of setting bones, dressing wounds, using tourniquets, removing diseased appendages, and the rudiments of how the human body works. In historical and fantasy settings correlating to before the Renaissance era this would be referred to as Healing or even Leechcraft and is much less useful and is as likely to hurt a patient as help them. In these settings double all DR. From the Renaissance to the Victorian era First Aid is the sum total of Medicine and is all that a doctor character would need to practice. In the modern era Expertise and Profession skills are needed to do more than just basic treatment.
Grappling measures a character’s skill with grappling techniques such as holds, breaks, throws, and any other type of attack used during a grapple. Grappling combines natural strength and flexibility with anatomical knowledge of pressure points and the limits of bodily function to form a devastating and often inescapable barrage of brutal attacks that easily incapacitate foes. Grappling does not include any type of striking with hands or other body parts or any weapons except those that increase leverage to hold, break, or strangle enemies, such as a garrote.
In certain settings, such as martial arts themed games, the Grappling skill may be broken up further into distinct types of grappling, like Clinches, Reversals, Submissions, Takedowns, and Throws.
Hacking measures a character’s skill with making technology do things it was not designed to do. Traditionally this refers to both hardware hacking, such as modifying a handheld game console to be a fully functioning miniature computer, as well as software hacking, like removing security protections on a bank database. In the average setting this is done cinematically as a simple action but in sci-fi settings it may be necessary to play this out as a form of conflict. For information about this please see Book II: Gamemaster Rules.
Influence measures a character’s skill with turning a social situation to the character’s advantage, persuading others into a certain actions or beliefs. Similarly, a character could use Influence to calm or soothe a target, giving a bonus on the target's next social recovery roll equal to half of the degrees of success. Finally, this skill can be used to give the target an Inspired condition, where by, if the target has no Morale conditions, they gain a +2 to all their actions until the end of the scene.
Insight measures a character’s skill with deriving understanding, making connections, and seeking relations between seemingly unrelated events, things, or ideas. This can be either an intuitive leap or gut feeling based on pattern recognition and instinct, or it could be a well structured logic based on deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning. This must be determined at the creation of the character and cannot be changed after the fact. Either way, characters use Insight to put scraps of information together to solve a puzzle, unravel a mystery, or gain some idea of what a person or thing might do next. When Insight fails the results are often wrong conclusions, and GMs that like to keep players in the dark about this type of failed roll should make Insight rolls themselves, thus keeping the players from knowing if the new information they gain is valid or not.
Intimidation measures a character’s skill with striking fear into the heart of a target. Intimidation relies on the illusion of power by the user, so possible modifiers could come from whatever actions had immediately preceded the skill roll. Intimidation can also be used on a group, as long as the group can both hear and see the character.
Groups of people have a certain point of no return in which they switch from calm to full scale panic, and for simplicity this is average Discipline present. This means that a random mob in the streets is way more likely to panic and trample each other in fear than a veteran military brigade. Successful Leadership rolls can give a bonus to this, 1 point per 2 Degrees of Success, up to the leader's Discipline, however this requires active response from said leader, which would be a standard action, and the ability of the majority of the group to see and /or hear the leader.
Investigation measures a character’s skill with searching for information, whether that information is from a book (or a library of books), a collection of tapestries, or even the scene of a crime.
To investigate a subject, the Player must first think of a question they would like to answer or a bit of data they would like to learn or know (“What is the creature’s link to this place?”, “Who might cast such a spell and why?”, “Why would a man kill his own brother?”, etc). Then, the GM must decide whether the resource in question contains the information sought at all. If it does, then the character makes a passive roll, with the Difficulty Rating determined by how common the information is to find (more common gives bonuses, more obscure gives penalties), how organized the material is (the local lord’s scriptorium gives bonuses, while the piles of books stacked haphazardly around the victim’s home give a penalty), and how long the character is willing to look (less than a few hours should levy penalties, while long periods like days or even weeks should get bonuses). Success indicates that the character locates the requested information, while the Degrees of success may give additional information or further clues.
Leadership measures a character’s ability to take control of a situation, delegate tasks, and hold subordinates accountable. It could be a charismatic farmer who rallies his village to defense from brigands and raiders, or business executive making tough choices to get through a PR nightmare in addition to the classic military. It is the ability to use authority to achieve a goal while maintaining respect and not diluting authority through dissension, disrespect, or subordination.
Leadership only applies to NPCs and never to Player Characters. All social interactions between players should rely on role-play and decision-making and not random dice rolls. A group of NPCs affected by a successful Leadership roll get a bonus on their rolls for the remainder of the scene equal to half the Degrees of Success.
Leadership is an active skill that is a simple action based on Charisma.
Linguistics measures a character’s skill with languages, especially how languages form and the sounds that humans make to create them. Because of their studies, they find it easier to adapt to new languages and, through connections like cognates and loanwords, can quickly grasp the fundamentals of speech in a new language even though they have never previously studied it.
A character can make a Linguistics roll to understand any language, although they take penalties depending on how far away in origin a language is. This distance is described in terms of language families that are discussed in greater detail in the advantages chapter.
Linguistics is a passive skill that is a non-combat action based on Intuition.
Meditation measures a character’s skill with calming their mind, re-centering their Focus, and driving out distractions. This skill can aid the recovery of Focus conditions, adding +1 for every 2 degrees of success to the next recovery action. In addition, the Meditation skill is the only way to take a recovery action for Focus conditions gained from environmental factors that have not yet been alleviated (short of some abilities or advantages). In this situation, a successful Meditation roll is required to even make the recovery action, and the Meditation roll does not provide any bonus to the recovery, unlike normal. Finally, Meditation allows a character with no Focus conditions to enter the Focused state, gaining a +2 bonus on all rolls for the remainder of the scene.
Meditation is a passive skill that is a non-combat action based on Resolve.
Parry measures a character’s skill with blocking physical attacks such as punches, kicks, sword swipes, or even a bow shots. This means the attack is actively prevented from striking the character by placing some other object in the path of the attack. This other object could be a less sensitive part of the body (like forearms or hands), a weapon (like a shield or sword) or any other object that would fall between the attack and the target of the attack such as throwing one’s body in the way of an attack on another.
Unlike relying on a character’s innate Dodge attribute, Parrying an attack requires the character use their second simple action in their turn to actively defend. Parry can be used to defend others, so long as the defended party is within reach of the character.
Parry is a passive skill that is a reaction and based on Agility.
Perception measures a character’s skill with sensing details of their surroundings. Perception covers the base senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, while any other senses are abilities or special advantages. A character can use Perception to notice things of interest in the environment or to investigate a scene, however it can also be used reactively as a defensive skill to see through Stealth and Deception.
Perception is a reactive or passive skill that is either a reaction or a free action and based on Intuition.
Performance measures a character’s skill with doing a series of carefully constructed actions to convey meaning and emotion to those witnessing the performance. Types of performance would be oratory (giving speeches and telling stories), acting, dancing, singing, or playing a musical instrument. Like the other special skills, a character must choose one type of performance to specialize in when taking the skill.
A skilled character can use performance to inspire or unsettle others. A performer can work in appeals to honor, ancestry, duty, sentiment, idealism, religion, or any other fitting subject matter that will resonate with the audience. If the Performance roll is successful, then the audience may take morale damage, or may get a bonus to morale recovery, depending on the purpose of the performance. This has the ability to put characters into an Inspired state.
Performance is a passive skill that is a non-combat action based on Presence.
Examples of Performance
The following examples are suitable for any setting, although there may be additional examples that fit your setting, check with your GM.
- Acting: The skill of performing a role, either with a pre-written script or screenplay or as an improvisation. This can be either on stage, in front of a camera, or basically anywhere. This is not writing plays, that would be Art (Prose).
- Dancing: The skill of rhythmically moving the body, usually but not always, with musical accompaniment. This can be graceful ballet or break dancing or anywhere in between, although in games or settings it would be necessary to break this down further. This is not choreography, that would be Profession (Choreographer).
- Instruments: The skill of playing a musical instrument. Most settings would require this to be at least broken down into stringed, woodwind, percussion, etc, but some may require specific instruments like guitar, sax, or drums. This is not writing music, that would be Art (Composition).
- Oratory: The skill of speaking in public, either to convey information or simply to entertain. This could be a presidential speech, a comedy routine, or even a poetry reading. This is not writing the words to be spoken, that would be Art (Prose) or Art (Verse).
- Singing: The skill of making music with one’s voice. By default this includes everything from lullabies to opera, however certain settings or games would require breaking this down further. This is not writing the lyrics, as that would be Art (Verse).
Pilot Vehicle measures a character’s skill with maneuvering a vehicle regardless of the size. Note that the Pilot Vehicle skill is not required for normal use of a vehicle, but is instead used when piloting under duress, such as during a storm, in a chase, or while fighting. Pilot Vehicle is like Art and Performance in that it is really a group of related sub-skills. When taking Pilot Vehicle the character must determine what type of Vehicle it applies to. Examples would be groundcraft, watercraft, aircraft, and spacecraft. Not every vehicle will be available in every setting, and some settings may require breaking these examples down even more, such as groundcraft becoming motorcycles, cars, commercial and industrial.
Pilot Vehicle is an active or passive skill that is a simple action based on Agility and opposed by Pilot Vehicle.
Profession measures a character’s skill with performing a set of tasks which fall within the purview of a certain occupation or activity, but which fall outside of the purview of other skills. For instance, Profession (Thief) would not cover Stealth, Security, or Deception, but it would give insight into where to find a fence in need, where to purchase supplies unnoticed, and other tips and tools of the trade. Profession is especially prevalent among NPCs or PCs raised or trained for a specific job, such as military personnel, farmers, and teachers among many others.
Profession is a passive skill that is a non-combat action based on Logic or Intuition.
Ranged Combat measures a character’s skill with striking an enemy from a distance, either with weaponry or thrown objects. Ranged Combat combines hand-eye coordination with an intuitive understanding of the movements of the target. Ranged Combat does not affect any attacks made with non-projectile weapons such as swords or spears, unless the character throws them.
In some settings it may be necessary to split this further into thrown, archery, and firearms. In turn, a sci-fi or modern game may require firearms to be further broken down into pistols, shotguns, automatics, and long arms, or something similar.
Ranged Attack is an active skill based on Agility and opposed by either Dodge or Parry.
Security measures a character’s skill with breaking or disarming mechanical devices that protect the access to restricted locations or items, most often locks, but may include mechanical traps or the like. Dealing with a security device requires special tools (lockpicks, and shims, for example), which levies a -1 penalty for each tool not present. It also requires time (usually a couple of minutes). If the player wished to hurry the process, they could take a -5 penalty, which would allow them to make the roll as a complex action.
Security is a passive skill that is a non-combat action based on Logic.
Stealth measures a character’s skill with not being seen or heard. Stealth is more than just being able to put feet down silently, but also being able to anticipate the movements of guards and other searchers. The more searchers that are looking for the character, the harder it is to stay hidden because it is harder to keep track of all the eyes and ears the character is trying to avoid. For each additional searcher beyond two, the character takes a -1 penalty to his Stealth roll in addition to the penalty for the highest Perception rating in the group.
Using Stealth while moving halves movement speed. A character may attempt to move at full speed while using Stealth with a -4 penalty.
Stealth is an active skill that is a simple action based on Intuition and opposed by Perception.
|Survival: Degrees of Failure|
|Degrees of Failure||Type of Failure|
|0||Oriented toward goal|
|1||Off intended path by 30º|
|2||Off by 60º|
|3||Off by 90º|
|4||Off by 120º|
|5||Off by 150º|
|6+||Off by a full 180º|
Survival measures a character’s skill living off the land, being self-sufficient, and most importantly finding their way through the wilderness. Survival covers foraging for berries and other food, knowing how to determine direction, knowing how to make shelter, and knowing how to make a fire with minimal supplies.
To use survival to determine a character’s direction and navigate an area is a passive roll, using weather and familiarity with the land as penalties. A successful roll will let the character orient themselves toward their goal, while a failed survival roll leads the character in the wrong direction, although not necessarily a completely wrong direction. For this reason GMs should roll Survival in secret.
Survival can also be used to follow the trail of a creature or person, as well as reading signs in the environment to understand what may have transpired there. This skill is typically used in a wilderness environment, but can also be used in an urban environment if the target leaves a trail that the tracker can perceive and follow. After inspecting an area for a few moments, the tracker can make a Survival roll to get an idea of which direction the quarry went. Treat failure the same as when using Survival to navigate. For every 2 Degrees of Success the tracker learns one additional bit of information (i.e. the quarry is wounded, they are wearing armor, or they have an odd gait).
Survival is a passive skill that is a non-combat action based on Intuition.
Tactics measures a character’s skill with surveying a battlefield or large-scale conflict and making choices concerning the placement and movements of troops and other units in relation to defenses both natural and man-made. A leader of a unit can use Tactics to give his unit bonuses (or offset penalties) based on battle conditions.
Tactics is one of the primary skills used in large-scale battles. Tactics can, however, be used in smaller scenarios. With GM permission, Tactics can be used to lay ambushes or make plans for a small group such as a special forces unit or the like. For every 2 degrees of success in such a scenario grant the character and his group a +1 bonus to either combat or defense rolls (rolling character’s choice) during that scene.
Tactics also determines a character’s success at board games such as chess and checkers, or any other game in which the GM determines strategy is more important than luck or athletic skill. In such uses between player characters the most degrees of success is the winner. If playing against NPCs make an active roll against their Tactics.
Tactics can be either an active or passive skill based on Logic. It can be opposed by either Perception or Tactics.
Teamwork measures a character’s skill with working in tandem with another character. Coordinated effort can wear down even the most powerful foe. This concentrated effort can come in many forms, from the one-two punch, to the classic “hey look over there” while the other gets in position. People who work together regularly for long periods develop an uncanny knack for picking up on the little cues that enable efficient teamwork, while some people actively cultivate those talents with drills and exercises. Regardless, anticipating what your teammates are doing is the key to successful teamwork.
To use Teamwork, all parties must make a Teamwork roll. Each member of the team taking part gets a bonus to their next action equal to the least degrees of success between them. This includes the entire team getting penalties if one member fails their roll as well. A team is only as strong as its weakest member.
Teamwork is a passive skill that is a free action based on Intuition.
Trading measures a character’s skill with haggling as well as understanding the typical values of goods. This skill does not only deal with monetary exchange but also service based economies (trading favors for goods or other favors) as well as bartering (trading goods for other goods).
Using Trading to haggle better prices (or better favors or goods, depending) is an active roll. For each degree of success the character gains a +1 on their Resource roll, for each degree of failure the character takes a penalty.
Other uses for Trading, such as appraising an items worth, determining the best market for an item (maybe the next town over has had a bad harvest and will pay more for these barrels of apples), or understanding other facets of supply and demand are all passive rolls. Like with using Survival for navigation, failures give false information, and thus GMs should handle these rolls in secret.
Trading is an active skill that is a non-combat action, based on Intuition and opposed by Trading.
|VERS Playtest v20.7 - Online Rule Reference|
|Making a Character||Character Profile - Mechanical Aspects (Attributes - Skills - Abilities - Gear)|
|Gameplay||Mental Conflict - Physical Conflict - Social Conflict - Stunts|
|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|