ZeroSpace 4e EN:Skills
Skills allow a character to apply their attributes to solve a problem or accomplish a task. A character's skills in ZeroSpace are ranked on a scale from 1 to 5. Most people have skills of 1 or 2. Few people reach 3 in any skill, and 4 reflects an expert in their field.
Each skill 'costs 1 character point to have a 1 in that skill. Increasing a skill by one costs a number of character points equal to the next value. For example, increasing a skill from 2 to 3 costs 3 points.
Rolling dice for skills is covered in the Actions chapter.
ZeroSpace 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.
The attribute typically associated with a skill is listed here, but keep in mind that the relevant skill, the relevant attribute, or both might change depending on the circumstances. Also note that the same task might be accomplished in more than one way. Winning a game of billiards might be an exercise in Reason + Gambling, but it might also be accomplished with the proper application of Agility + Finesse. Seeing through an illusion typically requires a Reason + Investigation roll, but it might also be accomplished with a Reason + Science roll. Realizing that someone is lying might require a Presence + Deception roll or an Reason + Investigation roll. And so on. In each case, the player should roll the skill and attribute combination which offers the best chance of success.
Expert Tip: When multiple options are available, choose the skill you are best at.
The GM should not alter the difficulty of the task based on the skill the player is using.
|Athletics||Agility, Brawn||Climbing, gymnastics, riding, running, swimming, throwing objects|
|Computing||Reason||Artificial intelligence, forensics, programming, security systems, sensor operation|
|Culture||Reason||Art, fashion, history, music, philosophy, politics, popular media, religion|
|Deception||Presence||Bluffing, disguise, lying, sales|
|Diplomacy||Presence||Carousing, conversation, etiquette, negotiation, streetwise|
|Engineering||Agility, Reason||Architecture, carpentry, cartography, cooking, demolitions, electronics|
|Finesse||Agility||Disabling a trap, forgery, lockpicking, pickpocketing, sleight of hand|
|Gambling||Agility, Reason||Card games, dice games, dominoes, formal combat, races, sporting events|
|Hand-to-hand Combat||Brawn||Axes, clubs, hand-to-hand powers, spears, swords, unarmed strikes|
|Investigation||Presence, Reason||Analyzing evidence, collecting evidence, identifying clues|
|Manipulation||Presence||Bribery, fast talk, interrogation, intimidation, leadership, persuasion, seduction|
|Medicine||Agility, Reason||Diagnosis, field medicine, pharmacology, surgery|
|Mental Combat||Presence||Defending against mental attacks, phantasms, mind control, telepathy|
|Occultism||Reason||Analyzing artifacts, remembering obscure lore, deciphering ancient texts|
|Performance||Presence||Comedy, dancing, music, singing, theatre, writing novels, writing poetry|
|Piloting||Agility, Reason||Aircraft, drones, ground vehicles, heavy machinery, spacecraft, watercraft; navigation|
|Ranged Combat||Agility||Bows, crossbows, pistols, ranged powers, rifles, shotguns, thrown weapons|
|Science||Reason||Anthropology, biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics, psychology|
|Stealth||Agility||Hiding, shadowing, sneaking, stalking|
|Survival||Presence, Reason||Foraging, hunting, orienteering, scavenging, tracking|
|Warfare||Reason||Command and control, guerrilla warfare, logistics, military doctrine, strategy, tactics|
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.
Generally, an athletic competition is simply a matter of who has the highest relevant attribute. In the case where two competitors in a sport have the same attributes, the winner is decided with a roll, or perhaps a series of rolls. In some sports, the difference between the winner and second place may be as little as one millisecond.
Athletics typically requires an Agility or Brawn roll, and is usually opposed by a competitor's Agility + Athletics or Brawn + Athletics.
Examples: Climbing, gymnastics, riding, running, swimming, throwing objects
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 12) Reason roll. Attempting to break into a computer system is at least a remarkably difficult (DV 15) task.
Examples: Artificial intelligence, forensics, programming, security systems, sensor operation
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 12) Reason roll.
Examples: Art, fashion, history, music, philosophy, politics, popular media, religion
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 +3 AV bonus -- nothing is as convincing as sincerity. If the person being deceived is predisposed to believe the deceiver, the GM may allow the task to succeed without rolling. If the character is trying to persuade someone of a patent absurdity (from the target's point of view), the GM might grant the victim a +3 DV bonus, or even declare the attempt an automatic failure.
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 requires a Presence roll, and is usually opposed by a victim's Presence + Investigation.
Examples: Bluffing, disguise, lying, sales
SIDEBAR: Noticing Things
When a character wants to focus their attention on something, they use a skill appropriate for what is being examined. The relevant attribute is usually Reason, for analytical searches, or Presence, for more intuitive observations.
- Detect bullshit = Presence + Investigation
- Find someone's trail = Reason + Survival
- Look for clues = Reason + Investigation
- Notice something inobvious = Reason + Investigation
- Realize that someone is worried = Presence + Diplomacy
- React to an imminent ambush = Presence + Survival
- Sense that someone is hiding something = Presence + Manipulation
- Spot a pickpocket = Reason + Investigation
If more than one skill might be suitable, as is often the case, the character should use whichever skill they are best at. Rolls to notice something are usually moderately difficult (DV 12). If a routine search would reveal the item or information, then no roll is needed: if a character with a suitable skill makes a routine search, they find it.
The Diplomacy 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 Diplomacy 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 Diplomacy roll could result in the character being snubbed by polite society, or in being maimed by a coarser crowd.
Diplomacy typically requires a Presence roll, and is usually opposed by another character's Presence + Diplomacy.
Examples: Carousing, conversation, etiquette, negotiation, streetwise
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 12) Agility or Reason roll.
Examples: Architecture, carpentry, cartography, cooking, demolitions, electronics
A large part of a starship 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 skill 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.
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 requires an Agility roll, and is usually opposed by a victim's Reason + Investigation.
Examples: Disabling a trap, forgery, lockpicking, pickpocketing, sleight of hand
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 requires an Agility or Reason roll, and is usually opposed by another gambler's Reason + Gambling.
Examples: Card games, dice games, dominoes, formal combat, races, sporting events
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 requires a Brawn + Hand-to-hand Combat roll, and is usually opposed by another character's Brawn + 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 Brawn + Hand-to-hand Combat roll against 8 + Brawn + Hand-to-hand Combat of the target. If the attacker succeeds at this roll, then the attacker deals Endurance damage equal to their Brawn. 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.
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 12) Presence or Reason roll, or perhaps a series of rolls.
Examples: Analyzing evidence, collecting evidence, identifying clues
SIDEBAR: Searching The Hypernet
Because the Hypernet is vast, contradictory, and inconsistently indexed, it may be frustrating to use for research. Finding a needed piece of data on an unfamiliar topic requires a moderately difficult (DV 12) Reason + Investigation roll, while researching an esoteric topic requires an extremely difficult (DV 18) Reason + Investigation roll. If the researcher has a more appropriate skill to use for their research (Science, for example), they use that instead of Investigation. Because of the manner in which the local Hypernet is indexed, searches are +3 easier if someone else has recently performed a similar search (how recently is up to the GM).
Table: Hypernet search difficulty Difficulty Value Example -- Routine Search for general information on a commonly studied topic or person 12 Moderately difficult Search for detailed information on a commonly studied topic or person 15 Remarkably difficult Search for technical or specialized information on a commonly studied topic or person
Search for general information on a rarely studied topic or person
18 Extremely difficult Search for detailed information on a rarely studied topic or person 21 Inconceivable! Search for technical or specialized information on a rarely studied topic or person
The Manipulation 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 Manipulation 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.
Manipulation typically requires a Presence roll, or perhaps a series of rolls, and is usually opposed by a subject's Presence + Diplomacy or Presence + Manipulation.
Examples: Bribery, fast talk, interrogation, intimidation, leadership, persuasion, seduction
A knowledge of Medicine can be very useful in the violent world of ZeroSpace. 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 12) Agility or Reason roll.
Examples: Diagnosis, field medicine, pharmacology, surgery
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 Presence + Mental Combat roll, and is usually opposed by another character's Presence + Mental Combat.
Examples: Defending against mental attacks, phantasms, mind control, telepathy
The Occultism skill allows the character to identify mysterious objects, recall obscure lore, and decipher ancient manuscripts.
Occultism typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 12) Reason roll.
Examples: Analyzing artifacts, remembering obscure lore, deciphering ancient texts
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 12) Presence roll.
Examples: Comedy, dancing, music, singing, theatre, writing novels, writing poetry
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 12) Reason roll to chart a course for a craft, and a moderately difficult (DV 12) Agility roll to control it.
Piloting a starship is covered in more detail in the Starships chapter.
Examples: Aircraft, drones, ground vehicles, heavy machinery, spacecraft, watercraft; navigation
The Ranged Combat skill covers the myriad ways that humans have found to maim and kill one another from a distance.
Ranged Combat typically requires an Agility + Ranged Combat roll, and is usually opposed by another character's Agility + Ranged Combat.
Examples: Bows, crossbows, pistols, ranged powers, rifles, shotguns, starship weapons, thrown weapons
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 12) Reason roll.
Examples: Anthropology, biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics, psychology
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 requires an Agility roll, and is usually opposed by an observer's Reason + Investigation.
Examples: Hiding, shadowing, sneaking, stalking
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 12) Reason + 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 12) Presence or Reason roll, or perhaps a series of rolls.
Examples: Foraging, hunting, orienteering, scavenging, tracking
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 typically requires a moderately difficult (DV 12) Reason roll.
Examples: Command and control, guerrilla warfare, logistics, military doctrine, strategy, tactics