Updated Skills for Space:1889

Six New Skills

There were some skills I felt were ultimately missing from Space:1889, so I found myself adding skills to the game. However, in order to keep play balance, I felt I would have to add one new skill for each new attribute. Here they are:

Labour (Strength Skill)
Labour represents a person's level of experience in some sort of menial endeavour. While the tasks represented are often seen as "unskilled labour", generally the skill still needs to be learned, and attempts to perform the task without a skill background can be problematic. It is a cascade skill, subdivided into the following categories:

Craft (Agility Skill)
Craft represents a skill in some sort of profession that involves the manufacture of something, or the manipulation of something using the hands, or other parts of the body. The list of potential crafts is virtually endless; the list below represents a sample of skills that might be encountered.
  • Carpentry
  • Smithing
  • Masonry
  • Tanning
  • Jewelcraft
  • Locksmithing
  • Accounting
  • Massage
  • Dance
  • Painting
  • Milling
  • Pottery
  • Juggling
  • Cartography
  • Glassworking
  • Printing
  • Weaving
  • Clockmaking
  • Origami
  • etc...
Note: the Cartography skill replces the mapmaking cascade skill from Wilderness Travel.

Foraging (Endurance Skill)
Foraging is no longer a part of the "Wilderness Travel" skill, but is rather an independent skill. It does recieve a bonus based on 1/2 the character's Wilderness Travel rating, which is affected by the character's environment (see below). Foraging affects all types of wilderness food gathering except hunting; thus, it includes both the gathering of available plants as food and also the trapping of smaller animals. For larger traps, such as a Burmese Tiger Trap, a skill like engineering would be required.

Arts (Intellect Skill)
Arts represents the sort of academic skills that are the product of a liberal education. They are always some sort of knowledge, and rarely can be applied to real life in more than an advisory capacity. Nevertheless, certain people will hold such skills to be important; in fact they may come to be regarded as a necessary component of status and refinement.

Musician (Charisma Skill)
The Music skill represents a character's ability to play an instrument or sing. Naturally it is a cascade skill with a great many options; each option is based on a single instrument. The Below list is by no means exhaustive:

  • Trumpet
  • Tuba
  • French Horn
  • Trombone

  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • Clarinet
  • Bagpipes

  • Piano
  • Pipe Organ
  • Harp
  • Accordion

  • Violin
  • Double-Bass
  • Guitar
  • Sitar

  • Bass Drum
  • Snare
  • Cymbals
  • Tympani

  • Singing
Note that the types of instruments are grouped into categories; the categories are semi-traditional but are modified based on how the instrument is played rather than simply how the sound is produced.

It should be easier for a musician to play and learn instruments in the same category than for other categories entirely. When a musician is playing an instrument other than his primary one, divide his skill rating in two, and round down. However, should that instrument be in the same category as the primary instrument, the character may add 1 to the rating, though the secondary instrument's maximum rating is equal to the primary rating minus one.

Law (Social Class Skill)
The Law skill represents the character's ability to know applicable laws, research laws he or she does not know, and to argue cases in the courts. The Law skill is generally only posessed in real amounts by lawyers, though both Policemen and Criminals will find knowing at least some basic law to be useful.

At GM discretion, this skill may be a cascade skill, with different specialties based on the laws of a particular nationality. A british lawyer is unlikely to know too much about the laws of the Martian city of Karkarham, for examople.

Modified Cascade Skills

The Crime skill now has a new cascade subclass: Gambling. This skill not only represents a character's ability to gamble and win, but also to cheat at gambling games without being caught, and how to spot cheaters.

Wilderness Travel
This skill is no longer broken up into the subclasses of "Foraging", "Mapping", and "Mountaineering". Instead, Wilderness travel is based on the type of evironment the travel is done in. Below is a list:
  • Desert
  • Jungle
  • Tundra
  • Prairie
  • Spelunking
  • Savannah
  • Swamp
  • Forest
  • Mountains
  • etc...
The Wilderness Travel skill now represents a character's knowledge of survival techniques both general and specific to the environment in which the skill is based. Not only will the character know how to maximize the ability to cover ground, he will also know how to create shelter, make fire, and find direction without any but the most rudimentary tools. Some of these abilities work in all environments, but the character will probably know the methods best suited to his environment; i.e., a character with the skill would know how to build a shelter in the far north, but probably only a character with Wilderness Travel: Tundra would get the idea to build a shelter out of snow.

Rather than assuming that a character will automatically gain secondary languages after studying one, instead assume that characters develop skills in languages like knowledges are gained in the Inventions rules. The levels of language knowledge are as follows:
Score Language Level
The character knows a couple of pronouns, verbs, and swearwords, but overall has virtually no means of communicating in the language. Any attempt to communicate probably uses gestures as the primary medium, with the character's crude speech abilities coming in a distant second.
The character has enough of a vocabulary to say things like: "Greetings. Where market?", but overall has little or no idea about conjugation, tense, or sentence structure. His grammar will often fail and he wil be misuderstood or not understood with irritating regularity.
The character grasps the basic elements of the language, and with patience on the part of the listener, can make himself understood provided the subject of the conversation is confined to simple ideas. The character's grammar is still poor and his accent will amuse native speakers.
The character is fluent in the language and can converse without difficulty provided he keeps the conversation away from complex or abstract ideas. This is the typical level an uneducated native speaker will attain; non-native speakers will still have a noticable, though not impeding, accent.
The character can discuss virtually any subject in the language, and has no noticable accent; he can pass for a native if he likes. Well-educated natives usually attain this level.

Each character stars off with a Native language (English for most characters). The rating for this language is calculated by taking the character's Intellect, divided by two (rounding up) and the character's Social Class, divided by two (rounded up), and rolling a number of dice equal to that amount. All the dice are added together, and the result is the character's native language score. Should the character posess any of the following skills:

He may add one die for each of these skills he posesses at any value over one, since they tend to represent an education (or at least the ability to fake one).

If the character's score is below 13 for his native tongue, then the character is assumed to speak a dialect strong with slang, a thick local accent, and a stripped-down grammar system. This will mark him as a lower-class person of little education, and native speakers from outside his home region may have difficulty understanding him. However, unless the character is somehow mentally handicapped, his effective ability in his native tongue will not fall below Basic, regardless of the number value.

The character's Linguistic skill can be invested in other languages, in the same way that the previous dice were used to compute native language. However, each level of Linguistics skill confers a number of dice equal to the rating of the current level! For example, a character with one point in Linguistics recieves one Language die. A character with two points in Linguistics recieves one language die for the first level, and two for the second level, for a total of three dice. A character with three points in Linguistics recieves one language die for the first level, two for the second level, and three for the third level, for a total of six dice, and so on. These dice may be allocated to any languages the character chooses, provided the character has had a reasonable chance to study those languages.

If a character chooses, he or she may "hold back" language dice, for use in the campaign; thus if the players discover a people with whom they do not share a common language, the Linguist may use the die at that stage to gain an understanding in that language, provided he has ample time to study the tongue. Language dice may also be awarded by the GM as adventure rewards, or rolled for (with linguistics skill) during the course of an adventure; again with the proviso that the character have time to study the language.