Viva la Vida
A character’s Attributes measure his innate physical, mental, and social qualities — how strong he is, how quick he thinks on his feet, and how well he interacts with other people. The different ways in which a character can apply these Attributes are determined by his Skills. A character’s Skills reflect the education and training he’s acquired over the course of his life, and are a reflection of his origins and interests. Skills can be acquired in any number of ways, from institutionalized learning to hard, hands-on experience. A young recruit at the police academy is trained to use a handgun, while a gangbanger learns to shoot as a matter of survival.
Like Attributes, Skills are broken down into three general categories: Mental, Physical and Social. A character’s initial Skills are purchased during character creation and are prioritized in the same manner as Attributes, with 11 points to allocate among primary Skills, seven points to allocate among secondary Skills, and four points to allocate among tertiary Skills. Skill dots can then be increased further using experience points (both at the conclusion of character creation if the Storyteller allows it, and later during play). Or new Skills can be purchased during a chronicle at the player’s discretion.
Skills are rated from 1 to 5, with each score suggesting your character’s relative level of proficiency and knowledge in that area.
Note: For a child to have more than three dots in any Skill, he requires the Prodigy Merit.
1 Novice: Basic knowledge and/or techniques; typical kid who has tried out the activity more than a few times.
2 Practitioner: Solid working knowledge and/or techniques; a child that has been taking classes in this Skill for a few years and knows a few tricks, or has a great deal of natural ability and some strong models to imitate.
3 Professional: Broad, detailed knowledge and/or techniques; a kid who has practiced it for years and has a great knack for it.
4 Expert: Exceptional depth of knowledge and/or techniques; rare in children, this indicates a surprising degree of natural talent and long hours of practice.
5 Master: Unsurpassed depth of knowledge and/or techniques; unheard of in children who aren’t genius prodigies.
Skills represent broad bases of knowledge and physical training in a given subject. An auto mechanic doesn’t just know about fixing engines, for example, but is versed in repairing tires, replacing windows and painting the body. In addition to this broad foundation of knowledge, characters can specialize in a particular aspect of a Skill, giving them an edge in a particular application due to their increased focus. There’s no limit to the number of Specialties that your character can have in a single Skill. You choose three Specialties at character creation. Any more must be purchased during play with experience points. Rolls involving a Skill Specialty gain a +1 modifier over and above any other situational modifiers. So, if your character has Crafts, but also has a Specialty in Automobiles, you gain a +1 bonus when he works on cars.
You are limited only by your imagination when devising your character’s Skill Specialties, although their focus should be fairly specific. A character possessing the Drive Skill might focus on sports cars, trucks, off-road or high speed driving. Each Skill listed in this chapter has a number of suggested Specialties to give you an idea of the possibilities.
If a Skill represents a particular body of knowledge or training, a Skill task describes a specific application of the Skill in question. Healing Wounds, for example, is a task describing an application of the Medicine Skill. Skill tasks combine an applicable Attribute with the Skill, plus any relevant equipment modifiers to form a dice pool, minus any situational modifiers. Climbing a steep cliff, for example, is a Skill task combining Strength + Athletics + equipment such as rope, pitons and cleats. Many Skills in this chapter have one or more tasks associated with them that suggest different ways in which the traits can be applied in various situations. Use these as guidelines for determining other Skill tasks that arise in your stories.
Having the proper equipment for a task can often mean the difference between success and failure. In addition to situational modifiers and Specialties, Skill rolls gain bonus dice if your character uses high-quality or specialized equipment when performing a feat. For example, a driver with a high-performance sports car has an edge in a race over someone in an old pickup. Each task presented in this chapter lists a variety of tools that could provide bonus dice to your Skill roll. These lists are by no means exhaustive. You’re encouraged to employ other types of tools or equipment to assist in performing a task, but the Storyteller is the final arbiter on what bonus, if any, gear provides. It’s possible that using poor-quality tools might even make a task more difficult to perform, so choose wisely.