At those times when there’s a chance that a character may fail at an action, that character must make a skill check. The player decides what she wants her character to do and which skill is best for accomplishing the task (sometimes with the help of the Game Master). The Game Master determines a suitable difficulty number, which the player must meet or beat by rolling the number of dice in the skill and adding the results.
Untrained Skill Use
If a character doesn’t have dice in the skill required to attempt an action, she generally may use the die code of the attribute under which that skill falls. This is sometimes referred to as defaulting to the attribute or using the skill untrained or unskilled. The Game Master may include an unskilled modiﬁer to the difficulty. This modiﬁer takes into account that people who aren’t trained or don’t have experience in certain tasks usually have a harder time doing them. Typically, this modiﬁer is +5, but it could be as low as +1 for simple tasks or much higher for complex plans. The Game Master may rule that some situations, such as building a spaceship or performing brain surgery, are impossible for anyone to attempt without the proper training and the correct skills.
When attributes are given in the text along with the skill, such as in spell descriptions, resisting Wounds, and so on, do not apply the untrained modiﬁer. This also includes most uses of dodge and brawling in combat situations, attempts to ﬁnd clues in a room with search, and resisting interaction attempts or mental attacks with willpower.
Alternate Attribute Option
Sometimes it makes more sense to base a skill on a different attribute than the one it’s under by default. In such cases as the Game Master designates, subtract the skill value from the attribute value to get the number of skill adds. Then add those skill adds to the new attribute and roll away. Some example alternate skill-attribute combinations (and the reason for using each attribute) include:
• Climbing, jumping, running, swimming: Physique for distance; Reﬂexes for obstacles.
• Command: Presence for leading others; Knowledge for determining tactics.
• Disguise: Perception for creating the disguise, especially on someone else; Presence for pulling off a disguise.
• Flying: Physique for wings or to represent the physical strain of rapid movement; Reﬂexes for obstacles.
• Medicine: Knowledge for information and diagnosing; Coordination for performing surgery.
• Security: Knowledge for information and recognizing systems; Perception for installing systems.
In some situations, two or more skills seem to suit the task at hand. The Game Master can declare that only one is suitable for the current circumstances. Or he can choose the primary one and decides which other skills are appropriate secondary, or related, skills that the character can use to improve his chances with the primary skill. The Game Master sets difficulties for each skill. The character ﬁrst performs the related skills, and then he attempts the primary one.
To determine the related skill’s modiﬁer to the primary skill, the Game Master subtracts the difficulty from the total rolled with the related skill; this determines the number of result points from the roll. Then he divides that number by 2, rounding up, to get the modiﬁer to the total rolled with the primary skill. The minimum related skill modiﬁer is 1. If the skill total was less than the difficulty, the modiﬁer is subtracted from the primary skill total. If the skill total was equal to or greater than the difficulty, the modiﬁer is added to the primary skill total.
The character may perform the related skills and the primary skill successively, but the related skill modiﬁer is only good for the one initially intended attempt and the character must make that attempt within a short time of using the other skills. Should the character decide to perform the primary skill and the related skill at the same time, he takes the multi-action penalty.
Example: Your character has to carefully place some charges on a wall. You decide that the character ﬁrst examines the wall for weaknesses (using the search skill). Once examination has been completed and the search roll has been made, you apply the modiﬁer to your demolitions roll only, which must take place immediately after your character’s examination of the wall.
Game Masters also can use the related-skills guidelines for deciding how well one person can help another person.