Powers and Perils

Variant Skill System

The following is a description of the skill tables that I use in my game. These tables are the same as in book 1 except that there are no longer any "or 80" skills -- all skills have the same scale. In my game I do not use percentile for skill resolution -- I use a system borrowed from GDW's "2300ad" and "Megatraveller" systems.


  1. At EL0 you are minimally capable with this system. In the old system, multiplying EL by 20 for easy skills does not help much if you have EL0.
  2. Skill level follows a bell-curve, which better models (IMHO) skill use. If you are good enough to get on the "good" side of the curve you will rarely fail, as you might expect. Given a task that might challenge an EL0 programmer, I certainly won't have THAT much of a problem, and I'm nowhere near a master coder.


  1. The mechanic is different than Combat and Magic, which still use a percentage system (I have been unable to work out a means to fit it in yet and retain the feel). This can be confusing for beginners.
  2. Modifiers can not be as "fine" as you can get with a percentage system. Some people may call this a "pro", however.

Underlying Assumptions

  1. At EL0 you have basic familiarity and are minimally capable.
  2. There is always a chance of failure or success
  3. Skill-wise, at EL4 you are considered competently trained. At EL6 you are considered highly skilled and at EL8 or more you are considered a master of your skill (having an EL8 in anything implies you have at least a 40 in the characteristics used for the maximum level formula, which is about x4 for the average person and x3 for those with more innate ability).

Some skills are new that I have made -- I will see about submitting their info at a later date. Again, all "NEL Squared" nonsense is gone and all skills have been changed to the same format. (KISS). To determine the Per EL costs I figured the total point cost to EL100 and divided by 55 (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10) to find the NELx cost.

Obviously, with the change from "or 80" to leveled skills, skill effects need to be changed. I have (started) to do this, but for the most part do it on the fly. When I get some ample time I'll finally write up the changes for my own use, and post them.

One thing that may be seen is my addition of interactive skills -- diplomacy, fast talk, bribery, etc. This is due to the fact that I felt that the "Influence Chance" stuff was too simplistic and not useful enough.

Basic System

The system is called "Target-12" in reference to the core mechanic: On a roll of 2d10+EL, a value of 12 or more must be made to succeed in a skill task of "Average" difficulty. Where a task is more or less difficult the GM will use the following target numbers:

Very Easy6
Very Hard24
If the dice roll a 19 or 20 the task is considered to be successful no matter the final value. Likewise, any rolls of 2, 3 or 4 mean the task fails.

Option A: Lessened Failure/Improved Success

If a skill is at EL5 or more the automatic failure happens only on a roll of 2 or 3. If a skill is EL4 or less the automatic success happens only on a roll of 20.

Option B: Specials and Botches

Any roll of doubles is considered a "special success" if the task succeeds and a "botch" (or fumble) if it fails. In the case of "double 10's" (a roll of 20), it is only considered a special success at EL5 or more (see Option A above) and a normal success otherwise.

Option C: Helping Skills

In some cases, where the GM allows it, a player may draw upon one other skill to aid in a particularly difficult task with another skill.

For example, a character is attempting to use Deftness to pick a pocket. In order to improve his chances, he decides to distract the target with a bit of Acting. EL in Actor is the helping skill

The character must make at least an Average task in the helping skill for a +1 bonus to his main skill. He may opt to go for more difficult tasks in order to get a better bonus. Thus, he may decide to go for a Hard task with his helping skill in order to get a +3 with his main skill task.

Any failure with the helping task applies a NEGATIVE modifier to the main skill equal to 1/2 the bonus you were going for, rounded down. (thus, a failure with a Hard helping task gives them a -1 on their main task roll). A Botch (see Option B) with the helping skill applies a negative modifier equal to the bonus you were going for (thus, a botched Hard helping skill gives a -3 to the main skill roll).

Helper skills always increase the basic time of the basic task, at least DOUBLING it and perhaps longer.

Option D: Competition

When skill is used vs. skill (i.e. Tracking vs. Tracking, Merchant vs. Merchant when haggling, etc) the person initiating the competition may take a negative modifier to his task, thus making it more difficult. The other side must take this same modifier.

When comparing results of a competition, the "Winner" is determined in the following order:

a) Whoever succeeded
b) Whoever succeeded with a better level (or failed better).
Special beats normal success, Failure beats a Botch.
c) Whoever has the HIGHEST die roll (not adding EL)
d) Whoever has the HIGHEST EL.

Option E: Default Skill Use

If a task requires a skill a character does not have they may attempt to use the skill anyway, at their peril. Determine the character's initial level in the skill using the LOWEST current attribute in the maximum level formula and subtract 1 for every 10 points of Initial cost not paid (i.e. a skill with an initial cost of 27 applies a -3 to the initial level). In these cases there is no automatic chance of success and a die roll of 5 is considered an automatic failure.

Option F: Experience

Successful use of a skill will provide 1d6 expertise points toward the skill if the task is a normal usage of the skill. If the GM feels the skill was used in an unusual way (or in a manner outside of the "common" tasks for the skill) another 1d6 may be awarded. In addition, performing a non-combat task in a combat or stressful situation (i.e. picking a lock while you party protects your back from sword blows!) another 1d6 is allowed.

Likewise, if a skill is used where there is no chance of failure, or where failure has no consequences, reduce the award by 1d6.

If a helper skill was involved (and successfully used) the expertise gain is split evenly over both skills.

Option G: Unsure Tasks

In some cases the GM may wish to retain some player uncertainty in order to better reflect the character uncertainty. In this case, the GM and the player both roll one die (the GM keeping his secret).

Other Skills

SkillInitialPer ELMaximum Level
Acrobat*40NEL x 7(D + A + E)/15
Actor40NEL x 7(I + E + Em)/15
Architect*150NEL x 15(I + W + Em)/15
Armorer100NEL x 16(I + W)/10 + StB
Artist60NEL x 9(W + D + Em)/15
Assassin @200NEL x 15(I + W + D + A)/20
Badlander* @50NEL x 18(A + Em)/10 + StB
Blacksmith*10NEL x 9(S + W)/10
Boatman* @40NEL x 16(S + A)/10 + StB
Bowyer*45 (60)NEL x 13(I + W + D)/15
Brewer*10NEL x 5(I + Em)/10
Bribery+30NEL x 6(E + Em)/10
Carousing+25NEL x 6(E + Em + Ap)/15
Carpenter*10NEL x 9(W + D)/10 + StB
Carrying10NEL x 4(S + St)/10
Climbing25NEL x 7(S + A)/10 + StB
Clothier*10NEL x 7(W + D + Em)/15
Dancer40NEL x 7(A + Em + Ap)/15
Deftness15NEL x 5(W + D)/10
Desertman+ @50NEL x 18(A + Em)/10 + StB
Diplomacy+50NEL x 7(I + W + E)/15
Disguise Artist30NEL x 9(I + Em + D)/15
Eroticist*70NEL x 7(W + Em + A + Ap)/20
Executioner30NEL x 7(S + W + E)/15
Fast Talk+30NEL x 8(I + E + Em)/15
Fletcher*10NEL x 7(W + D)/10
Forester @40NEL x 15(S + A)/10 + StB
Gambler*60NEL x 5(W + D + E +Em)/20
Healer120NEL x 4(I + Em)/10
Herbalist80NEL x 13(I + Em)/10
Hillman* @40NEL x 16(S + A)/10 + StB
Husbandry30NEL x 15(W + Em)/10
Intrigue+50NEL x 10(I + W + Em)/15
Jeweler100NEL x 18(W + D)/10
Language (other race)30NEL x 5EL12
Language (same race)20NEL x 4EL16 #
Language (supernatural)60NEL x 9EL12
Locksmith25NEL x 13(W + D)/10
Mason10NEL x 9(S + St)/10
Merchant45NEL x 9(W + E)/10
Miner30NEL x 11(S + St)/10
Moneylender60NEL x 9(I + W + E)/15
Mountaineer* @40NEL x 16(S + A)/10 + StB
Musician40NEL x 7(D + Em)/10
Navigation80NEL x 22(I + W + Em)/15
Plainsman+ @40NEL x 15(S + A)/10 + StB
Poisoner=80NEL x 13(I + Em + C)/15
Potter*10NEL x 7(D + W + Em)/15
Read and Write45NEL x 5(I + Em)/10
Rhetoric30NEL x 7(W + E + Em)/15
Scholar*100NEL x 11(I + W + Em)/15
Scribe*30NEL x 7(D + Em)/10
Seaman25NEL x 9(S + St + A)/15
Servant*10NEL x 5(St + I + Em)/15
Sign Language15NEL x 4(I + Em)/10
Singer40NEL x 7(W + E + Em)/15
Smuggler*120NEL x 15(D + W + E)/15
Stealth+15NEL x 6(A + Em)/10 + StB
Survival20NEL x 3(I + Em)/10 + CB
Swimming15NEL x 5(S + St)/10 + AB
Tanner*10NEL x 9(St + W)/10
Teamster*10NEL x 5(St + W)/10
Thief @75 (100)NEL x 18(I + D + A)/15
Tracking20NEL x 7(W + Em)/10
Trailing15NEL x 7(I + Em + A)/15
Vintner*15NEL x 7(I + Em + A)/15
Watercraft25NEL x 9(S + St + A)/15
* Originally from Heroes Magazine
+ New skill I have added, info to be posted later
= Skill from Wout's page
@ Lifestyle skill -- only ONE of these may be taken at character generation and additional skills gained when learned during play are limited.
# The Language of your same culture has a max EL of 20.

Combat Skills

SkillInitialPer ELMaximum Level
Axe18NEL x 6(S + St)/10
Bow27NEL x 9(D + A)/10
Cape Parry**25NEL x 9(D + A)/10
Crossbow35NEL x 8(S + D)/10
Dagger - Fight16NEL x 5(St + D)/10
Dagger - Throw24NEL x 7(D + A)/10
Hand-to-Hand25NEL x 7(S + St + A + D)/20
Heavy Lance35NEL x 8(S + A)/10
Heavy Mace*30NEL x 8(S + St)/10
Heavy Sword25NEL x 7(S + St)/10
Heavy Axe*28NEL x 8(S + St)/10
Horse Archery10NEL x 3(D + A)/10
Horsemanship40NEL x 6(D + A)/10
Mace20NEL x 6(S + St)/10
Misc. Throwing Weapons15 NEL x 10(D + A)/10
Polearms30NEL x 7(S + St + D)/15
Repeating Crossbow50NEL x 9(St + D)/10
Scimitar20NEL x 6(St + A)/10
Shield20NEL x 6(S + D + A)/15
Spear - Fight15NEL x 5(S + D)/10
Spear - Throw22NEL X 6(D + A)/10
Sling30NEL x 8(D + A)/10
Sword15NEL x 5(St + A)/10
Throwing Axe25NEL x 7(St + D + A)/15
War Staff15NEL x 7(S + St + D + A)/10
Whip=30NEL x 7(St + D + A)/15
* New skill, based on the demarcation of "Sword" and "Heavy Sword". The "Heavy" skills deal with two-handed weapons of that class.
** I took this from GURPS -- it seems appropriate for Dirllar citizens. :)
= Original info taken from Wout's pages. Two-weapon fighting comes from the "Tower of the Dead" module.

Ambush Table

Badlands14 (16)Ruins**+2
Desert15 (17)Swamp12 (15)
Forest13 (16)Underground15 (17)
Hill14 (16)Waterway14 (16)
Jungle12 (15)City @14 (16)
Mountain14 (16)Lower World**+1
Plains16 (17)Upper World
The task difficulty in parenthesis applies to those groups without the appropriate survival skill (may use default levels)
Each side adds the highest Survival EL/5 (round down) to their roll. Large groups will subtract 1 or more, depending on size.
* Modifier applies to the party NOT on the road
** Modifier applies to both sides
@ Trailing EL/5, rounded down, may be added as well
‡ Task varies, from 8 to 18, depending on area

Burton Choinski