Skills are traits that a character can learn giving them the power to do something competently. Skills can be improved with training or experience. They include the talents that identify a character archetype and are the attributes that allow you to test against for certain feats. Climbing, languages, gambling, haggling over prices, and socializing are all examples of skills.

Note skills can degrade if not used[1] while Taking Extra Time can improve effective skill[2].

Skill Level MeaningsEdit

In general skill levels translate to:

  • Unskilled (default users): 7 or less
  • Feeble (beginners, humorous bumblers): 8-9
  • Average (most non-job skills for ordinary folks): 10-11
  • Competent (most job skills for ordinary folks): 12-13
  • Exceptional/Expert (the most seasoned of ordinary folks): 14-16
  • Heroic (extraordinary world-class experts): 17-19
  • Master: 20 - 25; it is counter productive to go for a skill this high. Time (and points) is better spent in “subsidiary” skills, related advantages, or Techniques.
    • Larger-than-Life (top experts from all of history): 20-21
    • Legendary ("typical" mythic figures): 22-23
    • Superhuman (outstanding mythic figures): 24-26[3]
    • Godlike (greatest mythic figures, gods, etc.): 27 or more

Important NoteEdit

"Your unmodified skill level is called your base skill. It measures your odds of success at an “average” task under adventuring conditions – in other words, in a stressful situation where the consequences of failure are significant."[4] This means that a skill level does not relate to the depth of knowledge in the skill.

  • Expert: Once your skill level reaches 14, additional levels of skill don’t improve your odds of success much.[5] Techniques for special cases generally provide a better option.
  • Beyond Master: "An extreme level (anything over 25) in one skill tends to be excessive and unbelievable – and is frequently less useful than a lesser level combined with one or more subsidiary skills."[6]

Skill Cost TableEdit

Final Skill Level Easy Average Hard Very Hard
Attribute-3 - - - 1
Attribute-2 - - 1 2
Attribute-1 - 1 2 4
Attribute 1 2 4 8
Attribute+1 2 4 8 12
Attribute+2 4 8 12 16
Extra +1 +4 +4 +4 +4

Task Difficulty ModifierEdit

It should be mentioned that many times there will be modifiers to the Success roll which results in an effective skill level. For example, you don't need a high Driving skill to start a car but you would need one to drive at high speeds while shooting out the window.

Ordinary Working ProfessionalsEdit

"The standard rules are designed for adventurers, not for ordinary working professionals. Professionals make one job roll a month. On a critical failure, something bad happens, with harmful consequences – but not usually as bad as a critical failure during an adventure. (...)With one roll a month, a mage with effective skill 15 or less goes 54 months between mishaps, on the average; one with effective skill 16 or better could go 216 months (or 18 years)."[7]

The Rule of...Edit

  • The Rule of 16: "If a supernatural attack (magic spell, psi ability, etc.) offers a resistance roll and the subject is living or sapient, the attacker’s effective skill cannot exceed the higher of 16 and the defender’s actual resistance. If it does, reduce it to that level."[8]
  • The Rule of 20: "If a skill defaults to a basic attribute that is higher than 20, treat that attribute as 20 when figuring default skill."[9]


You can't have a default from a default. For example if you only know Shortsword at default you do not get the -3 cross default for Saber or Smallsword but rather have to use the DX default.

As a quick rule of thumb if a skill has an attribute default it is as follows:

Skill difficulty Easy Average Hard Very Hard
Default Attribute-4 Attribute-5 Attribute-6 Attribute-6 or None

Note: always check a specific skill as there are exceptions to the rule of thumb. For example, Thaumatology (IQ/Very Hard) has a default of IQ-7 but only in settings where magic is known or has been seen by the character; otherwise it has no attribute default

Racially Learned SkillsEdit

Racially Learned Skills are bought from a race's normal attributes. So if the Race has DX 11 (DX+1) then racial Stealth 15 would cost 4 points.

Note that individuals with different attributes will have their racial learned skill adjusted accordingly. So a character of the example above has DX 12 their Stealth will be 16. Also racial learned skills improve as if the skill was bought normally so for the example race Stealth 16 would cost 4 points not 1.

See AlsoEdit


  1. Basic Set pg 294
  2. Basic Set pg 346
  3. In 3e the term "Wizard" was used for 25+; it was likely removed due to possible confusion with "Wizard" meaning spell caster.
  4. Basic Set pg 171
  5. Basic Set pg 172
  6. Basic Set pg 172
  7. Thaumatology: Urban Magics pg 30
  8. Basic Set pg 175, 344
  9. Basic Set pg 349
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