Tuesday 25 May 2021

A Heartbreaker of My Very Own: Backgrounds II

 All the Backgrounds come with a table that outlines what the Background allows the character to do, the ability score linked with the Background, and the effects on the character (which ability scores the Background allows a character to increase, additional money, how long it takes to train in the Background, possibilities for further development). Each of the factors are explained below.

The name of the Background, and, in brackets, the ability bonus that is applied when rolling to take an Advance to that Background along with the cost to purchase using Luck Points. Below this is listed the ability score (or scores, from which the player may select one) that the player increases by 1

Then follows a description of the Background and its general applicability, and whether or not the Background has an effect on any skills and abilities.

Each Background gives a potential for the character to develop literacy - some few cultures gain this automatically, and a player’s low Intelligence score may preclude them from being able to read, but if neither of these are a factor, the character’s literacy or otherwise is governed by their rolls as they progress through the Background process. The Background gives a percentage chance equivalent to the character’s Intelligence score plus a number that varies depending upon the Background (it’s highly unlikely a character will learn to read from the Beggar Background for example, but for the Scholar Background, literacy is automatic).

All activities take time to learn, so each Background adds a variable number of years to a character’s starting age. If you are not using the Age option from Labyrinth Lord, this may be ignored, or used as a guideline. Note that, if information on their age is required, 0-level NPCs who have developed a Background to a higher level are assumed to add half (round up) this time period for every additional level above Familiar (thus, our example Blacksmith above, with Blacksmith (Experienced) and Militiaman (Practiced), would add 10 years to their base age – 1 x 3 and 2 x 2 years for their Blacksmithing experience, and 1 x 2 and 1 x1 years of service as a reserve in the Militia). They do not, however, increase their gold, ability scores or synergies.

Backgrounds also grant a character a (usually) small addition to their starting gold. 

Backgrounds also have a telling effect on a character’s Social Status: all characters begin the character generation process with a default Social Status of 5 (where 20 is the highest permissible ranking, although ratings have no lower limit). The Status number attached to each Background is added or subtracted from the default starting status.

This information is followed by a list of Synergies. Synergies represent the fact that certain Backgrounds crossover with one another. Thus, a Barber who later becomes a Gossip adds +1 to when rolling a Gossip check.

All Backgrounds pursued tend to crossover with the generic skills all characters can develop: the Votary Background, for example, provides a large boost to both the Religion and Concentration skills. The skill profile lists the skills that are improved when selecting the Background. In all cases, this adds up to 15 skill points.

Everything a person does leaves a legacy, not only in the material world, but morally and spiritually also. This is reflected by the concept of Eldritch Resonance, whereby the time spent practicing one or another set of skills is manifested by the interaction of the individual with certain kinds of magic. Eldritch Resonance works in three ways: firstly, casting spells with which one has Eldritch Resonance is more effective. If the spell is targeted against a foe and requires a Test, that Test is made at a penalty of -2. In addition, range, duration, and effect, where attached to the caster’s level, is calculated as if the caster is one level higher. Where dice are required to determine the period of an effect, the amount of damage or healing, the dice becomes one size ‘larger’ (i.e. d4 becomes d6, d8 becomes d10). However, if the dice rolled is already 1d10, or higher, it is treated as +1 per dice rolled (i.e. 3d10+3, 1d12 +1, etc.).

The second advantage garnered from Eldritch Resonance is the ability to immediately ‘swap out’ a previously prepared spell for one of the spells with which the caster has Eldritch Resonance (assuming the caster has a spell of the appropriate level prepared and available for substitution - and that the caster actually knows the spell they wish to replace it with!) Spellcasters required to first learn their spells (such as the Magic-User) also gain a bonus to learning their Resonant spells, in that these spells are learned as if the caster’s Intelligence score is two points higher. In addition, Resonant spells do not count against the caster’s maximum number of spells per level.

The third aspect of Eldritch Resonance benefits any character class, not just those that cast spells. If targeted by a spell that is Resonant for them (i.e., appears under Eldritch Resonance in any of their Backgrounds), the character has several options: where no Saving Throw is permitted, they may reduce damage received by 1 per level (for spells like Magic Missile), or, if a Saving Throw is required, they may a) substitute their Background score in the appropriate Background from the Backgrounds Matrix if this is more advantageous than the relevant Saving Throw or b) if this first option confers no advantage, may roll twice for their Saving Throw, taking the better roll.

Each Background has a varying number of Advances: the character moves from their first, randomly generated Background to one that is listed under Advances. In some cases where there is no value associated with the desired Background, this choice may be freely made. Most Advances, however, will require a player to roll a d20 and add - or subtract! - the appropriate ability modifier and equal or exceed the target number associated with that Background. This number reflects the base likelihood that a character coming from Background A has access to the tools and training to learn Background B. Here, the notion of ‘access’ is inclusive of such things of cultural norms, social standing, and the stigma attached to certain careers. It’s simply not possible for a Beggar to become a Scholar in one leap at this stage of their character development (although it becomes perfectly possible when they get a free choice from their Class Backgrounds - assuming their class allows for it - hence a Magic-User whose first two Backgrounds were Beggar and Torchbearer can automatically select Probationer, just as they could select Phrenologist, even if their first two Backgrounds happened to be Labourer and Mercenary). Note that some Advances are only available as a second Background, and do not appear on the random tables whereby one selects their initial Background. Note that some Backgrounds have very many Advances available - which looks rather daunting on the page. Conversely, some - those which are only available when moving from your original Background - have none.

Certain combinations of Background and Class (or Background and Culture) can confer Advantages - these are rather like ‘feats’ in certain other systems, although they are seldom particularly powerful. Thus, a Cleric with the Herdsman Background is permitted to substitute several specific low-level Druid spells for Cleric spells on their spell list, whilst an Assassin, Thief or Ranger with the Lookout Background, if making a successful check against their target number on the Background Matrix when surprised, may roll a 1d4 for Initiative and add their Dexterity bonus in the surprise round. A Fighter with the Initiate Background may, on a successful check, gain a +1 bonus to hit, damage, AC or saves against one type of animal per day. Tieflings with the Netweaver Background gain the ability to shoot demonic webs from their hands. A Warlock with the Dealer, Pharmacist or Apothecary Backgrounds may render one use of their Arcane Bolt per day poisonous, intoxicating, or hallucinogenic, whilst a Warlock with the Traceur Background can bounce their Bolt off walls. A Shadow Dwarf with the Dragoman Background gains a bonus when interacting with Hags, Giants and Lycanthropes. A Bard with the Mercenary or Soldier background gains the ability to inspire courage in their allies during combat.

Below are three example Backgrounds:


+1 choice (WIS, DEX, CHA)

Artisan, Knave, Warrior

People are easily entertained, and tormenting animals seems to cause endless amusement. Use this skill to teach animals tricks and to use an entertaining patter to distract crowds. Your choice of alignment will drive how you use this skill - Evil alignment would indicate participation in cockfights, bear-baiting or training a jackanape, whilst a Good alignment is more likely to teach animals to sing, play and amuse without bloodshed. 

Literacy: 10 + INT (as a percentage)

Age: Add 2 years to your starting age.

Starting Gold: +1d8, plus one (small) trained animal. Typical examples are monkey, cat, snake, dog, fox, ferret, raccoon. This creature is highly unlikely to fight for you (skill roll with a difficulty of -12 overrides this).

Social Status: -2

Standard Tests: Fellowship, Presence

Synergies: +2 Gamekeeper, Ostler, Herdsman, Hunter, Rustler, +1 Vedette, Ratter, Snake Charmer, Trapper.

Skill Profile: Nature 4 Lore 3 Concentration 2 Streetwise 3 Manipulate 3.

Eldritch Resonance: hold animal, locate creature, speak with animals

Advances: Beggar, Boatman (6), Burglar (11), Butcher (5), Carter (7), Chapman (10), Charcoal Burner (8), Cooper (6), Escapologist (12), Fisherman, Footpad, Fuller, Gamekeeper (15), Gongfarmer, Grave Robber (9), Herdsman, Hunter (8), Initiate (10), Juggler (11), Knife Thrower (12), Labourer, Medium (6), Mercenary (15), Nihilist, Novice (10), Occultist (19), Ostler (8), Outlaw, Pickpocket (11), Rake, Ratter, Ropemaker (10), Rustler (6), Saddler (11), Scrapper (10), Servant (4), Slave, Snake Charmer (8), Tanner (4), Thug, Torchbearer (9), Traceur (13), Trapper (10), Tumbler (10), Vagrant, Vedette (17), Watchman (8), Wickerworker (10), Woodcutter (9), Wrestler (8).

Advantages: Alchemist - you may add +2 to any efforts to Distill Extracts from animals.

Bandit - your experience working with animals serves you well in the wild. Once per day you may cast animal invisibility, with a duration equivalent to 1 turn plus 1 round per point of WIS bonus (minimum of 1).

Bard - you may use your Charming Performance ability to calm and befriend animals, with a modifier based upon your level of competency in the Nature skill, as follows: Familiar (-2); Practiced (+0); Experienced (+2); Mastered (+5).

Explorer - you may add the Druid spells animal invisibility and speak with animals to your spell list.

Merchant - your familiarity with exotic animals and livestock enables you to add +3 to any Bargaining or Appraisal involving animals.

Necromancer - when you cast the summon necromantic familiar spell, only Undead animals will respond to your call, but they will gain +1 to AC and an extra 2 hit points.


+1 choice (INT, PER, JUD)

Priest, Scholar

Use this skill to navigate by the stars and determine auspicious moments for magical endeavours. A successful roll using this skill with a penalty equivalent of the level of the spell as follows: 1st level (-11); 2nd level (-9); 3rd level (-7); 4th level (-5); 5th level (-4); 6th level (-3); 7th level (-2); 8th level (-1); 9th level (0) - it is easier to predict the best time for large scale effects than to do so for casting a sleep spell. However, if the target of the sleep spell is the Emperor’s personal bodyguard, difficulties might decrease, as the effect of the spell is potentially very large indeed (i.e., it is intended to facilitate the death or capture of the Emperor). Success gives an appropriate time for the casting of the spell to within one hour. 

If the spell is successfully cast within this period, all variables are maximised and any targets make their Tests with a penalty equivalent to the level of the Astronomer who calculated the casting time. With regard to spells such as dispel magic, the level of the Astronomer is multiplied by 2 and added to the percentage chance of a successful dispel effect. 

Astronomy is one the Nine Noble Arts, and therefore astronomers are held in high esteem by those who profess to honour the Gods.

Literacy: Yes

Add 3 years to your starting age.

Starting Gold: +3d4

Social Status: +5

Standard Tests: Intelligence, Perception

Synergies: +2 Astrologer; +1 Cartographer, Engineer, Scribe.

Skill Profile: Concentration 4 Detection 3 Nature 3 Lore 3 Religion 1 Arcana 1.

Eldritch Resonance: dancing lights, infravision, locate object

Advances: Academic (11), Acolyte (10), Administrator (8), Apprentice (10), Apothecary (17), Astrologer (9), Beggar, Calligrapher (15), Cartographer (12), Chandler (14), Courtier (16), Douanier (7), Engineer (13), Engraver (9), Enigmatologist (14), Eremite (10), Footpad, Gentry (14), Hayward (15), Illuminator (17), Initiate (9), Labourer, Lampwright (16), Lensgrinder (6), Librarian (6), Medium (12), Mercenary (18), Mirror Maker (15), Mountaineer (19), Musician (13), Nihilist, Novice (8), Occultist (16), Outlaw, Painter (12), Pharmacist (18), Philosopher (11), Phrenologist (10), Physicker (18), Probationer (13), Rake, Scribe, Seafarer (8), Seer (7), Tapicer (12), Tutor (10), Vagrant, Votary (15).

Advantages: any Knave - you may cast the Illusionist spell blindness once per week, but only if you make a successful Astronomer roll at -5 and spend 2 Luck Points. 

Cleric - at night - regardless of whether stars are visible, although you must be outdoors - you are treated as if you are one level higher for the purposes of Turning Undead.

Explorer - if outside and under a clear night sky, you gain the ability to cast dancing lights or faerie fire (one of these spells, once per night, at a cost of 1 Luck Point).

Kineticist - at 4th level, you may also choose to wield starlight as a form of elemental energy. On a natural roll of 20, your target must pass a Celerity Test or be blinded for 1d3 rounds. 

            Paladin - at night, under clear skies and outdoors, your Detect Evil and Protection from Evil abilities have an enhanced range of 90’ and 15’ respectively.


+1 choice (DEX, CHA, PER, FEL)

Artisan, Knave

Use this skill to engage in seemingly idle gossip (fishing for information) and cut hair. Barbers can be scurrilous rogues or amiable innocents, but either way, the Barber’s shop is a place where secrets and gossip come out to play. Barbers can also – at a -6 penalty – perform minor feats of chirurgery (see the Physicker).

Literacy: 35 + INT (as a percentage)

Add 1 year to your starting age.

Starting Gold: +1d6, some sharp scissors and a set of fine razors

Social Status: +1

Standard Tests: Perception, Celerity, Fellowship, Guile

Synergies: +1 Comic, Gossip, Impressionist, Phrenologist, Raconteur.

Skill Profile: Etiquette 2 Streetwise 2 Manipulate 2 Legerdemain 2 Healing 4 Deception 2 Detection 1.

Eldritch Resonance: charm person, detect lie, keen ear*, knives*

Advances: Actor (8), Administrator (16), Astrologer (12), Beggar, Bookbinder (15), Brewer (11), Cobbler (9), Comic (10), Con Artist (11), Deacon (13), Dealer (15), Dragoman (13), Engraver (14), Enigmatologist (16), Footpad, Gossip (6), Grave Robber (10), Impressionist (8), Infiltrator (15), Innkeeper (10), Jeweller (14), Knife Thrower (17), Labourer, Lacemaker (15), Medium (6), Mercenary (16), Mesmerist (10), Messenger (14), Milliner (13), Mirror Maker (12), Musician (13), Nihilist, Novice (10), Occultist (14), Outlaw, Perfumier (15), Perruquier (12), Phrenologist (5), Physicker (19), Pickpocket (6), Politician (15), Prestidigitator (11), Printer (15), Probationer (14), Quacksalver (12), Rabble-Rouser (9), Raconteur (10), Rake, Servant, Singer (10), Storyteller (10), Tailor (16), Toll-Keeper (6), Torchbearer (12), Torturer (10), Vagrant, Wit (13), Writer (10).

Advantages: Beguiler -  if attempting to Beguile someone whilst cutting their hair, you may +2 to your chance of doing so.

Demonologist, Enchanter, Magic-user, Witch - if you are able to obtain (yourself) a lock of your target’s hair, and use it as the material component in a spell intended to manipulate or control, they suffer a -3 penalty when making Tests against your spell. The lock of hair is expended by the casting.

Healer - if you make a successful chirurgery role (i.e., using this skill at -6) in conjunction with casting a cure...wounds or healing spell, you may re-roll any ones when rolling to determine how much damage is healed. If you fail, you must re-roll any fives or sixes when determining damage healed. 

Hexer, Witchfinder - if you can obtain a lock of a target’s hair, you may add +2 to any attempts to Track them.  

A Heartbreaker of My Very Own: Backgrounds I

 First, a disclaimer: although they’re called “Backgrounds”, the following options could equally be called ‘Careers’, ‘Vocations’, ‘Kits’ or something similar. They’re really a combination of talents, ‘feats’ and skills, elastically defined and bundled under convenient headings. Some of them are quite powerful, others – at least at first blush- next to useless. Superficially, at least, it’s better to be a Grandee than a Fuller, a Mercenary rather than a Spinner. However, there are a number of factors that make up a Background. A Magic-User with a Fuller’s Background will cast a more potent version of stinking cloud, and a Spinner’s Background will enhance their web spells. Certain classes, thanks to their Fuller Background are able to run in shallow water and on some other surfaces far better than others.

Players select three Backgrounds for their character: the first is their Aptitude Background (rolled randomly at no cost or purchased with Luck points). The second is their chosen Background from the Advances list associated with their chosen Aptitude Background. Players mostly have control over this, but must roll to qualify for their Advance Background. The player rolls a d20 and adds the appropriate ability bonus. If they equal or exceed the target number, they confirm their selection of that Background. If they don’t manage to do so, they may attempt to roll for a different Background with a +1 bonus to the roll. If this too is unsuccessful, they then roll for yet another Background with a +2 bonus. The process continues, with an increasing bonus until a Background is attained. Note that players may automatically select Backgrounds where there is no qualifying number.

The third and final Background is the player’s choice and no roll is required, but it is limited to those Backgrounds on the list associated with the character’s class (some of which are quite extensive, others not so much).

The system – hopefully - has a considerable payoff in terms of character depth for a reasonably small increase in complexity. It also helps flesh out NPCs (although it works a little differently for NPCs, who are given an equivalent level in each skill to measure their talent, but remain 0-level in class terms - unless of course they are members of a character class, in which case they are treated as normal). 

Thus, one could have a 0-level Human who has the following skills: Blacksmith (Experienced), Militiaman (Practiced). Generally, one would wish to keep 0-level NPCs to one or two skills, but exceptional individuals might exceed this: for example, one could have a 0-level Human who possesses Barber (Practiced), Gossip (Practiced), Phrenologist (Familiar), Infiltrator (Familiar). As a general rule, an NPC a high Intelligence or Wisdom score (whichever is higher) achieve so wide a range tof Backgrounds. The Barber in the example above would need an INT or WIS score of at least 15 to qualify for all the Backgrounds they possess. They would be easy enough to kill but would have a host of minor skills with which to aid or confound the players. 

For player characters, the system is also useful because it contains elements of a backstory, around which players may build - should they desire - a deeper narrative. Characters automatically receive 10 skill points in their Backgrounds, and may then choose to add 1d8, 1d6 or 1d4 to one of their three Backgrounds (each dice may only be used once). Thus, most characters rolling checks using their Backgrounds will roll on the Practiced column of the Skills Matrix (and adding the relevant ability score and any applicable modifiers – such as Synergies). Note that Background skill point totals may be increased like any other skill (i.e., with Freebie points at level 1, or using the points gained whilst levelling up), but this must represent in-game efforts - if your character doesn’t spend any time at the loom, they cannot increase their Weaver Background’s skill point total.

The character’s first Background is either rolled randomly on the Artisan, Knave, Priest, Scholar or Warrior tables (as determined by your choice of character class and culture), or purchased using Luck points. If you purchase a Background not normally available to your class, you must add 1 Luck point to the cost: thus, a Warrior selecting the Acolyte Background would spend 3 Luck Points instead of the usual 2).

Most Backgrounds represent standard crafts, occupations, and roles, but some have been accorded a special, almost semi-divine (or thoroughly profane) status. These are detailed below: 


Calligrapher, Dyer, Glassblower, Illuminator, Mosaicist, Painter, Potter. 

It is said that these are the arts most pleasing to the Gods, that those well-versed in them cannot fall into evil and are protected from all harm. Although this ‘rule’ has produced several devastating exceptions, it does often seem to be the case that those who practice them are generally calm, mindful, concerned for the common weal and the cultivation of holiness. As to why these seven arts are more holy than some others in the eyes of the Gods is not known and, perhaps, unknowable.


Apothecary, Astronomer, Cartographer, Chandler, Gardener, Herbalist, Sculptor, Poet, Weaver.

The so-called Noble Arts are regarded as next most sanctified and virtuous after the Seven Sacred Arts. Although they do not confer spiritual and moral excellence in the manner of those most exalted and holy Arts, they are said to grant ‘nobility of character’ and a ‘glimpse of the divine law’.


Actor, Astrologer, Mesmerist, Phrenologist, Writer. 

The fallen Arts were once held in high favour, but this has long changed: as these arts seem to breed troublemakers and apostates, it is felt that the shadow of dark Gods lie across those who pursue them. All that can be said of the fallen Five is that, where there is a proclivity for evil, these Arts will intensify and give powerful expression to such impulses.

Tuesday 18 May 2021

A Heartbreaker of My Very Own: Skills


There are a number of skills available to all characters. The character builds competency in these skills by accumulating experience in the form of points. These are provided by the character’s class, lineage/culture, Backgrounds and free points that the player can allocate as they wish. 

Skill bonuses are applied to various Tests, with a modifier determined by the character’s degree of proficiency in the appropriate skill. This is chosen according to the amount of points a character has in that skill, as follows:

Unschooled (-3) 0 skill points

Familiar (0) 1-9 skill points

Practiced (+1)         10-19 skill points

Experienced (+3) 20-34 skill points

Mastered (+5) 35-49 skill points

Paragon (+7) 50 skill points

Skill points are obtained in the following amounts:

Culture/Lineage 25

Backgrounds (3) 15 (45)

Class         20

Free Points 10

Per Level               all classes gain 3 skill points at levels 1-10; 2/level thereafter

Thus, during their careers, a character gains 150 points to spend upon skills. Quick scrutiny indicates that characters will probably achieve the highest level of skill in two or three skills, unless the player elects to specialise in four or five skills to the exclusion of anything but minimal competency in others, although it must be noted that Weapon Competencies don’t use the Skills Modifier. Rather, a character invests any points they choose to spend on Weapon Competencies in a single weapon, allowing them to move that weapon to the next column of the Attack Matrix when passing certain thresholds, whilst most Combat Maneuvers do use a Skills Modifier.

Below is a brief discussion and description of each skill. The definitions are deliberately elastic, so that there is no need for further, more granular skills. Thus, the Nature skill incorporates both knowledge of animals, plants, weather and basic geography, along with several practical skills, such as the ability to forage, survival skills and tracking skills. 


This skill measures the character’s understanding of arcane magic, the planes, arcane items and the history and theory of magic. It can be used to identify spells as they are cast, read scrolls (if the character does not wish to cast read magic) and to identify planar creatures, constructs, fey, aberrations and magical beasts. Standard Tests: Perception (to identify a spell or creature), Intelligence (to read a scroll or recall information about a magical item).


This skill includes the ability to tumble, jump and perform acrobatic or gymnastic maneuvers (effectively, anything not covered by the more prosaic Movement skill). Standard Tests: Celerity (tumbling out of harm’s way), Prowess (trapeze artist, parallel bars, etc.).


Brawn is the ability to focus one’s physical might and use it to destroy objects, force doors (or hold them shut) and to perform similar actions. The Brawn skill can be used to lend extra power to a blow (adding 1d6 to damage), but only under limited circumstances - such as when a foe is unaware of you, or if you are in single combat or your foe is prone or stunned. Using Brawn in this way does come with a few disadvantages, however. You must subtract 1 from your Initiative score, and lose any Celerity bonus to your AC. Standard Tests: Strength (to hold a door shut, boost a blow’s damage), Stamina (holding up a heavy weight over a long period of time), Presence (intimidating through display of physical presence).


Concentration is used for spellcasting rolls, sniping a moving target, remaining attentive whilst picking locks in the heat of battle, long stints on watch and sustained mental exercise. Standard Tests: Perception (surveillance), Celerity (follow a moving target), Intelligence (casting an Arcane spell, study and research), Wisdom (casting a Divine spell), Charisma (activating a psionic power).


The Deception skill covers both verbal confabulations, keeping a straight face and such things as forgery, acting, creating a disguise or pretending to be someone else. Standard Tests: Guile (most forms of deception), Presence (acting), Celerity (forging a signature), Fellowship (idle gossip, planting rumours).


Detection involves active searching: the player must declare the object and method of their search in order for this skill to apply. Standard Tests: Guile (detect deception), Judgment (assessing a person’s character or temperament). 


Endurance represents the ability to sustain physical activity for prolonged periods without succumbing to fatigue. This skill can also be used to temporarily ignore the effects of various injuries and ability damage. Standard Tests: Prowess (prolonged physical activity), Willpower (resist torture, overcoming pain and fatigue), Stamina (resisting spells such as polymorph).


Etiquette includes knowledge of precedence, genealogy in the feudal setting, heraldry and the correct and polite approach during social interactions. None who would enter gentle society should overlook this skill. Standard Tests: Guile (innuendo), Fellowship (ingratiating oneself with the nobility), Intelligence (recalling important information about individuals, etc.), Prowess (courtly dance).


A character’s ability to project emotions and ideas through creative media is governed by the Expression skill. Expression is not just the purview of artists, musicians and poets, but of artisans, agitators…and, sometimes, magic. Standard Tests: Prowess (dance), Presence (singing or reciting poetry), Celerity (playing a stringed instrument), Judgement (assessing a work of art).


The use of folk remedies, herbs, old rituals, and practical medical knowledge (strapping wounds, using pressure to stanch bleeding, slings for broken arms, tourniquets and so on). Also includes dentistry and such knowledge of hygiene as exists in the absence of an understanding of germs. Can be used once per person per injury to heal 1d3 hit points of damage, and to diagnose disease (at a -2 penalty) and provide treatment for those suffering from poison or disease (may make daily saving throws at +1 to throw off disease). Standard Tests: Perception (assess injuries), Judgement (diagnosis of disease, talking therapy), Celerity (emergency first aid), Intelligence (theoretical medicine).


Governs all manner of sleight of hand tricks, prestidigitation and picking pockets. Standard Tests: Perception (spot a card trick, a pickpocket, etc.), Celerity (picking pockets, general sleight of hand), Guile (distracting others whilst performing tricks).


Lore denotes the character’s general knowledge. Many things come under its rubric: history, politics, culture, trade and all things not apprehended by more specialised lore (represented by Arcana, Nature, Etiquette and Religion). Standard Tests: Intelligence (to recall some point of fact), Presence (teaching), Judgement (sifting useful facts from dross).


This skill is used when a character seeks to appeal to the emotions of others, or apply logic in debate. It is used by goodly leaders and orators to inspire – and by others to create doubt and fear. It operates on both a mass level (as with oratory) and on an interpersonal level (such as a hulking thug seeking to intimidate a weedy town watchman). Standard Tests: Guile (hidden/subtle manipulations), Presence (oratory and leadership), Fellowship (encouragement), Prowess (physical intimidation), Celerity (fast talk/blather), Intelligence (logical argument), Perception (detect attempts at manipulation).


The ability to understand, operate, build and design technological items. Note that whilst most technology is reasonably simple – mills, carts and so forth, movable type has been invented (thus the Printer Background), and locks and traps can be fiendishly complex. Standard Tests: Perception (to detect traps), Celerity (picking locks, disarming traps), Prowess (operating a manually-powered item), Guile (setting traps), Intelligence (designing machines).


Movement governs the character’s ability to swim, run and climb. Standard Tests: Stamina (pushing one’s limits, climbing), Prowess (swimming, distance running), Celerity (sprinting).


The Nature skill covers the lore of all things growing and living, landforms and weather, along with the practical knowledge needed to train and handle animals, survive in the wild, including the ability to read and follow tracks. Standard Tests: Perception (tracking), Fellowship (interacting with animals), Presence (training animals), Intelligence (identifying plants and animals), Guile (laying a false trail), Judgement (foraging/survival).


This skill includes an understanding of religious dogma, ceremonial and ethos. It also includes the ability to identify Undead, divine magic and items. Standard Tests: Judgement (applying religious doctrine), Intelligence (knowledge of particular religions, identifying Undead), Presence (preaching), Willpower (prayer, meditation).


This skill is applicable when a character rides any kind of beast of burden. Certain fantastic creatures will apply serious negatives to the skill check. Note that the default skill applies to horses, but for some cultures or lineages the default might well be wolves, boars, or griffins… Standard Tests: Prowess (the default for riding).


Stealth governs a character’s ability to move silently and conceal themselves from unfriendly eyes. Standard Tests: Dexterity (moving silently), Guile (camouflage), Willpower (hiding).


This skill governs the character’s knowledge of the criminal underworld and life in the poorer quarters, as well as the ability to make contact and interact with those who call the underworld home. Standard Tests: Perception (to spot danger), Guile (locating a contact), Celerity (blending in with crowds), Intelligence (knowledge of the underworld), Fellowship (casual conversation with criminals/the poor).

Wolves of War: The Ulfarga for Blood & Treasure (& RMFRP)

  Ulfarga (Lupine Beastkin) Wild-hearted but honourable wolf-like humanoids, Ulfarga represent one of the largest populations of any Beastki...