Continuum II: General Skills

   Here’s another segment of the Continuum II rules. In this case, it’s the module on basic skills. As a side benefit, the skill list is set up as a table – which I most often used for deciding just what business random shopkeepers and passers-by happened to be in and players most often used when they had no ideas at the moment.

   Continuum II has three basic tiers of characters:

  • Normal people are by far the most common. They don’t have special bonuses and they get along on the basic allotment of general skills that everyone gets.
  • “Vocational” characters are normal people with intensive training to go with whatever natural talent they possess.
  • “Professional” characters possess enough Will to bend reality around them a bit – and the more they do it, the more their skill at it and confidence in their power increases in a positive feedback loop. They have varying upper limits depending on their Will score, but even low-powered professional characters can survive attacks that would kill any normal creature and accomplish remarkable feats. High-powered ones may be able to endure supernovas and do almost anything.

   Everyone, however, gets their Intellect-based allotment of General Skills – so here they are.

   General Skills cover a character’s background knowledge and skills – the abilities they acquired growing up on the farm, helping out with the fishing, while apprenticed, or in school – as well as more adult studies before they went on to train in their vocation or profession. In general, they’re acquired long before the character enters play, and the skills selected should reflect the characters upbringing, personal experiences, and early inclinations rather than any great talents or the training that led to his or her current career.

   General skills are not equivalent to specific “major” or “minor” professional skills, even if the name is the same. Unlike major and minor professional skills, there are never any special abilities associated with general skills. Similarly, the chances of success when using them under stress are not too good – although the game master may opt to allow a modifier of up to +3 if a character possesses a general skill or skills related to a professional-level skill. For example, the general skill “Mechanic” might be worth a small bonus on a roll to tinker with some complex mechanical trap via the Sabotage professional skill.

   Linking your skills together via some sensible history, explanation, course of instruction, or simply choosing related skills, is worth a bonus skill if the GM finds the explanation and character history satisfactory. Numbers are provided for GM’s in need of a “random” bystander, occupation, or business – and for players who need ideas (or whose minds are absolutely blank).

   Most characters get a few automatic skills – Cultural Familiarity (for where they grew up), and a Native Language, both rated at level (Int/6). A rating of at least Cultural Familiarity-1 is necessary to operate in any milieu without continuous difficulties. Characters from alien backgrounds, such as exotic-species offworlders, energy beings translated into material form, and other oddities must normally take at least one level of a local cultural familiarity before starting play. Fortunately for busy world-travelers, the cultures of any one species always have some basic similarities; a level of 3+ in any one of them translates into a level-1 rating in any other after a character spends a few months getting acquainted with it. Sadly, those first few months can be quite a problem.

   Characters receive additional general skill points depending on their Intellect and various modifying factors, as shown below.

Intellect

3-5

6-7

8-9

10-11

12-13

14-15

16

17

18

19

20

+1

Skill Points

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

10

12

+2

   Modifiers to the number of skills include:

  • Age: Very young characters suffer a -3, youngsters a -2, adolescents a -1, middle-aged characters gain a general skill point, and elderly characters gain another, for a total of two due to age.
  • Longevity: This affects things quite a bit. Extremely short-lived races lose a point. Long-lived races gain +3 and extremely long-lived/functionally immortal races gain +5.
  • Upbringing: Feral or raised by non-sapient creatures -3 (you should generally buy some related talents as well as the appropriate general skills), raised by sapient but truly alien creatures -2 (why were they doing this?), raised by related race -1. An intensive (or modern-style) education is, however, worth +1, being raised by an antisocial species or under similar restricted circumstances inflicts a -1 penalty, an an extremely restricted childhood (being raised in a prison or any similar situation) inflicts a -2 penalty. Things like being raised on a primitive farm, on a space station, on the streets, or in an alien dimension tend to modify what a child learns – not how much.

Player characters often seem to have very, very, weird backgrounds. This can usually be covered by buying special talents or a by a few unusual skill choices.

   A character’s level of competence depends on the number of times a skill was taken, as shown on the chart below:

  • 1 “Apprentice”; A decent mastery of the basics. Enough to make a living, although you’ll usually be working for someone else.
  • 2 “Journeyman”; The common independent-operator level for normals. Enough to successfully run a business and satisfy normal customers.
  • 3 “Master”; A notable expert.
  • 4-6 “Grandmaster”; On the “cutting edge” of the field.
  • 7 “Paramount”; Maximum for near-humans, transcendent skill.

   Vocational and Professional characters may spend acquired skill points to learn additional general skills, or to upgrade existing ones, as can ordinary people who get special training (usually heading towards a Vocation). The maximum initial level of skill is “3” – Mastery.

Common General Skills:

   d8, d12 for random selection

   1) Performing Skills:

  1. Juggling / Legerdemain
  2. Acting / Mime / “Noh” / Ritual
  3. Oratory / Debate / Mediation
  4. Diplomacy / Liaison / Fixer
  5. Tumbling / Sideshow Talent
  6. Dancing / Calling / Director
  7. Etiquette / Courtier / Madam
  8. Beggar / Activist / Celebrity
  9. Politics / Official / Priest
  10. Courtesan / Model / Seduction
  11. Playing / Singing / Comedian
  12. Storytelling / Journalism

   2) Fine Arts Skills:

  1. Etching / Engraving / Inlay
  2. Painting / Beautician
  3. Drawing / Animation / Limner
  4. Calligraphy / Drafting
  5. Sculptor / Bonsai / Origami
  6. Writer / Poet / Critic
  7. Jewelsmith / Gemcutter
  8. Composer / Conductor
  9. Tattooist or Perfumer
  10. Carving / Toymaker / Kitemaker
  11. Meditation / Tea Ceremony
  12. Forger / Coiner / Accountant

   3) Craft Skills:

  1. Cooking / Baking / Curing
  2. Printer / Binder / Mapmaker
  3. Bowyer / Fletcher||Heavy Eq
  4. Brewer / Vintner / Distiller
  5. Builder / Architect / Mason
  6. Weaver / Dyer / Spinner / Roper
  7. Leather worker / Furrier / Tanner
  8. Glass maker / Blower / Candler
  9. Midwife / Healer / Doctor / Veterinarian
  10. Tailor / Hatter / Cobbler
  11. Potter / Caster / Plumber
  12. Researcher / System Operator / Technician

   4) Professional Skills:

  1. Animal Handler / Slaver
  2. Trader / Merchant / Peddler
  3. Farmer / Herder / Gatherer
  4. Butcher / Miller / Resource Processor
  5. Fisher / Trapper / Huntsman
  6. Smith (Various) / Armorer
  7. Mechanic / Tinker / Technician
  8. Seaman / Navigator / Astronomer
  9. Packer / Preserver / Cooper
  10. Carpenter / Lumberer / Coaler
  11. Gamekeeper / Poacher / Traps
  12. Shipwright / Naval Engineer

   5) “Hobby” Skills:

  1. Intrigue / Gossip / Thievery
  2. Falconry / Sportsman (Pick)
  3. Mountaineering / Skiing
  4. Boating / Piloting / Balloons
  5. Divination / Charmsmith
  6. Gardener / Landscaper / Dowser
  7. Embroidery / Trivia / Fan
  8. Gaming / Detective / Crime
  9. Horsemanship / (X)-rider
  10. Survival (Select) / Explorer
  11. Scrounging / Scavenging
  12. Masseur / Therapist / Barber

   6) Occupational Skills:

  1. Mercenary / Guardsman / Spy
  2. Innkeeper / Storekeeper
  3. Pawnbroker / Usurer / Financier
  4. Extortionist / Tax Collector
  5. Smuggler / Stower / Loader
  6. Teacher / Tutor / Guru / Mystic
  7. Captain / Noble / Recruiter
  8. Steward / Administrator
  9. Acolyte / Psychic / Counselor
  10. Urchin / Streetwise / Guide
  11. Butler / Nanny / Manservant
  12. Entertainer / Producer

   7) Lore Skills:

  1. Language (Select) / Sign Language
  2. Geology / Mining / Hydraulics
  3. Strategy / Tactics / Espionage
  4. History / Maps / Demographics
  5. Religion / Philosophy / Magic
  6. Naturalist / Biology / Anatomy
  7. Chemist / Herbalist / Alchemist
  8. Heraldry / Symbols / Art / Fashion
  9. Legends / Literature / Epics
  10. Mathematics / Science (Pick)
  11. Engineering / Military Engineering
  12. Law / Customs / Cultures / Civics

   8) Player Requests:

  1. Metallurgist / Refiner / Prospector
  2. Taxidermist / Pelter / Embalmer
  3. Papermaker / Scribe / Librarian
  4. Linguist / Cryptology / Hacker
  5. Teamster / Driver / Charioteer
  6. Swimming / Diving / Alien Environment
  7. Interrogator / Torturer / Jailer
  8. Logistics / Quartermaster
  9. Psychology / Advertising / Propaganda
  10. Area / Milieu / Culture Lore
  11. Weather / Ocean / Forester Lore
  12. Charlatan / Fraud / Trickster

   Obviously enough, most of the “general skills” listed are actually broad categories, covering many subskills and variations. Sadly, taking one does not provide omni-competence; the skills selected interact with each other and the characters background to produce a reasonable character description. For a simple example, a player creating a wandering rogue of Intellect 12 selects; Carpenter/Lumberer-1, Playing/Singing/Comedian-1, and Entertainer/Producer-2. There are many ways to translate this – but in this case; Instrument Maker-1, Playing/Singing-1, and Minstrel-2, with a game-master selected bonus skill of Epics and Ballads-1, seems to fit the characters background description and history. While this character isn’t the best or most knowledgeable of musicians, he can handle an audience well. He could certainly do quite well as a simple wandering minstrel but, being a PC, he doubtless has greater ambitions.

   Similarly, technical skills usually require more subdivision then nontechnical skills do. Skills that fall in this category include System Operator/Technician, Scientist, Heavy Equipment, and Engineering. System Operators and Technicians normally must select the type of system (computers, spacedrives, communications, etc) and specialize in its operation or in its construction and maintenance. Either can be linked with Hacking to cover the abuse and misuse of the system. A Scientist must either select a specific science or remain a general dabbler. Heavy Equipment requires that the character choose a general field, such as construction, foundry work, or assembly systems. Engineering can be taken as a broad knowledge of basic principles, or as a specific field. The “broad knowledge” variant can be combined with almost any specific scientific field.

  • Sample Sciences include Aerodynamics, Archeology, Anthropology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Atmospherics, Biochemistry, Biology (various), Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, weird science, Cryogenics, Ecology, Electronics, Fusion, Fluid Systems, Genetics, Geography, Geology, Lasers, Linguistics, Metallurgy, microwave technology, Nucleonics, Oceanography, Optics, Physics, Robotics, Sociology, Botany, Bionics, Forensics, Dermatology, Epidemiology, Pharmacology, Immunology, Neurology, Pathology, Toxicology,
  • “Thievery” variations include auto theft, cut pursing, picking pockets, safe cracking, kidnaping, and breaking and entering.
  • Variations on “Doctor” include dentist, surgeon, plastic surgeon, and a wide variety of other specialists.
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