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genshou May 18, 2007, at 03:46 AM

About Skills

Skills are traits that are not inherent to a character, regardless of attributes. Skills require training to advance beyond "untrained" (usually Poor) level. A character with "natural talent" in a skill would have simply purchased levels of that skill during character creation. No skills are ever free because of a high attribute. An extremely brawny character doesn't necessarily know how to swim, even though he might have natural talent at it (as represented by the guideline to choose skills appropriate to your high attributes during character creation).

Training and Advancement

In Fudge of Elements, advancing skills is not so simple as spending EP and automatically learning how to do something better. Instead, advancing skills is a two-part process consisting of practicing the skill in the field and then undergoing training during in-character downtime.

Simply spending all one's time in a training hall doesn't provide the important and necessary experience of using it out in the "real world". In order to attain "field experience" with a skill, one must obtain Practice with it. For unopposed skills, obtaining Practice requires a difficulty of your skill level or higher, and you must succeed with a roll of +2 or better. For opposed skills, you must achieve a specific relative degree against your opponent, based on how much stronger their opposing skill is in relation to yours:

  • Opponent's skill is same level: Succeed against opposed skill roll with a relative degree of +4 or more
  • Opponent's skill is one level higher than yours: Succeed against opposed skill roll with a relative degree of +2 or more
  • Opponent's skill is two or more levels higher than yours: Succeed against opposed skill roll with any relative degree, or tie with opponent

In either case, the situation must present some real and noteworthy risk, threat, or reward for succeeding or failing. Attempting to leap across a river is not noteworthy... unless you are carrying something valuable that will be damaged by water, or the current is strong enough to sweep you away into danger! Alternatively, leaping the river could be the ONLY way to get to a treasure hoard...

For some skills (such as crafting), there may be additional information about the sort of "challenges" you must seek out to practice the skill in situations that allow for advancement. See individual skill descriptions for more information.

Only your actual level in the skill affects what difficulty of challenges you must seek. If you have a magical or situational bonus to your skill, this doesn't make you need to seek out nastier challenges, but it does make succeeding against them a bit easier. Similarly, facing enemies who have magical or situational bonuses will make your success much more difficult!

Once you have practiced your skill through success against the appropriate difficulty, place an asterisk or other symbol next to it on your character sheet. The skill is not trained yet, but this marking will remind you that you are ready to undergo the training process in your character's downtime.

During periods of in-character downtime, characters may spend free time honing their skills. Each attempt to hone a skill requires at least an hour, and can be done multiple times per day (but generally no more than two to three hours per skill per day). Easy skills allow two training rolls (see below) per hour instead of one. Hard skills require two hours per attempt. Very hard skills require three hours. Training a skill with current level Superb or higher requires twice the usual amount of hours per attempt. If you don't have enough hours remaining for a full attempt in a given day, you can use them as "rollover" to add to any training you do on the next day, but these hours go away if not used on the following day. Your GM may also limit the total number of hours you can devote to all your combined training each day without exhausting your ability to learn (eight hours is a recommended limit). For each hour of training, you roll your skill against a Fair difficulty, directly using the skill's actual level and ignoring any and all bonuses or penalties you might have to the skill (e.g. from magic, species, or circumstance). In order to "succeed" at training in the skill, you must actually "fail" the roll by getting a result of Mediocre or below. Getting a result of Fair or "better" doesn't have any penalty on your ability to keep training--you have merely wasted that hour (or more) without getting better at the skill, and may keep trying as time permits until you get a result of Mediocre or below. If you are at a current skill level of Legendary Lv1+ (training toward Legendary Lv2+), you successfully train the skill only by rolling a critical failure (-4).

A dedicated trainer (someone with the Training skill, and a higher level in the skill you are attempting to improve) can help you on this roll. If you have acquired the services of a trainer, they can attempt a Training roll. The difficulty of this roll depends on the skill level you are attempting to attain (one higher than your currently trained level):

  • Training your skill to Fair or below: Fair difficulty Training roll
  • Training your skill to Good through Great: Good difficulty Training roll
  • Training your skill to Superb: Great difficulty Training roll
  • Training your skill to Legendary Lv1+: Legendary Lv1 difficulty Training roll

If the trainer succeeds on their Training roll, you need only achieve a Fair or below result to train, instead of Mediocre. If at Legendary Lv1+ skill level, you succeed on a roll of -3 in addition to a critical failure.

Advancing without Training

It is possible to advance Knowledge skills without using them against noteworthy challenges in the field. Knowledge skills can gain the ability to be trained in the exact same process as is required to train them--in this case, you are attending classes of some kind or engaging in self-study, and "succeeding at failing" as outlined in Training and Advancement above merely lets you place the asterisk or other mark next to the skill, at which point you must undergo the classes/self-study technique all over again in order to actually advance the skill. Since this process typically requires twice as much downtime as training the skill after using it for field study against difficult logical challenges (as per the rules above in Training and Advancement), this option is mostly used by cloistered wizards and scholars as opposed to adventuring heroes studying their Knowledge firsthand in the wide world (and ancient ruins).

For non-Knowledge skills, it may sometimes be difficult to find challenges or opponents of appropriate level, especially if a skill is being trained late in the campaign or all challenges and foes are extremely powerful. In these cases, or when a player simply hasn't had the opportunity to train a skill but really wants to advance it, they may spend EP on the skill at the rate normally used in FUDGE games. Doing so doesn't train the skill, but it lets them add the appropriate asterisk or other mark allowing them to undergo the training process. Since EP are gained very slowly in Fudge of Elements, this option isn't recommended for general skill advancement.

Attaining Legendary Skills

When a character has already achieved Legendary status in a skill, training it is as easy (or hard, if you prefer) as it ever was before, aside from the extreme difficulty of finding adequate challenges. A Legendary Lv2 swordsman might wait decades for his equal to arise, only to accidentally kill said equal without rolling a high enough relative degree to advance. However, the actual training process (after either finding an appropriate challenge or spending a great deal of EP to bypass that) isn't any harder than it would be for a Legendary Lv1 character, no matter how high in Legendary levels he or she gets. Rising from Superb to Legendary Lv1, on the other hand, is a brutal process that weeds out the world's finest from the world's almost-finest.

In addition to requiring double the amount of training hours per attempt (as outlined previously in Training and Advancement), rising from Superb to Legendary Lv1 ALWAYS requires practicing the skill against an appropriate challenge, and ALSO requires the expenditure of EP AND spending 3 Fudge Points. This is required separately for each individual skill. It is EXTREMELY rare for NPCs to achieve a Legendary skill.

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Page last modified on August 15, 2010, at 12:34 PM