Monday, April 25, 2011

Skills, CR, Gear, Pets, Slaves and Androids

About Skills

I apologize for the confusion with the skills system.  I hope to revise it extensively for the final book although I like certain aspects of it such as how it allows for a good bit of character diversity and  customization while restricting access to some skills and powers.

Hopefully the following examples will help clarify:

Yári Gágaryan, a 1st level Astronaut, rolls 18 on the Astronaut Skills/Powers selection Table and is allowed to choose 6 skill/powers from the first 8. Consulting the table below he chooses to skip engineer and gunner skill and takes the next six: space swordsman, energy pistol, navigator, pilot, PSY luck, and empathy. Alternately he could have taken the first six (engineer through pilot) or skipped the first skill (engineer) and taken gunner through PSY luck or taken multiple levels in one or more skills (e.g. he skips engineer and gunner takes space swordsman, energy pistol +2, navigator and pilot-six skills from the first eight with energy pistol +2 counting as three skills).


space swordsman
energy pistol
PSY luck
control of self
bio-PK I
third eye
PSY weapons

Yari reaches 2nd level and gains "1d4 (+ PSY Power Success modifier) Level 1 skills or powers with the least advanced skill, or lowest available on the list being mandatorily chosen first." The reference to Level 1 skill/powers is definitely confusing and should read Astronaut skills/Level 1 PSY powers.
We will assume he selected space swordsman, energy pistol, navigator, pilot, PSY luck, and empathy at 1st level. He rolls a 4 and may take control of self, bio-PK I, third eye, and suggestion. If he wanted he could, instead, go back and pick up engineer or engineer and gunner or add skill levels (+1, +2, etc.) to any other Astronaut skills or powers.

The rules are not clear on what happens when all Astronaut skills/Level 1 PSY powers have been taken; he could take up to +5 in each which would probably take him up to at least 20th level or so. It should be noted that the rules do not specifically state that skill levels can be added to powers but the intent was that they may be so that PSY luck +2 would add a +2 modifier on the skills/powers success table when attempting to use the power. Additionally I would allow characters to learn/create other Level 1 powers or skills not on the list.

I believe the secondary mechanics of gaining PSY powers was pretty clear, one can attempt to learn almost any power but failure is a possibility:

“Additionally at 2nd level and all subsequent levels an Astronaut may roll on the skill success table in an attempt to gain up to 1d4 (+ PSY Power Success modifier) higher level powers. The player may select which powers he or she will attempt to acquire and the level of the power is applied as a penalty to the roll (e.g. an 2nd level astronaut attempting to learn a Level 2 power would need to roll 13 or better, a 9th level astronaut attempting to learn a 6th level power would need to roll at least 9. A successful roll acquires the power. A natural 20 is always a success and a natural 1 always fails.”
It would be possible for a character to attempt to gain four or more powers, fail on each roll and gain no additional higher level powers.

Background skills or additional background skill levels are not typically available as part of the class skill system excepting those that appear on both background and class charts. At the discretion of the referee background skills or skill levels could be substituted for class skills, otherwise there are several ways (in the current rules) to gain background skills after play begins:

Learning Background Skills

Additional background skills and increased proficiency in known background skills may be attained in game. A Basic skill may also be learned in one month at a cost of CR 1,000. A Technical skill may be learned in 4 months at a cost of CR 5,000 and an Expert skill may be learned in one year at a cost of CR 10,000. The time required to learn the skill assumes full-time study or practice. Part-time learners must multiply the time by 1d4+1.
Alternately, a character that has made use of an untrained skill on multiple occasions, been involved in activities related to the skill, or used a known skill may, upon gaining sufficient experience to increase in class level, roll on the skill success table to gain the skill or additional proficiency, The character’s INT modifier applies and a successful roll acquires the skill. No more than two background skills or proficiencies may be gained per level.

In Spaceswords & Glory, as all characters are beginning above 1st level, I would allow each character to attempt to gain two background skills or proficiencies per level above first in this manner.

About Gear and Starting CR

In Spaceswords & Glory, as characters are career military officers and beginning at higher than 1st level I think it would be fair to multiply randomly generated starting CR x (character level x2). Gear and money are a bit peripheral to this campaign though. It might be interesting to determine if one’s character maintains a home, estate, etc, and come up with monthly upkeep costs and monthly naval salary. Imperial naval crews also receive bonuses or shares from captured enemy vessels or equipment.

As for standard gear, I will try to inventory the ship’s stores soon but assume any standard equipment will be available at no charge.

It would be helpful if characters standard gear for aboard ship activities and for “away missions” was noted on the sheet. Watch the encumbrance rules though…

Unusual personal items will need to be paid for though and will be dealt with case by case. Assume a pet costs (1d4 x CR 100) x hit points. Extremely dangerous pets might not be welcome aboard ship. Slaves and basic robots cost (1d2 x CR 1000) x hit points and a Yeleth or advanced robot costs (1d2 x CR 5000) x hit points. A monthly payment schedule could be arranged to finance expensive purchases.


  1. That more or less clears up my questions.

    Some quick points.

    The new text is:

    "1d4 (+ PSY Power Success modifier) Level 1 skills or powers with the least advanced skill, or lowest available on the list being mandatorily chosen first."

    In the example Yári jumps the least advanced or lowest skills, in this case 'engineer' and 'gunner', but it seems he should have taken them, being the lowest available.

    Re "two background skills or proficiencies", I'm assuming 'proficiency' is just here for colour and doesn't have a definition in the rules.

    Also, is there a limit on which of the three groups - Basic, Technical and Expert - the two Background Skills per level be chosen from?

    Re the character, I'll add some detail from that Tekumel article, put together a pet, think about costs - probably sending money home and to various foundations - and make up the two equipment lists, shipboard and away mission.

  2. &Porky>

    "In the example Yári jumps the least advanced or lowest skills, in this case 'engineer' and 'gunner', but it seems he should have taken them, being the lowest available."

    He is permitted to skip the first two because of his roll on the Astronaut Skills/Powers selection Table that allowed to choose 6 skill/powers from the first 8.

    I didn't explain a situation where a character already has an Astronaut skill from Background skills. He would be allowed to skip or add proficiency to such a skill. The Skills/Powers selection Table; however, is set up to limit beginning characters to x skills/powers from the first y. So if y=8 one could not pick the ninth skill on the list even if allowed to skip due to a Background skill. One might need to take a proficiency (a + modifier to a skill or power) in such cases.

    "Re "two background skills or proficiencies", I'm assuming 'proficiency' is just here for colour and doesn't have a definition in the rules."

    No, proficiency equates to adding skill levels (+1, +2, etc.)that are used as modifiers on the skill/power success table. Taking a skill more than once results in a proficiency, +1 modifier each time it is taken up to a +5 max.

    "Also, is there a limit on which of the three groups - Basic, Technical and Expert - the two Background Skills per level be chosen from?"

    No. In-game one would need to attempt using the skill a few times but for purposes of generating higher level characters we will assume that happened.

  3. Great - the magic words: all is clear! Thanks for getting back so soon. I still need a few hours, but I'll be back with everything I hope.

  4. Okay, this clears up all my questions. You'll have my character post haste.

  5. Name: Payákár
    Class + Level: Astronaut, Lvl. 2
    Species & Sex: Páchi Léi
    Age: 35
    Homeworld: Xánpsae

    STR 6 -1 Hit/Damage / -1 Force Rolls
    DEX 14 -1 AC / +1 Att./Ini. / +1 Save vs. En.
    CON 9
    INT 5 -2 Skill/Power Selection
    PSY 11 No PSY from Group I-III
    CHA 8 +1 Re. Adj. / 3 Ret. / Ret. Mor. 6

    HP: 9

    AC + Armour: 5, skin suit (AC 6)

    Weapons: Z-ray rifle, laser pistol*, vibroblade*, tangle grenade (1)**, pulse grenade (1)**

    Background skills: animal trainer +2, brawler, builder +1, electrician, jack +1, mechanic, soldier, urbanite

    Class skills: engineer, space swordsman, energy rifle, energy pistol, pilot, PSY luck, empathy

    CR + Gear: cold weather clothing, backpack, utility belt*, rope (50ft), communicator*, lockpick, skin spray, air tablets (1)**, canteen, survival rations (1)**

    Weapon + Gear weight: 44.5lbs

    * worn on board ship too, holstered or sheathed as appropriate, over the uniform only

    ** more carried if on away mission, prob. incl. other grenade types

    CR 35 (2,200 - purchases, exc. pet) / CR 8,800 ((2,200 x 2 x 2) - (4 x 100 for pet))

    Payákár is an idealistic, often naive Páchi Léi, but driven, and like all of the species also highly sociable, being companionable, conciliatory, even yielding. In common with his kin, Payákár is grey-green and pear-shaped, with four arms and four legs, a soft knobbly body covered with protruberances, and an almost bestial head with large round eyes.

    Aware the species was uplifted and gifted a place among the sentients of the cosmos, Payákár aims to live up to that potential and do his utmost to bring honour to the Páchi Léi and develop the civilisation still further.

    To this end, Payákár began work at a young age in construction in a large arboreopolis, becoming a jack of all trades, and when later press-ganged into local military structures, made the best of it, building on these existing skills to become an engineer and rising through the ranks to get off-world, out to meet the makers. Payákár has kept and trained animals of all kinds at every opportunity, wanting to provide them with the opportunities the Páchi Léi forebears had.

    On board ship, Payákár is keen to have every system working at maximum potential, and works long hours to achieve this. When off-duty, care of other creatures takes first priority, closely followed by socialising with colleagues. Payákár currently supports Chozá, a small and exotic winged creature of unclear origin rescued from among contraband when close to death. The bond is strong for the near loss, and for the fact heavy bribery was required to overcome quarantine regulations and acquisition of permits, a thing Payákár is usually unwilling to countenance. Other wards include the vermin on board, which readily emerge from their dark spaces and tolerate Payákár's 'training' in return for food.

    Payákár remits much of the naval salary home, and to a mixture of foundations across Humanspace, making only essential purchases, a proportion of them for others.

    No offspring have yet been produced, but Payákár believes strongly in the propagation of the species, and will to delay budding only for the sake of duty.


    Alignment: Neutral
    Move: 240' (80')
    Armour Class: 4
    HP: 1
    Attacks: 1
    Damage: D3
    Morale: 8

    Chozá is a small, winged and scaly creature with a pair of eyestalks and two pairs of tentacles, one employed in gripping a perch, the other up beneath its wings, both able to discharge electric shocks under provocation. A successful attack allows a Save vs. Energy, with success indicating only a single point of damage is caused.

  6. How should I determine a Yeleth's HP? Use the EPT stats?