Chapter 2: Talents
The initial mechanic of the Darkrealm system are Talents. A talent is a numerical representation of the innate qualities of someone or something. By the use of talents we quantify the extent of a person’s strength or intelligence, or of a rock’s hardness or a fire’s heat, and express them in a numerically comparable fashion. This quantification allows us to measure how strong or intelligent or fast or attractive or durable a character is in relation to everything else in the world. There are many ways in which these statistics can be altered or modified, but in the most essential manner they are the mechanical device of the narrative. For the sake of convenience, the statistics afforded to all sentient living things are based upon the assumed capabilities of a human being, and place the human norm in nearly all respects at a rough value of zero.

Talents represent an individual's innate, inborn strengths and weaknesses, and not those things that they have learned or evolved into. They are expressed as either a positive bonus, or a negative penalty. Talents are generated for a character by the use of a set of descriptors that lay out the character concept. Players are encouraged, not to see talents as a set of numbers, but as a numerical interpretation of their concept. As such, players are encouraged to portray every decision that they make about a character's talents. They should embrace both the strengths and weaknesses of the character in order to tell the most compelling and entertaining story they can with that individual.

The Fourteen Talents

There are fourteen Living Talents common to all things, from animals to sentient races. These are broken into four categories. Physical Talents are an indication of the capabilities of his body. How a character moves, what force he is capable of exerting, what force can be exerted upon him, how he will physically react when put in a situation. Mental Talents are a measure of his intellectual capabilities, his ability to analyse, understand and build upon a situation and idea, and his mental acuity and durability, and how well he can comprehend, retain and employ an idea. Personal Talents represent a character's ability to interact with others, to persuade, flatter, force, bargain, command or cajole them and to deal with those trying to do the same to them. And finally the only Intrinsic Talent, Lucky, measures a character's relationship with blind fate.

Physical Talents

  • Fast is the measurement of an individual’s speed, how quickly they can turn thought into action, and at what pace they can move their limbs or propel themselves.
  • Graceful is a measure of a character’s coordination, be that hand-eye or manual coordination used when throwing or catching things, or in acts of slight of hand, to landing in a desired spot or accurately judging distance in a leap, or recovering from a fall into a roll.
  • Hale is a measure of a character’s physical fitness and health, his ability to withstand prolonged activity and how quickly or easily he tires. And also his good health and how quickly he'll recover from injury, resist disease, or purge toxins.
  • Strong is a measure of a character’s muscle, how much force he can exert on the world around him, his ability to push, pull, lift and grip and how hard he strikes.
  • Tough is a measure of a character’s durability, how much force can be exerted upon a character’s body before it breaks and how badly it will break under certain forces.

Mental Talents

  • Clever is a measurement of a character’s ability to logically analyse and break down a situation or idea. A character’s ability to adopt a concept, understand it and apply it to a situation. Clever is usually used when trying to solve a puzzle or understand an idea with logic.
  • Insightful is the other half of Clever, it represents a character’s ability to intuitively recognise and grasp a situation and react to it. Insightful is used when a character tries to take an idea and re-interpret it or reuse it, or when they attempt to employ empathy or creativity.
  • Knowledgeable is a representation of a character’s ability to store information, a character’s memory. Usually Knowledgeable is used when trying to retain information or recall it, and is also used to determine the number of Skills a character can acquire.
  • Perceptive straddles the gap between a physical and intellectual talent. Perceptive is a measurement of how clearly a character uses and interprets his six senses.
  • Willful is a measure of a character’s determination, generally how susceptible they are to acting upon their whims or their desires, but also how vulnerable they are to brow beating, domination and mental fatigue.

Personal Talents

  • Brave is a measure of a character’s courage and his ability to react in a rational manner in a situation in which his instincts tell him to flee, or in the face of something horrific or dangerous. Generally this reflects a character’s willingness to put himself in situations he instinctively reads as dangerous.
  • Persuasive is important when a character wants to be liked; it is the character’s ability to influence others through flattery or through his ability to make others like him, to observe another individual and understand the manner in which to be have to illicit a positive reaction.
  • Forceful is a character’s force-of-personality, his ability to command, inspire, instil confidence in, intimidate, or simply be memorable to others.

Intrinsic Talent

  • Lucky is the sole Intrinsic talent, is hard to define, but essentially it is a game mechanic representing how the world interacts with a character, and in turn how a character interacts with the natural laws of the world. Some people are just lucky, and rather than a random dice roll when characters are involved in a situation over which they are powerless, where their abilities are meaningless and things are left to chance, their luck becomes a factor. Most commonly used to avoid some unknown danger, or when gambling or trying to find something in a random manner. Luck is a great fallback for characters whose other tools aren't appropriate in a given situation.

Generating Character Talents

There are three factors to generating a character's Talents. Firstly his Race will provide a baseline set of bonuses and penalties to certain talents. Some races might be naturally faster than others, or stronger, or more intelligent, or even more fortunate. By opting to be a member of a race a character automatically adopts all of that race's listed Talents. A player then selects one Archetype that reflects his character concept. He may then select as many Qualities as he wishes, but again these must demonstrably reflect or enhance the character concept. Usually 2-4 are recommended for players.


An Archetype is just a selection of bonuses to Talents that help lay down an initial idea clearly. Most characters fulfil some archetype, and the most common are listed below. Players select one Archetype for their character and apply the bonuses to their Talents.

The Brute Strong +3, Tough +2, Hale +1 A physical titan, all power and brawn.
The Charmer Persuasive +3, Forceful +2, Insightful +1 A smooth talker, with a big personality, who reads people like a book.
The Everyman Hale +2, Knowledgeable +2, Brave +2 A salt-of-the-earth type. Solid, professional and reliable.
The Gambler Lucky +3, Perceptive +2, Fast +1 A risk taker who relies on good fortune and falls back on quick wits.
The Leader Forceful +3, Brave +3 A leader of men, feared or admired, and a pillar of confidence.
The Martyr Tough +3, Wilful +3 A hardened paragon of mental and physical fortitude.
The Sage Clever +3, Knowledgeable +3 A natural thinker, who grasps ideas and skills with effortless aplomb.
The Samaritan Insightful +3, Persuasive +2, Perceptive +1 A wise and generous patron, who seeks the best for others.
The Searcher Perceptive +3, Insightful +2, Lucky +1 An attentive and keen observer, with profound intuition.
The Seeker Insightful +2, Wilful +2 Forceful +2 An eternal student, ever ready for enlightenment or truth.
The Sneak Graceful +3, Fast +2, Perceptive +1 A swift shadow, naturally able to slip undetected from place to place.
The Zealot Wilful +3, Forceful +2, Brave +1 A true believer, unshakable in his convictions, and ready to turn others to his side.


Qualities modify and subvert the Archetype a character has selected. They are made of of one bonus and one penalty. Players should keep in mind that they are selecting the Quality to flag that it is an important part of the character concept, and so every Quality chosen is something the player is committing to portray. A player may take as many Qualities as he deems appropriate, though usually 2-4 are recommended. He may not select any single Quality more than twice, and the bonus (but not penalty) to any one talent from the combination of Archetype and all Qualities may never exceed +5 excluding modifiers for race.

Belligerent +1 Wilful, -1 Insightful Determination defies empathy.
Blind Lucky +1 Lucky, -1 Perceptive Shut your eyes and hope.
Bookish +1 Knowledgeable, -1 Hale Given to learning over doing.
Brazen +1 Forceful, -1 Persuasive Confident to the point of effrontery.
Brutish +1 Strong, -1 Clever Hard, unthinking might.
Bulky +1 Tough, -1 Graceful Heavy and ungraceful.
Clear-Headed +1 Clever, -1 Perceptive Focus despite distractions.
Clumsy +1 Fast, -1 Graceful Haste seldom leads to poise.
Cocky +1 Brave, -1 Persuasive Supreme, even impudent courage.
Delicate +1 Graceful, -1 Tough Finely built and willowy.
Dim-Witted +1 Hale, -1 Clever An unthinking doer.
Dispassionate +1 Brave, -1 Forceful Distant, and emotionally disconnected.
Down-Home +1 Hale, -1 Knowledgeable A simple down to earth sort.
Fatalistic +1 Lucky, -1 Wilful Leaps gladly into the hands of destiny.
Frail +1 Insightful, -1 Strong Weakness of limb invites nurtured wisdom.
Haggler +1 Persuasive, -1 Wilful A compelling dealer can't be stubborn.
Hardened +1 Hale, -1 Lucky A strong constitution outweighs a weak destiny.
Impressionable +1 Perceptive, -1 Wilful A natural follower, keen to see where he is led.
Inspiring +1 Forceful, -1 Fast A solid and reliable banner can hold the storm.
Instinctive +1 Insightful, -1 Knowledgeable Trust to instinct, not learning.
Irritable +1 Strong, -1 Wilful Temper lacks control, but grants strength.
Lean +1 Strong, -1 Tough Strength without mass.
Lithe +1 Graceful, -1 Strong Light of build and weak of back.
Loner +1 Knowledgeable, -1 Persuasive Independence takes cunning, but not charm.
Musclebound +1 Strong, -1 Fast Overburdened with might.
Nervous +1 Perceptive, -1 Brave With fear comes watchfulness.
Nimble +1 Graceful, -1 Hale A well honed frame demands more care.
Oblivious +1 Brave, -1 Perceptive Carelessness affords easy courage.
Overbearing +1 Forceful, -1 Persuasive An unpleasantly overpowering personality.
Plodding +1 Perceptive, -1 Fast Slow and watchful.
Pragmatic +1 Clever, -1 Insightful Make the best decisions, no matter the cost.
Puny +1 Fast, -1 Strong Little and quick.
Rebellious +1 Wilful, -1 Insightful There's a selfishness to rebellion.
Reckless +1 Brave, -1 Clever Denying danger is seldom the wisest course.
Resigned +1 Brave, -1 Lucky There is no escaping ill fate.
Retiring +1 Clever, -1 Forceful Quick witted, but unobtrusive.
Reveller +1 Hale, -1 Clever Maintains high energy over consideration.
Seductive +1 Persuasive, -1 Wilful Relentless pursuer of pleasure.
Sensitive +1 Insightful, -1 Perceptive More concerned with what is sensed than seen.
Shifty +1 Clever, -1 Persuasive Cunning and unsavoury.
Sickly +1 Knowledgeable, -1 Hale Poor health leads to keen study.
Sluggish +1 Tough, -1 Fast Heavy and slow-moving.
Sober +1 Clever, -1 Lucky Sensible folk don't believe in luck.
Spry +1 Fast, -1 Tough Quick and vigorous, but small.
Stubborn +1 Wilful, -1 Clever Defiant to the point of foolishness.
Sturdy +1 Hale, -1 Graceful An immovable object.
Tactician +1 Forceful, -1 Brave Leads from the back
Tranquil +1 Insightful, -1 Forceful Inner peace need not be forced on others.
Unfocused +1 Knowledgeable, -1 Wilful When everything fascinates you, little holds you.
Wary +1 Perceptive, -1 Graceful Ready for swift, graceless flight.
Wily +1 Insightful, -1 Forceful Cunning is always cautious of revealing itself.

While there are no hard rules for a character's sex in the game (except in the case of a few races that display extreme dimorphism) players will, understandably, find themselves leaning towards gender stereotypes for many characters. These are modelled as Qualities, and are entirely optional. In addition, women are free to choose to be masculine, and men feminine.

Feminine +1 Insightful, -1 Tough
Masculine +1 Strong, -1 Perceptive

Advanced Play

Players who are very familiar with the system and have embraced the heavy role-play philosophy of the game will begin to find the Archetype and Qualities lists provided restrictive. These players are encouraged to create their own, unique Archetypes and/or Qualities. Players must still justify these choices as character decisions (as opposed to mechanical ones) by providing a clear description of what these Talent modifications represent. Directors might even keep their own expanded list of such Archetypes and Qualities for continued use. Remember that some aspects of character are better modelled as Character Traits, and advance players should ask themselves if modifying Talents is the best way to communicate what they're trying to represent.

There is no reason that experienced players should adhere to the structure of Archetypes providing only bonuses, and Qualities pairing a bonus and penalty. If a character concept legitimately demands heavy bonuses or heavy penalties to be properly realized, experienced players (and only experienced players), with permission from the director and all of their fellow players, should feel free to modify Talents in whatever manner best serves their vision.


The use of numbers to interpret aspects of a thing is not limited to living things, but the Talents are very distinct to sentient living things. Because of this, Properties may be appropriate for objects, materials, energies, and forces. While there are many, many things that infringe upon this system, aspects are generally modelled around four key Properties.

  • Flexible is how much give stress something can take or how much it will flex before it is threatened with breakage. Wood might have be highly Flexible value, rope even higher, metal might be moderate, stone or crystal much lower.
  • Hard refers to the solidness of a substance something has against direct physical force of impact exerted against it. That is to say what kind of force is required to break it. Wood might be Hard against a warrior’s strength when he strikes to break a board, or a stone might be Hard to resist breaking apart after a fall.
  • Intense can be used to determine not only how clearly perceivable something might be, but also how far away one might be able to perceive it from. How much area a light illuminates or how far a sound travels is also indicated by being Intense.
  • Powerful is usually the only statistic an energy has. Powerful can be used to represent the heat of a fire, the cold of a blizzard, or the potency of a poison.
The Tome of Lore: Core Rules for Darkrealm
Chapter 1 Character Creation; Concept; Core Details; Player Interaction
Chapter 2 Talents; The Fourteen Talents; Generating Character Talents; Properties
Chapter 3 Traits; Character Traits; Context Traits; Status Traits
Chapter 4 Skills; The Skill List; Purchasing Skills
Chapter 5 Gameplay; Announcing a Test; Sequence of Play; Actions and Objectives
Chapter 6 Damage; Opposed Tests; Effects of Damage; Recovery; Death
Chapter 7 Development; Awarding Hero Points; Training; Changing Character Traits
Chapter 8 Setting; Tone; Technology & Lifestyle; Religion; Magic; Other Oddities
Chapter 9 Player Races; Civilized Races; Racial Abilities
Chapter 10 Gear; Armour; Weapons; Tools; Animals and Transport; Clothing; Weight and Encumbrance
Chapter 11 Magic; Alchemy; Divination; Talismans and Relics; Fear and Superstition; Spellcasting
Chapter 12 Game Creation;
Appendices Common Actions; Damage Statuses