Chapter 4: Skills
The next step in creating a character is to select Skills. These are the character’s every learned ability - what they know and what they know how to do. These abilities may be central to their core concept, their profession, past professions, allow them to exist in the culture to which they belong, or could just be an interest; the professional sell-sword might be a master swordsman, but he may also have an interest in fine pottery that rivals or exceeds that of a potter, or be a fine hand at playing the pipes, or eloquent in dealing with his betters. Any of these pastimes or knacks may be useful in game play. They are given a level from one to ten, three to four being roughly sufficient to make your living practising the skill, five being the highest an average person is likely to achieve, eight or nine being extremes in dedication and proficiency, and ten being the absolute paramount of achievement.

Skills are used to provide bonuses to tests when they are relevant, especially when actually practising the skill, as well as to perform a range of different actions. A character's skill list represents everything a character has learned over their lifetime, and can even represent practice to improve base Talents. Actions also have levels of complexity, and characters who do not have a skill of sufficient level will not only be without a skill-based bonus, but will be penalized in attempting an action that is too complex for them. As such players are advised to consider skill acquisition carefully, as it will often be more definitive of a character than his base statistics.

The Skill List

There are forty-nine core skills on the skill list that form the basis of the skills section. When looking down the skill list note first that some names denote only the most common use of a much broader skillset. Note also that any entries in italics denotes a word that should be replaced with one appropriate to the specific skill. In the case of skills like Material Crafting or Land Survival these should be chosen from the list provided, while for skills such as Divhi religion or Speak Language should be drawn from the atlas entry for the campaign setting.

Players and directors should resist the urge to expand the skill list. Consistency is important, and to create a skill to which other players, professions, and auxiliary or supporting characters do not have access creates inconsistency. If a player wants to create a specialization or unique field of study this is usually best modelled as a Character Trait. That said, the skill list is not infallible, and genuine oversights should be addressed.

  • Acumen: Reading individuals, anticipating how they will behave, judging honesty, and emotional manipulation.
  • Alchemy: Comprehending the basic elemental make-up of substances, and combining them to elicit change in that composition, or release of raw energy.
  • Animal Training: Training, domesticating, and controlling the behaviour of wild or domestic animals.
  • Artistry: The ability to create art in one or many visual mediums, including painting, fresco, sculpture, or tapestry.
  • Athletics: Running, jumping, rolling, acrobatics, all manner of movement requiring speed, control, and coordination.
  • Awareness: Noticing or searching for things. Both being aware of what is going on around you, and also being able to observe effectively.
  • Bargaining: Negotiating give and take, offer and counter offer, be that purchasing goods in a market or negotiating treaties between nations.
  • Body Control: Focusing on and manipulating the vital operations of the body. Meditation, contortion, even massage are examples.
  • Brawn: Exercising to put on muscle, useful for lifting, pulling, carrying, or otherwise moving things by sheer force.
  • Conning: Lying, misleading, or otherwise making a known untruth seem real. Obscuring the truth, shaking a tail, bluffing.
  • Cookery: Baking, butchery, food preparation, flavour or scent identification, those things a food professional needs to do.
  • Deduction: Exercising the ability to think about a problem, mental acuity, intellectual speed and agility.
  • Disguise: Clothing and make-up, tattooing, disguise. Enhancing or altering appearance to achieve a desired effect.
  • Divhi Religion: The worship of a particular Divhi requires a degree of education in that faith. Characters should replace Divhi with the name of a particular divine entity. Each Divhi is an entirely separate skill.
  • Divination: Using portents or divination devices such as runestones or entrails, to accurately identify events of the present or future.
  • Engineering: Designing structures with physical strength and integrity, and planning their construction.
  • Farming: Planting, cultivating, and optimizing crops. Crop rotation. Harvest times.
  • Flattery: Charm, ingratiation, seduction and etiquette. Dealing with another person in a charming, pleasing, or respectful way to make them favourably disposed.
  • Gaming: Playing games of chance, gambling, grasping rules and tactics. Knowledge of how to win in games of chance or strategy within clear rules or perimeters.
  • Governance: Organizing bureaucracy, managing people and assets effectively, operating a settlement, nation, empire, consulate, merchant concern, or established faith with assets and personnel.
  • Healing: Repairing a damaged or sick body or mind. Identifying the causes of symptoms and treating them. Binding wounds. Setting bones. Treating infection or disease. Blood purification. Balancing humours.
  • Herbalism: Knowledge of the practical or medicinal uses of various plants or kinds of plant. Learning these properties by observing the plant in the wild. Growing plants in captivity.
  • Herding: Herd-animal keeping, grazing, nutrition, meat wool milk or egg production, husbandry and breeding.
  • Intimidation: Berating, overbearing, threatening, or frightening another individual into compliance, non-resistance, retreat or obedience.
  • Leadership: Inspiring loyalty or obedience in others, effectively communicating what you want done, in a manner that others are compelled to follow.
  • Marksmanship: Shooting with a bow or sling, or throwing a dart, spear, axe or similar. Judging range and trajectory.
  • Martial Combat: Striking with a weapon, feet, or fists. Blocking with weapon or shield, advanced combat technique such as fighting in armour or on horseback.
  • Material Crafting (Chitin/Cloth/Glass/Leather/Mechanism/Metal/Clay/Stone/Wood): The ability to create goods from in particular material, or with a particular set of crafting knowledge. Characters should replace Material with one of the nine listed materials. Each kind of material listed is an entirely separate skill.
  • Music: Appreciating, composing, or playing music, including writing music, playing instruments, singing, or even dancing.
  • Numeracy: The ability to count above a simple ceiling, basic and advanced mathematics, multiplication and division and valuation.
  • Oratory: Speaking publicly to a group of people, presenting verbally in a way that elicits action. Choosing words, tone of voice, cadence and rhythm to most effectively encourage a desired reaction.
  • Performing: Acting, storytelling, performing to entertain and elicit an emotional response from an audience.
  • Questioning: Interrogation, sly inquiry, investigation. Extracting and interpreting information from others. Compelling others to share what they know either by force, persuasion, or guile.
  • Region Lore: Knowledge of the layout, culture, society, denizens and layout, one of the geographical or cultural divisions of the world. Region should be replaced with one of the eleven major divisions of the world. Each Region chosen is an entirely separate skill.
  • Region History: Knowledge of past events, and their formative influences on the world as it is. Region should be replaced with one of the eleven major divisions of the world. Each Region chosen is an entirely separate skill.
  • Resolve: Discipline, courage, and self control. The ability to follow orders, to deprive yourself, to resist urges or instincts.
  • Riding: Staying atop and guiding a moving animal, proper care for a mount, identifying signs of fatigue, lameness or other issues.
  • Sleight of Hand: Prestidigitation, picking pockets, manual finesse and stealth. Swift hands, gentle touch, misdirection.
  • Speak Language: The ability to verbally communicate in a stated language. Language should be replaced with the name of the language the character speaks. Each Language chosen is an entirely separate skill. Characters do not receive a 'free' native language.
  • Stamina: Training breathing and fitness for endured physical activity, having the upshot of better general health.
  • Stealth: Moving quietly, concealing ones shadow, breathing shallowly, covering tracks, travelling unnoticed.
  • Strategy:Planning and effective preparation for conflict, be that conflict military, political or business. Understanding conflict and making sacrifice to achieve eventual victory.
  • Swimming: The ability to move in water, to stay afloat when immersed, to tread water, paddle, or truly swim.
  • Teaching: Effectively imparting knowledge to another individual in a manner that they will understand and retain.
  • Terrain Survival (City/Desert/Flatland/Forest/Ice/Mountain/Sea/Swamp): Knowledge of, and familiarity with a given kind of terrain. The ability to survive in, navigate in, and identify the inhabitants of that region. Characters should replace Terrain with one of the eight listed lands. Each kind of land listed is an entirely separate skill.
  • Tracking: Following a person or animal, measuring the nature, age, and creator of a trail by observation.
  • Trapping: Setting snares, placing pits, entrapping animals or people, securing valuables with traps.
  • Unarmed Combat: Grappling and wrestling, restraint, evasion and dodging blows.
  • Vehicle Handling (Wagon/Ship/Boat): Piloting, steering, and controlling a vehicle of some sort. Characters should replace Vehicle with one of the three listed vehicle types. Each kind of vehicle listed is an entirely separate skill.
  • Wit: Being funny, clever, cutting, or generally witty. Verbal sparring.

Skill Anatomy

Each Skill in the game has its own page on this wiki, and each is furnished with a rough description of what knowledge the skill covers, and a list of actions it might be associated with, or facilitate. These are broken into five categories based on the level of skill, and these levels dictate how many simultaneous actions the skill can be deployed on in a single turn; how many outcomes each action can aim to have; and what kinds of action the character will receive a skill bonus on:

  • Untrained (0) A character can take as many untrained actions as he wishes in a turn, these all have one objective. He achieves untrained actions unpenalized.
  • Beginner (1-2) A character can take one action with this skill bonus each turn, and these actions have one objective. He achieves beginner and lower complexity actions unpenalized.
  • Intermediate (3-5) A character can take two actions with this skill bonus each turn, and these actions may have two objectives. He achieves intermediate and lower complexity actions unpenalized.
  • Expert (6-8) A character can take three actions with this skill bonus each turn, and these actions may have two objectives. He achieves expert and lower complexity actions unpenalized.
  • Master (9-10) A character can take three actions with this skill bonus each turn, and these actions may have three objectives. He achieves any complexity actions unpenalized.

Player's Option: Special Interests

Purchasing Skills

Characters acquire skills by buying them. They do this by first determining how experienced a character is. Then a pool of Skill Points is determined, and Skill Points are spent to acquire levels in a skill. There are three methods of spending these skill points. The first is to take a Profession and a Culture. These come at a lump cost, and will facilitate both the character being able to do those things that his context in the world demands, and also make him comparable to his peers. Players who want more control over their choice of skills can use a Skill Ramp, simply assigning skills to a position on the ramp for a lump value. Or finally they can buy skills with a pool of skill points.

Limited Potential

One core presumption that Darkrealm makes is that all characters have a finite potential to which to aspire. The Talents he generates represent the best he can naturally achieve in life; that is to say the optimal character. It is safe to say that the game assumes that only the most exceptional characters truly fulfil their potential in life with respect to their skills. As a result the Maximum skill formula (level 10 on the table below) remains an absolute ceiling for skill points.

When creating a character for a game the director or the players collectively should choose the formula for determining a character's starting skill pool based on the table below. This will give a descriptor for the character's general level of life experience, a skill point formula, and a skill level cap for each category. The skill level cap is not a hard limit, but rather players should seek permission from the director and/or from the other players to purchase a skill higher than the listed value. Once character generation is complete all such restrictions are lifted and all characters are free to generate Skill Points and purchase Skill Levels up to the Maximum formula.

level descriptor skill points skill level cap
1 Juvenile 60 + (Knowledgeable x5) + (Age in Years x2) 3
2 Inexperienced 70 + (Knowledgeable x5) + (Age in Years x2) 4
3 Modest 80 + (Knowledgeable x5) + (Age in Years x2) 5
4 Average 90 + (Knowledgeable x5) + (Age in Years x2) 6
5 Experienced 100 + (Knowledgeable x5) + (Age in Years x2) 7
6 Veteran 110 + (Knowledgeable x5) + (Age in Years x2) 8
7 Heroic 120 + (Knowledgeable x5) + (Age in Years x2) 9
8 Exceptional 130 + (Knowledgeable x5) + (Age in Years x2) 10
9 Paragon 140 + (Knowledgeable x5) + (Age in Years x2) 10
10 Maximum 150 + (Knowledgeable x5) + (Age in Years x2) 10

Professions and Cultures

The simplest way to generate a skill list is to take one Profession and one Culture. A Profession is a bundle of skills at a predetermined cost. There is no discount to this cost, it is merely precalculated for convenience. A Profession will also include an indication of a member of this Profession's Social Class, Fame, and Wealth Context Traits, and a list of common gear a member of that Profession might expect to have. Professions can be taken at Apprentice, Practitioner, or Master level, but the character must have sufficient Skill Points to adopt whatever level he wishes to acquire.

A Culture is just a per-calculated skill set that will allow the character to exist in the culture in which he was raised, or lives. Alongside appropriate languages spoken, it will also include any favourite skills of a culture, and a few appropriate lores. A culture is divided into three levels of general education - Uneducated, Educated, and Well Educated. These can usually be determined in reference to a character's social class.

Not only do Professions and Cultures provide a quick and simple way of purchasing skills, they also mean that a character has all of the prerequisite skills of his profession or culture, and gives him a point of comparison with his peers, who will also be likely to adhere very closely to the listed skills. Characters are free to buy as many Professions or Cultures as they wish, but they will require enough Skill Points of acquire each, and overlapping skills will compromise the simplicity of the method.

Skill Ramps

If a player wants a little more control over determining his skills, but wants to retain the simplicity of the Professions, he can use these simple skill ramps by simply paying the listed cost, and filling in the skills he wants on the appropriate levels. These ramps can either replace Profession, or more likely both Profession and Culture. As such, players should remember to include their core Culture skills when purchasing Skill solely with a Ramp.

descriptor skills total cost
Apprentice (1x Skill 5) + (2x Skill 4) + (3x Skill 3) + (4x Skill 2) + (5x Skill 1) 70 Skill Points
Specialist (1x Skill 8) + (4x Skill 4) + (4x Skill 3) + (4x Skill 2) + (4x Skill 1) 116 Skill Points
Practitioner (1x Skill 6) + (2x Skill 5) + (3x Skill 4) + (4x Skill 3) + (5x Skill 2) + (6x Skill 1) 132 Skill Points
Master (1x Skill 7) + (2x Skill 6) + (3x Skill 5) + (4x Skill 4) + (5x Skill 3) + (6x Skill 2) + (7x Skill 1) 210 Skill Points

Spending Skill Points

Finally, a player who wants complete control over constructing his skill list, or who wants to make a few modifications or additions to his Profession or Ramp, and Culture, may want to simply purchase skills individually. In that case consult the table below for the costs of individual skills, with the first column, 'increase cost' being the cost in Skill Points to increase a skill from the previous level to this level. And the 'purchase cost' being the combined cost in Skill Points to purchase this level of the Skill with no pre-existing levels.

Note that these costs are also the costs used to build Professions, Cultures, and even Ramps. The benefit of the two previous methods is in simplifying skill purchasing, and in ensuring commonality with peers.This final, full control method is of no benefit beyond increased control of skills purchased.

skill descriptor increase cost purchase cost max objectives
1 amateur 1 1 1
2 able 2 3 1
3 competent 3 6 1
4 professional 4 10 2
5 expert 5 15 2
6 master 6 21 2
7 renowned master 7 28 3
8 legendary master 8 36 3
9 epic master 9 45 3
10 perfect 10 55 4

It is recommended, but not required, that a player hold back a few Skill Points during initial character creation, so that he has points available to purchase new skills during the course of play. If he spends his entire allowance of Skill Points during character creation, then further Skill Points will have to be unlocked, up to the Maximum amount listed. More on this can be found in Chapter 7. Note also that a character's pool of Skill Points may never exceed his Maximum value.

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