Skill Checks

As you should know already, success and miss of the actions you perform is ts checked by a test corresponding to rolling the dice. If, for example, your hero wants to raise a stone sealing a tomb, you would have to roll a test on STRENGTH, i.e. you roll a D20 and see what happens. Now, there are certain times, when the gamemaster might think that STRENGTH alone might not be the point and so he would have to demand a test on other attributes, too. So, e.g. the hero has to concentrate on COURAGE, STRENGTH and AGILITY and the gamemaster will want the hero to show all of those.

But this would still be unsatisfying since the hero might have done it a thousand times before and there is no need to be as promising as a beginner, i.e. there is a status quo in the knowledge of climbing. To put this new variable into account, we invented the talent.

We refer to any skills or knowledge as talents in Realms of Arkania, whether it concerns healing, tracking, riding or astrology. The value that shows you how well the hero is equipped with these talents is called talent points (TaP). A hero has a certain amount of talent points for each of the talents. These might well be less than zero, i.e. she has to break a barrier in her mind or with her limbs when she tries to use her talent.

On the following pages you will find a short description of every one of these talents and its dependence on the attributes.

Example: Sneaking requires the virtues CO(urage), IN(tuition) and AG(ility).

The table on page 14 shows you the different talent points (TaP), a hero of level 0 owns automatically depending on her type of character.

Looking on it you will immediately notice how different the types of characters are in their individual skills and abilities. The number of TaP shows even, whether the character lived on the shores of an island in Ifirn’s sea for her whole life or wandered the streets of Thorwal for quite a while, if she avoided people for ages or would be the right type to meet on a ball in some Palais of the emperor of the Horas-Realm.

The TaP is not just an abstract number, which gives you details about the hero’s most-favored tasks, it is a frame to his personality and the key to role-playing. If you want to fulfil the roll pay attention to this points. If you act according to your role the gamemaster will not require any tests unless you try to do the impossible. (This will happen, since this is the task a hero is born for.) Otherwise you might soon be faced with your negative TaP and this will break your neck once in a while. A negative TaP in "swimming" is not just negative on the sheet of paper in front of you, it also tells you that your hero avoids approaching big water areas that might demand a task of her that she is not ready to perform. Act like that!

(It is, by the way, a nice way of forging your group together. Somebody will have to take that fear of water from your hero and if that does not happen as a shear stroke of luck, but by some lessons in swimming, the number that rises during your level improvement will seem far more realistic…)

This book does not tell you about all talents that are available in the gaming system of Realms of Arkania, but it supplies with the inner core, the central part of what you need. By experience I may say those are the talents you will use the most, by far.

Skill Check

In a talent test all the attributes (virtues) of a hero and her TaP are required as a union. She uses her experience as well as her power on the special subject. Now, let us get back to the example of the mountaineering hero. To succeed in her little climbing trip, she has to face her own virtues, i.e. COURAGE, AGILITY and STRENGTH. Her TaP "Climbing" will be employed as a reducement for the dice rolls.

During the gaming session it will happen like this: The hero’s virtues are CO: 12, AG: 13, ST: 11, Climbing: 6. Her player is throwing CO: 13, AG: 10, ST: 14. The CO(urage) test did not succeed, because the player threw one point over the hero’s value and she has to be under the value or equal. (cf. preliminary rules).

So to deal with the unfortunate test, the player has to spend one of her TaP in "Climbing" to reduce her COURAGE dice by one. That makes a 12 out of 13. The test succeeds now. But there are only 5 TaP left for this test. Now the AG(ility) die is lower than the hero’s value, i.e. she succeeds in AG. But her ST is not high enough for the dice roll, so she has to spend another 3 points to make the 14 at least an 11, leaving only 2 points TaP out of 6. But that does not matter, since she will regain all her TaP after this test which succeeded by 2 points.

The example above showed how you perform a talent test correctly and it is important to keep the exact procedure in mind:

The player throws the first attribute test (spends some TaP, if essential and available, to let it succeed), throws the second attribute test (spend some TaP) and finally the third one. If there are not enough TaP available to correct all the little misfortunes the test has failed.

You may not throw all the 3 dice, count them as a sum, take the three virtues and your TaP-value and add them, and then see, if that is fine. The hero has to stand all the tests on their own. It is also invalid to throw the dice at first and then decide which of the dice is taken for which virtue.

This may seem pretty complicated and tedious, but it can be hell of fun and adds a vital component to an RPG, the tension of the game component. It is very easy to learn the procedure as you may notice.

You can throw all the three tests at one time if you are the owner of dice with different patterns or colours and determine their destination before the throw, e.g. red might always be the first throw, blue the second and yellow the third.

If the hero is a bloody beginner, he will have some values that are less than zero, so to succeed he has to overcome more than just the dice he rolls, he has to add the negative number to the dice roll. Let us have a look at some "Befooling" lesson the hero has to learn by failing:

The TaP and virtues of the hero: TaP "Befool": -5 Virtues of hero: IN: 12, CH: 10, CH: 10. The player rolls: IN:10, CH: 9, CH: 10.

So although she throws less dice points in every single test of virtue, she fails in the whole, because she cannot split up the five negative points between her tests. The IN-test only gives 2, i.e. 12 minus 10, the first CH-test gives 1, i.e. 10-9 and the last test gives nothing but zero. So it is 2 plus 1 equals 3, not 5. The hero fails.

In this example you can also see that there are some talents where you might have to try one virtue twice. This happens when one of the virtues is much more important to perform the talent test than the other. (And, note of the translator, when the inventor of the game could not find three important virtues to stand a test. This would give a negative value in TaP "Game Design")

Modiefied Skill Cheks

Sometimes heroes, as they are heroes, try to do something really outstanding and incredible. In these situations the gamemaster might decide to make a test more difficult to succeed. (The absolute opposite might happen, too, but that should not happen too often and is most of the times and hint for the group of heroes that there is something wrong "or especially right" with their environment, because a black magic spell eases your tests.)

As in tests for virtues a harder test is an additive, the simpler test a subtraction to the initial zero.

In such cases you have to add this additive to your dice roll and despite it stand the test. You can shorten some procedures if you do not count it to your dice but instead subtract it from your initial TaP-value, which is exactly the same as you might have noticed.

Now, for some examples:

The gamemaster wants a Climbing check plus an additive of 4, the hero has a TaP of 3 in Climbing. She simply subtracts 4 of her TaP of 3 and the result is a -1, i.e. the hero would have to stand a test of -1 (see above).

The master demands a Climbing check plus 4, again, the hero has already a very bad TaP of -3. With the additive this increases to -7. It is time for her to pray to Phex, the god of luck.

The master wants you to perform in cooking minus 2, the hero’s value is TaP "Cooking" +3. Since the additive is negative you might as well add it to the hero’s TaP of 5 (Short lecture on math: to subtract a negative number, is to add its absolute value).

Automatic Success and Failure

Now that we made it even more complicated, we gonna ease the rules step by step. A talent test is automatically failed when throwing 20 twice, no further calculations necessary, and a double 1 means automatic success. This is a rule that cannot be reasoned by what we said so far. Just take it as it is.

As a gamemaster you might have recognized that a talent test succeeded in a higher rank the more points a hero did not have to spend from his TaP. The maximum a hero can keep is his amount of TaP. This is particularly interesting when comparing a performance in "Sensitivity" from a guard to a "Sneaking" test of a passing hero or when competing as for example in "Singing". The ones who keeps more points is the better one. But nobody can be better than throwing double 1.

Some Notes

On the following pages you will find the table of basic values of TaP of all types of characters that are presented in this rule book.

As mentioned above these are not all the talents existing in the world of Arkania and the types of characters are only the most general ones. Hardly any one will exactly fit into these categories. These rules, however, are also valid, when you expand these basic rules to the full RPG-system of Realms of Arkania. That is why we leave it like this here with the promise to widen your view in the near future.

The table of talents gives a column entitled Citizen, these ate the values for a typical Arkanian inhabitant on average. If you want to create your own type of character feel free to do so and use the values of the standard citizen to decide whether you should be better or worse in distinct categories. A huntsman, for example, would probably be better in wilderness talents but worse in the knowledge of reading and writing.

The easier way, however, is to adapt to one of the given categories and simply change them into the right direction by the 15 points you get in the beginning.

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