Villainous Penumbra - A Numenera Game
Skill List and Descriptions
Because the skills in Numenera and the Cypher System are designed for simplicity and the skills listed are given in very vague forms and descriptions, I wanted to make a more definitive list. All of the skills available and that will be used are listed below. Specialties (pg 25, areas of the skill in which a character is focused and which decrease the difficulty level of appropriate tasks an additional level) can be chosen from the list directly following the general skill and are italicized. If a player thinks of another specialty not listed, then that may be taken as well with GM approval. The specialties list is not meant to be exhaustive, just to cover the main ideas from the Core book. This list is based off the Exalted skill list and descriptions.
Athletics (Climbing, Jumping, Balancing, Swimming, Lifting) – Athletics is the discipline of physical fitness and acrobatic maneuverability. It is used in performing feats of strength, such as lifting up a fallen cart or bending the metal bars of a prison cage. It is also used for movement both in and out of combat—racing towards a distant enemy, jumping over a gaping chasm, climbing a brick wall, and swimming against a powerful tide are all uses of Athletics. Athletics allows a character to move with grace and ease. A character skilled in Athletics can more easily jump wide chasms, climb sheer cliffs, perform daring acrobatics and lift enormous burdens. It coves feats of strength, balance, coordination and reflexes.
Awareness (Perception, Tracking, Low-Light Vision, Listening) – Awareness is the practiced discipline of alertness and wariness of one’s surroundings. It is used for rolls to notice or pick up on sensory information. Awareness measures how well the character keeps track of her surroundings and how well she knows how to use all five of her senses. Awareness allows a character to actively look and listen for danger, track her enemies through the jungles of the Beyond or notice the subtle signs of an ambush.
Bureaucracy (Commerce, Illegal Business, Taxation, Government) – Bureaucracy represents a character’s acumen in organizational, mercantile, and legal endeavors. Bureaucracy is used to assess and evaluate the resources—both wealth and manpower—available to one’s self or one’s rivals, as well as to understand the legal codes of a society or the bureaucratic structure of an organization. Bureaucracy covers dealing with commerce, laws and official regulations. It includes everything from a thorough knowledge of paperwork to an expertise with bargaining and making sales pitches. This skill is essential for anyone who wishes to make his living as a merchant or a government official. However, other skills are necessary if the merchant or bureaucrat wishes to evaluate goods or negotiate the social complexities of court life.
Craft (Woodworking, Metalworking, Leather Working, Repairing, Jeweler, Artist) – Craft is used to create or repair objects through skilled labor, whether forging a sword, cutting the gem for a merchant prince’s brooch, or planning and overseeing the construction of a temple. Craft allows characters to create both useful and beautiful objects. Highly skilled craftspeople can create impressive masterworks (though he must use powerful numenera or infuse the material with the ‘divine influence’ that that he controls) if the item he wishes to create his masterworks rapidly or with ordinary or substandard materials.
Integrity (Strong-Willed, Fair Folk/ Fae) – Integrity is the skill to remain resolute in one’s beliefs, principles, and decisions when they are challenged, an active discipline of self-assurance and refuting opposing arguments. It is used to resist the persuasion of socially skilled characters. Integrity allows the character to resist all forms of supernatural mental control (not any mental or Intellect attack, only attacks that control) as well as helping the character resist believing sale pitches or breaking under torture.
Investigation (Searching, Researching [Scholarly], Read Lips) – Investigation is used to uncover hidden or obscured details through close surveillance or examination, whether it is searching a magistrate’s chamber for a hidden letter, unearthing clues at the scene of a murder, or reconstructing the details of a crime from the evidence presented before a magistrate at court. Possessed by both scholars and magistrates, this Ability is required to uncover hidden or obscure information. Investigation can be used to swiftly find information in a library or archive, to reconstruct a crime from the clues present in the room where it occurred, to interview suspects or to search a room for anything hidden within it.
Larceny (Lock picking, Pickpocketing, Disguise, Escaping) – Larceny covers a range of talents that fall under the general penumbra of criminal activity. Pickpocketing, lock picking, and sleight of hand are all uses of Larceny that rely on physical deftness, but it also applies to more intellectual tasks such as creating an effective disguise, hiding evidence at the scene of a crime, or navigating a society’s criminal underworld. It covers the character’s mastery of legerdemain, sleight of hand, gambling, pickpocketing, disguise, lock picking, con games and similar skills mostly known by thieves and other scoundrels who live outside the law. It also includes knowledge of the habits and customs of the criminal underworld. Larceny allows a character to break into locked treasuries and also to win games of chance in the dives of Qi.
Linguistics (Encrypt, Individual Language/ Dialect, Underworld Cant) – Linguistics is the Ability used to compose works of writing—literary epics, poetic verse, propaganda pamphlets, or even a simple conversational letter. It can be used to influence the thoughts and feelings of characters who read the work using social actions. Linguistics is the ability to understand, speak, understand the different nuances and learn non-native languages. A character skilled in this can pick up the vernacular of an unknown language fairly quickly as well as read, and know more than just the common tongue. A character can also decipher and develop coded language. Any character skilled in Linguistics is automatically considered literate.
Lore (History, Philosophy, Religion, Heraldry) – Lore represents a character’s understanding of the world, covering academic disciplines of history, mathematics, geography, literature, science, philosophy, and similar scholarly pursuits. It can be used both to recall useful pieces of academic knowledge, as well as to perform scholarly research in a library or archive. Many educated people in the of the prior worlds and ancient empires knew the secrets of the universe. Today, scholars retain only fragments of this knowledge. Characters with the Lore skill have some knowledge of current events, history, geography and the customs of other lands, know basic scientific concepts, as well as the magical secrets of the other world’s technology.
Medicine (Biology, Healing, Physiology [Humanoid or Animal], Disease) – Medicine is used to diagnose and treat wounds, sickness, poisoning, and other ailments. In the current state of the Ninth World medical practice is primitive, with bone saws, sutures, and scalpels representing the most advanced medical technology a physician might have access to. In some of the Steadfast’s cultures, methods of folk medicine such as herbal treatments, acupuncture, or therapeutic yoga take the place of traditional surgical implements, and can be just as effective, if not more so, in treating certain ailments. Medicine is the skill of using herbs, acupuncture, medicines, bone saws, sutures and scalpels to treat illness and repair injuries. Without oddities, talismans (numenera) and alchemical procedures of mortal thaumaturgy, medicine is difficult, bloody and exceedingly uncertain. While the most skilled physicians can treat almost any illness, many doctors simply hack off badly broken limbs or crudely cauterize bleeding wounds. Old hermits, women living alone of the edge of society often have methods long forgotten brew potions, prepare poultices, and have strange words that can be used to treat wounds.
Occult (Numenera, Identifying, Astrology/Cosmology, Numerology) – Occult represents an instinctive facility for dealing with The Ninth World’s mystical and otherworldly elements. It describes a rapport with the uncanny and things normally held beyond mortal ken. This includes understanding of the nature, powers, and ways of gods, ghosts, and demons, but also a sense of those things beyond the ken of otherworldly beings and the Fae. Occult is vital to the exorcist and the shaman, whose arts cannot be taught to those lacking proper sensitivity, and also to the sorcerer, whose senses pierce the veils of the universe. This skill represents a character’s knowledge of and familiarity with all forms of magic, ranging from the minor oddities, cypher, the minor but ubiquitous workings of mortal thaumaturgy, to exotic and rare numenera. In addition, it also covers familiarity with all manner of supernatural creatures, including ghosts, gods, elementals and the Fair Folk. Characters who are skilled in Occult know both the capabilities of such creatures and how to petition or appease them.
Performance (Dance, Musical Instrument, Recitation) – Performance is the skill of influencing others through creative or artistic displays, covering both traditional forms of artistic expression such as music, dance, and poetry, as well as rhetorical speaking through prepared speeches or oratory. It can be used to influence the thoughts and feelings of other characters through social actions. Performance covers all forms of artistic expression, from storytelling and acting to dancing and singing. It also includes the theatrics of making rousing public speeches. Characters with this skill also know how to perform a wide variety of songs, plays, dances, jokes and stories.
Presence (Intimidation, Leadership, Interviewing/Interrogation) – Presence is the skill to effectively lead, intimidate, or persuade through force of personality. It can be used to influence the thoughts and feelings of other characters through social actions. When a hot-blooded general rallies her troops with an inspiring battle cry, a witty conversationalist charms those around her over the course of a party, or a thief blurts a convincing explanation for how she came into possession of a carved jade idol, all of these characters are using Presence. Presence covers the character’s skill at leadership and long-term persuasion. A character can lead by being feared, respected or loved, but regardless of how he leads, this skill represents how well he does so. Presence can be used to convert or intimidate enemies as well as to inspire allies.
Resistance (Smashing, Carrying, Resisting Poison, Going w/o Sleep) – Resistance is the learned skill of coping with pain, disease, fatigue, and other forms of physical weakness. In combat, it is useful for fighting through the deleterious effects of poisons used by dishonorable foes, or weathering the perils of fighting over hazardous terrain. Resistance allows characters to combat the effects of disease, poison, fatigue, sleep deprivation, pain, extreme temperatures and other harsh or potentially damaging conditions. Characters with this skill can march carrying heavy loads and swim in ice-cold water.
Ride (Riding, Piloting Land Vehicles, Animal Handling) – Ride is used to ride on a horse, ox, or more exotic mount, as well as to maneuver in vehicles such as chariots or carts that are led by horses or beasts of burden. Ride measures a character’s proficiency when riding common biological mounts, piloting land-based vehicles, or more exotic mounts. Ride also serves as a limit on a character’s martial prowess when riding in combat. Riding also gives a broad understanding on how to maintain/ interact with biological mounts or fix minor repairs of land-based vehicles.
Sail (Piloting Air or Water Vehicles, Astronomy, Oceanography) – Water covers a great deal of the Ninth World, either rivers, lakes, or the large oceans of Beyond. Sail is used to captain a seafaring vessel through the great oceans and rivers that make up much of the Ninth World. It is used for both for maneuvering a vessel and for plotting a course using sea charts and navigational instruments. While the vast majority of vehicles currently are ocean-faring ships, the Sail skill can also be used to pilot more exotic vessels such as those that fly, rockets that travel into space, and other strange technologies from previous Worlds. Sail allows characters to pilot ships across seas and along rivers as well as pilot flying vehicles and space capable ships. Sail covers everything from navigation and tying knots to the mechanics of steering and piloting ships through jagged reefs and half-hidden sandbars. A character also knows basic information about water-based creatures, and dangers.
Socialize (Deceiving, Persuasion, Insight, Acting) Socialize is a character’s understanding of the social context in which she acts, encompassing both knowledge of decorum and etiquette as well as how to use them to one’s advantage in persuasion or manipulation. In formal social situations such as an aristocratic court or a ritualized ceremony, a character can use Socialize to influence the thoughts and feelings of other characters with social actions. Socialize is also used both to read the emotional tells or body language of other characters to discern their inner thoughts, and to conceal such tells on one’s self. Socialize is the capacity both to understand the feelings and motives of others and to negotiate the complex network of customs, manners and etiquette found in every culture. While Socialize is used to blackmail someone or to start rumor campaigns, other skills, such as Larceny, are necessary to actually acquire blackmail information or to uncover facts that can be used to support such rumors.
Stealth (Moving Silently, Hiding, Evade, Bland) – Stealth is used to avoid being noticed, evading the sight of one’s pursuers through physical deftness and cunning. In combat, it can be used to catch foes unawares with sneak attacks or to hide from threatening enemies. It can be used for covert surveillance, silently infiltrating a guarded building, or blending into a crowd after committing a crime. Stealth allows a character to avoid notice. She can move quietly down a passage, blend into a crowd, hide from pursuers or deftly sneak past watchful guards.
Survival (Geology, Geography, Botany, Meteorology) – Survival is the skill used to traverse and survive in wilderness environments. It covers the basic rudiments of outdoor survival, such as finding shelter, finding fresh water, and gathering food, as well as tracking, navigation, and handling animals. Survival allows the character to exist safely and comfortably in the wilderness. A character with this skill can find food, water and shelter. He can also set traps and snares, track enemies and identify poisonous plants and dangerous animals. He can also tame and train both wild and domestic animals.
War (Initiative, Tactics, Strategy, Naval Tactics) – War is the skill of understanding strategy and tactics. It is used both to direct the long-term progress of a war, planning battles to gain the upper hand over enemy forces, as well as to command the soldiers or warriors that serve a character directly in battle. War gives a clear understanding of combat and military maneuvers. It covers both immediate tactics and long-range strategies and allows the character to assess the strength of enemy forces and to clearly direct troop movements. In addition, due to your training in tactics and skirmishes you are often able to see flaws within the opening moments of a confrontation and know how to take advantage of those flaws to act faster.