What is a skill?
Skills are what characters use to get things done in Swords of Infinity. Whether that character is doing battle, casting a magic spell, or applying her knowledge of theoretical physics, they are all broadly categorized as Skills. Every one of these Skills is keyed to a related Ability (i.e. Swimming is keyed to Strength), and the key Ability's score is used to determine a character's base chance of success at using that Skill. Swords of Infinity calls for the explicit use of several Skills that make the system mechanics work, however the skills called for by name should not be considered an exhaustive list, but rather a foundation that can be built upon.
To use a Skill a player need only declare their intent to do so and name the skill they plan to use and then roll a Success Check to determine the results -- this is referred to broadly as a "Skill Check" in many RPG systems and is also the term used by Swords of Infinity. Sometimes this declaration is made in response to a prompt from the Storyteller (i.e. the Storyteller may ask everyone at the table to perform a Spot skill check to notice a nasty monster creeping up on them).
Most Skill Checks with substantial effects on the story require a Success Check to determine the outcome. The character's target score for the Success Check is based off of the Skill's key Ability score plus any skill specialization score, Trait bonuses, Defect penalties, and situational or equipment modifiers. Once the Success Check has been rolled, the Storyteller narrates the outcomes of the successful or failed Skill Check.
Storyteller's Note: In some cases the result of a roll might give a player meta information about what is about to happen in the story (e.g. a poor roll on a sneak Skill Check might cause a player to behave more cautiously than he otherwise might). In situations like these it is recommended that the Storyteller makes the roll for the player and keeps the outcome secret in order to save the player from having to pretend that they did not know this meta information.
Pushing Past Limits
Swords of Infinity is a game designed to tell stories about heroes that succeed no matter the costs. To reflect this players are able to modify their rolls by taking damage to a single Damage Target, this is referred to as Pushing Past Limits (and often shortened to just "Pushing"). Players have the opportunity to use this mechanic whenever they make a Power or Success Check, and do so by increasing or decreasing their rolls to reach any target number they desire, once their rolls have been modified they apply damage equal to the amount they modified their roll by to a single Damage Target. This mechanic can be used once per check.
Example: Parthenia is attacking a Goblin with her greatsword, and rolled a 50 on her Success Check. Her target number for success on an attack is 40, so Parthenia's attack will miss. This attack is very important to Parthenia, so instead of accepting the failure, she pushes past her limits and applies the difference between her roll (50) and her success target (40) as 10 damage to her right arm. Her attack is now a successful hit and the Goblin will need to defend itself.
Storyteller's Note: This mechanic is not a good fit for all Skills, particularly those that reflect an activity that takes long periods of time and where many things could go wrong during the process. Therefore players should typically not be allowed to "Push" on crafting or training skill checks.
Non-Player Characters and Pushing Past Limits
Non-Player Characters (NPCs), the characters and monsters controlled by the Storyteller, are typically unable to Push Past Limits. This is a deliberate decision that skews the balance of the game in the favor of the player characters, and is often the only thing that stands between their success and death at the hands of a terrible monster. In some cases, however, it might suit the story to give an NPC access to this mechanic (i.e. when a opponent is intended to be particularly challenging). Storytellers should be aware that giving this mechanic to an NPC can drastically slow down the flow of the game, so it is recommended that it only be used sparingly.
Storyteller's Note: The Pushing Past Limits mechanic was designed specifically for heroic characters that sacrifice themselves in order to achieve success and, while it works well for that type of character, it may not be thematically appropriate for villains. As an alternative Villains can use the same mechanic but apply damage to a nearby minion instead (e.g. a villain might throw a lackey in front of a hero's sword to protect himself), this represents their willingness to sacrifice others to meet their ends.
Choosing a Skill for the Job
For any given challenge the Skill used to accomplish it is typically the verb used to describe what the character is doing (e.g. the Swim skill gets used when a character is swimming across a fast-moving river). It is possible that in some situations multiple Skills might be relevant to the task at hand, and in these cases players should use whichever Skill gives them the highest chance of success (only one Skill and its corresponding Specialization can be used at a time). Any character can attempt to make a Skill Check, even if they are not specialized in that skill. If the character does not have a relevant Skill Specialization that suits the challenge simply use the character's most relevant Ability.
Storyteller's Note: Players are going to want to use the skills they are specialized in regardless of whether they are actually relevant to the situation. At times like these it is recommended that some kind of situational penalty be applied to characters that are using skills that are only marginally related to the problem (e.g. a -20 penalty for a character attempting to use their carpentry skills to solve a stone-working problem).
Difficulty modifiers come in positive (bonuses) or negative (penalties) increments of 10 and can be granted by the Storyteller based on the equipment being used or the situation at hand. Example penalties and bonuses for each degree of magnitude and variety are detailed in the tables below.
Crafting skills (i.e. carpentry) require the use of tools to perform them. Depending on the quality of the tool being used and the Value Level of the item, the character attempting the Skill Check could receive a bonus or penalty to their roll. See the Crafting section for more information on Equipment#Tools.
As conditions change and more or less complicated tasks are attempted by characters, the Storyteller should apply bonuses or penalties to players' rolls in order to reflect the relative difficulty of the task. The following table describes what sort of penalties and bonuses tend to be associated with tasks of various difficulty, and should be used by Storytellers to come up with their own difficulty modifiers. These modifiers are entirely subjective and more often than not are going to be chosen to challenge players based on the skill level of the party.
Storyteller's Note: Difficulty modifiers are here to keep the game interesting, but the vast majority of Skill Checks are going to be made without any difficulty penalty at all. Keep in mind that Skills Checks that the party cannot succeed at under any circumstance are not fun, and neither are those that are trivially easy to succeed at. Use these modifiers to reward players that have focused on a particular skill, or to pique their interest in skills that they may have previously neglected.
|Penalty or Bonus||Example Task|
|-50||Tasks which most normal people would not be able to accomplish under normal circumstances.|
|-40||Tasks which only professionals or the very well studied are able to accomplish, and may still fail at.|
|-30||Tasks which usually require a good amount of practice or training to accomplish. Dual wielding weapons suffers a -30 penalty.|
|-20||Tasks which the average untrained person rarely succeeds at.|
|-10||Tasks which require a little extra effort.|
|0||Tasks with average difficulty.|
|+10||Tasks which people usually know how to perform, but don’t have to attempt very often.|
|+20||Tasks that most people have been taught how to perform, and are expected to be able to perform to some degree of success.|
|+30||Tasks that the average person can accomplish successfully a little more than half of the time.|
|+40||Tasks that people have been taught, but are repeated every day and are therefore very simple.|
|+50||Tasks most people can perform without even thinking about it.|
List of Core Skills
The following skills are used by the various mechanics in Swords of Infinity. This is not a comprehensive list of all possible Skills, but rather a list of the skills minimally needed to play the game.
|Skill||Key Ability||Brief Description|
|Damage*||Strength||Damaging someone or something with a weapon.|
|Sprint||Strength||Moving beyond a characters base movement distance in one action.|
|Jump||Strength||Leaping great distances or heights.|
|Climb||Strength||Scaling vertical obstacles.|
|Lift||Strength||Lifting heavy objects.|
|Fly||Strength||Using wings to fly.|
|Hitting*||Dexterity||Accurately hitting a target in combat.|
|Dodging||Dexterity||Avoiding incoming attacks entirely.|
|Stealth||Dexterity||Moving unseen and unheard.|
|Ride||Dexterity||Directing and maintaining control over an animal.|
|Drive||Dexterity||Operating and directing a vehicle.|
|Pilot||Dexterity||Operating and directing a flying vehicle|
|Endurance||Vitality||Performing a strenuous activity for long periods of time or staying awake for days at a time.|
|Resist Impairment||Vitality||Ignoring the negative effects of wounded or disabled limbs.|
|Special Abilities*||Vitality||Determining the power of a special ability.|
|Blocking||Awareness||Interposing a weapon, shield, or limb in the way of an attack.|
|Fighting in Formation||Awareness||Timing attacks with those of an ally to gain an advantage.|
|Spot||Awareness||Being visually aware of the surroundings.|
|Listen||Awareness||Hearing subtle sounds.|
|First Aid||Intelligence||Reduces the negative effects of wounds or disabilities.|
|Crafting||Intelligence||Creating consumable items, reusable devices, and equipment.|
|Social Interaction||Intelligence||Choosing the right words to affect an opponent in Social Interaction.|
|Spell Success*||Intelligence||Successfully performing the ritual necessary to cast a spell.|
|Training*||Intelligence||The ability to successfully train Followers of certain types (e.g. dogs, swordsmen, etc.).|
|Social Interaction||Personality||Determining the power of the words chosen in Social Interaction|
|Spell Power*||Personality||Determining the power of a spell being cast.|
|* These skills must be specialized in a more specific form (i.e. a character must specialize in Longsword Damage, rather than just "Damage").|