How We Do What We Do
After Careers, Skills and Talents are the next chapter. For this entry though, I’m going to focus on the Skills half (and half of those, to be precice), as this chapter is beefy! To start, let’s discuss just what Skills are, and why they’re arguably the most important thing on your character sheet. First up, Skills define what your character knows and can do. Skills are what you’ll be rolling against any time there is a chance of failure with what you’re describing in game. Skills cover a range of abilities, from what skills you have with your hands and crafting, to how well your body can endure different environmental hazards. Not all Skills are something you’re actively trying to accomplish and thinking about, sometimes they are just your response and the roll represents how well your body deals with it, like Endurance or Cool. I’m not going to go into nitty-gritty about Skill tests and Extended and Opposed rolls and all that (unless people want me to in a future entry), but instead focus on how all of the Skills can help inform roleplaying and ideas on how to get the most out of your Skills.
Basic, or Advanced?
Before you start rolling, it is important to understand the difference between Basic and Advanced Skills in this edition of the game.
The main difference here is that if you don’t have Advances in a Basic Skill, not a huge deal, you just use the Characteristic that it’s based off of. While Advanced Skills can’t even be attempted unless you have Advances in it. If you don’t know how to speak a language, you can’t attempt it!
The Most Basic
Art– A rare, but more useful Skill than most think. Art is separate from the Trade Skill as it’s more specialized. Anyone can attempt to create a work of art, but most of the time they’ll be pretty bad. Having Advances in this Skill allows a character to create nice-looking artworks or forgeries. A grouped Skill, there are different kinds of Art someone can be good at, the short list included in the book are: Cartography, Engraving, Mosaics, Painting, Sculpture, Tattoo, Weaving.
Athletics– A fairly simple and straight-forward Skill, Athletics is used when doing anything using the body, be it feats of strength or agility. Athletics is also commonly used for mitigating damage from a fall, representing grabbing a ledge to slow your decent or landing better to not get hurt as badly. Athletics is useful in combat to Sprint as well, racing across the battlefield. Mina has showed that she is a natural sprinter with her Athletics tests on A Grim Podcast of Perilous Adventure, constantly outpacing the rest of the party.
Bribery– This is a Skill that I think gets little love. It’s relatively rare and most commonly seen with the ‘criminal’ careers. My favorite thing about it is that it’s specified that it can be used as a defense Skill in combat! “Don’t hit me, I’ll give you a silver!” While I doubt this happens often, it really shows the versatility of the system. You don’t always have to get your sword in the way or dodge an incoming attack, your defense can be more psychological, and I’d love to see it more often.
Charm– Charm is a great catch-all Skill for social encounters. Are you talking with this NPC in a respectful manner? Charm. Are you able to get a free drink from someone at the tavern? Charm. Are you trying to ‘finger guns and moonwalk away?’ Failed Charm. Charm is another Skill that has psychological uses in combat, keeping enemies from attacking you and gaining Advantage. Again, not used often, but I will encourage this as I love the idea of someone pleading while in combat and using only their looks and wit (as opposed to money like Bribery).
Charm Animal– Similar to Charm, Charm Animal can make animals more friendly to you. I love the idea of trying to befriend a wolf in combat, fail the opposed roll, and have that wolf bite the hand trying to feed it. Very Warhammer to me. Great for calming down skittish horses as well.
Climb– A straightforward Skill that doesn’t see much use, until it’s death-defying. Climb is a Strength-based Skill that allows those with Advances to simply climb any ‘reasonably’ small height. More than that, or if the conditions aren’t favorable, then tests will be made. A good climber will have strong arms and legs, and their hands will likely be rough with a vice-like grip. Climbing doesn’t come up too often in most adventures, but PCs are going to like having the Skill when it means they could take less fall damage!
Consume Alcohol- Everyone’s favorite Skill, drinking isn’t just for fun anymore! Rolling Consume Alcohol checks can be a hilarious way to liven up a night at the tavern. Each time you fail the test, you suffer -10 to WS, BS, Ag, Dex, and Int to a maximum of -30! If you fail too many (your TB) then you’re Stinking Drunk, leading to great roleplay moments. We recently had a situation in A Grim Podcast of Perilous Adventure where a PC rolled ‘How Did I Get Here?” after they failed too many tests. The rest of the group was all to eager to make up what that character did the rest of the night.
Cool- Keeping your cool in the face of the perilous Old World is difficult for most people. Lots of Advances in Cool means your character isn’t going to be affected by these things as much. Resistance to fear, charm, intimidate, and the like can be a major asset to the team. Playing a character with high Cool, even without rolling, opens the door to RP moments where the character isn’t affected like others, maybe they don’t get excited as easily, or they enter every situation with a lot of skepticism.
Dodge- While almost exclusively used on combat, Dodge can be a life-saver in a classic dungeon crawl. Avoiding traps as well as enemy attacks will keep those Critical Wounds off you! A character with Advances in Dodge is likely quick-witted as well as fleet-of-foot.
Drive- Bruno, the hapless coachman who literally can’t drive a coach to save his life, is a great example of how Skills can inform roleplay. Bruno has a horrendously low Agility, making his Drive low even with Advances that he has to have for his Career. I like to allow those with Advances in Drive to know basics about horse care and minor mechanical repairs. Being able to drive a vehicle means the person should know at least the bare minimum of how it works.
Endurance- Being able to withstand the elements is often quite necessary in WFRP. Adventures aren’t always confined to comfortable buildings, and knowing how to survive when it’s too cold, too hot, or too chaotic is important. Endurance also helps against corrupting influences like daemons, or to resist turning into a mutant! A character with high Endurance is likely a bit rough around the edges, maybe even with an extra layer of insulation.
Entertain- Can’t help but play a bard, even in a game with no bards, then put Advances into Entertain! Like Art, Entertain is a grouped Skill, so you need to put Advances into a particular kind of entertainment. The Rulebook lists Acting, Comedy, Singing, and Storytelling, but I’m sure your GM would allow whatever creative use of the Skill for your character. Entertain is a great Skill to make some money on the side, busking in cities, hoping people will spare a few pennies for your talents. In combat, I’d love to see a PC use Entertain to defend, trying to distract their opponent with a well-timed joke.
Gamble- Personally, I find gambling in RPGs much more fun than in real life. If my character loses all their money, they just need to do some more adventuring to find more! Gamble is another Skill that is almost entire for use outside of combat, but I think it has a ton of RP potential, besides playing cards. A character with Advances in Gamble might take more risks in general, they might be more impetuous or, conversely, they might overthink and overanalyze everyday things as they weigh the risks in their head. A gambler doesn’t always come out on top though, especially in the Warhammer world.
Gossip– A fantastic way to gather information, Gossip is one of the best social Skills. Talking with others, hearing rumors, making a good impression, all of these are necessary in a roleplaying game. A character with Advances in Gossip might be more nosey than others, leaning in to eavesdrop on conversations, or they might just be friendly and able to strike up a conversation easier than others. Those with Gossip might not think of conversations as a ‘social encounter.’
Haggle- Never pay full price for late pizza. Really, never pay full price at all! Haggle down the prices at shops to save those precious pennies! Haggle is most useful in urban campaigns where you’ll be interacting with merchants a lot, but any time you can save some Karls is a big deal. A character with Haggle might be argumentative in general, or likes debating with others as a hobby.
Intimidate- Mammoth, from GPoPA was the best at using Intimidate in combat that I’ve seen. Demoralizing your opponents so you cause them Fear is a startlingly powerful ability when successful. Outside of combat, Intimidate is great for those that aren’t so good at Charm or Gossip to get information from someone. A character with Intimidate will likely carry themselves taller, walk with balled fists, or just look at people nasty more of the time. Intimidate is pretty unique as well in that the Player can choose to use Strength or Fellowship as the base Characteristic for this Skill, based on the circumstances.
Intuition- Got a feeling about something? Rolling for Intuition is a great way to see if your character does too! The main use of this Skill is to tell if someone is lying to you, in which case your test will be Opposed by the other’s Cool or Entertain (Acting) to tell if you can see through their falsehoods. Intuition is also very useful in combat, a successful test gaining you an Advantage. This is especially useful if you’re not in a position to affect the fight more directly, or if you’re not a combat character. Combine this with the next Skill, Leadership, and your non-combatant is useful now! A character with high Intuition will notice things others don’t, even without testing. They’ll likely have their head on a swivel, constantly on the lookout.
Leadership- A good leader knows how to get others to listen, often by convincing them that the idea was theirs! In combat, a successful Leadership test can pass an Advantage to an ally, a huge boon! This test can also grant +10% on Psychology tests (until the next Round), as your words inspire your Party to greater heights of derring-do! A natural leader will take point with decision making in the party and will often walk at the head, introducing their friends to NPCs and generally help others be more successful.
Melee- There’s more than just swinging a sword back and forth in the Melee Skill. Another grouped Skill, you need training to effectively use different kinds of weapons. Specializations listed in the Core Book include: Basic, Brawling, Cavalry, Fencing, Flail, Parry, Pole-Arm, and Two-Handed. Wielding a weapon you don’t have Advances you simply use your Weapon Skill, cannot take advantage of any of the weapons Qualities, but still suffer its flaws. Anyone can pick up a flail and swing it, but only those with proper training will be able to get the most out of it. A character skilled in Melee will likely carry their weapon whenever they can and will practice with it often, they might even have a name for their favorites!
Navigation- Knowing where you are in the Old World is as needed for survival as a sword sometimes. Getting lost in the Middle Mountains or even in the slums of Altdorf is a surefire way to end an adventure. Navigation is also useful for the ubiquitous ‘sewer level’ in every RPG, making sure you pop up out in a street instead of someone’s basement! A character with high Navigation has a good idea of where they are in relation to the city or countryside they’re in, and rarely gets lost, as long as they have orientation tools. Never leave without your map and compass!
Outdoor Survival– Pretty much does what it says on the tin. Someone with Advances in Outdoor Survival doesn’t have to roll it for every little thing- it’s assumed they know how to make a fire and set some basic traps. When conditions worsen, or volume of game caught is an issue, that’s when tests are needed. Outdoor Survival can even be used in combat, similar to Intuition, to gain Advantage, making the most of the local terrain or foliage. A character with Advances in Outdoor Survival is comfortable in the wilderness and likely not a huge fan of large cities. They can gather food and herbs easily, but might not be great at bumping elbows at fancy dinner parties.
A Skill for Another Day
Phew, that’s about half the Skills so far, next entry I’ll finish the Basic Skills and discuss the Advanced Skill as well. Until then, make sure to check out our Patreon at patreon.com/professionalcasual for all kinds of awesome content. Also, if you’re looking for any of the books I’ve mentioned throughout the article, head over to beardeddragongames.online/shop or if you’re in our Discord, tag Anthony with anything you need!
Dan is a founding member of the PCN, GM/host of “A Grim Podcast of Perilous Adventure,” and “Settling the Southlands” as well as a player in The Lost Omens Podcast, and The Slithering. Dan is also a novelist and writer of adventures.