Skill Appendix



Skills in this revised version of the Riddle of Steel represent the skillful methods used by characters to achieve their intentions. There are eighteen skill families and an infinite number of specializations, although the basic set of specs are included in this appendix. Skills and their specializations are either common, uncommon, or rare. A character’s lifepath grants him access to a certain number of skills based on their rarity.

  • Common skills and specs: All stations in life have access to training in this kind of skill or spec.
  • Starting Resources SR is decided by social class.
    • Slave: SR10
    • Peasant: SR10
    • Low freeman: SR9
    • High freeman: SR8
    • Gentry: SR8
    • Noble: SR7
  • Language is given as a free skill in childhood (Language: Native) at SR8, but additional language skills can be common, uncommon, or rare.
    • Uncommon skills and specs: This broad skill or spec might carry over into other walks of life, but it is usually the specialty of a small group of people. There are five uncommon skills.
    • Rare skills and specs: The only way someone could gain experience or training in this skill or spec is if he were a member of a certain profession or social class. There are five rare skills.
Common Uncommon Rare
Circles Athletics Larceny
Resources Deceit Medicine
Steel Etiquette Occult
Language Horsemanship Sailing
Lore Stealth
Performance Trade
Survival Military

This appendix contains the following information for each skill.

  • Specializations grant Edge to a challenge or contest. In some situations no edge is rewarded if the spec was required. See Flesh & Bone for more information. Players and storytellers are encouraged to create their own specializations during play. For the purposes of character creation, it should be noted whether the spec is common, uncommon, or rare.
  • Some skills are opposed by the Perception attribute. TNs for this are listed.
  • Challenge examples are given for each level.
  • See Flesh & Bones: Edge for examples.
Skill Challenge Description
Average Needs little effort from trained but a solid effort from someone untrained.
Tricky Requires the full attention and effort of trained professionals.
Difficult May prove to be too much for even professionals.
Formidable Only overcome by the best.
Heroic An impossible feat known only in tall tales.

ATHLETICS (Common) includes all uses of the physique. Training in this skill means a character has experience in using his bodily strength to accomplish his goals.

Specializations: Acrobatics, Climbing, Jumping, Lifting, Running, Sprinting, Swimming, and Intimidation.

Athletics Challenges
Average Climbing a fence or easily surmountable surface.
Tricky Climbing on a slippery surface, swimming a mile.
Difficult Climbing the face of a cliff, swimming an underwater tunnel.
Formidable Climbing at at hanging angle or on a moving surface, swimming safely through rapids.
Heroic Climbing the face of a mountain glacier, swimming out of a giant ocean whirlpool.

CIRCLES (Common) allows a character to bring a contact into the story among other things. Training in this skill means a character has experience in using his social contacts to accomplish his goals.

  • Circles challenge are used to bring a contact into the story. The challenge level is rated by the quality of the relationship and the uniqueness of the contact as measured by his relevant skill rating.
    • Casual relationship: The characters know each other professionally or socially. They might go out of their ways for each other, but they aren’t expected to sacrifice anything.
    • Intimate relationship: The characters go ‘way back’. They would sacrifice much to help their friend. An intimate relationship increases the challenge by a step.
    • Novice contact: The contact is probably not much better or well-known than the player character. Having a casual relationship with a novice is a simple challenge.
    • Apprentice contact: The contact is adept at what he does. He’s probably the best in his village.
    • Journeyman contact: The contact is a proficient veteran who is known in the county. He might also be the right hand man of the best.
    • Master contact: In his region the contact is highly sought after for his skill or wisdom.
    • Grandmaster contact: Unless this contact is a complete recluse, anyone who knows anything about his discipline knows the contact’s name and would give anything to learn from him.
  • Circles challenges are used to locate characters.
  • Circles challenges can also detect rumors, uncover secrets, or discover who’s looking for a player’s character.
  • Failed Circles challenges may result in misinformation or hostile contacts.

Specializations: Circles specializations are Affiliations and Reputations. Affiliations grant Edge with a particular professional and social faction, while reputations grant Edge for certain areas. There are also some Gifts & Flaws which may affect a character’s Circle challenges.

Circles Challenges
Average Casual relationship with a Apprentice contact; rumor could be heard in the tavern.
Tricky Casual relationship with a Journeyman; rumor could be heard in the lanes and byways between certain folk.
Difficult Casual relationship with a Master; rumor could only be heard among an exclusive group.
Formidable Casual relationship with a Grandmaster; rumor could only be overheard in a private conversation between the few who know it.
Heroic Intimate relationship with a Grandmaster; rumor is an unspoken secret.

DECEIT (Uncommon) allows a character to emulate sincerity, taunt enemies, forge documents, or disguise themselves. Training in this skill means a character has experience in using dishonest practices to get what he wants.

Specialization: Bluff, Conning, Lie, Disguise, Forgery, and Taunt.

Deceit Challenges
Average Convince commoners that you’re wealthy
Tricky Convince freemen that you’re a gentry’s son.
Difficult Convince a minor noble that you belong to his house.
Formidable Convince a lord that you’re his long-lost son.
Heroic Convince seidhe that you’re a powerful sorcerer.

As a Contested roll, Deceit is usually resisted by the target’s PER with Edge for having specializations related to lies, disguises, or forgery.

TN6 Deceiver is a stranger or the target has good reason not to trust him.
TN7 The target is mildly suspicious but has no real good reason not to trust the deceiver.
TN8 Deceiver is trusted.

ETIQUETTE (Uncommon) represents how proficient a character is in contextual speech and behavior. Training in this skill means a character has experience in using the right words and body language to accomplish his goals. However, using a depth of vocabulary and style might be instead a Language challenge.

Specializations: Etiquette specs can be as broad or as narrow as a character’s story justifies. Etiquette specs are not restricted to highborn society. Sailors, Criminals, or Bounty hunter specializations grant a character Edge when trying to convince someone in their respective society.

Etiquette Challenges
Average Giving the proper greeting or response at a celebration.
Tricky Showing proper table manners at a royal feast
Difficult Appropriately using an old Froan proverb or being familiar with a seidhe dance.
Formidable Knowing obscure body language and gestures that put reisen at ease.
Heroic Having a cordial conversation with a walking god.

HORSEMANSHIP (Uncommon) includes all equestrian skills. Training in this skill means a character has experience in working with horses.

Specializations: Charioteering, Riding and Taming.

Horsemanship Challenges
Average Riding a horse up a narrow path.
Tricky Driving a coach or chariot along a cliff, recognizing a noble’s prized steed, shoeing a horse.
Difficult Riding a horse through a dense forest at a gallop, taming a wild or injured horse.
Formidable Riding a horse through muddy shoreline at a gallop, taming a magical mount at enmity with the character’s race.
Heroic Riding a horse quickly through quicksand.

LANGUAGE (Common) includes the common and academic uses of a language.

  • All players begin with SR8 in their native tongue.
  • Fully literate and educated characters have SR7.
  • Additional languages are taken as specs in character creation or purchased as new skills during play.
    • Unlike most other skills, language has a separate SR for each language. Players must advance each language separately.

Specializations: When a character acquires this skill, he chooses the actual language as his specialization. Alternatively, scholar concept characters may choose language families as their specialization (e.g.Language: Danan tongues or Language: Vestman dialects).

Language Challenges
Average Carrying on a simple conversation, writing a clear letter.
Tricky Carrying on a complicated conversation, composing beautiful lyrics.
Difficult Emulating a native in every way, expressing complex ideas concisely, writing a book.
Formidable Swaying the thoughts of a crowd with just words, writing a poem that will be remembered for generations.
Heroic Expressing a thought or experience otherwise inconceivable so that it is instantly understood or experienced, moving an immortal to tears with a speech.

LARCENY (Rare) includes all kinds of thievery skills. Training in this skill means a character has experience in using thievery to accomplish his goals.

Specializations: Burglary, Lockpicking, or Pickpocketing.

Larceny Challenges
Average Picking an old or flimsy lock, breaking and entering a cottage or village temple.
Tricky Picking a merchant’s lock, breaking and entering a merchant’s shop or city temple.
Difficult Picking a nobleman’s lock, picking the pockets of an alert commoner, breaking and entering a gentry’s manor.
Formidable Picking an enchanted lock on a king’s bedroom, picking the pockets of a master thief, breaking and entering a guarded palace.
Heroic Picking the pockets of a seidhe prince while speaking with him.

As a Contested roll, Larceny: Pickpocketing and similar actions are opposed by PER.

TN6 Target is cautious or carrying something dear.
TN7 Target is aware of his surroundings and only mildly distracted.
TN8 Target is completely distracted and off guard.

LORE (Uncommon) represents acquired knowledge of history and legend. Training in this skill means a character has experience in using what he has learned in books or songs to answer questions.

Specializations: Lore specs could include regional expertise (Lore: Ribknot) or specific topics (Lore: Seidhe).

Lore Challenges
Average Recorded: The knowledge is readily available to those who know where to ask. The name of a lord or the best wine-maker in the area.
Tricky Scholarly or mythical: The knowledge is only known by those like historians, archivists, or wisemen who make it their business to know. The name of a local legendary hero.
Difficult Obscure: The knowledge is only known to certain groups. The name of a spirit which can be summoned at a specific time of power.
Formidable Occluded: The knowledge is purposefully known only by a handful of mortal. The true name of a seidhe lord.
Heroic True: The knowledge is unadulterated truth unspoiled by mortal experience. The true name of a walking god or the forgotten legacy of a race.

MEDICINE (Rare) includes all of the healing skills. Training in this skill means a character has experience in curing diseases and healing wounds. From court doctors to village witches to battle hardened soldiers, medicine in the world of Erd is practiced in a variety of traditions.

  • First Aid reduces BL by 3 for each success (see Flesh & Bone: Healing)
  • Herbalism can be used to prepare medicines for wounds, cures for diseases, and antidotes for poisons.
  • Surgery and general medicinal treatment tests are usually uncontested. The number of successes grant bonus dice to the patient’s Healing test. The Medicine Challenges table below can be used for extrapolation.

Specializations: First aid, Herbalism, and Surgery.

Medicine Challenges
Average Preparing a cure for mild diseases, a weak poison or its antidote.
Tricky Preparing a cure for moderate diseases, a mild poison or its antidote.
Difficult Conducting surgery on serious wounds (Levels 2-3), preparing a cure for serious diseases, a strong poison or its antidote.
Formidable Conducting surgery on lethal wounds (Level 4), preparing a cure for unnatural diseases, a lethal poison, or its antidote.
Heroic Conducting surgery on mortal wounds (Level 5) before the patient dies.

MILITARY (Rare) includes the tactics, strategy, and discipline that only comes from the experience on acquires serving in a military unit where teamwork is essential for survival in combat. Training in this skills means a character has experience being drilled in combat maneuvers, taking orders, and perhaps even leading others in battle.

Specializations: Tactics, Battle Strategy, Sieges, and Discipline.

Military Challenges
Average Making a camp fit for a unit.
Tricky Keeping an advantageous formation in an easy fight.
Difficult Keeping an advantageous formation when outnumbered, outsmarting an evenly matched enemy.
Formidable Keeping an advantageous formation when hopelessly outnumbered, outsmarting an enemy twice the size and strength.
Heroic Outsmarting a force more than five times in size and strength.

OCCULT (Rare) includes all occluded knowledge and practices. Training in this skill means a character has experience in the strange, ancient, or forbidden. Certain occult uses require magical attributes. For example, gleaning someone’s name requires Sight.

Specializations: Meditation, Gleaning, Ritual, and Spellcraft.

Occult Challenges
Average Gleaning the name or nature of a simple creature or thing.
Tricky Gleaning the name of a mundane after speaking with him, conducting an apprentice-level ritual.
Difficult Gleaning the name of an unwise sarrumiza by observing him, conducting an adept level ritual.
Formidable Gleaning the true name of a walking god by its presence, conducting a master level ritual.
Heroic Gleaning the true name of a god, conducting a ritual to bind a god.

PERFOMANCE (Uncommon) involves all types of artistic expression – music, art, theater, and dance. Training in this skill means a character has experience in using being expressive and artistic.

Specializations: Dancing, Painting, Playing (instrument), Reciting, Sculpting, and Singing.

Performance Challenges
Average Performing a common folk dance, singing a bawdy drinking song.
Tricky Playing an evening of music, dancing for a royal court.
Difficult Bringing a room of hardened soldiers to tears with a sorrowful ballad.
Formidable Painting or sculpting someone’s likeness, impressing the seidhe with music
Heroic Winning the love of a walking god or seidhe prince with music, dance, or art.

RESOURCES (Common) measures a character’s ability to acquire material assets. Training in this skill means a character has experience in getting what he wants through labor, bartering, or credit.

  • Material assets can be classified as clothing, weapons, lodging, or tools.
  • Resource tests are also required occasionally to see if a character can keep up his living.
  • A character’s starting Resources SR is set by his social class.
  • Unlike other tests, a Resource dice pool may be temporarily spent. They refresh after the character has had a chance to recoup his expenses or rest after laboring.
  • Parcels add a one-time Edge to a Resources test.
    • Parcels are exhaustible material assets such as coinage, letter of credit, or treasure.
    • Each parcel grants a character 1-2 bonus dice.
  • Storytellers can avoid Resources tests by asking players to spend parcels.

Specializations: Bartering, Credit, and Labor.

Resources Challenges
Average Common: Clothing for a low freeman, a sharp knife, a dog, a mat on the hearthstone, regular living expenses for a Low freeman.
Tricky Valuable: Clothing for a high freeman, a simple blade, a mule or cart, a bunk in the common room, regular living expenses for a High freeman.
Difficult Dear: Clothing for the gentry, soldier’s weapons, a young and healthy horse, a room at an inn, regular living expenses for a Landless Noble.
Formidable Scarce: Clothing for lords, special weapons, a slave, a room fit for gentry, regular living expenses for a Lord.
Heroic Unique: Clothing worn by a king, a hero’s weapon or artifact, regular living expenses for an Emperor.

SAILING (Rare) includes all skills involved with water vessels. Training in this skill reflects the character’s experience in operating, commanding, repairing, or navigating a water vessel.

Specializations: Specs for sailing include tasks such as Deckhand, Navigation, and Captaining, or types of ships such as Rafts, Cog, or Warship.

Sailing Challenges
Average Navigating a ship up or down a coast or along a rough river.
Tricky Navigating a ship through foul weather or along a turbulent river.
Difficult Navigating a ship through a fierce storm or through rapids.
Formidable Safely navigating a ship through a maelstrom or through rocky straights during foul weather.
Heroic Sailing a ship safely through fierce storms without a mast, navigating a ship to the end of the world.

STEALTH (Rare) represents a character’s ability to be invisible. Training in this skill means a character has experience in using his surroundings to avoid detection.

Specializations: Some creative specs for this skill includes Camouflage, Creeping in the dark, Hiding in crowd, Moving silently, and Sneaking past. Using camouflage before hiding or creeping may help to grand additional Edge.

Stealth Challenges
Average Leaving a room of distracted guests without notice, hiding behind a ruined wall.
Tricky Sneaking past a scout who is unfamiliar with the territory, hiding behind a tree.
Difficult Sneaking past a patrol on their regular route, hiding behind a narrow pillar or short boulder, coming up undetected behind a spooked animal.
Formidable Creeping in the shadows past two stationed guards alert at their posts.
Heroic Moving undetected across a sunlit and silent courtyard under the watchful eyes of alert guards.

As a Contest, however, Stealth is resisted by PER.

TN6 The target’s surroundings are quiet and well-lit.
TN7 The target’s surroundings are mildly noisy (edge of camp) or poorly lit.
TN8 The target’s surroundings are dark and loud or crowded.
TN-2 Target is alert or aware.
TN+2 Target is considerably distracted.

There was a trashing, floundering noise, as if a great cable were being lashed violently about… At last the movements ceased and Conan looked gingerly behind the screen. Then the full horror of it all rushed over the Cimmerian, and he fled, nor did he slacken his headlong flight until the spires of Numalia faded into the dawn behind him. The thought of Set was like a nightmare, and the children of Set who once ruled the earth and who now sleep in their nighted caverns far below the black pyramids. Behind that gilded screen there had been no human body – only the shimmering, headless coils of a gigantic serpent.
Robert E. Howard – The God in the Bowl

STEEL (Common) measures how well a character can keep his wits and sanity in traumatic or insane situations. The world of Erd can be a dark one filled with cruelty and ancient nightmares. Training in this skill means a character has had harrowing or tragic experiences which have made him tougher than most.

  • Characters must make a Steel test when they are dramatically surprised or caught off guard, face starvation or torture, experience a tragic event, or encounter supernatural horror.
  • Failure could mean a character freezes up in hesitation, swoons and falls to the ground, or runs screaming. Botched failures can result in irrational paranoia or even insanity.
  • There are five basic kinds of challenges which challenge a character’s Steel. These challenges can also be taken as specializations. Steel challenges usually require dice pools using either EN, TO, WIT, or WP.
    • Ambush is a dramatically surprising situation which might leave a character at a loss of what to do. Finding out your worst enemy is actually your father or being attacked by your trusted allies.
    • Direness is a situation which seems bleak and hopeless. Becoming stranded on a deserted island, being hopelessly outnumbered, or facing starvation.
    • Torture is a situation where a character is helpless to prevent excruciatingly pain imposed on him by an enemy. A sorcerer slowly melting off a victim’s flesh or a soldier brutally interrogating a foe.
    • Tragedy is a situation which is inhuman or unimaginably horrific. Witnessing another being tortured or stumbling upon a plague-ridden village with no survivors.
    • Monstrosity is an encounter with an entity or force which does not fit within the character’s preconceived notions of what is suppose to be. Catching a glimpse of the Otherworld or staring into the face of a walking god.
Steel Challenges
Average Realizing there isn’t much food or water left, being outnumbered 2-to-1, being held down and attacked, watching an ally beaten up by thugs, hearing and believing a monstrous story.
Tricky Running out of food or water while lost in the woods, being outsmarted and surrounded by foes, being left for dead, committing murder, finding a village which has been ravaged barbarically, hearing seidhe laughter or a noise that couldn’t be natural.
Difficult Being lost underground with no torch, chased by an army out for slaughter, tortured with ropes and blades, experiencing a natural or cataclysmic disaster like a volcano eruption, seeing horrible magic at work, seeing a spectral face following in the dark, catching a glimpse of Otherworldly powers.
Formidable Starving and lost in the wild for almost a month, tortured with poisons and magic, experiencing the watchful maleficent presence of a god, being in the full presence of a walking god.
Heroic Standing in the full presence of a transcendent god.

The following table describes, like a wound table, the negative consequences of failing Steel tests.

  • Shock occurs during the first round. Unpaid shock carries over to the second round.
  • Awe is the ongoing fear or dread that plagues a warrior. Like Pain, it lasts until the character recovers. It does not stack with Pain or Shock. Use the highest value.
  • At the discretion of the storyteller, depleting the CP through Shock and Awe may require Knockdown or Knockout tests as per the combat rules (see Blood & Iron).
  • Botched rolls can also strike the character with minor flaws which represent more permanent psychological damage. Storytellers and players may create their own disorders to fit the trauma.
  • The character suffers these effects until his character has had time to recover.
  • Snapping out of it: The storyteller may set an amount of time, call for tests to improve using the Awe as a TN, or allow players to spend Drama points to recover.
MOF: 1-2 MOF: 3-4 MOF: 5 (Botch)
Ambush Surprised: The character was not expecting the ambush and is obviously surprised.
Shock 8 | Awe 4
Bewildered: The character is tangled up in fear and confusion.
Shock 11 | Awe 8
Frozen: The character is completely overwhelmed. He falls to the ground to beg for mercy or else swoons.
Shock All | Awe 12
Direness Spooked: The character is unnerved by the dire situation or the tragedy he has witnessed.
Shock 5 | Awe 4
Terrified: The character is convinced he probably won’t make it out of this situation alive or that there is no hope of things getting better.
Shock 8 | Awe 8
Raving: Fear and despair have completely shadowed the character’s heart. He runs away screaming or falls to the ground whimpering.
Shock 11 | Awe 12
Gain Minor Flaw: Coward.
Torture Terrified: The character is convinced he probably won’t make it out of this situation alive or that there is no hope of things getting better.
Shock 8 | Awe 8
Raving: Fear and despair have completely shadowed the character’s heart. He runs away screaming or falls to the ground whimpering.
Shock 11 | Awe 12
Gain Minor Flaw: Coward.
Insane: The character’s mind has broken. All he thought he knew about reality is a lie. Under the crushing weight of madness, the character bursts into laughter, tears, or tormented screams.
Shock 11 | Awe 16
Gain Minor Flaw: Tormented or Minor Flaw: Phobia.
Tragedy Spooked: The character is unnerved by the dire situation or the tragedy he has witnessed.
Shock 5 | Awe 4
Terrified: The character is convinced he probably won’t make it out of this situation alive or that there is no hope of things getting better.
Shock 8 | Awe 8
Raving: Fear and despair have completely shadowed the character’s heart. He runs away screaming or falls to the ground whimpering.
Shock 11 | Awe 12
Gain Minor Flaw: Coward.
Monstrosity Paranoid: The character has been shook up by whatever he just witnessed, distrusting easily and looking over his shoulder frequently.
Shock 5 | Awe 8
Delusional: The character has begun to loose a grip over what is real, seeing enemies that aren’t there, hearing noises which warn of nothing, and babbling incoherently.
Shock 8 | Awe 12
Insane: The character’s mind has broken. All he thought he knew about reality is a lie. Under the crushing weight of madness, the character bursts into laughter, tears, or tormented screams.
Shock 11 | Awe 16
Gain Minor Flaw: Tormented or Minor Flaw: Phobia.

SURVIVAL (Common) includes all the training a character has in getting by in certain environments. Training in this skill means a character has experience in making do with what’s at hand.

Specializations: Specs for survival are usually certain environments such as City, Forest, Islands, Mountains, Plains, or Tundra. Specs can also be more task-based such as Foraging, Shelter finding, Hunting, and Navigation.

Survival Challenges (General)
Average Surviving in a temperate environment (forest).
Tricky Surviving in a rough environment (grasslands, tropical, jungle).
Difficult Surviving in a unforgiving environment (mountains).
Formidable Surviving in a bleak environment (underground, wastelands).
Heroic Surviving in an impossible environment (Otherworld).
Survival Challenges (Specific) Temperate Tropics/Jungle Mountains Desert Lowlands
Foraging Average Average Difficult Difficult Average
Shelter-finding Average Tricky Average Difficult Tricky
Hunting Tricky Average Tricky Difficult Average
Navigation Average Difficult Average Average Average

TRADE (Rare) is a special kind of skill. Players must choose a specialization when taking this skill – for example: Blacksmith, Sailor, or Soldier. A trade spec is used to represent a character’s professional skills which aren’t already covered by other TROS skills. Trade specs are always considered rare.

Trade Challenges
Average A routine task: throwing out fishing nets, preparing a furnace.
Tricky A common task: navigating a caravan through familiar territory, crafting a suit of armor.
Difficult A rarely performed task: adjusting a suit of armor for a very young prince.
Formidable A strange or creative application of a commonly performed task: crafting a suit of armor for Froan or Tobl.
Heroic A feat never accomplished or attempted in a trade: making a viable blade from precious metals.

Skill Appendix

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