Claws of the Dragon
Most people lack the magical talents of adepts, but can often accomplish the same tasks using non-magical abilities. In Earthdawn, these mundane abilities are called skills. Skills add a bonus to one of your character’s Attribute Steps, giving him an advantage when taking actions, engaging in combat, and so on. Skills allow a character to perform certain physical actions and to make informed decisions about various courses of action during an adventure.
There are four types of skills that characters can learn: Artisan, General, Knowledge, and Language. Artisan skills represent the arts and crafts practiced by every Namegiver; General skills allow your character to perform everyday actions; Knowledge skills represent how much your character knows about the world of Earthdawn; Language skills determine the spoken or written languages your character is fluent in.
Skills are similar to talents, except they do not require magic to learn and use. Instead, a character must invest time, effort, and money into acquiring them. In this age of magic, skills are largely the domain of ordinary folk, though all adepts begin the game with a few skills and, over time, most adepts like to learn more skills to supplement their magical talents.
Skills Versus Talents
Many skills have a magical talent equivalent, available to adepts of different Disciplines. This chapter describes skills, but players should look at the talent description to see how the corresponding talent varies. Talents, being magical, are usually more potent than skills.
Some adepts know both skilled and talented versions of the same ability; in such cases, the player must decide which type he is using before making any tests—most times an adept will use a talent over a skill, but there are powers and spells that can suppress magic, including talents, and for this reason, many adepts like to have a mundane “backup” skill, just in case.
Default Skill Use
Certain skills represent abilities that every character knows. The Default Skill Use system allows characters without knowledge of these skills to perform the actions normally allowed by making an Attribute-only Test. Skills with the “Default Use: Yes” notation can be used with the Attribute normally associated with that skill. The character makes an Attribute Test in place of a Skill Test.
The minimum Result Level for the test is increased by one level, including other requirements associated with use of the skill (like Armor-Defeating Hits), to a maximum Extraordinary Result level. For example, a character who does not know the Melee Weapons skill could still swing a sword at an opponent, because the skill defaults to the Dexterity Attribute. The character makes a Dexterity Test as his Melee Weapons Test, requiring a minimum Good Result to hit an opponent.
Requirements based on Rank in the skill’s description, such as duration or range, are considered to be equivalent to the character possessing the skill at Rank 1.