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Knowledge Companion, by “Dasharr”

For the Star Wars Roleplaying Game (West End Games)

"I should think that you Jedi would have more respect for the difference between knowledge and - heh heh heh - wisdom." - Dexter Jettster

This is a collection of Advanced Skills, one for every Knowledge Skill in the 2nd Edition Revised & Expanded rulebook. The intentions are to:

●         Make skills from the Knowledge attribute that are more active to use

●         Make the the Knowledge attribute more attractive to players

●         Add more game-mechanical options (“crunch”) that aren't Jedi-exclusive

●         Add more things for advanced non-Jedi to spend their character points on than endlessly improving the same skills

I've tried to make each of these fit several requirements:

●         Must add new abilities, not cover things already possible under existing skills

●         Must follow sensibly from the basic skill it's based on

●         Have some worthwhile (if minor) use even at the starting level of 1D, since just having an advanced skill should represent high competence

The skills are presented in alpabetical order of the advanced skill's name. For convenience, here is a list in alphabetical order of the basic skill names:

Alien Species – (A) Creature Handling

Bureaucracy – (A) Diplomatic Connections

Business – (A) Financial Investor

Cultures – (A) Power Structures

Intimidation – (A) Forbidding Presence

Languages – (A) Ceasefire

Law Enforcement – (A) Acquire Licence

Planetary Systems – (A) Practical Learning

Scholar – (A) Focused Research

Streetwise – (A) Phantom Identity

Survival – (A) Hardiness

Tactics – (A) Adaptive Strategy

Value – (A) Evaluate Function

Willpower – (A) Strong Mind

(A) Acquire Licence

Requires Law Enforcement 5d

"I will make it legal." - Darth Sidious

The character with this ability has either a circle of influence within the law or exhaustive knowledge of legal loopholes, specific to licences and permits for restricted items.

The difficulty of the roll to acquire a legal permit for an item depends on the item's legal restriction rating:

Automatic: Item rated F.

Very Easy: Item rated R.

Easy: Item rated X, but not especially sensitive.

Moderate: Item rated X, and specific to government military (like Stormtrooper armour).

Difficult: Item rated X, and advanced or large scale military equipment (like artillery or capital ships)

Very Difficult: Item rated X, advanced or large scale equipment specific to government military (like AT-ATs or Star Destroyers)

Heroic: Highly sensitive items like weapons of mass destruction, or lightsabers during the reign of the Empire.

The fees and times required are reduced by half. Also note that the skill only grants legal permits for the items, but it doesn't remove any other consequences - repeating blasters still attract attention, and Darth Vader does not care if it's technically legal for you to own a lightsaber.

(A) Adaptive Strategy

Requires Tactics 5d

"You lose, General Kenobi!" - General Grievous

A character with this skill has a keen tactical awareness, able to skilfully deploy to seize the initiative, and to keep the upper hand by anticipating enemy reactions.

This skill adds its rating to Perception rolls made for initiative in combat. If the character with this skill isn't the one with the highest Perception, then the character with Adaptive Strategy gets to roll as if he had the other character's Perception, plus the Adaptive Strategy bonus.

(A) Ceasefire

Requires Languages 5d

"Careful, Sebulba. He's a big-time outlander. I'd hate to see you diced before we race again." - Anakin Skywalker

This skill allows the use of body language and vocal cues common among sentients to intervene and prevent a hostile situation escalating to violence.

The skill may be used when combat is about to begin, at any time before the player rolls initiative. It automatically goes before anyone's initiative. Once combat has begun, Ceasefire cannot be used except at the GMs discretion (for instance, if the enemy are losing and may be ready to negotiate) and the difficulty will be one level higher. The difficulty depends on the NPCs motivations in fighting:

Very Easy: Reluctant/Defensive. This is the case when the enemies are only fighting because they think they must, and would welcome a reason not to.

Easy: Intent. The enemies are resolved to fight, but have no real personal stake beyond their own safety. This is typical of professional soldiers.

Moderate: Angry/Hateful. The enemies are out for blood, driven by revenge or some other strong motive.

Difficult: Berserk. The enemies are in intense rage (like berserk wookiees) or otherwise almost beyond reason. This is the minimum difficulty to halt a Sith Lord's attack.

While this skill doesn't require fluency in a common language, the difficulty is one level higher if the character cannot communicate in words. Even if Ceasefire is successful, the other party must still be somehow convinced not to attack or hostilities will begin anyway - this skill simply allows for a chance at a non-violent solution.

(A) Creature Handling

Requires Alien Species 5d

"Let the executions begin." - Poggle the Lesser

A character with this skill can apply knowledge of biology and behaviour to tame and train creatures. Creature Handling checks are made as an opposed check against the creature's Strength attribute, but some creatures will have a higher or lower die code to resist than normal, depending on their temperament. Creature Handling adds it's die code to Alien Species as normal for an advanced skill, but also to Beast Riding.

One use for this skill is to break in a mount. This takes one day and requires a successful Creature Handling check - if failed, it can be retried in another day, unless the Wild Die comes up as a 1. In this case, Creature Handling will not work on that mount. Success at this means that the mount has it's Orneriness rating reduced by the Creature Handling die code (but only for the Creature Handler). If the Orneriness is reduced below 1d, it remains at 1d but the mount will only require Beast Riding rolls to control it in severe cases - for instance, if wounded.

Creature Handling can be used to calm hostile wild creatures. This may be attempted when combat is about to begin, at any time before the player rolls initiative. It automatically goes before anyone's initiative. Once combat has begun, calming cannot be attempted except in exceptional circumstances. The usual opposed roll for Creature Handling applies.

Finally, a Creature Handler can attempt to master a creature so it will obey his commands. Firstly, the Creature handler must calm the creature (even if it isn't actively hostile at first). The training process itself requires another roll. The difficulty depends on the creature's Strength die code:

Very Easy: below 3d

Easy: 3d to 3d+2

Moderate: 4d to 4d+2

Difficult: 5d to 5d+2

Very Difficult: 6d to 6d+2

Heroic: 7d or more

The training process takes a week normally - it can be attempted in a day, but at difficulty level higher. If this roll fails, the creature is untrainable by this character. Success means that the Creature Handler may command the creature with a suite of basic commands: "attack", "follow", "stay", etc. Control of the creature can still be lost, if it's wounded or made to face a creature it recognises as higher in the food chain (similarly to a broken-in mount) - in such a situation, the Creature Handler makes a normal opposed roll to keep control. The consequences for failure are similar to failure on a Beast Riding check.

(A) Diplomatic Connections

Requires Bureaucracy 5d

"I have word that the Chancellor's ambassadors are with you now, and that you have been commanded to reach a settlement." - Queen Amidala

Special Note: A player taking this skill must describe who his contacts are and why they are willing to help him.

This isn't exactly a "skill" - it represents connections within the diplomatic corps of the galactic government of the era, the power and usefulness dependent on the die code. The difficulty of the roll depends on the extent of the aid that the player requires. Note that the contact(s) have their own goals and responsibilities, so aren't always at the PC's disposal and may sometimes expect aid in return.

Very Easy: Introduction (Harmless). This allows the PC to get an introduction or referral to someone who could be useful for a particular situation, but it doesn't automatically make that person friendly or helpful. This is limited to people that a diplomat can afford to be openly involved with (for instance, not a known criminal).

Easy: Introduction (Clandestine). This works like the Very Easy result, but the PC can be put in touch with someone from the underworld or otherwise not "respectable".

Moderate: Diplomatic Bag. The contact can arrange to have a package transported in a "diplomatic bag" and therefore legally untouchable. This is a major favour - the contact knows that the package is almost certainly illegal or dangerous, otherwise the PC wouldn't need this service - and so the player will owe the contact a big favour in return.

Difficult: Diplomatic Immunity. The PC can have the contact do something outright illegal, using diplomatic immunity as a fallback in case he gets caught. This is an extremely large favour to ask, so the PC will be greatly indebted to his contact.

(A) Evaluate Function

Requires Value 5d

"Oh, you know, Master, I couldn't find a speeder that I really liked. With an open cockpit and the right speed capabilities." - Anakin Skywalker

The Value skill allows a character to inspect an item to assess it's performance. With Evaluate Function, a character can estimate some of the specifications of a device just by seeing it. Use of this skill requires an action, and the character must designate a specific detail: for example, Maneuverability or Shields of a ship, or Damage of a blaster. Use of this skill may be disallowed in cases where the characteristic isn't visible (for instance, concealed weapons). This can be tried multiple times (requiring one action each) until a 1 is rolled on the Wild Die, at which point no further details can be evaluated. The difficulty depends on the character's familiarity with the technology:

Very Easy: Common technology (TIE fighter, DL-18 blaster pistol), or any kind that the character owns.

Easy: Less common technology (Corellian Powersuit, E-Web repeating blaster), or technology the character has once used.

Moderate: Rare or unique technology, or non-standard/modified technology like a retrofitted weapon on a stock freighter.

Difficult: Technology of a completely unknown kind, like Ssi-ruuk ships powered by captive life-forces.

If the character scores one difficulty level higher than required, he spots an exploitable weakness. This allows a 1d bonus to a single type of roll at Gamemaster discretion. For example, spotting a weakness when evaluating a blaster's damage could improve Dodge against that weapon; spotting a weakness in a vehicle's Hull could improve damage rolls against it.

(A) Financial Investor

Requires Business 5d

"The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute." - opening crawl of The Phantom Menace

A character with this skill is a financial expert, able to profit from buying and selling commodities.

Special Note: This skill isn't appropriate for all campaigns: if the GM wants to keep the characters poor and struggling, this skill should be off limits.

Between each adventure (possibly more or less often, at the GMs option and depending on the passage of game time), the player may roll this skill to make a profit from the financial markets. The GM then rolls a single Wild Die and compares the result to the player's. If the player rolls higher, the difference, multiplied by 100, is the PC's profit in credits. If the GM rolls higher, the difference, multiplied by 100, is the PC's loss in credits. Investments can go down as well as up! In this case, the player can cover the loss from his available cash on hand (if possible), or lose a pip off the skill for every 100 credits loss unpaid (down to 1d minimum). Failing either, the PC's assets are frozen and he loses access to this skill until the money is paid back.

Higher skill levels allow the player to "raise the stakes" with larger investments and bigger risks. With 2d in the skill, the player can risk 250 credits per point of loss, gaining 200 credits per point if he succeeds. 3d skill allows for a risk of 500 credits per point for 300 credits per point of success, 4d allows for a risk of 800 credits per point for 400 credits per point of success, and 5d or more allows for a risk of 1250 credits per point for 500 credits per point of success. The player may take any level of risk up to the maximum allowed by the skill level, and must of course declare before rolling (the 100 credit stake is the default unless the player declares otherwise).

This skill may also permit the PC to gain legitimate access to a corporation's records or sites if he happens to own a stake in the company. This is handled by a skill roll, with the easiest difficulty (Moderate) for pan-galactics like Industrial Automaton or the Czerka Corporation, up to Heroic or more for small local companies. Larger demands (like gaining access to secure R&D labs) increase the difficulty by at least one level.

(A) Focused Research

Requires Scholar 5d

"If an item doesn't appear in our records, it does not exist." - Jocastu Nu

This skill allows the use of an extensive data source to enhance another skill roll. The researcher requires access to a library or some other information centre. A particularly good one (like the Jedi Archives before Order 66) could add 1d to the Focused Research roll. The Holonet works, but isn't private - getting a 1 on the Wild Die when researching on the Holonet could bring unwanted attention, and PCs are usually up to something they shouldn't be...

The Focused Research skill roll result is added to the other skill roll. The skill to be aided must be one that can reasonably be assisted with research, mostly Knowledge and Technical skills. Blaster or Dodge can't normally be aided with research because the specifics of combat are unpredictable, but an assassin setting up for a single carefully prepared sniper shot in a planned situation might be able to use Focused Research for it. The Focused Research bonus is not cumulative with the normal 1d bonus for "preparing" a skill use.

The time taken for Focused Research is the time that the skill use itself requires, or 1 day, whichever is longer.

(A) Forbidding Presence

Requires Intimidation 5d

"Master Kenobi, you disappoint me. Yoda holds you in such high esteem. Surely you can do better." - Count Dooku

A character with this ability can unsettle others with his intimidating manner. This can be physical and direct, or subtly disquieting.

The character can exert his presence by rolling this skill versus the Willpower of a single target at the beginning of a confrontation (not necessarily combat). If successful, the number of points it succeeds by is subtracted from all the target's rolls made directly against this character – social rolls count, as do command rolls made to coordinate others to attack the character, but not defence rolls. The maximum possible penalty is -10. This effect lasts for the duration of the encounter – at least until the end of the confrontation and the characters are no longer in each other's presence.

(A) Hardiness

Requires Survival 5d

"I'd be out there with them, but after I lost my leg, I just couldn't ride anymore. Until I heal." Cliegg Lars

Veteran survivalists and fringers are often much tougher than they look, with a never-say-die determination that carries them through physical ordeals.

This skill adds its rating to Strength rolls made for natural healing from injury, and to Stamina rolls to resist poison or disease. Hardiness also allows the character a chance to ignore wound penalties, working like the Force Power Control Pain. This costs no actions to "keep up", and is rolled using (A) Hardiness instead of Control (as a free action).

(A) Phantom Identity

Requires Streetwise 5d

"They say Master Sifo-Dyas placed an order for a clone army at the request of the Senate almost ten years ago. I was under the impression he was killed before that. Did the Council ever authorise the creation of a clone army?" - Obi-Wan Kenobi

A character with this skill knows how to keep multiple false identities, and how to work through intermediaries to hide his involvement.

By working through proxies, this character can foil attempts to trace his actions back to him. The difficulty depends on the identity being faked:

Very Easy: a living person (cannot choose any individual in particular)

Easy: an "empty" fake identity with no supporting evidence

Moderate: a fake identity linked to a valid citizenship ID number

Difficult: a detailed fake identity linked to a valid citizenship ID number with a vacant address and a reason for being offworld

Very Difficult: a fully detailed alternate identity for the character himself, with no connection to his real identity.

If the activity is traced, the trail leads to the fake identity. Whether the tracer stops there depends on how thorough she is and the level of faking - empty identities are easy for a good investigator to see through, and real people actively try to prove their innocence if blamed for illegal activity! If the investigator takes it further, the Phantom Identity skill result is added to her difficulty to follow the trail.

Also, when attempting to lie low and avoid being found (for instance, by bounty hunters), the difficulty to find the character by Investigation or similar skills is raised by a roll of the character's Phantom Identity skill.

(A) Power Structures

Requires Cultures 5d

"Enter: the bureaucrats. The true rulers of the Republic... and on the payroll of the Trade Federation, I might add. This is where Chancellor Valorum's strength will disappear." - Senator Palpatine

Nearly every sentient society, primitive or sophisticated, has some kind of power structure. A character with this skill can work them out quickly.

A character can make a Power Structures roll to determine who is in charge in a group if it isn't obvious. This can be useful to see who has the most real power (and so would be the perfect ally to win over) even if they're not the official leader, or to spot the squadron leader among hostile starfighters. The difficulty is Very Easy if the one in charge is using their influence, Easy otherwise, or Moderate if they are deliberately trying to seem unremarkable; if they possess (A) Phantom Identity, this adds to the difficulty in the latter case.

This skill can also be used as a type of applied psychology on individuals to "size them up". The player must choose a skill to assess, and on a success, the GM reveals the exact die code to the player. The difficulty depends on the PC's own die code in that skill:

Very Easy: 6d or more

Easy: 5d to 5d+2

Moderate: 4d to 4d+2

Difficult: 3d to 3d+2

Very Difficult: 2d to 2d+2

Heroic: less than 2d

This can be tried multiple times (requiring one action each) up to a number of successful uses equal to the PC's number of dice in Power Structures (e.g. 2d+2 Power Structures reveals up to two skill die codes, even if some of the attempts fail).

(A) Practical Learning

Requires Planetary Systems 5d

No, no, it's beyond the outer rim. I'd say about, oh, 12 parsecs outside the Rishii Maze. Should be easy to find, even for those droids in your archives.” - Dexter Jettster

Characters with this skill are well-travelled, and have acquired the ability to learn quickly from their experiences and apply their knowledge. This gives opportunities for skills used in play to get free “Practical” skill gains, that split off from the original base skills similarly to specialisations.

During an adventure, a character with this skill notes down each regular skill that is used (successfully or not), known as “ticking”. This can be done by placing a tick-mark next to the skill on the character sheet, or noted separately. Multiple uses of a skill grant no additional ticks, and only regular skills (not advanced or Force skills) can be ticked. After the adventure, the character may attempt to increase up to ten ticked skills of their choice for no character point cost. This involves an opposed roll of (A) Practical Learning against the ticked skill; neither skill can be modified for this roll in any way. If the (A) Practical Learning roll is equal or higher, the character gains a free “Practical” skill pip in that skill; otherwise (if the regular skill roll is higher) there is no benefit. After the chosen ticked skills are rolled for, all ticks are erased for the next adventure. Skills raised in this way should have the previous value kept as-is, with the new value recorded with a (P) before it.

Practical skill gains work exactly like the normal kind of skill gain bought with Character Points, with only one exception: they cannot be raised further with Character Points. If a player still wants to buy up a skill that has been raised with Practical Learning, he has to buy it from the original value, without the benefit of any of the Practical Learning raises.

Example: A player's character has (A) Practical Learning at 3d. She has Mechanical 2d, has already bought Starship Gunnery to 3d+1 (one die at character creation, and a single pip bought with Character Points) and has benefited once from Practical Learning for this skill in a previous adventure, and so has (P) Starship Gunnery 3d+2. The PC uses this skill during another adventure, and the player chooses to try to increase this skill again with Practical Learning. She rolls (A) Practical Learning at 3d and (P) Starship Gunnery at 3d+2. If the Practical Learning roll is equal or higher, (P) Starship Gunnery improves another pip to 4d (per the usual rules for improving a skill). If she wants to improve the skill with Character Points, she will have to buy it up from the non-Practical skill level of 3d+1.

(A) Strong Mind

Requires Willpower 5d

“Are you going to use one of your Jedi Mind Tricks on me?” - Padme Amidala

A character with this skill is especially hardened to mental influence, even to the point of fighting off a Jedi Mind Trick.

When required to make a "Control or Perception" roll to resist a Force power (or similar ability), the character gets to add the Strong Mind die code to the resistance roll. Successful resistance means the Force-user cannot try the same power on that character again until his own die code for the power increases.

Comments made about this Article!

19/Jan/2011 14:24:20 Posted by : asikari {}

Excellent ideas! I've been wracking my brain for some more advanced skills and had resigned myself to letting my players figure out what they wanted.

03/Feb/2011 22:53:56 Posted by : Anonymous {}

Hellstormer1: "couldn't one assume anything requiring a specialized education in college (like a Major?) be considered an Advanced Skill for the game???"

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