Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Skills in Hero Kids, part 2

In part one of this two-part posting on my alternate Primary and Speciality Skill System for the Hero Kids™ RPG, I introduced the concept of the Primary Skill and the Speciality Skills which are grouped within each Primary Skill. Please read part one for the full explanation of both types, but to recap, having a Primary Skill adds an extra D6 to your Ability Test, while having a Speciality Skill within a Primary reduces the difficulty of the Ability Test by one - in addition to the extra D6 granted by the parent Primary Skill.

Let’s continue now with some further details on this system, how it combines with the Hero Attributes, a detailed listing of the skills themselves, rules for adding to and improving a Hero’s skills, and some guidelines for converting existing Hero Kids™ material to utilize this alternate skill system.

Pairing Attributes and Skills

Skills can be used with any of the three Attributes, providing the usage is appropriate. Pairing a Skill with Strength signifies a forceful use of the skill, pairing it with Dexterity implies a more precise use of the skill, while pairing it with Intelligence indicates a thoughtful or studied use of the skill.

For example, a Strength (Climbing) Ability Test may represent exerting yourself to climb a physically demanding surface, while a Dexterity (Climbing) Ability Test may refer to a technically challenging climb requiring a lot of agility, and an Intelligence (Climbing) Ability Test may be confirming your ability to recognise the best method or equipment to use in performing a climb so as to avoid a particular hazard.

Expanded Skills List

This is the “expanded” listing, not the “comprehensive” or “complete” skill list. It should be edited and reworked to suit your personal tastes. Want a “Jumping” Speciality Skill within Athletics? Feel Herbalism should be a Primary Skill separate from Medicine? Want to add “Healing” as a Speciality of Medicine? Want to remove the “Barter” Speciality? Need a “Programming” Speciality of Technology? Want to add the Primary Skill “Courage”? Any of these and more are valid for YOUR game. This is my proposed starting point. Adjust to taste, and please share the results with me.

Athletics: (Primary) This is for anyone who excels at movement focused physical actions. Speciality Skills: Acrobatics, Climbing, Running, Swimming, Throwing.
  • Acrobatics: (Speciality) This covers gymnastic actions such as tumbling, jumping flipping, hanging upside down, tightrope walking, etc.
  • Climbing: (Speciality) This is used when climbing a tree, cliff, wall, or rope.
  • Running: (Speciality) The art of moving your legs as fast as you can.
  • Swimming: (Speciality) Moving gracefully and quickly in water without drowning.
  • Throwing: (Speciality) This covers throwing (and catching) an object accurately at an intended target.
Currency: (Primary) Appreciation of and experience with the handling and value of money and trade. Speciality Skills: Bartering, Bribery, Trading.
  • Bartering: (Speciality) When to trade goods and how to turn a profit doing it.
  • Bribery: (Speciality) When it’s safe or appropriate to pay off someone and how to recognise WHO to pay and how much to pay.
  • Trading: (Speciality) How to recognise what goods will sell best in one place or to one customer, and which goods are best to buy for resell elsewhere, where best to sell gained goods, and how to turn a profit in all of this.
Gunnery: (Primary) Skill in the use of heavy weapons such as spaceship weapons, tanks, castle artillery, siege weapons, etc. where the weapon’s use emphasises accurate operation of the device rather than the precise body mechanics of a sling or a bow. Speciality Skills: none at present.

Knowledge: (Primary) This represents being learned about things of the world around them. Speciality Skills: Animals, History, Lore, Magic, Nature.
  • Animals: (Speciality) Knowing details about the animals of the world. Their lifecycles, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • History: (Speciality) The scholarly study of past events based on archival recordings.
  • Lore: (Speciality) The accumulation of socially shared knowledge.
  • Magic: (Speciality) The study of magic; its history, practitioners, and capabilities. This does NOT confer any ability to perform magic, this comes from having dice in one’s Magic Die Pool and having magical Attacks, Actions, and Abilities.
  • Nature: (Speciality) Knowing details of life and the ecosystems of the world, how all plants and animals contribute to the functioning of the world. Recognising specific plants and animals, and their abilities and uses.
Mechanic: (Primary) Being skilled at working with your hands and using tools to perform specialized tasks. Speciality Skills: Build, Repair, Traps.
  • Build: (Speciality) This skill focuses on creating a new object, sometimes from blueprints and custom parts, sometimes cobbled together from random materials on hand.
  • Repair: (Speciality) You have training and practice in restoring proper form and function to things which have been broken or simply cease to function.
  • Traps: (Speciality) You know all the dirty tricks used to ensnare, imprison, entomb, mangle, or otherwise impede people who are going where they’re not wanted. Making, finding, and disabling all manner of traps is your speciality.
Medicine: (Primary) You’ve learned about the illnesses and injuries one can suffer, and have become skilled in treating them as best you can. This covers everything from first aid, to surgery, to prescribing medicinal substances, to making your own cures, to even using magical restoratives such as potions. This skill does NOT confer the ability to cast healing magics, or to craft magical potions. Speciality Skills: Herbalism, Potions.
  • Herbalism: (Speciality) This covers an in depth ability in identifying and gathering medicinal plants, where they can be found, the crafting of herbal remedies with specific effects, and when to apply which remedy.
  • Potions: (Speciality) You can recognise different types of magical and non-magical potions, ascertain their effects, and determine when or if to use a given potion.
Negotiation: (Primary) You know what to say, how to say it, and who to say it to so as to get what you want, or to reach an agreeable solution for all involved in a dispute. Sometimes a Hero will use this skill for virtuous purposes, sometimes for nefarious ones. Speciality Skills: Bluff, Intimidation.
  • Bluff: (Speciality) This is the art of convincing someone to go along with what you are saying or doing as though it is valid, when it may not necessarily be so.
  • Intimidation: (Speciality) This is the art of imposing your will upon someone else to do or agree with what you want.
Perception: (Primary) Did you notice that? If the answer is usually yes, then you have the Perception skill. It represents one’s ability and training in picking up on the details that others often overlook. Speciality Skills: Search, Tracking, Navigation.
  •  Search: (Speciality) If it can be found, then you’re the one to look for it.
  • Tracking: (Speciality) Everything that moves leaves a trail, and you can find and follow it.
  • Navigation: (Speciality) Knowing how to determine where you are, and how to get to a specific other location is the foundation of this Speciality. Whether used by woodsmen, sailors, or ship captains, the methods of “reading” and plotting a course through one’s chosen terrain are much the same.

Pilot: (Primary) This is everything pertaining to controlling methods of getting from place to place via some form of conveyance more involved than your own feet. Speciality Skills: Driving, Riding, and Sailing.
  • Driving: (Speciality) This focuses on vehicles such as horse carts, automobiles, and other surface vehicles where one must manually steer.
  • Riding: (Speciality) This is applied towards any creature one guides to have them carry you elsewhere, whether the creature be a horse, dolphin, dinosaur, or dragon.
  • Sailing: (Speciality) This covers all the specialized skills relating to controlling a sailed watercraft.
Stealth: (Primary) This is the art of sneaking around, concealing oneself, and otherwise using such things as your surroundings, your attire, and other methods to evade detection of yourself or an object. Speciality Skills: Disguise, Hiding, Traps.
  • Disguise: (Speciality) This is the ability to make one thing look like another. For example, making yourself look older, or making a trap look like an ordinary section of the floor.
  • Hiding: (Speciality) This skill focuses on making something or someone go unnoticed. Effectively using the shadows, or knowing just how to best hide behind a group of trees comes under this.
  • Traps: (Speciality) You know all the dirty tricks used to ensnare, imprison, entomb, mangle, or otherwise impede people who are going where they’re not wanted. Making, finding, and disabling all manner of traps is your speciality.

Technology: (Primary) The word “technology” usually connotates such things as computers, rayguns, robots, and spaceships. However, the workings of a crossbow, drawbridge, trebuchet, or a pressure-plate triggered pit trap equally involve the development and application of technological skill. This skill grant familiarity and skill in identifying and using the technology of your time, whether it be satellites or water wheels. Speciality Skills: Hacking, Traps.
  • Hacking: (Speciality) Everything that has a function has a method to its function, every method has rules and you know how to circumvent them to gain unauthorized access. This covers everything from lock picking, to breaking into computer systems, to circumventing security systems, to accessing functions in machinery or electronics beyond their intended or normal usage.
  • Traps: (Speciality) You know all the dirty tricks used to ensnare, imprison, entomb, mangle, or otherwise impede people who are going where they’re not wanted. Making, finding, and disabling all manner of traps is your speciality.

Skill Advancement

The easiest way to add new Primary and Speciality Skills is to simply award Skill Points to each Hero when the players successfully completes an adventure. How many Skill Points to award is a matter of personal taste, but I wouldn’t recommend more than 1 or 2 per adventure.

If you’d prefer linking the number of Skill Points to an external source, you could award 1 Skill Point for Easy or Moderate adventures, and 2 Skill Points for Hard adventures. Another way would be to award a Skill Point for every 5 or 6 encounters, this will result in Heroes sometimes not getting a new Skill Point at the end of an adventure, and other times getting one part way through an adventure. Plus, you will need to track your number of encounters leading up to the next Skill Point. These are all minor concerns, but you need to have your preferred method settled upon before introducing this system to your own little Heroes.

Once they have some Skill Points, they can redeem them for new Primary Skills at a cost of two Skill Points, and new Speciality Skills for one Skill Point. Also, I wouldn’t allow the gaining of new skills in the middle of an adventure. Heroes need the time in between adventuring to learn new things, attend their training, and practice new skills. Of course, your players will grumble the first time they are told they can only gain new skills after the adventure is done, but if you’re consistent from the beginning, they’ll just accept it as the “new normal”.

Hero Translation Guide

Great! We have all these shiny new skills, now how to represent them on our existing and future Heroes. Also, what are the new starting skills for all the canon Heroes? Have no fear, here are the conversions for the Heroes included in the core rules:
  • Male Warrior: The Perception Primary Skill and Tracking Speciality Skill.
  • Female Warrior: The Negotiation Primary Skill and Intimidation Speciality Skill.
  • Female Hunter: The Knowledge Primary Skill and Lore Speciality Skill.
  • Male Hunter: The Perception Primary Skill and Tracking Speciality Skill.
  • Male “fire” Warlock: The Knowledge Primary Skill and Magic Speciality Skill.
  • Female “water” Warlock: The Knowledge Primary Skill and Magic Speciality Skill.
  • Male “Hammer” Brute: The Negotiation Primary Skill and Intimidation Speciality Skill.
  • Male Rogue: The Stealth Primary Skill and Hiding Speciality Skill.
  • Female Healer: The Medicine Primary Skill and Herbalism Speciality.
  • Male “Kitchen” Knight: The Negotiation Primary Skill and Intimidation Speciality Skill

The additional Heroes featured in the Expansion series can easily be translated using the same guideline of granting them one Primary Skill and one Speciality Skill. There is one Hero from the Fantasy Expansion, Hero Cards III I will include here, the Dwarven Knight (he has “Hammer Strike” as his Melee Attack) as he has no actual skill listed, just two healing potions, some money, and the Darkvision ability. I recommend giving him the either the Perception Primary Skill and the Search Speciality Skill, or the Currency Primary Skill and the Trading Speciality Skill.

Adding This System To The Game Table

A Hero with the Hero Card Extension.

To show these new skills on your Hero Card, you could just write them on the back of the card, although you then may need to keep flipping your Hero Card to make sure you don't forget what skills your Hero does or doesn't have. Alternately, you can download and print the one-page Hero Card Extension I’ve made and attach the Hero Card to the top of the sheet. This gives you a convenient place to write down both their new Skills and any new Inventory they acquire from their adventures. If you're strict about the use of inventory cards, then you can simply use the Inventory section as a place to put them instead.


Whew! This system became much larger than I expected it to be when I started my previous post. My original intent was just an expanded list of skills to add to a Hero Card, but the more I wrote the more it all fleshed out in my head. Now it is a full blown system of advanced skills. I probably won’t be introducing this to my son's game until he’s a couple of years older, but I’d love to hear what other people think of it.

For ease of reference, I’ve compiled parts one and two into a pdf, formatted to be printed and used with the Hero Kids™ RPG. You can get it here: Primary & Speciality Hero Kids Skill System. If you try this out let me know what you think.