Skills and Abilities

Skills and Abilities are statistical features inherent to your character which dominate how effective your character is at performing actions and executing powers.


Abilities are usually the basis for determining the dice pool of a given check. Abilities represent a character’s ability to exert force or power. Abilities are only factored into a dice pool when the form a significant part of the power required to accomplish an activity. For example, a lock-picker does not add in their strength. The dexterity required to pick a lock is not captured as an ability, but as a skill. The dice pool instead comes from the equipment being used to pick the lock. In the base system, there are three ability scores.

  • Strength represents the physical power a character can exert.
  • Intellect represents the mental power a character can exert.
  • Charisma represents the force of personality a character can exert.

GMs should feel free to develop additional ability scores so long as the follow the guidelines that an ability represents the power or force a character can generate, not the subtleness the character can use it with. Some examples.

  • Force Attunement is a Star Wars specific ability representing how much influence over the force the character can exert.
  • Willpower is a setting specific ability for channeling magic.
  • Faith is a setting specific ability for channeling a god’s power.

A system may feature multiple special ability scores, or optional special ability scores. With the “Faith” example above, the setting may stipulate that you can’t access powers based on faith if you haven’t been ordained. In this case, most characters don’t track their Faith ability, only the clerics.


Skills are the primary basis for determining the target number in checks and tests. The character’s skill determines how likely they are to be successful as they attempt a check or test. Higher skill corresponds to more consistent success in tests and greater success in tests. Skills are factored in whenever appropriate. In checks or tests that don’t involve skill, the GM will set a difficulty class. The skill value may be modified by powers (this will be listed in their description) or by the GM for particularly challenging or simple circumstances. GMs should note that this type of penalty or bonus is very powerful. It changes the odds or expected level of success by a set percentile no matter how many dice are in the pool (8.333%). This captures the idea of a challenging problem being harder to solve effectively very well, but don’t push the target number too much.

There should be between 10 and 20 skills in a given system. Each character’s skill should range between zero and six (note that if you have a zero effective skill you can’t make a check, you’ll never succeed).

As with abilities, GMs should feel free to come up with setting specific skills. Also, some supernatural abilities or secretive guilds may mean that skills are available to some people but not others.

Elder Scrolls Skills Star Wars Skills
Elder Scrolls Abilities Star Wars Abilities

Skills and Abilities

Ersatz mildewey