Step 5. Create skills and assign skill points
If you have completed the questionnaire above you will have already identified a minimum of 6 skills for your character (drawn from their life experiences). If you didn’t complete the questionnaire you will need to invent your skills now. This is easy. Just invent a minimum of six skills that you think directly relate to your archetype. For example a cowboy archetype might have skills such as ride horse, lasso, six guns, tracker, and find water. A linguist might have speak new language, read new language, write new language, research, decipher code, and encryption. A psychic might have telekenisis, mesmerism, telepathy, lie detection, cheat at cards, and confuse.
There is no upper limit on the number of skills that can be created (though more than ten would seem a little excessive) so long as they can legitimately be connected to your archetype.
Record the skills from your questionnaire (or that you have invented on the fly) on your character sheet in order from most important/useful to least important/useful.
If you have selected a Mystical Speciality you may spend 7 + willpower points improving your skills. You must also apply your total willpower points to your essence and set your resistance to 0. Mystics do not have a resistance trait.
If you have selected an Adventurer Speciality you may spend 7 + strength points improving your skills. You must also apply strength points to your resistance and set your essence to 0. Adventurers do not have an essence trait.
If you have selected an Academic Speciality you may spend EITHER 7 + strength OR 7 + willpower points purchasing Academic skills. You must set both your essence and your resistance to 0.
Give 3 points to the most important skill, and 2 points each to the two next most important skills. Add a single point to each of the remaining skills until all points are spent.
You can usually assume you have an unlimited number of general skills (like running, brawling, etc.) at 1 point whether specified on your character sheet or not. More specialised skills (such as piloting a plane, manoeuvring a submersible, speaking a foreign language etc) will need to be listed on your sheet or purchased. The exact nature of what constitutes a generic or specialised skill is left to the discretion of the GM.
There is no dodge skill to allow players to dodge during combat in this game and players should not attempt to create one. Attempts to get out of the way are built into the dice roll and no modifiers apply. A dodge skill does exist for the purposes of navigating obstacles during a chase etc.
No skill at character creation may be increased beyond four points initially.
Example (Skills and points)
Jake Stead (Gavin’s character)
Jake Stead has a strength of 4. This gives him a total of 11 points to spend. His skills brawling, shooting, mechanical repair, boating, lock-picking, safe-cracking, bypassing alarms, acrobatics, and sneaking.
Malefice, Mistress of the Mystical Arts (Beth’s character)
Malefice has a willpower of 4. This gives her a total of 11 points to spend. Her skills include cold-reading, stage magic and illusions, occult knowledge, mind reading, hypnosis, and the binding of spirits.
Dr Herbivore (Michael’s character)
Dr Herbivore has a willpower and strength of 3 each. This gives him a total of 10 points to spend. His skills include hiding in plain sight, establishing and using social contacts, impressing people, encryption, deciphering ancient languages, chemistry, and swordsmanship.
|Deciphering ancient languages||xxx|
|Hiding in plain sight||x|
The exact nature of the skills needs to be approved by the GM as well as how they work. With a system of skill invention that is so free-form, skills need to be approved to prevent them from throwing off the balance of the game. Players need to also be aware that some modification of the skill may be required in-game to prevent the invented skills from giving players an undue advantage.
Also available to characters are a set of generic skills. These skills are used by characters to attempt actions.
General skills can be purchased right away. Characters add their strength and willpower to determine the number of points available to them for spending on generic skills.
Generic skills include bluff, catch, climb, drive vehicle (untrained – max additional points 1), firearm (untrained – max additional points 1), first aid, hand to hand (untrained – max additional points 1), hide, bludgeon (untrained – max additional points 1), jump, lift/carry/crush/bend, perception, persuade, ride (untrained – max additional points 1), run, search, sneak, throw, and swim.
A few skills are marked “untrained”. The generic skills so marked give players the opportunity to use firearms etc. without having been trained in their use. A player with the firearms (untrained) skill can pick up an unfamiliar weapon and fire it (but would not be able to field strip and maintain it). Likewise bludgeon (untrained) allows a player to pick up a tree branch etc. and attack someone effectively but will not allow them to do much more. Skills identified as “untrained” can only be increased by one point and no more. They cannot be advanced further in the game without becoming an archetype skill (see advancement). If you wish to give an untrained skill a higher level of competency it needs to become one of your archetype skills.
The x’s beside the general skills indicate that character’s already have 1 point assigned to them in each skill by default. For each spending point available the character may add one dot to a skill.
Radio heroes are assumed to be capable of almost anything so you can add any generic skill at 1 point to your list at any time. Skills that are more specific, however should be handled as Archetype skills.
Examples (General Skills)
Jake Stead (Gavin’s character)
Jake has 4 strength and 3 willpower giving him 7 more points to spend on general skills. He spends 2 each on bluff and perception, and 1 each on climb, jump, and swim.
|Drive vehicle (untrained)||xxooo||ooooo|
|Hand to hand (untrained)||xxooo||ooooo|
Malefice, Mistress of the Mystic Arts (Beth’s character)
Malefice has 3 strength and 4 willpower giving her 7 points to spend on general skills. She spends 2 each on bluff, perception, and persuade, and 1 point on first aid.
|Drive vehicle (untrained)||xoooo||ooooo|
|Hand to hand (untrained)||xoooo||ooooo|
Dr Herbivore (Michael’s character)
Dr Herbivore has 3 strength and 3 willpower giving him 6 points to spend on general skills. He spends 2 each on sneak and run, and adds one each to hand-to-hand and drive vehicle.
|Drive vehicle (untrained)||xxooo||ooooo|
|Hand to hand (untrained)||xxooo||ooooo|
Once skill points have been distributed initial character generation is complete.
Subskills and Maneauvers
If you have an archetype skill that you think would allow for special sub-skills (signature moves in combat or special stunts in driving or piloting a plane etc.) You can permanently spend a hero point to buy three signature actions. These actions are mostly flavour but you can add one skill point to each and use them during play.
For example, if you are a martial artist with a Kung Fu skill of 3 points you could spend 1 hero point to create three signature moves/ subskills that each have the same points as the master skill (kung fu) plus one (or 4 points). You can then give them interesting names such as…
“Tiger’s claw” (a slashing blow that does 3 points of piercing damage).
“Feet of the whirlwind” (a flurry of blows that do 2 points of clubbing damage rather than the ususal 1).
and “Destructive Boulder Blow” (that lets you smash any non-living item if your attack is targeted).
You will need to negotiate the benefit of the move with your GM.
Alternatively you might invent a number of signature moves for driving…
“Tilt” (drive on two wheels as easily as four, in order to fit in narrow spaces)
“Jump” (jump the vehicle over pits etc.)
and “Reverse” (drive a vehicle backwards with as much speed and skill as forwards).
See “Using Signature Moves” in the next chapter.
Step 6. Equip the character
There is no need to spend points to obtain general gear. Generally speaking, your character can be assumed to be carrying any easily obtained items that would fit with their character archetype. Record the main items (anything specific that you wish to keep track of) but you can assume the presence of common items such as matches, torches, passports etc. For equipment ideas take a look at the worldbook. You will also want to look at special items (below) if you have a character archetype that creates things (gadgeteer, artificer, inventor, alchemist etc). Note that items like Geiger counters or other specialist equipment do need to be purchased (as do area weapons, armor, and vehicles).
Many items are very similar in terms of their statistics and effect. This means that they have no effective differences in game terms and are more a matter of flavour (allowing them to be customized to your character without greatly effecting play).
Weapons are of five types…
|Hand to hand||1 wound|
|Rocks (thrown or fired)||1 wound (2 if skilled)|
|Blades and projectiles||3 wounds|
|Area Weapons||4 wounds|
With one exception (see below) it costs you nothing to equip yourself with weapons.
A whip is a form of club as is a baseball bat with nails sticking out of it and do the same amount of damage.
A knife is a blade, as is a chainsaw and they likewise do the same damage.
A blow gun does the same damage as a sub-machine gun.
To purchase an area weapon as equipment you must permanently sacrifice one Hero Point.
At one level this may seem unrealistic (and it is) but, in the cinematic world of radio-adventure, it does allow you to select highly flavoursome gear that is customized to your character without being disadvantaged as a result.
Likewise armor is either strong (taking 6 points of damage before being rendered useless) or medium (taking 4 points of damage) or weak (taking 2 points of damage). These strengths are relative and allow a significant amount of flavourful description. A mechanical battlesuit is strong armor and so is a medieval suit of armor. A flack jacket is medium armor, as is hanging sheets of metal about your neck and wearing a Ned Kelly mask. Weak armor might encompass anything from padding through to a helmet and gauntlets (that provide minor amounts of protection). Area weapons render all armor weak.
Armor costs one hero point for each increasing type from weak, through medium and heavy armor. This is a permanent loss to your maximum hero points to be calculated and recorded before play.
Because armor takes damage of its own you will want to record how many wound points it has. Armor can be repaired between adventures. While it can be regularly damaged to the point of ineffectiveness, it is almost never lost.
The ownership of a vehicle costs one hero point per level (above person powered) that is obtained. Vehicles are similarly simplified into types based on speed from fastest to slowest and speed within the types (fast, medium, slow)
|Ships, and aircraft||fast|
|Carriages (cars or trains), boats, submersibles, and motor bikes||fast|
|horse drawn wagons||fast|
A slow rocket is still faster than a fast aircraft etc. but vehicles of the same type are considered of the same speed for the purposes of play. As a result a rickshaw and a bicycle are both considered medium person powered vehicles. A surrey drawn by a single horse is considered a slow horse drawn wagon while a stage coach with a team of six horses is considered fast. A train is considered fast or slow depending on whether it is steam driven etc. A race car is faster than a Packard which is faster than a Model T. Since these matters are relative the GM will determine their relative value during chases etc.
Armor (as applied to vehicles) effect the speed and wounds of the vehicle. All vehicles have a base armor rating or base wounds.
Vehicles of different types have different base armor values.. Bicycles, motorcycles, jet-skies, motorised sleds, etc. 5 armor points.
Cars motor boats, vans, jeeps, etc. 10 armor points.
Lorries, caravans, barges, tugboats, light aircraft, etc. 15 armor points.
Long haul trucks, tanks, military patrol boats, heavy aircraft, and rockets, etc. 20 armor points
Heavy armor reduces the speed two ranks but adds six to the wounds. Medium armor reduces the speed one rank and adds four to the wounds. Light armor reduces speed by one rank and adds two to wounds.
A slow rocket with heavy armor is therefore slower than a medium aircraft and can keep pace with slow aircraft.
To Armor a vehicle will require you to spend one additional hero point per rank of armor you wish the vehicle to have.
Please note that spending hero points to purchase armor reduces the maximum level of your hero points permanently.
Make sure you record your hero point expenditure and the wound rating of any vehicle you purchase. If your vehicle is destroyed you may be able to receive hero points equal to its creation-value that you can spend to replace it or use as standard hero points in future. Repairs can be undertaken between adventures.
Example (Owning a car)
If your character begins with six hero points and you decide he/she owns a medium-armored race-car, your character’s hero points are reduced to 2 (2 points to buy the car and two points to add medium armor) and cannot be increased above two while the car is in your possession. The car itself has 14 wounds and is of medium speed (assuming it was of fast speed to begin with).
Specialist gear is that which is not obviously part of a character’s ordinary equipment. A chemist might have a portable chemistry lab, but a journalist probably does not.
Players may add specialist gear (gear normally considered outside their field of expertise) to the character sheet by permanently spending hero points during this step.
For every point spent they may add 1 item of specialist gear.
Jake Stead (Gear)
Jake Stead still owns his childhood slingshot, a fast motorcycle, two nickel plated automatics, a set of lock picks, and a locket which holds pictures of his parents. All of these items are available at no cost except the motorcycle. A fast motorcycle costs a permanent reduction in Jake’s available hero points by two. The motorcycle has a standard 7 wound points.
Dr Herbivore (Gear)
Dr Herbivore still owns his first telescope, a bound collection of the works of Plato and Aristotle, a portable chemistry lab, a portable language library, a sword-cane and his PhD certification.
Malefice owns a mystic talisman she received from her Grandmother (just jewelery without any powers of its own), a protective bracelet she received from Volara, a crystal ball, tarot cards, knives, and poisons. The talisman received from Volara counts as weak armor and costs Malefice one hero point. It does allow her to absorb two extra wounds of damage in combat.
NEXT TIME: Part 5 – Special Skills (Gadgeteering, Weird Science, and Magic).
This chapter of the Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama RPG and all associated content (except where acknowledged) is © copyright weirdworldstudios.com and Philip Craig Robotham 1997 and may not be reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author.
HYOOTRD Roleplaying Game – Players’ Guide
- Chapter 1 – What is Roleplaying?
- Chapter 2 – Preparation for Play (What you’ll need and an introduction to the World of Radio Adventure)
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 1 – Introduction and Character sheet
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 2 – Specialities, Archetypes, Base Attributes and Derived Attributes
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 3 – Character background and history
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 4 – Character skills and equipment (including weapons, vehicles, and specialist gear)
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 5 – Special items and abilities (including gadgeteering, weird science, and magic)
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 6 – Special conditions effecting characters (including illness and injury, insanity, mutation, mechanization, undeath, disembodiment, reanimation, , vampirism, lycanthropy, and necrophagy)
- Chapter 4 – Getting Things Done – Part 1 – Skill types and skill ranks
- Chapter 4 – Getting Things Done – Part 2 – Consequence tests, perception, contests, special skills and abilities, hero points and skill advancement
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 1 – Melee and ranged combat, combat actions, the combat board, and a combat cheat sheet
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 2 – Print and play components
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 3 – Physical combat (melee and ranged combat) example
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 4 – Magical combat example
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 5 – Vehicular combat example, injury, and recovery
- Chapter 6 – Chases – Part 1 – Chases and chase actions
- Chapter 6 – Chases – Part 2 – Chase example
- Chapter 7 – Death-traps, hazards, and puzzles
- Chapter 8 – Victory and death – Heroic deaths, cheating the odds, plot devices, experience and advancement