KeyForge Genesys Part 2: The Skill List

Part 2 of the KeyForge Genesys Series.

Part 1: Introduction and Character Creation

The Crucible’s melting pot of cultures and habitats lends advantage to adventurers who can master a diverse array of skills. The wide disparity of technology between the Houses, combined with a history of cross-pollination, have resulted in the specialties of one civilisation finding adepts amongst the ranks of all cultures. At the same time, communicating with aliens remains a struggle to all except the Archons, and even masters in their field may struggle when presented with entirely unfamiliar materials.

Keyforge uses a sub-set of the Genesys skill list, with two notable exceptions: three new Knowledge skills have been created to reflect the unique challenges of understanding the Crucible and its inhabitants; and 11 skills have been designated as House skills, which imposes additional difficulties when interacting with peoples or technology from Houses beside your own.

See the skill list below, with the corresponding attribute marked alongside it, and House skills also marked accordingly:

 

GENERAL SKILLS
Athletics (Br)
Cool (Pr)
Coordination (Ag)
Discipline (Wp)
Mechanics (Int) – House Skill
Medicine (Int) – House Skill
Perception (Cu)
Piloting (Ag) – House Skill
Resilience (Br)
Skulduggery (Cu) – House Skill
Stealth (Ag)
Survival (Cu) – House Skill
Vigilance (Wp)

COMBAT SKILLS
Brawl (Br)
Gunnery (Ag)
Melee (Br)
Ranged (Ag)

KNOWLEDGE SKILLS
Architecture (Int) – House Skill
Culture (Int) – House Skill
Theory (Int)

SOCIAL SKILLS
Charm (Pr) – House Skill
Coercion (Wp) – House Skill
Deception (Cu) – House Skill
Leadership (Pr) – House Skill
Negotiation (Pr) – House Skill

 

THE LANGUAGE BARRIER

Skills marked as “House Skills” are essentially collections of several sub-skills, representing the different ways that skill is used by the seven Houses. When a character uses a House skill in the fashion of their parent house – as determined by the GM, with reference to the guidance for each of the House skills, below – they apply no special rules. However, when a character uses a House skill in a way that is outside the remit of their House, the difficulty of that skill check is upgraded twice.

Each House has one House skill which they have complete aptitude for, applying no difficulty upgrades when they use any of the possible applications of this skill. This is detailed in the breakdown of House skills below. It is also possible for species choice (specifically human), talents (such as the Witch talent) and group resources (the patronage of an Archon) to reduce these skill penalties. (The latter of these will be explained in a subsequent post!)

 

NEW HOUSE SKILL: ARCHITECTURE

Though the process by which many alien worlds have come to be combined together in the Crucible is poorly understood, most credit its construction to the enigmatic “Architects”, invisible creators of seeming limitless power. As random as the fusing process might seem, evidence of intelligent design is everywhere – all creatures brought to the Crucible can survive in its habitat, if only by learning to account for its many unpredictable dangers. Architecture measures a character’s familiarity with the Architect’s work, their knowledge of how its many habitats connect to one another, and what to find when you arrive in a new area. It demonstrates how familiar a character is with the cities, villages and wilderness locales of the Citadel, and how well they keep up-to-date with the changes over time.

Your character should use this skill if:

  • You need to know where the nearest city is, or the nearest settlement where representatives of a given House can be found.
  • You want to be forewarned about the unique dangers waiting for you in a given wilderness region.
  • You want to find a shortcut on a long journey, or plot a route that skirts around an enemy encampment or dangerous terrain.
  • You want to have heard about a new Vault recently discovered by an Archon.
  • You want to access the superstructure between the separate layers of the Crucible, and enter the Underworld of Dis.

Your character should not use this skill if:

  • You want to endure a long, hard journey without exhaustion – for that, use Resilience.
  • You are needing to adapt to a wilderness setting by building a shelter or natural defences – Architecture only tells you what’s there, Survival is required to improvise in response to it.
  • You’re looking for information about the people who live in an area – Culture tells you about people, Survival about non-sentients.

Architecture is a House skill. If you are using it to find information about the territory of your House, you suffer no penalty – if looking for information about the territory of a different House, you upgrade the difficulty twice. The exception is the devotees of House Dis, whose underworld dominion mirrors the entirety of the surface world above, and gives them incredible insights into the civilisations erected by the other Houses. Characters from House Dis do not upgrade the difficulty twice when using Architecture for information about other Houses’ territory.

 

NEW HOUSE SKILL: CULTURE

Whilst Architecture might tell you about the places where people live, Culture is the key for understanding the people who actually live there. It provides information about how societies structure themselves, who is and isn’t doing well for themselves, and what changes are on the horizon. Influencing social change all falls under the remit of social skills, and you need skills like Cool and Vigilance to get a read of a specific person, but Culture is the skill for knowledge about people as a whole.

Your character should use this skill if:

  • You’re canvassing for information by catching up on local gossip.
  • You have to check if you recognise someone famous, notorious or important.
  • You need insight into how a specific House, or other organisation, likes to conduct business and structure its membership.
  • You’re trying to remember details of a religious practice, historical event or folk story.
  • You’re testing to see if you know-a-guy who can help, or know-a-guy-who-knows-a-guy.

Your character should not use this skill if:

  • You’re getting information from a specific person – use Charm, Coercion or other Social skills.
  • You want to know technical information – use Mechanics to know about technology, or Medicine to know about biology or biochemistry, etc.

Culture is a House skill, primarily demonstrating your familiarity with your own House’s Culture. If you need information about another House’s Culture, upgrade the difficulty of the check twice. Sometimes, information that wouldn’t require a test for members of a House might require a low difficulty check for characters outside that House.

 

NEW SKILL: THEORY

Whilst Architecture and Culture reflect a character’s knowledge of places and people, and Mechanics and Medicine are practical skills that show a character’s ability to build and heal, Theory demonstrates knowledge of something more ephemeral. It is the study of things that are poorly understood, still on the cutting edge of scientific understanding, subject to no small amount of guesswork. Theory is your ability to come up with a hypothesis on the fly with limited information; it definitely benefits from a background in academia, but it also relies on intuition and a trustworthy gut. Unlike other Knowledge skills, Theory is not a House skill, since it covers topics no Houses have managed to achieve understanding of. It concerns the greatest mysteries of the Crucible and the universe.

Your character should use this skill if:

  • You are speculating on the nature, capabilities and motivations of aember, keys, vaults, Architects, Archons and the Crucible itself.
  • You are experimenting with souls, spirits, alternate dimensions or time travel.
  • You’re solving a complex riddle or puzzle (your GM may use this to help you work out “what’s really going on” in scenarios where you are struggling to unravel a conspiracy).
  • You are poking at something which is, to all intents and purposes, magic.

Your character should not use this skill if:

  • You are communicating with magical beings – Social skills handle that as normal, though Theory might help you find a way to communicate with them.
  • You are creating something practical – Mechanics is the normal crafting skill, though you might use Medicine to breed something, or Survival to craft from natural materials.
  • You’re trying to understand something from another House, no matter how alien, ungodly or weird it might seem to you – that’s usually just a Culture test.

 

HOUSE SKILL: MECHANICS

Mechanics is the ability to build, tweak and repair pieces of technology – from gadgets and personal weapons, up to vehicles and buildings. It’s useful for patching up damage, and for pushing a device to do something it wasn’t originally designed to do. For especially advanced technology, like cutting edge computer networks, you might require a Mechanics test to even USE the machine.

Mechanics is a House skill. If using the skill to do something outside the remit of your House (below), the difficulty of your test is upgraded twice.

Brobnar: forging weapons and armour; making something bigger, louder or more dangerous; creating a crude cybernetic prosthetic; fixing up a motorsteed, warship or other large vehicle; other Brobnar technology.
Dis: imp repair; making something hotter or sharper; building a torture device; operating a “black iron” factory furnace; other Dis technology.
Logos: ALL.
Mars: building a giant robot or artificial habitat; flying saucer engineering; operating a teleporter or mind control device; ray gun customisation; other Mars technology.
Sanctum: power armour customisation; masonry; blacksmithing; fortification; other Sanctum technology.
Shadows: stealth emitter customisation; faerie repair and reprogramming; modifications to non-advanced technology scavenged from anyone else.
Untamed: patching up shelters and rigging advanced booby traps (basic examples can use Survival, but Mechanics is required for complicated set-ups).

 

HOUSE SKILL: MEDICINE

You use the Medicine skill to heal allies from injury (assuming they’re more biological than mechanical), but also to diagnose poisons and illnesses, and use drugs and chemicals to treat patients. Since Medicine measures your character’s working knowledge of poisons and intoxicants, it can also be used for less scrupulous purposes!

Medicine is a House skill – upgrade the difficulty of tests twice when appropriate.

Brobnar: healing giants and goblins; installing crude cybernetic prosthetics; emergency battlefield surgery, without anaesthetic.
Dis: healing demons; inducing nightmarish hallucinogenic visions.
Logos: healing humans and gene-mutants; genetic engineering.
Mars: healing martians and giant monster kaiju; cloning and genetic engineering; brewing and administering combat drugs and poisonous gas; brain surgery.
Sanctum: ALL.
Shadows: healing Svarr elves; brewing and administering poisons.
Untamed: healing animals; herbal remedies; identifying poisonous wildlife; inducing calming hallucinogenic visions.

 

HOUSE SKILL: PILOTING

The Piloting skill is used to operate any form of mechanical transportation – from personal jetpacks, to bikes, to flying saucers. Any form of driving that isn’t relying on your own legs or wings, or that of another animal, falls under the Piloting skill.

Piloting is a House skill, and you upgrade the difficulty twice when driving anything not from your House. This may mean that routine Piloting actions that wouldn’t usually require tests when using a vehicle from your own House may require a check if using another House’s transport.

Brobnar: riding a motorsteed; sailing a warship.
Dis: commanding a demon engine.
Logos: operating rocket boots.
Mars: ALL.
Sanctum: flying with “angel wings” powered armour; riding a jetbike.
Shadows: riding a skimmer bike.
Untamed: flying a custom-built flight suit.

 

HOUSE SKILL: SKULDUGGERY

Getting access to something you’re not supposed to, along with general sleight of hand, all falls under the remit of the Skulduggery skill. Most thieves steal from the society that shelters them, and learn familiarity with that culture’s security systems. The House of Shadows are an exception – to them, the whole world is a potential mark.

Skulduggery is not a House skill when access basic lock-and-key security systems, or when testing manual dexterity. Only when testing your burglary skills against a House’s specialist security systems does it qualify as a House skill – the below details what kinds of security you can test to disarm with the skill.

Brobnar: massive booby traps that drop fire/lava/rockslides on top of people whilst usually causing collateral damage.
Dis: curses, hauntings and other sorcerous precautions.
Logos: computer antiviruses; heat and motion sensors; digital surveillance; anti-hacking protocols for robots.
Mars: self-destruct devices; squawker alarms; security gadgets; mind control devices; anti-hacking protocols for giant robots.
Sanctum: spirit-sealed locks and fortress gates.
Shadows: ALL.
Untamed: nets, pits and other booby traps made from natural materials.

 

HOUSE SKILL: SURVIVAL

With so much of the Crucible an uncharted wilderness of overlapping alien biomes, Survival skills are essential to safely navigate terrain, build shelters, and identify plants and animals. It’s also used for taming or domesticating wild animals and genetically engineered super-predators, assuming you don’t possess the magical abilities to use social skills for this purpose!

Survival is a House skill, reflecting your ability to survive in your House’s normal wilderness habitats. Outside of those areas, in the unmarked territory of other Houses, you upgrade the difficulty of the test twice.

Brobnar: mountaineering; taming a dragon.
Dis: surviving the underworld of Dis and its subterranean creatures.
Logos: exploring alternate dimensions, pocket universes and time vortices; handling cyborg or mutant animals.
Mars: desert survival; controlling Martian hounds and giant kaiju monsters.
Sanctum: woodland survival; identifying sky creatures; horse riding.
Shadows: urban survival (getting by on the street, finding criminal opportunities, sleeping rough, finding a shady alley when you need one); taming vermin and snakes.
Untamed: ALL.

 

SOCIAL SKILLS

All Social skills – Charm, Coercion, Deception, Leadership and Negotiation – rely, to at least some extent, on your target’s ability to understand what you’re saying. Whilst body language, confidence, reputation and a good translator can get you so far, talking is the key to get what you want out of most social situations, and if the ally you’re encouraging (or mark you’re playing) doesn’t speak your language fluently, that can be a significant obstacle.

For this reason, all Social skills are House skills, with a specialty in using your skills against other members of your House. If you want to use a Social skill against a target from a House different to your own, upgrade the difficulty of your test twice.

The exception to this is House Brobnar. Whilst other Houses have become masters of technology or crime or whatever else, House Brobnar have carefully nurtured their reputation as ferocious warriors and enforcers. Brobnar adventurers invariably hone their appearance to emphasise this point, wearing bold tattoos and carrying massive weaponry to ensure that their physical skills are never underestimated. In short, they are masters of looking very very scary without having to say all that much.

Characters from House Brobnar have complete aptitude in the Coercion skill, and do not upgrade the difficulty twice when using Coercion on targets from other Houses.

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