3.2.1 – Vital Skills

Depending on the game setting, vital skills might be open to all characters or (when the setting allows magical forces) confined to characters with exceptional vital attributes. Thus the skills below might be considered to be the natural development of a character’s willpower or the supernatural development of a character’s magical abilities. Yet, even in magical settings, the narrator might rule that magical skills can be learned by anyone.

Most vital attributes are used to modify attributes in other categories, and therefore the skills attached to those attributes. But, in game settings that allow magic (that is, magic that’s granted not by innate attributes but by learned spells, rituals, and formulas) some vital skills can create effects on their own. These effects are necessarily exceptional in character, beyond normal human capabilities.

Note that exceptional abilities which are innate to the character would be handled as attributes. Skills are, by nature, learned abilities. When the below abilities are expressed as attributes, they are restricted in their duration by PERSISTENCE.

And, since they rely so much on the particulars of the game setting, the descriptions of many of the vital skill below are necessarily vague and the range is limited. They serve primarily to guide the narrator (and players) in specifying skill for the setting they’re playing.

Vital Basics.

Chaos Management – maintaining one’s COMPOSURE in physically chaotic situations, like group combat, stampedes, powerful storms, etc. Relies heavily on CONCENTRATION.

Vital Calm – Achieving a state of abnormal calm, affecting CONTROL, POISE, COMPOSURE, and CONCENTRATION. Applied to the character himself, this can exist in non-exceptional settings, but applied to others it is necessarily an exceptional skill.

Vital Recovery – Improving the rate of recovering from disadvantages. Must be specified by whether the attributes to be recovered are vital, physical, social, or mental. Applied to the character himself, this can exist in non-exceptional settings, but applied to others it is necessarily an exceptional skill.

Vital Stealth. Concealing one’s actions using willpower or supernatural powers. This can include magically covering one’s tracks, concealing the character’s motives, or making the character invisible. It can also involve applying sheer will to efforts toward concealment.

There are multiple ways to specify vital stealth skills. One way is to make the effect convey absolute concealment (total invisibility, inaudibility, etc.) rather than partial concealment. Per the narrator’s game setting specifications, when action roll success conveys absolute concealment the skill should be harder to advance with experience.

Another key way a vital stealth skill can be specified is by whether the skill conceals only the character himself or herself, or can also be extended to others. Likewise, these skills can be specified to conceal only the character or be extended to the character’s secondary effects. For example, a specified skill could mean that the character can make only his or her own body and items touching the body invisible, or that only melee effects (thrown object or magical attacks at a distance) can be made invisible.

Conceal Sight – This skill allows characters to conceal visual detection of their bodies or the physical effects of their bodies. A specified, exceptional variant might be to eliminate the visual effect of magical melee attacks, like cancelling the visual glow of an attack. An obvious exceptional variant is physical invisibility, targeting mental attributes like AWARENESS and PERCEPTION, but it could also target the social attribute FAMILIARITY, making the character unrecognizable. Non-exceptional varieties are necessarily limited by the character’s realistic abilities, and are harder to advance.

Conceal Sound – This skill allows characters to conceal audial detection of their bodies or the physical effects of their bodies. A specified, exceptional variant might be to eliminate the audible effect of magical melee attacks, like cancelling the crackling sound of an attack. Another variant could be to conceal the character’s voice on the phone or radio. Non-exceptional varieties are necessarily limited by the character’s realistic abilities, and are harder to advance.

Conceal Touch – This skill allows characters to conceal tactile detection of their bodies or the physical effects of their bodies. This can improve pickpocketing, hiding one’s tracks, or provide an anesthetic effect to surgery to reduce or eliminate pain.

Conceal Motive – This skill assists social action rolls that require the target not to perceive the character’s social manipulation.

Vital Combat. These skills are necessarily exceptional, as they create effects through supernatural means. Causing disadvantages to other characters or objects. Disadvantages are NRP’s way of measuring things like physical damage, reductions in attributes, and other restrictions imposed on character. While physical combat is largely confined to physical disadvantages, vital combat can target social, mental, or other vital attributes. Like physical combat, vital combat can be at a distance or require the character to touch the target.

Vital Melee Combat – Because this is innately specified by having to touch the target, it is easier to advance than vital missile combat. This skill must be specified by the attribute disadvantaged or, if the effect simulates physical combat, the type of disadvantage: puncture, laceration, bruising, breaking, burns, etc. Note that the type of disadvantage does not affect the amount of disadvantage caused, making all vital combat skills comparable.

Vital Missile Combat – Because this makes it easier to affect targets without touching them, it is harder to advance than vital melee combat. The greater the range, the harder it is to advance. This skill must be specified by the attribute disadvantaged and, if the effect simulates physical combat, the type of disadvantage: puncture, laceration, bruising, breaking, burns, etc. As with vital melee combat, the type of disadvantage does not affect the amount of disadvantage caused, making all vital combat skills comparable.

Vital Movement. These skills are necessarily exceptional, as they create effects through supernatural means. Moving in ways not available to normal humans. This can include flying, teleportation, and increasing the character’s PACE.

Flight – Mirroring normal modes of travel, this skill is given its own FORCE (affecting how much the character may carry), ENDURANCE, PACE, SPEED modifiers.

Teleportation – Like flight, teleportation can have its own FORCE attribute modifying how much the character can teleport. As an alternative, the skill can be specified to allow teleportation only of the character and what he or she could normally carry. Unlike flight, teleportation is immediate. Range can affect both frequency of use and ease of advancement.

Motion – Imbuing normally immobile targets with the power to move. This can be specified by plants, inanimate objects, or even corpses. This does not allow the character to control this movement, which would require a vital command skill or attribute (see below for the skill). When not commanded, targets imbued with vital motion must be assumed by the narrator to have drives of their own, upon which they will act.

Rapidity – This skill temporarily improves PACE. This can be specified so that only the character himself or herself is affected.

Vital Negotiation.

Episode – Evoking an extreme emotion in oneself for a limited time. This must be specified by emotion, but also can be specified by drive. A good example of this is the infamous berserker rage.

Command – [EXC] Controlling the behavior of other creatures. Generally, this only allows the target to perform actions normally within their abilities. In order to act unusually would require the commanding character to use a vital movement attribute or skill to affect the commanded creature’s abilities. This skill can be specified by the type of creature commanded, the character’s drive served, or the character’s goal in the situation, like killing or capturing a foe, crossing an obstacle, or finding a piece of information.

Heart Reading – [EXC] Modifying social action rolls by accessing another’s drives and emotions via supernatural powers.

Vital Investigation.

Divination – [EXC] Gaining information about the past and present through supernatural means. This skill can be specified by the source of information, the field of information, the method through which the information is gained, or even the drive that the divination serves. As an example of a maximally specified form of divination, the character might only be able to divine information about enemies, using gems, after a minute-long ritual, while serving the character’s loyalty to religion. Of course, the more specified the skill, the easier it is to advance.

Mind Reading – [EXC] Modifying mental action rolls by accessing another’s ideas via supernatural powers.

Prognostication – [EXC] Gaining information about the future through supernatural means. This is a tricky proposition, to be handled carefully by the narrator. Specific guidance is provided in the narrator chapters. In general, information gained through prophecy is confined to sensations or metaphors that are difficult to interpret. This skill must be specified by the format the prophecy takes, for example short poems like those delivered by Nostradamus or the Oracle of Delphi, terse warnings that hint at the story’s situation (like “Beware the Lord of Halfmorton!”), or montages of quick images and sounds.

Vital Speech – [EXC] Communicating with abnormal sources of information as if they were normal human beings. This must be specified by the source: the dead, stones, plants, animals. It can also be specified to confine the information to what might be available to the source itself. If unspecified, the source might reveal what it has learned by communicating with other dead souls, other stones, etc.

Vital Creation.

Assistance – Modifying creation rolls to improve crafting success.

Summoning – [EXC] Creating creatures (animals or plants) using vital powers. This does not necessarily confine the summoned creature’s attitude toward the character; this would require a second, social action roll, perhaps a vital command roll. It also does not allow plants to move, which would require a vital motion roll. The more influential the summoned creature, clearly, the more difficult the summoning action roll. This skill can be specified significantly by the type of creature summoned, or by whether the the summoned creature is temporary or permanent.

Generation – [EXC] Creating object using vital powers. These are normal objects, and can only be imbued with supernatural powers with a second enchantment roll (see the skill below). This skill should be specified by the type of object generated and whether the object is temporary or permanent.

Enchantment – [EXC] Imbuing others (animals, plants, objects) with supernatural powers. This must be specified by the type of object affected, the type of effect, and whether the effect is temporary or permanent. Obviously, the more general these specifications, the more difficult they are achieved and advanced.