3.2.2 – Physical Skills

Physical skills can be learned either individually, through observation and/or practice, or under the tutelage of professionals or even professional organizations. Of course, the latter is easier to advance, as one can learn from the errors of others. The narrator can even establish specific guilds or schools to train specific sets of physical skills.

There are two types of physical skills: combat and movement. Note, however, that crafting skills (q.v.) are  physically executed by way of social or mental attributes. Physical skills can also be affected by other attributes, but crafting skills are not counted among physical skills because of a necessary and relatively strong influence from non-physical attributes.

Combat. [PRI onward] There are two basic modes of combat, melee in which the character (or a weapon held by the character) has to make physical contact with the target, and missile in which the character propels a weapon toward the target. Because humans have instincts to both punch and throw, missile skills are not harder to advance in than melee skills, although it is harder to hit things at a distance.

Combat skills taken by characters are organized by the physical motion of attack and specified by weapon and tech level. The penalties for learning or using different weapons or different tech levels of the same skill are less consequential when the weapon uses essentially the same motion, javelins and thrown spears for example, or simply incorporate better tech, as in the transition from stone-tipped spears to bronze and then iron and steel.

Note that certain weapons can require multiple skills. For example, thrusting a sword and slashing with it require two separate skills.

Missile attacks.

Thrown – This applies to missiles thrown straight with intent to puncture. This includes spears, javelins, and darts.

Cast – This applies to missiles cast with a spinning motion of the arm, with intent to puncture, lacerate, bruise, break, or capture. This includes daggers, clubs, axes, bolas, nets, slings, and atlatls.

Pointed – This applies to missile weapons aimed toward the target. This includes bows, crossbows, and guns.

Melee attacks, thrust.

Thrust, short – This applies to short melee attacks thrust at the target. This includes headbutts, fists, elbows, feet, knees, short clubs and axes, daggers, knives, and short swords.

Thrust, medium – This applies to medium-length melee attacks thrust at the target. This includes long swords, long clubs, and long axes.

Thrust, long – This applies to long melee attacks thrust at the target. This includes staves, spears, lances, pikes, and other pole-arms.

Melee attacks, swung.

Swung, short – This applies to short melee attacks swung at the target. This includes headbutts, fists, elbows, feet, knees, short clubs and axes, daggers, knives, and short swords.

Swung, medium – This applies to medium-length melee attacks swung at the target. This includes long swords, long clubs, and long axes.

Swung, long – This applies to long melee attacks swung at the target. This includes staves and pole-arms.

Wrestling. These skills are usually attempts to maneuver the opponent rather damage them, although damage may result.

Shoving – This applies to all attempts to move opponents away, including to topple them off their feet, using hands, feet, knees, elbows, shoulders, or even a weapon or other object. The primary attribute affecting attempts to shove is FORCE, but other physical attributes, and even social and mental attributes that help the character read the opponent’s mood and intention. Note that shoving can also be a part of combat with weapons, as when a swordsman takes an opportunity to shove an opponent with over a precipice with a quick thrust of the hip.

Flinging – This applies to all attempts to move opponents to one side or another by grasping at them, including to topple them off their feet, using hands, arms, feet (tripping), legs, teeth, or even a weapon or other object. The primary attribute affecting attempts to fling is GRIP, but other physical attributes, and even social and mental attributes that help the character read the opponent’s mood and intention. Note that flinging can also be a part of combat with weapons, as when a warrior wielding a staff levers an opponent aside.

Grappling – This applies to holding opponents to control their bodies by grasping at them, including to immobile them, force them to the ground, throttle them, or enable other attacks. The primary attribute affecting attempts to grapple is GRIP, but other physical attributes, and even social and mental attributes that help the character read the opponent’s mood and intention. Note that grappling can also be a part of combat with weapons, as when a rifleman wraps his weapon around the throat of an enemy.

Maneuver. This subset of combat skills modify combat actions. Maneuver rolls thus precede combat rolls. These skills can be included as part of specific fighting schools. Note that these skills can be assumed by the narrator (with insistence from the players) to be above ignorance level of advancement, based on the characters’ experience with combat.

Clip. Unlike other maneuver skills, this skill involves a form of minimal shoving after the attack, intended to disrupt the opponent’s next attack. Thus, the clipping action roll takes place after the combat roll, and modifies the next combat roll. This can be combined with other maneuver actions, rolled before the next attack.

Disengage. This skill involves creating distance between the character and the opponent, to delay the next combat roll. A successful disengage roll nullifies the effect of any clipping action roll. It also provides a bonus, non-combat action roll to both players in preparation for the next combat action.

Feint. This skill modifies stealth action rolls intended to deceive the target as to the character’s next attack.

Flank. This skill is intended to put the character in an advantageous position to attack the opponent.

Mirror. This skill enables the character to match the opponent’s fighting style, applying the result of the mirroring action roll to the subsequent combat roll. Can be modified by AFFINITY, EMPATHY, COMPASSION, SHARPNESS, AWARENESS, PERCEPTION, and WIT.

Parry. This entirely defensive skill enables a preparation roll, modified by relevant social and mental attributes, to grant the character a modifier against the opponent’s attack. The result of the following combat roll cannot involve disadvantage to the opponent.

Riposte. This skill involves a deflection of the opponent’s attack in preparation for the character’s own attack. It requires two combat rolls. If the riposting character succeeds in the first attack, he or she gets a subsequent bonus attack roll.

Movement. [PRI onward] These skills are basically techniques that assist the character in using their innate attributes to position one’s body in the environment.

Climbing. This includes climbing trees, walls, cliffs. As with swimming, the narrator may assume that all characters have a basic competence in climbing, but that the skill can be advanced through experience and training.

Contortionism. This skill, which modifies FLEXIBILITY, employs learned techniques to aid in how far one can bend one’s body.

Dodging. This skill helps the character avoid being struck, which can modify combat and other physical action rolls. Relies heavily on FLEXIBILITY, AGILITY, BALANCE, SPEED, REACTION, AWARENESS, PERCEPTION, WIT.

Swimming. It may seem odd, but some cultures (those in arid regions, or living in space stations, for example) may have no familiarity with swimming. The narrator may assume that all of the characters in his game setting have basic competence in swimming. In any case, it is a skill that can be advanced.

Tumbling. This skill, which modifies AGILITY and BALANCE, employs learned techniques to aid in the placement of one’s body.