The NC Role-playing System Skill Catalog

Copyright © 1996 Andrew C. Myers, all rights reserved

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Revision of June, 1993. Minor revisions for HTML distribution, November 1996

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Combat Skills

Hand-to-Hand Combat[A]

The ability to stand the rigors of melee combat, to fight while wounded, and to use weapons to attack and defend. Characters lacking this ability have a -5 penalty to DF even when wielding a weapon, just as if they were weaponless. The character's DF is equal to skill level at this ability, modified by Agility.

Projectile Combat[A]

The ability to aim weapons and judge distances and angles, to be able to properly "lead" a target. Required for proficiency in projectile weapons.

Weapon Proficiency[B]
Prerequisite: Hand-to-Hand
Modifier: Coordination

The ability to proficiently use a particular kind of weapon. The character's OF is equal to the proficiency level at this ability, when wielding this type of weapon. Of course, bonuses will apply, as described in The NC Combat System. This skill must be gained separately for each weapon of proficiency. If the weapon is a projectile weapon, the prerequisite skill is Projectile Combat instead.

Weapon Mastery[C]
Prerequisite: Weapon Proficiency(5)

Many weapons permit an additional level of ability to be attained. The effects of mastering a weapon depend to some extent on the kind of weapon. For projectile weapons, the OF penalty is canceled out. For most hand-to-hand weapons, a +3 OF bonus is gained. In general, the numbers of attacks which can be performed per round is multiplied by 3/2. Mastery of a weapon also allows special maneuvers to be performed. With sword-like weapons, parrying and instant striking. With polearms, unhorsing and disarming.

Parrying is the ability to use any number of your attacks during a roll defensively. You roll to hit at an OF equal to your skill level. If the parry hit is successful, the opponent's blow will not hit.

Disarming allows the attacker to disarm the opponent on any critical hit, rather than causing the extra damage. This ability can be used by masters of certain polearms.

Instant striking is the ability to draw a sword or similar weapon from a sheath and attack in the same motion, with only a one-segment penalty.

Targeting is the ability to direct a missile weapon at a specific part of an opponent's body. The attack will be at a negative modifier dependent on the size of the target; typically a -8 modifier.

Critical Blow[D]
Prerequisite: Weapon Mastery, roll on Dexterity
Modifiers: Dexterity

This skill allows a combatant to focus all her or his attacks during a round into a single attack. This attack is performed at an OF equal to the skill level. If the attack hits, the blow will automatically be critical. Note that critical hits may be parried.

Prerequisite: Weapon Proficiency

Disengage from melee combat without giving a free attack to an opponent. Perform at -10 if hit by an opponent during the previous round.

Evaluate Injuries[C]
Note: base skill level 0

Determine accurately the extent of an combatant's injuries.

Weaponless Combat[B]
Note: requires mentor till level 5

The ability to use the handle combat without weapons. While weaponless, the character will use the weaponless skill level for base OF and DF. Having this ability does not give any attack capabilities. However, "hand", "foot", and "head" then can be learned as weapon proficiencies.

Stun Insensible[D]
Prerequisite: Weapon Proficiency
Modifier: Dexterity

Knock out an opponent, without injury. The opponent must be surprised by the attack.

Modifier: Willpower

Become berserk. Gives a +3 OF, -2 DF, and the ability to go to -20 HP before unconsciousness. Must be rolled both to continue and to stop berserkness. If no opponents are present, a berserker will attack friends.

Prerequisite: Projectile Weapons

Understand the concepts of large ballistic weapons: catapults, ballistae, and even rockets. Be able to aim and fire them, to gauge distances and angles.

Dodge Projectiles[D]
Prerequisite: Acrobatics, Projectile Weapons

Forgo attacks during a round, and dodge and block projectiles aimed at the character. Avoid attacks such as breath weapons at -4. Dodge spears and javelins at +4, arrows at +0, high-velocity weapons at -4. The character may move at normal movement while dodging.


Note: no skill check

Increase movement rate by 1 for one round per skill level. Increase movement rate by 2 at 10th level of ability.

Long Run[B]
Note: no skill check

Be able to run for 10 minutes + 5 minutes per level above 0. Running is at 3/4 of full rate.

Modifier: Strength

Jump up to twice the normal distance if skill check is made. Each chance level it is made by increases the jump by 10\%. Normal distance = 1/2 height for high jump, height for broad jump, and twice height for long jump.

Balance beam[A]
Modifier: Balance

Walk along narrow ledges (+2), beams(0), taut ropes(-4) and even loose ropes (-8) at half normal movement. One skill check required per round. A long pole will give a +4 modifier at skill level 5 and up.

Prerequisite: Agility roll at +2
Modifier: Size(neg)

The general ability to do acrobatic things. Required by many acrobatic abilities.

Prerequisite: Acrobatics

Be able to fall without damage. Each 5' fallen represents an additional -1 modifier. If not successful, partial damage is taken: 10-60 for each 10' of height that wasn't absorbed.

Modifier: Balance

Stand firmly on a severely pitching, heaving surface. Can also walk at a -4 modifier

Pole Vault[A]
Prerequisite: Acrobatics

Use a pole to vault up to the height of the pole. -1 modifier for each foot above the character's head.

Modifier: Strength Note: no skill check

Tread water, dive and retrieve objects. Deep diving requires a skill roll. One skill roll requires for each half hour of continuous swimming beyond the first. Move at walking speed + 10\% for each level. Swimming with armor requires a skill check. Heavy or bulky armor gives a -4 modifier.

Acrobatic Stunts[B]
Prerequisite: Acrobatics, Agility roll
Modifier: Agility

Do wild and crazy things. Swing from ropes, do cartwheels, etc. Perform the Tumble skill at -5 skill levels.

Prerequisite: Acrobatics
Modifier: Agility

Roll without taking damage when thrown across floors, down stairs, etc.

Note: no skill check

Ride horses or other similar creatures. No skill check required except for special maneuvers.

Escape Bonds[C]
Modifier: Knack

Escape from boxes, sacks, chains, ropes, cuffs(-2), and even straightjackets(-4). Having tools gives a bonus.

Climb Walls[B]
Modifier: Balance

Scale sheer surfaces with only minimal apparent fingerholds. Slippery surfaces may be climbed at -4. Smooth surfaces may be climbed at -10. Special climbing boots will give a +4 modifier. No skill check is required for walls with large handholds.

Climb Ropes[A]
Modifier: Strength

Move rapidly up and down ropes and cables without difficulty. Movement is at 10 feet per round upwards, 20 feet per round down.

Palm Object[C]
Modifier: Knack

Unnoticeably pick up small objects and place them on your person. The object may be as large as one's fist.

Modifier: Coordination

Juggle small to moderate-sized objects. -4 modifier for each object beyond three. -4 modifier for different-sized or awkward objects.

Pick Pockets[B]
Modifier: Coordination

Remove objects from characters' pockets, cut pouches loose, remove necklaces and other jewelry (-4).

Modifier: Agility

Dance appropriately for any occasion, either elegantly or energetically.

Prerequisites: Acrobatics, Swimming
Modifier: Balance

Dive skillfully from 30 feet + 5 feet per level into water or similar liquid without taking damage or sinking. Make a skill roll to perform complex and impressive dives. Failure to dive successfully will cause 10-30 damage for each 10 feet of height above 20 feet.


Move Silently[A]
Modifier: Balance

Move silently through underbrush. Can be used in urban settings at a +2 modifier.

Modifier: Reasoning

Follow tracks through woods, grass(-2), or in a city(-4). Acute smell will give a +4 modifier. Standard conditions are tracks an hour old. Very new tracks will give a +4 modifier. Tracks a day old will give a -4 modifier.

Wood Lore[A]

Have general knowledge about the plants and animals of a region. Be able to identify animals and plants, know which are dangerous, etc.

Herbal Lore[B]
Prerequisite: Wood Lore

Know where to find herbs, understand their properties and uses.

Hide in Woods[A]
Modifiers: Size(neg)

Be able to conceal self in a woodsy setting.

Hide in City[A]
Modifier: Size(neg)

Concealment in an urban or underground setting. Requires shadows, in general.

Set Animal Trap[C]
Prerequisite: Wood Lore

Be able to construct a trap to catch animals, using things found in woods. Will work on humans and other sentients at a -4 modifier.

Animal Care[A]
Prerequisite: Wood Lore

Know how to take care of a particular kind of animal, including feeding, treating simple illnesses, etc.

Animal Training[B]
Prerequisite: Animal Care

Train a kind of intelligent animal to do tricks and useful things. Dogs, pigs, chimpanzees, and dolphins are highly trainable. Horses, elephants, rats, and birds are less so. How trainable an animal is depends on its intelligence and temperament.

Wood Signs[B]
Prerequisite: Wood Lore

Learn secret signs used by various races to mark areas and buildings. Recognize the source of the sign, and decipher its meaning.

River Lore[B]

Be familiar with the properties of rivers: the common types of fish, dangers to avoid, classic yarns, etc. Be conversant with river-based culture.

Ocean Lore[B]

Understand the culture of ocean-going sailors. Know commonly seen ocean creatures, and tales of less commonly seen ones.

Charm Animal[C]
Prerequisite: Wood Lore

Charm even wild animals into docility. -4 modifier if the animal is actively attacking. Requires 1 round.

Prerequisite: Wood Lore

Using a forked stick, locate underground water when possible. Takes a half hour.

Prerequisite: Wood Lore

Know how to catch fish, using standard fishing tools, and how to scale it.

Prerequisite: Wood Lore

Know where to find game, how to recognize game from the spoor, and how to catch and kill it. Also, know how to skin and prepare usual game animals.


Prerequisite: Read/Write(5)

Map building, tunnels, and outdoor terrain. Read and understand others' maps. At level 10, mapping can be done mentally, without using any writing equipment. No skill roll required except for very complex constructions, or to read others' maps.

Spot Trap 1[B]
Modifier: Knack

Locate and understand small, mechanical traps. This can be on the basis of the triggering mechanisms: pins, wires, switches. Also, the effecting part of the trap may be identified if it is of these types: darts, needles, spears.

Spot Traps 2[A]
Prerequisite: Construction
Modifier: Reasoning

Locate and understand traps involving large construction. Pivoting stone blocks, pits, portcullises. Identify weight- and light-activated traps.

Poison Immunity[C]
Prerequisite: Fitness roll
Note: per poison

By taking small doses of a poison over a period of time, gain immunity to the poison. This gives an initial +4 to the save versus the poison, with an additional +1 for every two levels of skill. Note it is not possible to become immune to some poisons. Failing an attempt to gain poison immunity will cause 10 points poison damage if the attempt is failed by more than 4.

Prepare Poison[C]
Prerequisite: Herbal Lore
Note: per poison

Learning this skill requires finding a mentor who will teach it: no easy task. Each kind of poison preparation must be learned independently. The practitioner of this skill will know how to secure the raw materials, and how to apply the poison to drinks, food, or weapons.

Modifier: Reasoning

Understand common building techniques. Be able to determine spacial relationships of different parts of a building or dungeon. Estimate wall thicknesses and slope of passages.

Prerequisite: Construction

Know standard mining techniques. Be able to identify mine and tunnel sections which are dangerous. Excavate tunnels using standard mining tools. Recognize precious ores and signs of ores.

Internal Compass[C]
Modifier: Reasoning
Note: base chance level 5

Have an internal compass which allows you to quickly determine which directions are north, south, east, and west, even when underground or removed from usual landmarks.

Pick Locks[B]
Modifier: Knack

Using lock-picking tools, open locks of most varieties. Difficult locks will have an appropriate modifier.

Architectural Intuition[C]
Prerequisite: Construction
Modifier: Reasoning

Have an uncanny understanding of the construction and layout of buildings and dungeons. Be able to identify the "right" way to go, depending on desired destination.


Modifier: Fellowship

Become friendly with casual acquaintances. Obtain non-secret information from them.

Modifier: Fitness

Use intoxicants of all kinds without losing social or physical poise. Doubles capacity over normal at 5th level. Quadruples at 10th.


Prepare tasty food. Will require good raw material for discriminating audiences. Identify tasty herbs and animals.


Be familiar with processes used to make beer and similar beverages. Have excellent taste in same. Identify beers based on taste and color. Know how to brew beverages.


Be familiar with the rituals and ceremonies of a culture. Know proper table manners, how to greet and introduce others. Be admired for always-correct behavior.

Prerequisite: Mathematics(2)

Know the ins and outs of gambling. Be familiar with gambling games, know the statistics, how to play the odds. Recognized when games are rigged, and know how to automatically "throw" the game so that you lose.

Prerequisite: Aesthetics(5)

Tell tales of events which occurred (embellished), or invent new ones. Keep listeners enthralled.

Prerequisite: Terrify
Modifier: Charisma,
Willpower of subject(neg)

Use psychological or physical techniques to extract information from a subject. Merely psychological techniques may be used at a -10 modifier.

Resist Torture[C]
Prerequisite: Poise, Fortitude roll
Modifier: Willpower

Withstand the effects of torture without giving in. Know how to confuse the torturer and divert the line of questioning, making the torturer think that he has succeeded.

Modifier: Fellowship

Keep up a steady patter which confuses and slows persons in conversation. Works well on guards, sentries, clerks, and similar individuals who deal with innocent passersby.

Prerequisite: Ego roll
Modifier: Ego

Be able to maintain unflappable cool in tense social situations. A requirement for many advanced social skills. When a dependent skill fails, use to see whether poise is maintained.

Prerequisite: Poise

Dominate and terrify, inspire hatred and fear by a combination of physical and psychological techniques.

Prerequisite: Poise
Modifier: Fellowship

Make others laugh, even in tense situations. Can improve morale, or hurt it if attempt fails.

Prerequisite: Poise

Imitate the voice and mannerisms of another individual. Can be used to communicate a description, or even to impersonate in situations where no visual cues exist (-4).


Look unrecognizable, like another person (-2), or even like a member of another race (-5).

Prerequisites: Mimic, Disguise
Note: base skill level -5

Pretend that you are someone else, and fill their role completely, so that casual acquaintances are completely fooled. Fool close friends and intimates at -12.

Public Speech[A]
Prerequisite: Poise
Modifier: Leadership

Speak convincingly and interestingly before large audiences, silence hecklers, etc.

Prerequisite: Public Speech
Modifier: Leadership

Incite crowds of "common people". Sway emotions, convince them to take on projects.

Induce Hatred[C]
Prerequisite: Poise
Modifier: Fellowship
Note: base chance level -10

Cause one person to hate another through the creation of jealousy, contempt, or lies about deeds. Requires one day. Up to three attempts may be made. Failures may cause detection.


Learn to "throw" one's voice, so that it appears that a doll, a statue, or another person is actually speaking the words. The character is able to speak without any lip movement.


Communicate stories and humorous sketches through the use of mime, without using any sound or voice.

Prerequisite: Poise
Modifier: Charisma

Hypnotise persons who keep their attention on the hypnotist for a full minute. If these persons are attempting to resist, they may use their Willpower as a negative modifier. While hypnotized, they will answer all questions truthfully. They will perform actions they are commanded to if they fail another skill check. If the action is opposed to the character's usual personality, a -4 modifier will be applied.

Prerequisite: Poise

Know how to excite the avarice of petty officials and guards, and how to discreetly transfer moneys or other forms of payment. Persons of any social station may be bribed, although the cost will rise exponentially.


Arouse the pity of passersby. Know how to appear particularly feeble, crippled, or mentally infirm. Phrase requests in a way which will cause the requestee to grant them.

Modifier: Fellowship

Use this skill to minimize the cost of purchased goods by up to 50% lower than the ordinary price. A skill check must be made, and each chance level it is made by lowers the price by 5%. If the skill check is failed, the price rises by 10% for each chance level missed. If both parties have Haggle, the seller's level is a negative modifier to the buyer's skill check.


Note: no skill check past 5th level

Read and write a language. Many skills require that you have Read/Write at the 5th level, although it is not a prerequisite in the sense that it must be improved.

Prerequisite: Read/Write(5)
Modifier: Reasoning

Easily perform arithmetic and simple geometric calculations.

Prerequisite: Mathematics

Understand the workings of complex, precise machinery. Construct devices to perform mechanical tasks. Read and draw complex mechanical diagrams and blueprints.

Prerequisite: Read/Write(5),

Identify ores, salts, and compounds of all kinds. Know how to handle caustic agents safely. Mix acids, or neutralize them.

Prerequisite: Mathematics

Plot a course using astronomical landmarks. Identify position in world using same. Requires some navigation tools.

Prerequisite: Mathematics

Have a knowledge of heavenly phenomena: periods with which planets or stars appear. Identify these phenomena quickly. Know mythological significances. May be used for Navigation at a -5 modifier.

Prerequisite: Mathematics

Be expert in the field of secret communications and signaling. Make codes and ciphers, and break them. Identify commonly used codes, and the groups which use them.

Modifier: Memory
Note: by religion

Be conversant (or expert) with the theological basis for a religion. Know the symbols and the myths. If a member of the religion, know the mysteries and the sacred rites. Be able to spew comforting religious babble to worshippers, or enrage them easily. Know these at 10th level in any case.

Note: by mythos

Be familiar with mythological history: the names, origins and parent(s) of all the gods in a pantheon, the qualities and exploits of these gods, and of their worshippers. Be conversant with the usual symbols.

Modifier: Memory

Know the history of a region. Be able to identify major events of the past few centuries, and to describe the roles that major figures played in the history. Know the major cultural groups, and their interactions. Be familiar with wars and other conflicts.

Prerequisite: Memory roll
Modifier: Memory

Be familiar with the legal structure of a society, important case histories, and the loopholes that can be expoited to avoid the legal system. Argue cases in court, if appropriate.

Prerequisite: Read/Write,
Memory roll

Have an unusual facility with languages. Be able to speak, read and write one additional language for each skill level. Identify (+4) and understand obcure or forgotten ancient languages. Trace the development of languages and recognize linguistic similarities.


A thorough knowledge of coinage: its value, its origins. Identify governments, cultures based on coins. Judge the age of corroded coins.

Prerequisite: Mathematics

Handle the tasks of a surveyor. With appropriate tools, apportion land, understand surveyor's descriptions of plots, etc. Also, understand complex geometric descriptions of locations. Read maps with surveying annotations.



Understand basics of inertia, movement at velocity greater than 20mph. Recognize, use simple steering apparatuses. Understand on basic level the workings of standard engines.

Prerequisite: Vehicles

Sail boats of small to moderate size. Know how to repair and maintain them.

Prerequisite: Sailing, Leadership roll

Captain an ocean-going vessel. Know the tasks that must be performed, and how to order sailors to perform them. Handle boats of up to 10 sailors. At 10th level, handle boats with up to 30 sailors.

Aerial Vehicles[A]
Prerequisite: Vehicles

Understand the principles of flight. Be able to estimate altitude by examining ground and sky.

Prerequisite: Aerial Vehicles, Balance roll
Modifiers: Balance

Use small, one-man gliders. Catch updrafts, ride with wind. Build gliders at -10.

Drive Cart[A]
Prerequisite: Vehicles

Control a horse- or animal- drawn cart expertly. No skill check is required except for high-speed or dangerous maneuvers.

Prerequisite: Vehicles

Drive auto-like vehicles. Understand usual instrumentation. Drive clutchless vehicles at -4, one skill check per hour. Under usual conditions, no skill check required.

Stunt Driving[B]
Prerequisite: Automobile

Execute complex high-speed maneuvers, jump over bridges, turn around rapidly.

Prerequisite: Aerial Vehicles

Understand the basics of powered flight. Read standard airplane instrumentation. Do preflight checks, maintain plane.

Prerequisite: Aerial Vehicles

Steer and fly inflated craft of all types.


First Aid[A]

Be able to apply first aid. Stop bleeding, start breathing going, apply bandages and simple splints.

Prerequisite: Read/Write(5)

Understand the physical construction of humanoids: the bone and organ structure. Diagnose simple ailments at -5.

Battle Surgery[B]
Prerequisite: Physiology
Modifier: Fortitude

Halt major blood loss, sew closed large wounds, amputate limbs, cauterize, set bones properly.

Prerequisite: Herbal Lore, Physiology

Be able to mix medicines to cure disease, ease pain, etc.

Cure Disease[A]
Prerequisite: Pharmacy

Recognize common disease symptoms, prescribe a regimen to cure the disease and medicines to take.



Have a sense of artistic value. Know what styles are in vogue in all forms of artistic endeavor. Be able to identify styles (-4) and periods.

Prerequisite: Aesthetics

Know how to make functional and attractive baskets and other woven reed items.

Prerequisite: Aesthetics

Use and maintain a potter's wheel. Make pots and other fired clay items.

Prerequisite: Aesthetics

Identify types of cloths and know methods of manufacture. Use common textile tools.

Garment Fashion[B]
Prerequisite: Textiles, Leatherwork

Design attractive clothing for any purpose. Identify garments from many cultures and time periods.

Prerequisite: Aesthetics

Draw recognizable images of landscapes, cities, and people.

Prerequisite: Sketching
Modifier: Dexterity
Note: base skill level -5

Paint pleasing pictures, both of landscapes and persons, using contemporary techniques.

Prerequisite: Aesthetics

Competence at techniques of woodworking. Knowledge and use of usual tools. Design and produce sturdy wooden implements, furniture, etc.

Prerequisite: Aesthetics

Competence at techniques of leatherworking. Knowledge and use of usual tools. Design, create, and treat belts, pouches, boots and other leather items for attractiveness and durability.

Prerequisite: Aesthetics

Recognize styles of jewelry, and accurately estimate its worth. Also, estimate the worth of both cut and uncut gems, and of statues formed of precious and non-precious materials.

Prerequisite: Jewelry

Know how to make jewelry using both gold and silver, and imbedding precious gems.

Musical Competence[A]

Be familiar with usual musical forms. Recognize musical instruments, and understand their functioning. Read written music.

Play Instrument[B]
Prerequisite: Musical Competence, Aesthetics
Modifier: Dexterity

Play a musical instrument pleasingly. Some instruments will have a negative modifier, as they are more difficult.

Prerequisite: Musical Competence

Sing pleasingly in both impromptu and planned occasions. Soothe the savage beast at a -15 modifier.


Know standard techniques for working with stone. Recognize styles of stonework, determine age of stone.


Perform usual blacksmith duties: make horseshoes, common iron implements.

Prerequisite: Blacksmith, Leatherwork

Design and create armor of various common styles. Difficult types of armor (e.g. chain mail,plate mail) will carry a negative modifier. Accurately judge the quality of armor. Recognize styles of armor and origin.

Prerequisite: Blacksmith, Woodwork

Produce common weapons, and accurately judge the quality of weapons inspected. Recognize styles and origin of weapons.