Queensberry Rules – Condensed Skills
While Victoriana’s skill system works fine as-is and helps differentiate adventurers with different skill sets, I have had some players ask me for a simpler system. These rules are the result and designed for Gamesmasters who wish a more rules-light but no less robust system.
This Queensberry rule reduces the skill list to 25 distinct skills. In addition, the following modifications are necessary:
• There are no longer separate categories of skills. All skills are considered ‘common skills.’ It is up to the Gamesmaster whether a particular roll may be made in instances where specialised knowledge is necessary and the adventurer lacks the skill. Since all skills are ‘common,’ the 2 extra black dice may be applied to any skill roll.
• Building on the above, there are no ‘group skills.’ Adventurers with Academia or Science, for example, are considered to be knowledgeable in all disciplines that fall under the skill’s description.
• Culture and Language are special skills only in that skill rolls are never required for them – an adventurer is either familiar with Egyptian culture or she isn’t; he either can speak Japanese or he can’t.
• Adventurers get 12 skill points rather than 30 to put towards skills.
• There is no General Knowledge skill. As general knowledge covers basic information, then it’s simply your Wits and any extra dice you’d get for the ease of the roll (these types of rolls should be Easy or Routine – more difficult tasks more properly default to another skill such as Academia or Science).
• In some cases, skills with different attributes have been lumped together in the same broader skill. The player should feel free to ask for an attribute substitution in any case where it would make sense; the final call is left to the Gamesmaster.
• The Polyglot talent has been made redundant.
• When applying the Queensberry rules to associations and backgrounds simply substitute the broader skills.
You are well-versed in academic topics, including history, philosophy, and theology. You know the details of dates and events, notable historical figures, political figures and philosophies, and the basic tenets of various religions.
You have an artistic eye and it shows in your mastery of the fine arts. You can compose poems, write plays, sketch faces, paint pastoral scenes, and create moving sculptures with ease. Your works evoke emotional responses from those who view it. More practically, being a master of fine art opens doors that are otherwise closed to you.
You are skilled at performing physical feats such as jumping, running, swimming, and swinging. You can climb mountains and scale caves. In a pinch, you can use this skill to dodge weapons and other hazards.
You are familiar with the oft-arcane workings of business, government, and the legal system. You know how to get to the right people, where to file proper forms, and what to argue in order to have things go your way.
This skill is never rolled; you are either familiar with a culture or you aren’t. Each rank in this skill gives you enough familiarity with another culture in order to make general knowledge rolls or navigate strange rituals (in some cases, this skill enables you to make full use of a skill that would otherwise be negated – an English adventurer in a Japanese court would be helpless, but one with Culture (Japanese) can make full use of her Etiquette skill).
All adventurers begin knowing one culture (usually where the shilling shocker begins) for free. How broad or specific cultures are depends on the Gamesmaster’s needs.
You’re well-versed in the criminal arts. You can pick locks and pockets, use sleight of hand to confuse people, and convincingly forging documents.
You have a silver tongue and can make any lie believable. This skill can also be used for haggling, presuming that you are ‘massaging facts’ to make the deal more palatable.
Whether on a mount or behind a steam-driven marvel, you can pilot your way through anything. Whether or not you can ride a mount depends on whether you are familiar with a culture that uses that mount.
Put a wrench in your hand and you can fix it! You are well-versed in the various engineering disciplines and have the know-how to build and fix items with that knowledge.
You are a master of the performing arts. You can act, dance, and sing, as well as play a variety of musical instruments. With this skill, Criminal, and Deception, you’d be a very successful stage magician!
You are familiar with the rules of your social class, current fashion, gossip, and trends. It’s not so much that you’re charismatic but that you present yourself as a paragon of manners and good taste (so this skill can sometimes substitute for Presence-based ones where appropriate). You may still receive black dice penalties when using this skill while immersed in a different social class, and this skill may not be used at all (or with great difficulty) if you aren’t familiar with the culture and can speak the language.
You are skilled at close combat, whether it be fisticuffs, knife-fighting, swordplay, or grabbing whatever’s at hand. This skill can be used when fighting unarmed or with any melee weapon.
You can manipulate others into taking your position or getting what you want without resorting to deception. Unlike Deception, however, Influence can take time as you overcome your opponent’s objections and reassure him.
This skill is never rolled; you either know a language or you don’t. Every adventurer knows her native language for free; each rank in this skill grants an additional language that the adventurer can speak and write. This skill pairs nicely with Culture and sometimes both are needed for an adventurer to make use of another skill.
You are adept at the techniques necessary to perform magic, be it petty conjuring, sigil scribing, or thaumaturgy. If your magic uses Resolve, then this is the skill necessary to perform it.
You are adept at using your magnetic abilities to their fullest potential. Any magnetic ability is paired with this skill.
You are competent at ranged combat, whether be with archery, firearms, or even thrown weapons.
This skill is actually unchanged from the regular skill of the same name. You can diagnose medical problems and treat patients.
You have an intimate knowledge of the arcane, preternatural, and supernatural. You are well-versed in local folklore and the various magical disciplines, you know esoteric information about particular angels, demons, devils, and old gods. This skill is tempered by culture – an adventurer without a Culture rank in Egypt would know next to nothing about the archon Thoth.
You’re comfortable in the great outdoors. You know how to navigate through unfamiliar terrain, live off the land, and hunt animals. You are also capable of handling and training domestic animals.
You are very observant. You spot things that others miss, hear things more clearly, and identify elements by smell and taste. You’re also good at reading people by interpreting their facial expressions and body language. This extends to lip reading as well.
You are well-versed in a variety of scientific disciplines, including botany, chemistry, geology, meteorology, psychology, and zoology.
You have studied the various methods of detection. You know how criminals think and not only where to look for clues but also how to interpret them.
You’re skilled at not being seen. This skill covers conceal, disguise, and, of course, hide and sneak.
This skill is also unchanged from the core rules; you are skilled at delving into the criminal underworld. You can find the black market, hire ruffians, gain information from shady contacts, and find medical assistance with no questions asked.
If you decide to try this, please let me know how it works for you. Was the reduction in skill points too little or too much? Do the broader skills need to be combined or parsed differently? Is there anything critical that was missed?
A world of adventure in an age of sorcery and steam. Join the fight against the enemies of Queen and Empire. Battle ancient evils, uncover sinister plots, and root out predators stalking the cobble-stoned streets. Your tools are arcane magics, steam-driven marvels, and a stiff upper lip. Learn more at our website: http://www.cubicle7.co.uk/our-games/victoriana/
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