Decipher Magic (INT)
Every PC has a 1 in 6 chance of success for each of these skills except for Decipher Magic, which is only available to Magic-Users and Psychics (or any other class capable of perceiving the Overworld). High attributes may increase the chance of success, based on the table below:
|03 – 12||0|
|13 – 15||1|
|16 – 17||2|
Bonus pips from high attributes do not apply to all relevant skills, but rather are assigned on a one-to-one basis. As an example, a Fighting Man has an INT of 16. He may choose to assign one pip to Languages and another to Mechanic (increasing the chances of each to 2 in 1d6) or both to a single skill (increasing the chances to 3 in 1d6).
Skills are improved through regular use. When a character has successfully used a skill three times, at the end of the session the player will roll the skill in question. If this roll is a failure, the skill increases by one pip. If the roll succeeds, the character learns nothing from these experiences but may check again after three more successful uses. Skills may only be improved to a 5 in 6 chance of success except for Languages (see below).
The following is a more in-depth description of what each skill involves. Note that these descriptions are not comprehensive and up to the interpretation of the Labyrinth Lord.
Mechanic: This is the ability to understand and employ the complex machines from before the Annihilation Event (and which are slowly being redeveloped today). Specific uses include:
Jury-Rig: Given the right parts, mechanics can restore broken machines. A machine may be repaired for 1d6+1 damage with a day's work, with a cost of 10 gp/HP.
Charge Battery: Many technological items have a limited number of charges which may be refilled by a mechanic (given a working energy source). One day's work will provide 1d4 charges.
Identify Technological Item: Mechanics may attempt once per level to identify the use of any ancient artifact.
Read Schematics: Once per level a mechanic may attempt to understand schematics left by the ancients. If successful, these schematics may later be used to build artifacts of the past.
Sabotage: This may be used to disable complex mechanical traps and machines.
When a character has 4 'pips' in the Mechanic skill they may also attempt the following:
Program: A mechanic may reprogram computers and robots to serve him.
Build: If a mechanic has access to a set of schematics (and can comprehend them), they may construct ancient artifacts from scratch. This requires a machine shop of at least 2000 gp in value. Each day spent building the artifact will craft 1d6+1 HP in parts, with a cost of 25 gp/HP. The Mechanic skill is rolled at the end of construction to determine success. Failure indicates some oversight on the part of the Mechanic, and will require 1d3 weeks to determine the fault (along with an additional 100 gp in costs).
Outdoorsman: This is the ability to survive in a wilderness or underground environment. Some uses may include:
* Identify Edible/Poisonous Plants
* Find Shelter
* Start Fire
* Find Trail
Stealth: This skill is used to sneak past opponents unaware. Monsters with a bonus to surprise will negatively modify this roll, as with characters with a high WIS (with a minus to the skill equal to the character's Savings Throw Bonus).
Drive: When a character first encounters a new type of vehicle (boat, plane, car, etc.) they must make a Drive roll to determine how to operate the vehicle. If successful, they may pilot the craft. If they fail, they either must spend one week being taught by someone skilled in the vehicle or attempt to learn the controls again at their next level.
Once a character has mastered the controls of a vehicle they may drive under normal conditions. However, when under duress they may called upon to make a Drive roll. Failure will require a roll on the Crash Table (to be designed).
Languages: Although the vast majority of the inhabitants speak the same language, there are a few ancient and alien languages on the fringes of civilization. When one of these languages is encountered, this skill is used to interpret the strange tongue. Each new language will determine another skill, with a 3 in 6 success chance indicating mastery of basic conversation (although more esoteric subjects will still require a roll). Unlike most skills, a 6 in 6 chance may be gained - this indicates a complete mastery of the language.
Decipher Magic: Characters capable of perceiving the Overworld (most notably Magic-Users and Psychics) may attempt to detect and interpret projections into that dimension. Specifically, this skill allows M-Us and Psychics to:
* Detect Magic
* Read Magic
* Identify Magic Items: May be attempted once/level, one property is revealed by every pip the character succeeds. For example, if an M-U has a 3 in 6 chance of Decipher Magic and rolls a '3', he may identify one property, with a '2' identifying two properties, etc.
Additional inspiration provided by Gamma World 4th Edition and the Scientist class by Patrick Wetmore.
Special thanks to Evan Elkins and Chris Kutalik for their valuable advice.
Finally, I read a blog recently that inspired the Decipher Magic aspect of this post which suggested having Detect Magic as a class ability for Magic-Users. Unfortunately, I've forgotten where I saw this. If the blogger in question would step forward, I'd like to give credit where it is due.