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Skills List
Here you will find a list of the Skills used at Tenebrous Isles along with a description of what they're used for.


 The Athletics skill represents your character’s general level of physical fitness, whether through training, natural gifts, or genre-specific means (like magic or genetic alteration). It’s how good you are at moving your body. As such, it is a popular choice for nearly any action-y character.
  • Overcome: Athletics allows you to overcome any obstacle that requires physical movement - jumping, running, climbing, swimming, etc. If it resembles something you’d do in the decathlon, you’d roll Athletics. You use overcome actions with Athletics to move between zones in a conflict if there’s a scene aspect or other obstacle in your way. You’d also roll Athletics to chase or race in any contests or challenges that rely on these types of activities.
  • Create an Advantage: When you’re creating an advantage with Athletics, you’re jumping to high ground, running faster than the opponent can keep up with, or performing dazzling acrobatic maneuvers in order to confound your foes.
  • Attack: Athletics is not meant as an attack skill.
  • Defend: Athletics is a catch-all skill to roll for defense in a physical conflict, against close-quarters and ranged attacks. You can also use it to defend against characters trying to move past you, if you’re in a position to physically interfere with whoever’s making the attempt.


 The Burglary skill covers your character’s aptitude for stealing things and getting into places that are off-limits. This skill also includes a proficiency in the related tech, allowing the character to hack security systems, disable alarm systems, and whatnot.
  • Overcome: As stated above, Burglary allows you to overcome any obstacle related to theft or infiltration. Bypassing locks and traps, pickpocketing and filching, covering your tracks, and other such activities all fall under the purview of this skill.
  • Create an Advantage: You can case a location with Burglary, to determine how hard it will be to break into and what kind of security you’re dealing with, as well as discover any vulnerabilities you might exploit. You can also examine the work of other burglars to determine how a particular heist was done, and create or discover aspects related to whatever evidence they may have left behind.
  • Attack: Burglary isn’t used for attacks.
  • Defend: Same here. It’s not really a conflict skill, so there’s not a lot of opportunity to use it to defend.


 The Casting skill is only available to those with the ability to use magic. It allows you to control the power of magic you are able to bring to bear.
  • Overcome: Each spell you cast has a rating in shifts of power which establishes the target number to cast the spell. You must overcome the shifts of power that you put into each Evocation or Thaumaturgy spell.
  • Create an Advantage: While a spell may be designed to create aspects and free invokes, the Casting skill does not, by itself.
  • Attack: Casting is used to attack with magic, which may be physical or mental. Range is usually line of sight. This roll also counts as the Overcome action to control your spell power.
  • Defend: Creating a Personal Shield may allow you to use Casting to Defend.


 Contacts is the skill of knowing people and making connections with people. It presumes proficiency with all means of networking available in the setting.
  • Overcome: You use Contacts to overcome any obstacle related to finding someone you need to find. Whether that’s old-fashioned “man on the street” type of work, polling your information network, or searching archives and computer databases, you’re able to hunt down people or somehow get access to them.
  • Create an Advantage: Contacts allows you to know who the perfect person to talk to is for anything you might need, or to decide that you know the perfect person already. It’s likely that you’ll create story details instead with this skill, represented by aspects. (“Hey, guys, my contacts tell me that Joe Steel is the Best Mechanic For A Thousand Miles—we should talk to him.”) You can also create an advantage that represents what the word on the street is about a particular individual, object, or location, based on what your contacts tell you. These aspects almost always deal with reputation more than fact, such as Known as a Mean Guy or Notorious Swindler. Whether that person lives up to their reputation is anybody’s guess, though that doesn’t invalidate the aspect - people often have misleading reputations about themselves that complicate their lives. Contacts could also be used to create aspects representing use of your information network to plant information or get you information to help in the conflict.
  • Attack: Contacts isn’t used for attacks; it’s hard to harm someone simply by knowing people.
  • Defend: Contacts can be used to defend against people creating social advantages against you, provided your information network can be brought to bear in the situation. You might also use it to keep someone from using Deceit or Contacts to go “off the grid”, or to interfere with Investigation attempts to find you.


 Crafts is the skill of working with, creating, and building things, for good or ill. Crafts also covers some aspects of cooking.
  • Overcome: Crafts allows you to build, break, or fix things, presuming you have the time and tools you need. Often, actions with Crafts happen as one component of a more complex situation, making it a popular skill for challenges. For example, if you’re just fixing a broken door, neither success nor failure is interesting; you should just succeed and move on. Now, if you’re trying to get your car to start while a pack of werewolves is hunting you…
  • Create an Advantage: You can use Crafts to create aspects representing features of a thing you've made/upgraded and create aspects that work to your advantage, whether that’s pointing out a useful feature or strength (Rugged Construction, Armor-Plated) or a vulnerability for you to exploit (Flaw in the Cross-Beam, Hasty Work). Creating Crafts advantages can also take the form of quick and dirty sabotage or jury-rigging on mechanical objects in the scene. For example, you might create a Makeshift Pulley to help you get to the platform above you, or throw something into the ballista that’s firing on you to give it a Jammed Pivoting Joint and make it harder to hit you.
  • Attack: You probably won’t use Crafts to attack in a conflict, unless the conflict is specifically about using a thing you've made, like with siege weaponry. Usually, weapons you craft are likely to be used with other skills to attack - a guy who makes a sword still needs Fight to wield it well!
  • Defend: As with attacking, Crafts doesn’t defend, unless you’re somehow using it as the skill to control a piece of machinery that you block with.


 Deceive, naturally, is the skill about lying to and misdirecting people.
  • Overcome: Use Deceive to bluff your way past someone, or to get someone to believe a lie, or to get something out of someone because they believe in one of your lies. For nameless NPCs, this is just an overcome roll, but for PCs or named NPCs, it requires a contest, and the target opposes with Empathy. Winning this contest could justify placing a situation aspect on your target, if buying into your lie helps you in a future scene. Deceive is the skill you use for determining if a disguise works, whether on yourself or others. You’ll need to have the time and supplies to create the desired effect. (Note: This is mainly a Hearts of Steel thing; in some games, this may not be appropriate for Deceive by default and should require a stunt.) You can also use Deceive to do small tricks of sleight-of-hand and misdirection.
  • Create an Advantage: Use Deceive to create momentary distractions, cover stories, or false impressions. You could feint in a swordfight, putting an opponent Off-Balance and setting you up for an attack. You could do the whole, “What’s that over there!” trick to give you a Head Start when you run away. You could establish a Wealthy Noble Cover Story for when you attend a royal ball. You could trick someone into revealing one of their aspects or other information.
  • Attack: Deceive is an indirect skill that creates a lot of opportunities you can capitalize on, but doesn’t do direct harm to an individual.
  • Defend: You can use Deceive to defend against efforts made to discern your true motives with the Empathy skill, and throw off Investigation attempts with false information.


 The Drive skill is all about operating animals, vehicles, and things that go fast. Driving is your ability to operate a car (and potentially other vehicles). Day to day, it’s pretty easy and shouldn’t be rolled unless circumstances call for it (such as driving fast through busy streets, or in the rainy dark without headlights). With a high skill, you can pull off stunts you usually only see in the movies. Stunt men, mafia chauffeurs, and cops have a high Drive skill. Riding horses (or camels, elephants, or more exotic creatures) also uses Drive.
  • Overcome: Drive is the equivalent of Athletics when you’re in a vehicle - you use it to successfully accomplish movement in the face of difficult circumstances, like rough terrain, small amounts of clearance, or stunt driving. Obviously, Drive is also ripe for contests, especially chases and races.
  • Create an Advantage: You can use Drive to determine the best way to get somewhere in a vehicle, and a good enough roll might allow you to learn features of the route that get expressed as aspects, or declare that you know a Convenient Shortcut or something similar. You can also just read the Athletics description, and then make it about a vehicle. Advantages created using Drive often revolve around getting good positioning, doing a fancy maneuver (Did A Barrel Roll, anyone?), or putting your opponent in a bad spot.
  • Attack: Drive isn’t usually used as an attack skill (though stunts can certainly alter this). If you want to ram a vehicle, you can attack with Drive, but you also take any stress you inflict.
  • Defend: Avoiding damage to a vehicle in a physical conflict is one of the most common uses of Drive. You can also use it to defend against advantages being created against you or sprint actions by someone trying to get past you in a vehicle.


 Empathy involves knowing and being able to spot changes in a person’s mood or bearing. It’s basically the emotional Notice skill.
  • Overcome: You don’t really use Empathy to overcome obstacles directly - normally, you find out some information with it, and then use another skill to act. In some cases, though, you might use Empathy like you would Notice, to see if you catch a change in someone’s attitude or intent.
  • Create an Advantage: The main strength of this skill, you can use Empathy to read a person’s emotional state and get a general sense of who they are, presuming you have some kind of interpersonal contact with them. Most often, you’ll use this to assess the aspects that are on another character’s sheet, but sometimes, you’ll also be able to create new aspects, especially on one of the NPCs. If the target has some reason to be aware that you’re trying to read them, they can defend with Deceit or Rapport. You can also use Empathy to try and discover what circumstances will allow you to do mental attacks on someone, figuring out their breaking points.
  • Attack:. Empathy can’t really be used in this capacity.
  • Defend: This is the skill to go to in order to defend against Deceive actions, allowing you to pierce through lies and see through to someone’s true intent. You can also use it to defend against those creating social advantages against you in general.
  • Special: Empathy is the main skill you use to help others recover from mental consequences.


 The Fight skill covers all forms of close-quarters combat (in other words, within the same zone), both unarmed and using weapons. For the ranged and thrown weapons counterpart, see Shoot.
  • Overcome: Since you don’t really use Fight outside of a conflict, it’s not often used to overcome obstacles. You might use it to display your fighting prowess in a demonstration, or to participate in some kind of regulated bout or sport fighting, which would allow you to use this skill in a contest.
  • Create an Advantage: You’ll probably use Fight for most of the advantages you create in a physical conflict. Any number of special moves can be covered with advantages, whether it’s a targeted strike to stun, a “dirty move”, disarming, and so on; you could even use Fight to assess another fighter’s style, spotting weaknesses in his or her form that you can exploit. See Challenges, Contests, and Conflicts for more examples of advantages in a conflict - most of the ones listed you can do with Fight.
  • Attack: This is self-explanatory. You make physical attacks with Fighting. Remember, this is for close-in work, so you have to be in the same zone as your opponent.
  • Defend: You use Fight to defend against any other attack or advantage attempt made with Fight, as well as pretty much any action where violently interposing yourself could prevent it from happening. You can’t use this skill to defend against Shooting attacks.


 In the Dresdenverse, knowledge breaks down into two camps: mundane and supernatural. Lore covers the latter and Scholarship covers the former. The Lore skill represents your occult knowledge. Giving you useful insight into the arcane elements of the mortal world. With a high Lore skill, you can pick up on mystical happenings that are night invisible to others, know and discover magical particulars when it comes to assembling the materials for spellcraft, and perform basic rituals - given the right text. This also allows you to survive in supernatural locations, like the Nevernever.
  • Overcome: You can use Lore to overcome any obstacle that requires applying the knowledge that your character has to achieve a goal. For example, you might roll Lore to decipher some ancient language on a tomb wall, under the presumption that your character might have researched it at some point. Frankly, you can use Lore as a go-to skill any time you need to know if your character can answer a difficult question, where some tension exists in not knowing the answer.
  • Create an Advantage: Like Investigate, Lore provides a lot of very flexible opportunities to create advantages, provided you can research the subject in question. More often than not, you’ll be using Lore to get a story detail, some obscure bit of information that you uncover or know already, but if that information gives you an edge in a future scene, it might take the form of an aspect. Likewise, you can use Lore to make create advantages based on any subject matter your character might have studied, which gives you a fun way to add details to the setting.
  • Attack: Lore isn’t used to attack.
  • Defend: Lore isn’t used to defend.


 The Notice skill involves just that - noticing things. It represents a character’s overall perception, ability to pick out details at a glance, and other powers of observation. When you use Notice, it’s typically going to cover very quick details, so the kinds of details you get from it are more superficial, but the more shifts of success you have on the roll the deeper level of detail you'll receive.
  • Overcome: Notice can be used in a reactive way: noticing something in a scene, hearing a faint sound, spotting the concealed gun in that guy’s waistband. GMs will only call for Notice rolls when succeeding would result in something interesting happening and when failure would result in something just as interesting happening. Notice can also be about gaining information that’s hard to uncover for some reason. Analyzing a crime scene for clues, searching a cluttered room for the item you need, even pouring over a musty old tome to try and find the passage that makes everything make sense. Racing against the clock to collect evidence before the cops show up or disaster occurs is a classic way to use Notice in a challenge.
  • Create an Advantage: You use Notice to create aspects based on direct observation—looking over a room for details that stand out, finding an escape route in a debris-filled building, noticing someone sticking out in a crowd, etc. When you’re watching people, Notice can tell you what’s going on with them externally; for internal changes, see Empathy. You might also use Notice to declare that your character spots something that you can use to your advantage in a situation, such as a convenient Escape Route when you’re trying to get out of a building, or a Subtle Weakness in the enemy’s line of defense. As long as you’re willing to take the time, you can find out just about anything about anyone, a place or object.
  • Attack: Notice isn’t really used for attacks.
  • Defend: You can use Notice to defend against any uses of Stealth to try and get the drop on you or ambush you, or to discover that you’re being observed.


 Performance represents your overall artistic ability, covering the gamut of endeavors that involve putting creative works before an audience (painting, dance, music, writing, and some elements of acting). This includes knowledge of composition as well as the performance itself. Characters with a high Performance are incredibly creative individuals, able to create poetry extemporaneously, dance well enough to make one’s heart soar, or put on an acting performance that will bring a crowd to standing ovation. They include actors, artists, musicians, and those with faerie blood.
  • Overcome: You can use Performance to overcome any obstacles that require the application of artistic ability. If you need to paint something with a likeness of another famous painting and have to achieve a minimum number of shifts to succeed, you will definitely need the performance ability to do so.
  • Create an Advantage: Performance has a lot of potential in creating supportive advantages for an entire group working together to solve a problem. There are reasons why everyone wants a bard in the party, for instance they can help to create an aspect to encourage everyone else, can create advantages for distracting the enemy, and can help to soothe the savage beast in some cases.
  • Attack: Performance is not a skill used to attack.
  • Defend: Performance is not a skill used to defend.
  • Special: Performance /can/ be used to set the mood of an entire scene, creating wide-arcing aspects that effect the total feelings of those involved.


 The Physique skill is a counterpart to Athletics, representing the character’s natural physical aptitudes, such as raw strength and endurance.
  • Overcome: You can use Physique to overcome any obstacles that require the application of brute force, which most often lets you overcome a situation aspect on a zone, or any other physical impedance, like prison bars or locked gates. Of course, Physique is the classic skill for arm-wrestling matches and other contests of applied strength, as well as marathons or other Physique-based challenges.
  • Create an Advantage: Physique has a lot of potential in physical conflict for advantages, usually related to grappling and holding someone in place, making them Pinned or Locked Down. You might also use it as a way of discovering physical impairments possessed by the target—grappling the old mercenary tells you that he has a Bum Leg or somesuch.
  • Attack: Physique is not used to harm people directly - see the Fight skill for that.
  • Defend: Though you don’t generally use Physique to defend against attacks, you can use Physique to provide active opposition to someone else’s movement, provided you’re in a small enough space that you can effectively use your body to block access. You might also interpose something heavy and brace it to stop someone from sprinting.
  • Special: The Physique skill gives you additional vitality stress or consequence slots. Average or Fair gives you a 3-point stress box. Good or Great gives you a 3-point and a 4-point stress box. Superb and above give you an additional mild consequence slot in addition to 4-point additional stress boxes.


 Provoke is the skill about getting someone’s dander up and eliciting negative emotional response from them—fear, anger, shame, etc. It’s the “being a jerk” skill. To use Provoke, you need some kind of justification. That could come entirely from situation, or because you have an aspect that’s appropriate, or because you’ve created an advantage with another skill (like Rapport or Deceive), or because you’ve learned your target’s aspects (see Empathy). This skill requires that your target can feel emotions—robots and zombies typically can’t be provoked.
  • Overcome: You can Provoke someone into getting them to do what you want in a fit of emotional pique. You might be intimidating them for information, pissing them off so badly that they act out, or scaring them into running away. This will often happen when you’re going up against nameless NPCs or it isn’t worthwhile to play out the particulars. Against PCs or important NPCs, you’ll need to win a contest. They oppose with Will.
  • Create an Advantage: You can create advantages representing momentary emotional states in people, like Enraged, Shocked, or Hesitant. Your target opposes with Will.
  • Attack: You can make mental attacks with Provoke, to do emotional harm to an opponent. Your relationship with the target and the circumstances you’re in figure a great deal into whether or not you can use this action.
  • Defend: Being good at provoking others doesn’t make you better at avoiding it yourself. You need Will for that.


 The Rapport skill is all about making positive connections to people and eliciting positive emotion. It’s the skill of being liked and trusted.
  • Overcome: Use Rapport to charm or inspire people to do what you want or help you out, or establish a good connection with others. Charm your way past the guard, convince someone to take you in their confidence, or become the man of the hour at the local tavern. For nameless NPCs, this is just an overcome action, but you may have to enter a contest to sufficiently ingratiate yourself to a named NPC or PC.
  • Create an Advantage: Use Rapport to establish a positive mood on a target or in a scene or to get someone to confide in you out of a genuine sense of trust. You could pep talk someone into having Elevated Confidence, or stir a crowd into a Joyful Fervor, or simply make someone Talkative or Helpful.
  • Attack: Rapport doesn’t cause harm, so you don’t use it for attacks.
  • Defend: Rapport defends against any skill used to damage your reputation, sour a mood you’ve created, or make you look bad in front of other people. It does not, however, defend against mental attacks. That requires Will.


 Resources describes your character’s general level of material wealth in the game world and ability to apply it. This might not always reflect cash on hand, given the different ways you can represent wealth in a particular setting; in the modern day, it might mean a number of good lines of credit.
  • Overcome: You can use Resources to get yourself out of or past any situation where throwing money at the problem will help, such as committing bribery and acquiring rare or expensive things. Complex obstacles or contests might involve auctions or bidding wars.
  • Create an Advantage: You might use Resources to grease the wheels and make people more friendly, whether that represents an actual bribe (I Scratch Your Back... or simply buying drinks for people In Vino Veritas). You can also use Resources to declare that you have something you need on hand, or can quickly acquire it, which could give you an aspect representing the object.
  • Attack: Resources isn’t used for attacks.
  • Defend: Resources isn’t used to defend.


 In the Dresdenverse, knowledge breaks down into two camps: mundane and supernatural. Lore covers the latter and Scholarship covers the former. Scholarship operates as a catch-all skill for most kinds of regular, everyday, “book” knowledge with a few practical applications out in the field as well. Characters with high Scholarship may be adept at technology and research, well-versed in the sciences and liberal arts, and good at performing first aid (provided they have experience with it). They include star students, professors, and game show contestants. This skill also covers knowing how to survive in mundane settings (Urban/Rural) and deal with animals.
  • Overcome: You can use Scholarship to overcome any obstacle that requires applying the knowledge that your character has to achieve a goal. For example, you might roll Scholarship to decipher some ancient language on a tomb wall, under the presumption that your character might have researched it at some point. Frankly, you can use Scholarship as a go-to skill any time you need to know if your character can answer a difficult question, where some tension exists in not knowing the answer.
  • Create an Advantage: Like Investigation, Scholarship provides a lot of very flexible opportunities to create advantages, provided you can research the subject in question. More often than not, you’ll be using Scholarship to get a story detail, some obscure bit of information that you uncover or know already, but if that information gives you an edge in a future scene, it might take the form of an aspect. Likewise, you can use Scholarship to make create advantages based on any subject matter your character might have studied, which gives you a fun way to add details to the setting.
  • Attack: Scholarship isn’t used to attack.
  • Defend: Scholarship isn’t used to defend.
  • Special: Scholarship is the main skill you use to help others recover from physical consequences.


 The counterpart to Fight, Shoot is the skill of using ranged and thrown weapons, either in a conflict or on targets that don’t actively resist your attempts to shoot them (like a bull’s-eye or the broad side of a barn).
  • Overcome: Unless, for some reason, you need to demonstrate your Shoot ability in a non-conflict situation, you probably won’t be using this skill for normal obstacles much. Obviously, contests involving Shoot are a popular staple of a lot of adventure fiction, and we recommend you look for the opportunity to have them if you have a character who specializes in this.
  • Create an Advantage: In physical conflict, Shoot can be used to perform a wide variety of moves, like trick shots, keeping someone under heavy fire, and the like. In cinematic games, you might even be able to disarm people and pin their sleeves to walls - pretty much anything you’ve seen in an action movie. You could also make the argument for creating aspects based on your knowledge of shooting (like placing a Prone to Jams aspect on an opponent’s gun).
  • Attack: This skill makes physical attacks. You can make them from up to two zones away, unlike with Fight. (Sometimes the range will change with the weapon.)
  • Defend: Shoot is unique in that it doesn’t really have a defense component to it - you’d use Athletics for that. You could use it to lay down some covering fire though, which might act as a defense for your allies or a way to provide opposition to someone else’s movement, though it could just as easily be represented by creating an advantage (Covering Fire or Hail of Bullets, for example).


 The Stealth skill allows you to avoid detection, both in hiding in place and moving about unseen. It pairs well with the Burglary skill.
  • Overcome: You can use Stealth in order to get past any situation that primarily depends on you not being seen. Sneaking past sentries and security, hiding from a pursuer, keeping yourself from leaving evidence as you pass through a place, and any other such uses all fall under the purview of Stealth.
  • Create an Advantage: You’ll mainly use Stealth to create aspects on yourself, setting yourself in an ideal position for an attack or ambush in a conflict. That way, you can be Well-Hidden when the guards pass by and take advantage of that, or Hard to Pin Down if you’re fighting in the dark.
  • Attack: Stealth isn’t used to make attacks.
  • Defend: You can use this to foil any Notice attempt to try and pinpoint you, seek you out, or trying to track you.


 Survival is the skill of outdoorsmen, covering hunting, trapping, tracking, fire building, and a lot of other wilderness skills. Characters with a high Survival skill are adept at riding horses, can survive nearly indefinitely by living off the land, and can track a man in the wilderness for days. They include hunters, scouts, and soldiers. While the Dresdenverse is centered squarely on the urban landscape, Survival still has its place, either by venturing out into the countryside (say, to visit a crotchety old wizard who lives on a farm), stepping into a particularly large urban park, or making it through the night in the wilds of the Nevernever.
  • Overcome: Survival obstacles can be highly varied. They can have to do with situational issues regarding the environment, animals, NeverNever beasties, or just flat out survivalist instincts for an area. They can help you overcome being trapped on the ocean with no water, can help you tame a wild boar, can help you avoid the den of bloodthirsty KinderHawks in the NeverNever because you just know the area so very well.
  • Create an Advantage: Survival allows you to create aspects based on what you know of an area, or how you know to deal with the creatures found in that area. In addition, you can help others in your party by sharing your knowledge and setting aspects that everyone is able to benefit from.
  • Attack: Survival isn’t used to make attacks.
  • Defend: Rarely is Survival going to come into play for defense, however, there are specific instances when it might come in quite handy. If a maddened beast is coming at you, you might have the knowledge required to calm it down, or redirect its aggression.


 The Will skill represents your character's general level of mental fortitude, the same way that Physique represents your physical fortitude.
  • Overcome: You can use Will to pit yourself against obstacles that require mental effort. Puzzles and riddles can fall under this category, as well as any mentally absorbing task, like deciphering a code. Use Will when it’s only a matter of time before you overcome the mental challenge, and Lore or Scholarship if it takes something more than brute force to get past it. Many of the obstacles that you go up against with Will might be complex, to reflect the effort involved. Contests of Will might reflect particularly challenging games, like chess, or competing in a hard set of exams.
  • Create an Advantage: You can use Will to place aspects on yourself, representing a state of deep concentration or focus.
  • Attack: Will isn’t used to make attacks unless it's part of a Power set (Energy Vampire, Energy Imbalance).
  • Defend: Will is the main skill you use to defend against mental stress attacks from Provoke, representing your control over your reactions.
  • Special: The Will skill gives you additional vitality stress or consequence slots. Average or Fair gives you a 3-point stress box. Good or Great gives you a 3-point and a 4-point stress box. Superb and above give you an additional mild consequence slot in addition to 4-point additional stress boxes.