The Mechanics 3. Character Skills & Skill Levels

The scope of knowledge and skill described by character Trades is broader and more general. The more specific and specialized areas of knowledge, expertise and/or deftness of hand or limb a character can have are called “skills”.

A skill is a much more limited and specific process or field/area of expertise in which a character may have a measurable, meaningful degree of knowledge, training, and experience, to the point where that knowledge and training are considered sufficient to increase the incidence of success he enjoys when he engages in that specific activity, or in determining whether those characters so skilled have various sorts of information pertaining to it or any of their peers/colleagues.

Skills are divided according to the sphere of life experience from which they are derived. Those derived from the practice of a given trade are referred to as Trade Skills, while the balance are referred to as Life Skills, as follows.

A. Trade Skills

As stated above, Trades define the outer boundaries of a character’s expertise in a given field, limiting the scope of knowledge included in the practices of those who follow particular occupations, provided in the description of each.

Those skills designed to work hand-in-hand with the Trades, distinguished on their own from the general “body of knowledge” of a Trade itself and used also to indicate trade limitations, are called “Trade Skills”.

Trade Skills are the primary means by which each Trade is defined. The bulk of each character’s skills come from this class.

Trade Skills are used to define the outer boundaries of your character’s knowledge, limiting the scope of knowledge in the practices of each trade, according to the needs of the members of that trade or craft in the medieval period of the game (according to its desription) and also, to a lesser extent, the concepts and practices common to and familiar within the medieval Tabletop Fantasy RPG hobby. They fulfill much the same function for Trades that the Trades themselves do in defining your character’s place in game world society. As attributes measure your character’s basic physical and mental and spiritual capabilities, so Trades and skills define his knowledge and training.

The bulk of the skills in the game belong to this group.

Under the heading “Trade Skill Rosters”, as follows, the roster of Trade Skills accompanying each Trade is provided. The skills appearing on each Trade’s Roster comprise a complete listing of all the specific skills used to define its scope of practice. Each Roster defines the knowledge commonly available to all who pursue that trade, representing the common ground shared between them.

Quick Method

A Quick Method character is automatically equipped with all the skills listed on the roster in his Trade(s) description(s). 

Custom Method

A Custom Method character is automatically equipped with all the Trade Skills listed on the roster(s) in his Trade(s) description(s).

Magickal Skills & Magick

In the same vein, the Spirit Senses are considered to be so closely intertwined and related by nature that they are bundled together, (AWA ÷ 4) of them together filling only a single AWA-slot, BUT they are ONLY considered to be bundled in this way for those characters who are members of some sort of magick-wielding trade (any Druid practitioner, Witch or Wizard, Hedge-Wizard, Hedge/Hearth-Witch, CunningMan or WiseWoman).

The members of ALL the Druid trades, every Witch and Wizard, Hedge-Wizard, Hearth-Witch, and CunningMan or WiseWoman, for all practitioners of magick except those who create magick through Alchemy, are required as a part of their trade training to cultivate a special memory keyed to certain mnemonics and a meditative state of mind that actually enables them to contain more knowledge and lore than would be possible by mundane means.

For these practitioners of magick, a single (AWA) skill-slot holds up to (MGA + trade SL) charms of the Common Sphere. When the character is ready to branch out into the magickal skills of the Noble Sphere of Power, each (AWA) skill-slot holds up to [(MGA + trade SL) ÷ 2] charms. When the character branches out into the magickal skills of the Sovereign Sphere of Power, each (AWA) skill-slot holds up to [(MGA + trade SL) ÷ 4] charms.

The skills representing the character’s general accumulated knowledge and background in each of the Ars Quintates (Divination, Sorcery, Enchantment, Glamourie, and Naming) are bundled together, filling only a single AWA skill-slot.

Despite the fact that the Wizard, Witch, and other trades of  magick embody one of the major attractions of fantasy roleplaying games (magick), it is highly recommended that players who are new to RoM (and especially those new to roleplaying games in general) wait until they have played the game for awhile and had a chance to become familiar with the system and the flow of play before creating such a character. This is primarily to save the player from getting bogged down in a whole lot of extra reading and additional record-keeping, and having to get familiar with all the special rules governing magick use while he is still trying to get a handle on the basic rules for situations like combat, which affect more characters much more regularly. The background and rules for the magick trades and the use of magick are longer than those for other trades and skills. An entire section of the book is devoted to its use (Part III. The Grimoire) which the player must get to know before he can play such a character successfully, not to mention the great array of skills specific to magickers. In the GM’s case, an entire book has been devoted to it, the GHB II. The Grimoire. Playing magick-wielding characters in RoM can be rather an ambitious undertaking for the most part, unless the player has solid exposure to the game already, or has experience with magick in other, similarly detailed fantasy roleplaying games and understands the extra work and reading involved in its use.

B. Life Skills

In addition to the Trade Skills, each character each may be equipped with a number of other skills also available to be learned simply from the lessons of everyday events and activities engaged in while growing up and living life in the medieval fantasy game world. These are called “Life Skills”.

As a part of Character Generation, Life Skills serve to define the character’s early life in a little more detail, but they can also reflect the more mundane activities sought or pursued while in the course of seeking and/or training for various character Trades. Some of them appear on certain Trade rosters, falling within the scope of their practice and thus taught by them to all apprentices. Life Skills represent an opportunity for the player to fill in gaps that may be seen in the character’s Trade(s) and Trade Skills that might become inconvenient should certain circumstances arise in the course of adventuring and, at worst, possibly even deadly. They help to round-out a character’s portfolio of skills and make of him more of a “real person”, so to speak, for the purposes of roleplay.

Life Skills serve to define your character’s early life in more detail. They are learned from the lessons of everyday events and activities while simply growing up and living his life in the medieval game world. They can also reflect the more mundane activities pursued by or taught to your character in the course of seeking and/or training for his various Trades (as applicable). In game terms, they represent an opportunity for you as a player to fill in gaps that you may see in your character’s Trade Skills that could become inconvenient should certain circumstances arise over the course of his adventures and, at worst, could even become deadly. Life Skills can also help to round-out your character’s portfolio of skills and make of him more of a “whole person” or “real person”, so to speak, for the purposes of roleplay. They generally aren’t as “sexy” or vital in the course of your character’s adventures, but they often provide gateways to roleplay and, like the Swimmer skill, may just be crucial in some adventure scenarios.

Life Skills are divided into four families in a similar manner to the Trades, according to their basic natures: Athletic Skills, Domestic Skills, Scholastic Skills, and Spiritual Skills. Like the Trades, again, Life Skills are further divided by Social Class: Noble, Common, and Landbound. Your character’s opportunities to learn Life Skills is directly influenced by the class of society in which he was raised.

Some of the Life Skills appear on certain Trade Skill Rosters. This emphasizes their importance to those Trades. Unless it is a Bundle, marked “(B)”, it allows a character to have the Life Skill so noted without filling the AWA-slot it would otherwise.

A character may have no more than one (1) Life Skill Bundle per category, thus a maximum of four (4).

Quick Method

Life Skills may ONLY be chosen from the character’s native social class (Noble, Common, or Landbound).

A character is automatically equipped with ALL the sub-skills that make up any Bundle with which he is equipped.

Custom Method

A character’s Life Skills, including those Bundles NOT derived from a Trade roster, must be purchased with the DP’s remaining after equipping Trades. 

Life Skill Bundles are paid for in the same as individual Life Skills.

– The cost of any Life Skill (or Bundle) that lies within the character’s Social Class by birth according to the roster by Social Class is one (1) DP. 

– The cost of any Life Skill that lies one (1) step away from the character’s own by birth according to the roster by Social Class is three (3) DP’s, e.g., for a Commoner to take either a Noble or Landbound Life Skill, or a Noble or Landbound born character to take a Commoner’s Life Skill.

– The cost of any Life Skill Bundle (B) that lies one (1) step away from the character’s own by birth according to the roster by Social Class is five (5) DP’s,

The cost of any Life Skill that lies two (2) steps away from the character’s own by birth according to the roster by Social Class is six (6) DP’s, e.g., for a Noble born character to take a Landbound Life Skill, or vice-versa.

– The cost of any Life Skill Bundle (B) that lies one (2) steps away from a character’s own by birth according to the roster by Social Class is fifteen (15) DP’s,

Each character is automatically equipped with ALL the sub-skills that make up any Bundle with which he is equipped.

Life Skill Rosters


† indicates that up to (AWA ÷ 4) skills in number of this type or category are allowed, and together fill only a single AWA-slot. In regards to Musician/Vocalist, the Vocalist skill is counted along with the rest as just another instrument skill.

1) For those of Noble birth, the choice of weapons here are unrestricted, while those of Common or Landboud birth are restricted to Bow (any); Dagger/Dirk/Knife; Woodsman’s Axe; Hatchet; Farm Tool; Quarter Staff; Sling or any of the previous as a Hurled and/or Off-Hand (as appropriate).

In general, Farm Tools include (but are not necessarily limited to) spades, mattocks, hoes, pitchforks, and any similar farm implements which in the period were adapted to create the polearm class of weapons, and also includes those tools related to common trades and skills, such as the stevedore’s baling hook, or the Cook’s or Chef’s knives (GM’s discretion), according to the character’s background.

(T) indicates the item may only be given to characters from a Town background.

(B) on the Life Skill rosters, indicates the entry is a set of Bundled skills.

Some of the Life Skills are gathered and made available by type as named bundles (Athletics, Homely Arts, Grammar School, etc). Some of the bundles are extremely useful for providing added dimensions to those characters starting play with only one or two Trades, making them much more versatile and rewarding to play.

Where Trade Skills derived from the practices of a given trade are considered the most exclusive class or family of skills, knowledge or expertise in the game – considered “trade secrets” throughout the game world, Life Skills are much more accessible by their very natures.

For Life Skills, no barriers stand in the way of the un-trained character’s learning new ones, should you desire to expand his personal horizons and add them to his portfolio, unlike Trade Skills that are commonly protected – especially those belonging to trades represented by a guild.

Life Skills are considered so basic and universally useful that the people of the medieval game world are much more relaxed about passing such knowledge on. Indeed, in many cases, their lack in some cases is likely to be a matter of no small note.

Between his Trade(s), Life Skills (Swimmer, Horseman, Cook, etc.) and any Life Skill Bundles (Athlete, Domestic Servant, Secretary/Clerk, Grammar School, etc.) he is given, a character may start play with no more than (AWA) in total.

This limited allowance is commonly referred to as being made up of AWA-slots. In this way, each point of your character’s AWA score is counted as a single “slot”.

Each Trade fills one (1) AWA-slot.

Each Life Skill fills one (1) AWA-slot. 

Each Life Skill Bundle (Athlete, Grammar School, Finishing School, Homely Arts, Cottage Crafts, etc.), fills one (1) AWA-slot.

Life Skill Bundles that are derived/awarded from a Trade Roster (Athlete, Grammar School and Finishing School, are among the most common) fill one (1) AWA-slot IN ADDITION to the slot filled by the Trade whose roster it appears on.

The players are under no obligation whatsoever to completely fill their characters’ (AWA) quota of skills when fitting them out for a game. To the contrary, they are encouraged to leave a couple or even a few AWA-slots open in order to further develop their characters later on. As the game progresses, each player’s image or concept of their character is very likely to change, their perceptions of them evolve and grow, and that usually requires the addition of a new skill here or there to accommodate it, if not a Trade or two.

It is best to record a character’s skills, in columns side-by-side, Trade by Trade. The Character Record Sheet is laid out this way to facilitate this practice.

In a number of cases, certain skills are duplicated from one Trade roster to the next, and players are encouraged to make choices that result in them being duplicated. This reflects the fact that a character was encouraged and helped in learning and honing those skills on more than one front and his tutelage continued at different points in his life, supplemented and reinforced.