Social Proficiencies

Social Proficiencies Slots Ability Modifier
Administration 1 Reason +1
Assimilation 1 Reason 0
Body Language 1 Intuition -2
Bribery 1 Intuition -1
Bureaucracy 2 Reason 0
City Familiarity (specify) 1 Knowledge 0
Debate 1 Reason 0
Diplomacy 1 Leadership -1
Enamor 1 Appearance -2
Epicure 2 Knowledge +2
Etiquette 1 Knowledge 0
Fast-Talking 1 Leadership 0
Gaming 1 Leadership 0
Grooming, Humanoid 1 Intuition 0
Haggling 2 Willpower 0
Information Gathering 1 Reason 0
Intimidation 1 Muscle or Leadership 0
Intrigue 2 Leadership -2
Local History (specify) 1 Knowledge 0
Mediation 1 Leadership -1
Modern Languages 1 Knowledge 0
Oratory 1 Leadership 0
Persuasion 1 Leadership 0
Tease 1 Leadership -1

Administration: This proficiency provides the administrative knowledge and skills necessary to handle the day-to-day running of a domain. The character can handle the proper management of land resources and the servants assigned to them. A character with this proficiency is skilled in the management and accounting of enterprises ranging from the agriculture of an entire province to the vineyards of a single small monastery. He knows how to account for money, plan work, and supervise the collection of taxes or the sale of goods.

A character with this proficiency understands the technical business of land and estate management, as well as the politics and personalities of the ruling class. These characters are alert and sensitive to the power and influence of nobles and their retainers. They know where to seek information and how to achieve the objectives of their lords (and even advance their own personal goals). They recognize the strengths and weaknesses within their area of influence, and they know how to use these to best advantage. Finally, they know how to best impress their lords and whatever guests they may be currently entertaining.
A failed check leads to some social blunder or miscalculation whose ramifications are left to the DM.

A character with the Administration skill is necessary for the normal operation of any Business.

Assimilation: The character with this proficiency is able to study a different culture well enough to pretend to be a member of it. Assimilation allows the character to pick up cultural mannerisms (common rituals, expressions of speech, taboos, etc.). It is distinct from Acting but helpful to that proficiency. A character who has both Acting and Assimilation proficiency receives a +1 bonus to checks with either proficiency when portraying a member of another culture. (This is cumulative with the Acting/Disguise bonus; if a character has all three proficiencies, she receives a +2 bonus.)

Body Language: A character with the body language proficiency is able to interpret subtle changes in the behavior of another creature that give away its moods and attitudes. Sitting posture, vocal tone, gesticulations, facial movements, and expressions all contribute to this. This skill is effective only on beings of the same race as the user or a closely related race; e.g., a human could not read a dragon’s body language. Only intelligent (Reason 5+) beings can be “read” like this, and the reader must be able to see the subject’s body. On a successful secret check, the reader can judge the general mood of the subject; happy, scared, depressed, etc. A failed check reveals another mood (DM’s choice). If he concentrates, the reader can also tell whether the subject is lying or not. This requires a check at an additional -4 penalty, and the player must actually announce he is doing this; it is not automatic.

Bribery: Bribery is a way of life and knowing when to offer a bribe is an important skill. Equally important, however, is the timing of the offer, the amount that will most likely garner the reaction that is wanted, and the best way to disguise the bribe so that it doesn’t draw attention from unwanted witnesses. Bribery covers these essential, though usually overlooked parts to bribery. Use of the skill alone gives a character a chance of estimating how big a bribe is necessary to get what he wants, whether the one receiving the bribe will keep his side of the bargain, and how to offer the bribe without insulting the target.

In addition to getting around inconvenient rules and regulations and dodging unwanted attention, bribes are often good for loosening tongues and gaining information. The Bribery skill allows the character to judge how much of a bribe will be needed to get the information he wants and to ascertain when the talker actually has no more useful information to impart. The bribery skill may only be used on those who are willing to be bribed.

The typical amount of money required for a bribe varies with the NPC’s status, according to the table below. This base amount is multiplied by the difference between the user’s Reaction roll and the minimum number necessary to achieve a “friendly” result. Once the character has forked over an appropriate amount, the player can make a Bribery roll. If it succeeds, the NPC will acquiesce to the character’s request.

NPC Status Bribe
Peasant/Slave 2d4 cp
Freeman/Soldier 2d6 sp
Merchant/Officer 2d8 gp
Noble/General 2d10 pp

No character can be bribed to do something that falls outside his job or station. A simple peasant or a palace guard would not agree to assassinate his king or liege lord for a few coins. However, the peasant might offer a party shelter for the night or hide the thief from a search party. A guard might agree to look the other way while the party sneaks out the gate.
Likewise, a simple bribe never induces a character to compromise something he believes in or do something that places the character in danger. For instance, an acolyte cannot be bribed to look the other way while the party defiles a holy water font. In any case, an NPC bribed through the use of this skill does not perform any action that takes more than a few minutes of effort or places himself in danger—the task must strike the character as something that is quick and harmless.

Bureaucracy: This proficiency encompasses a working knowledge of governmental protocol and the skills necessary to navigate bureaucratic organizations. A character with this proficiency knows which official to approach and the best time to approach him (a tax collector’s aide may have better access to information than the tax collector himself; a city clerk may be less harried and more helpful at the beginning of the month than at the end). He knows where government records are kept and the procedures for examining them. He knows how to circumvent sluggish or uncooperative bureaucrats. He obtains permits and other government documentation in half the normal time. No proficiency checks are needed for any of these functions.

A character can also use Bureaucracy to turn the system against someone else. A successful proficiency check doubles the amount of time to make a government decision, causes a permit to be issued under the wrong name, or temporary misplaces an important document. A paladin must be careful with this ability, to avoid breaking the law and violating his ethos.

Official organizations include government councils, regulatory boards, and church hierarchies. The proficiency is only effective when dealing with organizations of 10 or more members.

City Familiarity: A character with this proficiency is unusually knowledgeable about one specific community, chosen when the proficiency is purchased. City Familiarity gives the character a good knowledge of the important political and financial figures in the community, an understanding of which families (and criminal organizations) are most important and how they relate to one another and a good grasp of the city’s main streets and byways. The character needs no skill check to call on this information.

When the character wants more detailed information, such as the precise layout of streets when he’s running away from city guards, the name of the number-two man in a specific organization, or the knowledge of which politicians are cheapest to bribe the character must make a proficiency check with a difficulty modifier determined by the DM.

A character can must have lived in a city for at least three months before he can purchase the City Familiarity proficiency and except for the town in which he grew up, he can do so only with DM permission.

Debate: Characters with the debate proficiency can hold their own during heated discussions, remaining quick-witted and cool-tempered. They do not gain the ability to convince guards or holy warriors of their viewpoints, however. Nor can they sway the thinking of unruly hordes or skeptical masses.

This proficiency does allow them to engage in meaningful arguments, impressing others with their mental faculties. As a result, debaters gain a +2 bonus to encounter reactions. When they’re attempting to smooth ruffled feathers, the bonus is added to the result on the dice. When they’re attempting to enrage another character with cheek and guile, the bonus is subtracted from the dice roll.

An individual with the debate proficiency is quite engaging. As a result, a character verbally battling one-on-one with such a debater is less watchful of his or her surroundings. Pickpocket attempts against that character are at +1 bonus, the character’s initiative is at +3, and the character’s ability or proficiency checks are at -3. (The debater does not suffer these penalties unless doing battle with another debater.)

Debaters cannot automatically preoccupy others, however. An individual must be willing to talk in the first place before a debater can use this proficiency. Further, the proficiency doesn’t work unless the targeted individual is at least cautious toward the debater (if they saw eye to eye, there would be nothing to debate). Assuming these conditions are met, the debate begins. It continues until the target makes a d20 roll higher than his or her Reason score. (The smarter the individual, the livelier the debate, and the harder it is to end it.) Debate also ends if a sudden action or activity interrupts it, for example, a failed pickpocketing attempt, a sudden attack or magical explosion, a scream from the harem, and so forth. As soon as the debate ends, so do the penalties noted above (to initiative, ability and proficiency checks, and the likelihood of being robbed by a pickpocket).

Two individuals with the debate proficiency can seek to best each other in verbal sparring. In this case, both make proficiency checks each round until one fails. Both characters are preoccupied; they suffer the penalties noted above while engaging each other in debate.

Diplomacy: This is the grand art of high diplomacy between states or organizations. A character skilled in diplomacy knows the correct procedures and unwritten rules of negotiations between states or large organizations. He is capable of discerning the true intent of the various declarations, statements, and gifts or exchanges that make up a diplomatic
encounter, and he is able to take his own wishes and couch them in proper diplomatic terms.

Normally, the character need only make proficiency checks if the negotiations are particularly delicate or difficult. However, if there is a specific goal or compromise the character is working towards, he may attempt a check to see if he can win the other side over to his point. The DM can apply a modifier of –8 to +8 depending on what the diplomat’s offer means for the parties involved. Requesting the surrender of a vastly superior enemy is next to impossible, unless the character can convince them that they stand to gain something of great value by giving up. In any event, the DM shouldn’t use this ability as a substitute for good role-playing by the players.

Enamor: This proficiency allows a character to trick an NPC into falling in love with him or her. It is more than the skill of knowing which flowers to send or garments to wear. Enamor proficiency allows the character to study his target like a thief studies a vault, looking for weak points to exploit.

Standard use of the Enamor proficiency takes a week of constant contact for a susceptible victim, a month or more for a more difficult target. The DM can allow bonuses to the proficiency roll for a PC who is thorough and clever in his research into the victim’s psyche and who takes extra time, and can assign penalties to one who spends too little time. At the end of the contact period, the DM rolls the Enamor proficiency for the character and compares the results with the listed in the table below.

Failure by 4+ The victim has been (accidentally) insulted during the romantic pursuit. The victim may attack the character, may arrange to have the character assaulted, may pretend to be seduced in order to cause the character some great harm later, etc.
Failure by 2-3 The victim is not interested in the character and may become irritated with continued pursuit.
Failure by 1 The victim is flattered but not convinced. The character can start over with a -2 penalty to his Enamor check, or can abandon pursuit, perhaps leaving behind some hard feelings.
Even roll The victim is flattered but not convinced. The character can start over or can abandon pursuit with no hard feelings.
Succeed by 1 The victim is flattered but not convinced. The character can start over with a +1 bonus to his Enamor check, or can abandon pursuit with no hard feelings.
Succeed by 2-3 The victim is infatuated by the character but will not change ethics, goals, or loyalties.
Succeed by 4-6 The victim is in love with character and will help the character in any way that does not violate important ethics and loyalties.
Succeed by 7+ The victim is madly in love with the character and will abandon all ethics, goals, and loyalties.

The DM should additionally make a Willpower check for the victim. If the victim makes the Willpower check by more than the character made his Enamor proficiency check, the result are as for an Even Roll. Ironically, the more complete the character’s success, the more dangerous the situation becomes. A victim who is madly in love may do everything the character wishes, including betraying state secrets and turning traitor, but expects the character with Enamor proficiency to be just as much in love. The victim becomes dangerously jealous of potential rivals (seeing anyone remotely suitable as a potential rival) and could become murderous if he realizes he has been duped.

The relationship built by use of the Enamor proficiency need not be a romantic one. Depending on the situation, the relationship might be a friendship or the winning of someone’s loyalty away from an enemy.

Although nothing prevents good-aligned characters from learning the Enamor proficiency, the first time they ruin a life with it may be the last time they use it.

Epicure: This character is an expert in food and drink, and can tell (on a successful proficiency check) whether food has been prepared by a master chef, what ingredients were used, what year a specific wine was bottled, and what region it came from. If this character also has the Cooking skill, then no proficiency check is required to prepare a masterful meal.

Etiquette: This proficiency gives the character a basic understanding of the proper forms of behavior and address required in many different situations, especially those involving nobility and persons of rank. Thus, the character will know the correct title to use when addressing a duke, the proper steps of ceremony to greet visiting diplomats, gestures to avoid in the presence of dwarves, etc. For extremely unusual occurrences, a proficiency check must be made for the character to know the proper etiquette for the situation (an imperial visit, for example, is a sufficiently rare event).

However, having the character know what is correct and actually do what is correct are two different matters. The encounters must still be role-played by the character. Knowledge of etiquette does not give the character protection from a gaffe or faux pas; many people who know the correct thing still manage to do the exact opposite.

This knowledge is limited to those cultures for which you have the Modern Languages proficiency. If you cannot fluently speak Orcish, you have very little chance of understanding the niceties of Orcish rulers.

Fast-Talking: Fast-talk is the art of distraction and conning NPCs. If a successful proficiency check is made, the fast-talker weaves a successful scam. Modifiers are based upon the Reason and Willpower of the NPC target as shown below. DMs may also introduce modifiers according to the difficulty or plausibility of what the character is attempting, as well as the racial preferences of the target character.

Modifiers are cumulative. Targets of Reason 3 or less are so dim that attempts to fasttalk them fail automatically because they cannot follow what is being said. Targets with Reason of 20 or more or Willpower of 19 or more are impervious to fast-talking.

Target’s Reason Modifier Target’s Willpower Modifier
3 or less NA 3 or less +5
4-5 +3 4-5 +3
6-8 +1 6-8 +1
9-12 0 9-12 0
13-15 -1 13-15 -1
16-17 -2 16-17 -3
18 -3 18 -5
19 -5 19+ NA
20+ NA

Gaming: The character knows most common games of chance and skill, including cards, dice, bones, draughts, and chess. When playing a game, the character may make a proficiency check, with success indicating victory. If two proficient characters play each other, the one with the highest successful die roll wins. A character with gaming proficiency can also attempt to cheat, thus gaining a +1 bonus to his check. If the proficiency check for the game is 17 to 20, however, the character has been caught cheating (even if he won the game).

Grooming, Humanoid: This character knows how to make people look good or bad through the use of makeup, hair styling, and clothing. A character with the grooming proficiency can temporarily increase or decrease his or another character’s Appearance by 2 (to a maximum of 18 and a minimum of 3), affecting the reactions of those able to view the character. This improvement can last anywhere from an hour to a full day, depending on the character’s activity and the elements. This proficiency also gives a +2 bonus to Disguise proficiency checks.

Haggling: Bazaars and markets are a place of give and take, where steep prices are demanded and modest amounts are paid. If the DM chooses to avoid haggling, only the listed price for equipment applies. But if haggling is allowed, then two other prices come into play: the “asking price,” and the “bargain price.”

The asking price is just that, what a merchant typically asks for a given item when a buyer points it out. For most goods, the asking price is 50% above the price listed under equipment. A poor haggler usually ends up paying that price. The bargain price reflects the most successful result of a haggling character and is 25% below the listed price, while the listed price reflects a middle ground, a sort of standoff or compromise between buyer and seller.

Here’s how the proficiency works in play. A buyer with the haggling proficiency, usually a PC, points to an item for sale and asks the price. Variations exist, but as a general rule, merchants are assumed to have the haggling proficiency too, with a score of 14 (unless otherwise specified). The PC makes a haggling check. The DM does the same for the merchant. Results are as follows:

  • If the buyer makes a successful check but the merchant doesn’t, the item will sell for the bargain price, usually with some complaint by the merchant. (“You are stealing from me! You remember that it was I who was so good to you when next you need supplies. Now, what else may I show you?”)
  • If both the buyer and the seller make successful checks, the merchant will not settle for less than the normal price, regardless of bickering.
  • If both the buyer and the seller fail their checks, the merchant won’t settle for less than the normal price (the “fine price,” the “excellent price,” the “price that barely feeds my wife and my ten sick children, a virtual killing!”).
  • If the buyer fails the check but the seller succeeds, the merchant will hold firm to the asking price, and no amount of haggling will change it. (“Hah! You insult me with your swine-headed ways! If you think you can get a better price, then go somewhere else! Now, what else may I show you?”)

Lacking the haggling proficiency is the same as failing the proficiency check. For example, if the buyer lacks the proficiency, and the seller’s proficiency check fails, then the normal price applies. If the PCs are together, only one of them can haggle for a particular item; a merchant won’t begin anew with another player character. Further, the price of an item determined by haggling applies throughout the business day. Return attempts are useless until the next morning. If the character wishes to buy another item of the same type, the previous price automatically applies. A character can haggle for another kind of item right away, but could not, for example, attempt to buy a second waterskin that day from the same merchant for a better price.

At the DM’s option, merchants may decide not to haggle with a PC who appears not to have the asking price in hand. (Why should merchants waste effort on a pauper who has no intention of buying?) “Let me see your silver” is a common response to a questionable buyer’s attempt to haggle. Haggling should enhance the flavor of adventures, with appropriate role-playing to supplement the proficiency checks. The DM will allow it to dominate or otherwise slow the campaign.

Information Gathering: Through the use of this proficiency, a character can gain information about a specific person, place or thing by asking questions in a populous area. In appropriate circumstances, a character will be aware of major rumors circulating around a city or settlement. With a successful check, specific information can be gleaned.

The following modifiers adjust the check: Characters’ reaction adjustments (based on Appearance) will benefit or penalize the roll, assuming contact with intelligent beings is involved in the search. Guild members receive a +2 bonus as they have the resources of the entire guild at their disposal. Similarly, outside of towns and cities, certain characters may receive the same bonus if they have similar contacts (Rangers or Druids have woodland creatures, a goblin may be able to get information from a goblin tribe, etc.). When outside friendly territory, specific information suffers at least a -3 penalty.

Money or treasure is required. Any time a proficiency check is required to gather information, the character must make a small investment of money or treasure or suffer an additional penalty of -3. Urban dwellers prefer money, and a total of 1d10 gp is typical. Tribal persons may want some other type of treasure (food, magical item, shiny trinket, etc). The investment is lost whether or not the desired information is found.

Intimidation: This proficiency allows characters to bend others to their will through fear tactics. NPCs who are intimidated are quite likely to do as they are told. They are also very likely to harbor much resentment against the character that intimidates them. NPCs will keep their resentment hidden until the first opportunity to avenge their pride arises.

Intimidation can be attempted with either Muscle or Leadership. Muscle indicates a threat of immediate bodily injury. Leadership uses more subtle threats which need not be physical in nature. Player characters are never required to submit to intimidation.

Intrigue: The proficiency is well-practiced in the haunts of the aristocracy (courts, temples, and universities). Through the use of this skill, a character can learn the current politics of the area and practice some subversion to gain his own political agenda. Whenever he has dealings with another person for purely political matters, he must attempt a proficiency check. A successful roll gives the character a hint from the DM on the result of his machinations. He might learn that he has succeeded in securing the loyalty of another’s underling or barred another from rising in station. A failed roll often gives misinformation; the character might think he has achieved some success but in actuality has fallen from a superior’s grace or insulted the wrong person and hindered his schemings. In all instances of a character using this proficiency, the roll should be made secretly by the DM.

Local History: The character is a storehouse of facts about the history of a region the size of a large county or a small province. The character knows when the ruined tower on the hill was built and who built it (and what happened to him), what great heroes and villains fought and fell at the old battlefield, what great treasure is supposed to be kept in a local temple, how the mayor of the next town miraculously grew hair on his balding pate, and more.

The DM will provide information about local sites and events as the character needs to know them. Furthermore, the character can try to retell these events as entertaining stories. Once the subject is chosen, he can either make a proficiency check and, if successful, add that tale to his repertoire, or actually tell the story to other characters. If the character succeeds in entertaining them, the player need not make a proficiency roll for the character, since he has succeeded. The character can tell these stories to entertain others, granting him a +2 bonus to his Reaction rolls for the encounter. But telling stories to hostile beings is probably not going to do any good.

Mediation: Mediation is the art of negotiation used to arbitrate between two or more warring
factions. Customarily, the mediator is not a member of either side, but a neutral third party. Ostensibly, he acts as a referee of sorts, allowing all sides to express their concerns and opinions, then acting as a negotiator between sides or as an arbitrator or judge, who is empowered to make a decision that is as fair as possible to all interested parties. It is not always possible for a third party to conduct the negotiations, however, and mediators are often diplomats from one side or another who are empowered to make deals and set limits on agreements.

Whether used to set terms for surrender, to settle land disputes or negotiate trade agreements, or to promote peace between factions, tribes or city-states, mediation allows those involved to strive for the best possible outcome for all sides.

Modern Languages: The character has learned to speak a language of the known world. To do so, there must be a teacher available. This could be another player character, an NPC hireling, or simply a local townsman. See Languages.

Oratory: Through inspiring speech and sheer force of personality, a character with this proficiency can influence the opinion of a crowd. Any size crowd may be influenced, so long as they speak the same language as the orator, and can see and hear him clearly.

To use this proficiency, the orator must address the crowd on one specific topic. For instance, he may attempt to persuade them to rise up against a local despot, leave town because of an impending danger (a monster on the outskirts of town, an advancing evil army), or help search for a missing child.

Before the orator speaks, the DM must determine the size of the crowd, their level, and their general attitude toward the orator and the topic he’s addressing. For small crowds—say, less than five members—determine levels and attitudes individually. Break larger crowds into groups; decide an average level and attitude for each group. Use the rules for NPC Reactions to access attitudes about the topic; the crowd may be Friendly, Indifferent, Cautious, Threatened, or Hostile. Before any rolls are made, or the orator begins speaking, the player tells the DM if the orator will be attempting to adjust the crowd’s opinion one level up or down. The orator then speaks to the crowd; he must speak uninterrupted for at least 10 rounds.

When the orator finishes speaking, roll the Oratory proficiency check. If the check succeeds, make an Reason check for each individual in a small crowd, or for each small group in a large crowd. Modify these rolls by a –1 penalty for each 1 by which the orator made the Oratory check. For instance, if the Orator needed a 10 to succeed and rolled a 5, each Reason check takes a –5 penalty.

Individuals or groups who fail their Reason checks have their opinions about the topic adjusted one level in the direction of the orator’s choice. An Indifferent opinion may become Friendly or Cautious, a Cautious opinion may become Indifferent or Threatening. However, all audience members who fail their rolls have their opinions adjusted the same way. The opinions of those who succeed in their rolls remain unchanged by the character’s Oratory; however, practically speaking, peer pressure can produce the same results. The DM may override any die roll that produces inappropriate results; for example, an NPC in the crowd who has a long-standing feud with the orator may be unswayed, regardless of the orator’s eloquence.

A character may use this proficiency only once on a given crowd. Should the composition of the crowd change to include many new members, the character may make another oratory attempt, providing he speaks on a different topic.

Note that this proficiency elicits only modest changes in attitude. If a crowd feels Indifferent towards a despot, an orator may be able to stir up some ambiguous feelings about him, but he won’t be able to convince them to immediately storm the despot’s castle. If the crowd is suspicious of a particular religion, the orator may persuade them to be more tolerant, but he shouldn’t expect any spontaneous conversions.

Persuasion: This proficiency enables the character to make a compelling argument to convince a single character to see things his way, respond more favorably, or comply with a request. The character engages the NPC in conversation for at least 10 rounds (meaning that the subject must be willing to talk with the character in the first place); subjects whose attitudes are threatening or hostile aren’t affected by this proficiency.

A successful proficiency check means that the subject’s reaction is modified by +2 in favor of the character ( see NPC Reactions). This bonus is not cumulative with any other reaction modifiers, such as those derived from Appearance (either positive or negative). For every additional slot a character spends on this proficiency, he boosts the reaction modifier by +1 (for example, spending two slots on this proficiency gives a +3 reaction bonus on a successful check).

Tease: Tease allows a character to jape and jeer an opponent into acting rashly. The teasing character must have initiative. Teasing affects a single opponent with a Reason score of 3 or better. Although teasing includes gestures and body language, the opponent must be able to understand the teasing in order to be affected. Success means the teasing works, failure means it doesn’t. A natural 20 means the opponent will unleash its most devastating attack form against the teaser.

A successfully teased opponent rushes to attack the teasing character with physical force, ignoring any innate abilities, spells, ranged attacks, magic, breath weapons, or other abilities of its own. Teasing effects last for one round, during which the teased character is limited to physical attacks.

Social Proficiencies

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