Scion: Hero to Ragnarok
Abilities are skills that characters learn by study or experience. When a character performs a task, the player typically combines an Attribute with an Ability the character possesses in order to determine the task’s dice pool. Unlike Attributes, Abilities in Scion are rated from zero to five dots. Players who attempt a task using an Ability in which they have no dots suffer a +2 difficulty to their roll. Depending on the complexity of the task, the Storyteller can increase this penalty further or declare that the task cannot be performed at all. A reasonably intelligent character with no medical knowledge might be able to set a broken bone with some difficulty, for example, but successfully performing open-heart surgery would be impossible.
The following Abilities are available to mortal and divine characters in Scion. Most Abilities represent general bodies of knowledge or experience. A few, such as Science, require specialization in a chosen field of study, though the Storyteller can choose to waive this requirement.
Academics is a wide-ranging Ability that represents the sum of a person’s higher education in the Arts and Humanities — everything from history to linguistics, literature, theater, and the study of law. Characters do not necessarily have to be college graduates in order to possess this Ability. An inner-city kid with access to a library and a voracious appetite for knowledge could have a high rating in Academics. A college graduate who spent more time partying than studying could have a very low rating. Characters use Academics to better understand the World around them. Knowledge of history and divine legend are crucial to the children of the Gods, for example — and familiarity with the legal system could not hurt, either. This Ability is also used to research topics with which the character is unfamiliar, using either the library or the Internet.
A character with Academics 1 has a basic, working knowledge of the liberal arts. She is familiar with the basic disciplines (English, history, art, etc.), and can find her way around a library with difficulty. A character with Academics 3 is a well-read and knowledgeable individual, and she can learn what she does not know in a few hours of focused research. A character with Academics 5 is highly educated or extremely well read. She is a veritable font of information, able to speak knowledgeably on a wide variety of subjects.
Note: A multilingual character can speak a maximum number of languages equal to his (Intelligence + Academics). A character must still actually learn the additional languages he speaks, though — whether doing so is part of his upbringing or happens over time in game. He does not spontaneously understand new languages each time he gets a new Academics dot.
Reading an animal’s state of mind and reacting accordingly can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Animal Ken represents a person’s experience in dealing with wild or domesticated animals. Perhaps she was raised on a ranch and has spent most of her life working with livestock and hunting predators. Maybe she chose a career in veterinary medicine or zoology. This Ability covers animal-handling techniques, care and feeding, and basic veterinary medicine.
Characters use Animal Ken when attempting to handle or train a wild or domesticated animal. This Ability is also used when a character is trying to befriend or calm a hostile animal such as a stray dog or a wild horse, or to treat an injured or sick animal.
A character with Animal Ken 1 has a basic understanding of animal health and behavior. She can avoid getting bitten by strange dogs and can teach pets basic tricks. A character with Animal Ken 3 is an experienced animal handler and can work safely with even wild animals, from horses to tigers. A character with Animal Ken 5 has an almost supernatural connection with animals, able to win the trust and acceptance of even the most skittish or hostile creatures.
Producing — or performing — works of art demands both imagination and skill. It requires both the spark of creativity and hard-won technique to carve a sculpture, write a song, or deliver a moving soliloquy. This Ability represents the physical skill required to create or perform works of art and entertainment. By the same token, this Ability can also be used to gauge the merit of a work of art and critique it objectively. Characters use Art to sculpt, to compose or perform music, to act or to write.
This Ability requires the character to specialize in a given artistic field, such as painting, sculpture, music, et cetera. This Ability can be selected multiple times to represent experience in a variety of artistic pursuits, but each rating is independent.
A character with Art 1 has a basic understanding of her craft. She has reached the stage where she can produce polished, effective work most of the time. A character with Art 3 is an experienced and capable artist. She is familiar with all of the tricks of the trade and can produce work that is much valued and admired. A character with Art 5 is an icon in her chosen field. Her work is the standard against which all others are measured.
It is one thing to say that someone is strong but another thing entirely to say that she is athletic. This Ability describes a character’s physical fitness, coordination, and endurance, as well as her skill in applying herself to strenuous physical activity. It is the difference between someone who can lift a heavy box and someone who has honed her strength and coordination to climb sheer rock walls.
Characters use Athletics to climb walls, to leap from rooftop to rooftop and to swim across swift-moving rivers. The more dots of Athletics a character has, the more he can lift.
A character with Athletics 1 is moderately fit. She can swim, she can run a mile without getting winded, and she is adept at one or more sports. A character with Athletics 3 is in excellent shape. She runs five miles a day and enjoys a variety of challenging sports or activities. A character with Athletics 5 is in the peak of human physical condition. She could be an Olympic athlete or a world-class sports star.
Most people are reasonably alert and aware of their surroundings, but those with the Awareness Ability have honed their powers of observation to an exceptional degree. Constant alertness might be a part of their profession, as it is with a police detective or a bodyguard, or it might be a matter of survival, as it is with a soldier or a gang leader.
Characters use Awareness when they are searching a room or observing a person and looking for telltale clues about his intentions. It is also used to detect hidden enemies or to foil sneak attacks.
A character with Awareness 1 is fairly alert at all times. She can notice simple clues and uncover poorly hidden objects most of the time. A character with Awareness 3 is sharply observant. She has an eye for telling details and is constantly aware of potential dangers in her environment. A character with Awareness 5 is almost supernaturally alert. Her senses are sharpened to such a keen edge that almost nothing escapes her notice.
This Ability governs all types of hand-to-hand combat, from boxing to Kung Fu to no-holds-barred street fighting. A character can pick up this Ability from a wide variety of sources. Maybe she was a martial arts student for years. Maybe she learned some techniques in the military. Maybe she simply learned how to use her fists on the rough streets where she grew up.
Characters use Brawl when they fight using their hands and feet (and knees, elbows, teeth, etc.).
A character with Brawl 1 knows how to fight. She is skilled enough to hold her own on a Friday night at the local roadhouse. A character with Brawl 3 is a skilled and dangerous fighter. She has knocked out her share of tough guys and has the scarred knuckles to prove it. A character with Brawl 5 is a master martial artist or champion Ultimate Fighter. Most of her opponents never know what hit them.
Command represents a person’s skill and experience in leading people, whether it is managing work teams in a corporate environment or guiding raw recruits into battle. This Ability can be learned through training or won through hard experience. A young officer in the military is taught how to motivate and lead soldiers in the most stressful situations, while a teenager who has to raise her younger brothers after their parents die has leadership thrust upon her whether she likes it or not.
Characters use Command when they need to direct or lead other people, especially in crisis situations.
A character with Command 1 can keep a cool head in an emergency and has an aura of self-confidence that people respond to. A character with Command 3 is an experienced and capable leader to whom people naturally defer. A character with Command 5 has the legendary “look of eagles” — people gravitate to her in a crisis and will follow her to the ends of the earth if that is what it takes.
This Ability governs driving, piloting or riding any and all types of transportation, from horses to cars to helicopters. In the modern day, most forms of transportation (cars, motorcycles, bicycles, etc.) are common and relatively easy to obtain, and most people have some basic familiarity with their use. Control does not cover mundane tasks such as driving to the corner market, however. This Ability represents the skill and training to put a vehicle through its paces and perform maneuvers under difficult or desperate situations.
Characters use Control when they are in a high-speed chase in the middle of rush hour, when they want to show off at the local half-pipe or when they want to fly a helicopter through the open decks of a parking garage.
This Ability requires the character to specialize in a given type of vehicle, such as cars, motorcycles, planes, riding animals, et cetera. This Ability may be purchased more than once to represent experience in a variety of vehicle types, but each rating is independent.
A character with Control 1 has steady hands and sharp reflexes and could be a decent street racer if she chose. A character with Control 3 has ice water in her veins and could be a professional racer or stunt driver. A character with Control 5 can do things with her ride that other drivers fear to contemplate, much less attempt.
Craft is the Ability to make and repair useful objects, from chairs to clothing to car engines. Most people learn these skills in a kind of apprenticeship, starting at a job doing small tasks and working their way up as their aptitude increases. Some people learn their trade as part of a family business. Others begin with a hobby that becomes a full-time pursuit. Most of these trades require an extensive set of tools and a workshop in which to operate, but some craftspeople get by with just a box of tools and whatever flat surface is handy. Characters use Craft when building or repairing objects or equipment.
This Ability requires the character to specialize in a particular kind of craft, such as carpentry, blacksmithing, electronics, automotive, et cetera. This Ability can be purchased multiple times to represent experience in different types of craftsmanship, but each rating is independent.
A character with Craft 1 is good with her hands and has a basic understanding of her trade. With the right tools and enough time, she can turn out well-made, useful items. A character with Craft 3 is a highly skilled, experienced craftsperson, capable of making high-quality objects quickly or improvising repairs with whatever resources are available. A character with Craft 5 can do wonders with her hands and a simple set of tools. She can build objects from improvised materials and whip a total wreck into working order with a paper clip and a roll of duct tape.
This Ability represents a person’s skill at gauging the mental and emotional state of others and picking up clues about their motives or intentions. Many people possess this Ability in differing degrees, from poker players to corporate negotiators to police interrogators. Regardless of the application, the technique is the same: Human beings give away clues about their mental state in the tone of their voice, their body language and myriad other tiny details often referred to as “tells.” By asking a few questions or observing a subject’s actions and reading these tells, characters with this Ability can learn a lot about what someone is thinking — or trying to hide.
Characters use this Ability to tell if they are being lied to, to aid in a negotiation with a hostile party or to convince someone to open up to them.
A character with Empathy 1 is fairly sensitive to other people’s emotional states and can gauge their motives some of the time. A character with Empathy 3 is keenly attuned to the emotions of those around her and can read most people like a book. A character with Empathy 5 is so perceptive that it is almost as though she can read a person’s mind — a degree of insight that can make people profoundly uncomfortable.
Where the Stamina Attribute reflects a person’s innate endurance, Fortitude represents training and experience in deliberately hardening the body to resist physical punishment. Different people have different reasons for hardening their bodies to suffering, whether they are marathon runners, professional athletes, soldiers, or monks. Some simply learn Fortitude the hard way, having been brought up in hostile environments such as the desert or the Arctic Circle.
Characters use Fortitude when they have to keep going in the face of pain, fatigue, sickness or intoxication.
A character with Fortitude 1 is reasonably tough. She can drink all night, go to work the next morning and function reasonably well with a pounding hangover. A character with Fortitude 3 is hard as nails. She can go for days without sleep or shrug off debilitating illness or painful injuries that would send lesser mortals to the hospital. A character with Fortitude 5 is a machine. She can keep going on nothing but willpower and spite long after everyone else around her is dead.
Holding fast to one’s principles in the face of deceptions, threats — even torture — is the stuff of which heroes are made. This Ability governs a person’s capability to resist the mental and physical manipulations of others and not be swayed by tricks, temptations or peril — be it as mundane as a slick car salesman’s pitch or as dire as a Titan cultist’s skinning knife. Integrity keeps a person from selling out herself or her friends to her enemies.
Characters use Integrity to resist deception, persuasion or manipulation or to keep from breaking under interrogation or torture.
A character with Integrity 1 has courage and strong convictions, and is able to recognize and resist most attempts at manipulating her. A character with Integrity 3 has an unshakable faith and a willingness to suffer for her beliefs. A character with Integrity 5 has the stuff of martyrs in her. She would rather die than compromise her principles.
Investigation is the science of piecing together information from disparate sources to explain a mysterious event or expose the perpetrator of a crime. It is equal parts observation, research, interrogation, and surveillance, gathering facts like puzzle pieces until the mystery is solved. This Ability typically comes as the result of training or on-the-job experience as an investigator, but some individuals with an insatiable curiosity and a knack for recognizing patterns can sometimes see things that seasoned investigators miss.
Characters use Investigation when piecing together clues at a crime scene, tracking down a missing person or looking into the financial records of a suspected cultist.
A character with Investigation 1 is a rookie detective or an amateur sleuth. She knows basically what sort of clues to look for, and her theories are usually sound. A character with Investigation 3 is highly skilled at zeroing in on the relevant clues to solve a mystery or hunt down a fugitive based on the trail he left behind. A character with Investigation 5 is a master detective. There is no puzzle she cannot solve, no person she cannot find, no subterfuge she cannot penetrate given enough time and effort.
Larceny is a broad-based Ability covering a wide range of illegal activities, from breaking and entering, to theft, forgery and fencing stolen goods. These are skills learned on the street, picked up in prison yards, or taught at police academies all over the World.
Characters use Larceny when they want to break into a building, steal a car, forge a driver’s license, or buy contraband on the black market.
A character with Larceny 1 is a competent street criminal with decent connections and a rap sheet to go with them. A character with Larceny 3 is a longtime criminal, possibly with prison time under her belt, and is very experienced at what she does. A character with Larceny 5 is a career criminal, well-connected and influential — and well-known to local crooks and cops alike.
This Ability governs a person’s capacity to operate and maintain ranged weapons, from bows and arrows to pistols, rifles and machine guns. Marksmanship can be learned in a variety of ways, whether as a hobby, part of a profession or a matter of day-to-day survival.
Characters use Marksmanship to shoot at a target, to assemble or disassemble a ranged weapon, or to fix one that has been jammed or damaged.
A character with Marksmanship 1 has a basic familiarity with her weapons and knows how to operate and maintain them. She is fairly accurate under most conditions. A character with Marksmanship 3 is an expert shot and is familiar with a wide assortment of weapons and their characteristics. A character with Marksmanship 5 wields her weapons with nearsupernatural skill. Hitting a nickel-sized target from hundreds of yards away in high winds is as easy and natural as breathing.
Medicine governs the myriad skills necessary to diagnose and treat human illness and injury. Some people come by this Ability by absorbing folk knowledge and remedies passed down through generations of healers and midwives. Others spend years in medical school and emerge with a white coat and many years of loans to repay.
Characters use Medicine to diagnose illnesses and injury and to treat them. It can also be used to determine the cause of a person’s death or to identify the properties of medicines and pharmaceuticals.
A character with Medicine 1 has a basic understanding of first aid. She likely knows CPR and can treat minor injuries. A character with Medicine 3 is a skilled practitioner, possibly a general practitioner or a resident at a local hospital who is familiar with treating serious illnesses and major injuries. A character with Medicine 5 is a world-renowned doctor or surgeon, capable of performing the most difficult and demanding medical procedures.
Melee governs the skill and experience to use close combat weapons in a fight, whether it is a broken beer bottle, a knife, or an ancient bronze sword. In a world of firearms, Melee is an Ability that can be difficult to come by. Some people learn the techniques as part of a martial art, while others pick up a little bit here and there in street fights and bar brawls. When it comes right down to it, handling a baseball bat is not all that different from swinging a broadsword or an axe.
Characters use Melee when they want to hit someone with a hand-to-hand weapon, such as an iron bar, a two-by-four, or a blade.
A character with Melee 1 knows how to fight with a weapon in her hands. She is skilled enough to be more dangerous to her opponents than to herself. A character with Melee 3 is deadly with a knife or an axe handle; she can hold her own against multiple opponents if need be. A character with Melee 5 would have been considered a master swordsman or knife fighter in another age. The most mundane items — pool cues, table legs, tow chains, etc. become deadly weapons in her capable hands.
This is a broad-based Ability that governs a person’s familiarity with the supernatural, from the practice of magic to legends about Gods, ghosts, and monsters. Some people learn Occult through the stories of their grandparents or the folk tales of their people. Others pursue the subject out of morbid fascination or pure curiosity, poring over library resources and surfing Internet sites in pursuit of arcane secrets.
Characters use Occult to identify magical objects or rites, to research ways to deal with ghosts or monsters, or to find information necessary to infiltrate the closed circle of a Titan cult.
A character with Occult 1 is familiar with the basic elements of her area of study. She knows basic magic rituals or can identify the different types of ghostly phenomena, etc. A character with Occult 3 is a serious student of the supernatural. She has deep knowledge of the supernatural and likely possesses a considerable library of sources she can draw upon. A character with Occult 5 is an acknowledged expert in esoteric study. She is knowledgeable about the most arcane aspects of her subject and likely has a vast library of information to draw upon when needed.
This Ability governs a character’s skill and experience in dealing with government bureaucracies, as well as her knowledge of how the political process works. She may have gained this Ability from years as a public servant or a member of a national political campaign, or she might be a journalist on the City Hall beat.
Characters use Politics when they want to run for office, to influence an election or to try to get things done through official channels without going through any red tape.
A character with Politics 1 knows her way around City Hall and has a good idea of who to call when she needs something done. A character with Politics 3 is a seasoned political operative with connections in government offices and the knowledge of whose palms to grease to get things done in a hurry. A character with Politics 5 is a mover and shaker in national politics, with knowledge and connections at the highest levels of power.
Presence is a person’s ability to use her charm and appearance to sway the opinions of others. She can be an inspiring figure of courage and determination, spurring those around her to greater efforts, or she can instill fear and loathing in her enemies, driving them before her. People often cultivate this Ability as performers, orators or entertainers, but some use it to inspire the faithful or keep their minions under their thumb.
Characters use Presence when they want to terrify their foes, motivate their allies, or give hope and courage to the downtrodden.
A character with Presence 1 is capable of turning heads and capturing people’s attention with her force of personality and physical magnetism. A character with Presence 3 is a magnetic figure. Her demeanor speaks volumes to the people around her. A character with Presence 5 is a spellbinding orator and a towering physical presence. When she speaks, the whole World seems to stop and take notice.
This broad-based Ability covers the natural and physical sciences. Most people with this Ability acquired it through study in school, but a keen mind and high school science classes could be enough for a person to continue her studies without ever getting a college degree.
Characters use Science when they are identifying chemical compounds, making homemade explosives, plating metals or creating an electric field.
This Ability requires the character to specialize in a given field of study, such as physics, chemistry, biology, geology, et cetera. This Ability may be purchased more than once to represent experience in a variety of fields, but each rating is independent.
A character with Science 1 knows the fundamental scientific laws. Basically, she knows just enough to be dangerous. A character with Science 3 is a skilled scientist or technician, with a solid foundation of knowledge and experience in her field. A character with Science 5 is a visionary theorist with unparalleled knowledge in her area of expertise.
Stealth governs a person’s skill and experience at avoiding detection. This Ability is about more than just walking softly. It is possible to remain unseen in broad daylight or in a crowded room simply by knowing how to blend in with one’s surroundings and not attract notice.
Characters use Stealth to sneak past guards, monsters, and the occasional landlord.
A character with Stealth 1 is careful and quiet, and can generally avoid notice unless someone is actively looking for her. A character with Stealth 3 knows how to blend in so well with her surroundings that guards can pass within arm’s reach and not notice her. A character with Stealth 5 is like a ghost. In the right conditions, she can practically vanish in front of a person’s eyes.
This Ability governs a person’s skill at surviving in a hostile environment with minimal assistance. She knows how to find food and shelter, cope with the elements, and treat her injuries using local resources. Some characters gain this Ability via specialized training, whether through the military or as members of a wildlife service or zoological organization. Others become adept at Survival by virtue of growing up in a wilderness environment or spending years hiking and exploring in such regions.
Characters use Survival to live off the land in wilderness surroundings, to track people and animals in the wild or to stay alive when stranded in hostile terrain.
A character with Survival 1 has enough experience to survive in the wild for a couple of days with minimal equipment. A character with Survival 3 can spend as much as a month in the wilderness with little more than a compass and a sturdy knife on which to rely. A character with Survival 5 is a wilderness expert, more at home in the wild than in civilization. She can walk into the wilderness empty-handed and survive for as long as she needs to.
This Ability represents a person’s skill at hitting a target using a thrown object, whether it is a rock, a baseball, or a knife. Most people who possess this Ability pick it up casually, having learned the basic hand-eye techniques as children, though specialized weapons such as throwing knives and hatchets require dedicated practice to use well.
Characters use this Ability when they want to hit a distant foe with a thrown knife, a spear, or a loose brick.
A character with Thrown 1 can hit what she aims at most of the time. A character with Thrown 3 has a keen eye and a powerful throwing arm. She can kill people with a well-aimed stone, much less a knife. A character with Thrown 5 is as deadly with a rock or a shuriken as most people are with a pistol.