DC Heroes RPG – New Rules – Skills

Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game


This is a technical article for the DC Heroes RPG.

For a list of all articles like this one, see the Guide to new DC Heroes RPG rules.

  • This is a compilations of list discussions about different ways to adjudicate or conceptualize certain game elements.
  • These addenda and clarifications are not official and are only provided as potentially useful house rules or explanations of particular game mechanics.




Rough benchmark for Skills

Author: Sébastien Andrivet, Roy Cowan, Mike Davies

This is but a rough benchmark — based on the official Mayfair stats.

It appears that each Skill practically has its own APs benchmarks, even after correcting for Linking-induced artefacts. For instance, APs of Weaponry tend to be one or two AP higher than APs of Martial Artist to signify the same level of skill… except when everything is DEX-linked for simplicity’s sake (which we don’t tend to do on writeups.org).

Another example is that Mental skills have a wider range of APs when it comes to characters with impossible-by-real-world-standards competence. Such extreme skills will often be in the 10-to-13 range whereas Physical skills for a similar level of competence would be in the 9-to-10 Range.

Such a Skill-by-Skill benchmark isn’t being considered for now – one has to carefully study the official writeups to develop a sense of scale in any case.

Level Rough description
1 Vague knowledge about the skill. Reliable ability to produce shoddy results. Maybe also the level of a lazy/indifferent/casual hobbyist.
2 Amateur with some talent or basic training. Will not provide professional results most of the time.
3 Indifferent professional. Good enough to make a living, but rarely gets cool results. Or skilled amateur/avid hobbyist – good enough to impress most people, but not professionals in the field.
4 Competent professional. A skilled person you’d want to hire.
5 Expert. By virtue of superior talent or experience, the character produces results and has knowledge a step above most professionals’. Level of a typical R&D head, conductor of major symphonies, etc.
6 Renowned expert. The character’s name comes up in discussion about the skill ; he has illustrated himself with newsworthy exploits in his discipline.
7 Cinematic expert. The characters can achieve results you’re not likely to see in real life and that make people go “wow”.
8 Heroic, world class expert. A contender among the pantheons of the very best musicians, doctors, scientists, Formula One drivers, etc. in the world. Called a genius by some.
9 Cinematic genius in that area. Author of various breakthroughs and impossibly knowledgeable in the discipline. This level, or perhaps a 10, would be equivalent to a Feynman  or an Einstein.
10 Comic-book genius in that area. Will do impossible stuff twice over breakfast.
11 The highest level of Physical Skills before they begin to be considered superhuman. The domain of the greatest human practitioners, but only in a comic-book setting or similar over-the-top genre.
12 Physical Skills at this level or higher are usually considered beyond unenhanced human ability even in a cinematic/comic-book setting. Mental Skills at this level are at the tipping point between the greatest human potential and a truly preternatural level of competence.
13+ Those with Mental Skills in this range are superhuman geniuses. Can casually make amazing breakthroughs in several different disciplines simultaneously while working a problem.

You can also see our hand-to-hand scale explanations for a closely related subject.

Skills usage note – Mayfair usage

Mayfair Games books  normally use a notation where Skills are used as a block, without selecting Subskills. They are also frequently Linked.

This is a much simpler approach than modern practice on writeups.org. Likely reasons for this :

  • Space in printed books is at a premium. Compare the length of a writeups.org stats block and a printed Mayfair one, and thus how many of each you could fit into a book.
  • Limited time for research at Mayfair, as books must hew by a budget and printing deadline.
  • A tendency to stat up the character in more general terms than writeups.org. Mayfair did go for specific versions of characters (rather than a synthetic, “iconic” approach), but not to the degree we do.
  • It’s simpler and more legible.
  • DC Heroes retains certain Silver Age  conventions. One is Skills-based super-heroes being competent at an absurd variety of tasks. Batman or Doc Savage have a seemingly infinite breadth of skills and knowledge, and Reed Richards knows every scientific discipline that could conceivably exist.

The Mayfair approach was still used in the oldest profiles on writeups.org. Remember, we’ve been at this since the mid-1990s. But we gradually veered toward a more detailed and evidence-based approach.

Though the Mayfair approach has its advantages, it does produce some silly results. For instance Lana Lang is a proper criminal defense lawyer (because as a comic book investigative reporter she has Detective) and space shuttle pilot (because she has the Vehicles skill to drive her car).

So these should be understood as an artefact of the older, simpler approach. And thus taken with a grain of salt weighing at least -2 APs.

Skills mechanics note – set vs. additive

Author: Sébastien Andrivet

There are two broad approaches to Skills in RPGs of this generation.

  1. The additive approach, where the skill’s number is added to another number (likely an attribute) to get the effective score. Say, Reasoning Attribute + Science Skill = effective Science score.
  2. The set approach, where the number for the skills stands alone and is used for the roll.

The additive approach tends to cause problems to represent high-Attributes characters who only have rudiments in a given Skill. The stand-alone approach tends to cause problems with high-Attributes characters finding low Skill levels useless (assuming they can roll using their Attributes and a penalty).

DC Heroes is mostly a set Skill values game, with two exceptions :

  • Some Skills cannot default off Attributes (“Skilled Use” rules). This prevents high-Attributes Characters from excelling at tasks they should master without training.
  • A lot, but not all, of knowledge Skills are treated as an additive system using Familiarity/Expertise/Scholar. Yes, it’s odd – especially since the first edition had a Scholar Skill, with APs.

As a set value system, it is thus possible to buy APs in a Skill that are too low to serve a purpose. Assuming that Unskilled Use is possible, and that you have a high corresponding Attribute. But such points can make sense as part of Character Advancement. Your training is too crude to match your natural talent, but as you keep training it’ll eventually pay off as you exceed Unskilled Use APs.


Author: Sébastien Andrivet
Helpers: Roy Cowan and his orchestra – Nick Yankovec, Eric Langendorff, Ambrose Tallis, Kal El.
Link: DEX
Range: Self.
Type: Dice, dice, baby.
Base Cost: 15
Factor Cost: 07
Unskilled use: Climbing.
Skilled use: Dodging (see below), Athletics.


This is a limited overhaul of the Acrobatics Skill, with more of a focus on acrobatic manoeuvres. It is used in lieu of the rulesbook’ Acrobatics Skill.

Acrobatics is composed three separate Subskills. These are Athletics, Climbing and Dodging.


Here are selections of acrobatic manoeuvres with corresponding difficulties. The difficulties assume a super-hero comic book world, where the physics facilitate such manoeuvres.

Selection #1 – traditional super-hero acrobatics

Difficulty Stunt
Easy Perform a sloppy roll, perform a sloppy cartwheel.
Average Perform a handstand, break a one story fall.
Challenging Perform a flip or back flip, break a two story fall, bounce off a wall, use a grapnel or similar from a standing position, swing from a chandelier.
Difficult Perform a somersault, retain your grip while on the top of a moving car, break a three stories fall, slowly walk a tightrope, swing to a specific spot using a line.
Strenuous Perform multiple back flips, perform basic trapeze work, land on a street lamp and bounce off, break a four stories fall, briskly walk on a tightrope, bounce off two walls, use a grapnel or similar while hurtling through the air.
Extreme Perform a double somersault, land on and bounce off from a telephone wire or similar, bounce off three walls, break a five stories fall, run or fight on a tightrope.
Pushing the limit Perform a triple somersault, bounce off four walls, break a six stories fall.

Selection #2 – jumps and leaps (metric)

Difficulty High jump Long Jump Triple jump Pole vaulting
Easy 1m 3m 6m 3m
Average 1.3m 4m 8m 3.7m
Challenging 1.5m 5m 10m 4.2m
Difficult 1.7m 6m 12m 4.7m
Strenuous 1.9m 7m 14m 5.2m
Extreme 2.2m 8m 16m 5.7m
Pushing the limit 2.5m 9m 18m 6.2m
Herculean 2.7m 10m 20m 6.7m
Beyond the limit 3m 11m 22m 7.2m

If the OV/RV of a jump/leap is 4+ APs under your Acrobatics (Athletics) APs, you can perform it as an Automatic Action.

Selection #2.1 – jumps and leaps (USA)

Difficulty High jump Long Jump Triple jump Pole vaulting
Easy 3’3″ 3.2yd 6.5yd 3yd
Average 4’3″ 4.5yd 9yd 4yd
Challenging 4’11” 5.5yd 11yd 4.5yd
Difficult 5’7″ 6.5yd 13yd 5yd
Strenuous 6’2″ 7.5yd 15.5yd 5.5yd
Extreme 7’2″ 9yd 17.5yd 6yd
Pushing the limit 8’2″ 10yd 19.5yd 7yd
Herculean 8’10” 11yd 22yd 7.5yd
Beyond the limit 9’10” 12yd 24yd 8yd

If the OV/RV of a jump/leap is 4+ APs under your Acrobatics (Athletics) APs, you can perform it as an Automatic Action.

Selection #3 – parkour manoeuvres

Manoeuvre Effect Video example
Kong vaulting/saut de chat Adds 1 to the RV of the jump, but adds clearance to a high jump equal to one’s arms length (typically 50cm/20″). Often used to reduce OV/RV so the leap becomes an Automatic Action. There are similar techniques such as the side vault, but the kong needs the least clearance.  Short video examples.
Running along a wall OV/RV is 2 per yard/metre, minus current land speed in APs.
Wall-run/passe-muraille Running *up* a wall so you can grab the top then muscle up. This doubles the height of a jump to get over a wall, but takes an entire Phase. The wall has to be grippy enough, and it must be possible to grab its upper edge (e.g., no broken glass or razor wire).
Tic-tac pop vaulting Adds 1 to the OV of the jump. Adds 50% to a high jump, but there must be a suitable obstacle to tic-tac off. Video example (voice-over in French).
Tic-tac-tac pop vaulting Adds 2 OV and 1 RV. Adds 75% to a high jump, but there must be two suitable obstacles to tic-tac off in succession.
Window vault Leaping through a small-ish opening. The actual technique will often be a dash vault (a leap done feet first) or an underbar vault (ditto, but with something above that you can grab with your hands). A building window is Average, a car window is Challenging, a tiny opening is Difficult. David Belle does a Difficult underbar precision vault.
Long side flip A side flip about as long as you’re tall is Strenuous.  Video example (voice over in German)

There are many other techniques such as double kongs  (video), wall spins  (video), many types of gainers  (video), but these are less likely to be used in adventures.

The rooftop express

The “rooftop express” is when super-acrobats (usually equipped with a swingline) traverse a dense city at roof level. They run on roofs, vault over obstacles, bounce on conveniently placed flagpoles, leap across blind alleys, swing across avenues, etc.

One’s land speed when doing this is half you Acrobatics (Athletics) APs, rounded up.

One advantage when moving in this way is that you can usually go in a straight line to your destination, whereas a car or motorcycle has to follow the streets.


Does not change from the rulesbook.


Does not change from the rulesbook.

Designer’s notes

For a while, we tinkered with various defensive Subskills added to Acrobatics, by semantic proximity with Acrobatics (Dodging). These now live in a more mature form as the Evasion Skill.

The old Gymnastics Subskill, being a performance skill, is better modelled as Artist (Gymnastics). So do some of its minor applications, such as Artist (Juggling). Yet in many cases, older profiles who had Acrobatics (Gymnastics) might be given Acrobatics (Athletics), to reflect authorial intent.

Artist — Skilled Use Only

Commenter: Jay Myers

Some players may wonder why Artist is Skilled Use only since anyone can perform most of the tasks listed therein. Even an untrained person can make a sketch, for example.

A possible rationale is that Artist represents a sufficient level of talent and/or trained ability to potentially gain a positive audience reaction. Anyone can try to sing a song, but not everyone can carry a tune well enough to possibly impress listeners.

Simply put, the lack of the Artist Skill does not imply a complete inability to carry out an action, simply an inability to do so in an artistically appreciable way.

Charisma — Skilled Use Only

Commenter: John Colagioia

Though all Character Interaction Maneuvers can be used by any character, the Charisma Skill notes all 3 Subskills as being Skilled Use only. While this seems to be a discrepancy, in all likelihood the Skilled Use provision in this case is meant to prevent Unskilled Use of Charisma to substitute for AV *and* EV of Character Interactions.

For example, this prevents a character with INF 10 and AUR 02 from using Charisma (Persuasion) Unskilled to substitute his 10 APs of INF for the EV while taking the -2CS Unskilled Penalty.

Detective (Law) Subskill and Legal Knowledge

Commenter: Roy Cowan

The Law Subskill of Detective is specifically stated to be acting as a criminal trial lawyer. Because of this narrow focus, legal knowledge outside of that limited context is better represented by an Expertise or Scholar in the appropriate legal field.

For law enforcement officers, Detective (Police Procedure) can be extended to cover their job-specific knowledge of legal issues. Examples include how to conduct a legitimate search, what criminal charges might cover a particular crime, and so forth.

Law enforcement officers might also have an Expertise relating to legal matters in a specific area if their career has been focused on it. For instance an FBI agent who has specialized in investigating corporate crime might have an Expertise in Financial Law.


Author: Sébastien Andrivet
Helpers: Roy Cowan, Morgan Champion, Quintanads, Ethan Roe.
Link: DEX
Range: None
Type: N.A.
Base Cost: 0
Factor Cost: 05
Standard: Evasion is a full Skill, much like the Accuracy Skill. It cannot be used Unskilled.


Evasion is a Skill that always substitutes for OV.

By default it is a Physical Skill. As such, it substitutes for DEX in DEX’s role as OV.


Evasion is a niche Skill, either used whole or with Limitations. When used whole, it handles the following situation:

  • The Character’s defensive prowess is higher than their offensive prowess. If it were the other way around, we’d use Martial Artist (AV), Weaponry, Accuracy or some such.
  • This defensive prowess doesn’t rely on defending rather than attacking. If it were the case we’d use Acrobatics (Dodging) or even just assume the Laying Back Manoeuvre.
  • This defensive prowess doesn’t match the tactical flow of Martial Artist substitution. And/or it applies against attacks not covered by Martial Artist OV substitution.

When used in a Limited fashion, Evasion corresponds to Characters whose defensive prowess is situational. The most common example is a Character who is much better at avoiding projectiles than melee attacks.

For instance many action movie heroes are almost never hit by gunfire, but aren’t too hard to punch in a saloon brawl.

Optional Limitations

Common Limitations for the Evasion Skill are :

  • Ranged Only (-2 FC). The Evasion Skill doesn’t apply against melee attacks.
  • Melee Only (-2 FC). The Evasion Skill doesn’t apply against ranged attacks.
  • Must Wield (foo) (-1 FC). The Evasion Skill only applies when the Character is wielding a certain type of item. This is often a shield or melee weapon. Powers that cannot be used at will might also be eligible for this Limitation.
  • Aerial Only (-1 FC). The Evasion Skill only applies if the Character is flying and has ample room to manoeuvre. GMs may set the FC reduction to -2 for Characters who do not routinely have the means to fly.
  • Subvelocity Only (-3 FC). The Evasion Skill has the Ranged Only Limitation as per above, *and* it only applies to projectiles under 350 km/h. In practice this means thrown objects, sling bullets, arrows, most crossbow bolts, falling objects…
    Bullets from firearms (even subsonic ones) and shells are too fast. So are most energy attacks, exceptions including weapons such as flamethrowers and Star Wars blaster  bolts.
  • Unarmed Melee Only (-3FC). The Evasion Skill has the Melee Only Limitation as per above, *and* it only applies to unarmed attacks.

Usage for optional limitations

The Must Wield (Foo) Limitation is important when modelling a combat expert who’s markedly easier to hit if disarmed. A typical example is fencing experts like d’Artagnan of the Three Musketeers. He can parry all sorts of melee attacks with his flashing blade, but in an unarmed tavern brawl he’s not that hard to punch.

Another example would be a sword-and-board melee fighter, like Alistair in Dragon Age: Origins. Such persons are markedly harder to hit when they wield a shield. Shields have further defensive applications (Blocking, and the Shield Cover Combat Manoeuvre), but Evasion (Must Wield a shield) can be part of the mix.

The Subvelocity Limitation is used for :

  • “Arrow-cutting” sword techniques.
  • People with the superhuman skill to shoot down incoming projectiles.
  • People who can catch arrows and the like with their hands.
  • Certain kinds of deflection shields and protective spells.

The jugglers of the Death-Throws, who can catch all sorts of projectiles are a good example of the Subvelocity Limitation. So are many fiction samurai who can parry arrows with their sword.

But Katana (Tatsu Yamashiro) *doesn’t* have this Limitation, as she routinely parries bullets. Yet she has Evasion (Must Wield a katana), since she’s markedly easier to hit without her sword.

Physical, Mental, Mystical

That the Evasion Skill is by default Physical OV is there to facilitate notation, since it’s by far the most common case.

A Mental or Mystical Evasion Skill has the same BC, FC and available Limitations. The only difference is in notation as Evasion (Mental) or Evasion (Mystical).

Examples of Evasion (Mental) might be Characters who are harder to “hit” with certain sorts of Character Interaction.

Examples of Evasion (Mystical) includes a Character such as Hellcat, who at points could twist her body to have offensive spells slide off her aura.

Design Notes

Handling OV/AV discrepancies around DEX has been an issue for decades. Iterations of fixes have included :

  • Fighting Disability (keeping DEX as OV but lowering its AV).
  • Acrobatics (Evasion).
  • Acrobatics (Cinematic Gunfighter) — later renamed as a more generic Acrobatics (Hard Target).
  • Acrobatics (Aerial).
  • The Flashing Blades Schtick.

As often, it started as a patch to fix corner cases. Then as more structured solutions to fix a variety of corner cases. Then as a fully system-integrated toolset as we kept running into published Characters who needed this for fine modelling.

Martial Artist

Martial Artist usage note #1

The Blood of Heroes: Special Edition changes to the Martial Artist Skill never stuck with writeups.org profiles. That was a matter of miscommunication. Such changes weren’t expected, and thus weren’t noticed by most community members for months. By then there was little appetite to review thousands of writeups to align them with rules that hadn’t been discussed.

Thus, when looking at a Martial Artist score on writeups.org, you can *generally* assume :

  • That Martial Artist doesn’t allow for melee weapons use, which is the province of the Weaponry Skill.
  • That the Subskills will usually noted as AV, OV, EV, RV rather than Assault, Blocking, Battery and Defense (beside, it’s clearer)
  • That Martial Artist substituting for EV is a straight AP substitution, not a Column Shift. If Black Belt Jones uses his Martial Artist: 07 Skill for EV substitution, then he has an EV of 07.
  • That Martial Artist substituting for EV doesn’t automatically means Killing Combat. In many cases it stands for “nerve pinches” and other cinematic  non-lethal takedown methods.
  • That the Techniques Subskills isn’t explicitly noted doesn’t means that the Character doesn’t have the Techniques Subskill.

Separate APs in Martial Artist Subskill

For some Characters, separate AP levels are specified for the various Subkills – frex Martial Artist (AV, OV): 07, Martial Artist (EV, RV): 05.

This models the fighting skill of this specific character – in this case, likely somebody who favours speed over power. This is straightforward, but there’s a tiny chance that it might be misinterpreted. So, yes, the Martial Artist is still only good for one substitution per Phase.

It’s not that the Character took Martial Artist twice (that’s impossible), it’s just that not all Subskills have the same number of APs.

Martial Artist usage note #2

Writeups.org has an evidence-based approach. This means looking at what things actually do, rather than what they’re called or what they’re said to do.

Early on, this meant some confusion about the Martial Artist Skill. Back then, “martial artist” was even more strongly evocative of Eastern Asian martial arts such as karate. This is less the case now with the XXIst century rise of MMA and other factors.

What Martial Artist actually does is melee combat proficiency, and particularly unarmed combat. This could easily represent non-Asian martial arts such as boxing or capoeira. It could represent simple pub brawling experience. It could even represent raw aggression.

Back during the 1990s, it was jokingly proposed to rename the Skill “Him Fights Good”. The point was to emphasis that the Martial Artist Skill doesn’t mean that one is a martial artist. At least as the term was widely understood during the 1980s and thus the early editions of DC Heroes.


Since Martial Artist subs for all four Values, it represents hand-to-hand combat efficiency in every respect. Thus, in many cases being a big tough strong guy isn’t solely modelled by STR and BODY. It will also inform Martial Artist APs to represent reach, cinematic hitting power, cinematic durability, etc. until the character performs as witnessed in the material.

Martial Artist usage note #3

Martial Artist EV substitution allows for street-level characters to reach fairly high EV values. However, weapons-using melee fighters do not quite have a similar option.

A simple, straightforward hack is:

  1. Use optional rules on writeups.org to increase melee weapon EV based on the Character’s melee EV (STR or Martial Artist EV sub).
  2. Give armed melee experts some Martial Artist APs. To correctly represent them, this could easily mean Martial Artist (EV) only, with a Limitation that it can only be used when wielding a melee weapon. Or even a specific class of melee weapons.

You will see this approach at work in a number of characters on writeups.org. Usually these are melee experts who are markedly less dangerous when weapon-deprived, such as duellist types.

Medicine (Enhancement)

Author: Sébastien Andrivet
Link: As Medicine
Range: None
Type: Dice
Base Cost: 20
Factor Cost: 04
Standard : No. Medicine (Enhancement) is not considered a standard part of the Medicine package. It is not assumed to be present if a Character has APs of Medicine without Subskills being mentioned. It cannot be used Unskilled. If a Character adds Medicine (Enhancement) to their Medicine Skill, the BC and FC are added to those of Medicine. Medicine (Enhancement) can also be purchased separately if the Player wants to have different APs in Medicine (Enhancement) than in Medicine.


Medicine (Enhancement) covers the creation of superpowers and general augmentation of living beings. It does not cure ills like the rest of the Medicine Skill does. ‘Augmentations’ such as correcting poor sight or replacing a mangled hand using prosthetics are part of normal Medicine, not Medicine (Enhancement).

The GM is the arbiter of which Subskill is applicable to which situation, as borderline cases abound. For instance Cliff “Robotman” Steele was mostly a job using straight Gadgetry. Ensuring that Citizen Steel survive and adapt his superhuman powers was probably a Medicine job. Rebuilding Victor Stone after his accident was likely a Medicine (Enhancement) work.

The APs of Medicine (Enhancement) work exactly like APs of Gadgetry – use the same “Gadget” creation procedure. The main change is the Gadget Bonus – the divisor is either 1 (for most applications of the Subskill that create Powers) or 2 (for those cybernetics and other augmentations that are best treated as Gadgets rather than as Powers).

The GM is the arbiter of whether a planned augmentation is best treated as a Gadget or a Power, and thus the relevant divisor. This has always been a bit of a judgement call in DC Heroes – though you’ll find numerous examples of both approaches among the writeups.org entries.

Since it uses the same rules as the ones for building Gadgets and Artefacts, Medicine (Enhancement) is assumed to be used by PCs, for special projects to design comic book equipment that will never get mass-produced, etc.. In cases where NPCs are the ones doing the work, the GM is the one who decides on the results.

Military Science (Blitz)

Author: Sébastien Andrivet
Helper(s): Dr. Peter Piispanen, Mark, Adam Fuqua, Roy Cowan
Link: As Military Science
Range: Special
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 10
Factor Cost: 03
Standard : No. Military Science (Blitz) is not considered a standard part of the Military Science package. It is not assumed to be present if a Character has APs of Military Science without Subskills being mentioned. It cannot be used Unskilled. If a Character adds Military Science (Blitz) to their Military Science Skill, the BC and FC are added to those of Military Science. Military Science (Blitz) can also be purchased separately if the Player wants to have different APs in Military Science (Blitz) than in Military Science.


A Character with APs of Military Science (Blitz) can increase the Initiative of their comrades. Each AP of Military Science (Blitz) can be used to increase the Initiative of a qualifying Character by one, as if this Character had the Enhanced Initiative Power.

For instance, a Character with 5 APs of Military Science (Blitz) could increase the Initiative of an ally by 3, and that of another ally by 2. How the APs are distributed can change every Phase.

Using Military Science (Blitz) occurs during the Initiative part of the Phase, like with the Enhanced Initiative Power. The Character using Military Science (Blitz) loses an Automatic Action for that Phase. Military Science (Blitz) cannot be used to increase the Initiative of a comrade beyond the Initiative score of the Character using Military Science (Blitz).

To receive APs of Military Science (Blitz), a Character must share significant combat experience, or combat training experience, with the Character issuing APs of Military Science (Blitz). The GM decides whether a Character qualifies ; shared key words, hand gestures, immediate action drills and other means to communicate very quickly is an important component of such shared training.

The Character issuing APs of Military Science (Blitz) must be able to communicate quickly with the Character receiving them. They must also have sufficient battlefield awareness of the Character receiving the APs and the enemy.

Baring superhuman powers, advanced technology, etc. this usually means that both characters are fighting within 10 or 15 metres/yards of each other and can see and hear each other and what is going on.

Designer’s notes

Military Science (Blitz) was originally designed for Commander Shepard of Mass Effect, who is established as an extraordinary small unit leader and has the in-game “power” of pausing the action at will to orient, refine tactics, designate targets, etc. This makes any small unit under her command markedly deadlier and more on top of things.

Other formidable leaders who can turn a squad into a lean, mean machine (such as Nick Fury or Frank Rock) might have a handful of APs in Military Science (Blitz) but this is a very niche Skill. Most great Leadership is done with Hero Points – but in Shepard’s case she can pause the game whenever she wants, so an inexhaustible resource was needed.

Costs are chiefly based on Enhanced Initiative w/Useable on Others (+2). The Link is “as Military Science” in case a gaming group house-ruled it.

Military Science (Demolitions) Addendum

Commenters: Roy Cowan & KalEl el Vigilante

The rules for using the Demolition Subskill are somewhat vague. They also make it difficult for characters with reasonable skill levels to achieve typical demolition results. An expert with 05 to 06 APs of Demolitions would be hard pressed to damage even a small building while spending considerable HPs, for example.

A simple fix for this is to apply some of the rules used for Gadget construction to Demolition as well:

  • While the base time for setting a Demolition remains four minutes (6 APs), the demolitionist subtracts 1 AP from his AV for each AP of time subtracted and adds 1 AP to AV for each AP of time added.
  • Demolitions can be used for a check similar to Scientist (Analysis), limited only to detecting weak spots as described in that Subskill. The Analysis Subskill could also be used as normal for the same effect.
  • Using blueprints provides the same Bonus to Demolition attempts as it does to constructing Gadgets (see the Drawing Plans Subskill of Scientist for details).
  • Use of action modifiers might be allowed. If the demolitionist has an excellent idea of the target’s weak points (high AV or lowered OV) but is lacking in sufficient explosive material (low EV or high RV), he might be allowed to Go For Broke as a representation of highly efficient explosive placement.
    If the situation is reversed, with little knowledge of weak points (low AV or high OV) but a great deal of explosive (high EV or low RV), the demolitionist might be allowed the equivalent of a Flailing Maneuver, planting explosive material all over the place in hopes of hitting a weak spot by chance — the classic “P for Plenty” formula.
  • Defusing an explosive can be treated as an Opposed Check with the defuser’s Demolitions Subskill as AV/EV versus the bombmaker’s Demolitions Subskill as OV/RV.
    For mass-produced or standard designs, an appropriate OV/RV can be selected from the Universal Modifier Table, with a standard mine or explosive trap being Difficult or Challenging and a modern military nuclear device with elaborate safeguards falling under Extreme, Pushing the Limit, or even Herculean.
  • The time modifiers suggested above for setting demolition devices may also be applied to defusing them. To create even more dramatic tension, the RAPs of a partial success (that is, RAPs less than the full RV) may equal the number of Phases left until the bomb explodes, representing tropes such as failed defusing efforts speeding up the countdown.
  • Though Demolitions is normally not usable Unskilled, GMs in heroic Genres might allow characters the classic 50/50 chance to cut the red or blue wire (or one of the two green/yellow/whatever wires).

Military Science (Survival)

Author: Peter Piispanen et al.
Link: As Military Science
Range: None
Type: Dice
Base Cost: 05
Factor Cost: 01
Standard : No. Military Science (Survival) is not considered a standard part of the Military Science package. It is not assumed to be present if a Character has APs of Military Science without Subskills being mentioned. It cannot be used Unskilled. If a Character adds Military Science (Survival) to their Military Science Skill, the BC and FC are added to those of Military Science. Military Science (Survival) can also be purchased separately if the Player wants to have different APs in Military Science (Survival) than in Military Science.


This Subskill should be considered for campaigns where day-to-day wilderness survival is especially important. Typical examples include :

  • Post-apocalyptic settings.
  • Very low-tech settings (like a campaign set during the Neolithic ages).
  • “Points of light” fantasy setting where settlements are separated by large expanses of hostile wilderness.
  • A campaign that spends a lot of time in hostile environments, such as subpolar climates.

In campaigns where day-to-day wilderness survival is not important, a simple Familiarity, Expertise or Scholar should be sufficient to denote proficiency.

The Survival Subskill can be used in two ways:

1/ Finding shelter

This enables a Character to build a wind shelter, collect wood, light and fire and keep themselves warm. The APs of Subskill determine under which conditions the character can rest and keep himself warm.

Find Shelter rolls are made once per day. A character who fails to find shelter suffers from cold and fatigue. This decreases all physical Attributes by 1 AP per four days passed without shelter. Once under shelter these APs can be recovered as per the recovery rules for Killing Combat.

Specific milieux decrease the chance to find shelter. The base OV/RV is 00/00, but gets adjusted as follow :

Precipitation OV/RV
None +0
Muggy/Damp +1
Rain +2
Monsoon +3
Temperature OV/RV
Record Cold +2
Cool/Breezing +1
Mild +0
Hot +1
Record Heat +2
Wind OV/RV
Still +0
Slight Breeze +1
Windy +2
Gale +3
Hurricane +4
Tornado +5
Geographic Area OV/RV
Tundra +1
Arctic +2
Desert +3

Furthermore, good equipment (primarily an axe !) will lower the OV/RV by 1 AP.

Getting ½ RV in an Action Check is sufficient for survival, although it is not comfortable. For each additional RAP above the RV the amount of people protected by the shelter is doubled.

Example: Campmaster has Military Science (Survival): 08. The RV is 5 and he scores 7 RAPs against it. Thus, Campmaster manages in building a shelter that can handle up to 22=4 persons adequately with full protection from wind and rain.

2/ Finding food

This enables a Character to find and develop nutrients from nature sufficient for survival. This includes picking berries, hunting meat and cooking roots.

The OV/RV of a roll (done once per day) is dependant on the geographical area the character resides in. ½ of RV is needed for survival. Failure in the roll means that the character starves. For each two days without nutrients the character receives 1 RAP of Physical Killing Damage.

For each additional RAP above the RV the amount of potentially fed people doubles (up to a maximum determined by the GM). The OV/RV is as per the table below.

Geographical Area OV/RV
Forest 2
Tundra 4
Desert 6
Arctic 8

Power Ring (Colour)

A DC Universe- specific Skills about Green Lanterns and other ring-slingers. Refer to the Power Rings article for the full monty.

Vehicles (Power Armour)

Author: Dr. Peter S Piispanen
Helper(s): Roy Cowan, Mike Davis, Jobe, Eric Langendorff, Jay Myers, Frank Murdock, ygormorais, Sébastien Andrivet, Darci
Link: As Vehicles
Range: None
Type: Dice
Base Cost: 05
Factor Cost: 05
Standard: No. Vehicles (Power Armour) is not considered a standard part of the Vehicles package. It is not assumed to be present if a Character has APs of Vehicles without Subskills being mentioned. If a Character adds Vehicles (Power Armour) to their Vehicles Skill, the BC and FC are added to those of Vehicles. Vehicles (Power Armour) can also be purchased separately if the Player wants to have different APs in Vehicles (Power Armour) than in Vehicles.


Vehicles (Power Armour) allows for the advanced operation of suits of power armour  such as the Iron Man suit or the Steel armour.

Vehicles (Power Armour) substitutes for the operator’s DEX while clad in suitable armour – including for Initiative computations. While wearing such a battlesuit, the Character can opt to use any one of :

  • Their baseline DEX
  • The suit’s /DEX/ if any
  • Their APs of Vehicles (Power Armour)

Howbeit, APs of Vehicles (Power Armour) cannot be used to operate weapon systems. These fall under the remit of applicable Weaponry (and in some case Accuracy) Skills. Simple fisticuffs do not constitute a “weapon system” for this purpose.

Unskilled Use and familiarisation

Unskilled Use depends upon the armour suit under consideration, and how intuitive and physically demanding the armour is. This is a GM’s call or, ideally, part of the description of the suit. Certain suits of power armour may also may limit the maximum DEX of the operator, lower their Initiative, impose CS penalties on certain actions, etc.

If a given suit imposes an Unskilled Use penalty, having a relevant Familiarity might compensate for or lessen it as per the usual Familiarities rule.

Many suits of power armour will require familiarisation *even* for persons who have the Vehicles (Power Armour). Here again, how much time it takes to familiarise oneself, and what sorts of roll — if any — can hasten that, is either a GM decision or part of the suit’s description.

If using an unknown suit of power armour, Gadgetry (Identify Gadget) rolls will be necessary to identify each major functionality (usually corresponding to a Power) on the fly. Suits built using a very different technology will bring penalties both to the roll itself and to the time it takes to perform the Task.


Author: Sébastien Andrivet

Two things.

Blood of Heroes: Special Edition

Just like with the Martial Artist rules discussed above, there was a communication problem and we missed the changes in Weaponry introduced by BOH:SE. Thus, in writeups.org writeups :

  • The “within 3 Column Shifts” rule isn’t usually a part of the built. If somebody has a lower Weaponry than their DEX, they use either their Weaponry or Unskilled DEX, no adjustments
  • Unskilled use of thrown weapons is assumed to be the normal penalty. Mind you, that’s unlikely to play a role in a build…

Themed Weaponry Subskills

These are used when a Character’s range of mastered weapons doesn’t map well to the existing Subskills, but is roughly comparable in scope to the existing Subskills.

One example is the original Vigilante (Greg Sanders). The weapons he wields have a strong cowboy theme, and do not constitute a large set. However, they are scattered across multiple Weaponry Subskills.

Of course he could have Weaponry (Firearms, Melee, Missile), but then we would have a writeup depicting the Vigilante as a master of the AK-47, the halberd, the katana and the crossbow (among many other things). That’s a bit rubbish. On the other hand Weaponry (Cowboy weapons) would avoid the unintended masteries, while being roughly balanced with other Subskills.

Examples of themed Weaponry Subskills

  • Weaponry (cowboy weapons) covers such things as six-shooters, Winchester carbines, Henry rifles, lariat, wielded Bowie knife
  • Weaponry (street weapons) covers common handguns, wielded knives, chains, baseball bats…
  • Weaponry (knives) covers all kinds of knives, and both wielding them or throwing them
  • Weaponry (underwater weapons) covers spearguns, diving knives, harpoons…
  • Weaponry (Firepower weapon systems) covers the varied weapons systems on the Firepower power armour  (not a very common skill, but a good example)
  • Weaponry (USMC Infantry) covers the Beretta M92, M16A3 assault rifle, M249 SAW, combat knife, M203 grenade launcher

Of course, proposed themed Weaponry Subskills should be vetted by the GM. So no, no Weaponry (Weapons I like) Subskill.

Compiled, formatted, edited, etc. by Roy Cowan, Sébastien Andrivet and Jonathan the actual wolverine.