These notes are based on those written Gary Gygax for the Castle Zagyg boxed set. They are much more of a broad spectrum of talents, almost like a 'mini-class' in themselves.
Purchasing Prime Skills
Prime Skills are purchased with Experience points, the points spent in this way are deducted from the Characters XP total after purchase. A Prime Skill may only be learned by a Character who has that skills governing attribute set as a Prime attribute. Upon having enough Experience the character must find a suitable instructor, and after four weeks of training (and the expenditure of 100 XP) the character gains first level in the Prime skill in question. When you want to increase the Prime Skills level, the character simply ‘spends’ the XP to bring it up to the next level. A Character can never have more Prime Skills than Prime Attributes (So a Human can have three Prime Skills, and a Non-Human can have two).
Prime Skill Level/XP Cost
The Prime skills available are as follows –
This ability allows for concealment (objects or person), hiding (in general) and trap construction. The concealment and hiding act in the same manner as a Rogues hide ability. The Traps work in the same manner as a ranger’s Traps ability. This skill also confers a +2 to all surprise checks. If a Rogue or Assassin takes this ability, they add an additional +2 to their Hide, Open Lock and Traps abilities. If a Ranger takes this ability, they gain an additional +2 to all Traps checks.
This ability relates to one’s performance in accounting, banking, commerce, finance, investing, and trading (assures literacy and numeracy). As a practical matter, this ability allows a character to partake in and understand various business dealings, understand the complexities of taxing and licensing and, make better business deals for it. It also allows for the decipherment of contracts and an understanding of bookkeeping.
This skill set affects one’s ability to grapple, intimidate, bully, punch, and threaten opponents. If this ability is taken, it affects all grappling, overbearing and pummelling attacks by giving the attacker a +2 to hit per level of the skill. Further, intimidation and threats are non-violent methods of forcing an opponent to bend to one’s will. The character or non-player character acted upon (threatened or intimidated) must make a charisma saving throw to be unaffected. This saving throw is adjusted by -2 per ability level of the one initiating the act. If the saving throw is not successful, the effected person will essentially do as requested, refuse to fight or back down from a demand.
ESOTERIC KNOWLEDGE (Intelligence)
This skill references a character’s knowledge of ancient history, arcana, artifacts, fables, lost lore, mysteries, occult and relics. This also assures literacy and full numeracy. This skill gives the character or non-player character a range of knowledge in many fields of study that other would not likely know. This ability allows the character an intelligence check to know or at least know where to go to learn about a particular subject or issue related to the above mentioned subjects. It also increases the characters chances of locating items of interest in antique shops, books in libraries or other related activities. In cases in which a character may know of or about a subject and specific knowledge is called for, an intelligence check should suffice to determine if the character knows it. As with all skills, the Keeper needs to use their best judgement on when and how to apply this skill.
This ability affects a character’s ability to copy, counterfeit, draw duplicates and fake documents. This is skill set is fairly restricted to acts of forgery whether deeds of ownership, heraldic symbols, coinage, papers of heritage and even antique paperwork. When used, the must make a successful dexterity check to adequately create a forged item. A failure indicated another attempt must be made. For those on the receiving end of the forged item, they must make an intelligence check at -2 per level of the forger’s secondary skill. If it is successful, they note the forgery.
The capacity to mentally note facts – including the power of observation and ratiocination. This Prime Skill covers detection, examining, investigation, observing, searching, and watching, as well as researching and tracking down information. This is an ability similar to that possessed by sleuths of private and public sort.
MILITARY LEADERSHIP (Charisma)
This ability allows for the control, direction, guidance, logistics, management, organization, planning, strategy and tactics in warfare. It also affects the capacity to organize or circumvent problems that might result from the management of an army. This skill allows for the efficient planning and orchestration of
the movement of large bodies of troops. For example, efficient logistics chains are more easily managed and supplies made more available if one possess this skill. The Keeper must their best judgement in the practical application of this skill as it will generally only come into play when the movement of large
Armies occur. However, should a character be responsible for the provision of a party, it is likely that the possessor of this skill may not a deficiency. The Keeper should inform the player of this if a successful wisdom check is made. Further, if a Knight has this ability, his inspire ability is treated as two levels greater than the class level.
The Sage has delved deeply into one topic and knows a lot about that topic through study and experience. Sages are considered experts in the topic that they specialize in. When researching a question concerning their area of speciality, a Sage may make an intelligence check to know the answer to a question or know where to look for the answer.
The areas of specialization that can be used include (but are not exclusive to) –
• Architecture (and construction)
• Engineering (all forms)
• Fauna (including biology)
• Flora (including botany)
• History (local, regional, world, cultural & social)
• History (intelligent races, human & non-human)
It is up to the Keeper to allow more specific knowledge for more focused fields – a Sage who is specialized in Taxidermy will know a little bit about mammals (as well as most other animals), but a Knowledge Specialist in Mammals will know a lot about them and very little about preserving their hides.
This ability allows the detecting of deception, evaluating worth, learning, logic, sophistry and assures literacy and numeracy. Judgement covers a wide range of capacities. It can be used to detect lies another is telling, to interpret the meaning of another words, intent, desires and related emotions. Should this ever be necessary, the person possessing this skill must make wisdom check at +2 per level of this skill to detect a lie, the accuracy of another statement, intent etc. Further, judgement allows for the assessment of the accuracy of another’s statements. This is done by making an intelligence check at +2 per level of ability. This is, of course, presuming the character possessing the skill can even know the accuracy of that statement. For example, should a non-player character make a false claim about a kingdom which the character knows nothing of, there is little chance he would know the statement was false. However, the character could make a wisdom check to determine if the non-player character were dissimulating.
This skill set relates blackmail, bribery, convincing, diplomacy, ingratiation, influence and lying. This is a social skill that allows the character to more effectively carry out any of the above actions as he or she knows the specialized languages, body motions, traditions and cultures of those he is dealing with. For example, bribing a city official is a delicate task and requires not a small amount of tact. Blackmail may require some specific piece of knowledge or knowledge of how to acquire that information with which the character intends to bribe a non-player character. In all cases, the possessor of this skill is allowed to make a charisma or intelligence (as appropriate and determined by the Keeper) to determine if one is successful at performing it. A failed check indicates the attempt at bribery failed or diplomacy failed. The character receives a +2 for each level of skill they possess.
This ability allows for distraction, diversion, evasion and sprinting during combat. Possession of this skill set confers a +2 to armour class if a successful dexterity attribute check is made. This modifier is in addition to all other modifiers that normally apply. This skill cannot be used in conjunction with any other action
with the following exceptions: dodge, disengaging from combat, evade and for a monk when they are deflecting missiles. One cannot make an attack or cast spells in the round this is used nor use any other class ability Further, if disengaging from combat, a successful dexterity check indicates that a hasty withdrawal can be made without incurring the armour class penalty or the free swing from an opponent.
This skill refers to the capacity to cheat, deceive, fix (as in contests), fraud, gamble, odds (establishing) and promote events (assuring numeracy). This skill allows the character to perform many tasks related to the swindling others out of their money from cheating at cards, running pyramid schemes, fixing wrestling matches and running the odds on dice games. Whenever a character employs this skill they receive a +2 to their checks per level of experience in the skill. For example, should a character with this skill attempt to cheat at cards, they make an intelligence check and if they succeed, they have succeeded in cheating the opposing players. Of course, using the judgement skill, another character can attempt to discover this deception by making a successful intelligence or wisdom check.
This skill refers to boating (small), climbing, fishing, hunting, identification (fauna and flora), lumber jacking, survival, tracking and trapping. Acquisition of this ability replicates the Survival and Track abilities of a ranger. Should a ranger take this ability, they receive an additional +2 to all Track checks per level of this skill and an additional +2 to all die rolls for the Survival ability.