Spot (Action)

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Heroic Action Role-Play

Spot is how aware you are of your surroundings, how quick you react to new dangers, and your ability to discern and analyze detail. Spot defaults to Mind and an outcome matching this attribute on a stunt directed against Spot will often result in a Setback.

Use in Action

Spot is used as a defense against traps and sneaking, to notice hidden clues and dangers, and to quickly gather and understand information. For humans sight is the most important (and cinematic) sense, but the skill covers all senses, including such things as muscle memory, balance, and intuition.


You are not only able to notice things, you also remember what you've seen and perceived. Want a visual image of a cathedral? How many spires has the Notre Dame? Or to know how many light poles there were along the road you just rode down? What was the registration number of the third red car or the shoe size of the custom's inspector on this photograph? What is the angle between the stars in Ursus Major? This is the kind of trivia and everyday observation you thrive on.

If you are a visual artist, you know of other artists throughout history and the techniques they used. If you are a photographer, you know photographic apparatus, the papers and other venues to get published and trivia related to what you usually take shots of. If you are a military spotter or recon specialist, you know the latest gear, techniques, and operating methods. You can give amazingly quick reports on a target's location and nature in military jargon. If you are a detective, you can summarize your observations into pithy reports that another detective can make sense of. If you are a bird watcher, train spotter, astronomical observer or other specialized enthusiast, you have amazingly detailed information on your narrow field, the things you look for, the gear used, who first spotted a particular thing, and so on.

Some characters are not only skilled in Spot but also understand the theory behind how we perceive things, but that is covered more under the Know skill.


People in diverse fields have "the eye" and ability to see that special angle, and when you meet you generally recognize and respect each other. You have met observant people and developed a mutual respect, from painters and photographers to bird spotters, artillery observers, and sniper spotters. Depending on your background, some of these will respect you while others will think you wasted your observational talent in pointless or destructive ways. There is not much cohesion among these people, no such thing as a worldwide spotter community. Instead there is a number of small groups that are each more or less closed to outsiders. Thus, the contact element of Spot is very much dependent on your background.

Spot also gives you an ability to remember faces. And if you can remember many people, chances are one of them might pop up where they are useful to you. The chance that one of the technicians at the villain base were in the tech shop at the mall in the next town are actually pretty good, and while you might not be best buddies just because you saw him there, you at least have a clue about his interest and an opening line for a conversation.


Many Spot stunts are reactive; you notice danger in time to react or analyze a situation as it comes up.


Basic Action

The Spot skill is often used with powers and sensors to detect things that have no real way to hide, but that might still not be spotted simply because of the unreliability of the technique. In this case, the base difficulty is the target's Reflexes for physical detection or Mind for psychic detection - detecting an object usually has a base difficulty of zero. Add Range modifiers to the die roll, most detect powers have medium range.



Make a quick examination of someone, looking for hidden weapons, contraband, and so on. This is an opposed roll compared to the target's Charm, Create, or Impress skill. Depending on what you are looking for and how you do it, there are several modifiers. In order to even try to hide an item like this, the character must be carrying enough clothes.

Circumstance Modifier
You are using a detection device of the same or higher sophistication that the item sought. +5
You know exactly what you are looking for. +5
Person carries the object inside his body (swallowed, surgically implanted). -10
Type of search Modifier
No Action Passive search; you are not actively searching, but the concealed object would attract your notice if you did search (not an action) -10
Trigger Action Visual observation only. -5
Basic Action Pat-down +0
Limit Break Body cavity search +10

In general, you only get one chance at frisking. But if you can change your modifiers so you get better odds, you can try again.

Sometimes, the GM will give you hints even on a failed roll, especially if the plot demands it; you generally get a bad feeling about a the situation even if you failed to find exactly what you looked for as long as you did not fail by a margin greater than your Mind. This realization might not come at once, and you might not be certain who your suspect is, but it gives you incentive to look more closely. By the same token, the GM might delay the result of a successful roll to heighten tension and move the plot along.

When a player tries to smuggle something past a guard, the GM should generally let the player roll their Charm, Create, or Impress skill against the guard's modified Spot; it is much more interesting to have the players be the active party.

Various stunts can be used to distract a guard or fool someone into revealing what they carry, these generally modify the Spot check further. A Setback on such a stunt makes either avoidance or discovery automatic.

Now and then the GM will have to fudge these rolls; generally to allow either a hero or villain to pass inspection but still cause suspicion - this is often the best setup for an exiting action scene.

Keep Watch

Trigger Action (Defense)

You get a +3 bonus to your Spot when it is used as the difficulty of an action. Keeping watch for an extended time takes quite a lot of attention; outside of action scenes you cannot initiate actions or stunts of your own while constantly keeping watch.


Basic Action

You look around, trying to spot hidden enemies and dangers. Make a Spot check against the Maneuver of an enemy trying to Sneak or against the difficulty of spotting a trap or other danger. Scan cannot find someone using Surveillance unless you are actively out scouting for them.


Limit Break

You search an area (crime scene, fight scene, hall, apartment), looking for clues, hidden dangers, and clues. You automatically find all things a normal spot roll can find - anyone simply using Stealth to hide, casually concealed objects and doors, and other things that could be found with a quick scan are obvious to a search. You can also find hidden clues, deduce what happened in the area recently, and find carefully hidden devices such as advanced traps and secret doors with a successful Spot check.

Thing to notice Difficulty
Carefully hidden device or door. Create skill of the builder.
Find physical clues, hidden notes and such. 5
Reconstruct events at a fight or crime scene by physical evidence. 10
Recognize people you know of by physical evidence. 15
Identify people you do not know anything of by physical evidence. 20


Basic Action

You stay hidden at a distance (from 50 meters to several kilometers away, depending on cover), trying to keep a place or person under surveillance while concentrating on staying hidden. You are far away and under cover, enough that foes will only find you if you fumble or if they start an active search, but you have a limited perception of what goes on. If opponent's security measures are strong, you have to focus more on hiding and will notice less. Range as such is not a factor, but tighter security keeps you at a distance while also making the task harder.

Surveillance of a person is harder than of a place. Depending on what surveillance methods you use, it might be pretty easy for the enemy to prevent or disrupt your surveillance, such as by unpredictably changing methods of transportation or using a secret passage. Paranoid enemies might use such methods even if they don't know they are under surveillance.

To gain information this way you make an opposed check against the targets' Recon. You gain valuable information based on the outcome of this roll; if the outcome matches the target's Mind you gain clear and important insights into the target's activities. On a failed roll, you learn obvious details and trivia; if the negative Outcome matches your Mind you learn misleading information or the target notices your spying. Depending on the security present your opponent might use other skills to defend, such as Create for an electronic counter-surveillance system.