Horrific skills

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World of d20d20 Modern Horror

The normal skill system in d20 Modern can take an inordinate amount of time to administer, especially for the beleaguered GM. Since horrific skills should emphasize killing—or getting killed by—hordes of zombies rather than bookkeeping, a more streamlined skill system is needed. The following is heavily inspired by Enlightened Grognard.


The skill list has been consolidated, and all skills are divided into one of two types. Ordinary skills, which work just as before, and Specializations.

Skill Changes

  • The maximum rank in a non-specialized skill is equal to your level. Specialized skills (see below) have no maximum rank, but are never rolled for.
  • A single skill rank is enough to be trained in a skill. All skills can be used untrained, but if you are trained, you never roll less than 10 on the die. This also removes the concept of "Taking 10".
  • There are no skill synergy effects.
  • You can spend 2 skill points to make a skill into a permanent class skill for you.
Skill Summary
Skill Armor Penalty
Acrobatics (Dex) Yes
Animals (Dex) Yes
Athletics (Str) Yes
Crafts (N/A) N/A
Cultures (N/A) N/A
Deception (Cha) No
Endurance (Con) Yes
Forbidden Lore (N/A) N/A
Gamble (Wis) No
Guts (Wis) No
Initiative (Dex) Yes
Insight (Wis) No
Intimidation (Cha) No
Knowledge (N/A) N/A
Linguistics (N/A) N/A
Metaphysics (Int) No
Perception (Wis) No
Perform (Cha) No
Persuasion (Cha) No
Profession (N/A) N/A
Reputation (Cha) No
Sciences (N/A) N/A
Stealth (Dex) Yes
Survival (Wis) No
Tinker (Int) No
Treat Injury (Wis) No
Vehicles (Dex) No
  • There are no cross-class skills. You can only spend skill points on class skills (but you can make any skill into a class skill as above).
  • Characters that cooperate together on a skill check automatically use the highest roll as the "base roll" and add the other rolls as bonuses (or penalties). This removes the situations where everyone aids the PC with the highest modifier only have that PC roll a natural 1.
  • Aid Another now always uses the highest skill check result as the base and the other rolls as assists. However, it is now possible for an assisting character to apply a penalty instead of a bonus if she gets a low result.
  • All the old feats that provide skill bonuses (Acrobatic, Alertness, Animal Affinity, Alertness, Attentive, Builder, Cautious, Confident, Creative, Deceptive, Educated, Focused, Gearhead, Guide, Magical Affinity, Medical Expert, Meticulous, Nimble, Skill Focus, Stealthy, Studious, Trustworthy, Vehicle Expert) have become obsolete, since they give too little, and often to skills that have merged or otherwise disappeared.

Passive Skills

Some skills, such as Guts, Insight, or Perception, are often used passively. A passive skill always rolls '10' on the die, so no actual roll need to be made.

For example, a Perception check to spot an ambush is always a passive check.

Specialized Skills

Specialized skills (Crafts, Cultures, Forbidden Lore, Knowledge, Linguistics, Profession, Sciences) have a rank, but no ability modifier (listed as N/A). They are never rolled. Instead, you have one specialization for each rank in the skill. Specializations can be broad, like 'High School Physics', or very narrow. It is common to have overlapping specializations.

  • With Crafts and Profession, the number of specializations that can apply to a particular task determines the quality of the result.
  • With Cultures, each specialization denotes a culture (i.e. French or Italian) or subculture (i.e. Military, Mafia) you understand and can operate in without standing out as an outsider. You still need to know the local languages, dress the part, and generally try to fit in.
  • With Forbidden Lore, Knowledge, and Sciences, you will usually know all pertinent information that falls under one of your specializations.
  • With Linguistics, each specialization enables you to speak or read/write one language.
  • Each time you gain a level, your wealth bonus increases by 1/5 times the number of specializations you have that apply to your current occupation (max +5).

Background Ranks

At character creation, you get 3 + sum of your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma modifiers (minimum 1) skill ranks that can buy specializations (and nothing else). If you later manage to increase your abilities, you don't get a retroactive bonus.

Profession (N/A)

All work-related specializations not covered by another skill are handled by profession. This is mainly used to determine your wealth, but Profession specializations are also used to denote what types of Performance you are skilled in, and any other areas of competence not covered by something else.

Modern Horror

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