Coward's Blow is probably one of the Investigator's most underhanded and lawless skills. An Investigator using Coward's Blow is able to inflict a crippling strike against his or her intended victim. A Coward's Blow is never a frontal assault, but instead it comes from behind so that the victim has little chance of parrying the unwelcome attack. A Coward's blow does triple the normal weapon damage, and the victim must make a successful system shock roll to stay conscious. Note, however, that only small, easily concealed weapons can be used for Coward's Blow in a melee attack, though one can also use a Coward’s Blow with a ranged attack provided the target is no further than 20-feet away. Acceptable melee weapons include daggers, knives, slapjacks, swagger sticks, and the like. Certainly, the likes of swords and axes would be much too large for such an attack. Silent missile weapons are acceptable, but nothing as noisy as a firearm would produce a successful Coward’s Blow. One rolls for a Coward’s Blow attempt before the attack roll - the attack must still hit, but if the Coward’s blow is successful, the attacker gains a +2 bonus to hit. A failed Coward's Blow roll indicates that the attack, if successful, will only do normal damage. A critical fumble on Coward's blow indicates that the Investigator does not get a chance to complete the attack, and instead draws to him the singular attention of his would-be victim. A person rendered unconscious by Coward's Blow will remain in a comatose condition for 2d4+2 rounds.
Detect Death Magic is a skill that allows Investigators (Speaker For the Dead in particular) to determine if Death Magic was a factor in a person or creature’s death. For this skill, the Speaker must have access to a sample of the corpse’s flesh, and a microscope (as Death Magic often makes normal, living cells implode and shrivel.) This skill also confers a resistance to Death Magic at quarter percentages, thus a Speaker with 40% in Detect Death Magic could resist Death Magic at 10%.
Detect/Identify Blood allows an Investigator to detect minute traces of blood on the surface of a wall, on a rug, in clothing, or on any surface or small quantity of material. Once the check is made, the character can attempt to identify the race or species the blood came from, the blood type (if applicable), and the age of the blood sample. The Game Master may assign bonuses or penalties to the “identification” phase, depending on the complexity of the available laboratory.
Detect/Identify Poison allows an Investigator to detect the presence of a poison in blood, liquids, food, on an object, in a soil sample, or in any small quantity of material. If a poison is successfully detected, then the character can make an additional roll to correctly identify the poison. Finally, a third roll allows the character to make a countermeasure to the poison. To actually craft an antidote, he or she must have proper materials on hand and make another check. Thieves also have this ability to a lesser extent since they are know to poison victims and Investigators have it to counter the Thieves they often battle.
Jury-rig is an Investigator's (Jack of All Trades) ability make hasty repairs to mechanical objects. For example, an Investigator could rig up a broken gun to fire perhaps two or three more times before it is fully wrecked. Or perhaps he could figure out to operate an unknown piece of equipment. Or the Investigator could make a temporary patch for a sinking ship. This skill, however, does not allow the Jack to make any truly lasting repairs. Any work done lasts no longer than 1d4 hours or 2d6 uses (whichever fits the situation best, given the context of the repair.) A Jack (only) can make a lasting repair if the roll is less than half of his Jury-rig skill. The Game Master may determine how much longer a profoundly successful Jury-rig will last.
Hear Noise functions in the same manner as the Ranger/Wishsinger skill of the same name. Whereas a simple Perception check might alert a character to a specific noise, a Hear Noise roll allows the character to pick out a single instrument in a symphony or a single conversation in a crowded room.
One way to understand the difference between an ordinary Perception check and a Hear Noise roll is this: A character listening at a closed door might be able to detect that two people are whispering to each on the other side of the door; a Hear Noise roll, by comparison, allows the Investigator to understand some (or maybe even all) of the words spoken. A Perception check might allow a character to hear the sounds of footsteps coming down the hallway. Hear Noise might allow an Investigator to know that there are two guards wearing heavy boots.
Move Stealthily functions in identical manner to the Ranger and Wishsinger ability of the same name. It allows for characters to walk so quietly as to be unnoticed by the casual observer. This score may be modified downward in the event that the “casual observer” is actively seeking out the character.
A good way to understand the difference between a Skill check and a Move Stealthily check is this: a character with a Skill check might be able to keep a low profile and maybe not get noticed. An Investigator with Move Stealthily knows how to use shadows, terrain, and clothing to greatly reduce the chance of being seen and noticed.
Pick Locks / Repair Locks works just like it sounds. By using specialized thieving picks, an Investigator can open the locks to doors, windows, padlocks, safes, and the like. A successful picklocks roll opens the lock, while a critical fumble damages the lock. Provided the character has the time and proper tools, this skill can also be used to repair broken locks. This score may be modified upward (for a poorly manufactured lock) or downward (a solid steel combination locked safe in perfect condition.) Additionally, the quality of tools may also affect the outcome.
Note: a non-Investigator can approximate the Pick Locks / Repair Locks ability by taking Engineering and the crafting skill for Locksmithing. Of course, an Investigator with Engineering/Locksmithing would essentially have two chances to pick or repair a lock.
Pick Pockets refers to the ability to purloin coins and other small objects from the pockets of others without being detected. A successful pickpockets roll indicates that the sought after item was taken without the victim's knowledge. A failed roll means the item did not get taken, and entitles the target of the theft to a perception check to detect the thief's intent. Besides the mere picking of pockets, this skill can also be used to shoplift small items from store shelves, as well as sneak items into a person's pocket.
Scale Walls allows the Investigator to climb vertical surfaces, thus enabling him to commit second-story burglaries and the like. For each ten feet the Investigator climbs, he or she must make a successful Scale Walls check. A successful check indicates that the Investigator has ascended another ten feet. If the check is failed by less than 15%, this indicates that the Investigator has neither gained nor lost height, while a failure of 15% or more indicates that the Investigator has completely lost his footing and has consequently fallen. Note that the use of climbing gear may modify the score upwards, while especially poor climbing conditions will negatively affect this skill.
Set/Disarm Trap allows an Investigator to understand the ways of booby traps, tripwires, and snares. If an Investigator has the appropriate materials, he can create a trap for others to stumble upon. Likewise, if he encounters traps left by others, this skill allows him to diffuse the trap's destructive effects. Disarming is not without its risks: failing a disarm roll by more than 10% will actually set off the trap, while a critical fumble will cause maximum yield of the trap's damage. A critical success on a disarm roll, on the other hand, allows the Investigator to not only deactivate the trap, but reinstate it at a later time without leaving any evidence of tampering.
This skill also confers to the Investigator the ability to detect the existence of traps. This skill requires significant concentration and the Investigator cannot walk quickly while scanning for traps. The exact reduction in speed will be determined by the Game Master depending on the circumstances at hand.
Shadow/Elude factors in the Investigator's ability to follow others unnoticed. The "Shadow" indicates that the Investigator is actively attempting to follow a target, while "Elude" allows the Investigator to shrug off someone shadowing him! When both the follower and the target possess this skill, the General Matrix can be used to adjudicate the result. This skill works best in crowded city streets. In rural or sparsely populated settings, this skill is greatly reduced and may actually be completely negated.
Snitch allows the Investigator to maintain a small organization of ruffians and rogues who will spy on others for the purpose of information gathering. Typically, the Investigator must pay some petty sum of money for the information gleaned. The higher the score, the larger the snitch network and the more reliable the information. Obviously this score is modified downward when the Investigator is away from his home territory.
Walk Tightrope allows the Investigator to cross from one point to another by balancing on a wire, cable, thin ledge, or taught rope. For every 20' crossed, the Investigator must make another successful Walk Tightrope check. A successful roll indicates that the Investigator has crossed another 20' span of rope (or cable, ledge or wire, etc.) The table below displays the results of a failed Walk Tightrope check.
Tightrope Walking Results
Subject crosses 3// this round.
Subject crosses 2// this round.
Fail by 1-9%
Subject gains no distance
Fail by 10-19%
Subject stumbles, catches self on wire. Character must spend the next round stabilizing her position.
Fail by 20%+
Subject falls, but manages to catch onto an outcropping (if less than 20’ from a wall). If the character can grab an outcropping, then the character can spend 1d4 rounds using Scale Walls to get back to the starting point. If there is no outcropping, then the character takes normal falling damage.
Subject falls hard and takes the maximum damage. This result may be fatal.