General Skills

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General Skills are things all operatives might pick up. They’re open to all classes.


While anyone can run, jump, slide and climb without the penalty of an unskilled roll, there’s something to be said for training as an athlete. What operatives say about it is usually said with their shotgun, as they vault over the enemy’s cover and unload accelerated metal into the enemy face. There are few rebuttals.

  • Novice A novice athlete is mostly worried about getting into shape and staying there. The only real benefit over untrained people at this level is that the athlete can keep going longer, and can attempt an Athletics task to reduce damage from a fall.
    • No special ability.
  • Practiced: At this level the operative has been training seriously. Athletic tasks can be used to increase movement distance, scale difficult surfaces, swim in full armor and gear, or temporarily increase defense when trying to charge through a hail of gunfire.
    • No special ability.
  • Expert: Now the operative can keep up with professional athletes, even without the use of biotics. It may not seem like much to be able to jump high, or run exceptionally fast, but those are two things that most soldiers never expect to see a man in full gear do. The surprise is often enough to get the operative out of the line of fire and up close and personal.
    • An expert operative can attempt an athletics task to storm forward, doubling movement and ignoring the effects of rough terrain. He can tumble unpredictably out of gunfire as a matter of course, gaining +2 to Defense when giving up his attack action to run flat out.
  • Master: A master operative is in incredible personal shape. He can attempt an Athletics task to use his Strength in place of his Toughness for the purposes of calculating Defense until the start of his next turn. This action can be combined with a Full Run maneuver, and gains the bonus from the Expert level ability.
    • The master can spend a Resolve point to make a desperate leap back under cover as a reaction to enemy fire. There must be cover nearby to do this, but if there is, the operative gets the cover bonus to defense against the attack that triggered this maneuver, as well as any other attacks that he now has cover against.
  • Grandmaster Grandmaster operatives have transformed their bodies to the extent that everyone can see their amazing athletic potential. In the case of an Asari, every movement she makes is like the steps of a dance, a Krogan operative would move like the explosive power of a piston, and a human turns and tumbles as if the battlefield were his own personal jungle-gym.
    • A grandmaster operative can spend a point of Resolve to add +5 to his Biotic Defense when under attack from kinetic-based biotics. The bonus lasts for 3 full rounds, and can be triggered as a response to an attack, or used as a free-action on the operative’s turn.

The Computers skill covers software, computer operation, and general use of one of the most ubiquitous pieces of technology in the galaxy. Anyone trained in this skill is assumed to be able to use most computers. Those who are experts or better can use any computer they come across.

  • Novice Still new to advanced computer use, the novice still knows how to load programs into systems, check logs for tampering, and a variety of other tasks that the average citizen doesn’t bother with and can’t do.
    • No special ability.
  • Practiced: Computers are now easy to use in advanced modes, and while the character may not be a master hacker, he certainly can break into low-security systems. The practiced user can do anything and everything that the computer is supposed to do without a need for a roll as long as he’s not under pressure.
    • No special ability.
  • Expert: The Expert is able to consistently able to get a computer to do what he wants it to do, regardless of if it’s supposed to do that or not. Experts have graduated past using gloves to interface computers, having the interfaces built right into their fingers.
    • Experts have a suite of programs that they carry with them. Loaded onto a computer, they can greatly extend the functioning of the computer or allow access to normally locked systems.
  • Master: Master computer users can get a computer to do anything it is even remotely capable of doing. They can improve the efficiency of computer systems and even build VIs and AIs. Assuming they are crazy enough to do the latter.
    • Masters have a VI built that helps them with all manner of computer tasks, and can run processes for the character while he’s doing something else.
  • Grandmaster Grandmasters just direct the computer to do something and people watch in awe as it executes half a dozen programs. Grandmasters, like Masters, can build VIs and AIs. However, they are distinct from Masters in that they can safely build a shackled AI.
    • Grandmasters can build a heavily shackled AI that can essentially use their computer skill for them, but only as if the AI was a Master, not a Grandmaster. To make the proto-AI portable, they must also get a hold of some pretty impressive tech.

It’s important to do more than just charge into the enemy forces without a plan. To be really successful at taking the fight up close and personal in a world dominated by ranged weapons, you have to disrupt enemy formations and force them to change their plans. The Disrupt skill teaches a operative to do just that, in addition to knowledge on how best to foul up enemy organizations off the field. Charge across enemy lines and hit someone in the face with a rifle butt, sure. But for a reason.

  • Novice A novice at disruption can identify the weakest point in an enemy formation, the easiest target to flank. It’s not much, but it’s often the difference between a quick kill and getting your ass shot off.
    • No special ability.
  • Practiced: A practiced operative maximizes his efforts whenever possible. Before making a charge, he can attempt a Disrupt task as a minor action. If successful, the charge confuses the enemy, making them act much more randomly on their next action. This use of the skill can be countered by a strong leader in the opposing force, but in general operatives are used to wrecking havoc on the thugs and rabble that infest the galaxy’s darker corners.
    • No special ability.
  • Expert: An expert operative doesn’t just charge, he causes a cascade of reactions in the enemy force that open them up to the rest of his squad. Disruptions from skill tasks now last longer, and are harder for enemy leaders to counter. Especially weak willed or cowardly troops may have their morale break when disrupted.
    • At the expert level a operative can focus his disruption on a single enemy rather than trying to break up the whole enemy force. This focused use of Disrupt hits the enemy with a -3 penalty to all rolls, assuming the operative was able to close with him. The penalty lasts until the enemy wins some kind of decisive victory against the operative, or can break out of melee and get back out at range.
  • Master: Suppressing fire is something every operative uses, but masters can take that fire a step further, to disrupt the operations of one or more enemy weapons. By unloading a couple of shots into the enemy force while on a charge, the operative gets to attempt a disrupt task against them. If successful, one or more of the enemy guns jam, taking them out of the fight until they can switch weapons or unjam their gun.
    • Instead of improving the roll of a disrupt task with a Resolve point, the operative can use that resolve point to spread the expert level ability to an entire enemy squad. While the penalty will only last one round on the enemies that aren’t in melee with the operative, that’s still a big hit to the enemy efficiency.
  • Grandmaster At the peak of skill a operative’s charge leaves foes shaken so badly they can’t recover. Using a regular disrupt task against any enemy who doesn’t have Resolve imposes the disruption penalty regardless of the enemy’s ability to get to range or not.
    • Once per combat, a grandmaster operative can perform a disrupt task that normally requires a minor action as a free action, allowing him to move faster, or pop some stims on his way in.

There are two ways to get what you want from people, and persons who’ve trained their ability to intimidate others aren’t going to take any shit from anybody. Intimidation can be done so many ways, brute force, sinister threats, or just a cold demeanor. The end result is that the cowed subject bows to the Spectres will. This skill doesn’t make you any friends, but it’s fast and it gets respect.

  • Novice Still new to pushing people around, the Novice has to be pretty crude about it. Slamming people against walls, shoving a weapon in their face, whatever works.
    • No special ability.
  • Practiced: The practiced user doesn’t always have to break fingers to get his way. The right threats can easily move people who aren’t afraid of violence. Krogan act tough, but threaten their women and they bend right over. Of course, the threats have to be credible.
    • No special ability.
  • Expert: The intimidation expert has cultivated a personal aura that says, ‘don’t fuck with me, it’s not worth it’. Brash threats aren’t needed, insinuations can work just as well, properly delivered. Or a loud noise, bright flash of light, some other sudden shock at just the right time can make a tough guy crumble.
    • Experts don’t get bothered by toughs. The only people who will cross a room to mess with an expert are psychopaths and hardened operatives. Street toughs get out of his way.
  • Master: Master intimidators have the stare. With just their gaze, they can break down people, so long as they have time to really drill into them with those baby blues. Or greens, or purples. Every technique has its season. Salarians fold fast to minor physical punishment, Krogan caught off guard are surprisingly submissive, break an Asari’s heart and she’ll do anything to get you to go away.
    • Masters can intimidate people in half the time, and they leave a lingering impression. Anyone intimidated by a Master doesn’t want a rematch, they want to never see that guy again. Any subject successfully intimidated once is halfway to being intimidated the next time the Master sees him.
  • Grandmaster These guys are creepy, dangerous, and powerful. No one but the truly insane messes with a Grandmaster of Intimidation. Even crime bosses and assassins recognize the danger that individual poses, and tread lightly.
    • Subjects intimidated by a Grandmaster are as likely to respect and follow him as they are to fear and escape him. The subject is so thoroughly impressed by the experience that he sees the character as a natural leader and tyrant to be supported.

Spectres don’t always act alone. Sometimes, the job is just too big for a single operative or squad, no matter how skilled. That’s when they recruit larger forces, Platoons or even armies if necessary, anything to make the galaxy secure and safe.

  • Novice A leader in training, the novice understands the basics of what a larger force requires. Setting up a command structure, resolving disputes, pushing paperwork are all things the novice can handle.
    • No special ability.
  • Practiced: The practiced leader runs a smooth, tight ship, or company, or platoon. People do their jobs, act like professionals, and are loyal to the chain of command. There’s always a few bad apples, but the practiced Leader can weed them out with enough investigation.
    • No special ability.
  • Expert: Expert leaders have exceptional troops. Those under his command will work hard to make sure they are the best they can be, simply out of loyalty and respect. The organization runs smoothly, bad apples are ejected quickly, and the men always have whatever they need.
    • An Expert’s men are always better than comparably trained and equipped troops. An expert’s forces can overcome 3:2 odds against them without losing half the force, because every individual is at the peak of their personal ability.
  • Master: Master leaders don’t have troops, they have Companions. Men who believe in their leader like an ideal. They will follow such a person into the most dangerous missions, even accept suicide missions without protest, so long as it’s their commander who orders it.
    • A Master is not betrayed by any but the most devious infiltrators. The very troops in his company weed out traitors for him, unable to tolerate the presence of anyone who isn’t enthusiastic.
  • Grandmaster Grandmasters mold troops into forces that can sweep their enemies. It is a privilege and an honor to serve with them and all their subordinates know it. There is virtually no limit to the size of a force a Grandmaster can command, by careful promotion of subordinates who’ve modeled themselves after him.
    • Forces lead by a Grandmaster can take on 2:1 unfavorable odds from equally trained and equipped troops without too much trouble, due to the cohesion and fanaticism of the force. Things start getting difficult when they’re outnumbered 3:1 by similar troops, but even those odds can be surmounted.

Medics in the Mass Effect galaxy are more than simple paramedics. With access to medical VIs, huge electronic databases, medi-gel, and high tech tools, you can perform surgery on the battlefield if necessary. That said, this skill is focused towards combat medicine, and not gene therapy, re-constructive surgery, or other more specialized disciplines. Some general medical knowledge is imparted but the focus is on turning hamburger back into soldiers.

  • Novice Despite the above paragraph, the novice is basically a glorified paramedic. He can save lives and patch big holes, but more intense medicine should wait until the casualty is back at base.
    • No special ability.
  • Practiced: Saving lives isn’t enough for a practiced Medic, the real goal is to return soldiers to duty for the very next battle. Some wounds make this impossible, and really bad wounds will be beyond the skill of a practiced user to heal at all, but in general a medic at this level can provide all the medicine a squad needs in the field.
    • No special ability.
  • Expert: Expert medics can identify problems and fix them fast. Sometimes even getting men back into action during the same battle they were wounded in. Esoteric conditions caused by planetary environments or alien tech don’t mystify an expert medic, even if it might take a while to figure out exactly what’s wrong.
    • Mere trauma is not a challange for an expert anymore. As long as the wound was caused from regular mutions or biotics, an Expert medic can get the soldier moving and ready to fight in the next battle. He can also attempt a roll to get the man moving in the very same battle.
  • Master: Master medics are more like doctors than medics. They have come across a broad range of medical information in their time, and are rarely surprised by a casualty’s condition. Even if they are surprised, they can roll with it, and fix the problem at the same time that they figure it out. This cuts the time required way down, and saves a lot of people who’d die before a lesser medic could help them.
    • Masters need only half the time to heal a patient, and can make rolls to fix trauma at combat speed, needing only a round or two.
  • Grandmaster Grandmaster medics are real doctors, and no one would dispute that. They can participate in medicine as if they’d spent the time in school, and are often listened to by professional doctors when they choose to give advice.
    • A grandmaster medic picks a medical specialty, surgery and cybernetics, genetics, infectious disease, etc, and is considered to have all the skill of a highly trained doctor in that area.

Hand to hand combat is not a thing of the past, you just have to be an exceptional warrior to use it. Or be a Krogan. Regardless, the fact that so few modern warriors train in any kind of hand to hand makes having that training devastating once a operative gets into close range. This skill covers not only martial arts training but also melee weapons like swords, knives, clubs, improvised weapons, and the ever popular rifle butt.

  • Novice The novice doesn’t know much, but he has learned to learn, or something. He dozed off a little when the sensei was talking. At least he acquired enough skill to not embarrass himself at close quarters.
    • No special ability.
  • Practiced: A practiced operative in melee is the equivalent of a black belt who knows only one martial art. Dangerous in close quarters to be sure, but still with a lot to learn. Practiced Martial Artists attack with their full base accuracy bonus, and may choose to specialize in melee attacks for additional skill.
    • No special ability.
  • Expert: The expert is a master of several martial arts and is working on combining them into a potent personal style. Most trained warriors won’t even see the punches coming. Experts also pick up a bit of a rep as a brawler, which is sometimes useful, and sometimes draws in young punks who want to be the next ‘fastest gun’.
    • Expert operatives get an extra Defense trait. Melee Defense, which is based on their Strength, not toughness. It gives them an extra boost when fighting hand to hand.
  • Master: A master operative has turned a dozen disparate martial arts styles from multiple races into a cohesive, deadly whole. Masters of melee often find themselves attracting students, though few Spectres can stay in one spot long enough to justify taking a pupil on.
    • When spending a Resolve point to improve the roll, the master operative also gains the +5 bonus to damage, performing a brutally effective attack.
  • Grandmaster The greatest of hand to hand fighters have their names spoken in whispers wherever warriors gather. They have taken their style and made it truly an art. Even if they teach their style, it would be rare for a student to be able to match his master’s skill and grace. The grandmaster fights serenely as an Asari priestess, or volcanically raging like a Krogan, according to his temperament and style.
    • Grandmaster operatives double their unarmed melee damage, making weapons all but unnecessary, even against unarmored opponents. Every armor has a weak point, and the grandmaster has no trouble striking that exact spot.

There are two ways to get what you want in this world, and those who choose to persuade feel that this is the best long-term strategy. Skilled persuaders can be seductive, reasonable, or sly. They can bargain or convince, but the end goal is to get what they want, while leaving the other party feeling like the right decision was made.

  • Novice Novice persuaders have to give up a lot to get people to do what they want, but they tell themselves it’s all worth it for the karma.
    • No special ability.
  • Practiced: They say a good compromise leaves everyone unhappy but practiced persuaders don’t think so. It’s possible to reach an equitable deal that leaves everyone feeling right. Good relationships get built for the future, and when the character returns to his persuaded contacts, they’ll be willing to deal again.
    • No special ability.
  • Expert: Experts at persuasion don’t have to give much to get a lot. It’s not dishonest, it’s just selling people on the right deal. Sure, people go above and beyond for an expert persuader, but they do it because they like the man, and want to help him out. They don’t feel swindled afterwards.
    • Experts leave a network of contacts wherever they go. Returning to a place even years later can result in a contact greeting the persuader as a friend and volunteering some important bit of intel.
  • Master: A character at this level of skill inspires as much as he persuades. People do what he wants not just because they like him, but because it’s the right thing to do. These interactions and deals leave the character’s contacts with a positive, memorable experience, and may even change the person’s future behavior when the character is long gone.
    • Masters can persuade people who would normally be resistant to such efforts. An expert persuader cannot convince a slaver to free a slave, at least not without buying that slave. A master persuader could get that slave freed with a good conversation and maybe a few drinks. With a really exceptional effort, he might convince the slaver to give up the trade.
  • Grandmaster Selling ice on Novaria is small potatoes. What a Grandmaster sells is paradigm. A character at this skill speaks so clearly, and yet so profoundly, that it is nearly impossible to deny the truth of what he says. Even the hardest heart or most stubborn mind may yield to such a character.
    • A grandmaster changes people not just within themselves, but whole communities. A person changed by a grandmaster will go on to try to influence others in the same way, causing a ripple of influence that can change entire cities, planets… occasionally even sectors.

The piloting skill covers not only the physical operation of a ship, but also basic maintenance, navigation, and procedures. A character skilled in piloting can handle anything smaller than a capital ship with professional style.

  • Novice Novice pilots can do point A to point B, but anything fancy requires a roll.
    • No special ability.
  • Practiced: A good pilot is worth his weight in gold, and that’s exactly what the practiced character is, a good pilot. Able to handle the day to day running of a ship without a hitch, and able to perform competently under fire.
    • No special ability.
  • Expert: Expert pilots are highly valued, and for good reason. They keep their ships running in top shape, and can pull off tricks that would vex merely practiced pilots with ease. Experts can fly it if it’s got thrusters, and they can make it jump if it’s got an eezo core.
    • Experts pick a particular ship type, shuttle, fighter, frigate, cruiser, and specialize in it. Once per scene, if they spend a Resolve point to improve a piloting roll on their chosen ship, the bonus is +10, not +5.
  • Master: An expert pilot can fly any ship, but a master pilot makes the ship dance. Streaking through an asteroid field at top speed is something a master pilot does with confidence that the ship will survive. Master pilots are worth their weight in eezo, and they know it.
    • Master pilots treat every non-capital ship as if it were their specialty ship from the expert level. They also can get extra speed out of the thrusters and precision out of relay jumps, beyond what the ship’s equipment should allow.
  • Grandmaster The very best pilots in the galaxy can fly like the ship was part of their body, and consequently get pretty attached to their ships. The immense skill of a grandmaster pilot allows him to perform complex tasks like dodging debris while under fire, and still spare plenty of concentration for plotting out a route and staying appraised of the tactical situation. Thus, a grandmaster pilot will not get cornered or blockaded unless the enemy has enough ships to literally surround him in 3D space.
    • Grandmaster pilots are voiced by Seth Green. They also can, once per day, perform a completely impossible feat of piloting that would normally require a roll without needing to make the roll. The attempt automatically succeeds, but costs the grandmaster a point of Resolve.

General Skills

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