Revised Skill List For Cyberpunk 2020
This article discusses a steamlined list of skills for Cyberpunk 2020. It adresses the problematic list of science skills (who ever took Anthropology?), the rather pointless “Shadow/Track” and “Hide/Evade” skils and other problems. It also introduces a flexible combination of skill and stat: REF+Handgun to shoot, INT+Handgun to know about handguns, TECH+Handgun to repair it…
Author: Marc Brenowitz (brenown (at) ix.netcom.com) and Ross “Spyke” Winn (spyke-rew (at) worldnet.att.net) Used with kind permission
Based on ideas from the skills section of the article “SPYKE’S EDGE, essays and rule modifications for Cyberpunk 2020,” by Ross “Spyke” Winn and discussions with Ross Winn.
New Skill List
Special Ability skills should also act as a professional (expert) skill based on Intelligence.
Floating Skills (the adds from this skill can be assigned to a stat as needed)
Athletics (moved from Ref skills, and see additional notes below)
(Ross adds: MY POINT IS THAT ANY skill should be usable by ANY stat in a situation where the referee feels it is appropriate–I think this should be vague and unquantified.) Marc: True, and that opens a whole new can of worms.
Wardrobe & Style
Climbing (see new skill description, below)
(Endurance, moved to Cool skills)
Throwing (see new skill description, below)
Endurance (Moved from Body because Endurance is an act of willpower.)
Acting (split out from Perform)
(Perform, now split out into Acting and Singing, plus see comments below)
Seduction (In cases where the referee feels it is appropriate, the average of Empathy and Attractiveness may be used for the skill roll, round up.)
Singing (split out from Perform)
(Anthropology, now included under Science)
Braindance Use (see my Overlooked Skills article)
(Botany, now included under Science)
(Chemistry, now included under Science)
Corporate Policy (see my Overlooked Skills article)
Culture: specify (see my Overlooked Skills article)
Education & General Knowledge
Evade/Track (This replaces both Hide/Evade & Shadow/Track, which are too similar to be different skills, and were one skill in the first edition.)
Expert: specify (see my Overlooked Skills article)
(Geology, now included under Science)
(Hide/Evade, now included in Evade/Track)
(Physics, now included under Science)
Science: specify (Anthropology, Chemistry, Botany, Geology, Physics, Zoology, etc.)
(Shadow/Track, now included in Evade/Track)
(Zoology, now included under Science)
Running (see new skill description, below)
Acrobatics (see new skill description, below)
(Athletics, moved to Floating Skills)
Autoweapons (see new skill description, below)
Dodge & Escape (this skill is included in Brawling and Martial Arts but not Melee skills)
(Fencing, now included under Melee: specify weapon)
Martial Arts:specify type (see Pacific Rim Sourcebook for a detailed Martial Arts system)
Melee:specify weapon (see description below)
Operate Heavy Machinery (this includes driving tracked vehicles, see my Overlooked Skills article)
Pick Pocket (was listed under Intelligence, but this is really a coordination skill)
Pilot Fixed Wing
Rifle (includes autorifles)
Sleight Of Hand (see new skill description, below)
SMG (the Autoweapons skill includes SMG)
AeroTech (see new skill description, below)
AutoTech (see new skill description, below)
Basic Tech (see notes below)
Cyberdeck Design (see Ross’ notes below)
Mix/Edit (see new skill description, below)
Pick Lock (included in Security Tech)
Security Tech (was Electronic Security, see new skill description below)
Weaponsmith (or Weapon Tech)
New Skill Descriptions
Floating Skills (the adds from this skill can be assigned to a stat as needed)
Athletics. Marc: Athletics is a general skill that covers all kinds of physical activity, including climbing, swimming, throwing, running, leaping, rolling, etc. As a general skill, it lets you do a lot of different things, but not necessarily well. There are specific athletic skills for these actions. When using Athletics in place of Climbing, Swimming, etc., add 1/2 Athletics skill to the appropriate stat. For example, when using Athletics in place of Running skill, it functions at 1/2 level, and the skill adds are added to Movement Allowance.
Body Type Skills
Climbing. Marc: This skill includes climbing walls, rope climbing, rappelling, and using climbing gear. Modifiers are cumulative: -3 for slick or wet surfaces, -3 for very sheer surfaces, -3 trying to climb in a place that would need climbing gear without it, +3 for lots of handholds or knots in the rope, and +3 for being helped up by somebody. You don’t have to have this skill to try climbing a wall; it just makes it easier. Athletics can be used in place of Climbing skill at 1/2 value.Throwing. Marc: Includes throwing grenades, shotputs, bricks, rocks, bottles, knives, spears, cats, etc. The skill to throw a weapon that is traditionally thrown, like knives or spears, is also covered with that weapon’s skill. For example, Melee: Knife, includes skill at throwing knives (but not anything else).
Perform. Marc: I split these out because I feel there is a wide difference in training and practice between singing and acting. Some performers know both, but there are plenty of singers who can’t act and plenty of actors who can’t sing. Ross: No, I do not think that acting and performing are that separate. Besides, the differences to the style of the game are minimal. The idea is that perform could be related to the idea of the character, like composition. I perform my solos flawlessly, or I perform open heart surgery. Do you see what I am getting at here?
Movement Allowance Skills
Running. Marc: This allows better running endurance over a long period of time, like foot chases through the streets and sprinting. The skill grants the ability to run at maximum pace without tiring for 2 minutes times the skill level without tiring. It also provides a bonus to MA for a number of combat rounds equal to the skill level (sprinting). The bonus would be based on 1/4 skill, so 1-4=+1, 5-8=+2, 9-10+=3. This is a good skill for gangers, both for running from the cops and for running down prey.
Acrobatics. Marc: Tumbling, leaping, rolling, jumping, swinging from catwalks, etc. Can be used to avoid taking damage from falldowns and knockdowns. Subtract 1d6+skill level from such damage. Can be used at 1/2 value (GM’s discretion) as Dodge & Escape skill. Useful for leaping from rooftop to rooftop. Jackie Chan has this skill at +10.Autoweapons. Ross: Autoweapons as a skill has only been presented in Hardwired. The difference between operating a submachine gun, or operating an assault rifle has become increasingly slim, so I think that the skill should be included in continuity. Marc: This skill covers SMG’s, & autorifles, and at the GM’s discretion, full auto for pistols.
Melee: specify. Marc: If you don’t pick a weapon type, then this is the general melee skill. The general skill allows you to use anything as a weapon at half your skill level: broken bottles, pool cues, tables, cats, clubs, knives, swords, axes, sledgehammers, spears, etc. You only get half your skill level because this skill can be used with anything. It covers the basics of picking up and striking with weapons and improvised weapons, but is not the skill for an expert fencer or knife fighter. Melee: General is the skill for the barroom brawler who likes to use more than their fists. The half level also provides some game balance, because most people aren’t going to be able to buy this skill tremendously high, but even if they do, they’re not going to have a very high bonus. To be an expert with a weapon, you need to specify the weapon type or types. Melee: Fencing covers swords. Melee: Knives covers the old street skill of knife fighting, including throwing them. Other specialties would include Axe, Sledgehammer, Chainsaw (for the sick and twisted only), Spear, Club, Staff, etc.
Sleight Of Hand. Ross: Though this skill has only been presented in When Gravity Fails, I think it should also be in continuity for the base game. Marc: This skill covers diverting attention to allow the user to palm a small item, switch it from hand to hand, or slip it into a pocket or another person’s hand or drop it without being seen. A useful skill for thieves and con artists.
AeroTech. Ross: The AV Tech skill is different then the Aero Tech skill in 2020. These two skills are extremely similar, possibly too similar to be delineated as different skills. (Marc: When in doubt, use one skill to cover another at half level [GM’s discretion]). I would recommend Aero Tech as the skill for jet-propelled aircraft, but delineated from Gyro Tech-even in the case of jet powered helicopters. Marc: Specialized tech skills for a particular vehicle type make sense, because this is how it works in real life. An automechanic can fix the mechanical, electronic, and computer parts of a car, but not a jet.AutoTech. Ross: I think there should be a wheeled vehicle tech skill. There is such a difficult and specialized relationship between electronics and mechanical components in a vehicle control system.
Mix/Edit. Ross: The ability to edit and compose from multiple feeds of video, audio, or braindance, to create a specific piece of art. Inspired by the techno/house-music disc jockeys who say: “Give me two records, and I’ll make you a universe.” Marc: Oftentimes what makes recorded music great is the producer. The “fifth Beatle,” the guy who produced “Dark Side of the Moon,” Daniel Lanois, Babyface (both of whom have produced many, many hit albums by many different bands) are all examples of the use of this skill.
Security Tech. Ross: The change is inspired by the new skill Milspec Tech in CyberGeneration. I think that skill is a little too inclusive. I do think Security Tech should include all types of B&E, but not Demolitions. Marc: So Security Tech includes Pick Lock in addition to covering electronic lock systems. Although one might think that mechanical locks would be rare in the high tech Cyberpunk world, they are a good, cheap alternative. You probably won’t see mechanical locks in Arasaka’s latest tower, but you will see them on warehouse and locker doors.
Based on ideas from and including descriptions, ideas, and quotes, from “SPYKE’S EDGE, essays and rule modifications for Cyberpunk 2020,” by Ross “Spyke” Winn (firstname.lastname@example.org). All copyrights for that article are retained by Ross Winn. This article Copyright 1997 by Marc Brenowitz. Although permission is granted to copy or print this work for personal use, if you want to post this article on the internet or employ it in any other communication medium, electronic, print, or other, you must first secure written permission from the author.