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The High Space Sphere

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mad Skillz!

Rebuilding the Skills for the new setting...


Below are Skills available in High-Space, some taken from the Savage Worlds rules with an explanation as to how they apply in a futuristic setting, as well some Skills unique to High-Space.

Boating (Agility)

Boating is an activity normally reserved for the elite, or dedicated leisurists. Heros with Boating know how to perform the functions of ship-based crew, and how to sail and/or drive a boat. Note that in sci-fi settings boats usually have the ability to go from point A to Point B upon command, without a pilot or navigator, and this skill is only used when manual control is desired.

Climbing (Strength)

People have been climbing in and out of trees since recorded history, and they still do. Climbing includes knowledge of how to use sophisticated climbing equipment and how to climb in urban environments. Characters about to ascend a difficult surface must make a Climbing roll for every 20 meters/yards climbed. Characters engaged in combat while climbing can ascend at half their Strength per round if using ropes or hand/footholds. See the Falling rules should a character suffer a mishap. The skill roll is modified by the following conditions:


Climbing Modifiers

Situation    Modifier

No climbing equipment    -2

Basic climbing equipment    No modifier

Qualified climbing equipment    +4

Scarce or thin handholds    -2

Wet or slippery surface    -2

Rough or uneven surfaces    +2


Driving (Agility)

Allows a character to drive the various combinations of ground-vehicles common to sci-fi settings, for example Hover-Cars, Ground-Bikes, and even Walker-Trucks! Rules for driving are included in the Savage Worlds core rules, however, ground vehicles are largely superseded by Aeros in planetary settings (see the Starship rules.) It is important to note, that most vehicles have a rudimentary ability to go from point A to Point B upon command, without the need to a driver, and this skill is only used when manual control is desired.

Fighting (Agility)

Fighting covers all hand-to-hand (melee) attacks regardless of weapon type. The Target Number (TN) to hit an opponent is their Parry score, unless they have declared their previous action as a Full Defense, in which case the TN becomes their own Fighting roll. Fighting encompasses the use of weapons from hand-fashioned shivs, to vibro-knives and power-swords.

Gambling (Smarts)

Gambling is a popular pursuit, an excuse for meeting to exchange information, and a way to covertly bet on the outcomes of dangerous and sometimes illegal actions. Gambling can be used to estimate the known odds of a bet, and also to cheat at games (see the core rules.) Gambling rolls often start out representing several ‘rounds’ or ‘hands’ of a game, until the stakes become significant, in which case a Gambling roll may be required for each play. The stakes of the game can be astronomical – but the important thing to remember when playing is that gambling should not be about the money.


Never the cash

For a ‘savage’ story the gambling stakes need to be more significant than just cash. People rarely gamble for money, not even gambling addicts! They may gamble for the rush of winning, the feeling of power, or the thrill of beating others, but ultimately the stakes involved are more emotional than just cash alone. Starships, mercenary contracts, leaked information, illegal technology, the rights to a planet, and the old staple of gambling-for-your-life are common propositions to make the game more interesting.


Healing (Smarts)

Healing is one of the most often used skills in High-Space. It includes advanced nano treatment, viral alteration, and augmentic surgery. Characters with the Low-tech Hindrance will definitely have reduced Healing rolls, unless they rely on alternatives such as in a futuristic/magic setting. Healing cannot be used to remove the effects of Hindrances that affect a character’s health or well-being. Healing is used to operate Medbay/Nanomedbay systems, as per the Starship rules.

Intimidation (Spirit)

The art of coercing information or action from an unwilling person has not changed much in High-Space. This is an opposed roll between the character’s Intimidation skill die-type and the target’s Spirit die-type.

Investigation (Smarts)

A character skilled in Investigation knows how to identify patterns in information, whether trawling databases and information networks, or even scanning old fashioned paper records or ‘flimsies.’ (Obtaining information by talking to people and evaluating their statements uses Streetwise.) Investigation is used to operate Active Sensor systems, and Firing Solution systems as per the Starship rules.

Knowledge (specify) (Smarts)

Knowledge in the future is specialized. Each instance of the Knowledge skill covers a specific area of expertise. Examples of specific areas of knowledge in High-Space include: Astronavigation, Nano-medicine, various languages, Linguistics, Starship-tactics, Law, Journalism, Politics, Navigation, History, etc. Knowledge (specific language) is used to determine how well a character knows a language above and beyond their starting language(s). Knowledge(Linguistics) is used to decypher previously unknown languages, literally one-word-at-a-time. Knowledge (Computers) is used to hack and program computers.



Across the PanDominion, the common language of 'Pan' is used for all official correspondence and for most media/news. Species specific languages do exist, but their use is astro-graphically limited to the systems of origin for those species. For example, Teraborg the language is used throughout the Imperial Nest, and Soamatan is used in the 'north-west' systems of the PanDominion.




Note that all computer programs in the PanDominion are coded using a language called Hex, so called because some of the odd character sets it uses, which give it the appearance of ancient, arcane script!


Notice (Smarts)

Notice is a character’s alertness and ability to search for items or clues (but searching through information requires Investigation). Notice includes rolls using normal and enhanced senses, detecting ambushes, spotting implanted weapons, and even scrutinizing other characters to determine if they’re lying, frightened, angry, or infatuated. Notice is used to operate Passive Sensor systems, and Indirect Fire systems as per the Starship rules.

Persuasion (Spirit)

Persuasion is used to convince others to do what you want them to do. Persuasion is opposed by the listener’s Spirit die-type. Non-player characters start at one of five different attitudes: Hostile, Uncooperative, Neutral, Friendly, or Helpful. A successful Persuasion roll improves the NPC’s attitude one step, or two with a raise, whereas failure decreases that attitude by one step, or two if a 1 is rolled on the Persuasion die (regardless of the Wild Die). Persuasion is always modified by a character’s Charisma.

Piloting (Agility)

Piloting covers the flying of personal vehicles and devices, Aeros, and Starships. It includes all aerofighters, thermal gliders, jets and helicopters, subsonic or transonic vehicles, as well as starships. It is important to note that most pilote craft in sci-fi settings a rudimentary ability to go from point A to Point B upon command, without a pilot or navigator, and this skill is only used when manual control is desired. Piloting is used to operate Maneuvering systems as per the Starship rules.

Psychiatry (Spirit)

Treatment of the body is the realm of Healing, but treatment of the mind is the realm of Psychiatry. Characters with this skill are able to diagnose and treat mental disorders. They can also use the skill to assist Cooperative Notice rolls to scrutinize a person. Psychiatry can also be used to immediately remove Shaken from one other character (not the character using the skill), with a successful opposed Spirit roll; failure of the opposed Spirit roll means that the acting character also becomes Shaken!

Repair (Smarts)

Repair is the complex skill of fixing sophisticated gadgets, vehicles, weapons, computers, armor, and just about anything else. Repairs are not automatically long lasting, and the skill does not cover the fabrication or manufacturing of an item. Characters suffer a -2 penalty if they don’t have access to the appropriate tools. Repair is used to operate Shield systems, and Automated Repair systems as per the Starship rules.

Riding (Agility)

Riding is the ability to ride animals as steeds. Sports racing is a luxury sport of the future, and still very much gambled upon where it is permitted. Riding allows you to mount, control, and ride any beast common to the PanDominion. Note that when mounted, the effective Fighting die-type of a character is limited to their Riding die-type.

Security (Smarts)

Security involves circumventing or manipulating security systems, from sophisticated pheromone-locks, to electronic keypads, to complex lock-and-tumblers and electronic sensors. Security is a skill used in digital, high-tech environments and focused on Smarts, and thus differs from (and replaces) Lockpicking from the core rules which has a mechanical basis focused on Agility. Security is used to operate Shield systems, and Automated Repair systems as per the Starship rules.

Shooting (Agility)

Shooting covers all attempts to hit a target with a ranged weapon, regardless of the technology level of the weapon. The basic Target Number to hit is 4 as per the Savage Worlds core rules, though there are a number of important modifiers such as range that frequently come into play. Shooting is used to operate Direct Fire systems, and Point Defence systems as per the Starship rules.

Stealth (Agility)

Sneaking around has advanced to include the knowledge of how to negate and avoid motion detectors, infrared, x-ray, and micro-sonar sensors. It includes the ability to both move silently and to hide. The following table provides standard modifiers to Stealth checks:


Modifiers to stealth

Situation    Modifier

Crawling    +2

Running    -2

Dim light    +1

Darkness    +2

Pitch black    +4

Light cover    +1

Medium cover    +2

Heavy cover    +4

Vacuum    +2

Steam and vapor clouds    +2



The Last Step

Using Stealth to approach to within melee distance of a foe requires an opposed Stealth roll versus the target’s Notice, whether the target is active or inactive, additional to any other roll to reach that distance.


Spacewise (Smarts)

Spacewise is the accumulation of common operational knowledge and experience to keep a person alive in the dangers of zero-gravity, vacuum, and high radiation. It is the equivalent of Survival for characters in space, and also gives a character the knowledge to understand what is happening to them or their ship in space. It is also used to move around in zero-gravity. Spacewise is used to operate Communications systems, and Damage Control systems as per the Starship rules.

Streetwise (Smarts)

Streetwise is the knowledge and experience required to operate in criminal and fringe environments. It includes the source information via social venues and events, and other contacts, through the use of bribes, threats, and/or carousing. Streetwise is always modified by Charisma.

Survival (Smarts)

Survival allows a character to find food, water, or shelter when in hostile terrestrial environments. Characters make one roll per day. A successful roll finds sustenance for one person; a raise finds food and water for up to five adults. Those who benefit from the roll do not have to make Fatigue rolls for the day for food, water, or shelter (see the Savage Worlds core rules).

Swimming (Agility)

Swimming is a popular leisure sport. A Swimming rolls determines if a character floats or sinks in water, or any other material that provides buoyancy, such as the dense, inner-layers of gas giants. Under normal conditions a character’s swimming Pace is equal to half their Swimming die-type.

Taunt (Smarts)

Taunting is a potent weapon when opponents can be tricked into instigating actions that are detrimental, by attacking their pride. This is an opposed Taunt roll against the target’s Smarts. See 'Test of Wills' in the Savage Worlds core rules for the effects of Taunt. Some societies strongly regulate violent behavior, and in these societies taunting becomes an effective method of dealing with enemies.

Throwing (Agility)

Regardless of the technology level involved, the ability to throw things is a common and useful skill. Throwing works just like the Shooting skill, and uses all the same modifiers.

Tracking (Smarts)

Tracking allows the following of tracks of one or more individuals in any type of terrain, and is commonly used by bounty hunters when their quarry goes ‘off the grid.’ It covers following specific trails and determining the direction and composition of a trail and those who made them.



Other posts by JiaoshouX

7 comments on article "Mad Skillz!"


Brian Davis

5/20/2016 8:17 AM

Two things jump out at me:

1) BOATING: Personally, I would not include boating as a separate skill. It seems like it would be used so rarely that it's just extra. I would be more likely to keep Tracking over Boating. If someone really wanted to know how to manually steer a boat, you could either include it as part of driving or just lump it in as a Knowledge skill. You noted in your skill description: " sci-fi settings boats usually have the ability to go from point A to Point B upon command, without a pilot or navigator, and this skill is only used when manual control is desired." This seems like it would cover most needs. For this setting, Boating seems like a fringe skill to me.

2) PSYCHIATRY: You wrote: "Psychiatry can also be used to immediately remove Shaken from one other character (not the character using the skill), with a successful opposed Spirit roll; failure of the opposed Spirit roll means that the acting character also becomes Shaken!" So, if someone gets injured and is shaken and you use your psychiatry skill to assist them, are you checking against the shaken person's spirit? That seems odd to me as the victim having a high spirit would be detrimental to them being cured. Am I misunderstanding this?



5/23/2016 7:20 PM

Hey Brian,

I totally agree regarding BOATING. I've never once written it on a statblock in all these years, it was a hangover from the core rules that doesn't fit the setting! Thanks for the feedback. BOATING is out.

As for PSYCHIATRY, yes, you read the rule correctly as it is written. The whole gist of it is to emphasize the cerebral nature of the setting and to add 'crunch' to the concept. The idea behind the higher Spirit making it more difficult is that the user is effectively hacking the thought processes of the target. Maybe that makes sense, but isn't intuitive? What do you think if the whole rationale of this function?


Brian Davis

5/30/2016 1:48 PM

Regarding Psychiatry, I like the concept you are going for, although the implementation just doesn't quite make sense to me. Psychiatry takes time and often drugs are prescribed based on the issue. Psychiatrists aren't really endangering their psyche when treating patients, their is no hacking into their brain with risk to themselves.

It almost seems like you are going more for a Deanna Troi Betazoid/ship's counselor kind of feel with this. The affect is similar to the Succor power, which removes fatigue and shaken status, the failure affect is simulating Brainburn when they roll a 1 (see Arcane Background - Psionics). Maybe leave this portion as a power and have the psychiatrist grant the ability to treat psychic damage using a combination of drugs and therapy like a ship's doctor treats physical wounds. I can see mental stress from being on long voyages as being treatable by this skill as well.

Just some thoughts, hope this is useful feedback.


Alex Head

6/1/2016 3:28 PM

Hey there Joe. First post, been meaning to post for a long while now, I own every product and supplement for High Space that you've put out, and can't wait to see the new edition! (any eta on that?) That said, wanted to comment on the topic at hand.

As it stands the Psychiatry roll to auto-recover an ally from shaken feels a bit powerful in it's current state. I'm not a designer so I'm not going to try and weigh in on that conversation in depth, but perhaps a simply bonus to their roll to recover from shaken would suffice? Or perhaps if you succeed on the Psych roll that player can immediately make a check to recover from shaken (outside of their turn?) with a +2 bonus?

I agree that it seems odd that it's more difficult to help a higher spirit character recover from shaken, although I get where your coming from. The rationale being: i.e. If 'The Doctor' (DrWho) was 'shaken' from something he witnessed it must be a HELLUVA thing that caused it and it would take more 'psychiatry' to talk him down than a normal person. That said I feel you'd still be lending a bonus to his own ability to over-come it, not working in opposition to it.

At work right now, but looking forward to being more involved now that I'm registered :) Keep up the good work!!


Philip Larkin

6/21/2016 11:54 AM

Not a problem just a suggestion. In my games I lump language knowledge with regional knowledge. EG if you have Knowledge(Germany) d6 you would basically have knowledge(German Language) as well as a good base of cultural, historical, geographic (etc) knowledge also. It think that could work well here in high space.

Persuasion is another example of sorely punishing failure. I can try to persuade you to buy me a pint without you thinking less of me for it in the end. I'd suggest 1 on the skill die lowers the rating by 1. Snake eyes reduce it by 2.

The social conflict rules in the core rulebook might be worth mentioning for anything bigger than trying to decide who's round it is.

Man I'm thirsty!


Philip Larkin

6/21/2016 11:58 AM

PS I'm OK with Psychiatry. I agree with Alex in this regard. I don't find it OP considering you have to use an action to do so and you risk shaking yourself.


Jenevieve DeFer

8/8/2016 3:42 PM

Is there a way for a PC to Pick Pocket someone or Palm an item?

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