Biblyon the Great

This zine is dedicated to articles about the fantasy role-playing game Gods & Monsters, and other random musings.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Fields of study

Jerry Stratton, April 10, 2005

Russian worker with calipers

In both the era and the fictional style that Gods & Monsters draws its influence from, there is little specialization. People aren’t chemists, they’re scientists, or, in our case, natural philosophers.

In this new skill system for Gods & Monsters, skills consist of fields and skills. Fields cover wide areas, and skills cover more specific areas. Characters increase their field bonus and in the process will gain skills inside that field. Someone studying the visual arts field, for example, might at Visual Arts 1 know how to paint; at Visual Arts 2 know how to paint and how to sculpt; and at Visual Arts 3 know how to paint, sculpt, and draw caricatures.

Each time the character’s field bonus increases, the player should also choose another skill for the character. The character gains the full field bonus across all skills.

Players making first level characters can choose one out-of-archetype field rather than one out-of-archetype skill.

FieldArchetypeAbilitySample Skills
AcrobaticsThiefAgilityacrobatics, dancing, juggling, leaping
AgricultureGeneralWisdomanimal husbandry, animal training, beekeeping, farming, fishing, ropes and knots
AthleticsWarriorStrengthboxing, football, jumping, swimming
ClothingGeneralAgilitycobbler, dying, ropes and knots, tailor, weaver
CombatWarriorCharismaquickdraw, tactics, team combat
CraftsmanshipGeneralAgilitycarpentry, instrument crafting, pottery
CultureProphet, GeneralCharismadancing, etiquette, heraldry, history, locality, riddling
Divine SciencesMonk, Prophet, SorcerorIntelligencealchemy, angelology, astrology, demonology, kabbalah, numerology
EnduranceMonk, WarriorEnduranceendure deprivation, endure elements, endure pain, hold breath, running
EngineeringMonk, SorcerorIntelligencearchitecture, bridge-building, cartography, clockworks, drafting, shipwright
EntertainmentThief, GeneralCharismaacting, dancing, musical instrument, singing, storytelling
FoodGeneralwisdombrewing, candies, catering, cooking, pastries
GamblingThief, WarriorCharismabackgammon, dominos, poker
HealingProphetWisdomhealing, herbalism
HistoryMonk, Prophet, SorcerorIntelligenceliterature, locality, lore, riddling, time period, topical history
HuntingThief, WarriorCharismaanimal lore, direction sense, fire, hunting, survival, tracking
JewelerThief, GeneralCharismaappraisal, gem-cutting, gems, jewelry-crafting, lore
LanguagesSorceror, GeneralIntelligencea modern language, an ancient language, read/write
LearningMonk, Sorceror, ThiefIntelligencememorize, organize, recall
LeatherGeneralIntelligenceleatherworking, skinning, tanning
Literary ArtsGeneralIntelligencemusic, novels, plays, poetry, satire, stories
Logical PhilosophySorcerorIntelligencecheckers, chess, geometry, logic, mathematics
MagicProphet, SorcerorIntelligencehistory, lore, rituals, spellcraft
MasonGeneralStrengthbricklaying, buildings, roads, stonemasonry
MedicineMonk, Sorceror, ThiefIntelligenceanatomy, herbalist, medicine, poison, surgery
MerchantThief, GeneralCharismaappraisal (precious gems, metals), assess, haggle, regulations
MetalsmithGeneralStrengtharmorer, blacksmith, weaponsmith
MiningGeneralWisdomappraisal, digging, mining, panning, spelunking
MountaineeringWarrior, GeneralAgilityrock-climbing, spelunking, survival
Musical ArtsThief, GeneralAgilityan instrument, composition, improvisation, orchestration
Native CultureGeneralCharismalocal contacts, local etiquette, local history, local lore, native language, read/write native language
Natural LoreMonk, Sorceror, WarriorWisdomanimal lore, herbal lore, locality, plant lore
Natural SciencesSorceror, GeneralIntelligenceastronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, geology
NavigationProphet, Sorceror, WarriorIntelligencecartography, celestial navigation, geography, weather
PersuasionThiefCharismabribery, confidence, fortune-telling, seduction
PoliticsMonk, Prophet, ThiefCharismaassurance, bribery, contacts, demagoguery, locality, mediation, obfuscation, oratory, political leaders
PrestidigitationThiefAgilitycard tricks, magic tricks, rope tricks, ventriloquism
PrintingGeneralIntelligencebinding, ink, layout, machining, metalwork, press, woodwork
RegulationsThiefIntelligenceaccounting, law, regulations
ReligionProphetWisdomlocality, rites, theology
SeamanshipGeneralAgilityropes and knots, sailing, ship maintenance
SportsThief, WarriorAgilitya sport, baseball, charioteer, equestrianism, pole vault, polo
SpyThiefCharismaacting, memory, read lips
SurvivalThief, WarriorWisdomdirection sense, fire, floating, locality, weather sense
TaxidermyGeneralIntelligenceanatomy, dissection, forensics, tanning, taxidermy
TeachingGeneralWisdomgroup management, lecture, tutor
Visual ArtsGeneralWisdomcaricature, drawing, painting, sculpting
WarMonk, Thief, WarriorCharismaleadership, supply management, tactics, war lore
War SmithWarriorIntelligencearmorer, bowyer, fletching, weaponsmithing
WoodcraftGeneralWisdomdirection sense, fire, fishing, forestry, herbal lore, hunting, locality, survival, weather sense

Skills

Russian woman with hammer

A skill can be anything which fits in with the field, and which will, by simply having that skill, increase the character’s ability with other skills in that field. For example, good leadership will result in better tactics, and better tactics will result in better leadership.

When making a skill, try to think of the field that it would be a part of, the kind of skills that would go along with it and enhance it, and the ability that will generally be used when making a skill roll.

Some skills will require other skills. For example, for Nature, a character might have “desert” and “survival” skills, meaning that the character can survive well in the desert. But if the character gains the “jungle” Nature skill, that character can now survive well in the jungle also.

Or, with the Culture field, the character might have the skills etiquette, the Roman locality, and heraldry, thus knowing Roman heraldry. On taking the culture skill Celtic, the character will also know Celtic heraldry and Celtic etiquette.

There can be skill overlap: some skills may appear in two more more fields. The nature of the skill will probably be subtly or greatly different depending on the field it is a part of. A person with Logic:Checkers will play the game very differently than someone with Gaming:Checkers. Someone with Business:Leadership will have a different kind of leadership style than someone with War:Leadership.

Specialization

Characters can specialize in a skill by taking it more than once in the same field. Specialization grants a bonus of 1 to skill rolls involving that skill.

Native culture

Each character automatically receives the field Native Culture with the skill Native Language.

Using skills

There are four basic ways of using skills under this system:

No fieldIf the character has no relevant field, tasks requiring the field will generally be at least difficult, and thus come with penalties to the roll.
Field but no skillIf the character has a relevant field but no relevant skill, tasks requiring the skill will generally be at least difficult, and thus come with penalties. However, the field bonus will apply.
Field and skillIf the character has a relevant field and a relevant skill, tasks requiring the skill will generally be less difficult, and the field bonus will also apply.
Applicable to other rollFields may apply to other rolls if applicable. The appropriate skill must be available within the field.
Skill but no fieldIf the character has a relevant skill, but not a relevant field, the task might not be as difficult, but there will be no field bonus.
Grant bonusIf the character wishes to grant a bonus to another character, they must make a field roll with all bonuses. The target then gains the character’s field bonus to their own roll.

For example, if a character has Visual Arts at +2 with the skills painting and sculpting, they can attempt to create other works of Visual Art such as caricature. They will roll at +2 but will otherwise not find it any easier than someone without the Visual Arts field. If they run into a situation where their saving roll would be benefited by their knowing the caricature skill, however they gain no bonus because they do not have that skill.

On the other hand, a character with the War field at +3, including the Leadership skill, who finds themselves leading a business organization will find it easier than someone with no leadership skill. But they will not gain the benefit of their +3 bonus in war.

First Level

Each character has 4 starting field levels, modified by intelligence as a major contributor and charisma and wisdom as minor contributors.

Your character knows several fields of knowledge. Fields are general areas of knowledge or collections of skills. History is a field, as is Survival. Some fields are general, and can be learned by any character. Others are specialized, and can be learned most easily by the appropriate archetype. At first level, one of your starting fields may be an out-of-archetype field. The rest must be general fields or archetypal fields.

When you choose a field, you have a level of 1 in that field. This gives you a bonus of 1 on any rolls using that field.

You may choose a field more than once, effectively specializing in that field. If you take a field twice, you are level 2 in that field, and have a bonus of 2 on any roll using that field.

Each character gains the Native Culture field field for free, at level 1.

For other fields, you may choose as many levels as you have starting Field Levels. If you have 6 starting Field Levels, you could choose 6 fields at level 1, three fields at level 2 each, or any combination of fields and levels that add up to 6.

Each level in a field also grants you a more specialized skill. For example, a character with level 1 in History might have the specialty Roman History. A character with level 2 in History might also choose Ancient History. The character now knows a little bit about history in general, a little bit more about ancient history in general, a lot about Roman history, and a whole lot about the ancient history of Rome.

Or, the character with level 1 in Languages might choose to speak Elvish. At level 2, they might choose to speak Frankish. At level 3, when they choose Reading and Writing, they can now read and write both Elvish and Frankish (and their native tongue, whatever that is). The skills within a field interact with other skills within the field.

You do not need to immediately decide what skills your character knows. Over the course of your first one or two adventures, you can choose your skills as needed, as you learn more about your character and about the world the character inhabits.

For the character's free Native Culture field, the character has their Native Language as the first skill in that field.

Fields and skills are relatively freeform. The field must be a general area, almost a profession, and the skills within it must be related, must interact with each other, and must be generally performed using the same ability. You can see a list of skills in the Arcane Lore book.

Second Level

Before you move to second level, you need to finish choosing your character's first level fields and skills.

Examples

Charlotte Kordé

  • Native Culture (Anglish): +1/charisma
  • Culture (Highland, Christianity): +2/charisma
  • Languages (Frankish, Read/Write): +2/intelligence
  • Entertainment (Acting): +1/charisma
  • Politics (Demagoguery, Mediation): +2/charisma
  • Engineering (Architecture, Clockworks): +2/intelligence
  • History (Lore): +1/intelligence

Gralen Noslen

  • Native Culture (Anglish): +1/charisma
  • History (Ancient History): +1/intelligence
  • Languages (Ancient, Frankish, Read/Write): +3/intelligence
  • Culture (Highland): +1/intelligence
  • Literary Arts (Literature): +1/intelligence
  • Learning (Memory): +1/intelligence

Sam Stevens

  • Native Culture (Anglish): +1/charisma
  • Politics (Contacts, Seduction): +2/charisma
  • Endurance (Endure Deprivations, Running): +2/endurance
  • War (Tactics): +1/charisma

Toromeen

  • Native Culture (Dwarvish): +1/charisma
  • Engineering (Trapmaking): +1/intelligence
  • Languages (Anglish): +1/intelligence
  • Food (Brewing): +1/intelligence
  • Metalsmithing (Blacksmithing): +1/strength
  • Mountaineering (Spelunking, Rock-Climbing): +2/agility
  • War Smith (Weaponsmithing, Armorer): +2/intelligence
  • War (Lore): +1/intelligence

Will Stratford

  • Native Culture (Anglish): +1/charisma
  • Survival (Forest): +1/wisdom
  • Languages (Read/Write): +1/intelligence
  • Sports (Equestrianism): +1/agility
  • Combat (Team Combat): +1/charisma
  1. <- Complex War
  2. Mojo and Skills ->