One of our favorite reviewers Prince of Nothing continues his take on the ‘brobdignagian’ proportions of ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG over at his website Age of Dusk. This is part four, titled “Skullduggery and kicking people in the Face”:
Skills in Zweihänder are handled as follows: As in the old games, each skill is based on an attribute. In order to pass a skill you must roll under the requisite ability score. You have three different ranks, Apprentice, Journeyman and Master. Each time you purchase a rank you gain a +10 to the test (i.e your ability score counts as 10 points higher). Skills are further divided into Common and Special Skills. You can use Common skills (like say Charm) even though you do not have training in them, using only your base ability score. You can use Special skills (like, say Alchemy) untrained, but you have to flip your rolls and take the least advantageous result (more then halving your chances of success).
The number of skills has been reduced considerably by using much broader categories but at the same time the definition of what constitutes a skill in Zweihänder has been made much broader. Attributes like Toughness, Resolve and Simple Melee weapons that formally would have been attribute checks have been turned into skill checks. Since in Zweihander it is actually impossible to increase your primary attributes (it is possible to increase your bonus), this innovation makes sense.
As I mentioned before the skills have been broadened considerably. Things like picking locks, pickpocketing, setting and disabling traps and palming objects have been turned into a single skill, called Skullduggery, Bargain covers everything from bribery to Diplomacy, anything from shadowing to hiding in shadows is covered by the Stealth skill and so on.
The games give you the option of specialising via the Focus system, which allows you to, at the cost of a paltry 100 xp, gain a focus in a single specialisation within your skill, doubling your expertise bonus for that particular use (e.g if you specialise in Blacksmithing and you are an apprentice in Tradecraft your bonus for blacksmithing becomes +10 and not +20). Retardation is avoided by mandating you pick a Focus before being able to use extremely specialist skills like Tradecraft, Alchemy or Education. You are limited to a number of Foci equal to your intelligence bonus (with some classes having the ability to purchase extra Foci)…
Go back and re-read:
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. I; Introducing
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. II; The anatomy of grim heroics
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. III; A man needs an occupation
Zweihander (WFRP retroclone) Pt. IV; Skullduggery and kicking people in the Face