Unless otherwise stated, the following modifiers may apply to any skill check of any type.
When a character possesses 0 ranks in a skill, he is considered “untrained” with it. Any character may make an untrained skill check, simply making the check with a skill bonus calculated with 0 skill ranks. His error range increases by 2.
When a character possesses two skills that work well together, such as Athletics and Acrobatics, his knowledge of one may assist him when he makes a skill check with the other. This is handled with a “synergy bonus.”
|There are a number of modifiers in Spycraft 2.0, but all of them are either named or unnamed. This determines whether one bonus stacks with others — that is, whether the modifiers are added together before they’re applied to a character’s attack check, skill check, statistic, etc.|
All synergy bonuses work the same. For every 5 ranks the character possesses in a skill, he gains a +1 synergy bonus with each skill check listed in the skill’s description (maximum +5).
Example 1: Kevin possesses 7 ranks in the Falsify skill. He gains a +1 synergy bonus with Ambush, Appraise, Authenticate, Harassment, and Tracking checks.
Example 2: Kevin possesses 14 ranks in the Analysis skill. He gains a +2 synergy bonus with the Chemistry, Detect Search, Forgery, Haggle, Mathematics, Modify, Programming, Research, and Sabotage checks.
Synergy bonuses are granted by skills with passive checks, but they are never granted to passive skill checks (remember that the player — who typically keeps track of his own synergy bonuses — is often unaware when a passive skill check is being made).
Table: Skill Synergies lists all the skills that typically grant synergy bonuses to each check, though a player may make a case to his GC to allow a synergy bonus not listed in a skill’s description. The GC should only allow synergy bonuses he finds logical and supportive of the situation at hand.
Like all named bonuses, synergy bonuses do not stack, so only the best available synergy bonus applies to each skill check (see Stacking Modifiers, above).
For a quick reference list of every available skill synergy, see Table: Skill Synergies.
The Game Control can apply a “discretionary modifier” to reflect miscellaneous situations at hand. This modifier may range from –4 (for the most abject conditions) to +4 (for the most favorable).
Example: Kevin climbs a cliff in a light wind, so the GC applies a –2 discretionary penalty.
No more than one discretionary modifier may apply to any single skill check. When multiple circumstances apply to a single check, the GC should factor them all into a single discretionary modifier that doesn’t fall outside the –4 to +4 range.
Example: Kevin climbs a cliff in a light wind (–2) during a tremor (–2), so the GC applies a –4 discretionary penalty.
With interpersonal skills like Impress, the GC is encouraged to factor good roleplay into his discretionary modifiers, though he should err on the side of caution. As a rule of thumb, no roleplaying bonus should exceed +2 (total).
Special Note: Discretionary modifiers replace circumstance modifiers in Spycraft 2.0. Circumstance modifiers don’t exist in this edition, nor do discretionary modifiers stack with one another, as circumstance modifiers did in Spycraft 1.0. For more information, see Stacking Modifiers, above.
When a character benefits from more than one named modifier of the same type (discretionary, synergy, etc.), only the best of the bonuses and the worst of the penalties with the same name apply. Example: When making a skill check, Kevin gains a +1 synergy bonus from one skill and a +2 synergy bonus from another. He gains only a +2 synergy bonus with the skill check.
Example: When making a skill check, Kevin gains a +1 synergy bonus and suffers a –3 synergy penalty. He suffers a –2 synergy penalty with the skill.
If two or more like-named or same-source modifiers with time limits affect a character at the same time, the best of each bonus and the worst of each penalty apply until each duration ends, after which the next best bonus or penalty takes its place. This process continues until no bonuses or penalties with durations remain.
Unless otherwise stated in their description, unnamed modifiers stack with all other modifiers all the time.
|Behind the curtain: skill checks|
The skill result scale in Spycraft 2.0 is far from arbitrary. The first edition introduced a great many skill check bonuses, some named and therefore limited and others unnamed and completely open to abuse. This edition carefully controls bonuses by establishing a small pool of strictly limited bonus types.
In general, the 10 to 60 scale produces three tiers of skill specialty: 10–20 for low-level results, 21–40 for mid-level results, and 41–60 for high-level results. From a character’s viewpoint, this roughly corresponds to the average and extreme progress he might see on the way to Level 20, where he can theoretically max out with +23 from skill ranks and +25 in miscellaneous modifiers (at most, +10 from attribute modifiers, +6 from insight bonuses, +5 from synergy bonuses, +4 from gear bonuses, and +4 from GC-controlled discretionary bonuses).
This produces a smooth scale in which a character gains access to more and more spectacular skill use outcomes over the course of his career. For example, when combined with a random 1d20 roll, the scale’s upper end sees a maximum skill yield of +68 — 8 higher than the topmost common DC seen in the game. That’s a 60% chance of the most capable Level 20 character achieving the most incredible outcome possible — a more conservative but far more manageable ceiling than before.
Of course, this assessment doesn’t take action dice into account. By Level 20, characters are starting each session with an additional 6d10 in potential skill boosts, which translates to roughly 33 more result points. Certainly, no character is expected to spend all of his action dice boosting his skill results, but this side pool is one more tool in his arsenal, another way to circumvent the system and manage the impossible.
For more information about skill check DCs, see page 88.
For your convenience, here’s a complete list of Spycraft 2.0 modifier types, their ranges, and when they come into play. Discretionary: The GC applies these modifiers to reflect miscellaneous circumstances in the situation and environment (see page 92). Discretionary modifiers range from –4 to +4.
Insight: Origins and special skill checks offer these bonuses, which represent keen understanding. Insight bonuses range from +1 to +6.
Gear: Gear and gadgets offer or trigger these modifiers, which range from –4 to +4.
Morale: Class abilities and other effects that bolster or shake confidence apply these modifiers, which range from –4 to +4.
Size: The Size of a character or object affects its Defense and attack checks (with modifiers ranging from –16 to +16), as well as Blend/Stealth and Sneak/Hide checks (with modifiers ranging from –20 to +20).
Synergy: Complementary skills and special skill checks offer these modifiers, which represent interlocking utility. Synergy modifiers range from –5 to +5.