Description of all skills!
Most regular lower level jobs in the City pay crappy, but at least are safe to work. Kind of. Unfortunately, to qualify for any job, applicants must possess a Registered Citizen Chip, which to obtain requires an insane bureaucratic effort and an amount of cash that’s hard to come by without… well, a job. Also, it can’t be denied that there are some massive disadvantages to carrying an RCC in your cranium; it might not appeal to everyone to have the Administration spy on your every move.
So, more often than not, inhabitants of the City take to irregular occupations to get by, and in most of these professions, physical superiority is vital. ‘Achilles Stilt’ implants, adrenaline modules and shock absorbent knee-joint matrices surprisingly sell a lot better among the lower level folks than vocabulary boosters.
Clearly, when Running the L, the ability to take leaps more frequently and keep sprinting when others collapse as defined by your Fitness might come in handy.
In the wake of the Crustula Mendax pandemic that wiped out more than one third of the human workforce of the City, the Defect Prophylaxis Program was initiated to get on top of the ever growing range of maladies faced by the stacked masses of inhabitants.
The concept is strikingly easy: since most ailments originate in exposure to environmental toxins absorbed from food and water, the PR issued a set of rules defining maximum daily intake quantities of the most common pollutants and pathogens. All Citizens are required to familiarize themselves with and take action to stay within safe limits of those maximums, otherwise, any claims to the Citizen Functionality Program will be forfeit.
Statistics on registered Citizen Defects have plummeted to an all-time low since, so the program clearly must have been a huge improvement of the general public health.
Immune System defines your inherent resistance to catching diseases, and your ability to beat them if necessary. No need to leech off the Administration.
Ever since the Department of Civil Discipline outsourced most of its executive body to Enforcec, their heavily armed and armored contracted goons have been pressing hard to maintain a semblance of order. Backed up by a fleet of AI surveillance drones and licensed to meet any violation of regulations with draconian measures, the former cops (now known as Secs) are a sight dreaded by most people, since they have that nasty habit of shooting first and asking questions later.
Still, as a rule of thumb, the farther away from and the lower beneath the Elysian Fields, the uber-strict regulations on arms become bendable at first and mere suggestions later. In most levels of the City, going about your business without visible means of defending yourself is regarded as plain suicide.
The Melee stat describes your ability to effectively use close-combat weapons both designated and improvised. You know how to hit where it hurts and your attacks come raining down on your opponent in quick succession.
Whether preyed from the dead fingers of some unlucky street thug or plundered from a forgotten pre-Uprising stash in the grimy bowels of the City, firearms are prized possessions among Citizens. Though technically forbidden to wear inside City boundaries without permit, guns are still quite common among the lowlifes who’ve never even come close to one of the towering black administration buildings. Openly (and illegally) displayed, a gun marking its bearer as risky prey is a tool for survival as well as a status symbol. Ammo is hard to come by though, and owning a gun and being able to actually hit something where it hurts are often two very different things.
The Firearms skill defines your finesse with ranged weapons. You know where to aim and replacing bullets has been consolidated into your muscle memory, resulting in a higher chance to hit and shorter reload times.
Given the prevalence of armaments in the City, it comes as no surprise that a whole industry has sprung up around the manufacture, maintaining and upgrading of weapons, all of course below radar-level of authorities or alternatively, turned a dearly bought and totally corrupt blind eye.
Mainly in Subridge District, in the workshops huddled together in the eternal shadow of colossal steel girders, each and every weapon can be modded to your heart’s desire, from welding spikes to a club to inserting sophisticated systems of gyros and buffers to steady the aim of your favorite semi-automatic – depending on how tight money is, naturally.
For those with a knack for mechanics and / or no possibility to visit a mod-shack (like, for instance, when you’re locked inside a fighting arena running for dear life), DIY Modkits provide a feasible alternative.
Weapon Modding determines your skill in successfully grafting various types of Modkits to your own weapons to boost their stats.
The so-called Wasteland used to be City once, or rather attached agricultural areas from a time when edible things would grow out of the soil just like this. In the late 2000s, when climate change and pollution finally put an end to unprocessed biomaterials, those areas fell into ruin. The tainted deserts, too barren even for the average Citizen to try to scrape a living here, became havens to all kind of scum and pests, Mutants not being the worst of them.
In these empty lands, nothing can be bought or traded. Still, a wary traveler might come across rare treasure now and again: a broken pipeline still connected to a clean spring, a hidden stash of antique canned food in a deserted shed or a freshly deceased, only slightly mutated bunny.
A mixture of gut-instinct and keen senses, Scavenging is a measure of your intuition when it comes to finding food and water in the Wastelands.
Malicious gossip has it that messing with Earth’s weather systems, in an attempt to counter the dying Gulf Stream’s effects on industrial farming, might not have been the best idea. Be that as it may, despite the insidious term ‘global warming’, outside the City’s canyons it’s blasted cold.
Within the City, the sheer mass of people and industry provide sufficient heating, and electric devices (for those who can afford them) or a burning barrel of trash (for those who can’t) do the rest. In the Wastelands however, the only combustible material is wood. While dead trees and dilapidated buildings provide a reasonable supply, getting a cozy fire up an running requires some special skills.
Campfire Construction describes your competence in building wood fires: picking the right wood that won’t etch holes in your lungs with the vapors of boiling polymer resin, stacking techniques, smoke development and creating a spark to get it all going fall under this stat.
Even with the frequent torrential icy rain, water is one of the most valuable resources these days. All naturally occurring bodies of water are no longer fit for human consumption or even skin contact, contaminated by heavy metals, steaming with radiation or squirming with germs. Any water not from a very deep underground spring and filtered by dozens of layers of massive rock has to be expensively purified. Depending on budget and the technology applied, PF-Water comes in different degrees of purity, the lowest of which might not kill you right away but will still give you an irritating skin rash. Not to mention the overwhelming stench of chemicals.
In the Wastelands, a traveler might be lacking the means to drag around a water refinery, so discerning contaminated water from the rare (sort of) potable kind is a matter of a fine nose, keen eye and, hazardously, sensitive taste buds.
Traveling the Wastelands is a risky undertaking even with good equipment. Usually, the best advice is ‘go fast and don’t touch anything’, so grub protein ration bars or canned algae bits, gulped down cold and hastily, are appropriate.
But for those who know how, the barren land holds plenty of nourishment: raw material that, when treated right, might go from outright poisonous to edible. For example, heating Wasteland venison to over 90°C for an hour with the mashed and salted stems of Blade Grass will make a nice stew: the salt neutralizes the phytotoxin of the grass, while its natural antibiotics kill every germ in the meat.
Edible in this case says nothing about the taste though, so you better hold on to that package of artificially flavored mint flakes.
Cooking describes your knowledge of treating various raw materials to make them into a square meal, as well as improvising cooking facilities.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Nowhere is this more true than in the City, where deprivation and abundance live side by side. Every day, gigantic hover transports shift thousands of tons of waste from the Elysian Fields to the ferroconcrete basins of Tank District, where monumental automated sorting plants sift through the debris and feed profitable parts to the Wastenatic reprocessing or heat stations.
In between the machines, swarms of humans scuttle over the heaps in search of bits too minuscule for the industrial giant. Salvaging, repairing and trading defective goods has become so vital for City society that whole communities have evolved around the trade, living off and on the ever-changing landfills. The taciturn disciples of Techstripper cults with their dark enviro capes and insectile yellow safety goggles are a common sight at every lower level bazaar.
Curiously enough, absolutely no organic waste has reached Tank District in decades.
Repair is a measure of how skilled you are in patching up broken loot.
The City’s vertical steel skeleton and its skyward thrusting towers of the rich and beautiful might be built to take the occasional hover-car collision, but they are certainly not made to withstand major detonations. Therefore, insane security measures surrounding the spires are complemented by tight general restrictions on explosives. People who (legally) know their way around charges only come either from higher tier military backgrounds or work in major orders at Geotap Inc (Division Deep Mining).
Luckily, by shrewdly circumventing piles of Administration regulations, several in themselves harmless components may be obtained and made into highly volatile substances by a self-taught street chemist for any number of dubious uses. Those ‘Stink Tinkers’ are in high demand, since possession of homegrown grenades alone will give your gang, cult or peer group of choice an edge in the endless struggle over limited resources by sheer scare tactic.
The Explosives skill governs your ability to construct and defuse bombs and increases your chance of blasting open doors with mines (without blowing yourself up).
If the worst comes to the worst, Registered Citizens may apply to the Administration for renting the services of Neocine Limited, who hold exclusive rights to medical knowledge, practice and research. Neocines’s indentured assets are highly trained and effective, their RCCs encoded with loyalty conditioning to ensure compliance with contractual obligations.
If you’re not lucky enough to score one of the treatment deals, you may always resort to Neocines’s bestselling product, the Semi-Automated Medicinal Assistance Kit, short Medpack. These devices contain medical supplies for all possible cases of application from common to bizarre, as well as the Illusive_Woman™ virtual physician AI to assist the layman user. Medpacks might be a bit tricky to administer, though: the software’s proverbial capriciousness is commonly attributed to the complexity of its task, but of course Neocine would also not want to be competing with their own corporate-trained doctors.
Your First Aid rating defines how well you handle the Illusive_Woman’s quirks in order to make effective use of Medpacks.
The City by now knows only one kind of green: towering vertical tanks of algae that make the air only just breathable and are most Citizen’s sole source of vitamins. While in the sub-levels some fungi and mosses do grow in the damp, cold air, those are foul and at best make for a bad trip.
It is in the Wastelands where some rare plants with curative effects still cling to the hard soil in places. Herbalists and their Plucker apprentices scour the desert in small groups, braving ill-disposed fauna, acid rain, insane temperature extremes and Mutants who do not take kindly to humans raiding their ‘gardens’. But it’s well worth the risk: the dried roots, leaves and berries they bring home achieve enormous prices on the underground markets, and there’s always someone young and hopeful enough to replace those taken by the hostile land.
Herbalism is a measure of your knowledge of healing herbs: you know what to search for, where to look, how to process and apply them.
Originally blueprinted by the Department of Citizen Data Care (DCDC) as an ‘inspection’ device, the EM Pulse Modulation Appliance was soon abandoned due its effect’s limited duration. Some years later though, a contraption colloquially called Hypno-Gun popped up on the black market, mysteriously utilizing the exact same technology.
The Hypno-Gun emits vectored electromagnetic waves that cause an artificial partial sleep by forcefully modulating the victim’s brainwaves, resulting in an alert, extremely focused and susceptible state. In this state, suggestions may be planted in the victim’s mind and enforced as long a low continuous pulse is exerted.
Since the human brain is a complex thing though, controlling a mind is nothing as easy as firing a gun. Finding the right initiation frequency and just the right nudge with the enforcer pulse is a matter of precision and experience: too little and you achieve nothing while giving yourself away, too much and the victim’s mind will buck the invasive force.
Hypnotize describes your finesse with the Hypno-Gun and determines the chance of success of hypnosis attempts as well as the control duration.
From personal gadgets to the City-spanning surveillance net, basically everything in the City is laced with software. Controlled by the Ocelot OS, intelligent systems watch over the spires and Administration polyhedrons, manage maintenance, water rationing and heat distribution of whole blocks, and coordinate the AIs of hovers linked to the traffic guide grid.
Though microchips are prevalent, people who know how to tell them what to do are not, and Full Pear Inc. is busy keeping it that way, enforcing their almost-monopole on information technologies. Working in IT usually means a lifelong contract, unless for some unfathomable reason an asset decides to quit. These rogue programmers are highly wanted in more than one sense, chased by their former employer and the Secs (since coders are the only ones able to hack into an RCC, even their own) and courted by whoever has the cash to buy their services.
Hacking describes your ability to gain unauthorized access to all sorts of software-controlled devices and subject the systems to your will.
In the merciless struggle for one’s tiny share of the cake, theft and violence of all flavors are daily fare in the City’s lower and sub-levels. Here, people seek either strength in numbers, making themselves indispensable to their peers by brawn or craft. Or they learn very fast the necessary skills to survive alone, set against violent gangs, Secs despotism, a range of non-human predators and other malevolent (or plain desperate) loners. Even behind lock and bolt they never feel safe (with good reason), always expecting an assault or at least a scam.
With Perception, you are constantly on edge. You notice tiny details that others would miss: the hint of poison shroom in that drink, the twitching in the brawlers left shoulder before he strikes, a slight movement from the corner of your eye before you instinctively grab the thief’s wrist. Even when you sleep, your senses are on the lookout for enemies, pinching you awake if danger creeps close.
From snatching your competitor’s secrets to stealing desperately needed medicine or spare parts, there are any number of reasons why people try to go where they should not.
On the mid and higher levels, intrusion countermeasures come electronically flavored, featuring surveillance grids, armed AI sentries and automated RCC scans with comparison to the DCDC servers. Breaching this security is beastly hard, a matter of camouflage and deception and the domain of professionals who work for shadowy corporate forces.
In the lower tiers by contrast, getting to somewhere off-limits is often motivated by bare and personal necessity. Unauthorized access is a bit more old-fashioned down here: that mutant watchrat and the bouncer packed to the teeth with hyper-stims are not going to be very impressed by your hacking skills.
Lockpicking determines your expertise in opening mechanical locks without using brute force.
Around here, pickpocketing happens more on the lower levels where people live tightly stacked. Especially on the underground bazaars it’s fairly easy to creep up on someone through the press of the crowd and the chances are good the victim carries some change, a sachet of powdered yew bark or at least some shrink-wrapped pouches of PF-water.
Higher up, loot is infinitely more valuable, but getting close enough requires some skill at deception. Legend has it that one particularly cunning thief, known to history only as Jasmine, once managed to pry a datacrystal from the ring of office of a high-ranking Swipefire asset while posing as a waiter at a business dinner, only to be hauled in by the Secs bare minutes later. Moral of this story: always keep an eye open for RFID tags when fishing where the high and mighty reside.
Pickpocketing defines your chances of getting away with redistributing wealth: the necessary sneakiness, finger-dexterity, a talent for blending in and slip into shadows unnoticed.