Role Book: The Skill-Monkey

PC Role Book
Your character in a tabletop rpg can be usefully understood in terms of certain roles. This Role Book series explores some of the ways these various roles can help enrich the roleplaying of your character – things like background, tactics, and story. These posts will help both the single-role min/maxer get more mileage out of their abilities as well as help the multi-faceted PC more effectively don a variety of hats.

The Skill-Monkey
Anyone who’s eaten enough pot-roasts can break down a door, but it takes years to master the art of lock-picking. Similarly, no amount of flexing your brain-pan will render streams of computer code or a malfunctioning ion-blaster comprehensible to untrained eyes. Short of adventuring through absolute wilderness, all parties understand the value of bringing along some form of skilled technician – and even those outland wayfarers need a pilot to get out into the wastes! Here are some different ways to think about characters with trained skills.

Background Considerations
Tutor
Complex skills like decrypting code, picking locks, setting traps, or piloting starcraft are extremely difficult to learn in a vacuum. Often, this means you will have received some form of tutelage from a skilled instructor. Whether this mentor provided you with only the basics at the start of your skills training or was someone you sought out at a later stage for higher-level mastery, your refined aptitudes provide your character with his/her own built-in NPC. NPCs are a great way to root your character in the world, provide an ally/asset and sometimes a compelling complication!

Skilled Employment
Skilled workers are always in high demand. As a result, you will have likely held a number of jobs with employers who valued you somewhat more highly than the average labourer. This will give your character some form of social and possibly commercial connection to a local business, politician, agency, or institution. Discuss past employers with your GM to determine what kind of favours you may be able to call in or any non-public information you may have picked up on the job.

Tactical Considerations
Environmental Interactions
While not all interactions with a combat environment will require unique skill sets, some of the most important ones will. Whenever your party needs to activate/deactivate a device, open/close blast doors, steal a talisman, or just climb the curtain to drop the chandelier, you’ll likely be called up to bat. When entering combat, be sure to survey the field for additional objectives or anything unique that could help turn the tide of battle apart from simply whacking your opponents (the rest of your party will likely have that covered).

Storm Considerations
Quick Cash
As a character with specialized skills, you should be able to make some extra cash on the side. An evening singing in the local tavern, a few hours translating at the local archives, and repairing an engine at a chop-shop are all quick ways to earn extra spending money when passing through populated areas. If nothing else, skilled characters (when not under tight deadlines) almost always have the option to earn their room and board rather than pay for it. And who knows, you may even pick up some local rumours or make a new friend along the way too!

Bodily Cautions
Most tactile skills rely equally upon physical training as they do upon conceptual mastery. As a result, many skilled characters are likely to be more protective of their skills-affiliated body parts than most. Consider whether your character would be extra sensitive about taking care of their hands, fingers, eyes, or vocal chords. After all, a lingering physical injury can bring about debilitating levels of skill-fade or even outright inability!

Be sure to check out the other parts in this series: The Damage DealerThe TankThe Textbook; and The Face!

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