Aptitudes

Academia

Associated Trait: Knowledge
Concentrations: Philosophy, History, Occult, Literature, Music.

Bookworms are rarely appreciated until the conclusion of some epic adventure. That’s when their obscure knowledge about what kills a critter that’s already gobbled up half the posse tends to come in handy. The academia skill provides a character with information about his chosen subject. The more obscure the question, the harder the roll. A scholar might also choose a concentration within a more narrow field, such as military history instead of just history. The Marshal should take this into account when asking for any academia Aptitude checks and modify the difficulty level accordingly.

Animal Wranglin’

Associated Trait: Mien
Concentrations: Bronco Busting, Dog Training, Snake Handlin’, Falconry.

Life in the Wasted West often depends on the obedience of a good horse. Similarly, pack of guard dogs might help a group of survivors get a good night’s sleep. In either case, this is the skill a character needs to teach an animal how to obey a human master.

Animal wranglin’ skill checks are opposed rolls versus the animal’s Mien. Teaching a horse or dog a new trick usually takes 4–5 days.

Area Knowledge’

Associated Trait: Knowledge
Concentrations: Town, County, State, or Region.

You’d better know where to run when the bogeyman comes calling. Area knowledge is a measure of how much a character knows about a place. Every character in Deadlands has detailed knowledge of the town and county they spent most of their life in. Characters who travel a lot, such as scouts and bounty hunters, might have
knowledge of other locales as well. A character always knows the basics of
an area he’s traveled to or through before, but specific information requires
the area knowledge skill. You can concentrate in any size region, but the bigger the region, the less specific the information.

Artillery

Associated Trait: Cognition
Concentrations: Missile/Grenade Launchers, Rockets, Howitzers, Cannons.

There are a lot of nasty creatures lumbering through the wastelands. Some of them are big as houses. Others eat houses. For either kind of varmint, you’re going to need a really big gun. Artillery is the skill to use when firing them. Heavy machine guns and the like use the shootin’ Aptitude.

Arts

Associated Trait: Cognition
Concentrations: Painting, Sculpting, Sketching, Engraving.

Artists can be found even in the most desolate wasteland. If they’re any good, people love ’em. If not, the locals think they’re slackers who should get a real job.

An artist should make an Aptitude check whenever he completes a performance or a work of art. This is the quality of the work, and it doesn’t change unless the work is later altered in some way. If it’s important, the Marshal can determine the “value” of the piece based on the material it’s made of and the artist’s skill.

Blastin’

Associated Trait: Knowledge

Throwing raw psychokinetic force around takes skill and practice, and this is what Sykers use to do it.

Bluff

Associated Trait: Smarts

In poker, a good bluff can win a pot full of bullets on a pair of deuces. Telling lies, spinning tall tales, or making someone look behind them so you can get in a cheap shot is all part of the game.

Bluffing is an opposed check versus an opponent’s scrutinize. The move successes you get, the more the opponent falls for it.

Chii

Associated Trait: Spirit

Chii is the ancient art of kicking people’s asses, used by Enlightened.

Climbin’

Associated Trait: Nimbleness

Most times when a hero has to climb something, he’s trying to get away from some angry varmint on the ground. That works fine unless the varmint’s a better climber than he is. Climbin’ is especially useful when exploring ruined cities. Find your hero crossing twisted beams several stories up, and you may regret not having a few levels in it.

A fellow can climb at a Pace of 2 plus his climbin’ level, up to a maximum of 5 yards per round.

Demolition’

Associated Trait: Knowledge

Sometimes you just have to blow the snot out of some giant creepy crawler. It’s usually best if you don’t catch yourself or your friends in the blast.

A character with this skill knows how much explosive material is needed for the job at hand and how far away to stand. This is the skill used to make and plant charges like Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs, and so forth.

Disguise’

Associated Trait: Knowledge

Only actors and spies are actually trained in the art of disguise. Sometimes an outlaw has to learn on the fly, however, and knowing a fake beard from a hairpiece might save him some embarrassment. Whenever a disguised character is spotted by
someone who might catch on, he makes an opposed disguise roll versus the observer’s scrutinize. One success makes the observer suspicious, but a raise is required to see through the disguise.

Dodge

Associated Trait: Nimbleness

No, we aren’t talking about the town in Kansas (as in “get the Hell out of…”). We’re talking about the ability to use cover and be where the bullets aren’t. The dodge skill is used as an “active” defense when your character is about to get drilled. We’ll tell you more about it in Chapter Four, under Vamoosin’

Drivin’

Associated Trait: Nimbleness
Concentrations: Tracked, Wheeled, Hover, Walker, Big Rigs, Bikes.

There are lots of vehicles out there, from hover bikes to walkers. This is the skill a
character needs to drive them. (Driving a rig pulled by animals uses the teamster Aptitude, and riding an animal is covered under ridin’.)

Faith

Associated Trait: Nimbleness

Faith is a rare commodity these days. A lot of folks believe Judgment Day has come and gone, so there’s little point in praying anymore. Many others aren’t convinced and retain their faith. A few (like the Doomsayers) have placed their faith in strange new gods and truly wild beliefs. The only thing for sure is that faith is strong
medicine against certain creatures of the Reckoners. Perhaps it’s more a measure of faith in one’s own goodness. That would explain why a Christian’s faith is just as powerful against creatures of darkness as someone else with faith in a new religion that just sprang up since the Apocalypse.

In any case, this Aptitude is a must for Doomsayers, and a few levels are handy for most anyone else. It’s best to figure out exactly who or what your character has faith in when you choose this ability, but you don’t have to. Even an atheist or agnostic could have faith. It’s just her own morality and deeds she believes to be good and righteous.

Fightin’

Associated Trait: Nimbleness
Concentrations: Axe, Brawlin’, Chainsaw, Knife, Lariat, Sword, Whip, Wrasslin’

Bullets are scarce in the Wasted West. When you run out of ammo, it’s time to whip out the old Bowie knife and start slicing.

Filchin’

Associated Trait: Deftness

Sometimes it’s best to let others scavenge for you, especially if you’re unscrupulous and light-fingered enough to take their treasures from them when they’re not looking. Thieves can make an opposed filchin’ roll versus a target’s Cognition to lift objects from pockets, purses, holsters, and the like. The Marshal should modify either character’s roll based on the size of the object lifted, the situation, and whether or not the thief managed to distract his prey first.

Gamblin’

Associated Trait: Smarts

Most folks in the Wasted West can hold their own in poker and other games of
chance. Professional gamblers roam the boomtowns and can turn a few bullets into an armory.

Rules for gambling are in the Weird West player’s handbook page 43.

Guts

Associated Trait: Spirit

There’s a lot of strange stuff in the Weird West. When your character stumbles upon a slavering abomination or a gruesome scene, you need to make sure he’s got guts. It’s hard to fill a charging critter full of lead when you’re wetting your pants or losing your lunch. Failing a guts check can have serious consequences.
Don’t worry about it right now. The Marshal’s got all the information she needs to inflict sheer terror on your hapless character.

Hexslingin’

Associated Trait: Special

Hexslingin is a dangerous game, those who have mastered the art game know that it is at best a calculated risk. To invite the creatures of the hunting grounds into the battleground of his mind, and squeeze every ounce of power from them.

Horse Ridin’

Associated Trait: Nimbleness

There are lots of critters a hero might ride through the Wasted West. He’d best know how to handle these ornery beasts before he crawls on one’s backside. The Marshal shouldn’t call for ridin’ rolls to ride in a slow, flat line across the High Plains. If your hero tries to ride fast, avoid rocks, or anything dramatic, however, he’d best have a few levels in ridin’ or expect to take a spill. Falling off a mount usually causes from 1–3d6 damage, depending on the speed (Marshal’s call).

Horse Ridin’

Associated Trait: Nimbleness

There are lots of critters a hero might ride through the Wasted West. He’d best know how to handle these ornery beasts before he crawls on one’s backside. The Marshal shouldn’t call for ridin’ rolls to ride in a slow, flat line across the High Plains. If your hero tries to ride fast, avoid rocks, or anything dramatic, however, he’d best have a few levels in ridin’ or expect to take a spill. Falling off a mount usually causes from 1–3d6 damage, depending on the speed (Marshal’s call).

Horse Ridin’

Associated Trait: Nimbleness

There are lots of critters a hero might ride through the Wasted West. He’d best know how to handle these ornery beasts before he crawls on one’s backside. The Marshal shouldn’t call for ridin’ rolls to ride in a slow, flat line across the High Plains. If your hero tries to ride fast, avoid rocks, or anything dramatic, however, he’d best have a few levels in ridin’ or expect to take a spill. Falling off a mount usually causes from 1–3d6 damage, depending on the speed (Marshal’s call).

Languages’

Associated Trait: Knowledge
Concentrations: Apache, Esperanto, French, Gaelic, German, Latin, Sign Language (american), Sioux, Spanish.

Knowledge in foreign languages can mean the difference between life and death. If you’re in Mexico and a sign reads “peligro biológico,” you’d better know it means “biological hazard.” All characters are fluent in their native language and start with a 2 in this Aptitude. That’s just how well they can write or speak— they’re still fluent. A character with 1 point in another language can communicate common verbs and nouns with little difficulty. At skill level 2 and higher, the character can read and write the language and has a larger vocabulary. Different languages are not related skills.

A character trying to understand a language (other than his native tongue) gets about half the words (usually nouns and verbs) on a Fair (5) language roll. Each raise gets him another 25% or so of the message.

Leadership’

Associated Trait: Mein

In the military, careers are often made on whether or not an officer can get his men to do as he tells them. Lawmen also use this skill to stare down mobs and lead their posses into hostile territory. Besides using leadership to control lackeys, this Aptitude has two important specific uses. A leadership roll can keep people from being surprised. Whenever a friendly hero fails a surprise roll (explained more in Chapter Four), you can attempt to make the roll for her as long as your character is not surprised as well. This counts as an action for your character. Every success and raise you get on your leadership check allows the leader to affect one other person. If you succeed, they may act normally for that round (meaning they get cards now, too, but must discard any that have already been called).

You can also use your leadership Aptitude to actually trade Action Cards (used to determine when your hero acts) between friendly characters during combat. When it’s your turn to take an action, make a Fair (5) leadership roll. For every success and raise you get, you can help any two players (possibly even including
yourself) trade a single Action Card in their hands to each other. The only catch is that in each trade, both players must agree to make the trade first.

Lockpickin’

Associated Trait: Deftness

A lot of folks locked things up tight before the bombs fell. A good lockpicker can get at treasures beyond imagining: toothpaste, milrats, maybe even a gun or two. A character with this skill and a set of lockpicks can try to open any mechanical lock. Electronic locks use this skill as well, but a character must have at least one level in science: electronics before he can try to pick electronic locks.

A character can attempt a failed lockpick roll multiple times, but each try after the first incurs a cumulative –2 penalty, up to –6. After that,
she’s stumped until she earns another lockpicking level. The difficulty depends on the lock itself. For safes, some sort of listening device, like a stethoscope, is required. A simple glass or even the big ears Edge might count as “improvised
lockpicks.”

For electronic locks, the character must have some sort of electronic lockpicks. He can’t simply wedge a penny into the crack of a keypad and expect it to open (unless it’s a really old or poor system).

Medicine’

Associated Trait: Knowledge
Concentrations: General, Surgery, Veterinary,

Some folks think of “sawbones” as butchers, but a good one knows when to cut your leg off and when to let it be. A general concentration in medicine means
the doc can make herbs and poultices, stop bleeding, set broken bones, and perform simple surgery such as lancing boils or digging out a shallow bullet. This concentration lets a character heal up to heavy wounds. He can do nothing for serious and critical wounds and maimed limbs other than stop bleeding.

A surgeon has had formal training in cutting people open. Your character must first have 3 levels of medicine: general before you can take the surgery concentration. Surgeons can stop internal bleeding, perform operations, and dig bullets out of the deepest holes, so they can treat any level of wound (though maiming wounds to the head or guts area mean your hombre’s past saving and is now an ex-survivor).

Vets take care of animals. If pressed, a vet can treat a human as if he had medicine: general as a related skill. Regular doctors can also treat animals, but the wide variety of critters adds an additional –4 penalty to any unskilled attempt.

Meditation

Associated Trait: Spirit

Meditation is good for more than just naval gazing, it helps Sykers and Enlightened gain their mojo back a little faster.

Overawe

Associated Trait: Mien

The most successful gunmen can back down their opponents before anyone slaps leather. An Overawe attack might come in teh form of a surly stare, deadly threat, of the feel of cold iron in someone’s back.

Performin’

Associated Trait: Mien
Concentrations: Acting, Banjo, Comedy, Guitar, Singing.

There isn’t a lot of entertainment in the outlands, so most people appreciate a good actor or a sexy singer. Crowds are rough on the acts they don’t like, but they treat a good performer like gold.

A good performance against a Fair (5) TN can net the character the cost of a good meal per success. Better wages can be earned, of course, but this rate works for impromptu performances and average-sized crowds.

Persuasion’

Associated Trait: Mien

Scavengers had best be able to fast-talk the local warlord when they get caught trespassing. And heroes looking to lead had best be able to talk some of the locals into backing them up. Persuasion attempts are opposed rolls versus the target’s scrutinize Aptitude. The more raises achieved, the more the other character is likely to do for you.

Professional’

Associated Trait: Knowledge
Concentrations: Economics, Journalism, Law, Military, Photography, Politics, Psychology, Theology.

There’s not much call for lawyers or journalists these days, but there is some, and there are lots of folks who had normal jobs before the bombs fell. That mutant warlord you just took down might have been Al the accountant 15 years ago, before his “number” came up. The professional Aptitude is a catchall category for jobs that require formal education or training of some sort, such as law, journalism, or theology.

A character can use this Aptitude whenever he needs to recount a law or battle, write a news story, compose a sermon on the evils of the nuclear age, or do whatever task calls for his particular concentration. Use Knowledge whenever the character is rolling to know something about his craft. When actually applying it, other Traits might be appropriate. A former lawyer trying to
talk a Law Dog out of hanging him should make a professional: law/Mien roll, for example. (Although since the character was once a low-life lawyer, the Law Dog
might just hang him on principal.)

Professional Aptitudes are never considered related, they are always purchased as separate aptitudes.

Quick Draw

Associated Trait: Quickness
Concentrations: Knife, Pistol, Rifle, Sword.

When one Peacemaker won’t get the job done, you might have to whip out another. You’d better be able to do it fast. It usually takes an action to draw a new weapon. If you’ve got this Aptitude, you can draw a new weapon and use it
in the same action. The TN is usually Fair (5). If you fail, you draw the weapon normally and can’t use it that action. If you botch, you’ve dropped it. If you botch and you’ve got bad luck, you might blast or cut off your favorite body part.

Ridicule’

Associated Trait: Smarts

There’s a fine art to making fun of someone in the Weird West where trigger fingers are itchier than saddle sores. Knowing when and just how far to push your opponent is the real skill. Using the ridicule Aptitude is an opposed roll versus an opponent’s ridicule. If the target doesn’t have ridicule, she’ll have to default to her Smarts. Someone with a good sense of humor can take a joke better than someone without.

Ritual

Associated Trait: Special

The spirits are mighty finicky creatures, but any Shaman worth his salt knows how to make them happy.

Science

Associated Trait: Knowledge
Concentrations: Biology, Chemistry, Cybertechnology, Computer Science, Electronics, Engineering, Occult Engineering, Physics.

The discovery of ghost rock changed the face of the world forever. Scientists used it to better humanity and, in the end, blow it to Hell. Science is a dual-edged sword with rusty, jagged blades, but man, does it cut. This Aptitude covers book-learning, experience, and skill in all sorts of scientific pursuits. Most scientific concentrations are related to each other to varying degrees. In each case, it’s the Marshal’s call if a particular concentration is related to another. A science concentration is often related to tinkerin’, depending on what the hero is trying to repair.

Scrutinize

Associated Trait: Cognition

Any gambler worth his salt can tell when an opponent is lying through his teeth. Scrutinizing someone might not tell you everything about her, but it could tell you when the buffalo chips are starting to get thick. Scrutinize is the ability to judge another’s character, penetrate disguises, or detect lies. A character with this skill is also good at resisting bluff and persuasion attempts from other characters.

Search

Associated Trait: Cognition

Any fool can find an arrow sticking straight out of his backside, but a character with a good eye can find the proverbial needle in a haystack. This skill covers a hero whenever she’s specifically looking for items, clues, or evidence. Search is also used to detect hidden movement or creeping enemies. The latter is an opposed roll versus the opponent’s sneak Aptitude. Search rolls can be used to find obvious footprints, but to actually read a trail and follow it requires the trackin’ Aptitude.

Scroungin’

Associated Trait: Smarts

Scroungin’ is the ability to find life’s little necessities in a hurry. In Hell on Earth, this skill is second in importance only to breathing. The TN to find particular items depends on the item and the location (Marshal’s call). Finding food works just like the survival skill (see below), your scavenger just finds his grub a little differently.

The TN is 5 if near cities or towns and 11 out in the wastes. For bullets, 2 hours and a Hard (9) scroungin’ roll in a ruined city or town nets 1d6 bullets of assorted types for each success and raise. With 2 hours and a Fair (5) roll, the scavenger can find primers, powder, and lead to make 1d6 bullets for each success and raise. Once found, the bullets have to be loaded in a bullet-press. This requires a trade: weaponsmithing roll of Foolproof (3). The rolls above assume a character is searching for 50¢ bullets. Halve the number of bullets found if searching for $1 bullets, quarter it for $5 bullets, and so on (see Chapter Four for
bullet prices).

Shootin’

Associated Trait: Knowledge
Concentrations: Pistol, MG, Rifle, SMG, Shotgun, Bows, Crossbows.

There’s an old saying about there being only two types of gunslingers: the quick and the dead. In Deadlands, some characters are quick and dead. Shootin’ is the ability to fire pistols, rifles, shotguns and the like quickly and accurately in stressful situations—such as when some ungrateful mutie’s shooting back.

We’re not talking target practice here. Anyone can hit the side of a barn given all day to aim. (Okay, maybe not everyone, but you get the point.) Special weapons default to the closest weapon type. A dart-gun, for instance, would likely fall under pistols or rifles, depending on how much it looked and handled like one kind of gun or the other.

Truly unusual weapons like junkguns are their own concentration. For those of you not up on your gun abbreviations, an MG is a machine-gun, and an SMG is a submachine-gun. Automatics, and bullets to run through them are expensive in the Wasted West, but are a whole lot of fun if your brainer has one.

Sleight of Hand

Associated Trait: Deftness

Cheating at cards can get you plugged—if you’re dumb enough to get caught at it. If you’re going to take your life into your hands and cheat, you’d better make sure you’re good at it—or at least a heap faster on the draw or the hoof than the people you’re playing with. No one likes being cheated. Not even other cheats. Sleight o’ hand allows a character to draw small items out of his sleeve or pockets quickly and without notice. In a pinch, sleight o’ hand can sometimes (Marshal’s call) be used like the quick draw Aptitude on derringers (a traditional weapon of a professional gambler), small knives, or any other weapons smaller than a standard pistol. Treat this as a related skill, applying the standard –4 penalty to the attempt.

Stealth

Associated Trait: Nimbleness

Sometimes charging into the face of death is a little more foolish than heroic. Occasionally more subtle tactics are called for. When your character wants to sneak past someone, make an opposed sneak roll against the search Aptitude of anyone who might detect her. The Marshal should dole out modifiers depending on the situation. It’s a lot easier to skulk about by the light of the moon than to avoid a murderous outlaw stalking you at high noon.

Speed-Load

Associated Trait: Deftness
Concentrations: Pistol, MG, Rifle, Crossbow, Shotgun, SMG.

There’s nothing worse than the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when your hammer falls on an empty cylinder and you’re left fumbling for bullets. Regular reloading is for brainers looking to become meat. Speed-loading is the mark of a true gunslinger

In weapons in which each bullet is placed in the magazine separately (like many rifles and most shotguns), reloading a single bullet is a short task and takes an entire action. A successful speed-load check allows a character to slam up to three rounds into such a weapon as a short action (just look up the difficulty on that nifty Speed-Load Table below). Do yourself a favor, and check the weapon’s maximum shots before you start shoving those bullets home. Your hero would look pretty darn silly trying to load more rounds into a gun than it’s able to
hold.

Revolvers with speed-loading cylinders (a spare cylinder already loaded with bullets) are much easier to handle. A Fair (5) speed-load roll pops out the empty cylinder and slaps the full one into place in a single action. Otherwise, it takes two actions: one to unload the spent cylinder and another to pop the fresh one back in. Anyone carrying a revolver had best scrounge up a few of these babies if she wants to keep her skin.

Clip-fed weapons are even faster and easier to work with. A character can easily change clips in one action normally. On a Fair (5) speed-load roll, she can even change clips as a simple task and then still fire in the same action without so much more than a pregnant pause in the gunfire. Greased lightning, baby.

Failing a speed-loading roll is embarrassing enough, but it could get your hero planted six feet under as well. If you fail at a speed-load roll with a magazine-fed weapon, your character still gets one bullet into the gun, but that’s it. If you fail with a speed-load cylinder or clip, he fumbles the thing entirely, although he can try again on his next action.

Should your hombre go bust on a speed-load roll, well, you guessed it: It’s nothing but bad news. Your embarrassed cowpoke drops the bullets, cylinder, or clip at his feet. Better hope he can talk his way out of the grave, because few badlands banditos are considerate enough to wait politely while he bends over to pick that ammo up.

Streetwise

Associated Trait: Smarts

A streetwise character knows how to work the streets and get information from the seedier elements of settlements. This Aptitude is most often used to get illegal items or restricted information. The difficulty depends on the prize and the steps the character takes to secure it.

Survival

Associated Trait: Smarts
Concentrations: Desert. Mountain, Plains, Forest, Other.

A veteran wastelander knows which bugs to eat and which ones to step on. A successful survival roll feeds a person for one day. Each raise provides the bare necessities for one other person. The TN depends on the environment. An area with plentiful game and water has a difficulty of Foolproof (3), while it’s an Incredible (11) task to find vittles in a barren desert. You can normally make only
one survival roll per day.

Swimmin’

Associated Trait: Nimbleness

Heroes who can’t swim sink like stones, even when they’re just taking their annual baths. See your local toxic pond or Chapter Five to find out about drowning (not swimming).

Tale-Tellin’

Associated Trait: Mien

Besides letting your hero earn a meal or a drink by spinning a good yarn, this skill has two other uses. Spreading hope to survivors across the wastes, and spreading your own legend.

Tappin’

Associated Trait: Knowledge

Tappin lets Doomsayers within sight range of a maelstrom to draw off a bit of that power for his own use. It’s playing with nuclear fire, and might backfire on the doomie but hey it’s free power.

Teamster

Associated Trait: Nimbleness

This skill lets your character drive wagons, stagecoaches, buggies, and carts and control the ornery animals that pull them. The basic movement rate for a wagon is that of the horse minus its load.

Throwin’

Associated Trait: Deftness
Concentrations: Balanced, Unbalanced.

If a survivor’s relying on throwing things at people, he’s probably already won the fight and just having a little fun. Balanced weapons are things like knives and hatchets. Unbalanced missiles are rocks, dynamite, and some magical spells.

Tinkerin’

Associated Trait: Smarts

There are lots of artifacts lying about the Wasted West. A fellow good with tools can make a fortune fixing them up. Tinkerin’ is the ability to repair stuff. This Aptitude is a must for junkers who want to make or repair the infernal devices they devise.

Trackin’

Associated Trait: Cognition

Good trackers usually find whoever or whatever they’re looking for. Of course, that’s not always a good thing in Deadlands. A successful trackin’ roll helps a character find a trail, stay on it, and maybe even figure out how many critters he’s following.

Trade

Associated Trait: Knowledge
Concentrations: Blacksmithing, Carpentry, Electrician, Mining, Undertaking, Weaponsmithing, Others

Life as an adventurer can be a real kick in the pants, but somebody’s got to actually do all the work. The hard jobs are done by the folks with the practical skills. Trade is a catchall skill like the professional Aptitude. It covers hands-on jobs like blacksmithing and undertaking. Each trade is fairly inclusive. If your survivor knows trade: mining, he knows a decent amount about geography, the history of the big strikes, how to swing a pick, and just how nasty ghost
rock can be.

Use Knowledge when the character needs to know something about his trade. Deftness or Nimbleness might be more appropriate when actually applying it.

Witchcraft

Associated Trait: Knowledge

Although you’re less likely to get burned at the stake these days it’s not a great idea to go flaunting this skill around. Witchcraft is all about the crafting and shaping of witches, or how witches do magic I keep getting those two mixed up.

Aptitudes

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