Thursday 27th October 2016
Abilities are refinements of your aptitude gained through knowledge, practice and experience. Imagine for example that someone can be born strong (with a high value in the strength aptitude) but can get more effective at competition power lifting if they train in power lifting techniques. Thus a player could add power lifting to a PAE sheet as an ability. As power lifting is based upon strength, it starts with the same value as the aptitude.
Once an ability is opened in this way it can be trained by spending experience points on it.
The GM decides how easy or hard it is to find training for a particular ability. some abilities do not require training, simple practice can suffice. e.g. you could have a balance ability that you practice in your spare time, no study required and you will slowly get better at balancing until you reach your maximum potential. Some abilities require years of study to learn them and also require specialist teachers. A good example of a difficult to learn ability is any of the schools of magic.
As with real life, your PAE only gets really good at the things he focuses on most, and it's difficult to focus on more than one thing at a time. This is why abilities are arrange into a pyramid of potential that is narrow at the top and broad at the bottom.
Ability focus pyramid
- Virtuosity (1 ability, no level cap)
- Speciality (2 abilities, +6 level cap)
- Career (3 abilities, +5 level cap)
- Interest (4 abilities, +4 level cap)
- Knowledge (unlimited abilities, +3 level cap)
You may only have a single ability that is your virtuosity this ability is effectively un-capped, you may continue to get better at this ability all your life as long as you keep training and gaining experience with it. You can have two specialist abilities that are capped to never be more than your six points higher than your aptitude. You can have three career abilities that can be up to five points higher than your aptitude. You can have four interest level abilities that are capped to four points above your aptitude score and finally you can have as many abilities as you like that are capped to a maximum of three points above your aptitude score.
This focus pyramid is purely to keep a degree of realism and game balance, players can change focus from one ability to another and in doing so they will lose points in one or more existing abilities to make room for the new focus as it outgrows it's existing slot on the pyramid. The player can choose which ability is demoted in this way to make space for the one he's training in. These lost points reflect the change in the characters life as they forget the fine detail in the old focus required to maintain their prowess as they're focusing their efforts and thoughts on the new skills they are trying to aquire.
The higher up the pyramid an ability is pushed, the more limited the scope of that ability becomes. Virtuosity is gained with a particular device, topic or element of a skill. e.g. a virtuoso of the violin, not a virtuoso music. The words in the list above hint at the scope of a field of study e.g. I know about technology, I'm interested in computers, I have a career as a computer programmer specialising in computer security, at night I am c0d3M0nk3Y! a virtuoso hacker who writes kick-ass viruses to secretly manipulate the world stock markets placing near unlimited funds and materials at my disposal.
Abilities that use multiple aptitudes
Some abilities are impossible to allocate to a single aptitude e.g. sprinters need to be both agile and strong. Where this is the case, the starting score for the ability is the average (rounded up) of the aptitude scores involved and the lowest of the aptitude scores is used for the basis of level cap on the ability. Thus a specialist sprinter with a strength of 4 and an agility of 5 would have a maximum possible score of 10 (based on strength because it's the lower of the two required aptitudes and is thus the weakest link in the chain).
I have provided a list of some ideas for abilities you want to use in your own games. Abilities are heavily dependent upon the setting the PAEs are in and as such it would be futile to try to cover every possibility in this core rule-set as we'd never finish! You can click here to see the sample ability list.
Learning new abilities
New abilities are learned at the GM's discretion. In general however, a teacher and/or some actual experience is required in order to get better at something.