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3.14 Fighting Style Descriptions

The following are brief descriptions of the key Fighting styles. The actual rules for these Fighting styles can be found in section 5.6.

Concerned with missile weapons, these Fighting styles focus on the use of the bow and the crossbow respectively.
Those who specialise in the art of murder and assassination use the assassin fighting style. The assassins tend to avoid direct confrontation with their opponents, preferring instead to strike when their opponent's guard is down.
Preferred by the truly psychotic, the berserker style is characterised by an almost insane disregard for personal safety and an uncontrolled, frenzied attack.
Thrown weaponry is the domain of the bladesman, the Fighting style which deals with throwing knives, axes and other such projectiles.
The anarchic Skill of informal, unarmed combat and attacking with improvised weaponry such as bottles and chairs.
Bestial style of combat. See section 5.26.
Thieves, muggers and thugs generally learn a simple fighting style which often concentrates on incapacitating the opponent before any real combat can commence.
Specialising in one-on-one conflicts, the gladiator generally learns to fight alone, and often against only one opponent.
Those who specialise in fighting from horseback are generally at a disadvantage when dismounted. However, because of the nature of this style, all time spent in horseman counts as a Specialisation in Ride (see section 3.18).
A fighting style deriving from the necessity to hunt and track game, the hunter often fights other humans at a disadvantage, but is capable of fully exploiting any advantages offered by the terrain.
Because of the restrictions that heavy armour creates, those who specialise in fighting when thus encumbered use their own fighting style. Often, a knight will fight from horseback, thus reducing the effort required to move, but they do not have the same depth of relationship with their steed that a horseman has.
The art of military engagement, and fighting in closely organised units, is covered by the legionnaire fighting style. Practitioners gain a certain grasp of military tactics, but are often hampered when fighting alone by their usual reliance on leaders and support.
Martial artist:
The martial artist generally fights unarmed, but with a clearly defined style, superior to the chaos of brawling.
Whilst rarely a style in and of itself, the shieldman fighting style focuses on the use of a shield in combat, as a defence, and sometimes as an offensive weapon.
Barely a style, this is, perhaps, the armed equivalent of brawling. The skirmisher often doesn't bother with any tactics, and simply engages the enemy as the situation dictates.
The techniques of fighting with long, thrusting weapons. The spearman and poleaxeman, like the legionnaire, are generally used to fighting in organised units, and not alone.
Anyone who learns to use an unusual weapon, such as a whip or caltrops, may be a specialist in that weapon. Naturally, they are severely hindered when not using their weapon of preference.
This heroic, reckless and flamboyant fighting style, like the gladiator, is most effective in a one-on-one situation, and tends towards seemingly ridiculous - but impressive - acts of foolhardiness.

See Table 6 for Governing Values, and section 5.6 for further information.

3.15 Craft Descriptions

Animal trainer:
A person who is skilled at training animals. In general, the skill covers any animals, including horses, dogs and hawks, but if the Specialisation rules are being used (see section 3.18), it could be made to apply to specific animals.
Armour smith:
Skilled in making armours of all kinds, the armour smith generally knows some of the blacksmith's and leatherworker's trades.
Someone who is skilled at drawing, painting and other forms of artistic expression.
A craftsman who makes general metallic objects such as ploughs and horseshoes, usually in demand in a non-technological society.
Specialist in making bows.
Anyone involved in the production of intoxicating beverages and other mind altering substances.
Those skilled with the planing, joining and carving of wood.
Someone who specialises in producing food for pleasure or sustenance.
A man or woman skilled in the techniques of providing physical pleasure to someone by applying various forms of erotic arts.
A specialist in making arrows.
Craftsman who is proficient in cutting precious stones and producing jewelry.
An expert in curing and tanning leather.
Someone who specialises in making pots, plates and other common items from clay.
Also known as a bard if they perform to music, the raconteur is a storyteller. In most non-technological cultures, story telling can be a reasonable source of income.
Rope maker:
Person skilled in making rope.
Artisan specialising in carving in stone, or sculpting in clay, for artistic purposes.
Stone mason:
Craftsman skilled in building in stone.
Weapon smith:
Related to blacksmiths, the weapon smith specialises in making weaponry.
Person who makes weaves, embroiders or otherwise works with fabrics.

See Table 7 for Governing Values. Note that some of the domains of the crafts overlap, for example, Blacksmith is not far from a Weapon Smith. To allow for this, tasks which involve a similar craft are possible at a -10 penalty to the Skill in question. For example, a Blacksmith making weapons uses 10 less than his Blacksmith Skill.

3.16 School of Magic Descriptions

The following are brief descriptions of the various Schools of Magic. The rules regarding magic use are given in Chapter 7.

The art of creating substances with mystic properties, and of transforming one substance into another.
The ability to physically alter objects or people, in almost every manner.
The art of predicting events (or possible events), and possibly of encouraging certain outcomes.
Magic utilising the primal elemental forces of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Of all of the Schools of Magic, this one is the most obvious to be Specialised (see section 3.18).
The art of creating unreal images and sensual illusions of all kinds.
The control and alteration of the mind in almost any fashion.
Magic relying on manipulating the forces of nature, such as the ability to control animals, the weather and plant life.
Sorcery involving the dead or the undead, whether involving contacting, animating or resurrecting them.
The task of calling creatures or objects into being, usually from another plane or dimension.
Transporting matter from one place to another, whether by movement or by teleportation.

See Table 8 for Governing Values.

3.17 Language and Literacy

Unlike other abilities, Language and Literacy skills start with a certain number of Skill Points assigned. These values can be raised by spending some of the character's Skill Points in the usual manner. The number of Skill Points a character has in a certain language depends on how well educated the character has been, and the relationship between their country of origin and the language being considered.

Players should choose the education class which best describes their character from the following:

Highly educated:
Character has received the best education the country has to offer, possibly by virtue of being a part of the nobility. This class may require a Fate Point (at GM discretion).
Well educated:
Some exposure to other cultures, or a relatively high degree of education. The character may belong to a merchant family.
Average education:
The character has received a reasonable degree of education and exposure to other countries.
Poorly educated:
For whatever reason, the character was never really exposed to a good education, and has little experience of other languages.
The character has received little or no education and possible hasn't ventured beyond the borders of their home country.

The Gamesmaster should determine which template fits the character's home country from the following list:

The country prizes knowledge and has a high standard of education.
The nation deals openly with other cultures, either through trade or because of their conquest of other countries.
The nation does not deal with other countries and its population rarely venture outside of its borders.
The country has been subjugated by another country, and is part of that country's Empire. If the country used to be part of an Empire, but is now free, the GM should decide according to circumstances whether or not to apply this template. This may be combined with any of the other templates.

Table 9 provides the Skill Points awarded to various different languages according to the education of the character and the type of nation they belong to. Where a zero is given, the character still rolls on the 0 Skill Points line of Table 10.

The three values given in Table 9 refer to the primary, secondary and tertiary language groups for the country in question. The general definitions for these are as follows:

Primary group:
The Native tongue or the country.
Secondary group:
The Secondary tongue of the country (if any) plus any common or trade languages, and the languages of any key neighbouring countries.
Tertiary group:
The language of any lesser neighbouring countries, or any other key world languages.

These broad categories are altered in each case as follows:

The primary group includes any common languages (those which are widely employed across the world) and the tertiary group may include all (or almost all) world languages.
The values are generally as described above.
The tertiary group may cover all languages used by countries subjugated by the nation in question.
Key neighbouring countries are covered by the tertiary group, not the secondary group.
This value is the number of Skill Points awarded in the Native tongue of the Empire which rules this nation.

To determine the Skill Points in the corresponding Literacy skill for each language, adjust any Skill Points allocated to a certain language by the Literacy value (given in Table 9). Any value adjusted value of 0 still gets to roll at the 0 level, but any value less than 0 is ignored. For example, a well educated character from a trading country has base 25, 10 and 5 in primary, secondary and tertiary languages respectively. The same person has 15 and 0 Skill Points in the primary and secondary Literacy Skills for these languages, but is not literate in any tertiary languages (without spending Skill Points in the Literacy Skills for these languages).

The Gamesmaster should tailor these broad language guidelines to individual characters and nations, according to circumstances.

It is not expected for characters to make Task Resolutions using Language and Literacy Skills. Instead, the Skill level is used to determine the degree of mastery in that Language, as indicated in Table 11, below.

Table 11: Language Mastery
Skill Level Mastery
1-5 Simple
6-10 Basic
11-15 Pidgin
16-30 Native
31+ Advanced
A handful of words are known, but practically no grammar or tenses are understood. When speaking, they are restricted to only the most rudimentary concepts, and when listening they will only catch the odd word or phrase that is said.
The rudiments of the language are known, and the speaker can get simple concepts across to someone who speaks the language. Vocabulary is limited to common verbs, nouns and adjectives, and the speaker will frequently get words, phrases or grammar wrong. When listening to someone speaking this tongue they will be able to pick out key words or phrases, but will often misinterpret words or meaning.
The language is known well enough for the speaker to get by when talking to someone who knows the language. Anyone who speaks the language fluently will realise that the speaker is foreign. The speaker will get occasional words or phrases wrong without realising it.
The language is spoken fluently.
Not only is the language spoken fluently, but some of the more complicated words are known, as well as the origins of words and expressions.

The same degrees of understanding should be applied to Literacy skills, with appropriate alterations.

When role-playing a situation involving a lack of knowledge in the language used, the GM is advised to be creative. Listen to what the player said and ignore (or exchange) certain words at random, with the degree of alteration proportional to the degree of understanding. With a little imagination, some interesting and amusing situations can result from the use and abuse of language.

When exchanging one word for another, remember that the characters are not speaking English hence so don't replace one word with another that sounds the same in English (and do not let players know which word or words were misunderstood). Just reply to the player's statement as if they had actually said the altered sentence, and let any complications reveal themselves.

3.18 Specialisation (Optional)

An option which may be used during character generation is to allow characters to specialise. Specialisation allows certain Skills to be subdivided into a set of more specific Skills. A character who chooses to specialise gains an advantage because, by concentrating on just one aspect of a proficiency, they are able to learn more in a given amount of time than they would if they learnt all aspects of that Skill.

A character who specialises will concentrate on a particular area of one general skill. Players can derive specialised skills for their characters from the list of general skills listed in Table 5, with the permission of the GM. For instance, if a player wanted a specialisation in Poison Lore for their character, the general skill would be Plant Lore.

During Skill Point allocation, points can be allocated to both the specialised skill and its general skill. It should be noted that Points need not be allocated to the general skill to have a specialised skill derived from it. Because the two Skills are so closely linked, expertise in one will add to the expertise in the other. This is reflected in the following process for determining Skill Values for the skills in question:

Skill Point Total for the General Skill equals:
Half the Skill Point allocation for the specialised skill plus the total Skill Point allocation (if any) for the general skill.
Skill Point Total for the Specialisation equals:
The whole Skill Point allocation for the specialised skill, plus the Skill Point Total for the general skill.

These Skill Point Totals are then cross-referenced against Governing Values on Table 10 in the usual way, to give the final Skill Values.

It is possible to have multiple specialisations in one general skill, for example, a player might derive the specialisations Poison Lore and Agriculture from the general skill Plant Lore. In this case, the Skill Point Total for the general skill will equal half the total Skill Point allocation for all the specialisations, plus the Skill Point allocation for the general skill.

As an example, let us consider a person who chooses to specialise in Survival, breaking it down into Hot desert survival and Tropical survival. They allocate 20 Skill Points in Hot desert survival, 10 in Tropical survival, and none into Survival itself. The general skill, Survival, would therefore have 15 points allocated (20/2 + 10/2) and the specialisations would have 35 (20 + 15) and 25 (10 + 15) allocated respectively. By restricting their area of knowledge, the player has increased the character's degree of proficiency in the areas the character does know.

In certain special cases, one Skill counts as a specialisation for another. For example, the Horseman Fighting style counts as a specialisation in Ride. This is treated in exactly the same way as detailed above. For example, if a person has put 10 Skill Points into Ride and 25 into Horseman, they have an effective Skill Point total of 22 (25 divided by 2 is 12, plus 10 gives 22) in Ride. Note that the amount that is `carried' over is always rounded down and also that the amount allocated to Ride does not affect the Horseman Skill, since Horseman is treated as a specialisation of Ride, but Ride is not treated as the general skill of Horseman.

3.19 Bias (Optional)

A character's bias determines which is their dominant hand: left, right or ambidextrous. Normally the character can choose to be left or right handed, but this optional rule determines the bias randomly, whilst also giving a chance of the character being naturally ambidextrous.

Table 12: Bias Table
Result Bias
d6 < d20 Right handed
d6 = d20 Ambidextrous
d6 > d20 Left handed

In order to determine a character's bias, roll 1d20 and 1d6, then consult Table 12 to determine the resulting bias. This distribution is reasonably close to the `real' distribution of left handed, right handed and ambidextrous people. Any character can choose to be ambidextrous at the cost of one Fate Point.

3.20 Character Generation Summary

This section comprises of a summary of the twelve steps necessary to generate a character in Avatar. It should be noted that the actual rules for character generation are not included here; this section should be used with reference to the rules presented previously in this Chapter whenever needed. Once one or two characters have been generated using the Avatar rules, this section should act as a handy reference in creating future characters.

Before character generation can be started, it is important to have a clear picture of what the character to be generated is going to be like in terms of their previous background, personality and influences.

  1. Each character has three Fate Points. These may be used to re-roll dice, at a cost of one point per re-roll. They can also be used, at the GM's discretion, to buy character perks such as ambidexterity. Note that Fate Points are also useful during the game, hence there are advantages in saving them.
  2. Choose Species and Race. You should now choose Species and Race. Any Racial Rank Modifiers should be applied to the base Ranks.
  3. Choose Character's Age. For each complete block of 5 above age 20, the character forfeits 1 Attribute Rank, but will gain +1 to each Skill chosen.
  4. Adjust Attribute Ranks, on a one for one basis. Characters have a total of 24 Ranks, 4 per Attribute, plus the sum of any Racial Rank modifiers. Ranks should not be lowered below Racial Rank bonus levels. The higher the Rank, the greater the chance of a higher value in that Attribute.
  5. Roll Attribute Values. Use Table 1, then modify by Species modifiers (if any).
  6. Choose Demeanor Traits for the character. Choose only traits that reflect the character in mind. While there should be no limit to the number of traits chosen, between five and fifteen is sensible.
  7. Choose Concept Affinities and Aversions. The maximum number of Concepts a character can have should be decided by the GM. Choose only Affinities and Aversions that accurately reflect the character in mind. It should be noted that Affinities are not always good things, and Aversions are not always bad things to have. A character should have both, for depth.
  8. Choose Skills. Divide 100 Skill Points (that reflect 100% of time spent by the character learning those Skills through tuition or practise) between Skills chosen from Table 5. Note that Magical Schools and Fighting Style skills should be included during Skill Point allocation.
  9. Calculate skill Governing Values. As explained in section 3.11, these take into account how the character's personality and physical Attributes have on their performance of the skills. It should be noted that for some skills, all characters have a natural ability in even if they haven't had Skill Points allocated to them; the governing values for the character of these skills should also be calculated. A Governing Value represents a character's natural aptitude in that skill; the higher the value, the better suited that character is to the demands made by that skill. Governing Values should be noted down on the character sheet, since they are used again during Skill Development.
  10. Roll for Skill Values. This should be done on Table 10, comparing Governing Values with Skill Point allocation, to give the measure of how well a character can utilise their skills.
  11. Calculate Wound and Insanity States. See Section 5.9 for Wound States, and Section 7.3 for Mental States. These codes are measures of how much damage characters can take to their bodies and minds before becoming adversely effected by that damage. For more details, refer to the sections listed.
  12. Round out the character. This involves choosing height, weight, age, name for the character, choosing or rolling for bias, etc. If the character has proficiency in one or more Magical Schools, the player and GM should collaborate to create a magical background for the character, that would include previously researched spells. If their character has skills in Fighting Styles, the player should determine how the character will use those Styles in the context of their personality Traits, and Concepts. The character may require a background history for their former life. The relevant rules should be read before rounding out a character in any particular area.

3.21 Skill Development

After each distinct game session (that is, when a game has been played to the point where it is reasonable to allow the characters a rest), the characters will have an opportunity to improve their Skill levels. Avatar employs a system of development packages. When a development package has been earned in a Skill, the Skill will increase by a certain amount, depending on what the current level of the Skill is, and what the Governing Value for that Skill is (see Table 13, below). For this reason, players are encouraged to record their Governing Values for their Skills.

Table 13: Development Packages
Skill Level Governing Value
-10 to -1 0 to +10 +11 to +15 +16 to +20
0-5 1d6 -1* 1d6 1d6 +1 1d6 +2
6-10 1d6/2 1d6 -1* 1d6 1d6 +1
11-15 1 1d6/2 1d6 -1* 1d6
16-20 2 for 1 1 1d6/2 1d6-1*
21-30 3 for 1 2 for 1 1 1d6/2
31-40 4 for 1 3 for 1 2 for 1 1
41-50 5 for 1 4 for 1 3 for 1 2 for 1
51-60 6 for 1 5 for 1 4 for 1 3 for 1
61+ 8 for 1 6 for 1 5 for 1 4 for 1

*The minimum increase is 1 point.

A development package can be earned in two different ways:

  1. 1. Direct Development: If a person has made good use of a Skill in the most recent session, they should be awarded a development package in that Skill.
  2. 2. Bonus Development: At the end of each session, the GM should award bonus development packages that can be used to increase any Skill the player chooses. When spending bonus development packages, it must be realistic for the character to have learnt or been taught the Skill in the interim.

Whichever method a development package is acquired, it improves the Skill in the same way, as described above. The GM should decide how many bonus development packages to award on the basis of how much opportunity the characters would have to train or learn in the period of game time that has elapsed. About one to three bonus development packages should be awarded after each scenario, or campaign chapter.

No player is forced to spend bonus development packages when they are awarded: they can be saved until the player has an opportunity to learn a Skill they would like to spend the development package on. However, they can only be spent when the character has both time and opportunity to learn that Skill.

When dealing with Specialisations (see section 3.18), each Development Package earned in a Specialisation is worth one and a half Development Packages in the Specialisation and an additional half a Development Package in the General Skill. The halves means nothing by themselves, and another half a Development Package must be earned before any benefit applies. If a character wishes to start a Specialisation after character generation, they must first have an opportunity to learn the Specialisation and then spend a Development Package on the Specialisation (which then counts as one and a half Development Packages in the Specialisation, and half a Development Package in the General skill).

3.22 Teaching

Skill development can occur from being taught. A character can be taught in any Skill, by any character who has an aptitude in the Skill to be taught. The teacher need not have a higher Skill Level than the student, since the teacher may be proficient in areas of the Skill unknown to the student. However, the process will be more difficult for the Teacher in this case.

The ability of a teacher to instruct in a certain Skill is measured by the average of their Teach Skill and the Skill being taught. The student's Level in the Skill being taught can never rise higher than this value, without finding a teacher with a higher Skills average.

In order to determine how successful a teacher is in imparting knowledge, the teacher should add the result of a 1d20 roll to the average of their Teach Skill and the Skill being taught, and subtract 20. This value is a measure of the success in teaching for one days work (that is, one roll can be made per day of teaching). For each block of 5 in this total, the student gains and improvement point in the skill being taught.

An improvement point can be considered a fraction of a Development Package. When enough have been earned in the Skill being taught, a Development Package is gained. Improvement points build up day by day, though all improvement points will be lost if there is a significant break in the teaching process, for instance if the teacher and student are separated for a number of days. It should also be noted that improvement points are specific to one teacher.

When a student has gained as many improvement points as their current Level in the Skill being taught, they gain one Development Package in that Skill. If the student has no Level in that Skill (i.e. they are being taught a new Skill), it takes 5 improvement points to gain a Development Package in that Skill. The teacher may, at the GM`s discretion, gain a Development Package in their Teach Skill for their work in training the student.

If it is clear that the teacher and student will have a long period of time to work together, a similar process can be used to determine the number of improvement points that the student would gain for a solid week of work. Here, the teacher rolls 1d20 and adds it to their average of Teach and Skill to be taught, then subtracts 10. This value is equal to the number of improvement points the student gains in one week.

For example, a certain teacher has a Teach Skill of 20 and a Swim Skill of 16. The average is 18. She attempts to teach a certain student who cannot swim at all, over the course of three days. For the first day, she rolls a 19, which gives a total of 17 for that day (18 +19 -20). This is 3 complete blocks of 5, so the student has 3 improvement points. The second day, she rolls a 1 - a Fumble (see section 4.2). Because of the Fumble, she rolls again at -10, getting a 5, for a total of -7 (18 +5 -10 -20). This is one block of 5 against, so the student loses one improvement point, taking them down to 2 points.

On the final day, the teacher rolls a 17, for a total of 15 (18 + 17 -20). This is 3 blocks of 5, so the student now has 5 improvement points. Since the student had no Skill at all to start with, they have earned a Development package in Swim. The student's Governing value for Swim is +4, so they gain a Skill increase of 1d6. The student rolls, and gets a 6. The student's Swim Skill is now 6.

As a further example, let us assume the same teacher spends a week training the same student at some point in the future, when the students Swim Skill was still 6. The teacher rolls a 12 for a total of 20 (18 +12 -10) and hence 20 improvement points are given. The first 6 are worth a Development package, and looking at Table 13 we can see with a Skill level of 6 and a Governing value of +4, the Development package is worth +1d6 -1. The student rolls a 1, and hence the Skill only goes up by 1 (the minimum for a 1d6 -1 increase).

The student has 14 improvement points remaining, so 7 of these equate to another Development Package. The student rolls 1d6 -1 and gets a result of 5. This raises the student's Skill to 12, and since this is more than the number of improvement points remaining (7), the rest of the improvement points are lost.

3.23 Personality Development

The Demeanour traits, Concept Affinities and Concept Aversions that a character has represent their personality at the start of play. It is expected, however, that these will not be cast in stone.

Firstly, if a player has an idea of who and what their character is going to be, they should not act strictly as their Demeanour traits indicate if it conflicts with their view of the character. If the Demeanour traits don't reflect who the character is in the player's eyes, the Demeanour traits should be changed (however, any such corrections of Demeanour should be agreed with the GM).

There is likely to be a certain amount of this clarification when a player first starts playing a character, as the player's view of the character is finalised, and the Demeanour traits move to accommodate this. There is a certain potential for abuse inherent in allowing such changes, especially if a player chooses their Demeanour Traits to give them the best Governing Values on their Skills and then changes their Demeanours.

Gamesmasters are advised to watch for any such abuse. Secondly, as a character's life progresses, their personality will develop, according to the events and experiences of their life. Unfortunately, no hard and fast mechanics can be provided for these changes - it is entirely up to the player and the GM to discuss whether or not a character's Traits should change.

For example, a Peaceful villager who returns to find all of his people slaughtered is likely to change somehow. How he reacts is up to the player. It's possible that his Demeanour might go from Peaceful to neither Peaceful nor Violent (although unlikely to change straight to Violent). It's also possible he might become Vengeful, from neither Vengeful nor Forgiving, or any other appropriate change.

The simple fact is, to provide mechanics which dictate how a personality changes in certain situations is a hopeless task, especially when the players themselves are quite capable of deciding how their character's personalities should develop.

Another way personalities can change is by Insanity. The most common cause of Insanity in Avatar is magic use, and the rules provide mechanics for spell casters gradually sliding into Insanity. See section 7.5, section 7.6 and section 7.7 for more details.

It is worth noting, however, that other events may cause an individual to go Insane. Of course, the specifics are left to the individuals to decide, but anything in which a person's fundamental interpretation of reality is challenged is likely to cause a certain degree of Insanity.

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Last Updated: April 16th, 1999