Echoes uses a point-based character advancement scheme; there are no overarching levels or classes, and characters are rated entirely by their Traits and Skills. If you want to try your hand at combat, pick up some combat skills; if you want to do magic, learn magic. Although our trait system allows you to create a character who is well-suited to a particular type of activity, it is entirely possible to branch off in new directions, if you want to.
All General skills have an ability (an ability is anything in bold text on the right side of a skill table) which increases in level as the skill does, and which is modified by certain specific traits. For instance, Mercantile has the Expertise ability, which measures a character’s facility in manipulating markets and brokering deals; the higher this number, the more money a proactive merchant can make. Expertise is directly increased by a character’s Learned trait level, meaning a particularly bright merchant has a leg up on someone relying only on their skill.
Although Combat skills and Magical skills have slightly different mechanics for gaining their derived abilities (Prowess and Mastery), their dynamic is similar. Please see the Combat and Magic sections for details.
Every level a character buys in a skill, up to 6, will grant them a boost to their derived ability, as above, but they will also receive specific abilities unique to that skill. Beyond level 6, however, a character faces a choice between two abilities; they must pick one—and only one—before they may move on in the skill. The cost to increase skills is 5x their current level in Character Points, as indicated by the table to the left. Skills are not capped at level 12, but what lies at levels beyond this is strictly FOIP (Find Out In Play).
Characters do not need to be “trained” by other characters to buy into or increase most skills. Learning more than one magic school, additional Literacies, or any Advanced Combat Style, are the exceptions, however.
Please see our Guide to Character Creation.
What follows is a series of “thumbnail” descriptions of General Skills. In-depth listings are available from the navigation menu.
The Craft skill governs the creation of useful items, materials, and sellable products. All crafters, whatever their eventual specialties, are able to perform basic repair and maintenance, and may also create simple, household goods. Craft is a broad discipline, covering perhaps the largest area of any of the skills, and is mostly defined by its specialties. Each level of a particular specialty allows a character to make a range of items, and with increasing levels in a specialty, the most powerful/expensive/useful items become available.
Diplomacy gives a character greater control over their social actions and allows them to influence the world around them. Characters with Diplomacy can censor themselves, act politely in strange situations, and quickly adapt to customs unfamiliar to them. Diplomacy’s most far reaching ability, however, is behind-the-scenes influence and manipulation. Specialties in this skill are defined as different areas of influence that characters have. Aggressive use of Diplomacy will almost assuredly result in in-play political entanglements.
The Healing skill, as can be expected, is used to aid the injured and the sick. With a minimal amount of attendance, a healer can stitch up the wounded, preventing them from dying. With more complicated techniques, they can heal a wounded character in very little time. At higher levels, characters can cure increasingly virulent infectious diseases and siphon deadly poisons from the afflicted. Expert healers are able to coax a patient back from the very edge of death itself.
Mercantile allows a character to engage in trade and commerce. Characters with Mercantile are skilled in running businesses, speculating in markets, and finding contacts for goods and services. Characters with this skill will receive an income every game. All specialties in this skill cover specific types of commercial ventures and business contacts.
The Occult Skill is mostly used by casters, though it can used without know a spell school. It deals in the overarching use and concepts of magic, allowing casters to learn multiple schools of sorcery, with a teacher, of course. It is commonly used to increase Mastery as well as provide a pool of generic magic charges that can be used with any school. These are called “Perfect Charges” and can be drawn from Places of Power, which are found in play. Finally, Occult is the only method by which true “Magic Items” can be permanently created.
Bards, minstrels, dancers, and storytellers are all practitioners of the Performance skill, which can be used to inspire, entertain, and embolden allies. In addition, skilled performers can develop great renown, as their reputations spread far and wide. Performers have the ability to shift the tide of an entire battle, if skilled enough.
This skill governs research, lore, language, and intellectual acumen. Scholarship is primarily used during downtime actions, allowing a character to gain important information about whatever subject they wish to research. Every even level, a character can declare a scholarly specialty which increases their effective skill level by 2 for the purposes of research along those lines. Scholarship also allows characters to read and write in languages other than their native tongue. Inventing new abilities and items is generally the province of Scholarship, regardless of which skills are directly tied to these innovations.
Survival is the skill for hunters, trackers, and wilderness folk. It allows characters to find hidden pathways and encounters in the wilderness. Skilled survivalists can harvest in-game items off of the bodies of fallen game. Survival specialties allow a character to increase their ability in exploration and tracking, with regards to a specific type of quarry, environment, or condition. True masters of the wilderness learn stealth to such a degree that they can remain hidden almost anywhere.
Tinkering is a broad skill, and it governs the creation, maintenance, and dismantling of machines. It allows characters to create locks, traps, and fantastic devices for various arcane purposes. Though this skill bears some similarity to Craft, Tinkering is fundamentally intellectual in its pursuit, though Tinkers are good at such practical matters as trap disarming and lockpicking.