In Abide Asteria, all interactions are governed by the cards and the skills your character possesses. At its simplest, you declare an action, determine the skill that action most likely relates to, and play a card. That card is your level of success. Most actions require beating a certain number based on the difficulty of the task, so naturally you will want to use more than a single card, and that is where skills and techniques come in.
Skills come in six levels: Natural Block, Untrained, Trained, Advanced Training, Skilled, and Elite. Each level of skill has a Skill Point cost to unlock and an associated technique. Most skills start at Untrained; the exception to this is Magic Skills, which start at Natural Block. Natural Blocked skills function as the explanation above, except 5 is subtracted from any play made and has no technique. You can block skills Untrained skills to gain additional starting SP, but you cannot ever unlock the skills you blocked, so weight your choices carefully. The point costs can be found in the side chart. Note that you pay the total cost, rather than the listed number. For example, if you are Skilled in Piloting, you only pay 25 more SP to reach Elite Piloting.
In addition, some skill levels only unlock as your character levels. Skilled is the first unlock at level 3; once that level is reached, any and all skills can become Skilled, assuming you have the SP to purchase it. Elite is far more limited though. You can only have one Elite skill per unlock, which come at levels 6, 10, and 15. This means you will only ever have three skills maximum at Elite level. This is because its associated technique is so powerful.
Natural Block: -3
Advanced Training: 12
(Naturally blocked skills give 3 additional points at character creation for each taken. These cannot be repurchased later. Natural Block subtracts 5 from any play and will have no technique bonus.)
Techniques are best thought of as card chains – they allow you to place down additional cards if you meet a certain criterion; usually, this criterion is matching the suit of cards associated with the skill you are attempting. Outside of items, this is the only way to increase your level of success at an action. A quick guide of these will be found right before the skills deep-dive.
Untrained lets you chain a second card. The first card played must match the skill’s suit to start the chain; the second card must also be on-suit and also be less than or equal to your character level.
Trained lets you chain up to two cards. The first card played must match the skill’s suit to start the chain; the second card must also be on-suit and less than or equal to your character level+1. The last card can be any suit, but must be less than or equal to your character level. From Trained and on, you can also flip the top card of your deck if you have no other cards left in your hand at the time, likely due to damage or some additional play (see EVA/Acrobatics below). In this case, the flipped card ignores the character level limit; it just adds to the total, whatever that card may be. Note that you can do this with the second card as well, though to continue the chain in this case requires it to follow the rules: in this case, to be on suit and at or below your level plus one.
Advance Trained lets you chain up to three cards. The first card played must match the skill’s suit to start the chain; the second and third cards must also be on-suit to continue the chain, but have no level requirement. The last card played, whether it’s the second card or the fourth, can be of any suit, but this ends the chain.
Skilled lets you chain up to four cards. The first card played must match the skill’s suit to start the chain; subsequent cards must also be on suit to continue the chain. The chain can end at any point a non-suit card is played. In addition, you can choose to flip off the top of the deck to try to continue the chain, even if you still have cards remaining in your hand. If it matches suit, the technique can continue, playing from hand or from deck again.
Elite lets you chain a potentially unlimited number of cards; the technique simply continues until it ends. When you train a skill to Elite level, you choose a suit of cards that is not the same suit as the skill; for example, if you chose Charisma, you would choose any suit except for Hearts. This new suit becomes the ‘elite suit’ of this skill. For all intents and purposes, elite suits count as the skill’s suit, meaning that you can start and continue the chain with either the skill’s suit or your elite suit. There is only one caveat to this; while you can flip the top of your deck at any point in the chain, just as you could with skilled, the technique only continues assuming you get the skill’s natural suit. Elite suit can only continue the technique if played from your hand.
Skill Deep Dive
Magic is not a well understood branch of study, even in the distant future. Its ability to contradict the laws of reality range from the simple like igniting local air, to bending space through sheer telekinetic might. Generally, these effects are fleeting and last only until the user’s next turn, though the damage it causes will remain – and often that damage is to nearby technology.
It’s unclear why anything that isn’t simple mechanical tech is affected by magical use, but for every point of success the ability has, a meter-diameter field of disruption occurs – both at point of origin and at point of change. Think of these as a sort of mini-EMP. At 10 points played, you not only have a disruptive field that is 10 meters wide, you also temporarily scramble tech in that field, making it unusable until the Guide’s Sign (card pulled at the start of each turn) comes up as a Clubs. At 20 points and beyond, everything in the area is fried and will need to be repaired (though Guides can choose an alternate rule where they draw a card and it is fried only on a diamond; consult with yours before considering magic use). Note that this disruption can be deadly if misused; for example, using magic near the life-support system on a spaceship. Local authorities will kindly gun you down with simple ballistics fire and drag you to a magically grounded cell to await trial or execution if you misuse your magic in such an irresponsible manner – and rumor has it worse happens if you misuse your magic in sight of Wizards who train their whole lives to show restraint in this regard.
Not everyone can master magic. In fact, it is usually something one is born into, though one can reach it through training as well. As a result, all magic skills begin at Natural Block and must be unlocked at character creation.
Earth, fire, wind, water – these elemental forces each play some profound impact in our lives. This magic allows you to control, manipulate, or even create these elements out of nothing. Spikes of earth rising from the ground to stab your enemies; walls of ice to protect you and your team; a light ball of flame to create a temporary light or a large one to incinerate that you find to ashes.
The grip of magic. It allows of the creation of temporary force, usually around an object or person, which can be pushed, pulled, levitated, and more. Whether its creating a barrier to fend off attacks, punching someone with your mind, or flinging them into the stratosphere, telekinesis has quite a few uses if one is creative.
♢Magical Charge & Repair
While technology may fail in the presence of magic, magitek never does. As a result, some magically incline kit themselves in magic-imbued gear and arcane ships that function on raw magic itself; but since most magic is fleeting even when trapped inside an item, sooner or later it will need to be charged or repaired. This skill is also used in the creation of magical items (if Guide allows; see the Equipment section of his handbook).
Cantrips have limited use, but usually function as small-scale spells that serve utility purposes. For instance, a caster might create a small light in their hands, or temporarily imbue a weapon with an unnatural aim; Cantrips are not strong on their own, but they, along with Grounding, do not cause disruption to technology. This can make them useful in tight situations for the creative. Cantrips can do most anything the other magic skills can, except for Magical Charge and Grounding, but it does so at a -10 modifier.
Connecting one’s mind to another is also a powerful field of magic; with it one can read the thoughts or emotions of another, temporarily borrow skill or knowledge, or even completely dominate another individual. Most of the time, the victim can resist this effect by playing an appropriate skill (deception to hide emotion, for instance, or Engineering if that’s the skill that is being accessed), though simple communication is not usually resisted unless the recipient really doesn’t want to hear it. In the case of mind control or other such uses, the victim can resist by playing either Telepathy or CHARISMA and beating the user’s play.
In the future, most wounds can be healed; the biochip that exists within everyone usually can assist in healing even the most egregious of wounds, and medics (see below) can heal using a variety of technological wonders – but only magic can heal you with but a touch. For every 10 points, you can heal 1 cards of damage to someone who has taken damage. This can be up close or at range.
Manipulation of the senses is also effective if properly utilized. Sight is the most commonly effected, but smell, hearing, even touch and taste in the strongest illusions, can be affected. This can leave people or things completely invisible, or set up the illusion of a wall where there isn’t one, or make a very believable steak dinner. Victims of illusions can play Illusion or Perception to recognize them as such by beating the user’s play.
The universal undo button, grounding is anti-magic: it reverts magical disruption and returns normalcy to normal space. The universe is super okay with this, as it is stubborn about changing due to magic; as a result, double your play’s total when using this skill to determine how effective it is. This does not remove damage already done (if that fireball turned you into barbeque, you’re still going to be flame broiled should you succeed at grounding) and it can’t be used to protect technology from your own abilities (see the exploit Magical Grounding for that) without wizard abilities, but it will ruin any magic-user’s next turn or ongoing effects.
Even in the future, conflict still occurs that cannot be solved through diplomacy. While there are many elegant and technological solutions for murdering one’s opponent, sometimes a simple rock will do if you hit someone with it hard enough. Melee is broken into three groups, two of which require equipment to function – can’t very well stab someone if you don’t have a sharp pointy implement – and one that does not.
Regardless, damage works the same way for it and all skills that can potentially harm another – you get in range and play to deal damage. That’s it. No to-hit, with the only mitigation generally being armor. More details can be found in the How to Play section at the start of this handbook.
♠Traditional Melee Weapons
Sword? Chain saw? Saw-sword? Generally, this is any physical weapon that usually does not require any particular technology to function. Swords, spears, daggers, clubs – all they ultimately require is for someone to slash or smash another. While this category is broad in terms of what implements you might use, having a favored weapon is always nice for roleplaying purposes. Note that you can use this skill in place of most checks that require strength, indicating the physical fitness required to be skilled with these physical weapons.
♠Energy Melee Weapons
Generally, these weapons consist of plasma or lasers, often in the form of a handheld device. In the case of the former, magnetic fields hold the plasma in place, while in the latter, the length technically continues forever, but the inverse square law of light assures that it is only dangerous at about melee range – other than maybe acting like a laser pointer in the eyes. Due to lacking weight, they are very maneuverable, but they also generally do not stop matter from moving through them, so try to remember that parrying is probably off the table! It also means this will not count for strength tests, as anyone can carry these with ease.
♠Unarmed & Grappling
Hand-to-hand, or claw, or tentacle, or whatever – the martial arts continue to exist into the future, and for those looking to turn the body into a weapon, this would be the skill to master. While it can deal damage and count as a strength-testing skill, it also has an additional effect: grappling is a special system.
When you grapple an opponent, for every 10 points played, you can choose a card from the opponent’s hand at random. This is similar to damage, in that the card does not refresh and cannot be used; place it face down somewhere nearby. Should the grappled opponent reach 0 cards in the hand, they are pinned and can be tied up if there’s some rope or similar on hand. On their turn, grappled opponents usually must try to grapple with you to get their stolen cards back, using the same rules – should they recover all their cards, they are free of the grapple. They can also shoot you if they have a pistol or attack with a short melee weapon, so be careful! Speaking of being careful, if someone shoots a grappled target, they receive a -5 penalty to their play, representing the care they take in not hitting the other opponent. Also, if the grappler is injured while trying to hold a grapple, they can lose their grip, represented by returning stolen cards to the owner; the grappler can prevent this by expending 5 points of cards per card they’re trying to hold from their hand. For example, a grappler is shot for 5 damage – he must lose a card for his wounding, and then also play at least a 5 or higher to hold onto the card he’s stolen from his opponent. Should he get shot and run out of cards entirely due to wounds, the grapple also ends.
Ranged Weapons ♠
By far, the easiest and most common means of protecting one’s self is to be nowhere near an opponent and in a well-hidden nest plinking away at aggressive and dangerous enemies – not that this always happens, but ranged weapons are extremely common in Asteria. Most weapons fall under the following categories. Note that throwing weapons also include explosives such as grenades, as well as discus or dart-like weapons that are more low-tech.
Pistols are generally defined by their smaller size and caliber. While the latter might reduce damage compared to a rifle, in terms of game mechanics, the two would deal the same damage at the same level of skill; of course, the weapons themselves might modify this. Check the Equipment section later in this handbook for more information. They have, however, shorter range than rifles and usually can be concealed. Pistols can be ballistic or energy-based..
Rifle skill covers medium to large weapons, though the most common type of weapon in this category is a two-handed rifle, ballistic or energy. Some other weapons might also fall into this category, like rocket launchers. Be certain to check the weapon itself for additional rules or if you are uncertain if it falls under this skill or another.
Throwing weapons can be either physical (or energy) damage-based or explosives. In the case of the former, they usually function like all other weapon skills, except you probably aren’t getting it back after throwing it without retrieving it yourself, special tech notwithstanding. The later you are definitely not retrieving, as it is in pieces. With any luck, so is your enemy.
Technology is a massive category, but for the purposes of skills in Asteria, it refers to the electronic and the virtual. Almost no one, even Wizards, can escape running into it often. Whether it’s a simple wall panel to control a sliding door or an advance computer, sooner or later you’ll interact with Asteria’s tech
♣Every Day Tech (required)
Need to fiddle with a door panel in the middle of battle? Need to figure out the critical code to unlock the hacked and ready to explode terminal? Need to diagnose what’s wrong with the ship’s computer before you can even begin to fix it? You will play Every Day Tech in all these situations.
Two things you should keep in mind about this skill. First, this skill is a foundational keystone skill and must be kept at a higher level or equal to every other skill in this tree. Every Day Tech isn’t just use of that tech, but also the fundamental knowledge about how it works, and so you can’t very well repair or hack it without some idea of what it is you mean to do. The second thing to note is that this skill applies to tool use as well; for example, if you want to determine the composition of a rock, you’ll need a mass spectrometer tool. If unsure you have or need a tool to use with this skill, consult with your Guide.
(REQUIRED SKILL to proceed in this tree. No skill in “Technology” may be higher than this).
The darker side of technology is the convenience it brings – the social interconnectivity, the sharing of data and experiences, the storage of our more personal information and private thoughts – all for the taking if someone knows how. While white-hat hacking can be employed, such as protecting yourself against enemy hackers, finding loopholes in systems so the owners can block them, or blocking an enemy’s scan of your weapons systems, more often than not, this skill is employed in grey or even black-hat means: breaking through security doors without explosives, collecting that aforementioned data for later extortion, or leaving an ill gift on your rival’s login screen. Note you need, at minimum, hacking tools, and you might need additional pieces of tech to help hide you from detection or make your job easier.
Even in the future, nothing works, or at least won’t until it gets fixed. When tech breaks down, whether it’s trying to access a derelict and damaged ship, a door panel injured by blaster fire, or just the third time you’ve spilled coffee on your datapad, tech repair is your skill to use. Note: you may need tools to perform repair functions.
Basic understanding of nearly everything mechanical, including conventional and legacy power systems. (REQUIRED SKILL to proceed in this tree. No skill in “Mechanical” may be higher than this).
The ability to apply your understanding of mechanics to repair them back to operating condition. A mechanic must think fast on their feet (sometimes they don’t have hours to fix a door, motor, hinge or bulk head).
Weapons are second nature to you. Anything that doesn’t run on electricity you understand and are able to repair, including ship weaponry. “They are all the same, just bigger and smaller.”
Create or repair any object you’re already skilled in using miscellaneous materials/objects. This skill cannot exceed the skill level of the one you’re attempting to use. (Example: Mechanical Repair Elite and Jury Rig Elite would let you create a bulk head out of soda pop cans and a welder, with a little bit of time and effort. How long would it last? Hopefully long enough to get you by).
You’ve been to flight school. You’ve done the simulations. Allows regular flight of XS, S, M engine ships. (REQUIRED SKILL to proceed in this tree. No skill in “Piloting” may be higher than this *EXCEPT “Misc Piloting”).
You’ve had training on how to drive, fly or pilot everything that doesn’t traverse space. Ground vehicles, Atmosphere vehicles, Mechs and more. (Can exceed Piloting skill).
Nothing is too large, too big or too heavy to move through space in your hands. Unlocks large, XL and larger engines.
Unlocks multi-tasking while piloting any ship. Lock on, aim with the ship, fire, talk on the comms and pick your nose. (Task you want to accomplish must be within arm’s reach).
You’re a hot shot with something to prove. Simulations are no match for the real thing. Unlocks advanced maneuvers and dodging. The larger the ship, the less dodge ability it has. (Flea x3 dodge, fighter x2, small x1, medium x0.5, large x0.25, XL+ no bonus. Always round down).
Unlocks multi-tasking while piloting any ship. Lock on, aim with the ship, fire, talk on the comms and pick your nose. (Task you want to accomplish must be within arm’s reach).
Ship Crew Skills ♠♡♣
The first thing you should know about space is this: it’s big and there’s no air or gravity. You will need to play EVA when there is no gravity and/or air. (EVA technically means ExtraVehicular Activity. AKA, space walk. However in Asteria this skill is used if either air or gravity is missing from your character. You will need to play EVA to move and survive until both are restored.)
You understand turrets and leading targets. (Manually aim ship’s weapons. Also works on equipment like the “Magnet Harpoon”).
You’re the first responder when there’s an incident. Use one of your medical device’s charges and play this skill to recover 1 card for every 10 points played. (Use in combination with Hacking to play Gene Splicer. Use lower of the two skills. Large expensive equipment is also required.)
You understand everything that happens on the bridge, aside from the turrets and flight controls. You excel at Navigation and Communications and know where every button for ship controls are to turn power off or on to anything from the bridge.
You’ve learned how to hide, sneak, stow away and more.
Bad choices or bad circumstances have taught you to steal for profit or to survive, pickpocket, steal, plan heists, hot wire ground and atmosphere vehicles. Combine this with hacking to steal a non-running ship outright. Though if someone left the keys in it what do you need to hack for?
You’re agile, able to jump, climb and more.
You’re able to pick things out sooner and easier than others and can visualize where something should be or how to get there. (Ability to spot and find things along with tech-less navigation).
How well you carry yourself, how you’re viewed by others and your general interaction with people. Also helps you read another person’s intention. (REQUIRED SKILL to proceed in this tree. No skill in “Charisma” may be higher than this).
You bend the truth to the point where it’s lying. Though others might not pick up on it as the subtle hints you drop are less and less each time.
How easy it is for you to convince others to see it your way.