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All creatures and machines have abilities. Creature abilities are powers or the capacity to do or act physically and mentally within DSDN. It is also the measurement of your competence in an activity and it forms the basis of your skills, training, or other qualifications. Machine abilities are the capacity to do or act within the physical and technological limitations in which they are designed. It is the measurement of the machine's tolerance for certain activities. For creatures, there are 6 abilities: Agility, Charisma, Constitution, Intelligence, Strength, and Wisdom. For machines, there are 4 abilities: Hull, Engines, Reactor, and Systems. Click here to learn about machine abilities.

Only creatures have skills. Skills are based on ability and are acquired through deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to carry out activities involving ideas (Astronomy, Perception, Physics), things (Evasion, Investigation, Programming, Sleight of Hand, Stealth), and/or creatures (Biology, Deception, Diplomacy, Intimidation, Intuition, Performance, Sociology).


A proficiency is something you are really good at doing. With each archetype comes a set of proficiencies that you are able to use within the game. Just as you would in real life - as you gain experience you become more skilled - you gain increased proficiency as you increase in level. Proficiency, like most things in the game, is determined by a roll of the die. When a rule, or the Architect, allows you to add a proficiency bonus, you would roll the appropriate number of D4s based on your character level. When a character has expertise, the D4 is replaced with a D8. The chart below shows how proficiency is applied at each level.

Your archetype (Engineer, Mechanic, Physician, etc.) determines how quickly you gain proficiency or expertise. See each archetype to see your proficiency in skills, kits, weapons, and armor. Your archetype will also determine how frequently you gain new proficiencies in skills and kits.

Ability Score

Your ability score determines the degree to which your character can perform certain activities throughout the campaign, such as dodging a bullet, negotiating a peace treaty, or navigating the stars. Ability scores are determined when you initially create your character. Roll a D6 and subtract 2 for each ability and that number becomes your ability score. You can assign the values of each roll to the ability of your choice. In other words, you can roll 1D6 and subtract 2 six times (or roll 6D6 and subtract 2 from each die) to get six scores, and then assign the scores to the abilities that you wish. This allows you to place higher valued rolls in abilities in which you would want your character to have the best advantage. The highest your ability score can ever be is 10. Even if granted additional points to add to an ability score, no one ability can have a score greater than 10.


Ability scores also determine specialty points. The number of specialty points is equivalent to your ability score. The Mechanic, for example, primarily uses their Intelligence score to determine their specialty points. The higher the Intelligence ability score, the more specialty points your character will have to perform certain specialized actions that require it. Your archetype will also determine how often you will be able to increase your ability score. Continuing with the Mechanic example, when you reach 4th level, and again at 8th level, 13th level, and at 17th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 1. If you start your campaign with a 8th level character, you would roll 1D6-2 for all ability scores, then you would essentially get 2 additional points (1 at 4th level and 1 at 8th level), to apply to any ability score you wish. If your initial rolls gave you -1, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 3. You can increase any of those values with the additional 2 points by virtue of being an 8th level character. If your Intelligence score is 3, you may choose to put both points into Intelligence. You could, instead, put the 2 points in an ability that you are weakest, to ensure your character has the capability to face various challenges that your Architect may throw at you. You could also disperse the points over multiple abilities (ex: 1 point in Intelligence, and 1 point in Strength).


An ability check tests a creature's or machine's abilities or skills in an effort to overcome a challenge. The Architect may call for an ability check when a creature or machine attempts something, other than an attack, that has a chance of failure. For every ability check, the Architect decides which of the abilities is relevant to overcome the challenge and the difficulty of the challenge, represented by a challenge rating. The more difficult a task, the higher its CR. An ability check is also a check of a skill.

During the game, an engagement may require a check of the target of the engagement, there is a roll of 1D20 plus the applicable ability.  If a creature or machine engages a creature, then the engaging creature or machine must check their abilities against the defending creature. Both parties will roll 1D20 + the ability in question. Tie goes to the defense. For example, if you use Friendly Alliance, any creature that you can see within 30 feet of you must make a Charisma check against you. You and the opponent must roll 1D20 and then add your Charisma scores, plus any applicable bonuses or penalties, to get the final results. Since you are instigating the action, or engaging, the opponent must equal or beat your final score in order to succeed against you. If a machine or creature engages a machine, the defending machine's CR is already established (CR = 12 + ability score). The engaging machine or creature must beat the defending machine's CR. Machines do not roll to defend. Tie always goes to the defense.

If a creature or machine creates something, such as a trap or a device, that must be engaged in some way (overcome, opened, discovered, etc.), it would have a challenge rating. The challenge rating is determined by the creature or machine's ability (or abilities) used to create the object + 1D10. Let's say the final score is 17, then the CR is 17. This rating is permanent, and if the object is being engaged (opened, discovered, disassembled, etc.), it is on the defense, and any creature or machine that attempts to engage the object must beat the CR (18+) and not tie.


Abilities can cover a broad range of skills in which a character can be proficient. A skill represents a specific aspect of an ability score, and an individual's proficiency in a skill demonstrates a focus on that aspect. Apply the score for each ability to each skill attributable to that ability. The skills related to each ability score are shown in the following list:

Please note that Constitution and Strength abilities do not have a subset of skills associated with them.


Some archetypes come with proficiency in particular skills. During the course of a campaign, the Architect may request a player to make a specific skill check, such as a Biology check. When you have proficiency in a particular skill, you can add your proficiency bonus (see proficiency bonus chart above) after rolling the D20. If you have expertise in a particular skill, you are able to roll the D20 and roll a D8 and combine the results for the final value of the check.


The Architect may combine skill checks for a particular task, such as healing a space creature you’ve studied prior. In such an example, the Architect might have you do an Investigation check to see if you can determine what's wrong with the creature and then a Biology check to see if you can apply your knowledge to heal it.

Using Abilities and Skills


Agility is your ability to be quick and nimble. It measures how well you execute certain maneuvers that need fast and precise actions, such as firing a gun, pickpocketing, or maintaining your balance. Add this score to all of your engagement rolls.

  • Evasion: A skill used to avoid danger. If you want to dodge a bullet or a sword, or be the first to react in a situation, you would use this skill. When the Architect calls for you to roll for Initiative, add your Evasion score to the roll.

  • Sleight of Hand: A skill used to deceive, distract, or steal. If you want to place an item somewhere, take an item from a place or creature, or conceal an item in your possession, all without anyone noticing, you would use this skill.

  • Stealth:  A skill used to avoid detection. If you want to hide or move without being seen or heard, you would use this skill.​​


Charisma is your ability to interact effectively with others. It is a measurement of your personality, and it determines how people perceive you and how well you influence others. Charismatic players can be deceptive, intimidating, charming, or even theatrical.

  • Deception: A skill used to determine how well you can lie, mislead, or hide the truth, verbally or through your actions. If you want to gamble, con, give a false sense of security, fool others while in a disguise, dull someone's suspicions with false assurances, or maintain a straight face while telling a blatant lie, you would use this skill.

  • Intimidation: A skill used to determine how well you can influence someone through overt threats, hostile actions, or physical violence. If you want to torture someone for information or threaten them into committing an action, you would use this skill.

  • Performance:  A skill used to determine how well you can entertain an audience with music, dance, acting, storytelling, or some other form of entertainment. It can also be used to determine how convincing you are when pretending to be something or someone else.​


Constitution is your ability to endure strenuous situations. It is a measurement of your physical and mental endurance, and your resistance to sickness. The Architect might determine your ability to hold your breath, go without food, water, or rest, or resist poison based on your Constitution score or a roll of the die.​

Intelligence is your ability to learn, understand, recall information, and reason or deduce.

  • Astronomy: A check that determines your ability to recall knowledge about celestial objects and interstellar phenomena and how they behave. If you are attempting to recall or know information about planets, stars, nebulae, or even their historical significance, you would use this skill. You would also use this skill when attempting celestial navigation, conducting astrometry, or developing calendars or clocks.​

  • Biology: A check that determines your ability to recall knowledge about living organisms. This skill helps you to identify health related issues, develop life saving cures, and recall knowledge about the physiology of different species. If you are looking to develop medicine from strange plants, perform surgery on an endangered species, or determine if a patient is suffering from internal bleeding, you would use this skill.​


  • Investigation: A skill that determines your ability to find items or information when actively looking, and deduce based on your findings or observations. Investigation checks can be used to find hidden objects in a room, coded messages, or the flaws in the hull of a transport ship. If you are attempting to track down someone or something through a forest, you would use this skill and look for clues to determine such information as their size, direction, and even their type of clothing.​


  • Physics: A check that determines your ability to recall knowledge about matter and energy and how it all behaves. If you are attempting to determine how much you know about reactors, predict weather patterns of a planet, or even develop weapons, you would use this skill.


  • Programming: A skill that determines your ability to use computerized devices or manipulate computer code. If you are attempting to access a computer mainframe, remotely hack a mech, or develop software, you would use this skill.


  • Sociology: A check that determines your ability to recall information regarding cultural norms, religious practices, and historical references. This is a broad skill that determines how much you know about mythos, rites and prayers, holy symbols, the practices of secret cults, cultural etiquette, historical events, legendary people, ancient kingdoms, recent wars, lost civilizations, local foods, customs, and forms of entertainment. If you are attempting to decipher religious texts, prepare local dishes, or delight ambassadors, you would use this skill.​​​

Strength is your ability to exert your natural physical force in order to break, lift, pull, or push yourself, others, or objects. Such activities where strength would be needed include jumping, weight lifting, holding on to something, grappling, wrestling, or fist fighting. It is also used when using any melee weapon. You are to add this to all melee damage rolls, most conventional ranged weapon damage rolls, and none of the ranged energy weapons.

Wisdom is your ability to perceive and to be attuned to the natural world and to others.

  • Diplomacy: A skill that determines how well you are able to manage relationships. This skill determines your ability to negotiate with and mediate between individuals. It also determines how well you are able to employ tact, emotional intelligence, and empathy in a situation. If you are attempting to end a conflict, settle a trade dispute, or build coalitions, you would use this skill.​


  • Intuition: A skill that helps you to determine the true intentions of a creature or understand someone or something just by reading body language, speech habits, changes in mannerisms, or the very vibrations or energies in the environment. If you are attempting to know if someone is being honest, determine someone’s next move, or determine what to do next based on the situation, you would use this skill.​


  • Perception: A skill that allows you to see, hear, or otherwise detect the presence of something without actively looking for it. It determines your general awareness of your surroundings and measures the keenness of your senses. If you want to spot someone or something moving stealthily around you in a dense forest, eavesdrop on two senators through a closed door, or feel the wind of a vehicle rushing past you, you would use this skill.

Ability Score
Using Abilities & Skills
Sleight of Hand
Ability Checks
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