Information in Swan Song comes cheaper than dayold soykaf. Ubiquitous ECHOnet access means every scrap of paydata about everyone and everything is only a datajack away. So if you want to be good, you can’t just know stuff—you have to do stuff. Turning information into action is what having a skill is all about.   Skills represent the broad application of information and techniques in a given subject. In Swan Song, skills allow you to act physically, socially, technically, and so on. The way each character applies a skill can be as varied as clothing styles. Because skills are so broadly defined, players have the freedom to determine the specific learned behaviors and training their characters will accumulate over time. This type of narrow focus is known as a specialization.


Skills are the abilities that you learn over time. They’re grouped into three broad categories: Active, Knowledge, and Language skills.   The first category governs what you do, the second what you know, and the third how you communicate with the world. During Character Creation, you determine your character’s initial skills in all three categories. After play begins, you can improve your skills or add more by spending the XP you earn by crossrunning (see Character Progression).   Skill ranks are independent of attributes, but they don’t work alone. The most common dice pools that you roll when you take actions comprise one skill and one attribute. You can study until you know every aspect of Biotics, but if you don’t have the raw biotic ability (as measured by your attribute) to apply it, you won’t be as powerful as you could be. While a skill isn’t always paired with a single attribute, each skill has a linked attribute to which the skill is most closely related.   This doesn’t mean you’ll always roll a skill with its linked attribute, but you’ll see the two together a lot. A list of linked attributes and their skills appears later on in this article.


Active skills are used to take action and affect the world. These range from combat skills used by Crossers to stay alive in the sprawl to the social skills used to make sure they get paid when the run is over.

Active Skill Table

AthleticsFree-FallAcrobaticsCatchAstrogationArtisan / CraftCompiling (m)Animal Handling
Clubs (c)ResilienceArchery (c)Pilot (Space)ArmorerDisguiseDisciplineCharm
RunningAutomatics (c)Pilot (Ground)ChemistryGamblingInvocation (b)Deception
SwimmingBlades (c)Pilot (Air)Computer (m)InsightSurvivalEtiquette
Unarmed Combat (c)Escape ArtistPilot (Water)Cybercombat (m)InvestigationImpersonation
Exotic Melee (c)CybertechnologyLanguageIntimidation
Exotic Ranged (c)DemolitionsNavigationLeadership
Gunnery (c)ElectronicsPerceptionNegotiation
Heavy Weapons (c)First AidStreetwisePerformance
Longarms (c)Hacking (m)
Pistols (c)Hardware (m)
Throwing (c)Medicine
Software (m)
  • (c): Combat Skill
  • (b): Biotic Skill
  • (m): Matrix Skill


Knowledge skills represent everything a character knows and understands about a given subject. Your character begins the game with free Knowledge skills points based on your character’s Logic and Intuition attributes. Knowledge skills help define who your character is, but they also can be used to influence legwork and roleplay. The knowledge a character gains over the course of a life in the shadows often influences how valuable they are or how well known they are to people.   There are four basic types of Knowledge skills in Swan Song: Academic, Interests, Professional, and Street. Unless otherwise noted, Knowledge skills are linked to either Logic or Intuition.

Knowledge Skill Table

Academic (Logic) Professional (Logic) Street (Intuition) Interests (Intuition)
BioWare Architecture Corporations Drugs
CyberWare Business Police ECHOnet
History Engineering Security Systems Fashion
Outer Space Matrix Shadows Games
Politics Military Street Gangs Music
Xenology Finances Weapons Manufacturers Sports
Core Worlds Warfare Armory
  These are just the most common knowledge skills in Swan Song. In theory every broader field of knowledge could have its own skill. The gamemaster decides what knowledge type other knowledge skills belong to.  


Language skills represent the languages in which the characters can speak, read, and write. The higher a character’s rating, the more fluent he is at these tasks. You can buy Language skills at the start of the game by using points from your Knowledge skill freebies.



The higher your skill rank, the better you are with that skill. Someone without the Pistols skill has watched enough tutorials videos to understand that you point the weapon away from yourself and pull the trigger, but that doesn’t make them as good as a character with even an introductory skill level who has a decent firing stance and knows enough to check the safety before firing. The skill rank is a numerical value ranging from 1, representing the most rudimentary skill, to 12 representing the height of sentient achievement.   When you see them written, the skill rating comes immediately after the name of the skill. Rank 5 in Hacking is written as “Hacking 5” on the character sheet and in other game materials. A skill’s rank adds to the number of dice you use to perform the action with the skill. The rules will call for the skill and an attribute to go along with it—just add the ranks together and pick up that many dice. For example, hitting a Halloweener over the head with a metal pipe calls for Clubs + Agility—if your Agility is 3 and your Clubs skill is 4, you get 7 dice for the attack.
This is a list of what the skill Ratings mean, so that you can get beyond the numbers and see where your character falls in the general scheme of things.  


This is something other than having no ranks in a skill—this is a special level of ignorance. You haven’t the first clue about this skill. This level can only be achieved through Qualities like the Incompetent negative quality), or maybe a character history explaining the deficiency. You can’t default the skill, and it never really occurs to you to even use it to solve your problems.  


The default level of knowledge obtained through interaction with society and the Matrix. Though untrained, you have a general awareness of the skill, and occasionally may even be able to fake it.  


You have a little training about how it works, but not always why it works.  


You’re a hobbyist, but not an enthusiast.  


You’re skilled at basic operations but struggle with complex operations and “tricks.”  


You’re comfortable with what you do and perform well under normal pressures. Professional level for most jobs.


You know how to handle yourself in unfamiliar situations, and can get creative when solving problems.  


You could easily sell your skills on the open market. This is the maximum skill level for starting player characters.  


You’ve seen a lot of what the skill can do, and what it can’t. Other people ask you how to do it.  


You are a highly sought-after talent. Corporations seek you out (or extract you from other corporations).  


Your name is synonymous with the skill. If you have multiple skills at this level, you’re lauded as exceptionally gifted.  


You are famous, even among the very best in your field.  


You are a paragon to those trying to excel at your skill. Techniques are named after you.  


You have reached the pinnacle of mortal achievement. This expertise represents the top 0.00001% of all practitioners in known history. The very highest rating, 13, can only be reached with the Aptitude Quality.


If you devote extra time to a subset of a skill, it’s called a specialization. If your character has the Acrobatics skill but spends a lot of time practicing parkour, you get a character that is good at Acrobatics but especially good at jumping over obstacles.   A specialization adds a +2 dice pool modifier to any test made for that skill when the specialization logically comes into play (the GM has the final say whether a specialization applies or not). You write the specialization in parentheses right after the skill. A specialization can be further developed to become an Expertise. Expertise works similar to a specialization but grants a +3 dice pool modifier to relevant tests and also frees up the specialization slot again. This means characters can have one specialization and one expertise within the same skill, but only one applies at a time. For example, a character with the Blades skill who specializes in Swords and  with expertise in Parrying would only receive a +3 dice bonus to tests when parrying with a sword.   New characters may only take one specialization per skill at Character Creation, but you can buy more later. If you want a specialization in a skill, you have to have it first (meaning a Rating of at least 1). The most common specializations for each skill are listed in the skill's description.


It is impossible to prepare for every scenario and only slightly harder to have every skill. When you perform an action without actually having the skill for the test, there’s still hope. You can default the skill, making the test using only the attribute to form the dice pool.   You don’t have any tremendous talent when you default - quite the opposite in fact. Defaulting imposes a –1 dice pool modifier in addition to any other modifiers the situation demands. Unless the gamemaster feels that you’re at a complete loss when defaulting, you can use Karma to Push the Limit and better your chances.   Some skills are too technically demanding for you to default. In these cases, you don’t get to even try the test; you just fail. Pilot Ground Craft or Unarmed Combat, for example, are relatively simple skills that can be attempted without formal training, so you can default if you need to. Aeronautics Mechanic, on the other hand, is too complicated to try without some training (you could say it’s rocket science). Skills that cannot be defaulted are marked in the Skill List below - and it’s also mentioned in the skill description.


You don’t always have to default a skill when you don’t have it. Sometimes your gamemaster might allow you to use a different skill, probably with a dice pool penalty.   For example, if you’re trying to use makeup to disguise your face, and you don’t have a Disguise skill, the gamemaster could let you use your Artisan skill with (say) a –3 dice pool penalty.   You can always do this swapping trick to use an Active skill in place of a Knowledge skill (like using your Pistols skill at a penalty to see if you know where the closest Ares Predator V manufacturer is), but never vice versa. Knowing the history and mechanics of the modern pistol doesn’t make you a better shot.

Skill Descriptions

Combat Skills

When the punching and the kicking and the shooting starts, these are the skills you use. All Combat skills are linked to either Strength or Agility unless otherwise noted. For more on how skills are used in combat, refer to Combat.


Archery is used to fire string-loaded projectile weapons. An archer is familiar with many different styles of bow and the multitude of arrows that can be used to maximum effect.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Bow, Crossbow, Special Ammunition, Slingshot


The Automatics skill covers a specific subset of firearms larger than handheld pistols but smaller than rifles. This category includes submachine guns and other fully automatic carbines.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Assault Rifles, Cyber-Implant, Machine Pistols, Submachine Guns


Slice and dice! The Blades skill includes the use of all handheld slashing and stabbing weapons. You can use a range of edged weapons including daggers, swords, and axes.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Axes, Knives, Swords, Parrying


Clubs governs the use of all hand-held bludgeoning instruments. With this skill you can turn any blunt item, be it a baseball bat, crutch, or mace, into a weapon.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Batons, Hammers, Saps, Staves, Parrying


Gunnery is used when firing any vehicle-mounted weapon, regardless of how or where the weapon is mounted. This skill extends to manual and sensor-enhanced gunnery.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Artillery, Ballistic, Energy, Guided Missile, Rocket

Heavy Weapons

The term heavy weapon is designated for all projectile weaponry larger than an assault rifle, such as grenade launchers, machine guns, and assault cannons. This skill is exclusive to handheld and non-vehicle-mounted weaponry—if you’ve got a gun mounted on or in a vehicle, use Gunnery.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Assault Cannons, Grenade Launchers, Guided Missiles, Machine Guns, Rocket Launchers


The Longarms skill is for firing extended-barrel weapons such as sporting rifles and sniper rifles. This grouping also includes weapons like shotguns that are designed to be braced against the shoulder.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Extended-Range Shots, Long-Range Shots, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles


This skill category includes all types of handheld pistols, including tasers, single-shots, semi-automatics, and revolvers.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Holdouts, Revolvers, Semi-Automatics, Tasers

Throwing Weapons

Throwing Weapons is a broad-based attack skill that can be used for any handheld item that is thrown by the user as a weapon.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Aerodynamic, Blades, Non-Aerodynamic

Unarmed Combat

Unarmed Combat covers the various self-defense and attack moves that employ the body as a primary weapon. This includes a wide array of martial arts along with the use of cybernetic implant weaponry and the fighting styles that sprung up around those implants.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Blocking, Cyber Implants, Subduing Combat, or by specific Martial Art

Physical Skills

These skills are all about actions you take with your body (besides things covered in Combat skills).


Acrobatics measures your balance, general agility, and all-around ability to use your body.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Balance, Dance, Parkour, Rolling


Athletics measures your endurance, general fitness, and ability to use your body's strength.   When trying to jum, make a strength + athletics test. For every hit you get on this test, you jump 1 meter on a standing jump or 2 meters for a running leap. No matter how many hits you get, you can’t jump farther than your Strength x 1.5 meters (net hits beyond this mean you did it with style).   For a vertical jump, it’s the same test, but you get half a meter of altitude per hit and the maximum you can jump is 1.5 times your height.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Climbing, Grappling, Leaping


Catch is the characters ability to quickly react and catch thrown or flying objects out of the air. Either with his hands, arms, legs, mouth or other suitable part of his body.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Pass, Projectiles, Throwback


Disguise covers all forms of masking your identity, including makeup and enhancement.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Camouflage, Cosmetic, Costumes, ECHOnet & Video

Escape Artist

Escape Artist measures the character’s ability to escape from bindings by using body contortion and manual dexterity.   In Swan Song, you might just find yourself caught instead of killed. Escape Artist provides a chance to escape from most forms of confinement, including ropes, handcuffs, and other bindings. The gamemaster may decide that some restraints are too difficult to escape from without outside help.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: By restraint (Cuffs, Ropes, Zip Ties, etc.), Contortionism


This skill covers any jump from height, including leaps from a third-floor window to jumps from a plane at high altitude. If it involves any kind of attempt to slow or control your fall, this covers it, so it includes skydiving with a parachute, flying a wingsuit, or descending on a line, bungee cord, or zipline.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: BASE Jumping, Break-Fall, Bungee, HALO, Low Altitude, Parachute, Static Line, Wingsuit, Zipline


Investigation is the act of properly examining a location or object with the clear intend to find something or gather new information on it.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Searching, Taste, Touch, Visual


The Invocation skill permits the character to use element zero to channel his psychic pwower into effects known as biotic powers. See Biotics.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: By power type (Combat Powers, Detection Powers, etc.)


While memory itself might not be an actual skill, it can be trained. When a character tries to remember some information, there are several techniques to achieve this. Memory represents your characters ability to reliably recall details. This shouldn't be used for things a character would definitely know, but for things they might have forgotten or very specific details.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: None
The memory skill can be used when a player does not remember something, but his character might.   Glitches can have a devastating effect on memory. A glitch means the character misremembers some portion of the information, such as order of numbers in a passcode. A critical glitch means the character has completely fooled himself into believing and thus remembering something that never actually happened.


Perception refers to the ability to spot anomalies in everyday situations, making it one of the key skills a Crosser needs.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Hearing, Scent, View


This skill determines the ability for the body of a character to handle over-extension, sleep deprivation and hazardous environments including poisons.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Climate, Dehydration, Diseases, Hold Breath, Malnutrition, Sleep Deprivation, Toxins


Running, as you may guess, is about how much ground you can cover quickly.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Distance, Sprinting, by terrain (Desert, Urban, Wilderness, etc.)


Need to get where you’re not supposed to be? This skill allows you to remain inconspicuous in various situations.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Sneaking, Legerdemain, Pickpocket, Pilfering


This skill is a character's experience living and working through the underworld. It helps them find what they are looking for in the streets of a corporate city as well as the slums of the shadows.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Corporate, Merchants, Metropolis, Outskirts, Services, Shadows


In the desert with nothing more than a tin cup, a poncho, and an iron rod? You’ll need this skill to help you get out alive. Survival is the ability to stay alive in extreme environmental conditions for extended periods of time. The skill governs a character’s ability to perform vital outdoor tasks such as start a fire, build a shelter, scrounge for food, etc. in hostile environments.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Desert, Forest, Jungle, Mountain, Polar, Urban, or other terrain


This skill determines the character’s ability to swim in various bodies of water. The skill level affects the distance and speed at which a character can swim.   Swimming is a Complex Action. A swimming character can move a number of meters in a Combat Turn equal to the average of their Agility and Strength. You can take a Simple Action to “sprint” with a Swimming + Strength [Physical] Test, adding 1 meter per hit, or 2 meters per hit if you’re a large species. Swimming on the surface of water or under it does not affect this rate of speed. As with the Running skill, swimmers suffer from fatigue after an extended time.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Dash, Long Distance


This skill confers the ability to detect the passage of humanoids and other game through terrain and use those clues to follow that individual. This skill also allows you to identify unmarked trails and common game paths is various environments.   Tracking a person or critter requires a Tracking + Intuition [Mental] Test with a threshold based on the terrain (decided by the gamemaster). If the target is actively obscuring their trail, tracking is handled as an Opposed Test. The tracker rolls Tracking + Intuition [Mental] against the target’s Stealth + Agility [Physical]. Any net successes on a Tracking Test can be used to gain additional information about the trail, such as the number of people using the trail, type of critters recently using it, and how old the tracks are.   In urban tracking, additional hits can be used to identify local crowd movement patterns, relevant cameras, and AR clues that reveal where the target was heading and how long ago it passed by. The gamemaster may choose to apply modifiers for conditions such as weather, age of the tracks, the amount of people who’ve trampled the trail, and so on. Individuals using a tracking dog or other tracking critter may use Animal Handling as a Teamwork Test for their animal’s Tracking Test.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Desert, Forest, Jungle, Mountain, Polar, Urban, another terrain type

Social Skills

Dice rarely need to get involved when characters need to solve problems between one another. Dealing with NPCs isn’t always so easy. Social skills give characters the ability to problem-solve without expending bullets or biotic energy. These skills tend to be linked to the Charisma attribute.   Social skills are intended to be used to complement good role-playing, not replace it. The Social Test should come either at the end of a well-role-played scene to wrap it up, or in place of a social situation that would be less interesting to actually play through to get through it quickly. The gamemaster can provide modifiers on this test based on how well you make your point, or how much bullshit you’re able to pile up without flinching.   At the core of Swan Song is the idea that the characters are outsiders trying to survive in the shadow of the old boys’ network of corporate suits, wilderness bandits, government interests, wageslaves, street gangs, etc. These kinds of people know who belongs and how to deal with one another. Social skills are your ticket into these social networks. They start when you walk into the room and continue as you interact with other people.
General Modifiers Dice Modifier
The NPC’s attitude toward the character is:
Friendly +2
Neutral +0
Suspicious -1
Prejudiced -2
Hostile -3
Enemy -4
Character’s desired result is:
Advantageous to NPC +1
Of no value to NPC +0
Annoying to NPC -1
Harmful to NPC -3
Disastrous to NPC -4
Character has (known) street reputation +Street Cred
Subject has (known) street reputation -Street Cred
Subject has “ace in the hole” +2 (Target)
Subject has romantic attraction to character +2

Bigotry in the Universe of Swan Song

Even after threa centuries of living with various aline Species, prejudice is still a factor in social situations.   Social, cultural, and racial differences have defined how we act toward one another for all of history. As the world shot into the outer space, the “us vs. them” dichotomy burst into bright contrast with the contact to actual alien species. While this has reduced human racism for culture and color, it is stronger than ever when it comes to racism against other Species (and not just coming from humans, but all species).   The human's pre-space prejudices against each other are still not dead, either, just slightly puckered and faded in the presence of a batch of new “others.”
Anyone can be swayed, given the right place, right time, and right conditions. Social modifiers represent the conditions that affect your interaction with NPCs. Smells, crowd noise, attire, distractions, and even an NPC’s state of mind can play a factor in the interaction.   For example, you’d be hard pressed to convince Mr. Johnson of your professionalism if you show up to the meet in ripped jeans and a blood-spattered longcoat, and that would make your chances of negotiating a better fee for the run kinda harsh. The gamemaster should assess each social situation and apply modifiers as he feels appropriate. Unless otherwise noted, Opposed Test modifiers affect one character or the other. A few modifiers affect both characters.   Most of the Social skills are used to influence people. The specific test to make is based on the skill you’re using. When you’re trying to influence a crowd, the gamemaster will use the leader of that crowd to oppose you, even if you’re not addressing the leader directly. The leader has an “ace in the hole” for this test—the crowd is on his side—so he gets a +2 dice pool bonus. He also gets a limit bonus equal to the number of people backing his side of the Social skill test.


Charm is the ability to gain someones attention or getting them to like you or even do things for you through connecting, looks, speech, or seduction.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Friendship, Seduction
Charm Modifiers Dice Modifier
Character is wearing revealing clothes +1
Subject is physically attracted to the character -1 (Target)
Subject is romantically attracted to the character -2 (Target)


Deception governs the ability to manipulate or fool an NPC during a social encounter. This skill covers a range of confidence games as well as the principles behind those cons.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Con, Fast Talk
Deception Modifiers Dice Modifier
Character has plausible-seeming evidence +1 / +2
Subject has time to evaluate situation -1
Subject is distracted +1


This skill is a character's ability to maintain their composure when faced with a surprising force. It is used to protect against the effects of Charm, Leadership, Intimidation and Deception. It also helps to resist mind-altering effects.   Some situations are tough to deal with, even for hardened professionals like Crossers. When a character is faced with an emotionally overwhelming situation there are only two choices. Stay and fight or turn into a quivering lump of goo. To find out which one happens, make a Willpower + Discipline Test, with a threshold based on the severity of the situation.Take note that repeating similar situations over and again eventually eliminates the need to perform this test. Staring down a group of well-armed gangers will be scary at first, but after a character does it a few times the fear gives way to instinct.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Resist by Type (Horror, Psychic Power, Stress, Temptation)


Etiquette represents the level of understanding and awareness of proper social rituals. The skill works as a sort of social version of Stealth, allowing you to move unimpeded through various social situations. Etiquette also serves as a social safety net in case a player botches a social situation in a way a skilled character would not.   Etiquette is about blending into the social fabric. Skilled characters can move through a social situation without anyone realizing that they don’t belong. It’s more than knowing the right mores (you could look those up on the ECHOnet), it’s about trained instinct. You can use Etiquette to ease suspicions, so that people might trust you more than they would an outsider
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: By culture or subculture (Corporate, High Society, Media, Mercenary, Street, etc.)
Etiquette Modifiers Dice Modifier
Character is wearing the wrong attire or doesn’t have the right look -2
Character is obviously nervous, agitated, or frenzied -2
Subject is distracted -1 (Target)


Impersonation is the ability to assume the identity of another person, including voice and physical mannerisms. The skill is limited by the physical abilities of the character. A Grond might be able to impersonate a Korrug over a commlink, but the illusion shatters when he is face to face with his target.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: By species type


A character's insight is his ability to judge the intensions of others, express empathy, feel into them and learn about what might be going on behind their facade.   Reading another person is also a matter of instinct. A character can use their instincts to guess at the intentions of another person or to gauge how much they can trust someone. Make an Opposed Intuition + Insight Test against the target’s Willpower + Discipline or Willpower + Deception if they are trying to hide their intentions. This is not an exact science. A successful test doesn’t mean the target will never betray you (intentions have been known to change), and deceptive characters can gain another’s confidence easily. This primarily serves as a benchmark or gut instinct about how much you can trust the person you are dealing with.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Detect Lies, Just Character, Judge Emotions, Judge Intensions


Intimidation is about creating the impression that you are more menacing than another person in order to get them to do what you want. The skill may be applied multiple ways, from negotiation to interrogation. Intimidation is an Opposed Intimidation + Charisma [Social] Test against the target’s Charisma + Willpower, modified by the appropriate entries on the Social Modifiers Table.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Interrogation, Mental, Physical, Torture
Intimidation Modifiers Dice Modifier
Character is physically imposing +1 / +2 / +3
Subject is physically imposing -1 / -2 / -3
Characters outnumber the subject(s) +2
Subjects outnumber the character(s) -2
Character wielding weapon or obvious biotics +2
Subject wielding weapon or obvious biotics -2
Character is causing (or has caused) subject physical pain (torture) +2
Subject is oblivious to danger or doesn’t think character “would try something so stupid” +2 (Target)


Leadership is the ability to direct and motivate others. It’s like Deception, except rather than using con you’re using a position of authority. This skill is especially helpful in situations where the will of a teammate is shaken or someone is being asked to do something uncomfortable. The Leadership skill is not meant to replace or make up for poor teamwork.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Command, Direct, Inspire, Rally
The Leadership skill is about coaxing, convincing, threatening, or challenging your subordinates, or getting people to accept you as a superior. If you lead people who accept you as their (lone) superior, even temporarily, you can take a Complex Action to make a Simple Leadership + Charisma [Social] Test. How this helps depends on what you choose to do.
  • Command: The target resists with a Willpower + Discipline [Mental] test. For every net hit you get, the target accepts you as their leader for 1 Combat Turn. This doesn’t work if you’ve failed on this target before.
  • Direct: Your hits act as a Teamwork Test for one subordinate’s skill or Discipline Test that they perform on or before their next Action Phase.
  • Inspire: Your hits act as a Teamwork Test for your subordinates’ Surprise Test for the rest of the Combat Turn.
  • Rally: Your subordinates add 1 to their Initiative Score for every 2 hits you get.
Leadership Modifiers Dice Modifier
Character has superior rank +1 / +2 / +3
Subject has superior rank -1 / -2 / -3
Character is an obvious authority figure +1
Character not part of subject’s social strata -1 / -2 / -3
Subject is a fan or devoted to character +2


Negotiation governs a character’s ability to apply their charisma, tactics, and knowledge of situational psychology in order to create a better position when making deals.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Bargaining, Contracts, Diplomacy, Persuasion
Negotiation Modifiers Dice Modifier
Character lacks background knowledge of situation -2
Character has blackmailed material or heavy bargaining chip +2


This skill governs the ability to execute a performing art. Performance is to the arts what Artisan is to craft. The performer uses her skill to entertain or even captivate an audience
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: By performance art (Presentation, Acting, Comedy, specific Musical Instrument, etc.)

Technical Skills

Technical skills are called upon when you operate or fix something. Technical skills link to a variety of attributes.

Animal Handling

This skill governs the training, care, riding (if they’re big enough), and control of non-sentient animals. Competent trainers have the ability to handle multiple animals. It is even possible to approach an untrained animal and get it to trust you, or at least not eat you.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: By animal (Cat, Bird, Hell Hound, Horse, Dolphin, etc.), Herding, Riding, Training


This skill includes several different forms of artistic impression as well as the handcrafting of fine objects that would otherwise be produced on an assembly line. The world’s top artists and crafters are considered artisans.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: By discipline (Cooking, Sculpting, Drawing, Carpentry, etc.)


Astrogation governs the use of technology and glaxy maps to navigate through space. This skill enables characters to read maps, use GPS devices, follow AR nav points. This skill does not enable you to navigate on a planet's surface (see Navigation).
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: Augmented Reality Markers, Galaxy Maps, Planets, Star Systems, Hyperspace Routes


Chemistry permits the character to create chemical reactions and develop chemical compounds ranging from drugs, to perfumes, to biopolymers like NuSkin.   Chemistry can also be used to analyze chemical compounds to determine what they are.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: Analytical, Biochemistry, Drugs, Inorganic, Organic, Toxins


Computer is the base skill for interacting with the Matrix. It represents the ability to use computers and other Matrix-connected devices. The Computer skill focuses on understanding multiple operating systems. It does not allow the character to exploit code (Hacking).
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: By action (Edit File, Use Device, ECHOnet Search, etc.)


Cybertechnology is the ability to create, maintain, and repair cybernetic parts. A character with the proper tools and parts may repair or even build new cybernetics.   Cybertechnology is not a surgical skill. Characters cannot attach or re-attach cybernetics to organic material with this skill. This skill may be used to modify or upgrade cybernetics within cyberlimbs.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: Bodyware, Cyberlimbs, Headware, Repair


Demolitions is used to prepare, plant, detonate, and often defuse chemical-based explosives.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Commercial Explosives, Defusing, Improvised Explosives, Plastic Explosives


Electronics governs the use, repair, hot-wiring, bypassing, wiring or connecting of electronic devices, circuits and systems.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: Circuits, Hote-Wire, Repair, Electric Signals

First Aid

First Aid is the ability to provide emergency medical assistance similar to that of a paramedic. This skill may be used to stabilize wounds and prevent characters from dying. First Aid cannot be used to perform surgery or repair damaged implants. It can also not be used on Armored Health Pools.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: By treatment (Gunshot Wounds, Resuscitation, Broken Bones, Burns, etc.)


Forgery is used to produce counterfeit items or alter existing items to a specific purpose. Depending on the type of forgery, the forger may need specific tools or schematics to complete the task.   Talented forgers can simulate anything from a signature to a credstick to the Mona Lisa. The skill is most often used for doctoring hardcopy IDs, signatures, and official paperwork, but it can be used to fabricate anything you can imagine and your skill level can handle.   Data-based forgeries, like credsticks, documents, and SINs, don’t really hold up well to scrutiny, what with information being so readily available. They can appear almost identical to the original, but any attempt to get it to act like the original (transfer NuCred, pass a SIN check, etc.) reveals the forgery.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Counterfeiting, Credstick Forgery, Fake ID, Image Doctoring, Paper Forgery


Hacking is used to discover and exploit security flaws in computers and other matrix-connected electronics.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: Devices, Files, Hosts, Personas


This skill covers building, repairing, and opening mechanical and electronic locks. While largely banished to antiquity, traditional mechanical locking mechanisms are still in use around the globe, often as throwbacks or backups. Electronic locks are far more common and quite susceptible to your ministrations.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: By type (Combination, Keypad, Maglock, Tumbler, Voice Recognition, etc.)


The Mechanic skill allows you to repair, maintain or build mechanical objects with the proper tools. It allows you to perform maintenance on robots and Armored Health pools. This skill is used in place of Medicine when treating Armored Health Pools.   There are many different types of mechanics and most specialize in certain fields. Armorers are tasked with building, and maintaining armors of all kinds, and ro repair damaged hulls of robots. An industrial mechanic is tasked with repairing or modifying large-scale machines, such as assembly line equipment, power generators, HVAC units, industrial robots, etc. Automotive mechanics are tasked with fixing all types of ground-based vehicles ranging from commercial automobiles to wheeled drones to tanks. Aeronautics mechanics have the ability to repair a variety of aerospace vehicles, provided the proper tools and parts are available.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: Aircrafts, Armors, Groundcrafts, Machinery, Robots, Spacecrafts, Watercrafts


Medicine is used to perform advanced medical procedures such as surgeries. It includes long-term medical support for disease and illness, and the skill can be used to diagnose a character’s medical condition.   This skill is used to implant or remove cybernetics and BioWare but cannot be used to repair or maintain implanted devices. It can not be used to treat Armored Health Pools (see Mechanics).
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: Cosmetic Surgery, Extended Care, Implant Surgery, Magical Health, Organ Culture, Trauma Surgery


Navigation governs the use of technology and natural instinct to navigate through territory. This skill enables characters to read maps, use GPS devices, follow AR nav points, or follow a course by landmarks or general direction sense. Navigation applies to both AR and non-AR-enhanced planetary environments. This skill does not enable you to navigate through space (see Astrogation).
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Augmented Reality Markers, Celestial Bodies, Compass, Maps, GPS

Pilot (Air)

This skill is used to pilot any manned or unmanned aircraft operating solely within planetary atmosphere.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: Fixed-Wing, Lighter-Than-Air, Remote Operation, Rotary Wing, Tilt Wing, Vectored Thrust

Pilot (Ground)

This skill is used to pilot any ground-based vehicle, including legged vehicles. This skill applies whether the pilot is in the vehicle or controlling the vehicle via remote access.
  • Default-able: Yes
  • Specializations: Bike, Hovercraft, Remote Operation, Tracked, Wheeled, Biped, Multiped, Quadruped

Pilot (Space)

(Aero-)Space vehicles include all reduced- and zero-gravity spacecrafts capable of suborbital, orbital or intergalatic flight.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: Deep Space, Launch Craft, Remote Operation, Suborbital

Pilot (Water)

This skill is used to pilot any waterborne vehicle, whether from inside it or by remote control.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: Hydrofoil, Motorboat, Remote Operation, Sail, Ship, Submarine

Knowledge Skills

Knowledge skills fall into four categories: Street, Academic, Professional, and Interests. Each category presents an opportunity to shape the experiences of a character far beyond what happens on a run. Knowledge skills do not affect tests the way Active skills do. In certain cases Knowledge skills may provide the background needed to complete an action, but they typically do not provide dice for Active skill tests.
Knowledge skills are about what the character knows, even if you, the player, don’t. Check out the Knowledge Skill Table for a few guidelines on what a skill reveals.   Keep in mind that general facts, such as the name of the head of a megacorp and such, is info that can be quickly found on the ECHOnet. Knowledge skills are not about that basic level of detail, but rather information that not everyone knows or can find so easily.
Information Type Treshold
General Knowledge 1
Detailed Knowledge 2
Intricate Knowledge 4
Obscure Knowledge 6+
Knowledge skills complement your character. They create meaning and history behind the Active skills and abilities you choose. Shadowrun gives you some room to play with Knowledge skills. You’re free to take practically any Knowledge skill your can think up for your character. You're not limited to the list provided above.
Knowledge skills are meant to represent a limited set of knowledge the character could have gained in some in-game fashion. For example, a kid growing up in a corporate enclave could have a skill in Corporate Culture. On the other hand, had she tried to take Culture as a Knowledge skill, it would have been way too broad to be a Knowledge skill and her gamemaster would have told her she needs to narrow it down a bit.
Specializations are designed to narrow a field of knowledge to a specific and limited subset. For example, the corp kid with Corporate Culture could specialize her skill in Corporate Culture (Hyperion) for the specialization bonus when she’s dealing with Hyperion. Specializations narrow the aperture, but not so far that the Knowledge skill becomes too specific. The goal is for the skill to speak to the unique background of the character but remain useful.

Street Knowledge

Street Knowledge is linked to Intuition. This type of Knowledge skill is about knowing the movers and shakers in an urban area, along with how things get done on the street. You know about the people who live in different neighborhoods, who to ask to get what, and where things are. The information that these skills cover tends to change rapidly, but your instincts help you keep up.


Academic knowledge is linked to Logic. This type of knowledge includes university subjects such as history, science, design, technology, magical theory, and the people and organizations with fingers in those pies. The humanities (cultures, art, philosophy, and so on) are also included in this category.


Professional Knowledge skills deal with subjects related to normal trades, professions, and occupations, things like journalism, engineering, business, and so on. You might find them helpful when doing legwork for a run, especially those in the corporate world. All Professional Knowledge skills are linked to Logic.


Strange as it might sound, you might have some hobbies outside of slinging mana and bullets. Interests are the kind of Knowledge skill that describes what you know because of what you do for fun. There are no guidelines (and no limit) to the sort of interest skills you can have. Interest Knowledge skills are linked to Intuition.

Language Skills


Language is the ability to converse in a specific language through written and verbal means. Characters who speak multiple languages must purchase a separate language skill for each language.
  • Default-able: No
  • Specializations: None


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