Main Page » Feats, Skills and Abilities

Feats, skills and abilities

A player character is not simply a second level fighter, or a third level magician. Characters of the same level are differentiated by their choice of skills, feats and abilities. The core rulebooks give a wide variety of choices, the majority of published books add even more options. But many DMs want more options, or wish to tailor the skills and feats available to suit the needs of their campaign.

Because all new feats, skills and abilities are [wiki]house rule/[wiki]s any page created should have a red banner at the top. The category of the page should be ‘game mechanic’ – see an existing page for a template, you can copy and paste to and from word when editing a [wikipage and it is often easier to convert a copy of someone else’s skill/feat into yours than work from scratch.


Feats are ‘minor’ abilities that improve an existing ability or grant a new one. Try to explain why you have created the feat – particularly if it is designed to replace an existing feat which you have found to be problematic. When creating several new feats, it may be simpler to put several similar feats on one page, particularly if they form a feat tree. Similarly if producing several variations of the same feat (i.e. one for each human tribe that reflects their heritage) it would be better to have them on one page where they can be accepted/rejected en masse.


Skills come in two main types, ‘crunch’ skills like hide, spot, etc which are used to help a character (generally a rogue) survive in a hostile world, and ‘fluff’ skills which are used to add color and flavor to a world. Generally fluff skills will not cause game-play problems, but crunch skills can infringe upon feats and abilities available normally only to certain classes. (Of course, that may be the point of the new skill).

Most D&D skills are quite broad; if your campaign focuses on a specific area (i.e. courtly intrigue, ritual combat) an existing skill may need to be split into several subskills to allow the necessary variations in play.

Similarly if the campaign is based in a non-traditional setting (such as Aduria, or a goblin realm) many skills may need to be redefined to the point that the traditional write-up is unhelpful.

In either case, or if you simply think that a skill was overlooked, create a page for the new skill called 'hr skill name' and add a link to the skill’s page below. Please note that many characters have very few skill points – if the number of ‘vital’ skills proliferates then characters can swiftly become vulnerable unless additional skill points are granted, as such if a skill would have a limited but vital use, consider making it an option for another skill, i.e. yodeling would not be a skill in itself – vital through it might be in certain areas of Brechtür, rather it should be a subset of the language skill.


Abilities in this context are not the basic 6 abilities (con, dex, str, cha, int, wis) with the Birthright addition of bloodline; instead the term is used to describe the things beyond feats, but not spells, innate abilities beyond the norm, even magical, but inherent to the character rather than a spell to be memorized and then cast.

Abilities come in the following types:

[top]Natural abilities

Natural abilities are those that need no magical explanation, or extra-ordinary training to use albeit possibly needing additional or altered appendages (like jumping, swimming with fins, flying with wings, etc)

Although described a ‘natural’, any character who begins growing wings, fins and the like is likely to be seen as highly unnatural by the inhabitants of Cerilia – particularly in a Birthright setting where the usual cause is either an awnsheghlien transformation, or corruption by the few surviving minions of Azrai or the taint of the Shadow World.

How the general public reacts to the character depends heavily on the transformation in question and the morals of the populace – most humans fear and hate abominations and will drive them forth or kill them. A few ehrsheghlien however have been accepted as their transformation is approved of by the population – the Rjurik accepted the Treant’s transformation into a living tree as proof of the druid's closeness to Erik for example. Other species are tolerant of change – goblins for example accept transformed beings if the transformation makes the being stronger, which is why so many awnsheghlien end up served by goblins – most humans would flee rather than serve under one cursed by the gods.

[top]Extraordinary abilities

Extra-ordinary abilities are those which are non-magical but require extensive training or unusual physical ability to use.

The typically observer of an extra-ordinary ability may believe it magical not understanding the skill underlying the ability, which can be problematic in the more superstitious areas of Cerilia such as Rjurik, and particularly Vosgaard. Many priests and charlatans without magical ability favor learning such skills for precisely this reason – it gives them the ability to strike awe into their audience.

[top]Spell-like abilities

Spell-like abilities are basically spells that the character can use every so often. Spell-like abilities do not function in areas where magic is negated or suppressed, they can also be dispelled and are affected by spell resistance. Generally spell-like abilities must be used deliberately – they are not automatic used each time an event occurs (although they may not require much concentration and may be a free action).

[top]Blood abilities

Blood Abilities are spell-like abilities unique to Birthright which derive from the characters bloodline. Blood abilities tend to run in families and so unless the ability is restricted to a few families, a variation of an existing ability, or minor in effect; it should be added with caution – if a blood ability was extremely useful it would be widespread due to the desirable marriage prospects of its scions caused by its usefulness unless it has unpleasant physical, social or magical side effects. If you do wish to create a new ability that is very useful suggestions to retcon it into the game should be made - i.e. suggestions of characters who have the bloodline, common 'swaps', etc.

[top]Supernatural abilities

Supernatural abilities are similar to spell-like abilities, but tend to be more ‘inherent’ – they are often in continual effect or are used every time a set condition occurs. Supernatural abilities are not subject to spell resistance or dispel magic. They do not however function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated.

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