HOW DOES MY CHARACTER GET BETTER AT STUFF?
Character advancement in TAINTED is pretty straightforward and ties directly to your character’s actions. There are two forms of character advancement: Professional Skills and Vital Stats. Professional Skills, of course, determine your target number when using a given skill while Vital Stats offer the more broad based benefit of being able to offset the magnitude of the roll of every skill associated with that stat.
PROFESSIONAL SKILL ADVANCEMENT
Any time you roll a critical success in the course of testing a skill, your character learns something vital. The only stipulation is that the roll in question must be one that the GM has called for. In other words, rolling a critical success while engaged in combat with an enemy who is trying to take your life would be considered a valid learning opportunity, while rolling your dice over and over and saying you are engaged in “target practice with your pistol” will never present a valid opportunity no matter how many crits you roll.
For each critical success you roll, you will make a tick mark next to the appropriate experience hex on your character sheet. There is one such hex for each profession.
Once you have earned six ticks in a given profession you erase all the ticks and mark one experience point in that profession’s experience hex.
The experience points you accumulate here can be used to reduce the target number of a single skill within that profession. Dropping target numbers to 8 or 7 costs 1 experience point each. Dropping target numbers to 6 or 5 costs 2 experience points each. Dropping target numbers to 4 or 3 costs 3 experience points each. While dropping a target number to 2 costs 4 experience points and dropping a target number to 1 costs 5 experience points. No target number can be dropped below 1.
VITAL STAT ADVANCEMENT
In similar fashion, you are also able to advance your character’s Vital Stats. Each time you roll a critical success of double nines you gain a tick for professional experience, and you also place a tick next to one of your four vital stats. Unlike professional advancement, when you have accumulated six ticks on a single stat, that stat automatically advances one rank no matter what it is currently set at.
And regardless of which stat may have been associated with the original roll, it is always the player’s choice which stat to place his ticks in. The same survival tests that increase your character’s Toughness also sharpen his Reflexes, hone his Instincts and make him more Savvy of the world around him. For this same reason, the single restriction placed on increasing stats is that no stat may be more than three ranks in advance of any other stat.
So if you have a Toughness of 4, Reflexes of 2, and Instinct and Savvy of 1 each, you cannot advance Toughness again until both Savvy and Instinct have been raised to a rank of 2.
ARCANE TALENTS USE A DIFFERENT SET OF DICE THAN OTHER SKILLS. HOW DO THEY ADVANCE?
Your base Arcane action skill and defense are rolled on 2d10. Tap Taint and Wards advance exactly the same as other skills, however, Arcane Spheres, such as Aura Sight, Dominance, Gateways, Veiling, and Wyrding all require d6 die pools to execute. And because each character’s talents are directly based on the level of Taint he carries in his blood, they are not considered learned skills per se. Whether you choose Arcane as your Primary or Secondary Profession you will have one Talent that has a dice pool directly inverse (on a scale of 10) to your target number in Tap Taint (the skill which allows you to use the Taint) with the remaining Talents having a dice pool one less than this.
So, if your starting target number in Tap Taint is 7 you begin play with a pool of 3d6 in your foremost Talent (10-7=3) and 2d6 in your remaining talents (one less than your foremost Talent). So Tap Taint is the talent that controls your advancement in Arcana talents throughout the game. Each time your Tap Taint target number drops one rank you add a new die to each of your Arcana Sphere pools (to maximum pools of 9 and 8 respectively).
As with other Professional Skill advancement, your roll against Taint Tap must be one that the GM has called for. Arcana characters can tap into the Taint whenever they want, but they only need to roll against Taint Tap when the outcome is stressful and uncertain.
Generally speaking, Arcana Spheres will advance less frequently than other professional skills, but unlike other professions, all of your Spheres will advance together rather than one at a time like common skills.
WHAT ABOUT LEARNING NEW SKILLS?
There is really no such thing as learning new skills after Character Generation in TAINTED. You might be saddled with a target number of 9 on a skill you are untrained in but you still have the potential to use that skill and so can advance it normally simply by going out of your way to choose those actions whenever legitimately possible.
Two exceptions would be Languages and Arcana Spheres. Languages can be learned by the simple expedient of spending time with someone who can teach you a new language and then practicing it whenever you can. Then, any time it is critical for you to engage someone in that language the GM will make you roll to see if you understand or are understood (using languages you start play with requires no roll). When you advance a single rank (down to a target number of 8) you no longer need to make rolls to use that language.
Arcana Spheres are different. These are essentially genetic abilities, tied to your bloodline in the initial choices you make during character generation. A character who chooses Arcana as his primary profession knows something of all the talents and can advance normally as described above. One who chooses Arcana as his secondary profession knows only two of the available talents and does not have access to the ones he was not born with. And of course, one who chooses Arcana as his tertiary profession only has enough taint to mount a small magical defense and use his Taint to bolster other skills (just like any other character). This character cannot learn any Taint Spheres.