The skill system presented here is somewhat different from the original skill system. The STAR FRONTIERS Alpha Dawn game system contained 46 skills grouped in Primary Skill Areas. The new skill system has segmented these, and added more to contain over 120 skills. These new skills are not grouped in any Primary Skill Areas at all. As explained in the Professions section, a character can acquire some skills natural to his profession easier than normal skills, but, with the exception of the four "automatic" profession skills (Agility, Charisma, Endurance, and Intelligence). Any character has access to any skill. One of the primary intents of the Expert system is to allow the player to individualize his character as must as possible. This new skill system promotes that individuality.

Another difference between the two systems is how a success rate for each skill is determined. The Alpha Dawn system had a different percentage number for each skill, then usually added the players skill level times 10%. Under the PSA structure this tended to force characters of the same PSA background to "look alike"; that is, they progressed at exactly the same rate in all of their subskills. The new system uses the individual skill levels to determine the success rate, plus easy-to-remember column shifts (see the Resolution System section) as modifiers. Not only does this allow the skill system to be tied into the combat system (all on one easy table), but the individual skill success rates allow for even two characters of the same race with the same skills to have different expertises (one could be a master surgeon while the other could specialize in the treatment of diseases and poisons). As you read this section, these and other differences will be explained in detail.

After a player has decided what his character's profession and occupational standing will be, he must choose his skills.


Characters can learn skills which allow them to perform special actions. Most skills have up to eight levels of expertise now, instead of the six levels described in the Alpha Dawn rules. Other skills give an automatic proficiency or fixed expertise in the skill when it is first taken. The skill levels, sometimes with built-in Column Shifts and other modifiers, indicate the success rate for using a skill. The success rate for each skill is listed after its title, as well as on the Skills List at the end of this section. When a character uses his skill, his player must roll a skill check. The player does this by trying to roll the individual skill's success rate on the Resolution Table. This is explained more fully in the Using Skills section.

A player can increase his character's individual skill levels by spending experience points. Experience points can be traded in to gain an introductory level skill or to increase a skill the character already has to the next level. Experience points are awarded at the end of the adventure or evening of play in the same manner as in the Alpha Dawn rules.


To learn new or higher-level skills, a character must spend experience points. The number of XP (experience points) that must be traded for each skill and skill level are shown on the Skill Cost Table.


Skill      Profession     Non-Profession
Level    Skill Cost          Skill Cost
  1                1                       2
  2                2                       4
  3                4                       8
  4                6                      12
  5                8                      16
  6               10                     20
  7               12                     24
  8               14                     28

The Skill Cost Table shows the profession and nonprofession cost for each level of skill. This is the cost to go from one skill level to the next, not the total cost to achieve that level. Profession costs are for those skills included under the profession chosen by the player for his character, nonprofession costs are for all other skills. The Profession section lists each profession's skills.

The revised skill system has segmented the Primary Skill Areas and former skills into many more new skills. This is why the skill costs are small compared to the expanded skill system, because you now buy a single skill and not a group of them.

A character can learn only one level of a skill at a time. Skipping levels is not allowed, even if the character has enough experience to do so.

For example, Brango O'Bourke, a Star Law enforcer, has accumulated 6 experience points on his adventures. The player decides to spend these experience points to increase Brango's skill level with beam weapons from level 2 to level 3. Since Brango is an enforcer, and Weapons: Beam Weapons is an enforcer profession skill, it only costs Brango's Weapons: Beam Weapons skill level from 2 to 3 on his character sheet, and subtracts 4 from his experience point total. Brango still has 2 experience points left.

Training: When characters learn new skills or increase a skill level, they must be trained. Three training methods are suggested below. All three methods are optional. Some referees may want to ignore this activity and simply allow players to pick new skills when their characters have earned enough experience points without role-playing the training.

Instructors: A character with enough experience points can learn a new skill or skill level from another character. The instructor's skill level must be at least two levels higher than the pupil's. A character can learn a new skill or skill level from an instructor in one month. He can learn only one skill at a time.

Practice: Characters with enough experience points can learn new skills or skill levels simply by practicing. This is not always possible, however, especially with skills that require special equipment.

Teaching Tapes: Teaching tapes are micro-cassettes with subliminal instructions recorded on them. They are used in conjunction with a teaching helm. A character with enough experience points will have the helm and the tape with his new skill or skill level on it made available to him through Star Law, his corporate employer, or another sponsor who is interested in his advancement. Teaching tapes teach the skill to the character in several sessions that last a total of five days.

Temporary Learning: Sometimes characters who are sent on special missions are temporarily trained in a skill. The character only retains the knowledge of how to use the skill for a short period of time. A referee may wish to use this temporary skill knowledge in conjunction with a campaign scenario or adventure that requires a specific skill or skill level to complete but which no character in the party possesses. This is especially effective in a "race against the clock" type of adventure, since the skill will "wear off."


As explained in the skill introduction section, the new skill system drastically changes how skills are used. It divides skills into individually-learned skills, without primary skill areas or subskills. The STAR FRONTIERS Resolution Table is now used to determine whether a skill check is successfully made (see the section on the Resolution System).

Success Rates: Each skill has a success rate. The success rate is the basic chance for the character to succeed each time he uses his skill. There are four types of success rates listed: automatic success, skill level, fixed level, and modified skill or fixed level.

Automatic success rates mean that once the skill has been taken, the character can automatically perform the skill without having to roll to succeed.

Skill Level success rates mean that the current level of the skill possessed by the characters is what is used on the Resolution Table for a skill check. No modifiers are normally added to the skill check dice roll.

Fixed Level success rates are similar to automatic success rates because once the skill has been taken, it need not be taken again since a fixed level is automatically achieved. Level +X is the most common fixed level, but others exist as well. Subsequent selections of fixed level skills do not increase the success rate.

Modified Fixed or Skill Level success rates may have a positive column shift built-in to improve the character's chance to make the skill check. Skill Level +1 Column Shift is a common modified skill level. This does not mean that a +1 column shift per level of the skill is to be added; it means that after the skill level of the character is located, the column is shifted once to the right. For example, a player whose character has a level 3 in the Machinery Operation skill (success rate: Skill Level +2 Column Shift) would locate his base skill success column on the Resolution Table at Level +3, then shift it two more columns to the right, before rolling to see if the character succeeds.

Some modifications are negative, though, and usually are multipliers of a condition (there are -1 Column Shifts that are multiplied by the computer level, lock level, or maxiprog level to reflect the increased difficulty at succeeding in the skill).

Some success rate may have both a positive and a negative modifier -- a built-in positive column shift to increase the skill level, but a negative column shift condition (-1 CS per robot level).

Certain modifications may be so varied that the term "special" is listed for their success rate. This means the skill definition should be read carefully and the referee may have to make a decision as to the proper success rate.

Prerequisites: Some skills list prerequisites ("Pr") under their success rates. This contains two different sections: a skill requirement before the new skill can be taken, and conditions (either items or actions) that must be used to perform the skill.

Prerequisite Skill: A skill listed as a prerequisite means that the character must possess it before he can choose the new skill. For example, before you can choose the Acoustics skill, you must have the Physics skill. If more than one level of a skill is needed as a prerequisite, it will be noted.

Prerequisite Items or Actions: Items listed as prerequisites are needed to use the skill. Medkits or techkits are necessary tools. If the job may be too big or too complicated for a simple kit, the prerequisites usually adds "or proper tools and facilities." In all cases the referee should use common sense whether the attempted skill use can be performed with simple tools in the field or must be completed in better-equipped surroundings.

Actions or conditions are rarely listed as prerequisites. "Animals to be trained must be tamed" is an example of a condition that first must exist before the skill can be attempted. In this case it is a warning not to try the Animal Training skill on an untamed animal. "Gain access," which is listed extensively in the robot skills, is explained in the Robotics background section.



Agility, Charisma, Endurance, and Intelligence are all professional automatic skills. When a character chooses his profession he automatically receives is: Techex -- Agility, Explorer -- Charisma, Enforcer -- Endurance, and Scispec -- Intelligence. There is no other way to select these skills and their game use is only when the character is being created.


There are three types of computers mentioned in Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space: mainframe computers, specialized computers, and body computers. All three types are explained in detail later in this book.

Mainframe computers are the type that most of the computer skills are designed for. Mainframe computers are classified as Level 1 through 6 (6 is the most complex). They also use programs (called maxiprogs) of Levels 1 to 6. The level of a mainframe determines what maxiprog levels it can run.

Specialized computers are usually considered Level 2 computers and body computers (called bodycomps) are the level of their processor packs; Type A equals Level 1, Type D equals Level 4.

A character with a computer skill gets only one chance per day to try it on a computer. If the computer is designed by an alien race (other than a Frontier race) the success rate for the skill is modified by a -2 Column Shift.


Characters who do not use a medkit with skills listing it as a prerequisite can still attempt the skill, but with a -3 Column Shift. If a patient is treated in a hospital or sick bay, all medical skills have an additional +2 Column Shift. If the patient is an unfamiliar alien, all medical skills have an additional -2 Column Shift. These two modifiers are cumulative, so the skill check to perform a medical skill in a hospital on an unfamiliar alien is the skill's normal success rate, although the time required for X-rays or exploratory surgery would be longer for an unknown alien. Animals can only be treated by Medical Treatment: Veterinary, but the activities and alien creatures modifiers still apply.

Note that when a character has a disease, infection, infestation, poison, or radiation introduced into his system, damage does not begin to occur until the turn following the introduction. All other forms of damage (weapons damage, fire, falling, etc.) occur instantly, in the same turn they are introduced to the character.


There are eight levels of robots. A robot's level indicates how complex it is, just like a mainframe computer. And like the mainframe and body computers, it has programs, called roboprogs, also with eight levels.

Robots will be discussed in great detail in future volumes of Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space. Until the new definitions of robots are released, continue to use the six levels of robots that are explained in the STAR FRONTIERS Alpha Dawn rules. The roboprogs, detailing the robot's functions and mission, are inserted inside the robot on a progit circuitry board. This board is usually secured behind at least one protective plate. To reach the circuit board, the plate or plates have to be removed. This is what is meant, under Prerequisites, by gain access.


If a player fails his character's roll on his Robotics: Remove Security Locks, Alter Functions, or Alter Mission skills, the robot can malfunction. When this happens, the referee should roll 1d100 on the Robot Malfunction Table.


 Die Roll    Effect
  01-20        No Malfunction
  21-30        Function Progit Destroyed
  31-40        Sensor System Failure
  41-50        Mobility System Failure
  51-60        Short Circuit
  61-70        Level Drop
  71-80        Mission Erased
  81-90        Haywire
  91-00        Explosion


No Malfunction: The robot continues to function normally.

Function Progit Destroyed: One of the robot's function progits (picked randomly by the referee) has been destroyed. The robot cannot perform anything that requires that progit. If all of a robot's progits are destroyed, the robot is deactivated.

Sensor System Failure: The robot's optical or radar/sonar sensor system fails. This means the robot can only locate a target by its normal audio-receivers. Since it cannot normally maneuver by touch, it must go very slowly.

Mobility System Failure: The robot's mobility system, whether it be hoverfan, wheels, tracks, or legs, is damaged. The referee decides what type of limitations are placed on the robot's mobility. Examples: can only turn in circles, can only move in reverse, moves sluggishly at one-quarter speed, jerks forward with little control over its speed, no movement at all.

Short Circuit: The robot is still operating, but has been damaged (effect at referees discretion). For example, a robot with a short circuit might rattle and spark while it works, or suffer a severe loss of power to its weapons systems.

Level Drop: The robot suffers damage throughout which drops it one level. This level drop is used for the purpose of combat, skills, and intellect.

Mission Erased: The robot's mission progit has been erased. It still maintains all of its functions, but has no purpose in life except to survive.

Haywire: The robot is completely out of control. It might attack at random, spin in circles, recite the Dralasitic Creed, or do anything else which the referee thinks fits the situation.

Explosion: The robot's parabattery explodes, causing 10 points of damage multiplied by the parabattery's type to the character attempting the skill. Damage is electrical, fragmentary, and concussive.


Science skills, such as botany, chemistry, zoology, or geophysics, rely heavily on the character's practical experience and common sense. Even so, each skill automatically requires a small exploration kit containing microcircuitry equipment that assists the character in using the skill (such as a minimicroscope), testing chemicals, or simple analysis tools. These are sufficient for the common uses of the skills. If the referee thinks the character wishes to glean more information about a subject than his present tools can provide, then sufficient time and proper scientific facilities are required.


Vehicle operations include starting, driving, and using a vehicle to do anything it was designed to do normally. The skill check includes the possibility that the character may need to bypass a locked ignition to start the vehicle. Obviously, if the vehicle is damaged or out of fuel, it will not start until it is repaired or refueled.

A character usually will have no trouble starting the vehicle, but only gets one chance to operate it if he is unfamiliar with it. If the character has driven this type of machine before, he can start and drive it automatically.

The normal operation of a vehicle does not include stunts or hazardous maneuvers. These are included in the Alpha Dawn rules on page 30 under Special Maneuvers and have not changed (though some of the new vehicular equipment in Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space increases the chances of performing them better).

The referee may decide, because of alien design or modifications to a vehicle that the character is attempting to use, that the result area the player needs to roll on the skill check should be a specific color or colors and, thus, more difficult.


Many skills allow characters to repair damaged equipment. The success rates can be modified by the referee depending on what is being repaired, how it was damaged, the extent of the damage, and available tools, but the procedure is the same for all the repair skills.

If the damaged equipment is repaired in a facility with proper tools and equipment, there is no chance it will breakdown again on its own. When a repair is made away from a shop with a personal toolkit, there is a chance that the device will break down again. The chance depends on the result of the repair skill check. If the result is Cobalt, there will be no further breakdown on its own. If the result is Blue, there is a 10% noncumulative chance that the repaired equipment will break down every other day (referee secretly checks every other day the device is used). If the result is Green, there is a 10% noncumulative chance that the repaired equipment will break down each day (referee secretly checks each day the device is used). If the result is Yellow, there is a 25% noncumulative chance that the repaired equipment will break down each day (referee secretly checks everyday the device is used).

When something breaks down, the referee must decide if the damage is minor, major, or total. Minor repairs take 1d10 minutes, major repairs take 1d10 hours, and total repairs take 1d10 x 10 hours.


Nonweapon skills offer no possibility of performing the skill without having at least an introductory skill level. Weapon skills are not essential for the operation of a weapon. Weapons can be used by characters who do not have skills with them (with the exception of explosives, mines, and detonators). Any character using a weapon without possessing any weapon skills for that weapon uses the Level 0 column for his base column and suffers a -1 Result Shift (see Resolution System section). No matter how many positive column or result shifts may apply to the situation, his strike column will never shift to the right past the /0 Level column and his result area can never be greater than the Blue area unless he rolls a 01-02 (see Automatic Rolls). The strike column can, however, shift left all the way to the -X column.