# 3. Occupation and Skills
At this point you should form an idea of what your investigator does for a living. Remember, the term “investigator” does not restrict you to just being a cop or a private eye. This choice of occupation will influence the selection of skills available to your investigator. To begin with, choose an occupation. Anything you think would be interesting to play is valid, but you should agree this with your Keeper. Some favorite occupations in Call of Cthulhu are Professor, Journalist, Occultist, and Archeologist—the choice of occupation is only limited by your imagination.
Either pick an occupation from the list following and use the specified list of skills provided, or tailor one to your requirements. To do this, decide upon an occupation and then look at the list of skills on the investigator sheet. Then, choose eight skills that are appropriate for your investigator’s chosen occupation, e.g. what skills would a person doing this occupation require? These are your investigator’s “occupation skills.” Use some scratch paper to note down your investigator’s occupation skills.
Note: a brief description of the differing skills can be found here
You now assign points to the skills on the investigator sheet. No player can add points to the Cthulhu Mythos skill during character creation, as it is assumed that all beginning characters are ignorant of the threat of the Mythos. Allocate the following values among the eight occupation skills and also the Credit Rating skill: one at 70%, two at 60%, three at 50% and three at 40% (set the skills directly to these values and ignore the skill base values written next to each skill on the investigator sheet).
Example: Susan has chosen to play a Journalist and allocates the following values: Art/Craft (Photography) 50%, History 40%, Library Use 50%, Own Language (English) 60%, Psychology 40%. She chooses Persuade as an interpersonal skill, giving it 70% (very persuasive!). She then looks down the skill list on the investigator sheet and picks two other skills that she thinks might be useful for a journalist: Spot Hidden 50% and Stealth 60%. She has one value, 40%, left to allocate to Credit Rating. Susan writes these numbers into the Regular (large) box next to each of the skills.
After assigning points to the occupation skills, select your investigator’s “personal interest skills.” These are skills that your character has acquired outside of work. Pick four nonoccupation skills and boost them by 20% (adding 20 to the skill base values listed next to the skills on the investigator sheet).
We recommend that you write your skill values down in the same format as your Characteristics—Regular/Half/ Fifth values—as you’ll need to refer to these during the game (see the Quick Reference Chart). Of course, if you prefer, you can just write the full value of each skill and do the math in your head during the course of the game.
Another Example: Brian chooses Soldier as an occupation. As this occupation is not in the list in this book, he chooses eight skills that seem most appropriate: Climb, Dodge, Fighting (Brawl), Firearms (Rifle/Shotgun), First Aid, Other Language, Stealth, and Survival. Brian sets these occupation skill values as follows: Climb 60%, Credit Rating 40%, Dodge 60%, Fighting (Brawl) 70%, Firearms (Rifle/Shotgun) 50%, First Aid 40%, Other Language 50% (picking Spanish as a second language), Stealth 50%, Survival 40%.
Brian then picks four personal interest skills, raising each one by 20% (adding 20 to the skill’s base value written on the sheet); Drive Auto 40%, Jump 40%, Mechanical Repair 30%, and Spot Hidden 45%. Each skill value is then written on the sheet next to the skill as the Regular, Half, and Fifth values, such as “Spot Hidden 45 (22/9).”
# Sample Investigator Occupations
Appraise, Art/Craft (Any), History, Library Use, Other Language, one interpersonal skill (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate, or Persuade), Spot Hidden, any one other skill.
Art (Literature), History, Library Use, Natural World or Occult, Other Language, Own Language, Psychology, any one other skill.
Art/Craft (Any), Firearms, Other Language, Ride, one interpersonal skill (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate, or Persuade), any three other skills.
# Doctor of Medicine
First Aid, Other Language (Latin), Medicine, Psychology, Science (Biology), Science (Pharmacy), any two other skills as academic or personal specialties (e.g. a psychiatrist might take Psychoanalysis).
Art/Craft (Photography), History, Library Use, Own Language, one interpersonal skill (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate, or Persuade), Psychology, any two other skills.
# Police Detective
Art/Craft (Acting) or Disguise, Firearms, Law, Listen, one interpersonal skill (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate, or Persuade), Psychology, Spot Hidden, any one other skill.
# Private Investgator
Art/Craft (Photography), Disguise, Law, Library Use, one interpersonal skill (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate, or Persuade), Psychology, Spot Hidden, and any one other skill (e.g. Locksmith, Firearms).
Library Use, Other Language, Own Language, Psychology, any four other skills as academic or personal specialties.
# Skill Descriptions
Most skills are exactly what their name suggests—such as Drive Auto, which determines how well a character can drive an automobile (or car), or Climb, which concerns how well an investigator can scale up or down a wall. However, some skill names are less obvious, so here is a brief summary of the skills listed on the investigator sheet.
Note: on the investigator sheet, each skill has a percentile number in brackets next to it. This number is the basic chance for anyone using that skill untrained. Thus, anyone could attempt to use a handgun (basic 20% chance of success), even if they’ve never handled one before.
The Understanding of accountancy procedures; reveals the financial functioning of a business or person.
Can identify and understand an individual’s (or culture’s) way of life through observation.
Can estimate the value of a particular item, including the quality, material used, and workmanship.
Allows dating and identification of artifacts from past cultures, and the detection of fakes.
# Art and Craft
An ability with this skill enables the creation, making, or repair of an item, which could be artistic (like painting or singing) or craft (like woodwork or cookery). Choose a suitable specialization and write this in the space provided on the sheet.
Charm takes many forms, including physical attraction, seduction, flattery, or simply warmth of personality. Charm may be used to compel someone to act in a certain way, but not in a manner completely contrary to that person’s normal behavior. This skill can be opposed by Charm or Psychology.
Can climb trees, walls, and other vertical surfaces with or without ropes and climbing gear.
# Credit Rating
A character’s Credit Rating is an indicator of their wealth and class. The more points spent on Credit Rating, the richer the character is. Depending on how many occupation skill points you allocate to this skill, your investigator is:
- Credit Rating 0: penniless, living on the streets.
- Credit Rating 1-9: poor, possessing the bare minimum.
- Credit Rating 10-49: average, a reasonable level of comfort.
- Credit Rating 50-89: wealthy, some degree of luxury.
- Credit Rating 90-98: rich, great wealth and luxury.
- Credit Rating 99: super rich, money is no object.
Example: Brian chose a Credit Rating of 40% for his soldier, meaning that he has an average income.
# Cthulhu Mythos
A skill reflecting understanding of the inhuman Cthulhu Mythos. It is not founded on the accumulation of knowledge as academic skills are. Rather, it represents the opening and tuning of the human mind to the Cthulhu Mythos.
Thus, Cthulhu Mythos skill points are gained from personal encounters with the Mythos (monsters or knowledge from rare books). The Cthulhu Mythos is antithetical to human understanding, and exposure to it undermines human sanity. No starting investigator may take points in Cthulhu Mythos (unless agreed with the Keeper).
This is used whenever you wish to appear to be someone other than whom you are.
Dodge allows an investigator to instinctively evade blows, thrown missiles, and so forth. A character may attempt to use dodge any number of times in a combat round (but only once per attack). If an attack can be seen, a character can try to dodge it, thus it is impossible to dodge bullets because they cannot be seen when in motion; the best a character can do is to take evasive action that results in being harder to hit. Determine starting Dodge value by halving the character’s Regular DEX value.
# Drive Auto
Drive a car or light truck, make ordinary maneuvers, and cope with ordinary vehicle problems. If the investigator wants to lose a pursuer or tail someone, a Drive roll would be appropriate.
# Electrical Repair
Repair or reconfigure electrical equipment, such as auto ignitions, electric motors, fuse boxes, and burglar alarms.
# Fast Talk
Specifically limited to verbal trickery, deception, and misdirection, such as bamboozling a bouncer to let you inside a club, getting someone to sign a form they haven’t read, making a policeman look the other way, and so on. This skill can be opposed by Fast Talk or Psychology.
A character’s skill in melee combat. You may spend skill points to purchase any skill specialization from Brawl (includes knives and clubs, as well as fisticuffs and martial arts), Sword, Axe, Spear, or Whip.
Covers all manner of firearms, as well as bows and crossbows. You may spend skill points to purchase any skill specialization from Handgun, Rifle/ Shotgun, Bow, or Crossbow.
# First Aid
Emergency medical care, it cannot be used to treat diseases (where the Medicine skill is required). To be effective, First Aid must be delivered within one hour of injury, in which case it grants 1 hit point and can rouse an unconscious person.
Recall a historical detail or event, the significance of a country, city, region, or person, as pertinent.
The use of threats (physical or psychological) to compel someone to act or reveal information. This skill can be opposed by Intimidate or Psychology.
Can be used to halve falling damage. A jump is equal to the person’s height (doubled if a running start); further distances may require an increased roll difficulty.
# Language, Other
When choosing this skill, the exact language must be specified and written next to the skill. An individual can know any number of languages, but each must be paid for in skill points. The skill represents the investigator’s chance to understand, speak, read, and write in a language other than their own.
# Language (Own)
A character’s Mother Tongue. Choose the language best known to your investigator, such as English. The starting value is equal to the character’s Regular EDU score.
Represents the chance of knowing pertinent law, precedent, legal maneuvers, or court procedure. Helps when dealing with the police, lawyers, and courts.
# Library Use
Find a piece of information, such as a certain book, newspaper, reference in a library, or collection of documents (assuming the information is there to be found). Use of this skill marks several hours of continuous search.
Interpret and understand sound, including overheard conversations, mutters behind a closed door, and whispered words in a cafe.
Open car doors, hot-wire autos, jimmy library windows, figure out Chinese puzzle boxes, and penetrate ordinary alarm systems. May repair locks, make keys, or open locks with the aid of skeleton keys, pick tools, or other tools.
# Mechanical Repair
Repair a broken machine or create a new one. Basic carpentry and plumbing projects can be performed, as well as constructing items (such as a pulley system) and repairing items (such as a steam pump). Can be used to open common household locks, but more complex locks require the Locksmith skill.
Diagnose and treat accidents, injuries, diseases, poisonings, etc. Treatment takes a minimum of one hour and can be delivered any time after damage is taken, but if this is not performed on the same day, the difficulty level of the roll is increased (requiring a Hard success). A person treated successfully with Medicine recovers 1D3 hit points (in addition to any First Aid they have received), except in the case of a dying character, who must initially receive successful First Aid to stabilize them before a Medicine roll is made.
# Natural World
Represents the traditional (unscientific) knowledge and personal observation of farmers, fishermen, inspired amateurs, and hobbyists. It can identify plant and animal species, habits, and habitats in a general way, as well as identify tracks, spoors, and animal or bird calls.
Take the correct path to a destination, whether in a strange city or in the wilderness. Read maps and judge distances and terrain.
Recognize occult paraphernalia, words, and concepts, as well as folk traditions; can also identify grimoires of magic and occult codes. Recall secret mystical knowledge learned from books, teachings, or experience.
# Operate Heavy Machinery
Required to drive and operate a train, steam engine, bulldozer, or other large-scale land machine.
Convince a person about a particular idea, concept, or belief through reasoned argument, debate, and discussion. Persuade may be employed without reference to truth. The successful application of Persuade takes time: at least half an hour. If you want to persuade someone quickly, use Fast Talk. This skill can be opposed by Persuade or Psychology.
Pick a specialization, such as Boat, Aircraft, or Dirigible; each type must be paid for with skill points. Allows the safe operation of such modes of transport.
Refers to the range of emotional therapies. Psychoanalysis can return Sanity points to an investigator patient: once per game month, to learn the progress of the therapy, make a 1D100 roll against the analyst or doctor’s Psychoanalysis skill. If the roll succeeds, the patient gains 1D3 Sanity points. If the roll fails, add no points. If the roll is fumbled, then the patient loses 1D6 Sanity points, and treatment by that analyst concludes. In the game, psychoanalysis alone does not speed recovery from indefinite insanity, which requires 1D6 months of institutional (or similar) care, of which psychotherapy may form a part. Successful use of this skill can allow a character to cope with the subject of a phobia or mania for a short time, or to see delusions for what they are.
Perception, common to all humans, to form an idea of another person’s motives and character, and detect if a person is lying. The Keeper may choose to make concealed Psychology skill rolls on the player’s behalf, announcing only the information, true or false, that the user gained by employing it.
Applies to saddle horses, donkeys, and mules, granting knowledge of basic care of the riding animal, riding gear, and how to handle the steed at a gallop or on difficult terrain. Should a steed unexpectedly rear or stumble, the rider’s chance of remaining mounted equals their Ride skill.
Practical and theoretical ability with a science specialty gained from some degree of formalized education and training, although a well-read amateur scientist may also be a possibility. Understanding and scope is limited by the era of play. Spend skill points to purchase any skill Specialization, for example: Astronomy, Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Cryptography, Geology, Pharmacy, Physics, Zoology, etc. When a character does not have the obvious discipline specialty, they may roll against an allied specialty with the level of difficulty increased (or a penalty die) at the Keeper’s discretion.
# Sleight of Hand
Allows the visual covering-up, secreting, or masking of an object or objects, perhaps with debris, cloth, or other illusion-promoting materials. Also, fine dexterity and manipulation of objects.
# Spot Hidden
Find a secret door or compartment, notice a hidden intruder, see an inconspicuous clue, recognize a repainted automobile, become aware of ambushers, notice a bulging pocket, etc.—an important skill in the armory of an investigator. When an investigator is searching for a character who is hiding, the opponent’s Stealth skill is used to set the difficulty level for the roll.
When attempting to avoid detection, moving quietly, and hiding without alerting those who might hear or see.
Expertise required to survive in extreme environments, such as in desert or arctic conditions, as well as upon the sea or in wilderness terrain. Inherent is the knowledge of hunting, building shelters, hazards (such as the avoidance of poisonous plants), etc. Spend skill points to purchase any skill specialization, choosing which type of environment from Wilderness, Arctic, Desert, Sea, etc. When a character does not have the obvious survival specialty, they may roll against an allied specialty with the level of difficulty increased (or a penalty die) at the Keeper’s discretion.
Ability to float and to move through water or other liquid. Only roll for Swim in times of crisis or danger. Failing a pushed Swim roll can result in loss of hit points. It may also lead to the person being washed away downstream, or partially or completely drowned.
Hit a target with an object. A palm-sized object can be hurled a distance up to STR divided by 5 in yards. If the Throw roll fails, the object lands at a random distance from the target, determined by the Keeper. Use this skill in combat when throwing rocks, spears, grenades, or boomerangs.
Follow a person, vehicle, or animal over earth, and through plants. Factors such as time passed since the tracks were made, rain, and the type of ground covered may affect the difficulty level of the roll.