Skills are combined into Skill Sets and can be upgraded to Specializations with experience.

The True World is fundamentally a skills-based game system. A character's ability to perform tasks during game play is determined by the breadth and depth of their skills. A character's skills are organized and managed using Skill Sets and Specializations.

Skill Sets

Skill sets are entirely freeform and defined by the player during character creation. A character is defined by multiple skill sets.

Skill sets are a collection of related skills, that are acquired through training, for the purpose of performing a specific function or job.

The important thing to understand about skill sets is that they represent skills that have to be learned. Where did the character learn their skills? Who taught them? Why did they learn them, what was their purpose or motivation?

Skill sets are used to help create characters with a strong and cohesive identity and are closely tied to a character's backstory. While a character's motivation for acquiring a skill set will often be driven by professional or employment goals, they can also be driven by other factors such as personal goals or values (help save the rainforest), external obligations (supporting family or community needs), or even just interest (a hobby or other pastime).

Character Backstory

A character's backstory details a character's life before the point where a new adventure begins. It includes information about a character's past experiences, upbringing, family, education, significant life events, and more.

Defining skill sets for a character is much easier when the player has a clear character concept that includes a well-defined backstory. A character's origins will help guide the types of skill sets they might have, and the specific skills within them. For more information, refer to the Backstory and Hooks guide under the Toolkit section.

Once the player has determined a skill set for a character, they choose the specific skills that define the scope of the character's training and experience. Skills are used to identify a character's proficiency when performing specific actions, and can include any of the following:

  • Soft Skills: Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you work. They can include interpersonal skills, communication skills, time management, problem-solving, leadership, and empathy, among others.

  • Hard Skills: Hard skills are the technical skills and expertise required to accomplish specific tasks.

  • Tradecraft: Tradecraft represents knowledge about techniques and procedures, and other analytical elements of a job.

Skill sets are rated using polyhedral dice indicating the ability level of the character. All skills within a skill set share the same ability rating. Skill sets can be rated as follows:

Ability RatingSkill Level





When performing actions during game play, a player selects the most appropriate skill set that is relevant to the action being taken and use the associated ability rating for the action roll. If the character does not have a relevant skill set, they perform an unskilled action roll, determined by the director.

The maximum ability level of a skill set is Proficient (d6). Once a skill set reaches the maximum, players can continue to improve a character's skill level by upgrading a skill to a specialization.


Specializations represent the increasing ability of a character's skills based on experience gained during game play. Once a skill set has been improved to Proficient (d6), during subsequent character advancement periods, a player can upgrade a skill to a specialization, representing the character's continuing progression within an area of expertise.

Specializations build upon the ability rating assigned to the skill set, and are rated as follows:

Ability RatingSpecialization Level







New specializations added to a character start at Skilled (d8). When a player upgrades a character skill to a specialization, they directly tag the skill with the associated ability rating identifying it as a specialization.

When performing an action that utilizes the specialization, they perform the action roll with the increased ability rating of the specialization rather than the skill set.

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