Zweihänder Read Through – Skills & Talents

This is obviously another Zweihänder post. I am trying to rattle through them a bit faster than I did the HARP read through for two reasons. Firstly, if you enjoy them then making you wait is not a good thing. If you don’t enjoy them then keeping them coming back for months is equally not a good thing. Personally I like to get projects over and done with, so I am keen to crack on as well.

I am going to split this post into two. The first part is the read through of chapters 5 & 6 as advertised.

The second part is more about ‘that which is Zweihänder , rather than Zweihänder itself’. By that I mean there are so many points of potential similarity between the Zwei that exists and the RMU I/we wish for that I believe that lessons can be learned. I have a cousin who is very wealthy and his money is entirely sel made (in an enterprising way not home printing sort of way, if you understand what I mean). He once said to me “If you want to earn a million pounds, don’t ask the unemployed bloke in the pub how to do it.” So learning from the example of the fastest selling game of the past three years now (if you include 2019) is probably a good analogy.

So Skills…

Below is a sample of the core skills in Zwei…

So in Zwei we have a base of 36 skills. Each of these have a number of focuses, which I thought would be Foci but I am often wrong. In RM2 many of the focuses would be individual skills in their own right. I am happy with the Zwei way as you all know that I simply do not use all those optional skills from RoCo2. Above I am looking at Athletics and I can see Climb, Row and Swim which were all definitely individual skills in our world.

If each character is getting 10 skills then you do need a party to cover most of these bases.

Where the Zwei system has less detail than the RM world is in levels of ability. A Zwei total skill bonus is made up of the governing stat or attribute on a scale of 28-55 plus your rank bonus. For a starting character that is +10 in your ten professional skills. So typically +52 in our parlance. A +10 is the Apprentice level. At journeyman level you get a further +10 and as a master you a final +10 for a total skill bonus of +30 on top of your attribute.

We are used to big skill bonuses added to small stat bonuses, this is the flip of that methodology.

The focuses can be bought as individual specialisms in addition to the base skill. If you have the particular focus you are using then you can ignore additional penalties when using the skill for that specific use.

So even if you had two characters with the same skills they can still differentiate themselves within their profession. Shockingly Focuses are not rolled randomly and assigned to you, to do get to choose them.

This is the skill listing for Perception. I have pulled this one out for the simple reason that we all know what a perception roll looks like. Just remember that a typical character has a roll under 52 (42 average Attribute and+10 for one rank in the skill) to succeed.

AWARENESS (Perception)
Awareness represents the ability to visually notice minute details and sounds, scents within the air, watch for ambushes, find hidden objects and spot contrivances designed to trap or kill. You’ll use Awareness not only to visually see, also to sense using smell, taste and touch. You may also use Awareness to estimate numbers and distances.

This Skill doesn’t allow you to see through lies, sense motives or innuendo – refer to the Scrutinize Skill in those cases. If you wish to listen in on a conversation or distinctly make something out you heard, refer to the Eavesdrop Skill instead.


  • (Trivial +30%): Listen for sounds through a thin door
  • (Easy +20%): Smell a distinct spice in a dish
  • (Routine +10%): Spot an obvious snare
  • (Standard +/-0%): Standing watch at a campfire on a clear night
  • (Challenging -10%): Find someone obscured by mist or darkness
  • (Hard -20%): Count a mound of treasure in under a minute
  • (Arduous -30%): Spot a trap melded almost perfectly into the flagstones

Every skill is laid out the same, description and then clear examples of what falls into each difficulty rating. What I do like is that not one of the skills has a hidden game mechanic built into the skill description. They are all uniform in format and implementation.


The core book provides 72 talents. Each talent seems to produce one effect and those effects fall into two categories. The first is to give a +20 bonus to a specific skill used in a specific situation and the other is to allow the character to ignore a specific penalty in a specific situation. So ambidextrous means you ignore penalties for using the off hand, Eagle Eyes means you do not suffer range penalties at medium and long range. Housebreaker in the other hand gives a +20 to lockpicking.

Every profession comes with 3 talents and the rules imply that you can buy more but I have yet to read the section where the rules for that are presented. I guess they will be in the Reward Points rules later in the book, or I misinterpreted the part where it implied you could by more talents of course.

There isn’t much more to say about the talents, there are some that relate to magic that at this point are quite intriguing. This one I particularly like…

With great practice, you have learned to bend the powers of disorder to your whim. However, every dark gift requires a sacrifice in return.

Effect: After you have made the appropriate sacrifice of an innocent creature (a beloved animal like a kitten or puppy for Petty Magick, a farm animal such as a cow or sheep for Lesser Magick or a living person like an Elf or Dwarf for Greater Magick), you can cause any one foe to automatically fail to Resist one cast Magick spell within the next 24 hours. You can only make a sacrifice like this once per day.

I knew there was a good reason for having elves in the party!

Part II

What inspired this two part blog post idea was an announcement on Zwei’s discord server this evening, and I quote:

Daniel D. Fox – Lead Designer Today at 20:15

Hey gang,

You’re probably noticing a lot of changes on our Facebook and YouTube, formerly named Zweihänder Grim & Perilous RPG. This is being done on purpose across social media, YouTube, Discord and other channels.

For 2019, we are consolidating our brands, while changing ZWEIHÄNDER-only assets to reflect a shift in the company. With MAIN GAUCHE on the horizon, development of TETSŪBO, Queen of Embers and a few other unannounced products, we’re moving towards our new company line:

Grim & Perilous Studios, makers of tabletop games “Powered By ZWEIHÄNDER”.

So what does this mean for you? You’re going to see a D100 ‘free’ engine released later this year, taking the place of the SRD. You’re also going to get a look at some of the new products coming down the line for 2019 and 2020. You’re going to see our books up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Simon & Schuster, IndieBound, in your local brick-and-mortar and a whole lot more. We aren’t leaving DriveThruRPG, but our ‘big books’ will be as we reach commercial scale for true distribution across the US, CA and Europe. Plus, we’ll be announcing some new video content initiatives in the coming weeks (as an example, did you know Encounter Roleplay is running ZWEIHÄNDER every Friday on Twitch for the next 18 weeks).

Finally, we’ll be introducing you to some new people from our team. We’re growing, and can’t wait for you to meet all the fine folx who help make Grim & Perilous Studios successful.

So, join us for the ride in 2019 for a truly #GrimAndPerilous year for #ZweihanderRPG!

All the best,

Daniel D. Fox

So what has got me so stirred up?

I have been pushing for an open standard for D100 for a couple of years now including my own open100 and I am also happy to support vsDarkmaster’s OPEN00. I am not necessarily a fan of competing open standards but hey, too much freedom of expression is less of a problem than too little.

I have been trying to push for the “Powered by…” concept for RMu, in fact Intothatdarkness’s post this very week was all about the RMu game engine vs the game itself. That is a spin off of my push for the Powered by tag from that “So…” forum thread.

The other thing I find exciting is the bit about the hardcopy publications. I have been dabbling with this myself. I was using Createspace and Amazon’s KDP before they merged. DTRPG is the ‘safe place’ that is where everyone is and that is where all the experienced GMs buy their games. It is not the rest of the world though. If you want to reach completely new people than you need to be out in the real world. I called Zweihänder a cannibal last time. I take that back. They really are trying to build the industry.

This is something I have also been trying to do, I just haven’t talked about it on this blog but Egdcltd has read about my efforts. By comparison I have been pissing around with small fry but the principle is the same. I don’t really think that my ideas would work nearly so well with Zwei as they would with my wild west game. Different genre, different style, different target audience.

The more I hang around the Zwei world the more stark are the differences between the openness and dynamic nature of G&P Studios and the sullen silence of ICE.

And finally…

This is one of the examples from the beginning of the rules.

Nick’s Character Grover Caldwell has an Order Alignment of Mystery and the Chaos Alignment of Exclusion. During the game session, the GM reveals a dangerous bit of information to Nick in secret. Grover now has the choice to reveal an important plot point to the other PCs or hold onto it. Unfortunately, knowledge of this information could prove potentially
dangerous, putting Grover in a place of mistrust with his comrades. He decides it may be best to hold onto this information, alienating himself from the others while shutting them out from the mysteries that only
he understands. As the story led to this moment, not revealing the information taps into his Chaos Alignment of Exclusion – placing his closest friends’ life in danger. The GM, while satisfied that Nick was doing the right thing for his Character, bestows 1 Corruption.

Is it just me or is seeing Nick and Caldwell in such close proximity in a competitors RPG rules just too much of a coincidence?

4 Replies to “Zweihänder Read Through – Skills & Talents”

  1. Thanks for this – I think I made need a copy for reworking the RM skills then. In my thought process is the distinction between the dictionary definition of skill which is more of an indication of a profession in RM and the more refined idea of a skill as an action/activity. I have been leaning towards a specialism within the meta-skill. It sounds like the focus (foci is a valid spelling for the plural) idea in Zwei might help sort that idea.

  2. I like the idea of an open D100 system. I think a “powered by” concept like that would help simplify RM to make it more manageable for novice players because it would force a standardized system (which doesn’t rely on customized charts). I always marveled that in our old D6 West End Star Wars game, nearly everything under the sun that a character needed to do could be pigeon-holed into about 25 skills. But in RMSS, I had to have a reference manual to figure it out.

    “Oh, you want to build a cabinet for your herb shop? Let’s see… that’s… Crafts–>Wood Crafts–>Carpentry.”

    “Oh you want to add on a secret back room to the shop? That’s “Crafts–>Wood Crafts–>Building.”

    “What, you ask? Wouldn’t someone who knows how to build a cabinet also know something about construction? Nope.”

    I was never that draconian as a GM, but still. That’s just… yuck.

  3. Foci is a perfectly acceptable pluralization of focus. You can also use focuses of course, but in the academic world I think foci would be preferable (at least in medieval and classical circles, since we read Latin).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *