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To fully understand skills, it is important to understand specialties. A specialty is a skill that your character focuses on in particular, giving more of her attention to it. Your degree of specialization in a skill determines how high it can rise and greatly influences how quickly it does so. The maximum levels of natural, unmodified skill that normally reachable according to the first few specialty degrees are as follows:

                            | Specialty   Skill |
                            | Degree      Level |
                            | None           40 |
                            | I              80 |
                            | II            120 |
                            | III           150 |
                            | IV            180 |
                            | V             200 |
                            | VI            220 |
                            | VII           240 |
                            | VIII          260 |
                            | IX            280 |
                            | X             300 |

To compare Specialty Access in before/after scenarios such as joining/leaving a guild/assoc you can use these sheets:

Every further degree of specialization beyond the fourth increases the maximum skill level by another twenty points. The exception to this is certain skills that require specialization in order to learn them at all. For these, the degree of required specialization is subtracted from your effective degree; so for a skill that requires first-degree specialization, the maximum is zero without a specialty, 40 at degree I, 80 at degree II, and so on.

Some skills have an special maximum rating that applies to them in addition to the specialty-based maximum. If a skill has a special maximum, this will be noted in the help for it.

The capacity to specialize in skills comes from your attributes. For each attribute other than size, every ten natural, unmodified attribute points give you a specialty point in that attribute. Each skill has an attribute that specializing in it is based on, and you can only use points from a given attribute on a related skill; for example, most close combat weapon skills are based on your dexterity, and scholarly skills are generally based on your intelligence.

Merely having the specialty points available is not enough, however. You also need access to the specialty. Access can be provided by your race and culture, but the main source is affiliations -- guilds, associations, and the like. Nearly every affiliation provides access to various degrees of specialization. Many also have minimum specialty degrees they require of their members, and some even forbid specialization in specific areas. When you have access to a specialty from more than one source, they add together; so if your guild provides access to sword specialization up to the fifth degree and you also belong to an association that provides it up to the second degree, you can become up to a seventh-degree sword specialist. Only the highest specialty requirement need be met; if one affiliation requires at least first-degree sword specialization and another requires at least second-degree sword specialization, meeting the second-degree requirement also meets the first-degree requirement.

You can use the command 'show specialty access' to review the minimum and maximum degrees of specialization you have access to, and 'show specialty points' will show the specialty points you have available. Your current specialties are shown as part of the 'show skills' and 'show skill' displays, as a Roman numeral following the skill name, and you can also view a summary of your specialties with 'show specialties'. To change your degree of specialization in a skill, use the command 'set specialty degree in <skill> to <number>'.

The same command can be used to decrease your degree of specialization as is used to increase it. Specialties can also be involuntarily reduced due to leaving affiliations or the reduction of attributes. When you reduce your level of specialization, your skill level does not drop right away, but only lowers gradually over time. While your skill remains at levels above those possible for your new specialty degree, the specialty points involved are 'suspended'; you can only assign them to a different specialty once your skill falls below the levels requiring them. For example, if you are a third-degree staff specialist with a skill of 130, and you then reduce your staff specialty to first-degree, you regain the use of one specialty point when your staff skill falls to 120 and another when it falls to 80. (After which it will continue to fall, probably to around 70, depending on how much practice or training you have with the staff in the meantime.)

The last requirement to be able to specialize in a skill is that you know it, at least having been introduced to it; that is, it must be on your skill list, or have been on it in the past. Affiliations provide introductory training in any skills in which they require you to specialize, but they may provide access to specialty degrees in skills that they do not provide training in.


So, let us say that Josephus, the ex-guardsman, decides that he is tired of living by the sword -- it's tiring and dangerous and not for him. He wishes to become a scholar, puttering around old books and answering people's questions for coin -- much less dangerous. Josephus might issue these commands:

       set specialty degree in sword to 0
       set specialty degree in shield to 0
       set specialty degree in combat reflexes to 1
       set specialty degree in tactics to 1
       set specialty degree in scholarship to 3
       set specialty degree in legend lore to 4

This would completely remove Josephus's specialties in sword and shield, while keeping some focus on secondary combat skills -- just in case -- and focusing heavily on scholarship and legend lore. Josephus may need to seek introductory lessons in those skills -- perhaps at his local schoolhouse or library -- before he can specialize in scholarship and legend lore. If his tactics skill was very high, he may also need to wait for it to decay to the point where he can use the specialty points that had been devoted to it. Once those details are taken care of, Josephus can enjoy the new, peaceful focus of his skill development.

See Also: skills, show skills, show skill, set specialty degree, show specialties, show specialty points, show specialty access, autodidaction

  • Notes:
    • Decay from 153 (max 180, spec 4) was quite linear (roughly at rate 46 seconds per point) and dropped to 35 (max 40, no spec) in about 90 minutes.
    • Decay from 157 (max 180, spec 4) to 131 (max 150, spec 3) was slower; took about 2 hours so average rate of about 4.6 minutes per point.
    • Decay doesn't happen while not incarnated, but skills will rapidly degrade upon reincarnation.

Decay in a skill happens anytime the specialty is reduced, even if the character is still above the required specialty. This happens by the skill reducing to the same percentage of it's maximum under the new specialty. For example, a skill at 155 with a specialty of 7 is at approximately 65% of maximum, and will reduce to 117 if the specialty was reduced to 4.

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