HardWired Prime
Appendix I: K/S Area Descriptions

K/S Versus K/S Contests

Occasionally, personas will come into conflict, using their K/S Areas against each other. For instance, police officers chasing a criminal, pitting the respective Driving K/S against each other.

Each side of such a contest makes a standard K/S roll on D%, modified slightly. To determine the exact modifier, subtract the opposing STEEP from the persona's STEEP, and consult the table below.

Once the D% modifier for each side has been determined, each of the participants makes the roll. If one succeeds, and the other does not, the former wins. Similarly, if both succeed, but one gets a Special Success, that persona wins, or if both failed, but one rolls a Special Failure, that persona loses. If both succeed or fail by a similar degree, the JM must decide what happens based on the exact situation.

K/S Contest D% Modifiers Table
RemainderChanges to the K/S test D% roll
11 or more-10
6 to 10-5
5 to -5-
-6 to -10+5
-11 to -20+10
-21 or lower+20

For example: Bob the security guard is chasing George, a mercenary who has just stolen some important documents. Bob (Driving STEEP 35) is in his patrol car, George has just climbed back into his getaway vehicle, driven by Amelia, a professional driver (Driving STEEP 55). The table is consulted, resulting in a +10 penalty for Bob and a -10 bonus for Amelia. Bob rolls a 31 (which would ordinarily have made it, but the penalty makes it 41, a failure), and Amelia rolls a 47 (a clear success, since the effective roll is a 37, against her STEEP of 55). Amelia and George make a clean escape. (In this particular case, a pair of successes or a pair of failures would probably mean that Bob is still on George and Amelia's tail, but hasn't gained significantly.)

Cross-Application of K/S Areas

In the real world, there is continual cross-application of knowledge and skills, where knowledge in Botany (for instance) would be at least mildly helpful in Agriculture. The HardWired Prime game includes cross-feeding of STEEP, listed in each K/S Area description.

Also, Journeymasters should feel free to allow cross-application of STEEP where appropriate in the campaign, particularly since the K/S range is slimmed down for the Prime rules.

For instance, a persona with Drawing should be allowed to paint or create computer-based art, despite the fact that (in the Advanced game, at least) they are separate disciplines. The persona might be penalized an appropriate amount (say, 20 STEEP), however.

Mental K/S Area Descriptions

Appraisal: This K/S Area needs to be tailored by the JM to the particular persona. For instance, a petty thief might be particularly good at appraising watches, clocks, VCRs, and other consumer items, whereas a mechanic might be good at appraising vehicles (rare and otherwise), parts, tools, etc. Appraisal covers such things as: Artworks, Furs, Crystal/Glasswork, China/Pottery, Rugs and Fabrics, Gold/Precious Metals, Jewelry, Handicrafts, Woodworks and Furniture, Garments, Buildings, General Goods/Workmanship, Animals, Land, and more.

Note that the Rarities K/S Area allows a broad application of Appraisal application. Note also that trying to appraise something the JM rules is outside the persona's general range of knowledge will likely result in some penalties (+5, +10, +20, or worse, at the JM's discretion).

This K/S Area cross-feeds the Rarities K/S by 10% of the STEEP.


Business Administration:

Chemistry: This deals with the properties and nature of the elements and various formulas. The HP with this K/S could run chemical analyses, make acids, and create various chemical compounds. The HP will also be familiar with current trends in research (e.g. drugs, cures, rarities such as room-temperature superconducting, etc.) and might be able to produce substances frowned upon by governments: explosives, poisons, gases, etc.

The persona might also be able to invent whole new items, although the usual penalties would apply (a minor invention would likely have a +10 or +20 penalty, with months of research, experimentation, and lots of monetary outlay, and no guarantee of success!) The quality of the HP's laboratory, time available, materials at hand, and the importance of the discovery all should modify the D% roll.

Computer Science:

Criminal Activities (Mental):


Cybernetics: This is the knowledge of the various electronic and electromechanical parts that can be implanted in a biological organism to interface with that organism's body so as to create a cyborg; also the skill to design and construct such parts. A persona with this Area knows various standard types and can assess unknown cyborgs by observation of their performance. Actual implantation of cybernetic components requires this ability plus Medicine and Surgery K/S Areas. This Area cross-feeds Electronics, and Robotics by 10% of STEEP. This Area is crosfed by Mechanics, Cybernetic.


Electronics: This K/S allows the HP to examine and repair electrical devices of all kinds, from batteries and computers to radios, televisions and communicators. It includes Radar, Sonar, and the like too! One roll should cover about a day's worth of work on a project of moderate complexity. Note that this K/S does not allow the actual construction of such objects, nor does it allow work to be performed on such items as transformer boxes or complex wiring systems in buildings. This K/S Area cross-feeds Cybernetics by 10% of STEEP.

Etiquette/Social Graces:


Foreign Language:



Library Science: This might seem to be a rather unpromising Area until you consider the benefits of having such an ability. This category enables the HP to find information in libraries and to locate objects in museums or other places. As STEEP points grow, the HP will know which libraries, museums, collections, etc. have what sorts of articles, including rare books, manuscripts, scrolls, tablets, artifacts, relics, and so forth. At upper levels (51+) the HP will be recognized and respected by chief librarians and curators of museums, and thereby have or gain access to the rarest works.


Medicine: The HP is knowledgeable in all aspects of diagnosing and treating physical problems in humans. Medicine STEEP applies to First Aid, even if one does not have that K/S Area per se. With the proper equipment, broken bones can be set, diseases treated, medicines proscribed, etc. Note that one must have a minimum STEEP of 41 in this Area to qualify as a Medical Doctor. One successful roll will allow the patient to recover from wounds at the full rate (see Healing) as well as reduce the Strength rating of a disease by 10% of the doctor's STEEP (see Disease). Possessing this K/S allows you to add 10% to your First Aid K/S, if you have it.

The JM may rule that this K/S Area is not all-inclusive, and place limits on it to reflect the great complexity of this field (for instance, allowing only General medical knowledge, or perhaps a specialty in Neurology or Pathology).

Military Science: This K/S does not deal with the actual physical practice of warfare (i.e. using weapons), but rather with the tactics and strategy of troop training and deployment, as well as the planning and execution of a military operation and battlefield command. The HP will know details of weapons and armored fighting vehicles, facts on artillery and bombs, and atomic, biological, and chemical warfare -- and about spacecraft too if of a sufficiently high technology level. A successful roll against this K/S will allow the HP to identify a given weapon or fighting vehicle (and state the various characteristics of such a vehicle, including weaponry, speed, range, crew, etc.), or get an idea how to plan some mission for maximum ease and efficiency. One roll should cover one weapon or vehicle, or a relatively short (less than 1 day) portion of an actual military operation.

Native Tongue:

Perception (Mental):

Political Science:



Robotics: Possession of this ability enables the persona to identify standard robots, assess their basic potential if an unknown model, assist in assessing damage and repairing (reprogramming, replacement of parts) of robots, and possibly even in creating new designs at very high level of knowledge. The individual with the skill knows android anatomy, parameters (limitations, strengths, weaknesses, etc.), history, aberrations, growth processes, programming, and so forth. To program a robot, the individual must have Computer Science K/S. This Area is cross-fed by Cybernetics.

Physical K/S Area Descriptions

Combat, Hand-to-hand, Lethal:

Combat, Hand-to-hand, Non-lethal:

Combat, Hand Weapons:

Combat, Hand Weapons, Missile:

Criminal Activities (Physical):



Driving: The ability to drive a wide assortment of land-based vehicles is covered in this K/S. The following types of vehicles are included: ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles, including snowmobiles), Automobiles (including pickup trucks, vans, etc.), Hover vehicles, Motorcycles, Racing Cars, Tracked (bulldozers, tanks, etc.), and Trucks (large, tractor-trailer, huge, etc. --not small ones!).


Explosives/Demolitions: This K/S Area measures one's ability to both use explosives and to recognize weak points in a building or other object (like a car) where explosives might be put to the best use. The HP with this skill can both design and build explosive set-ups including bundles of dynamite, shaped plastique charges, and arrangements with timed, wired or radio detonators. This is also the K/S covering attempts to defuse a bomb, and thus may come in very handy!

First Aid:

Games, Physical:


Mechanics: The ability to understand the workings of and to repair mechanisms, engines, motors, and similar devices. At higher levels of STEEP the individual might be able to devise better systems, ranging from anything as simple as a pulley to a complex reciprocating/combustion engine and beyond. This is a very useful skill with respect to things from clocks and gun mechanisms and music boxes to automobile or aircraft engines and even more advanced technology too.

Additional Mechanics K/S Areas may be assumed as needed (for example, Mechanics, Cybernetic, below).

Mechanics, Cybernetic: This Area cross-feeds Cybernetics by 10% of STEEP

Perception (Physical):

Piloting: Possession of this K/S enables the HP to fly various forms of aircraft, including aerospace vehicles. This K/S applies both for chases in the sky as well as staying on course and landing safely under difficult conditions.

Surgery: In order to possess this Area, a persona must already have 41 or more STEEP points in Medicine. This K/S is necessary for the performance of surgery and the implantation and repair of cybernetic implants. In general, skill check rolls should be required only for the more difficult, non-routine operations or operations. This K/S is of limited use only in the field -- penalties for outside of the operating room tend to be high (+25 if everything is easily available or good substitutes are around, +50 or worse under hard conditions).



Weapons, Heavy Arms: This K/S Area includes the ability to load and service all manner of heavy weapons including the following sorts: Cannons, flame throwers, guns, howitzers, machine guns, mortars, recoilless rifles/rocket launchers, rocket batteries, triggered mines (claymore, etc.) and the like. These range from gunpowder weapons to those employing laser and sonic attack forms.

Note that there is no damage bonus for high PMP with these weapons, but the one high STEEP applies. Also, the attack rate of firearms does not vary with STEEP levels. All firearms of the same type fire at the same rate, regardless of who wields them.

Weapons, Small Arms: This K/S is similar in all ways to Weapons, Heavy Arms, but covers the following sorts of instruments of death: Grenade Launchers, Hand-Loading and Repair, Gunpowder Arms, Pistols, Rifles & Shotguns, and Sub-Machine Guns.

The Hand Loading and Repair Sub-Area includes knowledge of muzzle-loading and cap-and-ball firearms. It enables the HP to alter ammunition, cast special bullets, and make repairs on jammed or malfunctioning weapons. Duds and blanks can be made, firing pins removed, silencers made, sear pins filed or other adaptations made to convert semi- to full-automatic weapons, etc.

Note: Hurled bayonets and hand grenades do not fall under this Area. Bayonets are covered under either Combat, Hand Weapons, Spear (when affixed to the firearm) or Dagger/knife when hand held. Hand grenades are covered under Combat, Hand Weapons, Missile,, Dart, just as is a rock.

Spiritual K/S Area Descriptions

Animal Handling:


Cinematic Arts: The ability to direct as well as to appreciate and critique films and similar visual presentations are covered under this K/S. The persona with this skill and knowledge will be able to produce and edit such work for viewing by others. For example, a successful roll will allow the HP to make a short (up to about 30 minutes) visually recorded presentation that might inspire or otherwise create a strong emotional impression on an audience, such as a documentary, propaganda piece, or even a really memorable rock video. Longer works can be directed successfully with more rolls, at generally the rate of 1 roll per 10 to 30 minutes of presentation length. The DR will vary greatly depending on the skill of the actors (see the Thespianism K/S) and/or the quality and quantity of the resources available.

Communication & Broadcasting: Similar to other creative areas, this K/S enables the individual to determine the most effective delivery technique and method to get across the desired message -- and naturally such other abilities as Influence and Charismaticism come into play, as might Cinematic Arts and Creative Writing. Commercials, propaganda, and various forms of news and reporting rely upon Communications & Broadcasting ability. Media included are print, radio, television, film, and advanced technology media as well. A persona with this K/S Area can effectively get a message across, be believed by some, with a successful roll against STEEP for the less trusting or otherwise jaundiced.

Creative Writing:

Cyberdeck User:



Judgement: This is the ability to be able to assess varying things having involvement with personas or animals. There are the following areas of this K/S: Animals, Background, Business, Character, Honesty, Motive, and Occupation.

Animals: This deals with the general quality as well as friendliness and capacity of an animal to respond to training, signals, kindness, etc. It lends 10% of its STEEP to the Animal Handling K/S Area Background: This is the capability of judging what sort of SEC and family background a persona had. Etiquette/Social Graces feeds 10% of its STEEP to this Sub-Area.

Business: This is the ability to assess what chances for success a business deal has. All the facts of the sort of business, the agreement, and the personas involved must be known in order to make a judgement without a penalty.

Character: This concerns the general ethics, morals, strengths, and weaknesses of a given persona. Is he greedy? cowardly? reactionary? This Sub-Area will give the individual the opportunity to make an assessment in this regard. Psychology lends 10% of its STEEP to this Sub-Area.

Honesty: This is simply a judgement ability in the area of whether or not someone who is dealing with the persona is being open, forthright, and above-board, i.e. totally honest, reserving something, or false. Psychology lends 10% of its STEEP to this Sub-Area.

Motive: Motive deals with the persona's reasons for doing something. It is a sort of inductive assessment of why one is behaving as he does. Psychology lends 10% of its STEEP to this Sub-Area.

Occupation: As it suggests, this Sub-Area enables the persona to see an individual and have some idea as to what he or she does for a living. For instance, a street-wise criminal will use this sort of ability to judge of the individual approaching is a mark, a law officer, or something else. This Area cross-feeds 10% of STEEP with Street-Wise.




Psychology: Although in actuality there are many fields of Psychology, for game purposes only that which treats mental disturbance, imbalance, and aberrant behavior is primarily considered here. A successful roll against the Psychology K/S can repair Mental or Spiritual damage (but not a Cybernetic-induced Spiritual TRAIT loss) in the same way a roll against Medicine STEEP repairs Physical Damage. Psychology feeds Influence by 10% of Area STEEP.


Spatial Reasoning: The ability to not only see what shapes are related and fit where, but also the ability to understand various components of things as they relate to a whole operating apparatus. This ability enables the individual to look, see, and sense the form or and/or operations of something and understand what is not functioning as it should. For example, a persona with this K/S Area could look at a clock and tell what gears did what and know if one of them, or a spring, perhaps, was not properly working, with a successful roll at a STEEP or, perhaps, +10 or +20, depending on circumstances and his other abilities.



Mike Phillips (msphil@widomaker.com)