HERO System (5th ed.)
Franklin's House Rules for Skills
All original work herein is copyright © by Franklin W. Cain. All rights reserved. (Last updated: 27 January 2007)
Skills ( List ) . . . Agility | Intellect | Interaction . . . Background ( List ) . . . Languages . . . Transport Familiarity | Weapon Familiarity . . . Martial Arts

Aptitude Skills    (Cost structure is 3/2)
  *  Agility Skills    (DEX-based)
  *  Intellect Skills    (INT-based)
  *  Interaction Skills    (PRE-based)
  *  "Power" Skill    (CHAR-based)
Background Skills    (Cost structure is 2/1)
  *  Knowledges
  *  Area Knowledges
        *  City Knowledges
        *  Terrain Knowledges
        *  Culture Knowledges
  *  Professions
        *  Transport Familiarities
        *  Weapon Familiarities
  *  Sciences
  *  Languages    (Variable cost structure)
  *  Skill Levels
  *  Penalty Levels
  *  Maneuvers
        *  Defense Maneuver
        *  Martial Arts
General Info

I divide Skills into these groups, as shown in the table to the right.

Furthermore, I have eliminated the principle of "category" skills among the Aptitude Skills (i.e., those CHAR-based Skills having a base cost of 2 pts.). Instead, every Aptitude Skill has a base cost of three points (3 pts.). To specialize a particular skill (i.e., to determine for which "categories" a particular skill is useful), you must also acquire the relevant Background Skill(s).

Finally, I have provided my own version of the Skills List, which incorporates all the changes I have made.

Aptitude Skills

I call all of the Agility, Intellect, and Interaction Skills (i.e., all of the generic CHAR-based, 3/2 skills) by the collective name, Aptitude Skills. For some time, I've been toying with the idea that most Skill checks (in HERO System) needs not only a 3/2, CHAR-based Skill, but a Background Skill as well, to help cement the Aptitude Skill's use to the specific situation at hand.

Each of the three subcategories of Aptitude Skill has their own separate page, wherein I document any changes to the specific Skills.

Agility Skills
*   Acrobatics
*   Breakfall
*   Climbing
*   Combat Driving
*   Combat Pilot
*   Contortionist
*   Fast Draw
*   Lockpicking
*   Riding
*   Sleight of Hand
*   Stealth
*   Teamwork
     Intellect Skills
*   Artist
*   Computer Programming
*   Concealment
*   Criminology
*   Cryptography
*   Deduction
*   Demolitions
*   Disguise
*   Electronics
*   Forgery
*   Gambling
*   Inventor
*   Mechanics
*   Mimicry
*   Navigation
*   Paramedic
*   Security Systems
*   Shadowing
*   Survival
*   Systems Operation
*   Tactics
*   Tracking
*   Ventriloquism
*   Weaponsmith
     Interaction Skills
*   Acting
*   Animal Handler
*   Bribery
*   Bureaucratics
*   Conversation
*   High Society
*   Interrogation
*   Oratory
*   Persuasion
*   Seduction
*   Showmanship
*   Streetwise
*   Trading

"Power" Skill

This Skill functions as per its description on HSR5, pgs. 46-47.

Minimum Degree of Competency

Whenever an Aptitude Skill is purchased by a character (or by a vehicle or a base), that Aptitude Skill must have a skill roll of at least "11-" regardless of the actual value of the Characteristic in question (and regardless of whether or not the vehicle/base even has that Characteristic!). This is the equivalent of treating these skills the old General Skills from the 4th Edition of the HERO System Rules.

Type of
(Background) Skill
("Generic") Knowledge   KS: Xxxx
Profession   PS: Xxxx
Science   Sci: Xxxx
Language   Lng: Xxxx
Area Knowledge   AK: Xxxx
City Knowledge   CK: Xxxx
Terrain Knowledge   AK: Xxxx
Culture Knowledge   AK: Xxxx
Transport Familiarity   TF: Xxxx
Weapon Familiarity   WF: Xxxx
Background Skills

I have documented my general house rules for Background Skills elsewhere. I also have a rather extensive list of various Background Skills available for use in any campaign I run. Finally, I also have separate documents covering my house rules for each of these specific (sub)categories of Background Skills:


Transport Familiarities (TFs)

Weapon Familiarities (WFs)


This includes all leftover (i.e., "misc.") Skills that are neither Aptitude Skills nor Background Skills.

Skill Levels

I do not necessarily distinguish between "Combat" Skill Levels and (Non-Combat) Skill Levels.

Furthermore, I do not permit 3-point Skill Levels to have Limitations. Instead, you must buy the appropriate 5-point Skill Levels.

2-point Skill Levels
  • +1 OCV w/ one specific attack (i.e., a Power or a Maneuver)
  • +1 w/ one specific Aptitude Skill
  • +1 w/ one specific CHAR Roll

3-point Skill Levels

  • +1 w/ a set of three (related) Maneuvers
  • +1 w/ a tight group of attacks; (e.g.):
    • +1 w/ Karate (or some other specific martial arts style)
    • +1 w/ Pistols (or some other specific category of weapons)
  • +1 Def. MCV vs. any (Mental) attack
  • +1 w/ a set of three (related) Skills (usually Aptitude Skills)

8-point Skill Levels

  • +1 w/ any combat situation
  • +1 w/ any non-combat Skill usage

10-point Skill Levels

  • +1 w/ anything (i.e., this is a General [or Overall] Skill Level)
        5-point Skill Levels
  • +1 w/ a related group of attacks; (i.e.):
    • +1 w/ Unarmed/HTH Combat
    • +1 w/ Armed/Melee Combat
    • +1 w/ All Missile Weapons
    • +1 w/ All Firearms (i.e., all Small Arms and Heavy Weapons)
    • +1 w/ Mental Combat
  • +1 DCV vs. any attack
  • +1 w/ any one category of Aptitude Skills; (i.e.):
    • +1 w/ any Agility Skill
    • +1 w/ any Intellect Skill
    • +1 w/ any Interaction Skill
  • +1 w/ any one (major) category of Background Skills; (i.e.):
    • +1 w/ any Knowledge Skill (i.e., any "generic" Knowledge; does not include Area, City, Terrain, and/or Culture Knowledges)
    • +1 w/ any Profession (including any Transport Familiarity or Weapon Familiarity)
    • +1 w/ any Science
    • +1 w/ any Language
    • +1 w/ any Area, City, Terrain, and/or Culture Knowledge
  • +1 w/ any one Skill of a particular theme; (e.g.):
    • +1 w/ any Technological Skill
    • +1 w/ any Research Skill
    • +1 w/ any Medical Skill
    • (etc.)
  • +1 w/ anything involving a common source or special effect; (e.g.):
    • +1 w/ Battlesuit
    • +1 w/ Magic
    • +1 w/ Omni-Car
    • (etc.)

Penalty Levels

Each type of Penalty Level corresponds to a type of "regular" Skill Level, as shown below. Also, each Penalty Level must apply to just one specific type of penalty.

1½-point Penalty Levels *

*    (This is actually 3 pts. per +2 OCV. If a final extra +1 OCV is needed, round the cost up.)

2-point Penalty Levels

3-point Penalty Levels


Autofire Skills

The Autofire Skill Accurate Sprayfire can be simulated using the appropriate Penalty Skill Levels (see below). The other Autofire Skills, however, I do not permit.

Defense Maneuver I      3 pts.
Defense Maneuver II   5 pts.
Defense Maneuver III   8 pts.
Defense Maneuver IV   10 pts.
Defense Maneuver

This Skill functions as per its description on HSR5, pg. 39. For your convenience, I've listed the various types of Defense Maneuver, along with their corresponding cost, in the table to the right:

Martial Arts

I discuss those details for this skills category that are specific to my campaign(s) elsewhere.

Rapid Attack

I do not permit this Skill, per se. Instead, buy the appropriate Penalty Skill Levels. For example:

Two-Weapon Fighting

I do not permit this Skill, per se. Instead, buy the appropriate Penalty Skill Levels. For example:

Note that any character with Ambidexterity has already compensated for the Off Hand penalty (making this Maneuver that much cheaper to buy)...


Cramming is a Power (not a Skill). Nonetheless, Cramming functions as per its description on HSR5, pg. 38.

All original work herein is copyright © by Franklin W. Cain. All rights reserved. (Last updated: 27 January 2007)