Category Archives: Shattered Vistas

Shattered Vistas: Skills

Characters are defined by their skills- what they are good at doing, what they are not so good at doing, and skills are defined by their ruling Arcana. The more points you have in a skill, the more dice you get to roll, and the more dice you get to roll, the higher your rolls are likely to be.

Ruling Arcana

Every skill is defined by its Ruling Arcana. This determines both the flavor of the skill- what it’s good for, and how it’s used, and what Arcana can be played as trump cards to increase the skill roll.

Coin Skills cover “low knowledge,” anything involving cunning, real-world applications, or street-smarts. Skills that involve a combination of physical action and mental ingenuity often fall into this category.

Cup Skills involve the social arts and interactions with others. If a skill involves manipulating or inspiring other people, it’s a Cup skill.

Staff Skills cover “high knowledge,” such as academia, scholarly learning, and advanced topics. Sorcerous knowledge is also covered under the Staff arcana, though these skills follow special rules.

Sword Skills are based on combat, physical conflict, personal might and martial prowess. If a skill involves fighting, or physical action of some kind, it’s probably ruled by the Sword Arcana.

Default Skills

Animal Handling
Sleight of Hand

Court Contacts
Underworld Contacts

Arcane Lore
Natural Philosophy
Sorcerous Skill*

Hand to Hand

The Sorcerous Skill includes several different skills, such as Faustian Magic, granted by the different Magical Traditions. You may not have a Sorcerous Skill unless you have a Magical Traditions. Magical Traditions and their associated skills are explained in the chapter on magic.

Custom Skills

There’s no reason to be limited to this skill list. If you have an idea for a new skill, suggest it to your Gamemaster, along with what Arcana you think it falls under. New skills should be about as broad as the ones already in place, and fall under the same Arcana. It might be tempting to create a Dirty Fighting skill that falls under the Coins Arcana, but combat is the aegis of the Sword. (There are also other ways for characters to use their Coin cards in a fight.) A good example of new skills might be a different Contacts skill focusing on a different social class, or a Pirate Weapons (or Ninja Weapons) skill focusing on the types of weapons commonly used by Pirates (whatever you and your GM agree upon that those are.)

Shattered Vistas: Overview and The Core Mechanic


Stretching out across the horizon are the Shattered Vistas, a washed out, deserted ruined landscape. Once, these were fertile, magical lands, full of hope and promise. Was that a strange memory of long ago, or was it just a fleeting dream? No matter, for today the world is a collection of broken wonders, dangerous ruins, and small communities of survivors trying to carve out a living in a world that has moved on.

Shattered Vistas is a post-apocalyptic fantasy heartbreaker roleplaying game, inspired by a variety of game systems and fictional settings. The setting is a fantasy steampunk by way of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series: a fantasy world with gunslingers, gizmos, fantasy relics, strange wonders of the past, and monsters to fight. The system comes from a variety of sources, but Deadlands gets special mention for a number of reasons.

What You Need to Play

Friends: You’ll want at least three more players, probably as many as six more. One of you will take the role of the Gamemaster, who does exactly what you expect the Gamemaster to do. The others will take the role of characters exploring, challenging, and emerging victorious over this hostile land.

A Copy of the Rules: You’ll want to have read them before play, and it will be handy to have at least one copy available for reference during play.

Paper and Pencils: Each player will need a sheet of paper for their character sheet, to record their skills and special abilities, as well as any notes they wish to take.

Dice: You’ll need a whole bunch of six sided dice- ten per player should suffice. Each player will also want a twelve sided die.

A Tarot Deck: One copy of a standard Tarot deck is needed; these cards are dealt out and used during play.

Some of the spellcasting traditions may require additional items for use in resolving spellcasting.

Rolling the Dice

Whenever your character tries to do something in game where the outcome is in doubt, you will make a Skill Check. To do so, pick a relevant skill from your character’s list of skills. (The skills themselves are explained in detail on the chapter on Skills.) Your character will have a skill level, which is the number of dice rolled when using that skill. The more dice, the better.

The gamemaster will set a Target Number for your skill roll. The harder the task is, the higher the Target Number.

Once you’ve got your dice and know what you’re rolling against, roll those dice, and add up the numbers showing. This is your Skill Result. If you equaled or exceeded the Target Number, congratulations, your skill roll was a success. If you failed to reach the Target Number, your skill roll was a failure. The gamemaster will elaborate on the result of all successful or failed rolls.

If your result exceeded the Target Number by ten or more, you have achieved a Critical Success. This is an exemplary success with some extra benefit! The exact effects of a Critical Success is up to the discretion of the Gamemaster.

But That’s Not All!

Don’t like your roll? At the start of each session of play, you will be dealt a number of Tarot cards from the deck. You can play these cards to modify your rolls after you see the result of the die roll.

Most cards are Minor Arcana. These come in four suits, Coins, Cups, Swords, and Wands, varying from one (the Ace) to ten, with four face cards (the Page, Knight, Queen, and King) in each suit. In addition, there are twenty-two major arcana, unsuited cards like The Hanged Man or the Wheel of Fortune.

Every skill has a related suit. For example, fighting and martial prowess is tied to the Sword suit. When you make a skill check with such a skill, a Sword card can be played to modify the result.

Numbered Minor Arcana add their value to the roll. So the Three of Swords adds a plus 3, and the Nine of Swords adds a plus 9.

Aces can be used to either add a simple plus 1 for a roll of the related suit, or cause the dice rolled to “explode.” That is, any dice that rolled a six are picked up and re-rolled, and the results added to the six. Roll another six? Add it on and keep going.

Face Cards have a value of ten for augmenting rolls of their Suit.

There are other uses for the Face Cards and especially for the Major Arcana. These are detailed in the chapter on the Tarot.

Coming Soon: The Skills that define the characters of the Vistas.