Introduction to skills
Skills form the foundation of your character's abilities in the game. Commands, spells, rituals, activities like swimming, even speaking and understanding another language - your proficiency at all of these activities is determined by a skill bonus, or a combination of bonuses. Bonus is explained more thoroughly here, but in brief, it's your skill level that determines your bonus, with some modification according to your stats. A higher skill level (and therefore bonus) makes your action work better - be it do more damage, heal more effectively, fix more thoroughly.
It's not just a question of being better at things. Most guild activities will only be available to you after you've reached a certain level in the skills needed. For example, you can't learn Hag's Blessing until you've reached 10 levels of Miscellaneous.
You can see your skill level and your bonus level by typing the command 'skills'.
Increasing your skills
Increasing your skills is very important in the game, and can happen in one of several ways:
- You can advance in your guild, having a guild npc teach you. This method costs XP and a bit of money. Skills cost more to advance as they get higher, and guild primaries cost less to advance (also, you can advance them up to level 300, while non-primaries have a much lower advancement cap).
- You can learn, ideally from another player who has a much higher level in that skill than you, or from yourself. This method costs XP but no money. This is more expensive in XP than advancement at your guild, and learning from yourself is more expensive than learning from another player. The higher the other player's teaching bonus, the cheaper it will be to learn from them. (You can learn indefinitely this way, though skills become more expensive to learn as your bonus in them increases.)
- If you're lucky, you might TM a skill. Short for TaskMaster, this system works on the principle of 'practice makes perfect' - you have a chance of going up a skill level when you just use a skill.
Skill structure and notation
Skills are structured hierarchically, so that related skills are grouped together. For example, the Magic branch of the skill tree has a branch called Spells. Spells breaks down into Offensive, Defensive and Miscellaneous and Special. Offensive doesn't break down further, so it is the actual skill. Skills can be 4 levels deep.
Skills are commonly referred to using the first two letters of their tree, and often the last level (the crucial one) written in full, eg ma.me.me.animating (which is magic.methods.mental.animating).
From the helpfile
skills - How good you are at things and how to get better. Description
Discworld uses a hierarchical skill system. A player has skills numbering into the hundreds in which they can improve and train.
The skills are broken up into groups. All skills fall into fighting, magic, faith, crafts, covert and other. The skills in magic are then divided up into spells, items, points and special. This scheme proceeds downwards until a skill is finally reached. Your skill in fighting is the average of all the skills below fighting. You can only advance skills that you have depth*5 skill levels in. What is meant by this is that you can only advance the top level fighting until you reach level 5, at which point you can advance fighting.melee, fighting.range, fighting.unarmed, fighting.defence, fighting.special or fighting.points. This means you can either get better at fighting or get more guild points. Similarly when you get to level 10 in fighting, you can start to advance either fighting.melee.dagger or fighting.melee.flail. It is entirely up to you what you want to advance in.
Other members in your guild should be able to tell you what sort of things you should advance in order to get certain abilities. See also