A Path to Steam
Defaults: IQ-4 or Geography (Regional)-3*
*You have an IQ default only for Area Knowledge of a place where you live or once lived. Geography only gives a default for Area Knowledge of the specialty region.
This skill represents familiarity with the people, places, and politics of a given region. You usually have Area Knowledge only for the area you consider your “home base,” whether that’s a single farm or a solar system. If information about other areas is available, the GM may allow you to learn additional Area Knowledge skills.
The GM should not require Area Knowledge rolls for ordinary situations; e.g., to find the blacksmith, tavern, or your own home. But he could require a roll to locate a smith to shoe your horse at 3 a.m., or to find the best ambush spot along a stretch of road.
“Secret” or obscure information might give a penalty, require a Hidden Lore skill (p. 199), or simply be unavailable – GM’s decision. For instance, Area Knowledge of Washington, D.C. gives you the location of the Russian Embassy, but not the KGB’s current safe house.
The information covered by Area Knowledge often overlaps such skills as Current Affairs, Geography, Naturalist, and Streetwise. The difference is that Area Knowledge works for a single area: you know the habits of this tiger or gang boss, but have no
special insight into tigers or gangs in general.
You can learn Area Knowledge for any sort of area. The larger the territory, the less “personal” and more general your knowledge becomes. Almost everyone will have Area Knowledge of some type. The “canonical” area classes are:
Neighborhood: For an urban area: the residents and buildings of a few city blocks. For a rural area: the inhabitants, trails, streams, hiding places, ambush sites, flora, and fauna of a few hundred acres.
Village or Town: All important citizens and businesses, and most unimportant ones; all public buildings and most houses.
City: All important businesses, streets, citizens, leaders, etc.
Barony, County, Duchy, or Small Nation: General nature of its settlements and towns, political allegiances, leaders, and most citizens of Status 5+.
Large Nation: Location of its major cities and important sites; awareness of its major customs, ethnic groups, and languages (but not necessarily expertise); names of folk of Status 6+; and a general understanding of the economic and political situation.
Planet: As for a large nation, but more general; knowledge of people of Status 7+ only.
Interplanetary State: Location of major planets; familiarity with all known races (but not necessarily expertise); knowledge of people of Status 7+; general understanding of
the economic and political situation.
Galaxy: Location of the capitals of interplanetary states and the homeworlds of major races; general awareness of all major races; knowl- edge of individuals of Status 8; general understanding of relations between interplanetary states.
Area Knowledge for anything larger than a galaxy would be meaninglessly vague.
Your IQ-4 default applies to any of these classes, as long as you have lived in the area. Defaults are limited by “common knowledge” at your tech level! A TL0 hunter would have a default for every level up to “Village or Town,” while a TL8 student would
have defaults up to “Planet” level. You must live in an interplanetary or interstellar state to have defaults for levels above “Planet.”
In some game worlds, Area Knowledge specialties may exist for parallel realities and other dimensions – Area Knowledge (Cyberspace), Area Knowledge (Dream Realms), etc. The
knowledge such skills provide is left to the GM’s judgment.