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In FS, the skill-system works via Proficiencies and Combat Skills, each filling their own role. Proficiencies can be split in two categories, being the knowledge proficiencies and the combat proficiencies. Both are primarily gained via professions, but the rules for them vary slightly.

List of Proficiencies

Proficiencies that increase the chance of acquiring salvage have a light blue background.

List of proficiencies
Proficiency Description
Acrobatics Your skill in being nimble, quick, and precise with your movements, allowing you to perform flips, handstands, hold your balance and other tricky movements.
Armor Your skill at using shields, armor, or just stationary objects to reduce an enemy's ability to hit you or the impact of such a hit.
Brawling Your skill with fighting with your body, be it with punching, kicking, biting, or other related abilities. Each point in this proficiency will increase the damage and status magnitude of brawling attacks by 0.2% ...
Climbing The ability to scale a mountain side or make it up a rope, if it involves ascending or descending without the use of flight, you are climbing.
Comprehension You have a very broad education! Or, at least, more than typical. When you try to learn new things, they come much easier to you. This Skill slightly reduces your direct costs for raising your skills. More importantly, it reduces the number of skill levels you are considered to have when the costs to raise your other skills are calculated. The magnitude of this reduction scales as you improve the skill, maxing out at 25% at Comprehension 60 (achievable through the perk Jack Of All Trades).
Computer Knowledge of computers enables a user to access and bypass computer systems. When the information you need is on a secured terminal, you'll be glad you have this skill along. Also increases chance of builder nanite collection with a collector. Also increases rate of Electronic salvage.
Deceit Knowledge of how to lie, disguise yourself, or otherwise hide who you are, what you mean, and what your intentions are.
Design Sometimes, you just need to make something up! This ability allows you to apply the Rules of Cool in a montage creation sequence resulting in what's needed to push the plot forward. Often combined with other skills. Such creations are for plot purposes, you cannot make your own equipment. Design also increases your odds of salvaging mechanical salvage.
Economics Where there's a will, there's probably a few creds involved. Economics helps to see the lines drawn by way of revenue. Very helpful for plots involving corporations, smugglers, and swindlers. In game, it increases freecred profits from battle, and if you are subscribed, you get double the effect. In addition, you can talk down prices in shops that allow for haggling.
Empathy The ability to read people, understand hidden meanings, and otherwise uncover the truth in what is really going on. Also, your suave demeanor gets you more pay for building social connections.
Evasion Your ability to dodge, maneuver, and avoid blows entirely.
First Aid Your capacity to give emergency, immediate aid to someone in a dire situation. Quickly apply bandages, hypos, and use other tools to provide quick medical attention to address the immediate concerns of an ally recently injured while not exactly in a safe situation.
Fortitude Fortitude determines your physical endurance, your ability to ignore pain, and your ability to recover quickly. Increases your out of combat HP and Energy Recovery, and boosts energy recovery from powers.
History Written facts about the past. What nation came after what nation, who developed the Promethean virus(RSX Industries&Zephyr Inc) and who founded Fairhaven? Knowing the past can unlock the secrets of the present(and eke out some hints from the director). This also increases the quality/value of trinkets found at times after battle.
Installation Your understanding of pre-Promethean technologies and their upkeep. This skill lets you repair computers and electronics and complicated mechanical work. This also increases your Energy salvage rates. This proficiency also makes items cheaper to keep going, reducing the salvage they need for ongoing upkeep.
Intimidation Sometimes there isn't time to win over a crowd when all you need is one guy to shut up and get out of the way. Intimidation works well at cowing people into giving you what you want. It's faster than socializing, but leaves harder feelings. In addition, you can talk down prices in shops that allow for haggling.
Legends Folk lores, wild bar tales, and whispered rumors can keep an adventurer alive! Legends is a great skill to have when fishing for a hint from a sneaky Director while plumbing in any kind of ruins or 'lost' area. Legends also provides a discount when summoning prime creatures, both a freecred reduction and less vials required. In addition, you are more able to identify rare artifacts, making the value of trinkets found after battle greater as skill is increased.
Management Your ability to read, interpret, enforce, manipulate, and understand the various rules and laws of the land. Cut through the red tape and understand the law, bringing in violators, or understanding how to bend without breaking yourself. Having this skill reduces your tax rate, normally 10%, increases your shop size if you own one, and gives your group even more freecred from fighting (Without you losing any more!)
Marksmanship Your skill with fighting with ranged weapons, such as firearms, crossbows, and grenades. Each point in this proficiency will increase the damage and status magnitude of ranged attacks by 0.2%.
Medicine What a terrible case of Valvonian Flu you have there... When plot related maladies befall you or your fellow adventurers, you're there to figure out the cure. You might not always have the cure on hand, but you at least know where to find it. When using healing abilities outside of combat, they are more effective.
Melee Your skill with fighting with handheld, close range, weapons. Examples include daggers, swords, axes and maces. Each point in this proficiency will increase the damage and status magnitude of melee attacks by 0.2%.
Negotiation Your ability at fast talk and persuasion. With this, you find it easier to get others to see your side of things and eventually join you. In addition, you can talk down prices in shops that allow for haggling.
Perception Your ability to detect the movements and actions of others in the environment around you.
Research What you don't know, is probably written down somewhere. Knowing how to scour the information nets and read books quickly can uncover the next part of the plot. Also increases odds of finding Chemical Salvage. Also increases drop rates of infection nanites(with a proper collector)
Running Your ability to move quickly. Acceleration and top speed are both affected by your skill here. This proficiency assists you when attempting to flee combat.
Security Traps, Mechanical Locks? Not a problem for you! You're quite good at spotting cameras and traps, and working out how to bypass all those things designed to keep people LIKE YOU out. NOTE: In the web patrol puzzle game, security helps to avoid setting off traps, giving you more chances to find the right space.
Sexual Knowledge of sex, be it on the giving or receiving end. Besides making friends happy, it can be used to make new friends or change minds in the bizarre nanite world we live in. Some mutant strains won't listen to any other form of diplomacy.
Stealth Your ability to hide, sneak, or otherwise avoid detection. As a note, attempting rapid movement, such as running, would give a penalty to this roll. How much of a penalty is up to the judge.
Strength Your ability to lift, push, or otherwise move heavy objects. This proficiency is heavily modified by your mass. Note: This proficiency does not reflect on your damage in any way.
Survival Where do you pitch a tent? How do we find water? It's getting really cold up here! Survival experts know what to do when the environment turns deadly. Increases your successful flee rate and increases rate of Edible salvage. This skill also helps those in the Survivor faction to do cheaper repairs on their equipment.
Theology Knowledge of supernatural and mystical forces, as well as their artifacts. Useful for identifying which dedication or supernatural has which effects and powers, or what a particular item is and what it represents. This skill also increases the quality of trinkets you find after a battle.
Underworld Who's selling, who's buying, and who's a rotten snitch? The Underworld helps when dealing with unsavory characters and avoiding ending up the fall man for someone else's grand desires.
Willpower Your mental fortitude to avoid compulsion, trickery, or other attempts to manipulate you, mind and body.
Xeno The study of alien beings. One might have called it Anthropology, back in the day when man was the only sentient being. Does that thing breathe fire? Do those people kill on sight or deliver cookie baskets? Only properly trained Xeno Scholars know for sure.

A score of 10 in Xeno allows numeric hp view in +health. 20 allows you to see all the mutations a creature has when using the +mut command and upgrades <look> to see what mutant powers a creature should have, based on its mutations. Having 30 upgrades <look> to see what mutant powers it ACTUALLY has. Lastly, having 40 allows you to see the 'real' mutations of someone with Looks Human perk. Note, works just fine on players too.

More info

Before obtaining a proficiency, it is useful to look them all over:

  • list proficiency lists all proficiencies.
  • rpinfo <proficiency> provides info about the chosen proficiency, primarily what it does and which professions have it.
  • list profession lists all professions.
  • rpinfo <profession> provides basic info about a profession, most notably which proficiencies are granted by them.

Once you have decided on a set of professions, simply buy <profession> anywhere outside of a shop. You can have six professions at most, each giving up to 10 points in the attached proficiencies, with the first two being free, and subsequent ones costing small amounts of experience. Keep in mind that any given proficiency can only reach 60% of the max level via professions, so buying any beyond that is a waste of proficiency.

After having purchased six professions, further training in proficiencies is possible via the training-page on the web-interface ( Training a proficiency past 10 points will infer a token-cost, and logically, the price goes up the higher you train your proficiencies. Here, you can also set a tax-rate, which means that a part of your earned freecred is invested in the chosen proficiency directly, lowering the cost of leveling over time and offering a higher interest-rate the higher you set the tax-rate.

As noted before, the two types of proficiencies have slightly differing rules, in that you can train a knowledge-proficiency up to your level, whereas you can only train a combat-proficiency up to 60% of that. If your professions would grant you more than your current (mentored) level would permit, the additional points will show up once you gain a higher level, so nothing is lost.

Thematically, all proficiencies mark prowess in their given field, no matter which type. For example, rpinfo medicine. As we can see, medicine would allow the character to have a certain degree of medical expertise. Contrast rpinfo first aid, which doesn't bring expanded medical knowledge in and of itself, but instead allows a more efficient use of medicine in stressful situations such as combat. The first is a knowledge-proficiency, the second a combat-proficiency.

Note that caps do apply. You can have 10% of proficiencies at 90-100% of the level cap, 20% at 80-90%, 20% at 70-80%, 20% at 60-70%, and no limits on the number under that. Each of these has the lower bound excluded. Hence, combat-proficiencies will never, ever count towards your caps.

As always, rpinfo provides useful info, with rpinfo <combat skill> telling what a combat skill does and where to get it, and rpinfo <class> noting the skills associated with a class. Likewise list class and list combat skill list all the classes and combat-skills, respectively.