Knowledges are Abilities that require intellectual mastery of information. They almost always require rolls with Mental Traits, though some other sort of Attribute may prove useful occasionally. Apart from the most general popular lore, characters who lack dots in a particular Knowledge can't even attempt an action requiring it. Note that although the descriptions of what characters with various scores in a Knowledge can do refer to formal academic instruction, this isn't the only way to develop a Knowledge. Individual teaching and institutional tutoring in a non-academic contexts also let people learn these Abilities.


Academics covers the standard curriculum of the Middle Ages: the trivium of grammar, rhetoric and dialectic and the quadrivum of arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy. Anyone who attends university learns the lore of the world divided into these two catagories. Any character who acquired Acatemics within the last 300 years must choose the trivium or the quadrivium as an initial field of expertise (and can acquire the other one later). Only vampires who were created before the rise of medieval universities or thoroughly self-taught individuals escape this requirement. Any other categories seem strange at best (and actively suspicious at worst) to conventionally educated people.

Your character must know Latin, requiring Linguistics 1, to acquire the second dot in Academics.
• Novice: You know rudimentary Latin and the most fundamental authorities in your field of expertise.
•• Practiced: You can construct solid arguments, and you know some of the important commentaries in each area your expertise covers.
••• Competent: You can make a living instructing others. You know some Greek and possibly other languages in addition to Latin, and your own commentaries and glosses earn the respect of your peers.
•••• Expert: Lay people admire your mind, but they may feel you've neglected the rest of your life for the sake of learning. You can confidentally advise potentates on important matters.
••••• Master: Any library on the subjects in which you specialize seems inadequate without your works.

  • Possessed by: Court Officials, Monks, Priests, Scribes, Tutors.
  • Specialties: Instruction, Quoting Text, Research.
  • Fields of Expertise: Trivium, Quadrivium

Hearth WisdomEdit

This is the lore of the people, as opposed to the academy. It's unsystematic, but in its haphazard way, it covers the body of knowledge accumulated by peasents, traders and other people who do not benefit from servants or live in isolation. It includes mundane matters such as which plants and animals are safe to eat in the area, which herbs are good for cooking and for medicinal purposes, signs of impending bad (or good) weather, rules of thumb for resolving domestic dispites and the folk wisdom regarding the dangers (supernatural and otherwise) of the night. Unlike other Knowledges, those characters without Hearth Wisdom can attempt feats that require it, but they do so at a +2 difficulty. Despite its diversity of topics, Hearth Wisdom is not a catch-all Ability with fields of expertise.

• Novice: You know all the common fireside tales of your home and you can recall them at need.
•• Practiced: You know the obscure and traditional lore of your region, and very little - even if it's strange and dangerous - takes you by surprise within the fields you know.
••• Competent: You quickly acquire the lore of any area you pass through, and others know that when the unseen world makes itself visible, you're the one who most likely knows what to do about it.
•••• Expert: You are famous for your knowledge of mysterious affairs, and some fear you because of the potential for pacts with dark forces that your explorations afford.
••••• Master: Your supreme insights into the strange matters make you the target of pleas from individuals both high and low who suffer mysterious depredations.

  • Possessed by: Farmers, Herbalists, Hermits, Magicians, Matrons, Village elders, Witches
  • Specialties: By county or region (southern France, Northern France, England, Bavaria, etc.) and Arabic, Cures, Jewish, Omens, Wards.


Investigation is the ability to systematically examine one's environment and analyze the results. It's the central tool for judicial inquiries, religious searches for heresy and the like. It includes a grasp of the principles of research as well as an eye for detail.

• Novice: You regularly see things that others miss, and it's hard for people of your home to keep secrets if you choose to seek them out.
•• Practiced: You know how to extract information from others without alarming them, and you can unravel many mysteries.
••• Competent: You can make a living as a professional investigator for religious or secular purposes, and even if you practice some other trade, your acuity is widely respected.
•••• Expert: The most complex and best-concealed matters unravel themselves when you confront them.
••••• Master: When all other means fail and the holy saints do not choose to intervene dirextly with supernatural revelations, people who are bedeviled by the mysterious turn to you.

  • Possessed by: Bounty Hunters, Confessors, Constables, Judges, Parents, Spies, Tax Collectors.
  • Specialties: Accounting, Locate Informant, Record-Keeping, Search, Stalking.


Law is the body of knowledge about justice and its applications to practical affairs. In the Dark Medieval world, Law covers to wildly different subjects: the organic (not to mention the chaotic and contradictory) accumulation of common law based on case-by-case rulings, and the rigorous, academic tradition grounded in Roman law and guided by logic and theology. The higher a character's social rank it, the more the latter dominates. Canon law, the religious law of the Church, draws primarily on Roman law for its assumptions and principles of development, and scholars in canon law have a significant advantage in familiarity when issues of Roman-based secular law arise. The same applies to secular legalists trying to deal with canon law.

• Novice: You know all the important laws of your home and a good sample of the less important or less frequently invoked ones.
•• Practiced: You can defend yourself and your comerades against most minor charges, and you know the grounds on which to accuse others, as long as you've had a while to study the laws of the area.
••• Competent: You can make a living as a lawyer or advisor to a court, secular or religious depending on your specialization. People in your vicinity seek you out for legal advice.
•••• Expert: Your views on the proper application of law shape practice in wide-ranging areas.
••••• Master: You're revered as one of the great legal theorists of the age,

  • Possessed by: Constables, Criminals, Judges, Kings, Lords
  • Specialties: Canon Law, Diplomacy, Feudal Obligations, Laws of Ownership and Inheritance, Local Law, Sentencing


Linguistics is the knowledge of languages other than the one most common in a character's childhood. Every character begins with one language for free. Growing mastery of Linguistics covers the principles underlying languages, their relations and evolution as well as the contents of specific tongues. Dark Medieval Europe is a warren of dialects and regional tongues, but (at the Storyteller's discretion) you can assume that skinn in one major language comes with understanding of its major variants and dialects. Major languages include Latin, Occitan, French, English, Castilian, the various Italian dialects, the various Germanic dialects, Greek and many more.

• Novice: One extra language.
•• Practiced: Two extra languages.
••• Competent: Four extra languages.
•••• Expert: Eight extra languages.
••••• Master: Sixteen extra languages.

  • Possessed by: Diplomats, Dock Workers, Interpreters, Merchants, Priests, Scholars, Travelers.
  • Specialties: Diplomacy, Politics, Profanity, Technical Terms, Theology.


Medicine is the lore of the human body (and, to a lesser degree, the body as transformed by vampirism, lycanthropy and other exotic conditions). Depending on a character's particular inclination, it may cover both practical relief of trauma and injury, as well as the academic tradition based in Greek and Roman scholarship, which is often greatly mistaken about the realities of anatomy and physiology. Medicine also covers the knowledge of which herbs abd plants are useful for remedying ills.

• Novice: You can fix minor wounds and help people recover from fevers, minor infections and the like.
•• Practiced: You can deal with most common problems, not providing luxury or instant relief from misery but at least keeping people alive long enough for normal healing to run its course.
••• Competent: You can make a living as a surgeon or other medical professional. If you do something else for a living, such as mervenary soldiering, you nonetheless regularly get requests for aid.
•••• Expert: If you devote yourself to treating others, the area in which you live enjoys a particular reputation for health and prosperity. You often achieve new insights into pressing medical problems.
••••• Master: Popular accounts describe how you and the spirit of Hippocrates work together to cheat the imps of Hell from the dying souls they'd otherwise claim.

  • Possessed by: Apothecaries, Barbers, Field Surgeons, Ladies, Midwives, Squires
  • Specialties: Battle Wounds, Childbirth, Diagnosis, Disease, First Aid, Herbs, Minor Surgery, Poison Treatment.


Occult encompasses all the lores of supernatural power, most especially those that derive from formal studies, experimentation and treaties (and hence beyond Hearth Wisdom). Occult generally provides a more focused body of knowledge, with a somewhat higher ratio of truth to error and distortion, but inevitably one field bleeds into the next. Occultists can and do acquire smatterings of information about a great many subjects. The higher a character's Occult score is, the more generally reliable the results of his Occult rolls are. There is a certain overlap between Occult and Theology when it comes to a knowledge of the powers of saints or recognizing the miraculous.

• Novice: You know the general framework of the good and evil (and neutral) powers at work in your area.
•• Practiced: You understand many things about the supernatural world. You may have had some direct expirience with supernatural beings, though you likely misunderstood at least some of what happened to you.
••• Competent: You're known as a scholar of the mysterious, regarded with a hopelessly tangled mixture of fear and respect by those who need you to explain the supernatural to them. You may have regular contact with some sort of supernatural being.
•••• Expert: The mysteries of the night society lie open before you. If you possess any significant social rank, some secular or religious authority probably wants you as an advisor.
••••• Master: The demon named Legion may seek you out for a second try at defeating the age's holiest man, but it won't win.

  • Possessed by: Heretics, Inquisitors, Judges, Magicians, Pagans, Priests, Satanists, Witch-hunters.
  • Specialties: Ancient Secrets, Paganism, Qabbala, Sufism, Vampires, Witches.


Politics is the theory of the practice of governance: what ancient and modern govenors have written and how people respond to authority of various sorts. It includes insights into how people gain power, how they maintain it and how they lose it. High levels of Politics include more theory and more information about the practices of realms far from home.

• Novice: You know how things work in your home community and you can usually use the local system get what you want.
•• Practiced: You deal confidently with authorities if you're outside the hierarchy, or confidently with the governed populace if you hold some local office.
••• Competent: You know how to make use of the hierarchy at every level that thouches your existence, and you can conduct yourself effectively whenever you need to deal with political matters.
•••• Expert: You're known widely as a competent govenor or advisor, and your comments garner widespread respect.
••••• Master: People look to you as a modern Plato or Cicero.

  • Possessed by: Counselors, Courtiers, Heralds, Jesters, Lords
  • Specialties: City, Fuedal Obligations, Heraldry, Historical, Religious


Seneschal is the ability to administer holdings, from households to kingdoms. It covers the knowledge of physical assets and their needs, from crop harvesting to the maintenance of buildings, and the social skills to coordinate others labor, resolve disputes, keep those who must be paid satisfied and so on.A skilled seneschal can evaluate the state of others' holdings based on personal experience and theoretical knowledge, too.

• Novice: You can keep your family's household going smoothly and manage a few other resources as long as there's no intense pressure or stress.
•• Practiced: You can manage a business or manor and keep almost everyone involved reasonably happy.
••• Competent: You successfully oversee multiple properties over an extended area, even in times of war, famine and other calamity.
•••• Expert: Rulers know that they can give you custody of their lands and goods and get them back in better condition than you received them.
••••• Master: Preachers illustrate the contemporary significance of the parable of the talents with stories of your accomplishments.

  • Possessed by: Innkeepers, Knights, Lords, Seneschals, Stewards, Wives.
  • Specialties: Common Households, Farms, Feudal Estates, Inheritance, Noble Households, Religious Orders, Urban Holdings.


Theology is the lore of the queen of the sciences, the study of God's will inall things. It combines historucal scholarship with logic and a measure of artistic expression. Theology by itself does not make a character articulare, but it can provide the information necessary for effective persuasion, and it's crucial in evaluating many social matters. Nothing human or physical lies outside the scope of God's commandments, as heretics and the orthodox agree, and there is a theological dimension to political, economic and other disagreements. Keep in mind that, for medieval people, this is not a matter of unfounded supposition and personal conviction, but of knowable truths susceptible to a reasoned analysis. It is as rigorous a matter as medicine or ballistics.

• Novice: You know the major tenets of whatever faith prevails in your home, and you grasp the essential spirit of common doctrines even when you're unclear on details.
•• Practiced: You know holy writ and important teachings, past and present.
••• Competent: You can debate the technical points of right belief, as you understand it, and readily understand the beliefs of others even when you disagree with them.
•••• Expert: Heretics and infidels fear to contest with you, and you're a pillar of the community of faith wherever you are.
••••• Master: You are a latter-day Saint Paul or Saint Peter, depending on whether you turn your attention primarily to winning unbelievers' hearts or ministering to the needs of those who already believe.

  • Possessed by: Devout Laymen, Heretics, Magicians, Monks, Priests, Troubadours.
  • Specialties: Confession, Debate, Exposition, Heresy, Orthodoxy.

Pages in category "Knowledges"

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