I'm writing a roleplaying game based on the Gumshoe system (I swear this is a language question rather than one for rpg.stackexhange.com!).

Characters in this games have a set of Investigative Abilities and a set of General Abilities.

The two sets of abilities function in very different ways and have very different purposes, and in playing the game previously, there was some confusion because they're both described as "abilities" despite featuring different rules.

Investigative Abilities are things like forensic science, evidence collection, research - things that allow the characters in the game to find clues. They always succeed.

General Abilities are things like driving, fighting, pick-pocketing - things that don't in and of themselves lead to clues, and that also might fail.

Is there a better way of describing these two sets of abilities that more clearly delineates them?

  • 2
    How about "Investigative Skills" and "General Abilities"? Jan 12, 2016 at 17:59
  • I would rather call all of them Skills, and have Skill Categories, and the Categories can be named Investigation, General.
    – Warren P
    Feb 11, 2016 at 21:58
  • I'd incline to competencies for the first set (ability to do something successfully or efficiently). This guy is effectively making the case for the second set being skills, but I think plain abilities might be more intuitively distinguishable. Feb 11, 2016 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


Street and University

Some skills can be learned on the street and some skills can be learned in a university. Both are useful. One is basic and one is informed.

  • This sounds appropriately hard-boiled.
    – Warren P
    Feb 11, 2016 at 21:58

Cognitive abilities vs. physical capabilities?

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