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Mechanics: Astronomy

In space you really don’t spend a huge amount of time exploring dungeons – although dungeons and cave systems still exist, they’re not considered important enough to be their own field of study. On the other hand, knowing how the cosmos work is increasingly valuable in a time like this. If there are any particular questions, do ask.

What about Dungeoneering?

In vanilla Fourth Edition, dungeoneering allows you to:

  • Forage for food underground
  • Identify aberrant or subterranean monsters
  • Identifying subterranean flora
  • Navigate underground (both in terms of altitude and cardinal directions)
  • Noticing changes in your environment from recent construction

Basically, all this stuff is an underground version of Nature so most of these effects can simply be folded into that skill. Identifying Aberrant monsters will be part of astronomy though.

Changes to Nature

In addition to folding the stuff from Dungeoneering into it, nature has the ability to analyze an alien creature you’re unfamiliar with. Creatures on new planets won’t have been studied or classified the way they were on the Motherrock, but knowledge of nature and evolution can give you some insight into its physical capabilities.

Astronomy Does…

Astronomy is the study of the cosmos, celestial bodies and the cold vacuum of space.

It governs:

  • Navigating a space ship or similar vehicle (Navigation in general, plus principles of motion including gravitational slingshotting around large bodies to save fuel. Actually operating it is Arcana)
  • Identifying cosmic phenomena (Celestial bodies, nebulae, gamma bursts, different types of stars etc)
  • Navigation in space (Orienteering via the stars, not getting lost in an asteroid belt etc. This can be used in the traditional sense to navigate at night when there are no nearby landmarks.)
  • Identifying the properties of a celestial body (Does a planet have a breathable atmosphere etc)
  • Understanding cosmic space-time phenomena (Relativity, gravitational effects, Newtonian dynamics etc)
  • Identify the system you’re in or the planet you’re on via the starry sky.
  • Familiarity with Wyrmhole locations (To get from where you are to Wyrmweb station)
  • Analyze aberrant monsters (So does everything weird live underground in D&D or something? It doesn’t any more – it’s aliens now.)

Astronomy Sample Skill Checks


You can identify the nearby stars to orientate yourself – it’s an easy check to note nearby constellations and remember them, but identifying specific systems might vary in difficulty depending on how well-known the local area is. You get a circumstance bonus on astronomy checks for orientation in when using a star chart.

On the ground you can use this information to navigate on a clear night.


Piloting a vehicle is going to be easier or harder depending on the maneuverability of the ship, and the complexity of the action, but a successful astronomy check can get you where you need to be. In addition, you’ll need to use astronomy to aim weaponry making this a very important skill for a navigator.


You can use astronomy to identify a cosmic phenomena or discern the properties of a cosmic body. You have to be able to see or sense the phenomenon in question so it would be very hard to identify dark matter unless your ship was actually being affected by its gravitational field. Identifying the properties of a planet is generally a really good idea before deciding to land on it or breathe in its atmosphere , but as always caution is advised. Most planets with known life have breathable atmospheres within certain parameters, so although you’ll be able to survive, a successful astronomy check might identify specific effects on different races.

Categories: Mechanics
  1. August 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    My only comment/suggestion would be leaving identification of aberrations in Astronomy; by definition, aberrations are unnatural, so a study of Nature probably won’t cover them. A study of how space is weird and different from planets, however, might cover just that.

    • August 11, 2012 at 11:40 pm

      That probably makes sense, even if xenobiology is a bit of a tangential topic to astronomy, but then might as well have it be useful for that because then each skill has a monster-identifying ability

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