One of the great things about USR’s flexibility is how much you can say with a single Specialism: a classic fantasy Thief is assumed to be good at sneaking, picking locks, quickly assessing the value of an object, backstabbing enemies, and so on. Someone with an Assault Rifle weapon doesn’t just have a powerful gun; they also know how to use it, carry it, maintain it and so on.
But sometimes you have a signature action — a way you use the skill, tool, weapon, or other Specialism that no one else does the way you do, or no one else does at all. Think of the cowboy gunslinger who has an extra single-shot derringer secreted away in his boot when his trusty sixguns are out, or the druid who doesn’t just talk to animals — they come to him to pass along information, without even being asked.
A signature action is chosen at the same time you select a Specialism. Each Specialism can only have one signature action at a time, though you can switch to another one at any time, as long as the game master approves. It should make sense for the story, though; a captain who’s a master at keeping his ship steady through a storm won’t suddenly become an America’s Cup yacht race champ, even though both signature actions would apply to the Sailing Specialism, or something similar.
A signature action awards an additional +1 to any die roll where it applies, so it’s one better than the Specialism, no matter what bonus the Specialism provides.
Here are a few ideas, with a suggested appropriate Specialism.
Called shot: You gain this bonus when using a Gun or Bow to fire at a specific target, like a shoulder, a kneecap, or the weapon in an opponent’s hand.
Death from above: You’re especially effective at sneak attacks when Jumping onto an enemy.
Evocation: If you are a Wizard or Spellcaster, you’re especially good at one particular type of magic. Work with your game master to determine just what kinds of spells qualify as your type of magic.
Inspiring speech: A Military General or Leader Of Men can always rouse the troops to battle or keep them on task even when they’re exhausted, but you’re one of the best at doing it. You don’t need to roll for this, but some of your sayings show up when people are looking for motivational quotes.
Like a native: If you have French (or Elvish, or a Specialism for any language and culture), you not only know the language and customs like someone who’s lived there all their life, you also know things that most natives don’t know, from obscure history facts to slang terms that young people have just started using.