Special skills were added with the third "Tierra Americana" expansion "The Great Plains" (June 27, 2012).
Special skills are acquired by doing research and finishing thesis at the university in Oxford. These skills will not be added to the normal skills meaning that players will still be able to have 50 skills from the three main skill trees (Adventure, Trade and Maritime).
The Special Skills will passively affect NPCs, the environment, etc. E.g. some skills may make disasters occur more rarely or make it easier to befriend the barmaid. You can only have a certain number of Special Skills at a time. This number can be increased by finishing more theses.
Entering the University
The first time you enter the University, talk to the professor to the right. To begin your research you must be at least level 5 adventure, trade and maritime. The professor will ask for a "Letter of Introduction" which you do not have. But Justine (a cowgirl dressed in the colors of the American flag) helps you out, and you are ready to begin. As a "welcome gift" you are granted 500 credits and you are allowed to use "Basic Research Bldg" (Bldg = Building). Together with this building you get the major "Scholarship Orientation". To unlock more majors you must meet one or more of the requirements.
To initiate your research talk to the professor. You will now be asked to choose a building. Each building have a set of majors one can choose from. When you have chosen the building, click "next" and choose the major you want. You can see what you have to do to the right before confirming. To review your research progress click "Journal" in the upper right-hand corner and choose "Research Info".
To finish / complete a thesis you must gather a number of pages. E.g. the thesis themes "Sailing Nearby Seas" for which you need 100 pages. Pages are gathered by completing the "sub-quest" shown to the right. Once you complete a sub-quest a notification will be posted in the chat area. You can complete the same sub-quest over and over.
Thesis Research and Quests
Thesis research does not count as a quest. Therefore it will not show up in the quest tab ("Journal" --> "Quest") and therefore you can do quests while doing research.
When a quest is complete you can report it through a barmaid. In the same way you can report your thesis research through the scholars. You can begin new research by talking to a scholar. However, you can only unlock new majors by talking to the professor at Oxford University. This option will unlock after some reported Thesis with the message: 'A change has come. Ask your professor in Oxford University about it' (when reporting to a scholar).
Using Special Skills
To "use" a Special Skill you must place it in your "Skill Settings". To do so, go to "Character" --> "Skills" --> "College". Click the button "Skill Settings". In the beginning you can only add one skill to your settings, but as you do more research you will be able to add more skills. Adding a skill to the list will cost credits. These can be earned by finishing thesis.
When you are done click "OK". All skills that are on the list will have a green "E" next to them.
List of Special Skills
The list of special skills can be checked when talking to a scholar or the professor in oxford by clicking "College Info"
Example for skills are:
Ship Speed Up
Increases Ship speed.
|Scolarship Recognition||Easier to raise evaluation upon submitting a treatsie at college.||100 credits|
|Search Aids||Augments skill at investigating discoveries.||50 credits|
|Scholarly Knowledge||Easier to gain proficiency for your discovery recognition skill.||300 credits|
|Secrets of Development||Returns a portion of the cost for building and removing buildings at a company colony.||300 credits|
|Field Activites 1||Increases number of trade goods acquired in the field.||150|