Adventure Trove: Templates
Skill based systems, especially generic ones, tend to make characters who resemble one another not because they emphasize the same skills, but because there is usually little guidance in character creation. Some games invent class-lite systems to get around this, such as Legend of the Five Rings, or Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. Other games provide guidance within the skill system, such as Seventh Sea. Still others provide character archetypes as templates both implied as with Shadowrun or specified as with West End Games’ Star Wars. I felt that for Adventure Trove, one of the concepts I was bringing forward from the development which inspired the whole project was templates. Templates provide structure and guidance but they aren’t rigid like classes.
My take on the original concept was to create classes in truth, with all of the trappings of the same. Sorcerers got magic from their Profession, Priests did much the same, and everybody else got extremely useful iconic skills as Core Skills. Now, the concept of core skills has changed since that time. Originally, the thought behind a Core Skill was that all of your Core Skills determined your Profession Rank, which is to say class level. This was an important number in Fantasy Adventures because it applied to many rolls, including to hit in combat. All in all however, it was just a way to punish players for doing what comes natural in a skill based system, branching out and cross training. Once I realized that, I changed the idea significantly.
So characters with Core Skills get a slight benefit when advancing them. A character is likely to have his Core Skills above rank 1, and more likely to have them be some of their highest skills not because the Profession forces them to do such a thing, but rather because they are cheaper to advance up to rank 3. Normally characters have to pay a surcharge when purchasing the first rank of an unfamiliar skill, or any rank of skill in which the skill is higher than the attribute it is based on. They also have to pay a surcharge to advance a skill above rank 4, or an aspect above rank 5.
This slowed advancement for the upper tiers is designed to engender a sense of accomplishment when those high ranks are attained. It also stabilizes the curve of expected results from a game designer perspective. I haven’t explicitly created a dice pool cap for rolls yet, but there should never be a need to roll more than 10D6. I’ve played bucket of dice games before, and rolling more dice than that is often fun only the first time. Typically with a mastered skill, you probably will roll it quite a lot, so a dice pool rolling cap is likely in the future.
Once I settled on how Profession templates work, I thought about how race or background templates should work as well. Then I made some refinements. So now you have templates in their current form. A Background or Profession template gives you an aspect increase or modifier (this will be explained further later on), a collection of core skills, perhaps a familiar skill group or two, and any traits that are common to that race, upbringing or training. By choosing a Template you are still in control of character development, both during and after character creation. However, you get a solid foundation to fill the niche you chose, and a nice set of bonuses besides.
Choice of +1 Dexterity or Muscle
Brawling, Crafting: Poisons, Notice, Search, Sleight of Hand, Tracking
Cost: 21 points
As you can see, this is partially why Theoren looks like he does. Admittedly, Theoren is a Conan themed assassin not a Ninja themed one, but the template emphasizes what is most iconic about such characters. It doesn’t pigeonhole anybody, and it doesn’t prevent the mastery of other disciplines. Every aspect of this template has an associated point cost, mostly in line with trait costs, so that players can design their own templates if they find the ones I have created too little like their vision.
A character’s profession only tells part of the story of their formative years however. Every character has a background. Likewise, if you don’t like your background you can create your own. This is going to be necessary for characters growing up in environs different to the one their race lives in. Again, each piece of a Background template has an associated point cost, which means that players (and Game Masters) have total freedom in developing character archetypes associated with race. The important difference between the two is that while Professions give adjustments to one aspect, to reflect years of training, Backgrounds give modifiers to reflect racial tendencies. A +1 to Muscle is effectively the same thing when it comes to rolling an athletics test based on lifting heavy objects or figuring base weapon damage, but when it comes to advancing skills, or qualifying for traits, it does not apply. This basically means the character gets an extra die for certain actions, but they don’t get to use this for everything an actual rank in the aspect would imply. This includes figuring the character’s Attribute ranking.
+1 to Muscle or Condition
Weapons: Axes, Bows or Pole-Arms
Lore (Home Region)
Cost: 14 points