Thursday, September 30, 2010

Your Character's Old Job

Following up on my earlier post, here are the are some of the background occupations for adventurers I plan on using in my own upcoming Weird Adventures game. These backgrounds suggest the broad, noncombat skills character’s will have. For skill checks, I plan to use a "Target20" sort of mechanic, wherein d20 plus appropriate modifiers must be greater then or equal to “20” to succeed. Using a skill within the purview of the the background will garner an additional +1 in addition to the pertinent ability score bonus on the skill check.

All of this will require a good deal of GM discretion. I will probably allow two background occupations if a player had a real good concept. Bonuses in that context wouldn’t “stack” though, if they happened to have similar skill sets.

It should also be noted that, with a few exceptions, I view any class as able to take any background occupation (though some would be a better "fit" for one or another), though that will modify the nature of that occupation somewhat. A Tough Guy scientist is a “Two-Fist Scientist” while a Magic Man amateur detective becomes a “Occult Detective.”

Anyway, here are a few examples:

Academician [requires Int 12+]
The Ivory Halls of Academia didn’t hold enough excitement for you--or perhaps your hunger for knowledge ran to topics not considered appropriate by those in your department. When you’ve proved your theories, they’ll have to listen.
Skills: Academicians will have a primary field of study, and some knowledge of related fields. They’re probably just well-read in general.

Big Game Hunter
You’ve tracked tigers through Lemurian ruins, and bagged woolly mammoths in the snow-bound wastes of Borea, but some of the biggest, deadliest beasts can be found closer to home...
Skills: A hunter will know the habits and characteristics of animals he follows, and be able to follow their tracks and sign.

There’s only so many hours you can spend at the club or charity events before the ennui becomes unbearable. It’s adventure you crave! That and another glass of single malt.
Skills: Etiquette and savior faire. The dillettante (unlike the socialite) has dabbled in various subjects and has a good chance of having a superficial knowledge about an array of topics.

There are guys who are good to have around in the event there is a need to get physical, but guys like that are apt to get other guys sore at them. And when those other type of guys get sore, morticians get busy. Sometimes, guys of the aforementioned first type maybe oughta decide a change of career is in order. You, my friend, are a guy of the first type.
Skills: Gangsters are likely to known the prominent criminals in town, and locales related to criminal activity.


JimShelley said...

Two Fisted Scientist sounds perfect for me!

Risus Monkey said...

Awesome. I do wonder, though if a mere +1 from background is enough on a d20 check. That's just 5%.

Trey said...

@risus - well, that's on top of the ability bonus, which would be +3 at an 18 (for a total of +4 obviously). I hadn't planned on giving untrained individuals their full ability bonus--if indeed they were allowed a chance at the skill at all. But your point is well taken, and it is something i'm still mulling over.

Harald said...

I think 20 may be a bit high if the only bonuses available are from skill+ability. What about circumstance and equipment? That should even things out a bit more, not to mention that players always love gadgets and gear. It would mean more steps to the skill-resolution though.

As for proffessions (I'm sure they are in your notes, but I'm just tossing them out there), how about soldier, seaman, mechanic, doctor and journalist? All well tried backgrounds for pulp heroes/investigators.

Matthew Slepin said...

I strongly support not tying Profession to Class.

I'd maybe emphasize the knowledge part of each Profession, over skill rolls. That is, "no, uo don't recognize the brand of cigarette unless yuo are a Dilatante or Detective".

Trey said...

@ Harald - Absolutely there are other modifiers, as you suggest. The basic ones I'm gonna go with are for difficulty: +9 for easy task, +5 for moderate, and possibly a -5 for very hard.

Also, over my lunch break, I thought about the percent chance of success I want for the "average" player at each level of difficulty, and I think I may go with +5 rather than +1 as I stated in the post. A big jump, I know, but given these won't go up in level, what you got at the beginning is all you got.

@Matthew - Interesting suggestion, though I confess I'm not really sure how to operationalize that in any way that covers the majority of situations. Do you think its just in the presentation?

Matthew Slepin said...

No, I mean that I don't really use Backgrounds / Secodnary Skills /etc. for dice rolls very often. If a guy has "Blacksmith" and he wants to assess the quality of the workmanship, then I let him. By anbd large, I use them for knowledge. And if it's no fun if they don't suceed, then I don't roll.

So, Tom Kidd, the private dick, looks over the murder scene. I don't roll to se if he notices a clue. If I don't care whether or not he finds it, I make him tell me how he is searching and what he is searching for. If I DO care, then he finds it becuase he is a detective. It's still up tot he player to figure out what the clue means; I woudl never resolve that with dice.

Similarly, Riffles the Gentleman Cat-Burglar is at a party and meets the Duc de Fontenbleu. If the player says, "I study his clothing; given my Diletante background, does it look right?", I say, "You notice that his cravat is done in a style at least four years out of date." What the player does with that is up to him.

Trey said...

Ah I see what you mean, and I agree to an extent. I do plan use them primarily as knowledge, but I may be making rolls more often than you might.

Your first example could be thought of more like this: I hadn't planned for a clue to be found, but the player wants to use his skill at detection and so I give him a chance, and the oracular dice tell me there is one. We're both pleasantly surprised.