Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Class-based vs. Skill-based

The Northern Realm as a game is intended to provide a visceral experience and flexible character building. Having classes and levels, however, doesn't lend itself to creating completely unique characters. The obvious alternative is to ixnay the classes and create a complete skill based system. So I went for it, I spent a day organizing a list of skills and untangling the classes. Then I took a big step back and looked at it. I didn't like it. I want it to be customizable, but the classes are too much to dump. What I did though, is break the classes down into three archetypes and then laid out rules for creating characters. How'd I do?

An archetype provides an overall framework for what a character is capable of. There are three general archetypes– the specialist, the mixed bag, and the spellcaster. Under each of these are a number of unique expressions of the archetype, referred to as classes. These classes may be modified to better suit your character concept, following the rules provided by each archetype.

Skills and Attributes: All characters are provided with 3 skills per level, which may be modified due to their choice in race. Archetypes may add or subtract from this number. For example, a character with the Specialist archetype gains one extra skill at each level, whereas one with the Spellcaster archetype gains one less skill at each level.

Classes provide attributes, special abilities unique to that class. However, gaining the attribute reduces the amount of skills gained at that level by one. You may always choose not to gain an attribute and thus not reduce the amount of skills gained. For example, a half-blooded character who chooses the specialist archetype begins with 4 skills (3 provided as a base, plus one from the specialist archetype). If he then decides to play as a barbarian and gain the Rage attribute, his skills are reduced by 1, leaving him with 3 skills to spend as he chooses. ________________________________________________________________________________
Specialists are the explorers, tradesmen, and warriors. They may have some supernatural abilities but are unable to cast spells. Specialists have high Acumen and each level gain +1 skill.

Mixed Bag
characters rely on skills and spellcasting. They gain only partial spellcasting abilities. In exchange, choose either high or low Acumen. If you choose low Acumen, gain 3 skills per level as normal, otherwise, gain 1 less skill each level. Or, if the class appeals to you but you do not require spellcasting abilities, drop them to retain a high Acumen and gain +1 skill each level.

Spellcasters dedicate their lives to the arcane. They gain a full range of spellcasting abilities. All spellcasters have low Acumen and gain 1 less skill each level.

Example skills:

Armed Grappler:
While grappling, you can make 1 extra attack per round with a light weapon. Make grapple checks in place of attack checks and roll for damage with each successful check.

Fortitude: You have built up an incredible constitution. When bleeding out, you may spend 1 Power to stave off death for 1d6 rounds.

Example Class:

Additional Player's Handbook Update: I've added a little art to the handbook and it doesn't look too shabby.

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