Friday, August 13, 2010

Runner Type

Characters in FTD use much the same setup as those in PDQ's core rules: they have a bunch of positive qualities that are strengths, and a weakness. These are all player-defined, free form descriptions that can be nearly anything. If they can describe how a quality applies to a situation, they get to add it to their roll. Simple.

However, in looking at the preview for Swashbuckers of the 7 Skies, I saw a modification to this setup that really struck me: the swashbuckler forte. Basically, this forte defines your overarching quality as a swashbucker. It's like an especially broad quality. For example, typical fortes in this game include fencing and acrobatics. But swashbucker fortes can include musketeer and pirate, which apply much more broadly.

Now, I've seen plenty of PDQ offshoots that give you categories for which you must assign some of your starting qualities. They're called Core Qualities. Things such as motivation, past, etc. They're great ideas, and they could be applicable to the world of Shadowrun, but again, in terms of a pickup game I think such character concerns are largely unnecessary. They could see use, especially if there's a bonus granted for acting a certain way, but when designing something to be played as a series of one shots, deep characters aren't the order of the day. At least not in the overwhelming number of one shots I've run. When running a game in which there are no long term consequences, most of the people I know tend to really let go, meaning they become wildly violent and insanely wacky. You could play a deep one shot. I've played in a few of those, and they were phenomenal, but they are far from the norm and not what most my gamer friends look for in one shots. Campaigns, sure. One shots, almost never.

So instead, I'm going to leave out mandatory quality types that flesh out character. Someone could use these qualities for motivation and past if they chose, but it's not necessary.

Thus, in FTD, you get 6 totally free-form qualities, plus a Runner Type quality. This is the SR version of a swashbuckling quality; it defines in very broad terms what kind of runner you are and what your skills are. I'm thinking players can use the archetypes provided in the core SR books over the years. Hacker, Street Sam, Radical Eco-Shaman, Smuggler, Drone Rigger, Face, etc. The idea is that if something you're trying to do falls under this quality, you get it, so it encompasses a wide base of skills. So you can use your Street Sam quality in a fight, when talking to certain kinds of people, and it also determines how much cyberware you start with (more on that later). Your Hacker quality determines your skill in the Matrix (also later), as well as general computer skills and your ability to interact with certain kinds of people.

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