Monday, March 14, 2011

Talents and Training

With skills gone, we're back to a trio of attributes and some potencies on the character's sheet. However, while I still don't want to add anything like skills back into the mix, I am still looking for some other hook by which a player can gab an idea and put it on the sheet. There needs to be some mechanical apparatus by which to do that. The idea I've arrived at is a pair of options called talents and trainings.

Talents are those things that a character is naturally good at. He hasn't worked at it; he's just got a knack for it. Trainings are more like skills in that they represent the abilities a character has picked up with dedicated work and practice.

In rules terms, a talent lets you reroll 1s, while trainings let you count 4s as successes.

The major shift here, however, is how you define a talent or a training. I'm not going to present a list of predefined talents and trainings. That makes them the same as skills. Instead, my hope is that these will be bits of descriptive text open to interpretation on each roll. Instead of things like Negotiation, Intimidation, and Knife, I envision these working more like Honest Face, and Quick Feet.

Let's take the latter as a quick example. Quick Feet would give bonuses to any check that involved running or dodging. In any situation where the ability to move quickly, either over a distance or in reaction time, the player would receive this bonus. For example, with the proper description a player might leverage this to get a bonus to a positioning check in combat.

While this makes the abilities broader, by keeping the focus on their descriptive nature, talents and trainings become a way to further define a character, and not with a bland list of meaningless skill names, but with essential, stand out qualities that can be parlayed into game bonuses.


  1. I rather like this tract of keeping abilities somewhat broadly open-ended and open to interpretation. Such a method should help players define and focus on who they're playing as opposed to just gaming the numbers.

  2. And I am very happy to say that's exactly what's happened. In some preliminary testing, once players figured out how to make a good talent, play, even when involving dice, was very much centered on character identity.