The final part of character creation is selecting a profession. Like classes in some other systems, this will give a character a role (to an extent) and a set of skills and abilities that define what they are good (and not so good) at, and complement other roles in the team.
Professions and character progression go hand-in-hand. I’m currently thinking that characters in this system will ‘retire’ when they reach level 10, and will get a new ability, skill points or special feat at every level.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First for the professions. I obviously want these to speak to the pulp steampunk setting of the game, and to provide a mix of specialisms. To that end, I’m also imposing a limit of ‘only one profession per team’, similar to how Powered by the Apocalypse games try to ensure some degree of balance and variety by disallowing teams full of murderhobos or mystics.
My current thinking is to offer the following professions as part of character creation:
A daring adventurer who lives by their wits and the blade of their sword.
An ex-member of the military, be that army, navy or aerial corps, skilled in close and long-range combat.
A character who understands gear and contraptions, especially how to modify, repair or control them.
Someone who was born to live above the clouds, capable of performing airborne feats that others can only aspire to.
Someone who perhaps operated outside the law (on land, on sea, or in the air) who is now attempting (or being forced to) make reparations for past deeds.
Someone who sees beyond the veil to the spirit world. They may be a member of an organised religion, or someone with a connection to the ‘other side.’
A profession that specialised in healing others, either physically, mentally or both.
Someone who has devoted their life to scientific pursuits and is driven by the desire to create new wonders.
Someone who has discovered the secrets of the aether and has made it their life’s calling to master it.
An ‘ordinary’ member of the Empire, likely to have a broad range of skills and able to go places that others often cannot.
What makes a profession
For the system, each profession will have a handbook. This will consist of three main sections:
A narrative description of that profession, and what characters who choose it are likely to specialise in, develop expertise in, and are often drawn to.
Each profession will have a set of skills that characters who choose it begin the game trained in. Some professions will offer choices of skills, and others (such as the Aether-touched) will start the game with access to closed skills that other professions are prohibited from using.
This section will be tied to level progression. My current thinking is to have a character gain a profession-specific ability at each odd-numbered level (including level 1, where all characters start).
These will be unique to the profession, and will grow in power and usefulness as the character is ‘promoted’ through the ranks.
Characters will also have the opportunity to improve when they gain even-numbered levels (excluding level 10, where the character ‘retires’).
At each even-numbered level, a character gets an extra skill point to spend, which they can either use to become trained in an untrained skill, or expert in a trained skill.
Then, at the prime-numbered levels (3, 5 and 7), a character will have the ability to choose a talent. This may allow them access to closed skills, develop existing abilities, improve their primary attributes or even to achieve mastery in a skill.
Quick, start a playtest
I’m getting to the stage where I think I will aim for a ‘quickstart’ version of the game designed for playtesting. For that, I’ll likely choose 2-3 of the professions and flesh them out, rather than devote a significant amount of time to developing all ten.
For now though, I’m relatively happy I have the core mechanics of character creation and progression outlined enough to move on to the next topics:
Combat, and the previously-mentioned tricks mechanism …