One of the things that came up last session was that the WFRP 2E career system doesn’t really jive with what I’m doing with the game.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the flavor the career system brings to the table and, were we doing a more urban or sandbox-style game, it would probably fit like a glove. Instead, we’re doing a more traditional murderhobo (or, rather, “We’d be murderhobos except we’re so terrified of being killed by other murderhobos”) style game (which is by design).
Now, I know that the career system is part of the whole point of WFRP, but I don’t really care. We’re using the WFRP 2E system because I’m extremely comfortable with the system, having played in a Dark Heresy (its descendant) game for probably longer than any other game at this point. (Exalted might be a close second, but I doubt anyone would claim that it has a system one would describe as “salvageable”. Ideas, absolutely, but the not system as a whole.) So, I’m comfortable with it. It’s flexible, does what I need it to do, and gets out of the way. That’s what we want, right?
But when the PCs are sprinting away from danger and trying to find a safe place to not be murdered or eaten by bears… none of those careers really matter. They’re all Vagabonds. Before that, they were Militiamen and Camp Followers. Before that they had lives doing stuff for which the Career System was useful.
There are a couple of fixes for this:
- Just roll with it. Stick to the RAW, let everyone switch into the Vagabond (or similar career) if they’re so inclined. One PC (the Noble!) did that a few sessions ago.
- Fiat them all to be Vagabond (or similar career). “Guys, all of you have just exited your careers to one of the following careers. For free. Am I not merciful? Am I not merciful!?“
- Do something complex and strange but more open-ended that’s a riff on how Only War handles advances. What?
Only War came out a few months ago, and I’m really digging its approach to the 40K RPG system. Instead of the weird class-based but also pseudo-level, pseduo-skill buy system that works but is awkward and initially kind of confusing, it makes things very open-ended.
At a high level: characters still roll their starting careers. They get their skills and free advance as per the core book. Based on their career, they receive a total of six Aptitudes (some of which are automatic, some of which may be selected from a list) that determine how my XP different advances cost from that point going forward.
If you’re interested, all of my work in assembling this can be found in this spreadsheet. This is basically the scratch paper I used to make sure stuff looked reasonably like what the career system promoted.
For starters: the Aptitudes
Then, I match each Skill and Talent with a pair of Aptitude. This was easier than I’d have expected: Characteristics were a straight-pull over while every Skill is already associated with a Characteristic (and, therefore its Aptitude), and the second Aptitude was, for the most part, obvious. Talents were a little trickier, but worked themselves out.
|Animal Care||Int||Animals||Animal Training||Fel||Animals|
|Consume Alcohol||T||General||Dodge Blow||Ag||Defense|
|Outdoor Survival||Int||Wilderness||Performer (*)||Fel||Finesse|
|Scale Sheer Surface||S||Finesse||Sail||Ag||Wilderness|
|Silent Move||Ag||Larceny||Secret Signs (*)||Int||Knowledge|
|Sleight of Hand||Ag||Larceny|
|Speak Language (*)||Int||Knowledge|
|Acute Hearing||General||Perception||Quick Draw||Ag||Finesse|
|Aethyric Attunement||WP||Magic||Rapid Reload||Ag||BS|
|Alley Cat||General||Larceny||Resist Chaos||Wp||Defense|
|Lore (*)||Int||Knowledge||Resist Magic||WP||Defense|
|Armoured Casting||WP||Magic||Resist Poison||T||Defense|
|Excellent Vision||General||Perception||Specialist Weapon Group||Int||Finesse|
|Frenzy||S||Offense||Strike Mighty Blow||WS||Offense|
|Keen Senses||General||Perception||Strike to Injure||WS||Offense|
|Lightning Parry||WS||Defense||Strike to Stun||WS||Offense|
|Master Gunner||BS||Engineering||Sure Shot||BS||Offense|
- Characteristic advances are limited to 8, except Additional Attacks, which are limited to 2. This is, more or less, how WFRP 2E caps advances: across all of the careers, you’ll never get more than 8 advances to WS, for example. Where it’s a bit lower (Int, Fel), it seems arbitrary to cap one at 7 and another at 8.
- I tried really hard to keep the distribution of Skills and Talents fairly even. I didn’t shoot for totally even, but I did try to get everything close.
- Sailing and such are associated with Wilderness. That’s imperfect, but it was necessary to keep things even close. Otherwise, Wilderness and a hypothetical Sailing Aptitude would be woefully underutilized.
- Talents like Lightning Reflexes and Hardy that are really-out-of progression Characteristic advances only make sense within the context of the Career System, and don’t make any sense here. They’ve been moved into the Aptitude table
- I’m not interested in running a game with fantastic races right now. Just Humans. So, I’ve ignored anything Dwarf/Elf/Halfling specific. If any of this makes sense outside of my head, it should be negligible to apply to demihuman stuff.
Speaking of Careers & Aptitudes: this was the tricky part. I ran down the list of careers and built up the list of which Aptitudes were clearly appropriate, which were maybe appropriate, and which had no place. I literally cut-and-pasted stuff into the above spreadsheet and just ticked down Yes/No/Maybe if the Advance Scheme indicated that the Characteristics, Skills, and Talents associated with an aptitude was something that was strongly present, not present at all, or present but not strongly so, respectively.
|Agitator||Int, Fel, Leadership, Social||BS, Ag, WP, Knowledge, Larceny, Perception|
|Apprentice Wizard||Int, WP, Magic, Social||T, Ag, Fel, Knowledge, Perception|
|Bailiff||Int, Fel, Knowledge, Leadership, Social||BS, S, WP, Perception|
|Barber-Surgeon||Ag, Int, WP, Knowledge||T, Fel, Finesse|
|Boatman||WS, Ag, Wilderness||BS, S, T, Int, Social|
|Bodyguard||WS, Offense, Defense, Finesse||S, T, Ag, Perception|
|Bone Picker||T, Larceny, Perception, Social||S, Ag, WP, Fel, Animals|
|Bounty Hunter||BS, Ag, Offense, Perception, Wilderness||S, WP, Finesse, Larceny|
|Burgher||Int, Knowledge, Perception, Social||Ag, WP, Fel|
|Camp Follower||Ag, Fel||T, Int, WP, Finesse, Animals, Larceny, Social|
|Charcoal-Burner||Perception, Wilderness||S, T, Ag, Int, WP, Fel|
|Coachman||BS, Ag, Animals, Wilderness||WP, Fel, Perception, Social|
|Entertainer||BS, Ag, Fel, Social||S, WP, Finesse, Animals, Larceny, Perception|
|Estalian Diestro||WS, Ag, Offense, Finesse||S, T, Int, Defense, Engineering|
|Ferryman||BS, S, Perception, Social||T, Ag, Int, Fel, Defense|
|Fisherman||S, Ag, Perception, Wilderness||BS, T, Int, Finesse, Social|
|Grave Robber||Ag, WP, Larceny, Perception||BS, S, Finesse|
|Hedge Wizard||WP, Fel, Magic, Perception||T, Ag, Int, Animals, Social|
|Hunter||BS, Ag, Perception, Wilderness||T, Int, Engineering, Larceny|
|Initiate||Int, WP, Fel, Knowledge||BS, S, T, Leadership, Social|
|Jailer||WS, S, T, Defense||WP, Larceny, Leadership, Perception|
|Kislevite Kossar||WS, BS, T, WP||Defense, Leadership, Perception, Social, Wilderness|
|Marine||WS, BS, S, Offense||Ag, WP, Defense, Social|
|Mercenary||WS, BS, Offense, Social||S, T, Ag, WP, Defense, Finesse, Animals, Perception|
|Messenger||Ag, Animals, Perception, Wilderness||BS, T, Int, WP|
|Militiaman||WS, Ag, Defense, Perception||BS, S, T, Animals|
|Miner||S, T, Perception, Wilderness||BS, Int, WP, Animals|
|Noble||WS, Fel, Leadership, Social||BS, Ag, Int, WP, Defense, Animals, Knowledge|
|Norse Berserker||WS, S, T, WP, Offense||Leadership, Wilderness|
|Outlaw||WS, BS, Ag, Offense, Larceny||Int, Defense, Finesse, Animals, Perception, Social, Wilderness|
|Outrider||BS, Ag, Int, Animals, Wilderness||S, WP, Perception|
|Peasant||T||BS, S, Ag, WP, Animals, Social, Wilderness|
|Pit Fighter||WS, T, Ag, WP, Offense||S, Defense|
|Protagonist||WS, S, Ag, WP, Offense||Defense, Social|
|Rat Catcher||Ag, WP, Animals, Larceny, Perception||BS, T, Engineering|
|Roadwarden||WS, BS, Ag, Animals, Wilderness||S, Int, WP, Perception, Social|
|Rogue||Ag, Fel, Perception, Social||BS, Int, WP, Larceny, Leadership|
|Scribe||Ag, Int, WP, Knowledge||Fel, Engineering|
|Seaman||WS, S, Ag, Offense, Wilderness||BS, Defense, Perception|
|Servant||Ag, WP, Perception, Social||S, T, Int, Fel, Defense, Animals|
|Smuggler||Ag, Int, Fel, Larceny||BS, Animals, Perception, Social, Wilderness|
|Soldier||WS, BS, Ag, Offense||WP, Defense, Animals, Perception, Social|
|Squire||WS, Offense, Knowledge, Leadership||BS, S, T, Ag, Fel, Defense, Animals, Social|
|Student||Ag, Int, Fel, Knowledge||Engineering, Perception, Social|
|Thief||Ag, Fel, Larceny, Perception||BS, Int, Finesse, Engineering, Social|
|Thug||WS, Offense, Larceny, Social||S, T, Ag, WP, Fel, Defense|
|Toll Keeper||WS, T, Perception, Wilderness||BS, S, Ag, WP, Social|
|Tomb Robber||WS, Ag, Int, WP, Engineering, Perception||Fel, Knowledge, Larceny|
|Tradesman||Ag, WP||S, T, Int, Fel, Animals, Engineering, Perception, Social|
|Vagabond||BS, Ag, Larceny, Wilderness||Int, Fel, Perception, Social|
|Valet||Ag, Int, Fel, Knowledge, Social||WP, Perception|
|Watchman||WS, Int, Defense, Perception||BS, S, Ag, WP, Fel|
|Woodsman||WS, S, WP, Wilderness||T, Ag, Perception|
|Zealot||WS, T, WP, Knowledge, Leadership||S, Fel, Social|
Remember, you get a total of six aptitudes. You get what’s in the Mandatory list automatically, and can then choose from the Optional list until you’ve got your six.
Now, actually pricing advances is tough. In WFRP, everything is basically 100 XP / advance. In the 40K RPGs, they’re all over the place: Characteristics (which are generally more broadly useful) cost more than Skills and Talents. The more advances you take in a Characteristic or Skill, the more expensive it is.
This makes quite a bit of sense, but dang: I like the simplicity of a common cost. It does allow a character to rocket up to +40% WS with their first 800 XP, though. Furthermore, there’s probably an argument to be made that Additional Attacks should cost more or be spaced out more as well. So, flat costs are problematic… but after a point, I think you just have to let go.
My inclination runs strongly towards doing 100/200/300 XP for advances that share 2/1/0 Aptitudes with the character. This is substantially less than what things cost in Only War, but is about what things cost in WFRP 2E, as I’ve got Careers & Aptitudes mapped.
Near-term, I’ll probably collapse all of this into a Google doc (minus thought-process stuff), which will vastly help its readability.
So: that was a big f’ing chunk of something. I’m curious as to what other people think. I both have and haven’t put a lot of thought into this. In terms of complexity, it looks like it might be needlessly complex, but I expect that after character creation, it fades into the background. I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to adopt it in my game; the other two options are certainly simpler, if less interesting.
Very interested in any and all thoughts and opinions. Let me know what you think.