Friday, July 19, 2013

Alternate Rules: Race Class

So the other day Jason and I were discussing the World of Darkness games (Changeling, Hunter, Mummy, Vampire, Werewolf, Wraith, etc). We were doing so because the other day Lance and I were discussing the World of Darkness system and he was wondering if the Storyteller system would be a good fit for Hekinoe. I don't know too much about WoD, but the little I do know makes it seem like it's a system that is designed with specific bit of background material in mind (the World of Darkness creatures and such). DnD/Pathfinder would be a system designed with a specific type of background in mind (Middle Earth inspired, faux-medieval fantasy settings). GURPS would be a system designed with no background in mind, but it includes options for many styles and types of background material.

In short, no, I do not think the World of Darkness Storyteller system would work for Hekinoe, but it did get me thinking some thoughts.

The little I know of the system seems to be that there are no classes. You increase in power and gain various, usually supernatural, abilities. The abilities you have access to depend on whether you're a wraith, vampire, changeling, or whatever. Most of these races belong to separate subsystems of the game. Changeling is a completely separate sourcebook from Vampire or Wraith. I'm unclear on how compatible the different books are, but they seem to occupy the same universe. Anyway. Each of these types of creature has specific abilities central to their race or whatever you want to call it. If I am understanding it correctly, each subtype of creature (Vampire clans, Mage sects, Changeling kith, etc) has certain specialties that they are better at than others of their kind.

I don't know much about it, I don't know how you advance, and I only know a little bit about the background material. But, like I said, it got me thinking.

Back in the day DnD had these race classes. Cleric, Magic-Users, and Fighting Men were all human, then there were Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings. Dwarves were essentially Fighting Men, Elves were Fighting Man/Magic-User hybrids, and Halflings were Fighting Men. I think. Plus, I think they had the little special abilities of the races, I think. What I'm getting at is that race was part and parcel of your class back in that era, kind of like how I look at the World of Darkness races and their abilities. 

In later editions of DnD they've tried to continue a theme of races as classes, I recall a series of three level racial paragon classes in the 3.0 Unearthed Arcana and blooline abilities, along with various extra powerful races that have level adjustments and various racial feats you can take to improve your race's abilities. It's a concept that I'm finding interesting right now. 

If your class abilities improve over time, shouldn't your racial abilities as well? Part of that is having access to racial feats and stuff. I dunno, its a complex process because your feats and skills and class abilities are you improving over time. So when an Elf Ranger points points into Perception it accounts for his hearing improving and his tracker woodsman Rangeryness improving. 

What I'm thinking about right now is an alternate system of racial improvement where you don't have to take levels or that sort of thing. Something where at specific levels you gain a bonus of some kind. King of like ability score improvements. Maybe at like 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th level. I'd probably take a look at the 3.0 Unearthed Arcana book and look at their bloodline abilities to use as a jumping off point and go from there. It'll likely be a small stat bonus, skill improvement, or feat bonus. Something small and fiddly or something. I'm not sure. I suppose it would kind of depend upon the race in question.

I can see the Children of Volung improving the bonus from the bone plates on their torso as they increase their level. I can see it being appropriate for Elduman to gain the feat for the enhanced version of their repletion ability as they level. I can see similar things for Fell Humans and such. 

While I do like the concept behind this vague and only partially formed idea. However, I feel like it would probably add an irritating level of further tweaking and customization and stat recording to the game. Plus, it wouldn't ultimately add anything to the game. The feats I'm thinking of already exist and people already take them or don't if they want. I dunno, it's an interesting thought but I don't think it is ultimately meaty enough or adds enough to the game for it to be worth figuring out which races gets which bonuses and when and whatnot. 


  1. To answer some of your questions:

    1) The Storyteller system that WoD uses has PCs advance by having the players spend Experience Points to level up abilities, purchase new skills, or increase their primary stats. There's a chart in each rule book telling you how much each thing cost.

    2) Compatibility between each of the games was tricky at the best of times. This was due to each species having a unique character sheet type and unique skills, abilities or powers that didn't translate directly. So it made the Storyteller choose a representative statistic from the other game that "best" suited the power or ability being used. For examples it's best to look directly at the books and the character sheets to see what I mean.

  2. As for the racial class stuff, why not have it be part of those extra feats you were talking about implementing with the unique feats available to your world instead of a separate category?

    (At least I think you mentioned something like that, maybe it got replaced by something else...)