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 Post subject: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:14 am 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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I propose to give some occupations access to minor class abilities, and I'd like to hear what ya'll think.

To justify: I believe it would make the leap from level-0 to level-1 seem a little less gargantuan, and follow more logically with the powers that come from level 1. For instance, the wizard class description says the wizard knows 4 spells at level 1, "representing years of practice and study", even though the PC may not have previously displayed such power in the funnel adventure. Elves are described as having long-developed relationships with their patrons by level 1. Thieves seem to know a great deal about thievery from level 1, including thieve's cant, even though they might not have displayed any such proficiency on their first (funnel) quest. Admittedly, some of this can be explained away through creative RP, but I don't see why we shouldn't give the poor, doomed level-0 'adventurers' a little something more to do.

So I propose that some occupations should be endowed with (a) a single spell or (b) a single thieving ability or (c) a D2 deed die, depending on the nature of the occupation. All action dice for spells and thieve's abilities will be D16 rather than a D20.

Looking over the list of occupations, these are the occupations I would give powers to:

Basic Spellcraft - 1 spell, pre-req. INT 9, D16 action die. Wizard (w), Cleric (c)
Alchemist (w)
Astrologer (w)
Beadle (c)
All Elven (w)
Fortune Teller (choose w or c)
Healer (c)
Herbalist (w)
Shaman (c)
Wizard's Apprentice (w)

Basic Thievery - D16 action die
Alchemist (handle poison)
Con Artist (Forge Document)
Cut Purse (Pick Pockets)
Gambler (Pick Pockets as slight of hand)
All Halfling (choose: hide in shadows or move silently)
Locksmith (Pick Locks)
Jeweler (Pick Locks)
Smuggler (choose: climb, forge docs or disguise)
Trapper (disable traps)
Urchin (hide in shadows)

Basic Fisticuffs - D2 Deed Die (note that since they can't roll a natural 3, they obviously can't do might deeds of arms)
Caravan Guard
Butcher
All Dwarves
Hunter
Mercenary
Noble
Soldier
Squire

When a level-0 PC achieves 1st level, this ability is either replaced by the superior Level 1 ability or, if they choose an altogether different class (such as an Alchemist who decides to become a Warrior) they stop studying/practicing the ability and lose it.

The spell received at Level-0 will be one of the Wizard's 4 initial first level spells.

Will this unbalance the above occupations? Yes! But then, who cares? Chances are if a player is running 6 level-0 PCs, at least one of them will be from the above list. And just because they have this additional power does not mean they will survive the funnel. On the contrary, these abilities could actually make the PCs more vulnerable in the funnel since they are more likely to get in harm's way (checking for traps, sneaking around, holding the line, toying with forces they can't yet control, etc).

What do you think?


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:34 am 
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This is an interesting idea. The single "class-like" ability could easily be added to the Occupation table, or it could be Ability based. i.e. the d2 deed die being tied to characters with high strength, d16 thief-like ability tied to Agility, etc.

I've ran several funnels and everyone really likes the simple characters as-is, so I don't think there really is a demand, BUT if kept to a single feature, it'd be interesting.

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"[...] there is no doubt that Dungeons and Dragons and its imitators are right out of the pit of hell." - William Schnoebelen, Straight talk on Dungeons & Dragons


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:34 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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Posts: 33
Thanks for your thoughts, Rev.

I think I'd prefer to keep these 'minor class abilities' tied to occupation as opposed to attributes, because high attributes already provide enough advantages to the PC.

I have yet to run an adventure in DCC RPG, and I'm just developing my first funnel. Have really struggled to get my precious, spoiled Pathfinder players excited about DCC RPG and I'm worried they'll turn their noses up at DCC RPG after the funnel because they won't like the 'lack of options'. Level-0 characters don't really do much to illustrate what makes DCC RPG so different, so throwing a few paltry spell options and a bit of funky die mechanics might help.

Anyway, back to the original topic:

I think I need to give Armourer and Blacksmith the D2 deed die as well, for the same reason that I gave the butcher the deed die. Whilst they may not be trained combatants, their specialist knowledge and rigorous physical work would certainly give them a combat advantage over equally untrained combatants.

Btw, how do we reconcile the fact that the Cut Purse is not only a 0-level occupation, but also the title of a 2nd level thief. And Squire is both a 0-level occupation and a 1st level warrior. I know titles are just a bit of fluff, but...


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:33 pm 
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Interesting idea... I have a single question: what about the scribe, for example, that chooses to become a warrior?

I think that (no actual attachment between 0-level occupation and what class best fits ability) is why 0-level characters get none of the class abilities.

Perhaps it could be reconciled by assigning each class a specific 0-level benefit, and allow the player to declare which class they will become if they survive to level 1 and gain the minor feature of that class.


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:12 pm 
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Quote:
I have a single question: what about the scribe, for example, that chooses to become a warrior?


Yeah, that was my main concern, and why I brought up tying those features to ability scores. Class choices, except for demi-humans, will likely be determined by ability scores (though not always.)

Colin's "occupations based on ability scores" might solve this.

I had one player, yesterday at Free RPG Day, that immediately decided his character was going to be a thief. So he was faking things like "sneaking" and "back-stab". I strictly used ability score checks, and no actual "class abilities", but the effects were the same due to standard "sneaking around" rules and "flanking". Seriously, since 0-level characters are "untrained" in any Class features, just let them try it like usual, but using d10s or -1d. Have everyone try to lay-hands with a d10, basically. Or "sneak attack" with a d10 (instead of the +1 thieves get at first level.) If the wanna-be thief can hit with the d10, totally give him that free crit that regular thieves get to enjoy. etc. A deed die with a d2, it pretty brilliant, really. They can never pull it off, since you need a 3+. But it gets them in the habit.

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(Dungeon) Master In Chief of Crawl! fanzine. - http://www.crawlfanzine.com/

"[...] there is no doubt that Dungeons and Dragons and its imitators are right out of the pit of hell." - William Schnoebelen, Straight talk on Dungeons & Dragons


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:42 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:19 pm
Posts: 33
reverenddak wrote:
Quote:
I have a single question: what about the scribe, for example, that chooses to become a warrior?


Yeah, that was my main concern, and why I brought up tying those features to ability scores. Class choices, except for demi-humans, will likely be determined by ability scores (though not always.)

Colin's "occupations based on ability scores" might solve this.


Its not a bad idea at all, though it does start to get complicated. I like randomly determined occupations in part because it helps kick-start the creative process, and prevents players from just taking the obvious / munchkin-ish occupations (Mercenary! Cut Purse! Apprentice! Beadle!). There's something brilliant about a Scribe with an 17 STR and an 8 INT; coming up with a story to explain that is half the fun.

We could make a spreadsheet-style chart: every occupation listed down the right-hand column, and every attribute across the top row. Then assign D% ranges based on the likelihood of a PC with highest attribute X doing the occupation Y. Someone whose highest attribute is Intelligence will then have better chance at being a Wizard's Apprentice, while someone with a higher Personality would have a better chance of being a Minstrel, and so on. If a PC has a tie for highest attribute (ie 13 AGL, 13 Personality), then the player gets to choose from either attribute column. This would still leave room for incongruous occupations, but make them statistical outliers, but of course fantasy is full of Cinderella stories.

Quote:
...Seriously, since 0-level characters are "untrained" in any Class features, just let them try it like usual, but using d10s or -1d. Have everyone try to lay-hands with a d10, basically. Or "sneak attack" with a d10 (instead of the +1 thieves get at first level.) If the wanna-be thief can hit with the d10, totally give him that free crit that regular thieves get to enjoy. etc.


True enough.

Technically, I think a 0-level PC (we need to come up with a catchy name for them) could be considered 'trained' in some thief class abilities. Per the Skills chapter, you are either trained or untrained in a skill based on your 0-Level occupation. If a 0-level 'Cut Purse' isn't trained to picking pockets, then what is he trained for? This is where I think the D16 action die offers a nice intermediate training level.

Quote:
A deed die with a d2, it pretty brilliant, really. They can never pull it off, since you need a 3+. But it gets them in the habit.


Thanks! But I should clarified that, just like a Warrior & Dwarf classes, the d2 deed die will still be applied as a bonus to hit and damage. It'll make the tougher 0-level PCs a little more effective in combat: give'em just enough rope to hang themselves. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:18 pm 
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I call them Zeroes. From zeroes to heroes is what the funnel is about.

How about something even simpler, like one minor "class-like" 0-level features, that players can pick at 0-level if their characters are human. It'd be similar to the "select" racial traits that demi-humans get at 0-level. Could be super simple like this:

Humans can pick one 0-level feature:

Healer: Can Lay on Hands as a cleric but with a roll of a d10 + Personality modifier.*

Exorcist: Can Turn Unholy as a cleric but with a roll of a d10 + Personality modifier.*

Sneak: Can use two Thief Skills as a thief but using a d10 instead of the standard d20.

Fighter: Can add an additional d2 to attacks & damage rolls.

Magic-user: Has access to one random 1st-level spell. Mercurial Effect applies. Spell check is rolled with a d10 + Intelligence modifier.**

*Healers & Exorcists are subject to disapproval per cleric disapproval rules.
**Magic-users are subject to Wizard corruption and misfire rules.

I think the d10 is appropriate because only the truly talented, i.e. those with modifiers of +1 or more, can effectively do these things at 0-level. But it gives them the option. Burn a little luck, etc.

Personally this is about the extent I'd do this.

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(Dungeon) Master In Chief of Crawl! fanzine. - http://www.crawlfanzine.com/

"[...] there is no doubt that Dungeons and Dragons and its imitators are right out of the pit of hell." - William Schnoebelen, Straight talk on Dungeons & Dragons


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:09 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:19 pm
Posts: 33
reverenddak wrote:
I call them Zeroes. From zeroes to heroes is what the funnel is about.

Humans can pick one 0-level feature:

Healer: Can Lay on Hands as a cleric but with a roll of a d10 + Personality modifier.*

Exorcist: Can Turn Unholy as a cleric but with a roll of a d10 + Personality modifier.*

Sneak: Can use two Thief Skills as a thief but using a d10 instead of the standard d20.

Fighter: Can add an additional d2 to attacks & damage rolls.

Magic-user: Has access to one random 1st-level spell. Mercurial Effect applies. Spell check is rolled with a d10 + Intelligence modifier.**

*Healers & Exorcists are subject to disapproval per cleric disapproval rules.
**Magic-users are subject to Wizard corruption and misfire rules.

I think the d10 is appropriate because only the truly talented, i.e. those with modifiers of +1 or more, can effectively do these things at 0-level. But it gives them the option. Burn a little luck, etc.


I can dig it. Its a simple and rather elegant solution.

Perhaps the Zeroes needn't even choose a specialism at first, and they are free to attempt any of the 4 specialisms during the funnel. However, should they succeed with an action check, then its as if their life's calling is suddenly revealed, and from that point they can no longer try on the other disciplines, and they must settle into the appropriate class at 1st level.

This is likely to produce a lot more warriors, since the +D2 deed die bonus will be hard to resist in a hairy situation. I have no problem with that, a disproportionate number of warriors is ecologically realistic.


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:01 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:36 am
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I like what you have there reverenddak - and have copied it down into my small file of "House-rules to run by the crew should they ever prove to be less than fully satisfied by the standard rules."


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:02 pm 
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This seems like a good idea... but as you head down this road something like this seems like it could be quickly abused by min-maxers. Grrrrr


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:21 pm 
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It is the biggest verisimilitude (for want of a better word) breaker for me. The massive change in the arcane classes from 0 to 1st. I would probably make all the zeroes teen apprentice types then have a break of many years as they refined their skills before getting back together for their first adventure at 1st after the funnel. But that is still clunky.

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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:36 pm 
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Machpants wrote:
It is the biggest verisimilitude (for want of a better word) breaker for me. The massive change in the arcane classes from 0 to 1st....


As I see it, the transformation from Level 0 to Level 1 owes to the mental awakening that comes from 'stepping through the looking glass'. The characters have mustered the courage to face certain death at the claws of unholy and other-worldly horrors. The experience tore back the facade of safe, ordinary and rational existence, and cast them into a nightmare world from which they can never escape. How can a man return to farm and family once he has seen the terrors that lurk just beyond the curtain of night. And yet, you have survived your encounter, and come out a little stronger for it! Perhaps most importantly, you know you can fight back. Perhaps you are destined for something greater? Or maybe, having only briefly glimpsed the potential power of eldrich energies, you find yourself draw inexplicably toward it: all your former ambitions redirected and galvanised toward understanding and harnessing these unfathomable powers for yourself.

Appendix N fantasy is full of examples. We all know it was core to Lovecraft's horror, but its equally present in Howard's Conan stories and his novel Almuric, which was itself a homage to another example: Burrough's Princess of Mars. For a more recent example look at The Matrix, where Keanu's character goes from being an office drone to a God-like superhero just by having his eyes opened to hidden realities.


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:51 pm 
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One could reason that the narration behind going from level 0 to 1 could follow a period of training and study over several months. Having finished their first adventure, a level 0 will return home and focus on learning their class at which the end they become level 1. That is one way you could explain this.


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 Post subject: Re: DISCUSS: Level-0 Occupations with minor Class Abilities
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:27 pm 
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bitflipr wrote:
One could reason that the narration behind going from level 0 to 1 could follow a period of training and study over several months. Having finished their first adventure, a level 0 will return home and focus on learning their class at which the end they become level 1. That is one way you could explain this.


That's true, but it doesn't fit as well when you have a mixed party of leveled characters and 'zeroes', which is something that I had been hoping to be able to do without too much trouble. If every time a zero levels it means that the leveled characters have to find something to do for a month (or however long), the narrative gets 'strained'...


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