This is something that I have been thinking about mostly since I read the preview of the Dresden Files Accelerated game, but that wasn’t the first place that I came across the concept. The first place I saw something like this concept was in the previews of Olympus, Inc1. The next place I saw it was with Savage Rifts in the Iconic Frameworks. The latest place I have seen this concept is the Mutant Chronicles for Savage Worlds2 with its Life Path edges. Though on further reflection, this concept has been in the rules for even longer with the Monstrous Abilities in the base rules for such things as Construct, Elemental, and Undead.
The basic idea is here is that you get to add one of a package of abilities to your character to make them match the fiction of your setting. So for example the package could be a set of skill bonuses, equipment, and edges like in the Life Path examples, or attribute adjustments, bonus edges, disadvantages, etc. like the Iconic Frameworks.
The power of such a concept is that you can use it to model settings without changing the basic rules of the game or upsetting game balance issues. So for example if you want to run a game inspired by White Wolf’s Werewolf or Vampire, you could create a framework for being a Werewolf or Vampire, and then add a slot for clan or tribe specific features.
A simple example of this for Vampire could be something like:
As a vampire you gain the following powers and weakness:
- You gain the Undead monstrous ability.
- You gain a power point pool with 10 points. This is called a blood pool and can be used to power the following abilities Boost Trait, Healing (self only, can only be used on damage not caused by a weakness), or any other vampire ability that requires power points to use. This pool is only recovered by drinking the blood of a human. Each human can supply up to 10 power points> If you take all 10 points, that will kill your victim, and anything more than 4 will require your victim to be hospitalized to survive.
- You have a weakness to Sun Light, each round exposed causes 2d6 damage ignoring any armor.
- Weakness to damaged by a weapon, or the natural attack of a creature with a supernatural nature (Werewolf’s bite/claws, Vampire’s bite, a Magic weapon, but not a normal weapon wielded by a supernatural creature).
- Clan Specific Power
- Clan Specific Weakness
There is more to be written about this, but I am going to stop here. There are a number of things that I still haven’t fully thought about, and I want more time for them to become clear in my own head, but I thought that I should at least get this much down and out there so that it might inspire others.
- I haven’t gotten Olympus, Inc. yet, I am waiting until I can get it in both hard copy and PDF format which should be in another couple of weeks. The PDF version is currently available. This is a book that I have been looking forward to for a while, and while I don’t think it entirely matches this idea, I think it is similar. ↩
- I am currently reading the Mutant Chronicles for Savage Worlds PDF, I am liking it a lot from a setting/thematic, though I am not sold on the artwork. I will write-up my impressions of the book when I finish it. ↩