Author Topic: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up  (Read 2837 times)

Offline RedWarlock

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New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« on: January 04, 2016, 01:52:47 PM »
So, I'm doing my custom D&D-derived system, which I refer to as the Rule of Three, and I'm creating these numerical guidelines for what each class does in combat. Mostly based on 4e roles, though I shift my definitions a little.

For instance, my core 4 classes are all martial. The Skirmisher is most similar to the 3.5 Barbarian or Scout, damage boosts at the expense of accuracy, movement speed, and the ability to bypass armor-DR-effects. The Leader is a warlord/marshall/White Raven hybrid, who focuses on the morale side of restoration and healing, IE, temporary hit-points, morale boosts to actions, and restoring Surges, a hybrid of 3e Action points and 4e Healing surges. The 'Control' martial is the Brawler, a martial artist who uses trips, shoves, stunning strikes, grappling, and a guard zone ability that treats their space as larger than their original size to control more of the combat field. The 'Tank' martial, the Guardian, is a bodyguard, who uses active-mitigation to defend allies. Guardians can body-block strikes meant for allies, parry melee and eventually ranged attacks, and either do a 'mark' akin to 4e or possibly a more direct taunt ability.
  • Striker - Deals damage over distance
    • Base damage per-round
    • Bonus-action damage
    • Mobility/ranged effects
  • Support - Improves abilities/actions of allies
    • Boost allies' effectiveness
    • Recover resources
    • Grant bonus actions
  • Tank - Blocks attacks against allies/self
    • Deter enemy attacks vs. allies
    • Soak damage
    • Negate attacks
  • Control - Stops enemy activities/actions
    • Hinder enemy movement
    • Burn enemy actions
    • Cancel enemy effects
This is part of where I would like your opinions, I'm trying to create a level-based chart to set guidelines for what three things each of the classes can do. Goals shouldn't overlap between roles (at least not too much) but getting the Control role (which eats up some of the 4e Defender's schtick) to not overlap with the Tank is rather challenging.

Can you guys think of any better job labels between roles?

For each of these, there is a quantifiable number that increases with level. The idea is that the chart sets a standard, both for writing the classes, and for building a character. The columns set expectations of effectiveness. Some numbers can be divided fractionally, usually using three as the base increment (it's sort of thematic to the game, use of 3s repeatedly, so I'm sticking with it).
  • For instance, in terms of modifiers to an action, three boosts equal an auto-success, while three hindrances equal a cancellation.
  • Each character has three main actions (Standard, Move, Verbal), so costing them one action is 1/3 of a whole turn lost, while one extra of those actions is equal to 1/3 of an extra turn granted.
  • Area effects I'm still working on, my leading calculation is that they count as 3x the radius of the circle they effect, (counting from a corner as a round number, while counting from a square out counts as .5) representing the increasing difficulty in getting enemies to bunch up. So a 2x2 space:
    • counts as 3 enemies/allies effected
    • a 10-damage blast would count as 30 damage
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Offline RedWarlock

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2016, 04:09:00 PM »
Something else for note: This chart is dependent on the non-exclusive nature of the classes and my multiclassing system.

Classes are non-stacking, meaning that when a character is a 5th level Defender, let's say, and adds 2 levels of Skirmisher, they're still all together counted as a 5th level character, until those Skirmisher levels exceed the Defender levels. Overall character strength is rated by their earned XP total, because they could have spread that XP amongst several different classes, or focused onto one single class.

The chart is a guideline for a single-class character of that role, who should be capable of two of the three metrics to be a capable character, and, if focused on that role, capable of all three. A character who has divided themselves a little wider between multiple roles should be able to get at least one from each of their major roles they've built for. Classic archetypes might be built up from multiple classes, however you choose (so like a Warpriest/Paladin-type might be Defender/Healer/Evoker(Radiant), or it could be Skirmisher/Rider/Adept, as more of a mounted aura-granting general). The chart lets you say, "My character can do X, Y, but not Z, so maybe another character can do Z, even though they're mostly focused on A and B from those other classes."
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2016, 11:13:41 AM »
I'd like to take you a step back.
Why did you choose 4 types? Why not 5? or 3?

If the multiple classes are not stacking, how are the bonuses from the different sources stack? if at all.

My own division is: dealing damage / buffing / debuffing / summoning / field control
The healing-damagepreventing is a bit problematic because of the way RPG usually tend to work, that they have both the hectic immediate combat rounds and also the longer out of fight country side strolls.

Offline RedWarlock

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2016, 09:20:57 PM »
These divisions are pure combat. Out-of-combat is handled with a separate system of skills and status effects, without the number-focus.

Different classes contribute bonuses above the base-level contribution per-level overlapping. Basically it's multi-gestalt, using the minimum save/hp-per-level as a baseline.

I'm open to different divisions from the ones I have, but I'm trying to be as power-source neutral as possible, to make it useable in different genres. So 'summoning' wouldn't work, but 'minion control' might, leaving the field wide for magical summons, mechanical constructs, or military leadership. Personally, though, I would say summoning/minions aren't necessarily team-critical the way the base 4 I currently use as a balanced team, though I could consider it. They fit as a striker/controller, extra damage and waste of enemy resources on temporary minions, just in a different form.
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2016, 03:57:13 PM »
Interesting.

I'm not sure I will be answering your question exactly, but let's proceed.

In a combat situation there are two parties: Friends and Enemies, fighting each group. If there are no complex representations for health - meaning, if health is only a meter going up and down with no further implications: Then there are at least two options for characters:
  • Offense - The immediate one is the one lowering the hp pool of opposing group. There are many ways to do it, blast, nova, DOT, and so on. Again, the way doesn't seem to matter as long as the rules are simplistic. You attack, the bad guy life will go down, red pool diminish, whatever...
  • Defense - On the flip side, if we are about to receive damage then trying to prevent it is only logical. Again, because of the simplistic nature then the way damage is prevented doesn't matter - healing missing life, having high armor, casting absorbing spells, granting temporary pool of life on top of yours and so on.
Take note that the way the game is played also greatly affect this second group. As far as I remember from gaming, only the 4th edition had something to enforce hostiles to hit someone specific (short of charming and dominating). I played mainly 2nd and 3rd editions and nothing in those editions had the mechanics such as mark from 4th. So in a sense, each character need to have a defensive aspect to himself (mage armor, high armor or evasion). And, so, the only real defensive character I have seen are Illusioner, or an Abjurer who can prevent attacks on friendlies, not the Paladins or the armored Warriors.
  • Battlefield Control - Some games (again, depending on rules and players) have greater impact from positioning and arrangement. But all the RPG's have some dependency on the placing and the initiative order of the characters, to some extent. Therefore, some characters bring the tools of buffing, debuffing, even summoning to a degree.

Those are the main groups.

Offline RedWarlock

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2016, 02:55:13 AM »
I am leaning towards a 3-group system (someone on GitP talked me into it) right now, though my current divisions are a little different. It's not too far from offense/defense/control, though I'm sticking closer to my original categorization and sub-tasks.

  • Combat - Merging Striker and some of Tank, Combat covers basic damage-dealing/damage-taking and mobility.
    • Damage Output - Ability to deliver damage, whether by direct attack, spell, or summoned minion attack. Accuracy affects effective damage rating.
    • Health/Survivability - Ability to survive damage. Primarily based in just having decent hit points, also includes mid-combat self-recovery and incoming-damage-negation.
    • Mobility/Range - Ability to reach a target at a distance from one's starting position more easily, combining improved movement rates, spring-attack/shifting movement speeds, and ranged-attack improved distances.
  • Support - As before, improves allies' abilities in combat, through both active additions and passive enhancements/equipment. (So, not just a cleric's healing/buffing, but also an artificer's enchantments done out-of-combat, or even potions.)
    • Boost ally effectiveness - Check bonuses, damage boosts, making existing abilities better.
    • Recover resources - Healing HP and 'injury' conditions, recovering surges, and renewing other class resources. (game is intentionally tuned so alpha-strike-and-heal-up-after doesn't happen and invalidate healing)
    • Grant bonus actions - Grant actual bonus actions (attacks, moves, etc) as well as granting one-time special attacks/effects.
  • Control - As before, controlling enemy actions and effects.
    • Hinder Enemy Movement - Create walls, difficult terrain, other blocking and slowing effects.
    • Waste/Negate Enemy Actions - Personal parry/shield-block, mirror images, summoned/commanded minions as distractions (any attack on a minion is an attack not aimed at you).
    • Cancel enemy effects - Clearing obstacles, breaking walls, plus resistance to magic or anti-magic, and other such things.
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2016, 07:33:29 AM »
How many groups are there is not something that really matters, for me. You can divide to a dozen as far as I'm concerned.

What I'm more critical of is the split between Support and Control.
Say, for example, that I summon Hobgoblin between my cleric and a lunging foe. Is the summoning / summoner a support (because the Hobgoblin, and by implication, the caster, absorbs the forthcoming damage )- or a Control character (because he just placed an obstacle on the fields)?

You see what I mean?

Offline RedWarlock

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2016, 01:06:29 PM »
Nope, that's control specifically. Support doesn't mean just any 'blocking/aiding' while in combat, it means the actions that are specifically directed towards allies. I actually mention that in the Control entry a post up. "any attack on a minion is an attack not aimed at you" == control.

'Support' is basically the party-healer or 4E-Leader role, but broad enough to intentionally cover a wider variety of concepts that directly help a PC, including gear gifted out-of-combat.

'Control' is doing things that hinder enemies and indirectly help allies in combat. My main change from the 4e concept is decoupling the 'area damage' concept they also used often for 4e controllers.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2016, 01:12:32 PM by RedWarlock »
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Offline awaken_D_M_golem

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2016, 02:56:40 PM »
Hey , it's a Red Warlock sighting.  Welcome back !
 :)
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Offline RedWarlock

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2016, 03:47:19 PM »
Thanks! I have been here, just absorbed in other aspects of life. My own hosted game died in the summer, and I've been investing myself into this custom homebrew system to start a new game some day. (That, and RL serious relationship and attempting to develop my freelance animation into a full-time-capable career to let me quit my day job.)
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2016, 08:33:02 PM »
If I understand correctly - there's offense and support (which is buffing) and the everything else goes into control (like debuff, summon and tactics).
Maybe it's dumbing it down a bit. I'm just tossing it in my head but on paper.

Also - what is the inclusion and relationship with OOC ruling. Especially social tasks.
I would also like to hear about the multiclass system of yours. But maybe that one will have to wait for you to introduce the classes themselves first?

Lastly, I'd like a link to the GitP thread. Just curiosity.

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2016, 11:58:55 PM »
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Offline RedWarlock

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2016, 09:50:27 PM »
So, mostly recovered today, let's see what I can answer.

If I understand correctly - there's offense and support (which is buffing) and the everything else goes into control (like debuff, summon and tactics).
Maybe it's dumbing it down a bit. I'm just tossing it in my head but on paper.

It might help if you define your terms a bit, it feels like we're talking past each-other. That's part of why I detailed out a bit of description for each task. (Somehow the term 'debuff' has slid past me, I couldn't decide whether it described negative effects, like curses/entangles, or effects that negate other effects, as in to 'de-buff'. Control, either way.) Define tactics? That might be more of a support thing, from how it sounds, but I'm not sure. Does it hinder the enemy, or help the ally? Direct effect only. That sets your dividing point.

Also - what is the inclusion and relationship with OOC ruling. Especially social tasks.
'Skills' cover the non-combat portion of the game, and while they feed back into the combat portions, they're not actively used in combat. So, there's no 'hide', 'tumble', 'jump', or 'spot' skills, as these are handled by powers/tricks in combat (like 'Spot' is now a base perception save). Meanwhile, the skills 'Arcana', 'Faith', or 'Leadership' grant access to specific powers to learn. Other skills are things like Negotiation, Armscrafting, Survival, or other 'power-source' style skills Wildlore, Demonology, or Psionics, which are more conditional to the setting being used. (I can try to type out a base Skill list, if you'd like, though there are a lot of if>then subsets. I've got plans for setting flexibility.)

Actual skill usage is a little more freeform, more akin to the 4e Skill Challenge system, or Fate Core. A situation is presented to the party, and they can elect to use their best skills in different ways to overcome the difficulties at hand. Situations where everyone needs to make a good, specific check allow a player with more ranks to share those to the rest of the party.

I would also like to hear about the multiclass system of yours. But maybe that one will have to wait for you to introduce the classes themselves first?

Lastly, I'd like a link to the GitP thread. Just curiosity.

Post #6 in the GitP thread, the last few paragraphs, actually has a decent rundown for the basic structure of levels and XP expenditure. Start about half-way down, "For instance.."
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2016, 09:06:45 AM »
You are, of course, correct. It seems I misread much of your writing. Maybe I just need to see a demonstration of the rules in action. It could be one of those things where someone tells me something but I fantasize about something completely different.

Do you, by chance, have an example of gameplay? You know, like in the first chapter of a RPG book? Or a Play-by-Post?

Offline RedWarlock

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2016, 01:15:42 PM »
I don't have one right now, but I could write something up. What kind of situations should it cover?
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2016, 03:52:49 AM »
I would like to see example characters for the groups mentioned.
Or created characters and where are they located within your groups.

Offline RedWarlock

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2016, 06:10:35 PM »
Haven't forgotten about this, just busy at work. (I'm a graphic designer, in my spare time between jobs at my desk, I fiddle with mechanics for Rule of Three.)

Let's see what I can get started:

First, some terms of note  (additional terms as of 3/6/16 in red):
  • Class: This is a combat path, specifically. (Tempted to rename the concept to ‘Path’ for ease of confusion, maybe later.) Class levels gestalt/overlap, rather than stack. Each class has a Starter Feat that is required to enter. This feat is typically some core ability of the class, what it does uniquely, like an Evoker’s Energy Blast, or the Skirmisher’s Power Strike (which is a combo of Power Attack and Sneak Attack).
  • Background: This is somewhat a merge of the 4e-style backgrounds/themes, and a traditional class as 3e players would understand it. Background determines magical power source, and makes it easier to advance into certain classes by bypassing (most) prerequisites for thematically-linked Starter feats.
  • Skills: This is how non-combat portions of the game are handled. The skill system is low-number, fairly abstract, and includes power-source/magical skills (Arcana, Faith, Demonology) as well as craft skills (Blacksmithing, Alchemy, Engineering), and social-handling (Negotiation, Leadership, Deception).
  • Powers: Much like 4e, combat spells, manuevers, and combat skill checks/skill tricks have all been consolidated into powers, which are purchased with skill points. Aside from attacks, anything that needs a check/check-against uses the 4 core checks(aka saves), Brawn (Strength), Dodge (Agility), Spot (Perception), and Will (Charisma).
  • Boon: In place of circumstance bonuses and other temporary modifiers, we have Boons. Boons add an extra d20 to a roll, taking the best roll. Boons stack up to 3 times, beyond which they’re ignored for a roll. All players are told to bring 4 d20 for rolling activities.
  • Burden: Penalty counterpart to Boons, cancelling them out. These also stack up to 3 at most, though calculate cancellations before you check against the cap.
  • Favor and Scourge: The higher-end counterpart to Boons/Burdens, Favor and Scourge are flat YES/NO conditions, akin to True Strike’s +20. Having both Favor and Scourge cancel each other out. They also interact with Boons/Burdens, in that you can use three Boons to cancel a Scourge, and three Burdens to cancel a Favor. (Doesn’t work the other way, though. You can’t add three Boons together to make Favor.)
  • Combat Dice: All classes use the same base combat bonus progression (equal to half level), with other ways of showing some classes being more martially capable than others. One such is Combat Dice, which can be added to any attack roll as a Boon, and refresh at the end of turn, but can also be spent on other weapon-centric abilities, like parries, shielding allies, and bonus attacks.
  • Martial Bonus: Another distinguisher for the Martial classes is a Martial bonus that bumps the attack progression to 1:1 for Martial classes, but can be swapped off (like Power Attack) for some unique number bonus to that class. (For instance, the Defender’s bonus goes to Defense, the Skirmisher’s bonus helps bypass armor DR, and the Leader’s bonus is the foundation of a Marshal-style bonus for allies.) Each class provides a different type of bonus swap, but the main bonus overlaps with other classes, meaning that you could take three different martial classes, and turn two bonuses to their swap secondaries, and leave one to the main purpose.
  • Actions: Each character has 3 main actions per turn, Standard, Move, and Verbal, plus a Quick (aka Swift/Minor) action.
  • Immediate Actions: An Immediate action is usually described as an Immediate Move, Immediate Quick, etc. These actions consume the action of a character's upcoming turn, in exchange for allowing them to do something extra right now. Effectively, this extend's 3.5e's Swift/Immediate shared concept into any kind of action.
  • Surge: Representing innate daily capacity for combat and energy, Surges (mentioned earlier) are a combination of 4e Healing Surges and 3.5e action points. By default, they can be spent freely to recover 1/4 of one's total HP per surge while out of combat. You regain one surge at the end of any short rest (which requires an accompanying combat to trigger), you recover half of the total after a camp rest, and all of them at the end of a full rest (IE, after the end of an 'adventure'). Each class level grants an average of two surges (some more, some less) and these gains compound rather than overlap when multiclassing. Surges are also at the heart of most rechargeable-per-encounter or limited-use abilities (typically in the fashion of spend a surge out-of-combat to recharge a single-use power), and select skill usages and rituals can recover more than the base one per rest.

Since this a D&D derivative, we’ll have four characters, fighter, thief, cleric, wizard.

I’ll write up each one in a separate post. Feel free to post reactions/observations to the above while I'm working them up.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2016, 09:01:44 PM by RedWarlock »
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Offline RedWarlock

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Re: New system: Designing party roles from the ground up
« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2016, 12:40:34 AM »
John, "The Fighter"

John is a traditionalist. He usually likes to play the Tank, the Defender, the axis around which the party pivots. That role isn't directly provided, but can be created, though a combo of short-range Control and Combat toughness.   

He selects the Soldier background. Among the skills lists, proficiencies, and other benefits, it sets up a list of starter feats which he has improved access to, reducing or eliminating their prerequisites.

Strength: 17 (+3) Melee damage, Brawn check
Agility: 14 (+2) Melee attack, Dodge check
Endurance: 16 (+3) Starting base HP, +HP per character level
Intellect: 10 (+0) Starting base Skill pts, +SkPts per character level, Ranged damage
Perception: 15 (+2) Ranged attack, Spot check
Charisma: 10 (+0) Will check

A starting character gets three feats, at least one of which must be a starter feat. He selects Combat Strike and Bodyguard, the Skirmisher and Defender starter feats, plus Battle Rage, a non-starter feat that acts as a gatekey into the Rage powerset, one of a few class-neutral ability trees. This lets him play like the 4e Berserker, defending for his allies, dealing decent damage, then blowing his top and raging out when he needs to pull some extra damage out of his back pocket.

I won’t go into the specifics of all his powers (mostly because I don’t have them written up much yet) but generally, the levels in Skirmisher and Defender each grant skill points to be spent on powers that match appropriate keywords/schools. (This is in addition to the base-level skill points every character gets, which get Int-modified.) The number themselves could change, and almost certainly will, since there are also powers and non-skill abilities granted to them with the class levels, which per-level variances in skill points are intended to fill the dead or low-benefit levels.

So, something to note is that characters start as 0-level characters, with their starter feats, plus starter skill points (equal to their Int score) and beginning HP, equal to their End score, as well as the benefits of their Background. They choose which class/path they then take levels of.

So, later in his character's life, he's got 6 levels in Defender, plus 3 levels in Skirmisher.

For hit points, he’s got maxes set by Defender levels, since class-based HP contributions overlap rather than stack. HP resets on a long rest, unless the character has a Sick/Injured/Poisoned condition, in which case they gain or roll the number in parentheses:
  • Start: End score in starting HP and negative HP (half of End score)
  • 1st level: 3 + End mod, plus 6 Defender HP (better of 1d10 and 1d8, mininum End mod)
  • 2nd level: 3 + End mod, plus 6 Defender HP (better of 1d10 and 1d8, mininum End mod)
  • 3rd level: 3 + End mod, plus 6 Defender HP (better of 1d10 and 1d8, mininum End mod)
  • 4th level: 3 + End mod, plus 6 Defender HP (1d10, mininum End mod)
  • 5th level: 3 + End mod, plus 6 Defender HP (1d10, mininum End mod)
  • 6th level: 3 + End mod, plus 6 Defender HP (1d10, mininum End mod)
So, with the 16 Endurance above (not counting ability improvements, for now), that comes to 88 total (non-injured).

For skill points, this grants him:
  • Start: Int score, free spend
  • 1st level: 5 + Int mod, free spend, plus 2 Defender skill pts, 2 Skirmisher skill pts
  • 2nd level: 5 + Int mod, free spend, plus 2 Defender skill pts, 2 Skirmisher skill pts
  • 3rd level: 5 + Int mod, free spend, plus 2 Defender skill pts, 2 Skirmisher skill pts
  • 4th level: 5 + Int mod, free spend, plus 2 Defender skill pts
  • 5th level: 5 + Int mod, free spend, plus 2 Defender skill pts
  • 6th level: 5 + Int mod, free spend, plus 2 Defender skill pts
So with the 10 int listed above (not counting ability improvements, which likely wouldn’t go to Int anyhow), 40 free-spend points, 12 Defender-skill points, and 6 Skirmisher-skill points.

Now, he’s got a bit more XP he’s gained, and decides to expand on his damage capacity, and go for a little supernatural flair. Expanding on his Battle Rage, using it as a prerequisite he couldn’t bypass, and stepping outside his Soldier background, he takes Elemental Fury, one of the possible starter feats for the Berserker class, which uses supernatural power to enhance combat ability. Elemental Fury also requires a [Pact] feat, such as Storm Pact, granting a connection to elemental spirits, which can be expanded on for other possible elemental abilities in the future. (If a character had started with the right background, that pact would have come free as a perk.)

He takes two levels of Berserker. This adds those two levels’ worth of skill points, plus the Berserker class features, which naturally extend from the martial skillset but add supernatural power into the mix, as opposed to spellcasters, which use a different resource-management system.

Any questions on this, before I go on? I can add more details as I figure them out, a challenge method actually really helps me develop details as I'm forced to commit to them. I’ll get into spellcasters' mechanics on the last two. Next up, the Thief, who is a bit less obvious.
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