Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Modern Era Classes -- Having Weird Adventures

Not as clumsy or random
as a pistol or a barrel-fed
tommy gun.
I've been thinking about this for a while -- what kind of classes or character templates does the Weird Adventures setting call for?

As a mash-up of traditional fantasy RPGs and a more modern pulpy feel, it makes sense that the classes would have a little of both. So I racked my brain for the very basic types of classes or templates on both sides.

For fantasy, it would seem that you'd have the basic fighter, mage, cleric, thief contingent along with their respective variants. For pulp, it's a little bit less defined; the modern world is rife with strange backgrounds and combinations of talents and skills and professions.

Since I decided to use the Hero System anyway for this exercise, the wide variety of possible classes isn't a problem. It's finding those sets of archetypes that are appropriate for the genre. And that starts with the basic campaign frame or the types of adventures you're looking at having. Let's start with the classic types of D&D adventures and see what Weird mash-ups we can inject into them.

Dungeon Adventures

For dungeons set in the wilderness, these could be your basic criminal overlord lairs, your strange tribes of creatures preying on nearby settlements, your awakening evil stirring, your portal to a strange underground world, your journey to the center of the earth (or hollow world)!

This was an awesome series of Tintin meets Cthulhu
Mythos faux covers. Maybe hecan do Tintin in
classic D&D modules as well?
For dungeons set in the cities, sewers and subways immediately come to mind. In addition to any of the options above, you can have underground communities that run by different rules from the surface world, and perhaps some strange remnants of a wondrous, long-forgotten era in the city's past that has found new uses by less than scrupulous inheritors.

Wilderness Adventures

Weird Adventures has a lot of interesting options for these. Monster hunting springs to mind, as does extending the reach of civilization into wild areas. Investigating strange rumors for wealth, power, knowledge or science are more than sufficient motivators for expeditions -- and expeditions to other lands or lost civilizations are a staple of both FRPGs and Pulp RPGs!

City Adventures

There's no shortage of story hooks for this (you've read Weird Adventures, right?), but the types of non-dungeon adventures I'd run would include the monster-loose-in-the-city trope, the city-predators-in-disguise trope, the series-of-strange-crimes trope, the find-the-macguffin trope, the murder-mystery trope, the break-the-curse trope, the race-to-get-all-the-pieces trope, the stranger-dies-and-passes-on-the-mystery trope, the dude/damsel-in-distress trope, it just goes on.

Okay, I think I've got a better handle on it. Next step is to come up with a campaign frame or two and start listing classes / templates.


  1. I think there is a lot of different way you can approach it (which is part of reason I didn't do more with a ruleset). Point-by modular based games are easy. GURPS and HERO System have pulp books with suitable templates that may need to be tweaked a little more magic, or have magical types added from other books.

    In a class-based came, I suppose one could "modern up" traditional classes (though the world, as I envision it doesn't have standard D&D style clerics), particularly in a system that had archetypes or kits or whatever that can modify the basic classes. The other way would be go with pulp classes for "fighter,"thief," and perhaps "scholar" types, but then use magic-users from more of the fantasy tradition.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

  2. Good points! I'm going to approach in two ways -- from the Fantasy into Pulp, and from Pulp into Fantasy -- to see what I get. My ending list will be something more like the original Star Wars RPG templates rather than the package deals from HERO or the classes from D&D. That's the plan anyway.

    Surprised at the lack of D&D clerics, but that's not as much a problem in the slightly less lethal Hero System, even with hit locations and impairment rules. Still, isn't the priest + shotgun archetype a shoe-in for the setting?

  3. There are absolutely priests (and I go into this in the "Information Please" section of WA, and perhaps a little more in the relevant blog posts) but like in the real world most priests don't have any magical powers. There are special priestly/monastic orders that magic magic, but this is essentially the same as thaumaturgical (magic-user) magic (though they can it theurgy).

    There are religious individuals that have powers of faith called "gifted" who might very well heal like standard D&D clerics, but wouldn't typically have as wide an array of powers. See this post. Obviously, there's no reason at all your world has to work exactly like mine, but if you're interested.

  4. Cool, the "Gifted" and the "Theurge". We can have the "Gifted Penitent" and the "Gifted Innocent" and the "World-Weary Theurge" as templates, I suppose.


That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.

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