New Feat Categories

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New Feat Categories

Postby GoRocket » Tue Sep 13, 2005 7:41 am

This is from another thread on Backgrounds.

The Shadow wrote:EDIT: Oh, and GoRocket, do you mind starting a thread on the feat categories? You've got me intrigued. Or is that Top Secret information for now? :)


Hmm. I don't suppose it's top secret.

Our setting is modern/future, so we include things like driving, piloting, and guns. There are feat categories for each of those, and feat chains beneath those with some cool new abilities. There are gateway feats in general that allow you access to the rest of the list. For example, if you pick up Guns Training [General], you don't get the -4 nonproficiency penalty when using firearms or energy weapons, and can now take [Guns] feats.

I don't really want to get into specifics on our setting, or the new feats we have created, but I can answer general questions about the subject, and am perfectly willing to give people advice.
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Postby The Shadow » Tue Sep 13, 2005 10:10 am

And these feat chains are outside the General / Expert / Martial / Supernatural categories? That's what I thought you meant.
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Postby aaronil » Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:03 pm

I think new feat categories is a smart way to go, and judging by the sound of your setting very appropriate.

In my Arabian Nights-themed setting, there are many new feat categories. Many of these require certain feats from either the Expert, Martial, or Supernatural lists, though not all. For example, there is a Beggar-Thief feat category with feats such as Blend In or Plausible Deniability. However, there is nothing stopping a low-class Adept or Warrior from taking these feats. Rather, each character gets access to certain "Feat Trees" based upon the character concept. These "Feat Trees" aren't hard-set boundaries like "only Warriors get Martial feats"; rather they are designed for a certain character concept. Of course, there's nothing stopping a player from cherry-picking across feat trees, but in general this requires expanding the character concept (and taking certain feats as prerequisites).

For example, a notorious Beggar-Thief of Baghdad would choose from the Beggar-Thief feat tree, the Fellahin (urban dweller) feat tree, and maybe even the Criminal feat tree.
A noble sheikh's son disguised as a Beggar-Thief, however, would choose from the Beggar-Thief feat tree, the Bedouin feat tree, and maybe the Nobility feat tree.
And a Beggar-Thief trained at a madrassah as an orphan but who returned to the life of thieving would choose from the Beggar-Thief feat tree, the Fellahin feat tree, and maybe the Scholar feat tree.
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Postby JBowtie » Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:00 pm

For my campaign, I've completely dropped the existing categories, and instead have a category for each of the Celestial Spheres. I've re-used these categories for spells, races, and classes, so everything is tightly coupled to the cosmology.

I've also created an orthogonal category called "Talent" for feats that can only be taken at first level. Mind you, it may make more sense to re-label those "Background" and only allow them as choices for background slots.
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Postby The Shadow » Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:04 pm

Classes too? So it's no longer Adept / Expert / Warrior?

Though I could sorta see them being associated with certain planets, I guess. Mars with Warrior and Mercury with Expert are obvious enough. Adept has me stumped, though.
Last edited by The Shadow on Tue Sep 13, 2005 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby KyleC » Tue Sep 13, 2005 5:01 pm

The Shadow wrote:Though I could sorta them being associated with certain planets, I guess. Mars with Warrior and Mercury with Expert are obvious enough. Adept has me stumped, though.


I don't know how JBowtie actually has it categorized, but in Gustav Holst's The Planets, Op 32 he has two pieces titled:

-- Uranus, the Magician
-- Neptune, the Mystic

Either would work fine for Adept, I think. Personally, I'd choose Neptune over the other to avoid the inevitable jokes. :)

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Postby GoRocket » Tue Sep 13, 2005 8:38 pm

The Shadow wrote:And these feat chains are outside the General / Expert / Martial / Supernatural categories? That's what I thought you meant.


Yeah they are their own categories. Those feats are sometimes available in other categories depending on the feat (ie they cross over).
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Postby The Shadow » Tue Sep 13, 2005 9:32 pm

While I don't want to put words in GoRocket's mouth, I suspect he's using the original seven "planets": Moon, Venus, Mercury, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.

Saturn might work for some breeds of Adept. As could Sun and Moon. Jupiter probably fits a noble warrior. Not at all sure about Venus.

But it sounds like *in effect* he's created seven new "roles", each of which has access to certain powers.
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Postby Tim Gray » Wed Sep 14, 2005 12:39 am

(opinion)
New feats for setting/genre = good
Messing around with the fundamental role structure = bad
(/opinion)
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Postby JBowtie » Wed Sep 14, 2005 12:44 am

Actually, I have 14 'roles', two for each of the Spheres, and 7 NPC-only roles. Each role has about six heroic paths associated with it.

It's a fairly complex world, with carefully chosen mechanics to fit the feel I'm shooting for. All mortals are linked to each of the spheres, and bound to one or more of them by virtue of race and class.

As an example, here's a summary for the Sphere of Nature:

The Sphere of Nature encompasses the natural world surrounding us; animals, plants, weather and the seasons. The Moon is part of this sphere, and most clearly illustrates this link through its influence on the tides. It also controls the flow of time.

Nature is a Sphere of Creation, and provides linked creatures with a physical body. Creatures severed from this sphere are the bodiless undead, and include ghosts and spectres.

Elves are bound to the Sphere, as are all fey, natural animals and plants. Mortal elves reflect this in their holts and art. Note that fey-born elves, like all fey, lack free will and are thus severed from the Sphere of Intrigue.

Mortals who take the role of Druid or Wildlander are bound to the sphere. The druid draws upon his bond to empower arcana, using magic to shape the weather, communicate with animals, and summon the spirits of the forest. The wildlander, in contrast, simply lives in harmony with the land, using his bond to communicate with his spirit totem and eke out life as a hunter or guide.
NPCs can also choose the role of peasant (limited to 5 levels, like all NPC roles). Peasants are simple, unskilled laborers - they work fields, thresh wheat, pick fruit, herd sheep, and so forth. They are bound to the sphere by their closeness to the land and dependence on the seasons.

Sample Nature arcana: Nature Reading, Weather Shaping, Cure Disease
Sample Nature feats (of 28): Intuitive Sense, Track, Night Owl, Fast Healer, Wildwalk, Hunter Mage

The other spheres and planets are: Knowledge(sun), Conflict(iron marble), Intrigue(hidden planet), Self(Aestia), Heaven(stars), and Music(space between).

EDIT: stupid smilies
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Postby JBowtie » Wed Sep 14, 2005 12:54 am

Tim Gray wrote:(opinion)
New feats for setting/genre = good
Messing around with the fundamental role structure = bad
(/opinion)


I've definitely taken a different approach to how I structure roles. But the three roles defined by True20 do not cover my fundamental use cases at all. That's why I took a course somewhere between roles and classes for my setting; it has a completely different driving principle designed to bring the cosmology and mythos to the forefront.

If I used the three-role approach, I'd be looking at roughly 42 heroic paths per role, and feats would be much more encumbered. Better by far to recognize the difference in intention up front and design around it than to try and shoehorn it into a structure that doesn't fit it.
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Postby GoRocket » Wed Sep 14, 2005 4:19 am

The Shadow wrote:While I don't want to put words in GoRocket's mouth, I suspect he's using the original seven "planets": Moon, Venus, Mercury, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.

Saturn might work for some breeds of Adept. As could Sun and Moon. Jupiter probably fits a noble warrior. Not at all sure about Venus.

But it sounds like *in effect* he's created seven new "roles", each of which has access to certain powers.


That's not me. I think you're talking about JBowtie.

My setting is future/sci-fi, but has nothing to do with planets in these terms. Plus, one of those is a star and one is a moon.
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Postby GoRocket » Wed Sep 14, 2005 4:26 am

JBowtie wrote:
Tim Gray wrote:(opinion)
New feats for setting/genre = good
Messing around with the fundamental role structure = bad
(/opinion)


I've definitely taken a different approach to how I structure roles. But the three roles defined by True20 do not cover my fundamental use cases at all. That's why I took a course somewhere between roles and classes for my setting; it has a completely different driving principle designed to bring the cosmology and mythos to the forefront.

If I used the three-role approach, I'd be looking at roughly 42 heroic paths per role, and feats would be much more encumbered. Better by far to recognize the difference in intention up front and design around it than to try and shoehorn it into a structure that doesn't fit it.


I see Roles + Feats as defining your character as opposed to just Role. This allows you to customize your character to be whatever you want it to be. You essentially have as your base classes one good at magic, one good at fighting, and one good at skills. I don't see the need for any additional Roles if you consider Feats to be a part of the character definition.
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Postby Tim Gray » Wed Sep 14, 2005 4:28 am

GoRocket wrote:Plus, one of those is a star and one is a moon.

They're the original "planets" of astrology, alchemy and hermetic magic, from back when others weren't known about. Basically, important things in the sky.
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Postby JBowtie » Wed Sep 14, 2005 2:25 pm

GoRocket wrote:I see Roles + Feats as defining your character as opposed to just Role. This allows you to customize your character to be whatever you want it to be. You essentially have as your base classes one good at magic, one good at fighting, and one good at skills. I don't see the need for any additional Roles if you consider Feats to be a part of the character definition.


The campaign setting I'm building requires deeper specialization than that. You only get 4 feats at first level (6-7 depending on backgrounds). The mechanics are secondary to the setting, and the setting revolves around the cosmology.

Let's take adept as an example. I *could* combine all my spellcasting classes under that umbrella, but I lose certain things from my setting. All my spellcasting classes have access to the same feats and powers, so there's no real distinction there. The difference is that each class uses a different spellcasting ability, has different spell components, a distinct, fully-fleshed out relationship with society, and plays different roles within a party.

Now, if I simply added some feats and extended the heroic path definitions, I could achieve the same effect, but 45 different paths for asingle role is just too confusing for everyone. The number of feats balloons up well over 500, cosmological interactions become harder to calculate, and building characters is not simple anymore. No, replacing the generic roles with specialized roles makes far more sense and integrates far better with the setting I am building.

I'm not disputing that for the majority of campaigns that the three-class approach is better; I'm merely stating that I have chosen design constraints that dictate another approach.

That's why I chose to ditch the standard feat categories entirely - they do not make sense when I have more roles. I can keep the feats and their streamlined mechanics, but categories that actually match my setting changes the distribution and availability to *much* better reflect how my world works.
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Postby Bhikku » Wed Sep 14, 2005 2:47 pm

They're the original "planets" of astrology, alchemy and hermetic magic, from back when others weren't known about. Basically, important things in the sky.

"Planet" literally means "wanderer," as I recall. The "planets" were 'stars' that Greek astrologer/astronomers that didn't sit still in relation to the other stars; instead of slowly cruising across the heavens year by year, they would wander and wobble through the seasons. Thus they were dubbed 'wandering stars,' or planets.

The sun and moon were not in this category (again, if my recollection is accurate), but they, along with the planets, were grouped as celestial spheres, believed to radiate certain harmonics or vibrations, sometimes called "the music of the spheres," which would influence lives and minds on earth.

So the important things in the sky were the spheres, only some of which were planets, unless my memory is wobbling badly.

But back on topic, a campaign i'm constructing is using feat trees with their own category names for ease of reference. At the moment I've just got a handful. Psionic and Chi are new categories; in both cases a Supernatural feat is needed as a prerequisite to gain access to the tree. The intent is that a mixed-role hero, or a hero whose background makes one of the supernatural feats (Psion and Chi Focus, respectively) a favored skill, has access to the follow-up feats; but i don't add 'em all to the General list, 'cos that would clutter it up pretty badly.

One other category I've got is Exotic, which is never a favored category for anyone. Instead, certain backgrounds give access to certain feats - there's a canine species that has Scent and Bite as favored feats, both of which are exotic. That sort of thing.

I expect more feat trees to develop as i continue to expand the wackiness. For example, some backgrounds I'll soon be designing should necessitate the creation of biomechanical feats.

JBowtie, your setting sounds intriguing to me. Looks like you've got a pretty specific magical system in mind, and you're using True 20 in sort of a toolkit manner to construct it. Looks good to me. I'd certainly enjoy reading more about the spheres you mentioned, and the kinds of powers they grant, as well as the interactions you mentioned. Will heroes be able to draw from multiple spheres as per multi-role rules, or does the setting dictate a more specialized approach?
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Postby The Shadow » Wed Sep 14, 2005 3:41 pm

Yes, the Sun and Moon were definitely considered as belonging to the "seven planets". They also, like what we today call "planets", wander through the ecliptic. No distinction was made until modern times.

And GoRocket - I actually know quite a bit about astronomy, but thanks for the info. ;P Sorry for the mixup between you and JBowtie.

JBowtie, am I right in thinking that your roles still follow the basic progression patterns of Adept, Expert, and Warrior? You just group them differently? Or have you come up with entirely new progressions?
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Postby JBowtie » Wed Sep 14, 2005 4:43 pm

The Shadow wrote:JBowtie, am I right in thinking that your roles still follow the basic progression patterns of Adept, Expert, and Warrior? You just group them differently? Or have you come up with entirely new progressions?


I use them as a reference point when calibrating the patterns, but I've chosen to depart from them in several cases.
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Postby JBowtie » Wed Sep 14, 2005 4:55 pm

Bhikku wrote:The sun and moon were not in this category (again, if my recollection is accurate), but they, along with the planets, were grouped as celestial spheres, believed to radiate certain harmonics or vibrations, sometimes called "the music of the spheres," which would influence lives and minds on earth.

So the important things in the sky were the spheres, only some of which were planets


This is more or less the basic inspiration for my setting. This cosmology was originally popularized by Aristotle, IIRC.

Bhikku wrote:But back on topic, a campaign i'm constructing is using feat trees with their own category names for ease of reference. At the moment I've just got a handful. Psionic and Chi are new categories; in both cases a Supernatural feat is needed as a prerequisite to gain access to the tree. The intent is that a mixed-role hero, or a hero whose background makes one of the supernatural feats (Psion and Chi Focus, respectively) a favored skill, has access to the follow-up feats; but i don't add 'em all to the General list, 'cos that would clutter it up pretty badly.

One other category I've got is Exotic, which is never a favored category for anyone. Instead, certain backgrounds give access to certain feats - there's a canine species that has Scent and Bite as favored feats, both of which are exotic. That sort of thing.


Interesting way to structure it. I'm simply granting racial abilities in much the same way as BR does. An exotic category might be a good way to handle racial levels, however; currently those aren't really integrated into the mechanics very well.

Bhikku wrote:JBowtie, your setting sounds intriguing to me. Looks like you've got a pretty specific magical system in mind, and you're using True 20 in sort of a toolkit manner to construct it. Looks good to me. I'd certainly enjoy reading more about the spheres you mentioned, and the kinds of powers they grant, as well as the interactions you mentioned. Will heroes be able to draw from multiple spheres as per multi-role rules, or does the setting dictate a more specialized approach?


I'll put together a summary fit for outside consumption and start a new thread later to go into details. In answer to your question: yes, heroes can draw upon multiple spheres, but multiclassing is restricted to three spheres for mortals and a first level character usually has two - his birth sphere and his professional (role) sphere.
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Postby Dork Elf » Wed Sep 14, 2005 9:47 pm

JBowtie:

Have you ever read a book called "Celestial Matters" by Richard Garfinkle? It's set in a "what-if" world where Greek science is absolutely spot on, and various heavenly spheres exist that are traveled by celestial ships. Not that it mirrors what you are doing really, but seems like it would be entertaining for you, and maybe give you an idea here and there in regards to unconventional cosmological setups.

Your setting sounds interesting, by the way :)
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Postby Tim Gray » Wed Sep 14, 2005 11:56 pm

Dork Elf wrote:Have you ever read a book called "Celestial Matters" by Richard Garfinkle? It's set in a "what-if" world where Greek science is absolutely spot on, and various heavenly spheres exist that are traveled by celestial ships. Not that it mirrors what you are doing really, but seems like it would be entertaining for you, and maybe give you an idea here and there in regards to unconventional cosmological setups.

These ideas form the basis for Chimera's Nine Worlds, a modern weirdness RPG.
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Postby GoRocket » Thu Sep 15, 2005 5:02 am

The Shadow wrote:Yes, the Sun and Moon were definitely considered as belonging to the "seven planets". They also, like what we today call "planets", wander through the ecliptic. No distinction was made until modern times.

And GoRocket - I actually know quite a bit about astronomy, but thanks for the info. ;P Sorry for the mixup between you and JBowtie.


Hehe. I was half-joking anyway.

My setting uses a bit of fanciful astronomy as well, though it is far closer to "hard science" or what we know as reality than what was believed in ancient times. The solar system is pretty much the same (or whatever was known in the 40s and 50s), but beyond that, the science gets a little more fuzzy and more creative.
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Postby The Shadow » Thu Sep 15, 2005 5:25 pm

Ooooo. Retro SF, eh? Cool idea!

Barsoom-style, or space opera, or classic 50's hard SF?
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Postby GoRocket » Fri Sep 16, 2005 5:10 am

The Shadow wrote:Ooooo. Retro SF, eh? Cool idea!

Barsoom-style, or space opera, or classic 50's hard SF?


Pre-Star Wars Pulp Sci-Fi. Kinda Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers, but slightly more coherent. Notice I said slightly. High adventure, low brow.
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Postby The Shadow » Fri Sep 16, 2005 9:34 am

*grin* It doesn't take much to get more coherent than pulp SF! :)
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