Here we have another module for Continuum II – in this case the rules for Vocational characters. Vocational characters were best suited for fairly realistic games which didn’t feature massive character advancement. They were heroes, not super-heroes.
Under stress, some people accomplish the impossible. Others do the best they can without unconsciously bending the laws of nature. Those are Vocational Characters – normal people (that is, unable to sustain the percipient feedback loop that enhances a “Professional” characters personal power) with intensive training or great natural potentials.
While such characters are more limited then “Professionals”, they can still have formidable talents, and are as powerful as normal people, animals, and things, ever get. They may be self-trained (a formidable task – requiring great dedication and self-discipline), tutored (by experts, usually over a period of years), or trained in small groups (intensively, and usually over a period of at least two years). The results are similar in any case. Military vocations are fairly common as elite mercenaries or troops, and many religious organizations train clerical ones. More arcane vocations are rarer, but do occur.
Vocations cost some of a characters usual allotment of general skills, simply because such intensive study leaves little time for other things. Self-training costs 3, training 2 – and tutoring costs only 1. If this leaves a dense character with no general skills at all, it indicates that his studies had to begin so young that he or she had no time for anything else. A negative total indicates that the character is simply too stupid to acquire a vocation in that fashion.
PC’s are normally exceptional people, even if only slightly, and so are exempt from the general skill penalty.
Vocation-based player characters can be used in any campaign, but are generally best suited for campaigns built around relatively “normal” characters – people who may possess special talents, but are of heroic rather than mythic stature. Such characters also advance slowly, if at all, rely extensively on equipment, and never reach the point where they’re “invulnerable” to the efforts of ordinary people. Plausible backgrounds for such campaigns include investigative and horror settings, espionage and special-operative teams, groups of relatively normal people swept up in events, more-or-less historical situations, exploration missions, disaster survivors (the disaster can range from a simple shipwreck to a planetary holocaust), most “rational” science fiction settings, and (with powerful talents) lower-end “comic book” campaigns. Exotic possibilities could even include something like an all-werecreature campaign. Depending on the desires of the GM, vocation-based characters may be the only option, they may coexist with “professionals” (which status would then cost several talent points), or appear only as NPC’s.
Vocations are defined by their name, general nature, and seven “picks” from the list given below. Sample vocations are supplied, but others are obviously possible. Players may design vocations, but such attempts should be approved by the game master. They’re normally associated with vocation-based PC’s and desired hirelings.
Basics (Free): Vocational characters begin with the skills needed to use some 1D3 light weapons selected from among those weapons common to the characters original culture and social status and (2D6+Base) vitality – unless they’ve invested one or more selections in the Militance option.
The vocational “pick” options include:
Militance (I-III): This option determines how combat-oriented a vocation is – ranging from I (Vitality 3D6 + Base, AR +2, RR +2. Allows effective use of 1D4 additional selected weapons), through II (Vitality 4D8 + Base, AR +3, RR +3. Allows effective use of one weapons “group”), to III (Vitality 5D8 + Base, AR +5, RR +5. Grants +1 attack, +2 DR, and use of one weapons group)
Expertise (I-III): Lets the character select a limited number of major and minor professional skills. The user may select one major and one minor skill for one pick, two major and two minor with the second, and a third major skill with the third. Such skills are normally selected from among those available to a single profession, but exceptions do occur.
Martial Arts (I-III): Permits the user to design and employ a 8/10/12 point martial art (Q.V.). One restriction per pick may be added if the user so desires, raising the point totals to 9/12/15. Later improvements are possible, to a maximum of (picks taken + 2) skill points. Hence any vocation could, eventually, learn a 2-point martial art.
Mastery (I-III): Enhances the users effective “level of use” of some specific skill or talent from the default level of 2 by +2 per “pick” expended on it – resulting in an effective “level of use” of 4, 6, or 8. Alternatively, the character may enhance his / her use of a small set of related, skills or talents by 0/2/4 levels each.
Professional Bonus: Lets the vocation take attribute bonuses from one of the tables belonging to a profession, rather then settling for the basic charts. The attribute must be chosen when this “pick” is selected. This can be taken on up to three attributes. Strength and Endurance are probably the most common.
Vocational Speciality: Gives the vocation some minor special power or suite of skills. Obviously this is a bit open-ended, thus the GM’s discretion is recommended. This normally covers lore, some active talents, and credentials. Examples include; “Military Engineering”, “Exorcism”, and “Alchemy”. In practice, this is equal to investing 6 skill points in a field. It can only be taken once.
Advancement is pretty limited for Vocational characters. They can acquire wealth, power, influence, special equipment, blessings, enhancements, and similar external rewards – but their personal power is pretty much already at it’s peak. They can, however, gain a few skill points through special training (although most have already had a hearty dose of special training) and pick up a few through experience, for a total of up to seven (for a character with extensive training and a great deal of experience under their belts).
Acolyte: Whether cultist, village priest, or hermit, the Acolyte possesses a great religious faith and extensive knowledge of his or her religion. Powerful religions may train acolytes – especially in settings where a priest is actually expected to have access to some real powers. In more “ordinary” settings, many “priests” simply rely on a few general skills (Theology, counseling and oratory) – and belief. Militance I, Expertise II (two major and two minor Professional skills), Mastery II, and Vocational Speciality (Cult Rituals, Cult Lore, and Village Magic). Common skill selections include Minor Magic , First Aid, Counselor, and Ceremonial Magic.
Budoka: Master of a particular weapon or some unarmed combat system, a Budoka is a deadly opponent in a fight – but possesses few other abilities. Even in settings where minor magical or psychic powers are appropriate, they are usually only practiced in combat-oriented ones. Militance III (5D8 Vitality, +5 AR, +5 RR, +2 DR. Skilled with one weapons group), Martial Arts III (Or higher, as available skill points may also be used), and Vocational Speciality (Usually a six point skill – Minor C’hi or C’hi Focusing, possibly a combative Minor Magic or Minor Psionics skill, or a set of military speciality skills for settings where arcane abilities are inappropriate).
Initiate: Initiate’s are relatively normal people who possess, and have mastered, a notable talent (in Continuum II, Talents are magical, psychic, or other abilities which you’re born with, and that anyone can have, although perhaps not master, regardless of “Level”). While their exact abilities depend on the nature of that talent, they can be most formidable. Commonly; Militance II, Expertise II – and Mastery III. This grants them 4D8 vitality, two major and two minor skills, AR +3, RR +3 – and an effective level of eight with respect to their talent, possibly ten or more if they also possess an appropriate “knack”. This vocation is less detailed then the others, simply because there are such a wide variety of talents.
This is the most common “superhero” vocation. With a powerful psionic talent, or innate magical talent, or some similar specific gift, an Initiate can be far more effective than a Professional character until the Professional reaches a fairly impressive level. An equally-talented Professional will still outshine a Vocational character, but if they’re mixing in a setting, having Professional potential is usually a major talent in itself.
Patrician: The Patrician is a warrior-mage, commonly a tutored aristocrat from a magic-dominated society. They tend to be dangerous, effective, and quite overconfident. Militance II (4D8 Vitality, +3 AR and RR, uses one “weapons group”), Expertise II (2 majors, commonly; Circle, Minor, or Ceremonial Magics, Runemaster, Mind Shield, Magesight, Lesser Path, Scrying, or Mystic Shields. Skills from the Greater Entities list are uncommon. Two Minors, commonly; Mystic Tongues (For those with minor powershaping), Magic Sense, Warding Rituals, Horseman, or Masking) – and Mastery III (Mystic Skills, at L6). General skills often include some combination of Noble, Intrigue, Heraldry, Divination (via tarot or some such), Hunting, Politics, Administrator, Law, Courtier, and the “Mystic Dabbler” knack.
The Vocation list was fairly lengthy – but those should suffice for examples. It’s worth noting that Vocational characters are often more powerful than Professional characters to start off with – but will rapidly fall behind as the Professional characters build up their powers.