I’m still interested in finding new ways for players to spend their money. Today I’d like to talk about the method I think is the most valuable, and perhaps the most controversial: training. The expenditure of money (and time) to make a character better.
Before I get into concrete rules, I feel some obligation to mention the giants whose shoulders I’m standing on. This post draws heavily on work done by Courtney Campbell for his Numenhalla and Perdition campaigns, as well as work done by John Bell for Necrocarserous. Further, I believe Courtney drew much of his inspiration from the writings of Benjamin David. I’ve taken these ideas and adapted them for LotFP, as well as adding some of my own refinements and twists to make them better suited to my own tastes. But I want to acknowledge that all the really heavy lifting was done before I got here.
There are four types of training: Skills, Weapons, Talents, and Spells. Spell training might better be titled “research,” but it uses the structure of training, and so falls under the more general term. Regardless of type, training requires that the character invest both time and money before they receive any benefit.
Training is done during down time between adventures, when a character is free to avail themselves of the resources of civilization. What Brendan S. has eloquently titled the Haven Turn. While training, the character may break to continue their adventures, but must return to the same Haven at the end of their adventure if they don’t want to lose their progress (and money!). Training otherwise takes up all of the character’s time, and they are unable to pursue any other activities, such as carousing, until it is complete.
If the players wish, they are encouraged to roll an alternate character to play while their primary character is training. This will allow that character to focus entirely on their studies, and reduce the training time by 1 month. It also creates a handy backup in the event of character death.
Training provides a significant benefit to the PCs, one which cannot be regulated by funds alone. The need to spend time is an important factor. It allows training to be cheap enough to be afforded by low level characters, without the potential to be abused by wealthy, high-level characters. It is pertinent to paraphrase Gygax: You cannot use the training system if strict time records are not kept. Training works when time is a resource to be spent carefully; it doesn’t work when time can be handwaved away without consequence.
For players with excess funds, the referee may be inclined to offer accelerated training. The means by which this rapid training is accomplished should be thematic to the game world: cybernetics, magical implantation, brain matter grafting, soul mixing, etcetera. In any event it costs 3x the normal amount required. Training time is reduced to a single week covering the procedure, and recovery.
Skill training allows characters of any class to advance their skills beyond a 1-in-6 chance. However, increasing a skill beyond a 5-in-6 chance remains the sole purview of characters who receive skill points from their class. Training must be undertaken for a specific skill, and each rank of ability must be achieved before advancing to the next. A character with 1 in 6 Tinkering may not pay 12,000sp & spend 6 months training to leap straight to Master level ability. They must first advance to Talented, then Skilled, and so on.
Sneak Attack is not considered a skill for the purposes of training, and remains available only to Specialists.
Talented – 2 in 6 – 1,000 silver pieces & 2 Month of training.
Skilled – 3 in 6 – 5,000 silver pieces & 4 Months of training.
Expert – 4 in 6 – 10,000 silver pieces & 5 Months of training.
Master – 5 in 6 – 12,000 silver pieces & 6 Months of training.
All characters have a basic proficiency with any weapon they pick up. If a player wishes to train themselves beyond proficiency and achieve true excellence, they must specialize their training to a specific weapon family.
For each level of expertise, a character receives a +1 bonus to attack rolls when using weapons from that family. In addition, each level of expertise grants an Expertise Feat which is specific to that weapon family. The Expertise Feats gained by a character training with a longsword are the same for all longsword-wielding characters.
Expertise Feats may be combined with standard attacks at no penalty. However, only one feat may be applied each round. If an expert longswordist attempts to deflect an incoming attack, they forfeit their ability to use Disarm on the following round. Feats are never passive bonuses, they must be declared during each individual combat round.
Any saving throw called for by an Expertise Feat is a save versus Paralyzation.
Skilled – 2,000 silver pieces & 3 Months of training
Expert – 6,000 silver pieces & 4 Months of training
Master – 12,000 silver pieces & 6 Months of Training
Here are some of the weapon families I am using in On a Red World Alone. This list is truncated for the sake of brevity.
Close Quarters: Additional +2 to attack rolls when fighting in cramped conditions, or melees with 4 or more combatants in close proximity.
Swift: Can make 2 attacks per round against a single target.
Hidden: +1 to determine surprise when attempting a sneak attack.
Deflect: May attempt a saving throw to negate one melee attack each round.
Disarm: On a successful hit, target must save or lose their weapon.
Vicious: Roll damage twice, take the higher result.
Sunder: On a successful hit, target must save or their armor bonus from armor is reduced by 1.
Delay: On a successful hit, target must save or take only a half action next round.
Riposte: Once per round when struck in combat you may make a saving throw to attempt an immediate counter attack.
Hold Back: Once per round when a foe attempts to close to melee range, wielder may make an attack roll against them.
Push: Target must make a saving throw or stumble backwards 10′.
You might think of talents as a kind of “Miscellaneous Training.” Unlike other forms of training which allow you to improve within a given system (Skills, Combat, Magic), talents provide a wide array of character improvements touching on all aspects of gameplay.
Talents marked with an * may be taken multiple times, and their effects stack. Each talent requires 3 months of training time, and costs 4,000 silver pieces to acquire. If a talent is taken multiple times, the training time remains the same, but the cost is multiplied by the number of times the character will have taken the talent.
Charm School*: +1 to Charisma
Endurance Training*: +1 to Constitution
Weight Training*: +1 to Strength
Gymnastics Tutoring*: +1 to Dexterity
Attend Symposia*: +1 Wisdom
Academic Study*: +1 Intelligence
Bravery: Immune to Fear effects.
Penetrating Spells: Saving throws made against your spells suffer a -1 penalty.
Spell Resistant: Gain a +2 on any saving throws made against a spell.
Tough: +3 hit points per level
Innovator*: With a weapon group you have mastery-level expertise with, gain an expertise feat that the weapon would not normally have. (If taken multiple times, must be for a different weapon group each time).
Indomitable Armor bonus from armor is improved by 1.
Deflect Missile*: Negate one ranged attack per round.
Interceptor: Redirect one enemy attack per round to hit you instead of an ally.
Precise Shot: Fire into melee without any chance of hitting allies.
Criticator: You land a critical blow on a 19 or a 20.
Deadly Strike: Critical hits deal triple damage instead of double.
Good Opener*: Once per day you may re-roll a single die used as part of a reaction roll, and take the higher option.
A Magic User can expend a certain amount of time and money to pour through ancient texts, experiment with peculiar creatures, and test the cosmic energies. At the end of the indicated period, the character will have earned a new Magic Word which they can use to create spells according to the normal system.
2,000 silver pieces & 1 month: The MU learns a randomly determined Magic Word.
3,500 silver pieces & 1 month: The referee randomly determines 3 Magic Words, and the MU may pick one.
7,000 silver pieces & 2 months: The MU may create their own, new Magic Word.