Strategic Primer: Revising the Worker Advancement Model

The current campaign of Strategic Primer uses a moderately complex RPG-inspired system to model workers’ training and experience. But that model, my experience in this campaign shows, leaves much to be desired, so I’m now thinking through a possible replacement, which may eventually replace it in any future campaign and perhaps in this one.

Currently, a Job is equivalent to a class in a typical tabletop RPG (again, I know Dungeons and Dragons best), but also represents what a worker is doing at any given time. To try to work within both of these ideas, workers can have “zero levels” in a class. In the absence of combat experience, a worker gains a level in a Job when it has improved its skill level in enough of the right skills.

But I’ve grown increasingly uneasy with this. A better system, I’m now thinking, would look something like this: Workers have a character level, as in an RPG, that is almost entirely “under the hood” from the player’s point of view and that is (in the absence of combat experience, which would still function as you might expect from the RPG roots) based on how long a worker has been with the player (though some workers may also come to the player with extra character levels). A Job no longer represents training or skill set; it simply becomes what the worker is doing or training in. (Some more specialized Jobs may continue to be combined with classes, like the Page/Squire/Knight progression I’ve been considering for years.) Jobs still have particular Skills associated with them—sort of like the way they work in Final Fantasy Tactics (if I recall—I never actually played any of those games, just watched someone else play). Jobs can have prerequisites and restricted Skills, but those should be somewhat uncommon.

While we’re at it, let’s look at Skills and the like further. A Skill is something that can be improved (at least nearly) indefinitely, though diminishing returns may set in. But there are some skill-like things that we want to represent that aren’t so simple; for them I expect to use something like d20 Feats or (for smaller things) Pathfinder’s Traits, though I don’t know what I’ll call them yet.

The disadvantage (well, mixed blessing) of all this is that this takes us even farther from a good fit for PCGen, the tool I’ve been using to manage workers, which means that I need to hurry up even more on writing my own tool. Soon, I hope.

What do you think? Is there something I’ve missed?

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