Friday, 6 January 2017

Character Generation #4 - The Skill Point Alternative

The Class system just outlined is just one option in Explore - there are many reasons why you might want to switch instead to the skill points system, which is what the Class system is built on.

If you want more control over your starting character's skills, or to diversify into new skills, or you wish to create custom classes, or you want to improve skills in a gradual fashion rather than wholesale once per level, then read on.

Skill Points To Spend

You have 1 skill point to spend per 10XP. You start with 80XP, so that means you have 8 skill points to spend at first level. You can spend new skill points as you gain them, you do not need to wait until the next level is attained.

If you wish you can simply buy one of the standard classes with your initial 8 points, and you can spend extra skill points you earn to increase each trained skill in turn by one rank, in line with the usual class progression.

Skill Costs

Skill Ranks cost one for the first rank, one for the second, and then double that per extra rank.
On the character sheet you cross off the points spent, for example at rank five you cross off the first five points:

 1   1   2   4   8  16  32  64  128  256  512

The total points spent is simply the first value not crossed off - in this case you have spent 16 points.

Skill Areas and Primary Spell Area

Skills are divided into Physical (Melee, Athletics etc.), Practical (Scout, Thief etc.), and Magical (Air, Earth, Fire, Water etc.)

Magic is divided into four schools - Elementalism, Wizardry, Enchantment, and Sorcery.
Any spell caster must select one as their school, circle this on the character sheet.
Each school has four different disciplines, each of which gives access to a different set of spells.


Physical Skills: Melee, Unarmed, Bow, Thrown, Athletics, Acrobatics
Practical Skills: Scout, Thief, Ranger, Healer
Elementalism: Air, Earth, Fire / Ice, Water
Wizardry: Light, Sound, Force, Lightning
Enchantment: Plant Control, Animal Control, Mind Control, Body Control
Sorcery: Divination, Undead, Summoning, Time & Space

Bonus Skills

Each skill area has a "bonus skill" at the bottom of the area. This is Parry/Dodge for Physical, Perception for Practical, and Arcane for Magical. You do not spend points on these skills, you get them for free for the points you spent in each area. If you have spent 6 points in Physical Skills and 2 points in Spells, then you get 6 points in Parry/Dodge and 2 points in Arcane, which means you're level 3 in Parry/Dodge, level 2 in Arcane.

This is managed through how the character sheet is laid out - within each category (Physical / Practical / Spells) sum up all the points you have spent and note this in the gap below the points in the category, which is next to the bonus skill. Then sum up all the three totals at the bottom.


There are a couple of restrictions on how you can spend your skill points:
1. You cannot spend more than half your points in a single skill.
2. If you have any spells then as Magic is such a demanding art you can never spend more than half of your available points in non-spell skills.

Switching to Being a Spell Caster

If you start out with no spells and later decide to learn to cast them, then this is quite a dedicated undertaking. From that point on you cannot learn any more non-spell skills until your non-spell skills cost half your available skill points. At this point you can once again learn non-spell skills (but subject to the usual no-more-than-half restriction).


All the classes in Explore are examples of how you can spend your eight points at first level and they illustrate some of the rules above.

Athletics: 3
Melee: 2
Unarmed, Thrown: 1
(Parry: 4)
This is the simplest option - all points (4 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 8) have been spent in physical, so that's 8 points in physical and hence the maximum value of Parry 4. No points were spent in Practical skills so no ranks in Perception. Athletics at rank 3 is 4 skill points, half of the points available, so rank 3 is the maximum for a starting character.

Scout, Thief: 2
Melee, Unarmed, Acrobatics, Athletics: 1
(Parry, Perception: 3)
Here half of the points have been spent in Physical (1 in each of Melee, Unarmed, Acrobatics, Athletics) and half in Practical (2 in each of Scout and Thief). Hence 4 points - rank 3 - in both Parry and Perception.

Time & Space: 3
Divination, Undead: 2
(Arcane: 4)
Here one spell list is at maximum rank 3, and the other 4 points have been split equally among two secondary spell lists (both also Sorcery).

Light, Sound: 3
(Arcane: 4)
The illusionist has simply split their points into two Wizardry spell lists - which is the maximum of rank 3 in both.

Body Control, Healer: 3
(Arcane: 3, Perception: 3)
Here the split is in one spell list and one practical skill. Note that one skill is a spell list, so at least 4 points had to be spent on spells.

Divination: 3
Undead, Summoning, Time & Space, Mind Control: 1
The Oracle would like Divination: 4 but is limited to rank 3 (4 points). The only other thing they think is worth bothering with is Mind Control, but that's Enchantment and they're a Sorcerer, so they have to spend a point in all the other three Sorcery disciplines before they can spend a single point in Mind Control. This has now used up all their 8 points.

Now by the time these characters have gained 160XP for level 2 they have had another 8 points to spend and they could have simply added one rank onto all their trained skills. At some point it is normal to diversify at bit, but over diversification will weaken your character - for example lots of low level spell lists does not make a powerful spell caster.

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