Thursday, 14 April 2022

L is for Lifestyle

Many fantasy, modern, and sci-fi TTRPGs build in a system to "model" the player's character lifestyle. Often at the periphery of play, the idea is one that many past and present game designers "ticks a box." For me, lifestyle systems are all about digging deep into the story one is trying to tell at the table with the other players.

Lifestyle is encoded into the WFRP Career System of advancement. Some, including this writer, would say that the system when introduced was revolutionary, and arguably a core element of the setting and invoking that setting at the table.

The Career System was straight-forward. A character, ideally randomly, started in a "Basic Career": Agitator, Grave Robber, or the ionics of Rat Catcher and Troll Slayer, and many others—over 200 careers are available!—the latter available only to Dwarves. Basic Careers are usually poorer ones, incentivizing the characters to seek adventure that would change their fated lot. 

Advancement through a career means getting better at attributes that apply to the career, mastering skills, and collecting the trappings necessary for Career Exits. For example, an Agitator on the streets, pushing broadsheets for one cause today, another tomorrow, might align and become a Demagogue. To do so, the player would advance the character though the attributes and skills of the Agitator. To finally advance, she would have to acquire a Leather Jack and Skullcap. How? It is on the Player and the Game Master to develop these opportunities. She could save coin, or possibly salvage from the body of a deadly encounter, or just steal them (an opportunity made or given).

The system aided in creating story friction and developing the character. In WFRP, it was often such that these things might be simple to acquire, but just out of reach, sometimes with devious and laughable intent. Maybe the character encounters the scene of a recent ambush where she witnesses the bodies of the dead being stripped by goblins and orcs. And a Leather Jack is held up and inspected by an orc, the matching skullcap on a pile of dismembered heads. Our agitator really needs those items to advance. Wait out the night and sneak in? Or look for an easier opportunity?

These opportunities drive the story and the campaign, through the otherwise daily mundane effort of existing in the "world."

Posted by caffeinated at 9:18 PM in d10


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