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Character Structure, Advancement, et Cetera (assuming a fantasy setting)

A starting character chooses a few simple things:

  • Race
  • Culture
  • Training

Race gives no skills, but some intrinsic abilities, never able to be changed. Culture grants some smattering of skills and a starting location. Training grants more starting skills. Skills are given ranks - all starting skills start with 1 rank, unless a skill appears in both Culture and Training, in which case it gets 2. These are all general skills, available for anyone to learn.

Once a character has started play, they earn levels. Each level gives them one skill rank - which can be used to either increase an existing skill, or to open up a new one.

There are three kinds of skills:

  • General - these skills, anyone can learn
  • Restricted - some people can't learn these skills, but most can
  • Exclusive - these skills belong to a 'class' and can only be learned by refusing all the other classes

There will be a large collection of non-exclusive - one can get through the entire game, ideally, with only general skills, and the occasional restricted one thrown in for good measure. But the exclusive skills - the "class" skills, are worthwhile, they make the game easier than playing as a JOAT.

Effectively, each class has 'levels' as well - we call these Circles, since they're somewhat ritual in nature. One earns these Circles separately from character levels, and generally at a much slower pace, requiring arcs of quests to be completed. Each earned Circle grants a new skill.

The first skill of each 'class' is restricted - they can be learned by anyone who isn't a MEMBER of any particular class, yet. They give a taste of each class, somehow, and are foundational, the kinds of skills class members fall back on throughout their whole career. Skills beyond that require membership - they don't ask you to drop any of the other restricted class skills you've learned, but you won't be able to learn any new ones.

(Yes, this means you can kind of 'game' the system by waiting until later to pick up all the restricted skills you want)