Insider 2-20-2012

If you’re anything like me, the first thing you do when you get your hands on a crisp new RPG book is check out what kind of characters you can make. Alright, so in reality, the first thing I do is crack that book open to the center and inhale a big whiff of delicious New Book Smell, but after that it’s straight on to character creation!

Accordingly, character creation was one of the first parts of the Iron Kingdoms Role Playing Game to begin development. We’ve talked a little about this previously in No Quarter Magazine, where DC gave some insight into our Archetype and Career system. As a quick refresher, Archetype is one of the first choices made by a player for his character and broadly describes the kinds of options that will be available to him in Careers and abilities. For example, the Gifted Archetype is necessary as a pre-requisite for any Career that utilizes magic, be it an Arcane Mechanik or a Warcaster. There’s enough to talk about with Archetypes for a whole blog, but today I want to discuss Careers.

When we were talking about what kinds of characters inhabit the Iron Kingdoms, we quickly came to the realization that few of them were easily defined, especially by some of the old stand-by terminology of roleplaying games. Part of the allure of the world is the do-it-yourself aesthetic and the mashed up fantasy conventions. Our wizards don’t just cast spells; sometimes they build mechanikal devices to augment their natural arcane ability. An Ordic Pistoleer may have learned her way around a sword, knowing as she does that even the fastest shot in Midfast sometimes runs out of ammo…

And this is why you choose not one but TWO Careers when building your character. In the first book alone we offer over 25 Careers to choose from! Some Careers are restricted to specific Archetypes or Races (for example, only Trollkin can be Fell Callers, and only humans can be Knights), but for the most part you’re free to mix and match any two Careers you please. Now, it’s important to remember that the names of your two Careers are not necessarily your character’s exact job title but are instead descriptors of the skills at his command and may help you imagine the path your character’s life has taken up until this point. Some Career choices are intuitive enough, a Mercenary Pistoleer isn’t going to stretch anyone’s imagination, and because of the benefits of taking a skill offered by multiple Careers at creation, there are strong incentives to choose complementary Careers.

What we think of as a real strength, though, is the option to create truly unique characters from the combination of your Careers. Many of the most interesting and compelling figures in both fiction and reality could not have been shoehorned into a single Career, and many of such individuals possessed some pretty wide ranging skill sets! Nobody told Napoleon that just because he was born an Aristocrat that he couldn’t go on to become a Military Officer, and he certainly didn’t forget his manners when he picked up that saber. Alternately, Friar Tuck could easily be described as a Highwayman Priest, and wouldn’t you say that a Man-at-Arms Thief is a pretty good descriptor of everyone's favorite barbarian and destroyer?

For a more in-depth look at how Careers inform character creation, check out the Character Craft article in the March issue of No Quarter Magazine (issue #41).