The discussion on the forums that caught my eye this week was the discussion about RMu Training packages.
I am not a fan of Training Packages, but like Hurin pointed out, TPs are not part of the RM2/RMC way of thinking.
From the outside looking in, TPs appear to slow down character creation simply by dint of there being so many possible TPs to consider, add to book bloat, because TPs end up being spread over multiple companions and GM notes, and encourage min/maxing by picking TPs that give the biggest discounts for the skills or spells that you were going to buy anyway.
That looks like a really negative list. The reason there are no positives on it is because I have never played in a game with them, so I have never seen the benefits at the table.
But does RMu need them?
Need is a strong word. The way I see it is that if you have really nice rules for creating professions built in to the core rules, can the GM not just create unique variations of the core professions to reflect the subtleties of their setting? Nibble a point of a skill here, add a point there and you can shape the professions as you want them. If you want to make wood elf culture more brutal, make the performing arts and crafts more expensive and shave a point off of the combat and subterfuge skills.
It all remains balanced, it makes your world more unique and rich in lore.
I recently got to play with The Lore System. This is a d00 lite system. Its unique feature is called Lore Sheets. Sheets are a bit if a misnomer as a sheet is about 3 sentences. You work with the GM and then write two or three sentences in the first person. These sentences describe something of your place in the world, and come with a game mechanical advantage.
An example would be something like “I grew up in a gang run by the thieves guild in Eidolon, and still know many members. I get +5 to streetwise and attempts to bribe lower-ranking officials inside the city.“
The nice thing about Lore Sheets is that they tie the character in to the setting. They are negotiated between the GM and player. That +5 could just as easily be +10 or +25. The bonuses the GM wants to give are up to them.
Another advantage is that there is no library of existing lore sheets that players need to browse through to find the lore sheets that fit their need.
TPs are described as history. Lore Sheets are rooted in the characters background/story but are also current. ‘I did this then, so I can do this now’.
In the Lore System, lore sheets come and go. If you upset the thieves guild, you could lose that benefit, but if you entered the employ of a lore master you could gain something else. As long as it is all wrapped up in the game world I think that lore sheets tick the same mechanical box as the TPs, without the min/maxing and game bloat drawbacks. Lore sheets also help a player understand where their character is coming from.
I know players that write their backstory during char gen, and then never reference it ever again. Lore sheets add the benefit, because they are written first person and feature on the character record, front and centre, that they instantly bring the characters background into the present.
The flaw with the lore sheet model is that it doesn’t sell books. You can fill entire companions with TPs. TPs build Companions and Companions drive sales.
Companions full of optional stuff is the ICE way of doing things, and it seems to work for PathFinder.
I, personally, would be cautious with doing that with RMu. The entire RM brand is sensitive to the accusation of bloat. That accusation is false and unfair, just look at PathFinder. RM is a minnow by comparison, but truth and opinion are often strangers.
I would launch the core rules, and then build adventures that use those rules. As soon as you start outputting optional rules, writing adventures becomes impossible. Optional rules produce power creep, simply by virtue of the fact that later characters had more options to choose from, so can choose options that suit them that earlier characters did not have.
As you get power creep, and adventure that is not optimised with the newest optional rules becomes a walkover for newer characters.
If an adventure does use all the available options, then the GM needs to have spent $1000 buying every possible book just to play a $9.99 adventure.
So that is my thoughts on TPs, but I reiterate, I haven’t used TPs so I don’t really know what good they do to a game. I have used lore sheets and I am very impressed with them. I will be introducing them into my game when we get to play face to face again.