RMu Training Packages

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.

7 Replies to “RMu Training Packages”

    1. This is what I do in Navigator RPG, or thereabouts. It is what Hurin would call a Professional Template.

      They make chargen fast as long as you don’t have 600 to choose from over 7 companions.

  1. For me TPs are great for the GM to create NPCs and occasionally set up PCs and really only as a apprenticeship alternative. I do like Lore idea as a short cut for background. I can see it with a Fiasco type background creation which would create some random elements to a background rather than getting stuck in the “I’m a thief – I run with a gang”

  2. The only place I feel things like Training Packages belong is in character generation, and even then in a stripped-down form. The system I’m working on now uses them as what I call Basic Training. Some skills are included, while DPs are left for players to personalize their characters with whatever skills they like. I use them mostly to avoid things like players not picking essential skills and giving them an idea of what an agency considers essential skills for their chose profession. I also use cultural and some other background options to speed up generation.
    Once you’re done with character creation, I don’t see any real use for training packages. They were one of the things I disliked about RMSS, and I’ve always found them clunky in other systems.

  3. During character generation Training Packages add a lot to a character’s story and feel. They are a lot like background options where you start with some gear. It could be your old gear from when you were a mercenary, it could be you have a masterwork set of tools back when you worked as a smith. The other thing is not just discount skills, but a variety of skills.
    A lot of new players wonder “what would my character know”? And training packages answer this. They make sure the character has the basics that make sense for that character’s history. Then you flesh out what really matters to you.

  4. Yes, I agree that the best place for TPs is at chargen. I like what Brian is doing and agree with everyone else on that one.

    My main purpose for them is to speed character generation and give some flavor to the character. I often find players -especially new players – get anxious trying to figure out what skills they should buy, and that is totally understandable if they are learning a new system. So giving a TP that ensures they have a viable range of skills really helps here.

    From what I’ve seen on the ICE forums, RMSS/FRP people want something a little different though: not just an apprenticeship option, but a way of differentiating the character. I’ve always felt that just being able to buy any skill was enough, personally.

    Peter’s description of the bonuses from the Lore system sounds a lot like RMu’s Knacks to me.

    One advantage that people on the forums brought up about TPs is that it could help ease the DP scarcity issue. Since DP are relatively scarce, players tend to just buy the skills that they think are most essential, such as weapon skills and spells, and to neglect more ‘flavor’ type skills like lore and crafting and vocations. So Jdale was musing about giving training packages that added a free rank or two of these sorts of skills to the package (i.e. the cost of the package essentially did not include the cost of the free extra rank or two). That might balance the TP better — yes, you’d be getting a few free ranks, but they’d be in skills you otherwise would not take.

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