Thursday, March 23, 2017

Outdoorsman (from T-Bone and the Barbarians)

T-Bone over at Games Diner has an interesting post up about the Outdoorsman talent, including options for a rebuild.

Tiny GURPS Idea: Better Outdoorsman

You can see my comments on the rebuilt Outdoorsman that T-Bone proposes in that post. You can see my take on barbarians in general in the Denizens book about them.

But I had a few more comments, more or less random notes:

Seafarer isn't something I can claim any credit for - it's in Power-Ups 3: Talents. It was an obvious addition to Barbarians if only because barbaric sea raiders are part of the fantasy barbarian milieu. They stalk around in horned helms and midriff-revealing mail, pose menacingly in loincloth and sandals, and raid from suspiciously Viking-looking ships. It's part of their thing.

Outdoorsman's Cost got a whole box in Barbarians. This is for a few reasons. One is the rounded costs of Basic Set makes Outdoorsman pretty pricey for skills that don't come up much in a dungeon. The second is the sheer number of levels a barbarian really wants or needs is pretty high, magnifying the effect on discretionary points. And third it's always nice to bring in options that other books have already explored. It's why Low-Tech's approach to weapon damage gets a nod in Barbarians, too.

Adding Weather Sense made sense as I'd done that in my own games; we never changed the cost of Outdoorsman but adding Weather Sense made it felt more complete.

Finally, when looking at expanding or changing a talent in DF, I always try to look at three angles:

- Who else is affected directly by the change?

- Who else is undercut?

- Is this really core to the mission of the template?

Outdoorsman is a good example of this. It's used by Barbarians and by Scouts, so changes ripple out. You can't buff it up just for barbarians without scouts equally getting a benefit. You need to be aware of that spread. Secondly, if you expand it with too much nature-ability or too much animal ability, you'd chipping into the already-narrow purview of the Druid and the Animal Friend talent. If it becomes all the physical skills a barbarian outdoorsy type will use, it's going to impinge on every else's use of those abilities. Instead of coming in as a half-price version of IQ for outdoor skills only with some leveled benefits and side bonuses, it comes in as a way to make the barbarian more nimble than the thief or better at spotting traps than the scout. And finally, I think you need to look at the core mission of the template. All of the barbarians assume you're the go-to guy when the going gets outside, to a varying degree (to least with Savage Warrior, the most with Survivor). So Outdoorsman needs to support that - once they say, "the barbarian isn't good at fishing" or "we need a scout, not a barbarian, because the barbarian sucks at survival," you're in trouble. You've undercut what the talent needs to do.

None of that is commentary on T-Bone's idea of how to redo the trait, just saying, it's a process I go through when someone says, "Talent X should cover Y!" Who is affected, who is undercut, and does this really go to the heart of the template?


  1. I wonder if DFRPG will just make a change to this, because it can.

    1. Sean did say my book was influential on the DFRPG barbarian but I can't say how much.

  2. I'm still waiting on DF Denizens: Thief... because the Thief template needs lovin.

    1. Once again, will DFRPG just make the changes (you want), because it can?

    2. I've posted some bits that should help thieves. I don't have enough to propose Denizens: Thieves, though, and I'd like to have my players who run thieves run more of them longer before I commit further advice to a manuscript.

    3. Yeah, I like some of what you proposed. And yeah, you've had some problems getting Thieves into your game and sticking around.

      I had the exact same problem when with my crew. No one wants to play a class that's so easily upstaged by the Wizard. Heck, the Sage I play in a game is a damn fine "Thief" and he is a 125 point character with 99% of his points in non-Thief abilities (granted that's only in the non-combat role that my Sage is a 'good' Thief, combat wise he's not up to any snuff).

    4. I don't think it's so much people don't want to be upstaged so much as they have other templates they really want to run. They also, as a group, are very concerned with a preponderance of frontal combat power, so being able to "spare" someone to run a non-combat guy (even a cleric) isn't something they feel they can do. They've discussed having someone take a Cutpurse ally to make up for it.

    5. Yeah, you've got it far worse than I'd ever have. Your crew considers Clerics to be non-Combatants. Mine doesn't.

      When my guys say "We don't have enough to cover that position" it's because there is only 3 PCs, and they were playing Wizard, Barbarian, and Druid (I'd put a few healing spells into Druid, otherwise he'd have been playing Agricultural Cleric).


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