Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2004

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the sixty-fifth issue of The Guild Companion.

Consternation 2005

The convention committee met in mid-June to discuss our progress so far with Consternation, the 3-day British Role-Playing Society convention to be held in Cambridge in August 2005. One of our decisions was to increase the membership price from 20 pounds to 24 pounds. This increase will take effect from August 2004, so if you want to take advantage of the early-bird discount, act now and visit to make your booking.

TGC Modules

Solid progress continues to happen with our modules. Robert Defendi has submitted several more chapters of the Shadow World Master Atlas d20 Edition, and I am carefully checking melee bonuses, Armor Classes, and the like against ability scores, standard progressions, etc.

John Rodriguez has submitted the first two chapters of his detailed fantasy setting, codenamed Nightfall, and I've completed the editing work on them. The complete manuscript isn't expected to be finished until early in 2005.

Musings from the Back of the Envelope

A very long time ago, I wrote an article about professions in Rolemaster which provided the philosophical basis for Tim Dugger's companion article entitled Irregular Realms. I argued that there was a minimum set of fantasy archetypes in Rolemaster. All RM professions could be represented as "pure" members of a single "realm" (e.g. Arms, Subterfuge, Essence, etc.) or as semi-users of two realms (e.g. the Paladin as a semi of Arms and Channeling, the Rogue as a semi of Arms and Subterfuge.) The net effect of the proposal would have been to substantially reduce profession proliferation in Rolemaster - as existing professions which inhabited the same archetype (e.g. Magicians, Mana Molders and Illusionists are all Pure Essence) could have been collapsed into a single profession with variant sets of spell lists.

In my article, I indicated that there were fewer problems with modern-day or futuristic versions of Rolemaster, mainly because of the absence of magical realms of power.

Recently, I have been considering professional archetypes for HARP, not for fantasy settings, but for modern and science-fictional genres. In HARP, a profession "reflects the focus [a] character has given to training and development ... determines how difficult [it is] to learn certain skills". HARP professions also provide access to certain abilities, some of which aren't available by any other means. A HARP profession is "much like a career". All of this is much more relaxed than Rolemaster's insistence that "professions" are fixed, and of course, HARP permits characters to add additional professions as they advance in levels.

I've studied previous ICE offerings for modern and futuristic settings, such as Sapcemaster, Cyberspace, and Rolemaster and looked for archetypal patterns. In addition, I've been immersing myself in the science-fiction section of my book collection and watching episodes of Babylon V, X-Files, etc., ... all in the name of research, of course.

So anyway, here's my first pass at a set of archetypal professions for modern/sf HARP:

  • The Fighter: Soldier, warrior, bodyguard or thug, there will always be a need for the combat specialist.
  • The Thief: The master of subterfuge and deception, Thieves will find themselves in demand on both sides of the law.
  • The Academic: Writers, researchers, and teachers, the Academics are the thinkers and theorists.
  • The Scientist: Doctors, physicists, chemists, biologists, Scientists are the experimental thinkers in the labs and in the field.
  • The Engineer: Specialists in analyzing, designing and repairing equipment, Engineers are essential in worlds of advanced technology.
  • The Communicator: Diplomats, entertainers, linguists, politicians, traders, and so on, the Communicator is the expert at social interaction.
  • The Pilot: Whether it's driving a fast car, steering a speedboat, flying an aircraft or a spacecraft, daredevil Pilots rely on their lightning reflexes and hand-eye coordination.
  • The Explorer: The last great outdoorsmen, Explorers are survival experts, wilderness guides, and planetary scouts.
  • The Psychic: The Psychic's training has focused on the hidden powers of the mind, allowing them access to extraordinary psionic abilities such as telepathy and telekinesis.
  • The Generalist: Jack-of-all-trades and master of none, Generalists are the ordinary citizens of the universe - clerks, farmers, officials, shopkeepers, etc.

Two other professions suggest themselves:

  • The Martial Artist: The expert in unarmed combat and maneuvering. In Rolemaster, Monk-like professions appear in both fantasy and modern genres, but seem to disappear entirely in Rolemaster's sf siblings.
  • The Rogue: More versatile than either Fighter or Thief, but without their breadth of combat skills and subterfuge expertise respectively, the Rogue is one of the most adaptable professions. In a system such as HARP with relatively painless rules for characters with multiple professions, do we need a hybrid archetype?

I'll be interested in your thoughts on this subject - feel free to post them in our discussion boards.

Farewell (for now ...)

I'll leave you to read this month's issue while I carry on with my d20 editing and "back of the envelope" musings. Our next issue will be published in August 2004, but until then ...

Keep gaming and have fun,
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion