A Profession for Every Place
One of the questions I get occasionally is about the classes, or as I call them in Swordsfall, Professions. It’s something that many games live and die by or eschew completely. For Swordsfall I’ve taken not quite the middle road of having them, but not making life or death. Instead, professions focus on what you DO. Your purpose. What you contribute to in life.
What are Professions?
The first thing to establish is what is a Profession and why is it different from a class? I look at a class as mechanical, its something you talk about outside the confines of the tangible world. In Tikor we say Profession because its what people of Tikor call it. It is truly what you do. And not just in general, but those special jobs. Those special titles. Those terms that mean so much like; doctor, lawyer, special forces, all of them elude to what you do in a special way.
A medical doctor can have multiple crafts and methods, but what they do is clear. You don’t bring your car to a medical doctor. That doesn’t mean a doctor can’t fix a car, it just means that as a Professional it's not what you go to them for.
The Mabar Profession
The thing about Professions is they come with a package of things. Following the previous example, a medical doctor comes with a package. For one it comes with a set number of years of study. The number can change based on location, but the Profession title is earned via that study. There’s a certain baseline of skills that you can generally expect from them. Not only does that make a theme mechanical, but it gives insights into who they are.
This leads to the other big part of the package. Societal expectation. If someone is having a heart attack in a café, a normal person is forgiven for not knowing what to do. But if you’re a medical doctor. Well, for one someone is probably looking for your skillset. Perhaps more importantly, you are expected to assist. Imagine how society would feel about a person dying of a heart attack with a doctor nearby. Silently watching. We’d be PISSED.
Having a profession, being a Professional, automatically demands more of you. Your skills aren’t just optional, they are expected. In terms of a world, this makes it evocative. In terms of a game, it makes it narrow but narrative.
Why so Many?
My idea for professions is to cover the gamut of the base things you’d expect in a world. For now, I’m starting with the major ones that I know can travel worldwide. The most common, the biggest, the showcases. And because Swordsfall covers a whole world, so too do professions.
That means that some classes are not meant to replace others. Swordsfall is not stat heavy, it's narrative-heavy. You don’t need stats to know why a Mechanic is better than a Doctor when you’re dealing with cars. When you need a specialist, you need a specialist.
How Is This Going to be Balanced?
They aren’t meant to be balanced in a mechanical sense for one. While both Mabar and Celestial Shield’s are Melee Tank types, they aren’t balanced by numbers. The best part of Advantages/Disadvantages is that they make the win/fail part the least exciting part of it. The two are different in tone, theme, narrative, and utility.
The Mabar are people trained in an ancient form of wrestling enhanced with divination. They get stronger by feeding off the adulation of an audience. Using their foes fear to power themselves and others. They then use that strength do, well, powerbomb the shit out of people.
Celestial Shields are guardians that have been trained as equally in combat as scholarly knowledge. They are trained to be the ultimate shield for people through actual shields. In fact, they are trained to be proficient in ALL types of shields. Their namesake is a Star Shield, a shield that can change its form into any type of shield the holder can remember.
Both of these are heavy front-line fighters in combat. The “tanks”. They also are fighters of the people. Those who the public would expect to defend them. But they do it in very thematically different ways. My design goal is to make you pick a Profession by the Rule of Cool, not stats. By what is going to be fun to play in theme, not just who rolls the most dice.
What are the Restrictions?
Well, it depends on your Profession and that’s why the stat balance isn’t as big of a deal. Celestial Shields are taught in an organized manner. They have classes and organized lessons. There is an organized structure within there organization. Celestial Shields are selected by deities, rulers, wealthy merchants, and large cities. They have a rep to maintain.
Mabar, however, are more like martial artists. They have no large governing body or at least one that adheres to. They are a fighter of the people but its people of there choosing. A Mabar becomes known through there own efforts and victory in public matches. Their reputation is literally whatever they want it to be. But it also means they hold very little Sway outside their home region.
So, the restriction is in the very narrative. Part of the reason why I worked on so much lore is that I wanted any restrictions to feel tied in lore. But not so much that the players can’t craft their own story. If you want to be the Asshole Celestial Shield, then you can. It just means that you constantly rub against the public expectation.
More to Come!
Later on, we’ll get into more specifics like abilities. And as you can guess, they’ll be born from the theme of the Profession.