Developer's Blog #23: The Explorer

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Developer's Blog #23: The Explorer

Postby TarlimanJoppos » Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:18 pm

Originally posted at

Let's take a closer look at one of the character Concepts for 1879. These take the place of Disciplines in the lower-magic worlds of Earth and the Gruv in the Victorian era. I'll be using the male pronoun here, but Explorers can certainly be female, and there's other options, such as the Saurids' third gender.

Flavor quote:
“That's precisely the point. We don't know what's out there. The technology to win the war, or the cure for a dreadful ailment, or a pile of diamonds the size of a steamer trunk could be waiting for some brave soul with gumption enough to claim it. All we have to do is go.”

The Explorer is driven, similarly to the Traveled Scholar of Earthdawn, by the need to go and see for themself. The next bit goes further into this.

There's blank spots on the map needing filled. There's plants and animals to discover and name. There's swamps to slog through, mountains to climb, rivers to cross. Adventure and the unknown beckon. The Explorer has the skills to get into previously unknown places, find out what's there, and bring back the report to the Society. Fortune would be nice, but fame opens better doors. Academic renown, opening the way to a new land, discovering the next Crown colony, that's the sort of work gets one knighted. To be the first to cross the threshold, to set foot at the top of the mountain, to brave the elements and reach a goal no one has before, that's a story your great-grandchildren will still be telling long after you're gone. Anyone can make a name for themselves amassing a pile of money, but who remembers the financiers two generations on? Get a mountain named after you, that'll be there forever.

So here we've summed up what the Concept is all about. The Explorer seeks renown by finding new things and bringing back the report. They seek advantage for their nation in the unknown. In short, they explore.

Game Stats
  • Important Attributes: PER, CHA
  • Profession Skill: Navigation
  • Racial Restrictions: None
  • Starting Equipment: Sturdy traveling clothing; Pack, bedroll, basic camping gear; Mapmaking tools
  • Starting Funds: Moderate
  • Income: Moderate
  • Suggested Social Level: 3
These tell us that the Explorer lives by his wits and charm. He's got to be clever, to figure out what he's seeing when he walks into a new area, and determine quickly if it's valuable, toxic, or likely to try to eat him. He's also got to be diplomatic, able to convince the upper class moneyed types that they really should fund his next expedition. I mean, really, look at what the last one brought in! A persuasive lecture with a few magic-lantern slides does wonders for bringing in the investors.

The most important thing the Explorer does is find his way round. Navigation comes before everything else he does, and forms the foundation of all of his work. Without being able to locate one's current position, and follow the best route to the target location, there's no exploring getting done at all. The Profession Skill is the linchpin for the Concept, with all of the Core Skills revolving round it and the Optional Skills supporting it in some way or other.

Anyone from any race can be an Explorer. The urge to go and see for yourself does not know boundaries. Explorers tend to be from the middle class, at least initially, as their efforts tend to be a bit too workman-like for the upper class, except for the occasional eccentric, and require more education and material resources at the start than the lower classes can manage. Their Income generally derives from selling accounts of their explorations as newspaper articles and books, doing the lecture circuit, and providing expert advice to other people who'd like to maybe visit these far off places for their own reasons.

Skills and Abilities
  • Initiate
    • Core Skills
      • Equestrian, Knowledge (Geography), Mapmaking, Research, Wilderness Survival
    • Optional Skills
      • Animal Handling, Climbing, Firearms, Hunting, Unarmed Combat
Starting off, the Explorer learns to ride, to produce their own maps, and to find food and shelter out far away from civilization. They gain familiarity with libraries and archives, so they can do the bookwork before setting out, reading any previous reports, going over maps, and finding whatever can be learned about their target before setting forth, so that if nothing else they have a better idea of how to pack for the trip. They also learn some basics of how to take care of themselves and their party, deal with mounts and pack animals, get up the side of the mountain, and fend off hostile animals or people. The Explorer isn't predominantly a fighting sort, so the more violent Skills go in the Optional list, where they don't get Karma made available.

  • Novice
    • Core Skills
      • Awareness, Evaluate, First Impression, Haggle, Streetwise
    • Optional Skills
      • Avoid Blow, Bribery, Creature Analysis, Shake It Off, Swimming
Having gotten a few expeditions under their belt, the Explorer learns the social side of travel - bargaining with the locals for supplies, figuring out who the pickpocket is in the bazaar, being on the lookout for anything potentially untoward, and charming people they've just met. They also learn to spot a valuable item or discovery when they first see it, lending aid to their income and bringing more success to their expeditions. The Explorer also gets better at staying out of trouble, or at least out of the way of someone trying to hit them. If they do get hit, or otherwise injured, they can call on their stalwart nature to brush aside the effects of injury, at least to some extent. They pick up the unfortunately necessary ability to grease a palm here and there, as some people just won't do their job unless one makes it worth their while, and sometimes one must pay for the person to not do their job when it would be inconvenient for them to be honest and attentive.

  • Journeyman
    • Core Skills
      • Danger Sense, Diplomacy, Lasting Impression, Life Check, Stout Constitution
    • Optional Skills
      • Evidence Analysis, Fishing, Sprint, Stealthy Stride, Tracking
The Explorer has matured considerably, has learned how to negotiate with people, and to leave them with a positive view that may make them more helpful later on. They've toughened as well, able to potentially shake off life-threatening injuries, resist poison and disease, and keep going when it's necessary. Their senses have become hyper acute. They know before turning a corner that there's a footpad with a knife waiting for them. They don't like the look of that cliff face; it could come down all over the expedition with a wrong step made. They've gotten sneaky, and quick, and learned to follow the traces others have left. They can take in a situation at a glance and have a pretty good idea of what happened before they arrived.

  • The character may spend Karma on any PER-only Test.
  • The character gains +1 to their Physical Defense.
  • The character may spend Karma on Recovery Tests.
  • The Next Hill Over: For one point of Strain per person in the traveling party, including themselves, the Explorer can inspire their companions to greater effort, allowing them to travel another two hours beyond the normal maximum of eight without having to make a TOU Test against Fatigue (see Fatigue and Injury, pg.XX). This effect can only be used once per day, and cannot be used to extend travel time beyond ten hours. The Strain is taken all at once. The effect does not extend to the party's animals, which must make the normal Fatigue Test.
Picking one of these at each advance of their Profession Skill in the Journeyman Tier, the Explorer continues to grow sharper and tougher. They reach a point where they can inspire others to greater efforts, taking on some of the burden of keeping the expedition moving that one bit further tha could make all the difference in the world.

So there's our Explorer. From their beginnings as bookish sorts learning the ways of the great outdoors, to weathered professionals able to navigate the souk and the desert with equal ease, the Explorer goes places other people only dream of, find what's valuable there, and bring it, or at least the report of it, back to their own people.
Andrew Ragland
Line Developer, 1879

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