Back again for the weekly chat, and for this edition I want to cover a mechanic we’ll be going into in the upcoming 1879 Player’s Companion for Variant Professions. These will give you additional options to fully flesh out your game world in terms of what characters you use within it so that you can have characters with a bit more focus from the base Professions given.
Extracting from the upcoming Player’s Companion:
A Variant is a version of a Profession that focuses more closely on one facet, or a different permutation, of the Profession. For example, the Outlaw is a Variant of the Cowboy Profession. Cowboys take care of livestock, ride well, shoot straight, and generally tend to the frontier. Outlaws have gone bad, and prey on the frontier, taking advantage of the wide open spaces to catch their targets out in the open and then disappear into the wilderness. The Core and Optional Skills for both Profession and Variant draw from the same pool, though they may appear at different Tiers (and in some cases, the two may have different Professional Skills). The Free Skills chosen by the character as they advance will help further define them, and may also be strongly influenced by their Variant.
Making New Variants
If a player decides that they want to play out a character of a particular Profession’s skill set, but wants to play a Variant with a different focus than those listed, they can use the existing list to make a new Variant. New Variants should select their Professional Skill and the Core Skills for each tier before starting with the Variant, though they don’t necessarily need to select which rank each Core Skill will be applied to. Any and all new Variants should be discussed with the Gamemaster ahead of time to determine if the change in focus is acceptable and will fit within their campaign. To create a Variant from an existing Profession, the player may:
• Swap a Core Skill with an Optional Skill from the same Tier (1 point)
• Replace an Optional Skill with a new Skill not previously known by the Profession (1 point)
• Replace a Core Skill with a new Skill not previously known by the Profession (2 points)
• Move a Skill to another Tier (2 points, assessed against the source Tier)
No more than four points may be spent per Tier. If the rebuild requires more points than this, what is being created is not a Variant, but a new Profession.
The overall idea here for a player being to give you a quick method to customize how you want to play a character that has a skill set relatively close to the type of character you want to make, but with a different aspect to focus on. For a GM, Variants give the opportunity to give a bit of customization and flair to flesh out a specific aspect of the game world, but without having to make an entirely new Profession from scratch.
While having options in what Skills you pick up does give you a lot of freedom in how you play a character, at times this isn’t quite enough, though not a large enough difference that you need to build an entirely new Profession. Variants offer a middle of the road approach to really help flesh things out without having to be too heavy handed with mechanics.
For our example, we give the Mumper. The Mumpers are covered in the Secret Societies chapter of the Player’s Guide, so I won’t go into too much detail on who they are here. For those that haven’t read it, they are essentially street mages, people on the low end of society that have managed to pick up magical abilities since the opening of the Rabbit Hole (much to the chagrin of those in authority, who would prefer magic to stay in the hands of the social elite). They don’t have formal training or fancy resources, and the Variant skill set allows them to better play out these aspects while still being closely tied mechanically to the base Mage Profession.
Mumper (Mage Variant)
“Nar, officer, you must be mistakin’ me for some old granny. I wouldn’t be knowin’ a magic wand from a tree branch if you beat me with it, not suggestin’ you do so, mind you.”
The Mumper does their best to keep a low profile, at least where the law is concerned. All this talk about licensing, and being charged with violations of the Fireworks Act for setting off a bang or two, makes them nervous. The more the law knows about what you’re up to, the less well off you are, in the sense of how much coin you get charged just for carrying on your family traditions, never mind your general state of health and ability to walk around without running into iron bars.
Important Attributes: PER, WIL
Profession Skill: Spellcasting
Racial Restrictions: Saurids – they have Shamans and Priests but no Mages
Starting Equipment: Passable clothing, scruffy hat, scuffed boots
Magical focus – wand, amulet, coin, or other
Starting Funds: Low
Suggested Social Level: 1
Core Skills: Astral Sight, Awareness, Dispel Magic, Eidetic Memory, Magic Theory
Optional Skills: Artisan (Embroidery), Cryptography, Evaluate, Stealthy Stride, Streetwise
Core Skills: Arcane Mutterings, Craftsman (Magical Tools), Empathic Command, Empathic Sense, Impressive Display
Optional Skills: Danger Sense, Lock Picking, Melee Weapons, Slough Blame, Unarmed Combat
Core Skills: Evidence Analysis, Frighten, Hypnotize, Resist Magic, Suppress Curse, True Sight, Willforce
Optional Skills: Bribery, Conceal Object, Graceful Exit, Knowledge (Building Security), Mechanic, Taunt, Thought Link
• The character gains +1 to their Mystic Defense.
• The character may spend 1 Karma Point on spell Effect Tests.
• The character may spend Karma on any WIL-only Test.
• Prêt á Lancer: The Mage keeps their spells embroidered on their clothing, or otherwise represented symbolically on a clothing item, and maintains attunement to this item. The character spends 2 points of blood magic to bond the clothing item, which cannot be healed as long as the item exists. The item must be in direct contact with the Mage’s skin when they cast spells from it in order to gain the Grimoire Casting advantage. Touching the item with a hand is sufficient. The bonded grimoire item can be used as a targeting focus against the Mage if stolen or otherwise obtained. Often this item is concealed in some way, such as putting the embroidery on the inside of an ascot or scarf.
Core Skills: Astral Pocket, Astral Survey, Glyph of Unweaving, Rapid Fire Casting, Steely Stare
Optional Skills: Escape Plan, Lifesight, Resist Taunt, Safe Thought, Undermine
• The character gains +1 to their Mystic Defense.
• The character gains +1 to their Social Defense.
• The character gains +1 Recovery Test per day.
• Mesmeric Influence: The magician may add up to their Wound Threshold in Step Bonus to their Empathic Command, Hypnotize, or Steely Stare Skill Tests, paying 1 point of Strain per Step. When this ability is used, the magician’s eyes glow slightly, or lighten in colour, or darken, or otherwise change appearance in a mystically significant way. Onlookers may make an Awareness or PER Test at +3 Steps to realize that the magician is exerting a mystic influence.
Core Skills: Cutting Words, Glyph of Shielding, Perfect Focus, Second Chance, Soul Aegis
Optional Skills: Diplomacy, Disarming Smile, Memory Probe, Resist Pain, Witty Repartee
• The character gains +2 to their Mystic Defense.
• The character’s Max Karma increases by 15.
• Casting Circle: For 5 Strain, the Mage may take one minute to create a magical circle on the ground around themselves. While standing in this circle, the Mage’s Spellcasting and Effect Tests are at +5 Steps. The circle does not affect any other magician. It lasts for 10 minutes. The Mage can extend the duration of the circle to their Spellcasting Rank in hours by taking a Wound’s worth of Strain. While the circle may be marked with a material component, such as salt or chalk, the physical component is just a focusing aid to creating the circle. Once created, damage to the markings has no effect on the circle.