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Old 08-29-2017, 11:17 AM   #21
Kromm
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Default Re: [DFRPG] The Scholar, Revised

The scholar is hived off in a little supplement with the artificer because neither profession suits all Dungeon Fantasy campaigns.

In the specific case of the scholar, the character type is essentially "the NPC sage of first-gen tabletop RPGs, but as a PC." It isn't viable as a delver unless the GM's taste in adventures runs to heaping on punishing task penalties for lacking obscure, need-this-once-in-a-career skills; concealing vital clues behind otherwise-worthless languages; and maneuvering the adventurers into dead ends as the penalty for not doing their homework. The idea is that once the party finds a quest, the scholar pores over books and maps, memorizing all the knowledge necessary to serve as their tour guide, translator, and code-breaker when it comes to finding the dungeon and interpreting its subtle warnings.

The coolest part is that the scholar can reset to do this on every adventure without spending further points on new languages and skills. In effect, the initial points in special abilities can be reused to cover this need forever. Of course, resetting happens in town – dragging books around to do it in the field is deliberately a pain as a curb against excessive cheese. ("Oh, I'll just whip out my notebook and reconfigure my brain like Neo in The Matrix" was never the goal . . .)

If the GM is more fond of the "Here's the dungeon – start slaying and looting!" approach to the genre, and admits brute-force or magical workarounds to lack of specific knowledge, makes sure that no single clue is essential to adventure success, and is always open to the heroes backing out of a dead end to try another path . . . well, there's nothing a scholar can do that the party's bards, scouts, thieves, and wizards can't do better. Then the scholar's points in special abilities are wasted and the character becomes nothing more than a one-shot caster with no cool combat moves.

Note that this thinking applies equally to many professions. Why play a holy warrior, for instance, if the GM's campaign is all about fighting orcs, orcs, and more orcs (and the occasional ogre or troll), and there won't be any undead or demons? Just play a cleric or a knight. Why play a shaman outside of a campaign that involves dealings with the Spirit World? Just play a cleric, druid, or wizard.
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Old 08-29-2017, 11:38 AM   #22
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Default Re: [DFRPG] The Scholar, Revised

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It isn't viable as a delver...
We have a definitional difference of the word viable. Maybe...


The Sage/Scholar is not a 'front-line' anything (neither fighter nor caster). It's a Support role (even more-so than the Thief). If you enjoy support roles, it's viable. If your game can handle one of the PCs in this role, it's viable.
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Old 08-29-2017, 11:54 AM   #23
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Default Re: [DFRPG] The Scholar, Revised

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We have a definitional difference of the word viable [...] If your game can handle one of the PCs in this role, it's viable.
As I said:

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It isn't viable as a delver unless the GM's taste in adventures runs to [...]
Emphasis added. Your "if" and my "unless" say very similar things. Your game being able to handle one of the PCs in this role is essentially contingent on the GM allowing that by running suitable adventures. If the GM runs all adventures as start-to-finish combats on a map with pauses to loot – and I know people who run Dungeon Fantasy exactly like that! – then your game won't handle the dead weight of a PC who can't contribute to the never-ending battle.
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:26 PM   #24
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Default Re: [DFRPG] The Scholar, Revised

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Note that this thinking applies equally to many professions. Why play a holy warrior, for instance, if the GM's campaign is all about fighting orcs, orcs, and more orcs (and the occasional ogre or troll), and there won't be any undead or demons? Just play a cleric or a knight. Why play a shaman outside of a campaign that involves dealings with the Spirit World? Just play a cleric, druid, or wizard.
This sort of thing also cascades out to other choices, beyond overall template and niche.

If the campaign is all about fighting orc, orcs, and more orcs (all of whom are melee dudes) then the party will focus on impaling weapons and the skill to do Vitals (or Eye) hits, spells to disarm, break weapons and shields, and bypass equipment-based armor, and everything that exploits the flaws of low IQ and low Will opponents while completely neglecting tricks that target low ST and/or low HT. They'll completely ignore resisting magic, they'll ignore the problem of traps, they'll never have to cross a narrow ledge, scale a wall, swim a leech-filled canal, sneak past a sleeping dragon, handle wild animals, or talk to anything - and suddenly the martial artist, thief, druid, and bard's players all ask to reroll as knights, scouts, swashbucklers so they can actually do things. They'll all equip with pointy weapons, they'll all have shields, and they'll only ever target Vitals or Eye.

I've seen this happen in multiple game systems.

Now, if you have a group of players that only likes to play knights, scouts, and swashbucklers, you probably should build a campaign that focuses on tracking down evil humanoids, murdering them, and then going back to Town to flirt with the waitstaff at the Tavern. They'll have a blast doing it, and you'll have an easy time structuring challenges for them that you're sure they'll be engaged in and can cope with.

If you have a party with a thief, a druid, a barbarian, a scout, and a scholar, and you put them in the All Orcs All The Time campaign, things will go south quickly.

EDIT: The problem that can happen to a GM with a one-note campaign is the PCs becoming extremely hyperspecialized and exploding all the orcs on contact (for example). This can get boring for everyone. The usual advice is "well, change it up!" but now you have a party who is hyperspecialized for orcslaying. A 350 point orcslaying party can get unexpectedly splattered when suddenly confronted with some icky goo - it's nearly all Diffuse or Homogenous, it has no hit locations, it relies on buckets of HP instead of armor so you can't target chinks, it's mindless so you can't mind control it, you can't poison it, you can't sneak up on it... and often it oozes right past your armor, uses a gas-based attack, or eats your armor, and your shield.
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:54 PM   #25
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Default Re: [DFRPG] The Scholar, Revised

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The idea is that once the party finds a quest, the scholar pores over books and maps, memorizing all the knowledge necessary to serve as their tour guide, translator, and code-breaker when it comes to finding the dungeon and interpreting its subtle warnings.

The coolest part is that the scholar can reset to do this on every adventure without spending further points on new languages and skills. In effect, the initial points in special abilities can be reused to cover this need forever. Of course, resetting happens in town – dragging books around to do it in the field is deliberately a pain as a curb against excessive cheese. ("Oh, I'll just whip out my notebook and reconfigure my brain like Neo in The Matrix" was never the goal . . .)
That does help put it into perspective, thanks.

I do like the idea of playing a character who does lots of pre-adventure preparation along the lines of "we're raiding the Orc Caverns, best get out the Textbook on speaking Orcish", or "we're meeting the Elven Princess this session, best brush up on my etiquette, where's that Primer on Savoir-Faire (High Society)". I think I was taking the example in DF4 a little too literally, where it sounded to me like Mandrake the Mad carried around a library in his pack, whereas I can more easily see a character taking along a book or two for use in emergency, and leaving the rest in Town.

I agree with the point that it is contingent on being in a campaign that supports that style of play, there's no point playing an intellectual character if that niche isn't necessary as the GM accepts workarounds for lacking those skills. I guess it comes down to making sure that the GM and players are singing from the same songbook when starting the campaign and that they have compatible expectations.
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:23 PM   #26
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Default Re: [DFRPG] The Scholar, Revised

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I agree with the point that it is contingent on being in a campaign that supports that style of play, there's no point playing an intellectual character if that niche isn't necessary as the GM accepts workarounds for lacking those skills.
I think Kromm is overstating a bit, which is why I disagree with his definition.

I'm playing in a campaign where that niche isn't necessary. However, the GM is more than willing to let that Support be useful, just not vital.

Mostly I think the GM is happy to have a PC that can exposition dump world info on the party... as well as explain the plot. When he remembers that not everyone speaks or reads all the languages he does (it a Play-by-Post and I sometimes forget I'm the only one that can read those 'secret' messages).

While I doubt my fellow Players bemoan my PCs lack of combat capacity*, I'm sure they're also happy to get slightly more buck for their buck (Merchant and good Reaction Rolls) and they seem to be the types to enjoy knowing what they're up against (Hidden Lore and other skills). Yes, it's been close in combat, but I think the razor's edge is fun place to live on**...


* He has certain "one-shot" magic spells (a few utility and combat AoE) in an enchanted staff. By one shot I mean, it's a costly use of FP and leaves him pretty spent for the rest of the combat, not being a Wizard and those spells being at the default skill 15 for being an enchanted item.

** Inversely my Barbarian Ogress in one of the GM's other games is also a lot of fun just smashing all the foes and rarely ever feeling threatened... so there's also that.
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:28 PM   #27
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Default Re: [DFRPG] The Scholar, Revised

Note I am not saying that I don't see the point of the scholar. I am saying that I don't see the point of the scholar without Book-Learned Wisdom. Being one point smarter than the wizard isn't meaningful if you don't do anything with it and you can hide behind armed guards and be ineffective without leaving town.
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:55 PM   #28
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Default Re: [DFRPG] The Scholar, Revised

If the GM is planning individual adventures and in fact the whole campaign around specific heroes created by the players, as several people have suggested, no profession will be useless. This is why the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy series and the Dungeon Fantasy RPG offer explicit advice on making everybody useful. As a designer, though, it's important to acknowledge that many GMs, perhaps the majority, don't do this. While some such "top-down" GMs (ones who create a campaign first and then run it no matter what PCs turn up) include cerebral and civilized elements alongside dungeon crawls, most DF fans lean more toward the violence-filled model – which to be fair is traditional for slay-and-loot adventure – wherein there's little reason to expand beyond the priest-rogue-warrior-wizard quadrangle.
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Old 08-29-2017, 04:55 PM   #29
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Default Re: [DFRPG] The Scholar, Revised

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Note I am not saying that I don't see the point of the scholar. I am saying that I don't see the point of the scholar without Book-Learned Wisdom. Being one point smarter than the wizard isn't meaningful if you don't do anything with it and you can hide behind armed guards and be ineffective without leaving town.
And do you think that Book-learned Wisdom is an appropriate advantage for the simplified set of advantages presented in the DFRPG? I considered including it, but the price structure was too complicated, and it can't be used for Area Knowledge anymore.
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Old 08-29-2017, 05:02 PM   #30
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Default Re: [DFRPG] The Scholar, Revised

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And do you think that Book-learned Wisdom is an appropriate advantage for the simplified set of advantages presented in the DFRPG? I considered including it, but the price structure was too complicated, and it can't be used for Area Knowledge anymore.
I don't think either of the sages are especially appropriate for straight DFRPG, and if people want to add them back in DF4 exists as a ready-to-use expansion (DFRPG already includes the rules for scrolls).

More to the point though is that Book-Learned Wisdom is why I personally want to play a scholar, without it I'd rather play a wizard or bard; having a higher IQ score by one is pretty irrelevant to my interests in playing a character in an RPG. Now obviously evileeyore disagrees, so clearly there may be people who like this version enough to play it.
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