Design Process : Fantasy Archetypes Edition
In this series of posts, we'll be going over the different design decisions that we've made with the game, first focusing on the archetypes we are including in each of the genres, and why we settled on those particular ones. We'll even give a look back on where the archetypes started and how they got to where they are now. For this entry, we will be focusing on the Fantasy Genre Module.
What Archetypes are currently available in the Fantasy Genre?
- The Bound - You forged a pact with a powerful entity and now are beholden to it as the cost for your power.
- The Devout - You are devoted to a deity or a cause.
- The Learned - You extensively studied what you know.
- The Protector - You always fight for what is right.
- The Survivor - You learned what you can do out of necessity without training.
- The Wanderer - You exist on the fringes of society.
We have four more archetypes planned, but those aren't locked in yet, so we'll save that for a future discussion.
History of the Fantasy Genre
Before we get to how we reached this list, first a little history. I (Ryan) come from the 90's RPG systems of that day. Palladium's Heroes Unlimited was my very first TTRPG experience, so the initial playbooks for Chimera were entirely "What could this character do and how well do they do it?" This pretty much laid the groundwork for starting with traditional Fantasy classes from games like D&D. We had Clerics, Paladins, Rogues, Wizards, Warlocks, etc. It was fine as a concept, but didn't fit what we were going for in Chimera at all.
Once I figured out what PbtA excelled at, I changed the playbooks entirely to be about the story that each of these classes were trying to tell instead of what they could do. That definitely worked for a time. It felt good to blend these together with superheroes and, eventually, magical girls, but something was still missing.
That's where Amr comes into play. Amr looked at what we had and said "Let me try something." They ended up completely revamping all of the fantasy playbooks into something entirely new. Some playbooks got blended together, some got removed entirely, and some were relatively good as they were. This is were we ended up today. Playbooks about telling stories that aren't tied to magic users or weapon users, that allow a player the flexibility to tell a particular type of story in the worlds that were created.
Why these six?
We wanted a nice array of archetypes to start with, is the simple reason. The Devout, Learned, Protector, Survivor and Wanderer were the first 5 we had created and wanted to be released for sure.
The Devout tells the tale of someone who's faith is strong, and that faith gives them strength. Whether it be magic or martial, the Devout tells the story of someone who's devotion to a cause drives them. This could easily turn into a Cleric or Paladin type, but it could also be a Rogue who is devoted to a particular cause (The Assassins in Assassin's Creed generally comes to mind here) or a mage devoted to the mage's college.
The Learned is someone who was taught everything they know. They rely on study, discipline and knowledge to get by in the world. This Archetype is mostly associated with Wizards and the like, but it could be a well trained fighter, a tactician, a cleric that really studied their religion or a skilled rogue who learned everything through study. This archetype craves knowledge.
The Protector is what most people think of when they think of a Paladin type of character. This is someone who does everything in their power to keep others safe. They like to protect on or off the battlefield, and can easily be your lawful paladin, your overprotective wizard, a bard who wants to keep their friends and the innocent safe while crafting their songs, or a fighter who keeps others safe with their blade.
The Survivor tells the story of someone who has had to learn everything on their own, for whatever reason, in order to survive. They may have had some bad luck or maybe they chose this lifestyle, but they have picked up many talents along the way. Rogues generally fall under this category, but a mage that learned magic to survive is really cool, or maybe it's someone who learned to fight unorthodoxly.
The Wanderer is the type of person who has travelled the world. This tells a story of someone who has left their homeland and is searching for something to be fulfilled. Perhaps their next home is wherever their companions are?
Finally, we needed one more Archetype to round things off, which is why we decided on The Bound. This is a person who forged a pact with some sort of entity in exchange for power. This entity could be a god, a powerful creature, a magic user, an organization or even a rich individual. You are beholden to this entity in order to do some extraordinary things, and it doesn't have to be magically flavored, though the playbook guides you in that direction. The magic could easily be technology, or favors called in for assistance, or whatever you interpret it to be. It is a bit more specific of an archetype, as it was taken almost directly from the previous Warlock archetype from previous versions, but we felt it helped round things out a bit, and it was always a really fun playbook to see in play.
We thought this would be a very well rounded group for the initial Fantasy group of characters. We've got more on the horizon, we just need to lock down the details before we commit to them! For now, we hope that the current offering lets you blend some truly great Fantasy stories in with the other genres. We've been having a lot of fun with it, ourselves, and we'd love to hear about some of the great stuff you come up with as well!
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