“Look at me? Do you like what you see? I am perfection, I am a ghost in the night, I am a being of my own creation. Gods need their worshippers, cog-heads need their devices and mages? Pcha, they are nothing without their books. But me? Everything you see is what I am, and you can never take that away from me.” - Serenta Tacete, Master Thief.

What is a talented character

Some people are just very good at what they do. Mages and artificers across the multiverse will oft extol the virtue of their art as allowing them to grasp heights inaccessible to mere mortals, but this desperately undersells the sheer amount of potential that exists within so many of the peoples of the universe. Properly honed, the human body is as deadly a weapon as anything an artificer can come up with, supremely adaptable, and powered by common comestibles. And the human body doesn't have foot long spines on the arms and a chitinous exoskeleton like the Fost, majestic wings capable of supporting flight like many avian descended races, or perfect night vision as the Balatis.

Ultimately, while a large proportion of the powerful within the city are such because they have access to ultimate arcane power, or devices whose workings would wrench the mind of the untalented, a reasonable number are just talented enough, or sufficiently furnished with natural advantages of descent that they have no need of such things. Be it a mind so razor sharp that the mysteries of the universe fall apart in front of it, agility sufficient to twist past a lightning bolt unscathed, or the brute strength to come out on top after a wrestling match with an exoskeleton clad assailant, there are ways and means of making a splash in the city on the merit of ones natural talents alone.

This has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, there are no short cuts to self improvement for such individuals - training, practice and drive are the only reliable ways (unless you luck out and are handed some implement of great destruction). On the other, it is that much harder for others to sabotage you - gods can have their worshippers slaughtered or converted, mages their caches drained or stolen or artificers their toys smashed. You are your own source of power, and anyone who wants to take you down a peg is probably going to have to do it to your face.

How does it work?

Even more so than other characters, it's important to have a clear idea of why your character has the abilities they do. An human assassin who has trained her body and mind until she fights like poetry in motion is a talented character, but so too is one born of a race that just naturally has inch thick armour plating and a mean streak. What your character is good at doing should be represented by the skills you take - if, for example, you want a talented character capable of flight you should probably be taking Speed to represent the agility this grants, or maybe Exploration to represent the additional range it allows you to cover if your flight is more ponderous. It is also important to think big - remember, your character has sufficient Talent that, at baseline, they can go toe to toe with fireball welding mages and be evenly matched. In addition, you are less likely to need to devote energy towards obtaining components or treasures - you will gradually increase in power just by doing what you are good at unless someone gets in your way.

The flip side to this of course is that you cannot do the impossible and it is harder for you to do things on a truely massive scale unaided. For example at ascendant level you can influence an entire city district with the use of your minions or do a singularly impressive action yourself but you would be unable to singlehandedly take down every building in an area while a mage might be able to.

What this means in system terms

At game start a talented character begins with four skills instead of three and can choose two of them to be key skills instead of the usual one. As the talented character increases in power, one of their normal skills will become a key skill for each increase in power level, to a maximum of four key skills at ascendant power. If the talented character is knocked down a power level through injury or illness then they will lose the 'key skill' status of one of their skills. This represents the damage done or fatigue (mental or physical) caused by the attack having an influence on the characters skills and their ability to maintain them at such a high level. Although your power level can only be reduced by direct attacks at you, because you are but a single person it is more likely someone will be able to get to you in the first place. On the other hand you will be more able to recover from such an attack and thus regain your former power.

With one action… Critical Weakened Normal Empowered Ascendant
Your own Talent You can look after yourself and could defend yourself against a group of mooks. Large Gangs of Mooks are no problem to you but another player is likely to cause you problems. You can take on a few dozen elite mooks single handed or sneak past dozens of trained guards who are explicitly looking out for you without them ever knowing you were there. You can deal with anything thrown your way, leaping through burning buildings while having rocks thrown at you, without taking a scratch and still with grace and style. Any feat is achievable, if it's physically possible, you can do it. You are a master of all your skills
  • Recommended Skill: No one skill is important - anything you choose to specialise in, you can master.
  • To raise your power base: Work on perfecting your own skills. This will happen as you naturally do things as part of your actions.
  • To lower your power base: You must be personally targeted and injured or prevented from keeping your skills honed so they atrophy. As a physical character this is fairly easy to imagine (if still hard to achieve). If you are a more mental or social character then decreasing your skill requires a bit more imagination, e.g effecting your mind to cloud your thoughts or making you so fatigued you find it harder to think straight (again, easier said than done).
  • If you need to defend yourself you can draw on your own reserves - pushing yourself to your limits and beyond in order to protect yourself. This obviously has repercussions on your well being.
  • The extra skill picks give you greater flexibility, allowing you to achieve great things in a wider purview. Please note that multiple key skills do not function in an additive fashion in direct conflicts - For example, having both Aggression and Speed as key skills does not mean you will always triumph in a fight with a non-talent character who has the Aggression key skill.
  • One line summary of what it does: You are the peak of natural ability.
talent.txt · Last modified: 2011/10/05 18:31 by jamesg
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