Monday, December 21, 2015

Wildcard Skill: Scholar!

This Guy.
I decided to finish off the wildcard skills for Dungeon Fantasy 4 because I already started them earlier today. This one is just a *tiny* bit trickier, because we have no point of reference which to start. The big trick of the Scholar class is their ability to quickly learn different modular abilities by reading books. Let's see what we can put together anyway.

Let's find the key skills of a scholar

So, looking at the list of skills that all scholars are required to have by the template, I see
  • Cartography
  • Hidden Lore (required 3 times)
  • Research
  • Speed Reading
  • Teaching
  • Writing
  • Observation
  • Scrounging
  • Search
These account for 8.5 "skills" according to the guidelines for a fair wildcard in the powerups wildcard supplement. This also accounts for 17 points so far. I like, at a minimum to hit the 24-point mark so we can roll for all the skills at attribute level. We need to find, at a minimum, 3.5 more skills, and 7 more points, speaking only for myself, to be satisfactory. But, as it is part of the Scholar's shtick to have wide instead of deep knowledge (part of it, the main part is the modularity; which is really another issue) it is literally impossible to find 7 additional points worth of skills inside of 3.5 to 5.5, unless we encroached on the weapon skills, which I feel is a no-no for a bookworm skill to include weapon abilities.
My opinion, the best fitting skills for a person that seems to know something interesting and relevant to the situation at hand without stepping on the toes of another niche too badly, are:
  • Architecture
  • Heraldry
  • Psychology
These 3 knowledge skills have pretty useful shallow, but wide application to a bunch of situations, without being the typical bread and butter of any other classes (That isn't to say they are not used, just that they aren't center stage for the templates that have them.) All 3 are originally optional secondary skills. So only 2 points are allowed to be applied to secondary skills. It might be a fair option to allow someone to apply 4 of the elective points from secondary (2 points left) or background skills (4 points left) to get us to a nice even Wildcard skill. I'd leave that up to the player though. Other options are taking another -5 points of disadvantages because we have only -45 required so far, or to use points from quirks... or to leave it alone entirely.
So in the end, Scholar! (VH) IQ-1 [20]-14 is what we are looking at, with only 4 points to Attribute level.

Wrap Up

The scholar's two main advantages are flexibility through Book-Learned Wisdom and knowledge skills. Because of this, a hard and fast wildcard skill might be antithetical to the concept of a Scholar. However, when using wildcard skills, it is recommended to be flexible and consider whether someone that is a scholar might have certain types of knowledge even if it isn't an explicit piece of the wildcard. Because knowledge skills are just one piece of the Scholar pie, the benefits I suggest are for the other big piece, the Book-Learned Wisdom slots. This might encourage investing in a wildcard skill that might otherwise lack bang for buck. Writing out the wildcard skill in the format from the wildcard supplement, I come up with this:

Scholar! (IQ)
Skills: Cartography, Hidden Lore(Any), Research, Speed Reading, Teaching, Writing, Architecture, Heraldry, or Psychology. Make a Per roll for Observation, Scrounging, and Search.
Suggested Benefits: Hyper-Competency Options when using Book-Learned Wisdom, and bonuses to Book-Learned Wisdom rolls OR Wildcard Skills.

As an aside, I think some of the original wildcard skills are not balanced like this, so it may not be RAW, but (heresy ahead) I might house rule that this character could roll against Scholar! for any mundane knowledge even if it isn't explicitly listed as a known skill, especially in the case that no one in the group knows the "correct" skill at all. In this case, it might make sense to eliminate all knowledge skills from the template (Except for the barbarian-ish knowledge skills under background skills, like Navigation and Survival; personal opinion, they don't seem very essence of know-it-all "Scholar" to me) and subsume them into the Scholar! wildcard skill, remove all primary and secondary skill options (except the weapons) and only leave two points for background skills. Throw Prospecting and Traps under background skills. This gives enough points to be at 24 points and attribute level. To make it more fair, and for niche protection's sake, any skill that particularly belongs to another party member's specialty can only be used in knowledge capacity in their presence, and not for practical immediate application. EG, in the presence of a cleric or druid, A scholar might know the ingredients to a particular medicine with Pharmacy (Herbal), but not have the practical experience to actually create the medicine reliably.

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