Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Dinosaur Hunter: Bare Minimum Template

Vaulting onto a dinosaur takes a lot of
different skills.
I can't think of much to write this week, so I thought maybe I'll just air a work in progress and having it out in the open will help me thing better. In any case, my intent is to make a setting where fighting dinosaurs feels right, with a measure of cinematicness but not too much. The feeling I get when looking at the RAW in the Basic Set, and only that, a T-Rex is just a big bag of hit points that can be dropped in a few hits to the (thanks to SM difference) easily targeted skull. So I need to borrow rules from here and there to make it actually into a meaningfully different challenge when fighting against things several times one's own size that is bigger than "more HP and damage."
In any case, to manage expectations, my own, and potential players, I turn to the tool of building templates. They spell out what I think is important to know and communicate my expectations of what kind of adventures a player will have. This is an early, brittle, and inflexible draft, but coloring in the lines once, even if crudely, gives me a place to hang my hat and try to build up.

The Template

Starting from the very top let's just drop a template.


50 points
Advantages:  Serendipity 2 [30]
Primary Skills: Acrobatics (H) DX-2[1]-8; Escape (H) DX-2[1]-8; Naturalist (H) IQ-2[1]-8; Tactics (H) IQ-2[1]-8; Climbing (A) DX-1[1]-9; Stealth (A) DX-1[1]-9;Hiking (A) HT-1[1]-9; Tracking (A) Per-1[1]-9; Navigation (A) IQ-1[1]-9; Traps (A) IQ-1[1]-9; Camouflage (E) IQ+0[1]-10; First Aid (E) IQ+0[1]-10; Jumping (E) DX+0[1]-10; Scrounging (E) Per+0[1]-10; Swimming (E) HT+0[1]-10;
Fill In The Gap Skills: One Melee Weapon varies from easy to hard, and DX-2 to DX+0[1]; One Ranged Weapon Skill, varies from easy to hard, and DX-2 to DX+0[1]; One Method of Teamster or Riding, either IQ or DX (A)[1]; Soldier or Housekeeping or similar professional skill ranging from IQ E to A [1]

Justification and Reasoning

I built this list using Action 4 and an idea of what I was expecting all players would need in order to be self sufficient in the wilds surrounded by megafauna. This mainly comes from the Bushwhacker, Parkour, and Survival templates. All skills only have one point invested, and some are less important than others, and some people might even think a handful of these are worthless, but oh well!
I decided not to affect Attributes because I think that is an area that I want to leave up to players to customize. I plan on starting with low point totals where 1 to 3 levels of a given attribute is a very important bit of characterization.
Probably the weirdest thing on the template is the mandatory two levels of Serendipity. I added them for a few reasons, mostly about helping myself as much as to help the players. I cave a little easily to players hoping that something good is just around the corner, so having a quantifiable two times per character means that people are going to be running into all sorts of happy coincidences. It might be too much, but I'll pare it down in testing.
In that vein, I'm almost considering banning luck; the world bends over backwards to give the players the tools, layout, and breaks they need to succeed, but dinosaurs are terrifying, awful things, and towing the line and making big risks should be a terrifying, awful, but maybe awesome thing. The maybe is important. I feel like with Luck, people can easily become pretty confident in ways that make longish odds not feel so long.
The Fill In The Gap skills are there because otherwise I was at an unsatisfying 46 points. That's it. I figure in a combat focused campaign though, being mandated to know how to use two types of weapons isn't too oppressive.


There are 6 IQ skills, 5 DX skills, 3 HT skills 2 Per skills among the primary, with 2 or 3 DX skills, and 1 or 2 IQ skills in the stopgap group. This means that all of those attributes hit a saturation point where buying an attribute or secondary characteristic is more "efficient" than buying skills to very high levels. That said, I hope to make that a challenging decision in play by keeping the point values low at the start. Investing 20 points in the most important DX skills or taking a level of DX becomes a deliberate important tactical decision that would be less significant at point levels in the hundreds.


  1. I think I'll need to see more of what you are building here to fully grok what you are putting together, but the concept sounds neat.

    1. Well, evidently he's working to emulate a standard Monster Hunter-type character. If you've played any of the games, you'd get the gist: hunting through a complex set of biomes; investigating the ecology for resources; tracking creatures and learning their habits/nature; and ultimately fighting monsters between small and massive in size, utilizing equipment, weaponry, gear, and consumables that were harvested/crafted/forged from the resources and denizens of the ecology itself.


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