Totally unfinished thought: Char-gen as layered template selection.

So there's an old White Wolf game called Werewolf: the Apocalypse. It's about werewolves who are sort of spiritual protectors of the Earth. There's a quickstart booklet for the thing that boils the choices you need to make down to choosing three layers of templates (your parentage, your moon sign, and your tribe) and a basic selection of how you'll rate four traits.

This always struck me as a fairly cool way to do char-gen. Because it's three layers, and because you choose one option from each layer, a relatively small number of options multiply together to create a great deal of variety. So if there are 3 breeds, 5 auspices, and 9 tribes, and you can combine them any way you want, there are 135 combinations. That's before you get to the part where you configure your traits.

This got me thinking. Three layers. You use three Modes when using Mode based char-gen. So what if these layers were vertical Modes rather than the default horizontal ones?

Let me define this for a second. I'm describing normal Modes as horizontal because all the Skills in a given Mode begins rated the same way. You select where you put it, and that defines the baseline rank for all the Skills it contains.

Vertical Modes, then, would be ones where the packaged Skills have different ratings. For conversation, each layer has one Skill at 1, one at 2, and one at 3. Or maybe two at 1, two at 2, and one at 3. Whatever. It doesn't really matter right now. But you choose three of these vertical Modes (using the Werewolf example, one for Breed, one for Auspice, and one for Tribe) and they give you some default ratings for a number of Skills.

Each template probably also comes with a selected Stunt as well. You don't have to do this, but part of the idea is that you need to make the smallest number of choices possible.

What would this look like? Well, it'd sort of depend, because it'd obviously change a lot based on what you were doing with it.

Let's say that you were doing a D&D 4e inspired game as an example. You choose your race (elf, dwarf, human, etc), your power source (primal, divine, martial, arcane, psionic), and your role (leader, striker, defender, controller). Each one defines some number of specified Skills (possibly with choices in spots within a given template) and a stunt. Then you choose your aspects, focus four Skills, train one, and calculate your stress tracks.

Obviously the specifics would change depending on what you were doing with it. An (uplifted squid) (techie) (anarchist) in an Eclipse Phase type setting would likely be built selecting from very different templates than an (elf) (psionic) (striker). And obviously this idea is (as I said above) half formed.

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