Forthright Sneak Peek: Build Your Own Class

By | September 19, 2015

Hello again!

In the run-up to Metatopia 2015, we’ve been running a series of Forthright Open Roleplay sneak peeks of Beta 3, with a general goal of laying out nearly the entire system in blog posts before November.  Here’s the series so far:

The hallmark of Forthright Open Roleplay that has remained largely unchanged across the development of the system is the build-your-own-class rules.  We have always divided fightingtalking and using skills into three different elements that a player ranks to determine how good his character is at each.  Each of these elements is a Role, and a character’s rank in any Role is a Proficiency.


There are three Proficiencies in Forthright:  One-Star, Two-Star and Three-Star.  The more stars your character has in a Proficiency, the more skilled your character is in that Role.  All Protagonist characters have one One-Star Role, one Two-Star Role, and one Three-Star Role.

Proficiency governs the success bonus applied to action resolution rolls.  One-Star characters have a 35% chance of Setback, Two-Star characters have a 20% chance of Setback, and Three-Star characters have a 5% chance of Setback.  Likewise, One-Star characters have a 0% chance at a Boon, Two-Star characters have a 15% chance at a Boon, and Three-Star characters have a 30% chance at a Boon.

Additionally, Proficiency determines how many abilities in the Role you begin play with.  One-Star characters can perform the basics of the Role, but gain no special abilities.  Two-Star characters gain additional special abilities they can invoke on a Boon.  Three-Star characters gain a capstone talent that allows them to further improve their capacity in that Role.

Fighting Styles

The Role that governs your ability to deal damage to other characters in the Gamescape is your Fighting Style.  We previously used some similar terms to classic games (“warrior,” “summoner,” etc.) but those too closely tied the game’s mechanics to a fantasy theme, instead of allowing it to be more multi-genre.  There are now 10 Fighting Styles to choose from, with largely less familiar names:

  • Caller:  Commands the power of the Beast, a non-Intelligent creature or machine that does the Caller’s bidding and has additional special powers.
  • Destroyer:  Uses a resource, Power, that ebbs and flows during combat in order to exert maximum force on the battlefield.
  • Guardian:  Sturdy and self-healing, the Guardian’s main function is to keep enemies focused on him so that he takes the brunt of their assaults.
  • Juggernaut:  Wielding the largest damage die and wasting no damage, the Juggernaut knocks opponents flat and doesn’t know when to quit.
  • Pacifist:  Agile and talkative, the Pacifist tries to convince combatants to lay down their arms and is a master of self-defense.
  • Reaper:  Dances across the battlefield wielding multiple dice, causing light damage to multiple opponents rather than heavy damage to one.
  • Scrapper:  Expert at handicapping opponents, the Scrapper both damages and disables enemies with every attack.
  • Sharpshooter:  With multiple ranged weapons, the Sharpshooter deals light damage to multiple targets across a vast swath of the battlefield.
  • Sniper:  With the broadest range of attack, the Sniper is particularly adept at damaging those targets farthest from him.
  • Tactician:  Wields allies like weapons, commanding them to attack and exploit targets in his stead to maximize his team’s battlefield superiority.

Unlike previous iterations of the system, choosing a Fighting Style does not open specific talent trees or allow characters to choose role-specific talents.  Instead, Fighting Styles govern specific techniques of bringing the pain, allowing players to make a single meaningful choice instead of a choice that opens up other choices, thereby requiring even starting players to know a full chain of options in order to choose.  This has proven to be tremendously helpful to new players.


The Role that governs your ability to talk with and convince other characters in the Gamescape is your Persona.  Forthright is to my knowledge unique in singling out specifically “how you talk” as a major element of a character’s design, and we didn’t want to lose that uniqueness.  However, we did want to ensure that the 10 Personas we had to choose from felt unique and special without missing any obvious types:

  • Aristocrat:  Best when speaking to the high and mighty and commanding the resources of his Faction.
  • Carouser:  Great at parties and other informal events, especially at making friends and bringing the party with him wherever he goes.
  • Fast-Talker:  Excels when talking to a distracted target, and can often be considered trustworthy even when plainly not.
  • Flatterer:  Uses honeyed words to make a target feel loved and valued, developing friendships on the premise of the target’s own greatness.
  • Glory Hound:  Controls his reputation by boasting about his accomplishments and cornering people to talk about himself.
  • Loner:  Best when speaking to the lowly and when shirking the responsibilities of friendship and polite discourse.
  • Merchant:  Excels at conversations about money and displaying the wealth he’s already accumulated.
  • Orator:  Adept at gaining temporary allies through inspirational stories and speeches.
  • Scoundrel:  Best at tricking targets about his true motivations, avoiding malice and talking to crooks with ease.
  • Teacher: Great at sharing knowledge, making conclusions, and learning about his targets through conversation.

The social conflict system has been greatly streamlined, which reduced the number of necessary Personas and allowed some new Personas to become available.  Personas now govern either how you’re best at talking or who you’re best at talking to.


The Role that governs your ability to interact with the environment of the Gamescape is your Vocation.  For a long time, Vocation provided characters with a number of “skill points” that could be divided up between different skills.  After last year’s Metatopia, we decided to do away with individual skills altogether and create more general focuses on types of actions characters could perform with their general skillfulness.  Out of that were born these 10 Vocations:

  • Artificer:  The maker of things great and small, with quality ingredients or without.
  • Athlete:  The master of athletic movement and pushing beyond limits.
  • Facedancer:  The consummate actor and master of disguise.
  • Handler:  The animal-lover, able to turn hostile creatures into allies with ease.
  • Hunter:  The tracker, the finder, the seer of signs others cannot detect.
  • Infiltrator:  The shadow, the finder of secrets, the unseen serpent.
  • Pilot:  The unrivaled master of speed and vehicular agility.
  • Saboteur:  The breaker, the remaker, the opener of doors.
  • Scholar:  The one who knows and foresees.
  • Trickster:  The cheater, the hider of items, the hand faster than the eye.

The thing that we really had to come to terms with regarding Vocations was that Proficiency needed to govern your ability to perform all “skills,” but your Role needed to make you best at the specific Skill you focus on.  I think we’ve finally achieved that goal.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the character-building rules for Forthright Open Roleplay.  As always, we greatly appreciate your comments and questions!

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