Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Metal Earth: Two Derived Attributes, and PC/Setting Interface.

Education and Handy

These two attributes add a touch of complexity to the the game, but significantly enhance the player character's interface with the setting.

Metal Earth has a lot of old technology laying around, and whereas technology is, for the most part, the purview of the Master Mind class, other characters may wish to attempt to use advanced technological items as well- or they may need at some point to fix a wagon; figure out how to drive an air car; make a knife out of a rock; or any of a million other tasks, minor or major. The Handy attribute may be useful in more traditional campaigns when a non-thief PC attempts to pick a lock or disarm a trap (or fix a wagon...).

It has occurred to me lately that players more fully engage with the elements they take or draw out from the setting (i.e., treasure) than those which they are given. Anything, whether it be a magic sword or a scrap of information, gained after a successful die roll, counts as taken and is, therefore, treasure. The Education attribute transforms setting details from tedium to treasure.

EDUCATION: This numerical value of this attribute is equal to the average of the characters intelligence and wisdom score. The number represents the general level of the characters knowledge in regards to the setting, including the character's awareness of current events.

HANDY: This number is the average of intelligence and dexterity divided by two. It represents the lay characters ability to repair, understand and operate technological/mechanical items.

Checks on both these abilities are performed with 3d6. The player must roll under the attribute score for a success. The character may make multiple checks, but each one must be separated by a day. In the case of long term library research, or a large scale repair, the referee may wish to randomly determine the number of hours/days necessary per attempt.

Further, the referee should almost certainly in every case add positive or negative modifiers based upon the character's background and any other salient factors that come to mind.

Level based advancement: player characters my add a point to one of the attribute (their choice) every other level beginning at second level.

Note to the referee: These attributes may seem rather understated, and perhaps a bit pointless, at first glance, and, to be honest, I can't really speak as to the usefulness of the Handy attribute in any given campaign, but my own. However, the education attribute works in a surprisingly dramatic way. If you make a player roll to see if they can remember the ruler of the city-state's name, succeed or fail, that information comes alive and gains weight for the players; it becomes something other than a dry detail hidden in your setting notes.


  1. I kinda like these. Only thing is they seem kind of static. Once an ignorant, always an ignorant.

    Think if I ever implement them in place of just extra skills, it'll be averaging attribute and character level. To suggest that seeing the world broadens one's horizons.

  2. Actually, there is level based advancement, if you look near the bottom of the post.