Anyway, I am targeting Thanksgiving weekend for the kick-off of a new wacky campaign. This one uses several new character classes I have in mind: Unicorn, Veteran, Hood or Hoodlum, Kobolds of three kinds, and Monomachus. Of these half dozen or so classes, the most brain power and testing have gone into the Veteran.
I visualize this character as a Vietnam-era U.S. soldier. The reason I picked this archetype is their depiction in the media is a rather well-documented reality breaker. This type of character often appears with standard-non-standard equipment, anything from WWII to the Aliens franchise, all based on what the prop department had at the time. Oddly, there are records of soldiers of all kinds using anything from spears to Thompson machine guns and everything in between. What is uniformly absent is the host of high-tech gizmos that modern troops need batteries and electricity to operate.
Then there are the magic numbers. While researching soldiers, I got two numbers: 70 lbs and 210 bullets. This is the number of things soldiers can have. The gist of these two numbers is, that soldiers have to weigh protection vs. lethality vs. mobility. Soldiers pick underwear or bullets or food. It's really simple and apparently, soldiers have been doing it for more than 2000 years. So, while I am picturing a U.S. soldier, it could apply anywhere. That's actually nice.
I have already posted about guns and bullets. I'll talk about what playtesting showed me about guns another day.
In this post, I'll share what I noticed about soldiers in general, which allows me to set some standards for abilities and capabilities. Since I know soldiers can carry a lot of stuff, their prime requisite is Consitution. Not only do soldiers use it every day they also are immunized against all manner of things. They start their career through a vetting process which means they are on the higher end of the stamina scale.
Next, soldiers are trained for combat. They receive both a small historical curriculum of knowledge paired with modern tactics. They are adaptable and wily. For this reason, I can pair physical equipment with knowledge to give them a bonus of 2 on their AC without getting tied up in actual equipment and what stats they should have. A modern soldier has better protection and training to avoid or capitalize on specific historical styles of combat. At least better than any pseudo-medieval type character. This is everything from physical protection like a helmet and body armor to situations one should avoid. Plus 2 sounds reasonable.
Soldiers have a lot of physical training so they are amenable to using virtually any weapon. They have proficiency but do not have any bonuses for their training. Where they do get a bonus of 1 is in the case of avoiding surprise, which is a combat-non-combat skill. They are always on the lookout for ambushes.
The other part of their training is time management. This skill allows the soldier and his party to move 5% to 20% faster than typical over a day. They aren't running or moving faster, they are simply making sure everything moves more efficiently. I.E. a five-minute rest stop doesn't turn into a 15 or 30-minute break. This bonus only applies to walking movement. If animals or wagons are thrown into the mix, the physical limits of those things take precedence. Another piece of this ability is soldiers have watches and compasses which are helpful for travel.
I had considered a number of other skills but decided against them. In particular, I thought about tracking, detecting, and healing. Not every soldier can perform these tasks beyond what an average person already. If I wanted to do that, I wrote a whole book on that subject - Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. This book provides professional character types like a healer, a scout, etc. which either extend the normal character classes with some new professional skills or allows the creation of a fully formed non-combat orientated professional character. The other advantage of this is this Veteran class doesn't steal any function from any other class such as tracking from rangers or trap detection from thieves.