BoL Careers for OD&D
It’s always interesting to see how other folks try to combine elements of BoL and OD&D. I haven’t seen the finished version of Simon Washbourne’s recent BoL Hack, but I confess to being somewhat disappointed with the draft I read — there were some good ideas, but ultimately the rules come down too heavily on the BoL side for my taste. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of running D&D-style hex-and-dungeon-crawls with BoL, tweaking the rules in places to better accommodate the resource management elements essential to that playstyle. On the other side, at times when the OD&D itch simply must be scratched, I find myself wanting to incorporate certain BoL-isms. The foremost of these is the simple, flexible Career system. My take on BoL Careers in OD&D is pretty straightforward:
Each character (Fighting-Man or Magic-User, regardless of race) begins with two Careers at Rank 1: one for background (upbringing) and one for profession (immediately prior to adventuring.) If the character’s prime attribute is 15+, he may choose a third Career at Rank 1. Consideration of character attributes should factor into the player’s choice of Careers. (For example, academic careers such as Scholar and Alchemist are poor choices for an illiterate Fighting-Man with INT 5!)
Partial Career list: Alchemist, Artificer, Barbarian, Beastmaster, Beggar, Blacksmith, Craftsman*, Engineer, Executioner, Farmer, Healer, Hunter, Merchant, Noble, Performer*, Priest, Sailor, Scholar, Soldier, Thief
As per the BoL rules, these Careers are fairly abstract representations of skill groups. A Thief character would know how to case targets, use stealth, pick locks, disarm small traps, pick pockets, fence stolen goods, etc. Careers do not influence the character’s combat abilities except in rare special circumstances (i.e. a PC would only add his Soldier career if fighting in formation with a unit of Soldiers)
*For vague careers such as Craftsman and Entertainer, the player must choose a specific discipline, i.e. a Craftsman might be a carpenter, brewer, bookbinder, shipbuilder, etc., and a Performer might be a musician, storyteller, singer, dancer, acrobat, etc.
Task rolls using Careers are made using 2d6, adding the Career Rank and other relevant modifiers (difficulty, pertinent attributes, etc.) and consulting the Reaction table (2 = very bad, 3-5 = bad, 6-8 = uncertain/mixed, 9-11 = good, 12 = very good)
Career Ranks do not increase as the PCs gain levels. If a character wants to advance in a Career, he/she needs to train in that skill. This requires regular practice and study over a prolonged period — usually a number of months — and also usually requires some financial investment for tutelage and/or materials. At the end of the training period, a Task roll is made to determine whether the PC successfully gained the next Rank.