GM Toolkit 1 Characters
- 1 Niches
- 1.1 Animals
- 1.2 Combat
- 1.3 Communications
- 1.4 Crafting
- 1.5 Deceit
- 1.6 Detective Work
- 1.7 Esoterica
- 1.8 Establishment
- 1.9 Exploration
- 1.10 Inventing
- 1.11 Medicine
- 1.12 Military
- 1.13 Mobility
- 1.14 Money
- 1.15 Nautical
- 1.16 Outdoors
- 1.17 Performing
- 1.18 Plants
- 1.19 Research
- 1.20 Sabotage
- 1.21 Science
- 1.22 Security
- 1.23 Sneaking
- 1.24 Social Engineering
- 1.25 Social Sciences
- 1.26 Space
- 1.27 Stealing
- 1.28 Streets
- 1.29 Technical Means
- 1.30 Transportation
Die Niches ab Seite 35 des Buches GURPS GM Toolkit 1: Characters habe ich hier aufgeschrieben - gedacht um diese Copy/Paste und zusammen zu fassen.
Beasts come up in most adventure genres, whether this means a cowboy or knight’s horse, the fantasy druid’s pets, guard dogs, or wild animals encountered as monsters or the subjects of study. In some campaigns, dealing with them is a niche in itself.
Advantages: Allies, in the form of highly capable pets; Animal Empathy; and Animal Friend.
Disadvantages: Any self-imposed mental disadvantage (p. B121) tied to animal welfare.
Skills: Animal Handling; Disguise (Animals); Falconry; Mimicry (Animal Sounds or Bird Calls); Mount, when the PC is a beast; Naturalist; Packing; Riding; Teamster; and Veterinary. At higher TLs, add Biology (Zoology), an IQ/H optional specialty, and Paleontology (Paleozoology).
Almost every adventurer needs abilities useful in a fight, because battles take a while to game out and an incompetent PC means a bored player. However, combat challenges also define niches. The difference is that characters who fill pure combat niches require higher skill levels and more supporting attributes and advantages than their associates.
Attributes and Secondary Characteristics: ST; DX; HT; HP; Basic Speed; and Basic Move.
Advantages: Ambidexterity; Combat Reflexes; Enhanced Defenses*; Extra Attack*; Fit; Gunslinger*; Hard to Kill; Hard to Subdue; High Pain Threshold; Peripheral Vision; Rapid Healing; Trained by a Master*; and Weapon Master*. Traits with an asterisk (*) may be too cinematic for some campaigns.
Disadvantages: Berserk, which brings both benefits and risks; Bloodlust, especially for assassins; Callous, ditto; and Sense of Duty, to one’s own side or some great cause worth fighting for.
Skills: All combat/weapon skills! Countless niches encompass combat tasks, so pick matching skills. For example, an assassin might prefer Fast-Draw, Garrote, Guns (Pistol), Knife, and other skills for concealable weapons; a sniper needs Guns (Rifle); and a space marine is likely to know Battlesuit. Common supporting skills are Armoury, Connoisseur (Weapons), and Tactics; Animal Handling and Riding, for cavalrymen; and Savoir-Faire (Dojo), and possibly cinematic martial-arts skills, for martial artists.
Handling an adventuring group’s communications calls for a clear-voiced language expert. Intercepting enemy messages demands a good ear, too. At TL6+, add technical proficiency to all this. If the PCs aren’t prepared for such challenges, the adventure may grind to a halt the first time they encounter a code or a foreign tongue.
Attributes and Secondary Characteristics: IQ and Per.
Advantages and Perks: Acute Hearing; Cultural Familiarity; Language Talent; Languages; Penetrating Voice; and Voice.
Skills: Computer Operation; Cryptography; Electronics Operation (Comm, EW, Media, or Surveillance); Electronics Repair (ditto); Gesture; Heraldry, because visual codes are communications, too; Linguistics; Lip Reading; Mimicry (Speech); Public Speaking; Savoir-Faire, in settings with strict social protocols surrounding messages; Typing; and Writing.
Adventurers often face difficulties posed by broken or missing gear, or otherwise find themselves making hasty material preparations. Entire stories have been written about such things: raising the barn before winter, building a plane from the crash wreckage, etc. If adventures will involve such elements, then at least one niche should be up to the challenge. In low-key “slice of life” campaigns, each niche might have a trademark craft.
Advantages: Artificer; Gifted Artist; and High Manual Dexterity.
Skills: Armoury; Artist, especially Interior Decorating, Pottery, and Woodworking; Carpentry; Electrician; Electronics Repair; Jeweler; Leatherworking; Machinist; Masonry; Mechanic; Scrounging; Sewing; and Smith. If the campaign features relevant Professional Skills such as Clothmaker, Distiller, Glassblower, and Tanner, add those. Engineer should be an option for very talented individuals.
Many campaigns feature criminal or espionage activities. In those that do, some niche should handle the art of bypassing security not through force, stealth, or technology, but by pretending to be somebody else.
Attributes: IQ is crucial to impersonators (see p. B174).
Advantages and Perks: Cultural Adaptability*; Honest Face; Social Chameleon*; Voice; and Zeroed. Traits with an asterisk (*) may be too cinematic for some campaigns. People with established alter egos might have Alternate Identity.
Disadvantages: Compulsive Lying; Enemies; Secret; and Trickster.
Skills: Acting; Disguise; Fast-Talk; Forgery, if the deceiver prepares his own fake ID; Makeup; Mimicry (Speech); and Psychology. Savoir-Faire and Streetwise are useful for passing oneself off as a “generic” member of a particular social class.
It’s the rare adventure that doesn’t involve tracking footprints, questioning captives, searching bodies, tossing rooms, and so on. Most plots have at least one place where the PCs – be they principled cops, gritty bounty-hunters, or greedy dungeon-raiders – must follow a trail of clues.
Attributes and Secondary Characteristics: IQ and Per.
Advantages: Acute Senses, for spotting clues; Empathy, for detecting lies; and Intuition, for those times when the evidence is ambiguous. Actual detectives usually have Legal Enforcement Powers and/or Police Rank.
Disadvantages: Curious. Detectives often have Duty, Honesty (for the eventual reaction bonus), and/or Sense of Duty (ditto), too.
Skills: Artist (Drawing), for sketching faces from descriptions; Body Language; Computer Operation, in worlds with databases of fingerprints, license plates, photos, and so on; Criminology; Cryptography (Code-Breaking), an IQ/A optional specialty; Detect Lies; Electronics Operation (Security or Surveillance); Forensics; Interrogation; Photography; Psychology; Research; Scrounging; Search; and Tracking. Intelligence Analysis is vital for combining all the information if the GM plans to provide “free” insights on a success. Give genuine detectives Law (Police) and Savoir-Faire (Police).
If the campaign features the occult or paranormal – as is common in fantasy, horror, and tales of the weird and conspiratorial – then solving related problems is the job of at least one niche, if not one per distinct form of esoterica.
Attributes and Secondary Characteristics: IQ; Will; and Per. If spells are involved, add FP to the list.
Advantages and Perks: Autotrance; Danger Sense; Empathy; Illuminated; and Intuition. For access to spiritual resources, add Clerical Investment and Religious Rank. Use Luck and Serendipity to emulate abstract “blessings.” If the setting features extraordinary abilities – Blessed, Channeling, Magery, Medium, Power Investiture, True Faith, etc. – then these are essential!
Disadvantages: Disciplines of Faith; Vows, especially weird ones; and Xenophilia, for those who deal with supernatural entities. Mystics occasionally exploit problems like Addiction (psychedelics), Epilepsy, Flashbacks, and Phantom Voices for gain. If occult powers exist, then Divine Curse, Weirdness Magnet, and related difficulties might even be required.
Skills: Autohypnosis; Dreaming; Esoteric Medicine; Fortune-Telling; Hidden Lore; Hypnotism; Meditation; Mind Block; Occultism; Philosophy, the weirder the better; Religious Ritual; Symbol Drawing; Theology; and any Expert Skill with an unorthodox subject matter (Conspiracy Theory, Psionics, Thanatology, etc.). Skills that manipulate genuine power – Alchemy, Artist (Illusion), Enthrallment, Exorcism, Herb Lore, Ritual Magic, Thaumatology, spells, etc. – also belong here, if they exist.
Dealing with the setting’s apparatus of power can be a major challenge – possibly the principal one, in a relatively cerebral campaign. This can be the primary job of a niche, or of several if there are many different authorities to wrangle.
Advantages: Charisma, for leaders; Claim to Hospitality; Contacts; Legal Immunity; Patrons; Rank; Reputation; Security Clearance; Social Regard; Status; and Wealth.
Disadvantages: Any Code of Honor, Duty, or Sense of Duty expected of the position. In some settings, Jealousy or Selfish might be necessary to seem convincing.
Skills: Administration; Current Affairs (People or Politics); Diplomacy; Economics; Expert Skill (Political Science); Geography (Political); Heraldry; Law; Leadership; Politics; Propaganda; Public Speaking; and Savoir-Faire, usually but not always the High Society specialty.
“How do we get there?” is a classic RPG challenge! While not all adventuring groups have a dedicated navigator, map-maker, and route-finder, it’s an essential sideline for at least one niche in any genre where the heroes leave home occasionally. If the campaign’s explorers focus on the wilderness rather than on manmade places, it would be reasonable to merge this category with Outdoors (p. 39).
Advantages: Absolute Direction; Eidetic Memory; and Intuition.
Skills: Navigation above all else. Add Architecture, for indoor exploration; Area Knowledge, if only of the entire world in broad strokes; Cartography, for making maps; Current Affairs (Regional); Geography; Mathematics (Surveying); Meteorology/Weather Sense; Naturalist; Prospecting; and Urban Survival, for urban exploration.
Coming up with new technologies is an important challenge in a long-term campaign with a historical, pulp, or sci-fi angle. It’s an acquired taste, though, as the PCs involved will be in or out of the spotlight for a longtime. If inventing will take center stage, then, distribute these traits among several niches to involve as many players as possible; if it won’t, make this stuff incidental to a niche that handles other challenges.
Attributes: IQ is the most cost-effective way to be good at the many associated skills.
Advantages: Artificer; Gadgeteer*; Gizmos*; High TL*; Less Sleep; and Versatile. Traits with an asterisk (*) may be too cinematic for some campaigns.
Disadvantages: Compulsive Behavior, if the GM permits Compulsive Inventing (it certainly fits!); Curious; and Workaholic, which the rules thrust upon inventors, so they might as well get points for it.
Skills: Bioengineering, for biotechnology; Computer Programming, for software; Engineer, for most things; Metallurgy, for alloys; Pharmacy, for drugs; and so on. Add Current Affairs (Science & Technology); Mathematics (Applied), as a prerequisite for Engineer; and Scrounging, for parts. Many inventions call for subsidiary skills, such as Architecture, for buildings; Armoury, for weapons or armor; Electronics Repair, for electronic gadgets; Machinist, for tools; and Mechanic, for vehicles. When permitting Gadgeteer and Gizmos, consider topping off this list with Weird Science.
Adventurers who engage in chases, combat, and dangerous athletics need a healer. In horror and technothrillers, medical challenges encompass bio-weapons, epidemics, and infected matter. Cyberpunk adds performance-enhancing substances and implants. Sci-fi often features all of these elements, suggesting multiple niches; in other genres, this is a supporting role, incidental to a niche.
Advantages: Empathy; Healer; and Resistant to Disease.
Disadvantages: Code of Honor (Professional); Pacifism; Selfless; Sense of Duty; and Workaholic.
Skills: Bioengineering; Biology (Microbiology), an IQ/H optional specialty; Diagnosis; Electronics Operation (Medical); Esoteric Medicine, especially in fantasy; Expert Skill (Epidemiology); First Aid; Hazardous Materials (Biological); Hypnotism; NBC Suit; Pharmacy; Physician; Physiology; Poisons; Surgery; and Veterinary.
Military challenges call for solutions like artillery barrages, commando raids, sieges, and the sheer mass of manpower and hardware that an organized fighting force can bring to bear. When every PC has such a background, all templates will boast some of the traits below – but enough genres make the veteran its own niche to justify a standalone category. Niches that handle military challenges normally tackle Combat (p. 36), too. Training ranges from Melee Weapon skills for primitive soldiers, through Guns, on up to Beam Weapons for futuristic troops.
Advantages and Perks: Charisma, for leaders; Combat Reflexes; Courtesy Rank; Fit; Military Rank; Penetrating Voice, for sergeants and low-TL officers; Reputation, in the form of medals and decorations; and Security Clearance.
Disadvantages: Chummy; Code of Honor (Soldier’s); Duty (Service), which is often required; Intolerance of the opposition; Overconfidence, for a reaction bonus from green recruits; and Sense of Duty, to unit or nation, for a reaction bonus from one’s fellows.
Skills: Grunts have Soldier and maybe Tactics; NCOs definitely have Tactics, and add Leadership; officers resemble NCOs, but acquire Strategy at the high end; and depending on the background, Savoir-Faire (Military) might be universal or matter only at high Rank. To this add technical skills such as Armoury; Artillery; Camouflage; Engineer (Combat); Expert Skill (Military Science); Explosives; Forward Observer; Hazardous Materials; Heraldry, especially at low TLs; NBC Suit; Parachuting; and any Electronics Operation or vehicle-operation skill for gear that’s largely or entirely military in the setting.
Many adventuring challenges amount to “Get from A to B,” but separate A and B with distance and danger. When the whole gang goes, that’s a job for Exploration(p. 37) and Transportation (p. 42). When just one brave volunteer needs to do it, that’s definitive of a niche, from the fantasy thief to the modern traceur.
Attributes and Secondary Characteristics: DX; HT; Basic Speed; and Basic Move.
Advantages: Enhanced Dodge; Fit; Flexibility; and Perfect Balance. If the GM is willing to deem Catfall or a half-level of Enhanced Move (Ground) “realistic enough,” then add those.
Skills: Acrobatics; Body Sense; Breath Control; Climbing; Escape, for tight squeezes; Free Fall, in space campaigns; Hiking; Jumping; Running; Sports, especially those to do with running around; and Swimming. While this normally means personal mobility, not vehicles, unpowered equipment counts; e.g., Bicycling, Parachuting, Piloting (Glider or LowG Wings), Scuba, Skating, and Skiing. Finally, add Aerobatics, Aquabatics, Flight, and Mount, for those capable of suitable movement.
Money makes most game worlds go round and presents PCs with endless challenges, starting with “How do we pay for our gear?” Solving these problems is essential in all genres, and a niche in itself in more thoughtful campaigns.
Advantages: Business Acumen; Independent Income; Lightning Calculator; Mathematical Ability; Rank (Merchant or Administrative); and Wealth.
Disadvantages: Greed; Miserliness, to keep the money; and Workaholic.
Skills: Accounting; Administration; Current Affairs (Business), and conceivably other specialties, to exploit trends; Diplomacy, for high-powered negotiations; Economics; Finance; Gambling; Heraldry (Corporate Logos); Law (Contract or Business); Market Analysis; Mathematics (Statistics); Merchant; Panhandling, down at street level; Propaganda; and Savoir-Faire (High Society). These skills assume existing money; add Counterfeiting to make money (literally!) or Prospecting to find gold, silver, etc. at the source.
If the campaign world has vast bodies of water that the heroes can’t simply fly over – which describes most interesting historical settings – then these are likely to pose major challenges indeed. Like Military (p.38), this category might describe everybody but is also a valid niche in itself.
Advantages: Absolute Direction and Perfect Balance.
Disadvantages: Chummy, as ships are close quarters, and Xenophilia, because ports are full of foreigners.
Skills: Area Knowledge, for any body of water; Biology (Marine Biology), an IQ/H optional specialty; Boating; Climbing, for rigging at lower TLs; Diving Suit; Fishing; Freight Handling; Knot-Tying; Law (Marine); Meteorology/Weather Sense; Navigation (Sea); Scuba; Seamanship; Shiphandling (Ship or Submarine); Submarine; Submariner; Survival (Island/Beach); and Swimming. At TL6+, add Electronics Operation specialties for equipment commonly found aboard ships, particularly Sensors and Sonar.
The challenges of the great outdoors are legion. Unless the adventurers won’t leave the city, ever, the campaign should define at least one niche that has the job of dealing with these. In games where Exploration (p. 37) is the dominant outdoor activity, the GM might merge that category with this one.
Secondary Characteristics: Per.
Advantages: Absolute Direction; Acute Senses; Outdoorsman; and Temperature Tolerance.
Disadvantages: Loner, plus almost any self-imposed mental disadvantage (p. B121) tied to keeping nature pristine.
Skills: Area Knowledge, for any expansive outdoor area; Camouflage; Climbing; Fishing; Hiking; Meteorology/Weather Sense; Mimicry (Animal Sounds or Bird Calls); Naturalist; Navigation; Survival; Swimming; and Tracking. Some ranged combat skills – Blowpipe, Bolas, Lasso, Net, Thrown Weapon (Harpoon), etc. – are used more often for hunting than for fighting. High-tech niches might include Biology (Ecology), an IQ/H optional specialty; Geography; and Geology.
Many plots call for the PCs to entertain NPCs, whether that means placating the king to avoid beheading, impressing someone who can provide an introduction or a lucrative contract, or using a performance as a diversion. Or perhaps the play is the thing, and the campaign is about putting on successful shows!
Advantages and Perks: Appearance is universally handy. Then there’s Flexibility for contortionists; Musical Ability and Voice for musicians; Penetrating Voice and Rapier Wit (unless deemed too cinematic) for spoken-word types; Perfect Balance for acrobats; and so on. Be sure to suggest these in customization notes.
Disadvantages: Compulsive Carousing and Overconfidence. Performers sometimes actively exploit Dwarfism, Hunchback, Skinny, etc.
Skills: Acrobatics; Carousing; Dancing; Fire Eating; Fortune-Telling; Games; Mimicry (Speech); Musical Instrument; Performance; Public Speaking; Singing; Sleight of Hand; Sports (anything fun to watch); Stage Combat; and Ventriloquism. Behind the scenes, add Artist (Scene Design); Electronics Operation (Media); Group Performance; Makeup; Musical Composition; Poetry; Sewing, for costumes; and Writing, for plays. Some artists are also experts at Connoisseur (Dance or Music) and/or Current Affairs (High Culture or Popular Culture).
Plants might not matter at all to adventurers, but as they’re everywhere in most game worlds, they can be a big deal – whether that means leafy monsters in fantasy, a haunted forest in horror, a plant-based cure in a medical thriller, or growing a living in a low-key historical campaign. With rare exceptions, there’s just enough here for one niche.
Advantages: Green Thumb and Plant Empathy.
Disadvantages: Phobia (Fire), in settings where intelligent plants don’t appreciate flame.
Skills: Farming; Gardening; Naturalist; and Pharmacy (Herbal). Most fantasy and cinematic settings add Herb Lore; high-tech ones might tack on Biology (Botany), an IQ/H optional specialty, and Paleontology (Paleobotany).
Heroes occasionally have to look for answers in whatever repositories of information suit the setting: libraries, the Internet, etc. While research-related tasks rarely constitute a whole niche, they can be essential to moving the story forward – particularly in mystery, occult, and technothriller plots.
Attributes: IQ is archetypal.
Advantages: Eidetic Memory; Intuition; Less Sleep, for all-nighters; Single-Minded; and Tenure, for access to the best libraries.
Disadvantages: Curious; Obsession with some academic goal; and Workaholic
Skills: Administration, for getting past librarians and clerks; Computer Operation; Current Affairs, for “common knowledge”; Intelligence Analysis; Literature; Philosophy, for informed insights; Public Speaking, for debating, lecturing, and presenting expert testimony; Research; Speed-Reading; Teaching; Typing; Writing; and IQ/H or IQ/VH skills, particularly Expert Skills, concerning abstruse subject matter.
Many an adventure plot revolves around blowing up, burning down, or otherwise wrecking things. If the campaign features mission objectives or obstacles that can’t be worked around in more subtle ways, then one or more niches should specialize in such destruction.
Advantages: Artificer; Fearlessness, for walking around with explosives; High Manual Dexterity; and Luck, for avoiding unintended accidents.
Skills: Architecture, for knowing the weak spots in structures; Engineer (Combat); Explosives (Demolition or Fireworks); Forced Entry; Machinist; and Traps, for leaving nasty surprises. Remember that “repair” skills can also destroy: Armoury can neutralize weapons; Electrician can cut power; Electronics Repair can short-circuit gizmos; and Mechanic can sever brake lines and facilitate car bombs.
Outside of fantasy and TL0-3 adventures, and especially in sci-fi and TL6+ stories (unless the campaign is pure action), many problems call for scientific solutions – most often testing and field-expedient applications. If this stuff is relevant, then at least one niche should excel at it. In a cerebral game, several niches might specialize in different areas.
Attributes: IQ is the cheapest way to shine at more than a few of the relevant skills.
Advantages: Lightning Calculator and Mathematical Ability.
Skills: Astronomy; Biology; Chemistry; Geography (Physical); Geology; Mathematics; Metallurgy; Meteorology; Naturalist; Paleontology; Physics; Physiology; Psychology (Experimental); and any scientific Expert Skill imaginable (Epidemiology, Hydrology, Natural Philosophy, etc.). In fiction, Engineer is frequently associated with science, too. These often come with some of Computer Programming, Current Affairs (Science & Technology), Electronics Operation (Scientific), and Hazardous Materials.
Except in the most sedate of campaigns, keeping watch for trouble is important, and there should be at least one niche tasked with doing so. If this is a central premise – the PCs are bodyguards, antiterrorist forces, etc. – then everyniche ought to have some of these traits.
Secondary Characteristics:Per in itself is crucial for meeting security challenges.
Advantages: Acute Senses; Combat Reflexes; Danger Sense; Less Sleep; Night Vision; and Peripheral Vision. True security officers often have Legal Enforcement Powers and/or Rank.
Disadvantages: Light Sleeper and Paranoia. Security officers often have Duty and/or Sense of Duty.
Skills: Animal Handling (Dogs), for working alongside guard and sniffer dogs; Body Language; Electronics Operation (Security or Sensors); Explosives (EOD); Lip Reading; Observation; Search; Shadowing; Streetwise, for noticing dodgy situations; Tactics, for suitable responses; and Tracking. Niches covering these tasks should add combat skills for the relevant “force spectrum”: Intimidation, usually a Melee Weapon skill (whether Broadsword for a big club or Tonfa for a modern side-handle police baton), and possibly ranged skills such as Liquid Projector (Sprayer) and Guns. Police officers know Law (Police) and Savoir-Faire (Police).
In adventure plots, not being detected by enemies comes second only to combat. If the entire PC group needs to be circumspect, then give all niches a few suitable traits – but even then, the dedicated stealth expert is a common and necessary role.
Attributes: IQ (DX, not so much, despite the common association between grace and sneakiness).
Advantages and Perks: Honest Face and Night Vision.
Skills: Acting, for not behaving suspiciously; Camouflage; Holdout, for one’s gear; Housekeeping, for making evidence disappear; Observation, for spotting guards and hidden cameras; Shadowing; Smuggling; and Stealth.
People can be the most puzzling challenge. Manipulating others and settling conflicts peacefully is a huge niche in almost every genre. In fact, it’s such a major role that unless the GM foresees the campaign being wall-to-wall Combat (p. 36) and Sneaking (p. 40), it’s best to scatter these abilities across several – perhaps all – templates.
Attributes: IQ defines “social intelligence,” doing what the “Charisma” or “Charm” attribute does in other RPGs.
Advantages and Perks: Appearance; Charisma; Cultural Adaptability*; Cultural Familiarity; Empathy; Fashion Sense; Honest Face; Pitiable; Rapier Wit*; Smooth Operator; Social Chameleon*; and Voice. Traits with an asterisk (*) may be too cinematic for some campaigns.
Disadvantages: Chummy; Compulsive Carousing; Overconfidence, for the reaction bonus from the impressionable; and Xenophilia, to avoid accidental bad reactions from foreigners.
Skills: Acting; Carousing; Connoisseur (Wine), or any other specialty that would impress; Current Affairs (High Culture, People, Popular Culture, or Travel); Dancing; Detect Lies; Diplomacy; Erotic Art; Fast-Talk; Interrogation; Intimidation; Leadership; Makeup; Merchant; Panhandling; Politics; Psychology; Public Speaking; Savoir-Faire; Sex Appeal; and Streetwise.
The trappings of culture can present interesting challenges, ranging from spotting art forgeries to determining whether the tribesmen are cannibals. In high action campaigns, the associated traits are at best part of one niche. In more sedate tales, there’s room for at leasttwo niches – arts and humanities – and maybe more.
Attributes: IQ is the most affordable way to be good at lots of suitable skills.
Advantages: Cultural Familiarity; Language Talent; and Languages. Cultural Adaptability also fits, though it’s cinematic.
Disadvantages:Curious and Xenophilia.
Skills: Anthropology; Archae ology; Cartography; Connoisseur (Literature, Visual Arts, etc.); Criminology; Current Affairs, particularly Headline News, Politics, and Regional; Economics; Geography (Political); Heraldry; History; Law; Linguistics; Literature; Philosophy; Psychology; Sociology; Theology, especially the Comparative specialty; and many Expert Skills (Egyptology, Political Science, Xenology, etc.).
If space travel features in the campaign, as it often does at TL9+, then skills for dealing with the curves it throws at the PCs are vital. Every space voyager should know the basics, but the seasoned space-hand is a strong niche of its own.
Advantages: 3D Spatial Sense; G-Experience; Improved GTolerance; Perfect Balance; and Xeno-Adaptability, in cinematic campaigns with alien cultures.
Disadvantages: Chummy, because spaceships are close quarters, and Xenophilia.
Skills: Area Knowledge, for an interplanetary state or even a galaxy; Astronomy; Expert Skill (Xenology); Free Fall; Freight Handling; Law (Interstellar); Navigation (Space or Hyperspace); Physics (Astrophysics), an IQ/H optional specialty; Piloting, for anything space-related; Shiphandling (Spaceship or Starship); Spacer; and Vacc Suit. Electronics Operation specialties that campaign assumptions make vital to space action also fit; e.g., Force Shields, Matter Transmitters, and Sensors are widespread in space opera.
Fantasy heroes out to loot dungeons, career criminals after the big score, super-spies assigned to snatch top-secret plans... PCs often face the challenge of taking what isn’t theirs. This is a niche unto itself in genres where it matters. In stealth-heavy campaigns, there’s room for several templates: the nimble-fingered pickpocket, the agile cat burglar, the security-systems cracker, etc.
Attributes: DX and IQ.
Advantages and Perks: Flexibility and Perfect Balance, for cat burglars; High Manual Dexterity, for pickpockets; and Night Vision.
Disadvantages: Greed, as motivation, and Loner, to avoid betrayals.
Skills: Architecture, for finding secret doors; Climbing; Connoisseur, for recognizing unobvious treasures worth stealing; Electronics Operation (Security); Electronics Repair (Security); Escape; Explosives (Demolition), for blowing safes; Filch; Forced Entry; Lockpicking; Merchant, for appraising the value of obviousloot; Pickpocket; Search; Sleight of Hand; and Traps.
The streets pose problems that must be solved through morally (if not physically!) dirty means: bribery, threats, violence, and lurking in dark alleyways. Solutions to these often inform a niche, which can be substantial if all the other templates are polite and proper.
Advantages and Perks: Alcohol Tolerance; Contacts (Criminal); Danger Sense; Fearlessness; and Indomitable.
Disadvantages: Bad Appearance, Callous, and a meanand-nasty Reputation all aid Intimidation. Often, Social Stigma (Criminal Record) is necessary to be taken seriously.
Skills: Acting, for appearing downtrodden; Area Knowledge (any “tough” locale); Brawling; Carousing; Fast-Talk, for specious intimidation (p. B202); Forced Entry; Gambling; Heraldry (Graffiti Tags); Holdout; Intimidation; Merchant, for illegal deals; Observation; Panhandling; Savoir-Faire (Mafia); Scrounging; Shadowing; Streetwise; and Urban Survival.
“Technical means” is a euphemism for tools with few honest applications: computer viruses, false-bottomed luggage, forged ID cards, poisons, signal jammers, tiny cameras, truth serums, etc. High-end crooks, spies, and commandos – especially at higher TLs – routinely face challenges that require them to use or confront such stuff. If this isn’t the campaign focus, then the associated abilities might constitute a single niche.
Advantages: Those with legitimate support will have a few of Alternate Identity, Legal Immunity, Rank (Administrative, Military, or Police), and Security Clearance.
Disadvantages: Paranoia and Secret Identity. Duty (Service) and Sense of Duty (Nation) are common among real spies and black operators.
Skills: Brainwashing; Cartography; Computer Hacking; Computer Programming; Counterfeiting; Cryptography; Electronics Operation, particularly EW and Surveillance; Electronics Repair (ditto); Expert Skill (Computer Security); Explosives; Forgery; Holdout; Intelligence Analysis; Interrogation; Mathematics (Cryptology); Photography; Poisons; Propaganda; and Smuggling.
Travel is a classic motivation for adventure, and thus a large part of many campaigns. An expert with vehicles, cargos, and related subjects can tackle numerous challenges. In a big group, “driver” and “pilot,” “operator” and “mechanic,” and so on may be separate niches.
Advantages: Absolute Direction; Acute Vision; Combat Reflexes; and Signature Gear (Vehicle).
Disadvantages: Workaholic, for those long hauls.
Skills: Area Knowledge, possibly of specific transportation networks; Bicycling; Boating; Connoisseur (Vehicles); Crewman skills of all kinds; Current Affairs (Travel); Driving; Engineer (Vehicle Type); Freight Handling; Mechanic; Navigation; Packing; Parachuting; Piloting; Riding; Shiphandling; Submarine; and Teamster. At TL6+, any Electronics Operation specialty needed for essential vehicle systems may qualify, most often Sensors and – unless there’s room for a Communications (p. 36) expert – Comm.