Talent Questions

I’ve been looking to design some Talents, and came up with several issues I was unsure about. I think I have answers, but it’s always better to bounce ideas off other people.

If people are wondering, I’m planning to use the system to play settings other than Barsoom, as I find the John Carter rules the easiest to adapt out of the published 2d20 games. The Talent concepts therefore don’t really fit Barsoom, but would still work in the rules framework (I hope).

Firstly, how would you handle a Talent that allows someone to always have a weapon- that is, an innate power that functions as a weapon mechanically?

Secondly, how would you cover extending the range of an attack or adding a Quality to it?

For gaining a weapon, I’d been leaning toward the idea that everyone has a 1-die weapon with no qualities by default. Thus, adding bonus damage dice is already covered. But what about giving an innate Ranged attack, or extending an existing attack to longer range? And how many Talent levels should be required to add Qualities to a weapon?

Now I come to type them out, I can see that these aren’t as inapplicable to John Carter as I’d thought. Having a Talent to extend the range of a weapon might produce the excessive long-range fire of a Radium Rifle that lore purists lament the absence of. And a cunning foe might have a Talent that adds Poison to any weapon he wields…


Glad to hear that you’re enjoying the John Carter rules!

For talents which cover an innate power, I would create them as you would a normal talent. To give a (slightly exaggerated) example:
If I wanted to create a power that allowed a character to have the innate ability to shoot fire at their enemies I could lay it out like this:

Name: Pyromancy (Grade 4)
You were born with the strange ability to control and direct fire.
Circumstance: When making an attack using you innate pyromaniac abilities.
Effect: When you make a successful attack on an enemy within Near range you deal 3 dice of damage.

Grades are worked out on Momentum cost and how broad or narrow the talent is (see the talents section in the core book for a full explanation), so doing 3 dice of damage would be worth 3 Momentum making it Grade 3, plus the fact this talent is broad and isn’t limited (it functions just like someone having a weapon) would add an additional grade, bringing it to Grade 4.
If you wanted to add a quality, it increases the grade by 1.

If you wanted to go without the talent option, just add it as part of the characters attack like a weapon, with a base power and any qualities that it had.

To answer your second question, if you wanted to extend the range of an weapon, you could have it cost more xp when a character purchases it, or you can create a talent meaning they can shoot a long distance:
Name: Far Shot (Grade 2)
You are an expect marksman, taking shots at ranges others wouldn’t dare to attempt.
Circumstance: When using a radium rifle
Effect: You may shoot at targets at Far range when others would be unable to do so.

The first grade is the base grade, and then because it is broad, allowing this to be used for both combat and non combat purposes and reflecting the skilled nature of such a talent, I’ve added an extra grade, bringing it to Grade 2 overall.

Ultimately, the cost of a talent and its effects is all down to the narrator. If you want your players to have easy access to those kind of talents, then you’re free to make them lower grade and have your character able to gain them easily. If you want to keep talents like that rare, then you can increase the grade to reflect how difficult it is to have such a skill. Narrators and players should always decide this together.

I really like making talents, so as an example of a talent that adds Poison to a blade:

Name: Specialist Poison Blade (Grade 3)
You are an expert with your weapon and keep it coated with your poison of choice at all times
Circumstance: When attacking with a specific bladed weapon, chosen when you take this talent.
Effect: When you attack with your chosen weapon, you deal an additional 1 dice of damage and your attack gains the Poison quality. At the end of a scene where you have used this blade, you must pay 3 Momentum, or the blade looses it Poison quality until you have access to poison to coat it again.

Again, I just made up all these talents as examples but hopefully its been useful! There’s no right or wrong way to make a talent, as long as it works in your game and is balanced against other talents being used so that everyone is on the same level.

Hope this was helpful!

  • Deleted first post as I made a bunch load of typos! Whoops!

I was looking for ways to simulate Psychic Powers with Talents mostly. Chapter 14 already covers a lot of that, but I was looking for more overt energy blasts- which you’ve just about answered. Thanks!

1 Like