Edit 2019-01-14: Added notes on Outdoorsman in Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game, and on other talents of use to outdoor types.
Edit 2020-01-23: Added further ideas on beefing up the sparse Green Thumb talent with two druid-friendly skills.
While we’re on the topic of back-to-nature barbarians:
GURPS offers the nifty Outdoorsman Talent (B91) that boosts seven relevant skills for 10 points/level. That’s a great bargain over buying up the individual skills at high levels. Yet it feels expensive to some gamers, especially in any genre that prioritizes success in combat or social dealings over competence at the campsite.
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Denizens: Barbarians even calls out the issue on P21, suggesting two fixes:
- Cut the cost of Outdoorsman to 7 points/level, using alternate cost rules in GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents; and/or
- Add an eighth skill, Weather Sense, to Outdoorsman (bringing the above alternate cost up to 8 points/level).
Both are fine ideas. But why stop there? It seems to me any of the following skills could also join the nature-boy jamboree:
- Animal Handling
That’s a lot of skills! In fact, you could toss in the lot of them and make Outdoorsman a valuable Talent at 15 points/level!
Granted, these extras aren’t as natural a fit as core components like Survival and Tracking (I’m wavering on Traps in particular, for its non-outdoorsy usefulness), but they wouldn’t be out of place. My suggestions here would be:
- Under the Basic Set‘s Talents rules, add some of the above to bring the list up to 10 or so skills (maximum 12, to avoid jumping up to 15 points/level); or
- Under the Power-Ups alternate pricing rule, add some of the above to bring the list up to exactly 10 skills, at a cost of exactly 10 points/level.
The GM could define the new Outdoorsman, or let players define their own list of 10 (or so) skills. (Whether to rename a custom version is up to you. Denizens: Barbarians, as an example, offers a rebuilt Outdoorsman for peg-leg-and-parrot types, and names it Seafarer.)
If barbarian players are still a bit bored by Outdoorsman’s woodsy merits, here’s one more idea:
- Let Outdoorsman include one hunting weapon skill, like the Thrown Weapon (Harpoon) of Seafarer.
Getting some fresh air
Me? I think I like this as a rebuild of the Talent:
- Outdoorsman: Camouflage, Climbing, Fishing, Hiking, Mimicry, Naturalist, Navigation, Survival, Tracking, Weather Sense (10 skills; 10 points/level under either Talents pricing scheme)
I’m torn between the inclusion of Swimming or Climbing. Either seems a good match; the former impinges a bit on the Seafarer crowd, while the latter steals some thunder from a fantasy staple and player favorite, the thief/rogue. A comment below, though, sold me on Climbing, so I updated the list to reflect that.
If a player talks me into replacing one of the above with a weapon skill, I think I’d go with Thrown Weapon (Spear), probably in place of Climbing. Bow would also be a natural choice, but in a fantasy game, that steps a bit on the toes of the scout-type bowmasters.
The (very) indoor outdoorsman
Like its spiritual parent, the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy line, the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG) focuses on indoor, underground action. PCs will still appreciate Outdoorsman in these games, but it becomes all the more important that they get full value from it.
DFRPG‘s writeup of Outdoorsman covers nine skills, adding Disguise (Animals) and Weather Sense to GURPS‘ selection (while sensibly restricting Mimicry to Mimicry (Animal Sounds and Bird Calls)). I like this take on Outdoorsman, too; I hadn’t thought to include Disguise. If using DFRPG‘s version, I’d make only one change: the addition of a tenth skill. Hiking seems the best fit to me.
Other talents for outdoor types
Looking at other talents of interest to lovers of the wild, the obvious thematic choices in the Basic Set are Animal Friend and Green Thumb, each a thrifty 5 points/level. (DFRPG offers these as well, though its shortened skill set means fewer boosted skills. In particular, its Green Thumb aids a paltry three skills. I think I’ll let this intuitive understanding of plants also add to Theology (Druidic) and Esoteric Medicine (Druidic), as well as Survival when used for veggie foraging.)
Beyond that, I’ll just plug a talent of my own invention. From The Talented Thief: Stealing the Spotlight in GURPS and DFRPG, it’s intended for rogues and cat burglars who sneer at physical obstacles, but it’d aid wilderness types both indoors and out:
Naturally Nimble 5 points/level
You can move. You get +1 per level to the Acrobatics, Climbing, Jumping, Running, and Swimming skills.
Reaction Bonus: Anyone who appreciates amazing athleticism.
Alternative Benefit: +1/level to any sports skills, sporting contests, or generic DX rolls that take advantage of your full-body agility.
How do you outdoor?
How about you? Any preferred ways for making Outdoorsman a more popular Talent? Or do you find it doesn’t need enhancement in the first place?