The twelve core Attributes described in the previous blog are designed to cover most of the common situations that a character is likely to face whilst adventuring. However, with only twelve Attributes, there is a risk that characters end up seeming quite similar, with little to differentiate one from the next.
Traditional d20 games, of course, achieve this differentiation through character classes. Two characters might both have a Dexterity of 14, but if one is a Fighter and the other is a Thief, you already know that they are likely to be fundamentally different. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has its extensive and evocative career system – Rat Catchers, Witch Hunters, Grave Robbers, and so on. Similarly, Call of Cthulhu has its occupations, which are often mundane (e.g. Accountant, Book Dealer, Journalist) in comparison to the cosmic horrors that they face. RuneQuest puts more emphasis on social structures, with a character’s tribe and/or cult being defining aspects.
In Hack100 the aim is for character creation to be simple, but flexible. Therefore, rather than having a rigid set of classes, careers, or affiliations, however expansive the options might be, characters in Hack100 will have a small number of “Specialisms“. Specialisms are relatively niche abilities that require a certain amount of innate talent, training, or expert knowledge. They are what marks out a character from the average person. They need not be supernatural or superpowered (although they might be, depending on the game’s setting). They are simply an aspect of the character that differentiates them from the majority of other people in their world.
To keep things flexible, there is no fixed list of Specialisms in Hack100. Rather, they are agreed in consultation with the Referee. They might relate to a character’s vocation (e.g. medicine, locksmithing, sailing). Or they might derive from some prior teaching or training (e.g. the ability to speak a non-native language, herb lore, historical knowledge). They might even relate to an unusual power or ability (e.g. telekinesis, prophetic dreaming, berzerking). In the same way as Abilities, a character’s relative competence in a given Specialism will be expressed as a percentile number.