What Are Subtypes?

Michael O. Varhola

One of the most innovative new game mechanics Skirmisher Publishing LLC introduced with the release of its OGL book Warriors was that of Subtypes, a concept that it has applied to all of its subsequent products, including NuisancesExperts v.3.5, and Tests of Skill. Following is an overview of the Subtype concept and how it can be applied in the game. 

Subtypes are special Feats that represent specific vocational specialties, occupations, or lifestyles. Each also represents intangible things like the traditions, tactics, drills, ceremonies, formations, culture, lore, symbolism, colors, history, and other minutiae associated with the Subtype in question. Such Feats are intended to focus characters' abilities and make them better suited to specific missions or tasks; while they can make even a low-level character more powerful in specific ways, they will also make them substantially weaker in others.

It is possible -- although not likely or generally practical -- for a character to be of more than one Subtype. 

Subtypes can modify a character in a number of ways and help to focus its capabilities and quantify various personality traits, including providing a specific benefit or allowing the character to substitute weapon and armor proficiencies for Feats more suited to his Subtype. Each Subtype is broken down into some or all of the same sections as any other Feats, with the possible addition of sections describing Detriments or Equipment associated with them. Some Subtypes also allow their members to substitute various weapon or armor proficiencies for Feats more appropriate to them. Some provisions apply to substitutions:

* If armor proficiencies are substituted, they must be substituted from heaviest to lightest (i.e., in order of Heavy, Medium, and Light armor proficiency). If Shield Proficiency can be substituted, it can be done without regard to the order Armor Proficiency can be substituted.

* Substitutions can only be made when a character is created or if he gains a weapon or armor proficiency he does not already have. A character cannot substitute a Feat he already has, only one that he would gain. 

* Martial Weapon Proficiency can only be substituted if a character is proficient with all Martial Weapons. For example, even though a Rogue is proficient with several Martial Weapons, a Rogue of a particular Subtype could not substitute these weapons for a Feat provided by the Subtype.

* A character must have the qualifications for a Feat gained through such substitutions. For example, a pugilist would need Dexterity 13+ if he wanted to substitute his Heavy Armor proficiency for the Dodge Feat.

Other Benefits of Subtypes
A character may receive other benefits for being a member of a certain Subtype.

When working, fighting, or otherwise operating in conjunction with other members of the same military Subtype, characters of a particular Subtype receive a +1 bonus on all Will saves related to fear or morale. This benefit does not generally apply to members of non-military Subtypes, but might if they are actually organized into units.

If operating under the direction or leadership of a character of higher level who is of the same Subtype (or, in the case of NPC classes like Warriors, a character of a PC class the same level or higher), members of a particular Subtype receive a additional +1 bonus on all Will saves related to fear or morale. As with the above benefit, this bonus does not generally apply to members of non-military Subtypes. It does stack with the above benefit, however, giving groups of a specific Subtype under leaders of the same Subtype a +2 bonus on appropriate Will saves.

Characters can be assumed to have basic knowledge about the traditions, lore, history, or culture of a Subtype of which he is a member (e.g., anything that could be answered with a Knowledge skill check DC of 10 or less). To determine whether a character knows more obscure information about his Subtype, treat him as if he has a Knowledge rank equal to 2, plus one for each level he has advanced since acquiring the Subtype, modified by his Int bonus (if any).