Disciplines - and by extension, specials - form the primary means of specialization and differentiation between characters in Journey. In addition, the roles under which the disciplines fall are greater expressions of the various approaches to life that characters can take: anyone can put a few ranks into Melee and Swords, for instance, but only a true warrior has access to Warrior disciplines and specials.
- A loose categorization, used to define what a character does. It is not necessary to have a role, nor are you restricted from being a member of multiple roles.
- Roles have a number of disciplines within them, which have a single sub-category (core disciplines).
- Note that roles are subject to "everybody gets two."
"Everybody Gets Two"
- A simple phrase used to describe how roles, disciplines, specials, and skills relate. In essence, in order to consider yourself a member of a role (by gaining access to a discipline), you need at least two normal skills, which inform your ability in that role.
- The skills are referred to as type one and type two skills.
- A thematic grouping of abilities.
- Following the "everybody gets two," the first discipline that you automatically gain access to is a function of the skills in question.
- A core discipline is a special type of discipline; a core discipline is the first discipline you gain access to as a result of having two skills (re "everybody gets two"). A character cannot select a core discipline as an additional discipline upon gaining more discipline access; you either have access to a core discipline due to your skill selection, or you do not.
- A general term for a specific ability that is above and beyond what a layman would be capable of, in the given role. Specials are refinements of general ability; someone with the Swords skill can swing a sword, but a character with the Backslice warrior special can do something above and beyond. These are specific applications of knowledge and skills to create, in essence, a new, more specialized skill. Specials must be improved, much like skills.
- Talents are special attributes that knowledge and experience with a discipline can grant a character. These are not skills, nor do they call for skill checks - instead, they are abilities that, once acquired, are "always on." However, talents have prerequisites, and if you no longer meet them, you cannot use the talent until you meet the prerequisites again.
- You can only acquire a talent by spending XP from the discipline's XP. Thus, you cannot spontaneously learn a talent: you must invest time and effort into acquiring it.
Type One Skill
- A type one skill is the skill used by disciplines to determine your ability to access disciplines, as well as the Root Skill for your role's specials.
Type Two Skill
- A type two skill is the skill used by disciplines to determine your relevant Token Pool size, as well as the Decay Point for your role's specials.
Important Note Regarding "Everybody Gets Two"
In the black notebook, when these ideas were first devised, type one skills did token pool size, and type two did discipline access. Reassessment of those would indicate, however, that type ones were too heavily weighted (base skill and token pool? Yeah, if you're single-discipline focused, who cares about type twos, then?). Swapping those two makes both relevant.
Overview of the Discipline/Specials System
In essence, this system is a set of cascading gauges that feed into each other through a couple of tiers, eventually winding up with a small set of abilities. It is important to note, however, that each of the gauges is relevant for system knowledge: the game has to know, and be able to ask, what a character's ability with given disciplines is. This is especially important because characters in the same role will use different token pools, depending upon their disciplines.
What follows are general descriptions of the roles.
The role of the warrior is clearly to be a combat-oriented person. There are a wide variety of approaches to combat, and even your choice of weapon has a serious impact upon how you approach combat. The warrior can be fulfilled by the walking tank; a character who is lightly-armored but knows how to use a shield ridiculously well; a dual-axe wielder who goes berserk in combat; the dextrous fencer; or the dude who uses the biggest chunk of vaguely-sharp metal he can find. All of these are legitimate approaches to the warrior type, and all are mechanically viable.
The explorer's purpose in Journey is to assist the group in getting from point A to point B. This could be as simple as knowing the lay of the land and being able to traverse it, or it could be as complicated as being familiar with traps and knowing how to open locks. In essence, the explorer seeks to help the group get where they are going, regardless of what is in the way. The inventive burglar, the cunning ranger, the seasoned sailor - these are all examples of an explorer.
The lorist's role in Journey is quite a bit different than in other games. A lorist generally chooses to focus on one force, such as magic, psionics, or divinity, and gains access to specials that are expressions of that power. The disciplines - which are thematic groupings of "spells" - that are available and quite varied, allowing for a wide variety of different possible kinds of lorists. Want to be a mage who focuses on putting barriers into place, or a priest who slings holy flame? Both are incredibly viable concepts. Unlike the other four roles, the lorist's main thing is versatility: a lorist can choose to focus and essentially replicate another role, though she goes about it in a vastly different way, being able to do some things better while other things are simply beyond her; or, she can choose to be a generalist, assisting the group in any of the other four capacities while not really excelling in any, but making up for lack of depth with unmatched breadth.
Unlike many other fantasy games, Journey is not a game in which one can find improved gear off of the fallen; instead, the equipment of the vanquished must be turned into raw materials which can then be fashioned into usable gear. While NPCs may be available who can do this, they reach reasonable caps, and so it is helpful to have an artisan along. The artisan's primary role in a group is to maintain the group's equipment and to provide new gear when materials become available. However, artisans are also capable in other ways, such as understanding architecture and traps and also useful against mechanical foes. Artisans are also useful to assist in a group's ability to procure money, which - in Journey - is something of a big deal.
The fifth and final - but certainly not least - category in Journey is the mediator. The game has a rather extensive social interaction system, roughly comparable in complexity and options to the combat system, and so if it makes sense to have a warrior around to handle combats, it makes sense to bring a mediator to handle social situations. As with combat, there are many ways to approach social interactions, and so your mediator can be anything from a high-and-mighty noble to a quick-witted trickster or anything in-between, and - again - the differences between these concepts are expressed in mechanics, so that it feels like there is a difference between the two.
Brief overview of how this works...
- As soon as you have at least one rank in a type one and type two skill, you immediately gain a couple things.
- You gain access to a core discipline. Which core discipline you gain, and from which role, depends on the skills. You gain this discipline at Rank 1. (Note: Some skill combinations allow you to choose one from a set of core disciplines.
- You gain a token pool. The type of token pool is determined by the core discipline.
Disciplines and Ranks
For every rank you have in a discipline, you gain two Specials Tokens, which you can spend to buy ranks in specials of that discipline. You cannot purchase talents with Specials Tokens.
You can train disciplines. Every rank you gain in a discipline gives you two more Specials Tokens.
You cannot gain XP towards disciplines; you can only gain TP. A discipline's TP can be spent towards Specials or towards Talents.
You cannot train specials you do not have ranks in.
You can gain XP and TP towards specials for which you have ranks.
You either have a talent, or you do not.
You cannot gain XP towards a talent, nor can you train towards a talent.
You can spend a discipline's TP towards a talent within that discipline.
...the journey of a thousand miles...
...begins beneath your feet...