I have encountered quite a few players whom believe that PCs just grown on the PC tree, and fall off whenever a new campaign begins or an old character dies. Some of the ripe ones come equipped with tasty backgrounds of past deeds the PC completed. The problem with this, is that if a PC has a history why do they have such a limited amount of ability when the game begins.
Fantasy Occupations and Signs, by Skortched Urf? Studios hopes to give a little more depth to starting NPCs in both a practical and mystical way. Occupations and Signs is two PDFs in one. First, there is the occupation mechanic. A neat little balanced label you can give a PC that provides them a profession. There are 14 professions to choose from and each seems to cover the various general occupations you would find in your traditional town. Refreshingly, none of the professions are too specific. For instance, whereas you will find farmer, you will not find a tomato farmer. This gives players and dms leeway to add additional description without trampling over fluff written in the profession. Each description provides additional class skills, feats and a starting bonus to gold. Unfortunately, there is no tradeoff for these bonuses. This is a problem, but only a minor one as all of the feats and skills provided are minor +2s and enhancement skills.
The second part of Occupations and Signs provides statistics on the 12 signs of the astrological chart. PCs can assign a sign to their character. This is a pretty simple and neat mechanic. PCs with a given sign always get a minor bonus to some descriptor of that sign. In addition, depending on the time of year, players will receive both a penalty and a bonus to a specific statistic. I like this feature a lot for DMs whom want to emphasis the importance of the in game date.
For the Player
Most DMs will enjoy a detailed background. Adding some depth to a PC and getting some minor bonuses works out well for everyone.
For the DM
The astrology and jobs system are balanced and adds a bit of flavor to a PCs character.
The Iron Word
Occupations and Signs does a good job of installing 2 mechanics in a short 8 pages. The brevity of the document is an illustration of how easy it is to put these in our game. For a little over a buck, its also not that expensive.
LIKED: - inexpensive for the value of the material
- really easy to integrate
- the astrology system is nice, though i've seen a similar d12 system before.
- the gp addition may be a bit too much and there should have been a formula as opposed to a set GP (in case players start out at later levels.
VALUE: Very Satisfied