In this series of design blogs I’m going to go through each of the 36 classes in the table top roleplaying game Shadow of Mogg, of which I designed, to explain some of the creative decisions involved.
In this blog we’re taking a look at the PandyPonty Firefighter.
Shadow of Mogg has 36 classes, in its early conception the game was effectively going to be an Dungeons and Dragons retro clone but set in the tunnels of the London Underground as I thought the London tube map would make a fantastic tunnel crawl.
The Firefighter class was initially the equivalent of the ‘Fighter’ in D&D and so was the first class I designed and thought about placing into the game. As the game developed I realised I wanted players to be able to play a far wider range of characters representing a wide range of different people in the United Kingdom. I also wanted to veer away from the ‘heroic’ D&D classes.. After playing the table top RPG Troika which also has 36 classes I realised I could significantly branch out the number in my game.
The PandyPonty Firefighter however remained as the first class. It’s also one of the more useful and powerful classes in the game. Within Shadow of Mogg you roll your classes randomly, the game is about exploring group dynamics within a shattered world so a power imbalance in the group fits that. It being a post-apocalypse a Firefighter becomes incredibly useful whereas a Chief Executive of a bank is kind of useless. Yes this is also a laboured political point.
The art by Aled Lawlor of Anima Press is suitably grim and charcoal drenched. The initial art brief emphasised the contrast between the character holding an axe in one hand and the child's teddy bear in the other with wisps of smoke trailing off of them. As you look at the picture it's clear something has gone terribly wrong.
The PandyPonty FireFighter's best skill is unsurprisingly fire fighting which plays off of the Hench Stat. They also have a portable hose item which can be used by spending ‘Juice’ which broadly represents energy sources within the game. They also have a fire fighting suit, which acts as really good armour when dealing with fire having a value of 4. This allows 4d6 to be rolled against any fire damage and results of a 6 mean that damage is reduced by 1.
So they’re really good at putting out fires.
The flavour text emphasises that if there’s not any fires to put out the character may well look to find some, this was a slight riff of the Angel Class in Apocalypse World which is encouraged to cause violent mess in order to justify them being able to heal everyone up.
The PandyPonty FireFighter's next skill is Driving – They drive a fire engine. Somewhat less useful in the tunnels but reflective of what they would have picked up within their training. The design of Shadow of Mogg purposefully mixes highly specific and idiosyncratic elements with more general elements. Many of the skills will only apply in specialised situations. This serves a few different functions.
- It enables players to be spotlighted when the situation does come up where the party do find a fire engine for the Pandyponty Firefighter to drive.
- It encourages creative use of skills but de-emphasises players always looking at their skills to solve problems as many of them just aren't applicable.
- It plays into the theme of the world, where many old skills people had are now useless and new skills must be learned. Shadow of Mogg also has mechanics for learning new skills,
Their next two skills are more generic, Alertness is useful for the 'Stay Alert' rolls that keep the party safe at night as well as avoiding environmental hazards and ambushes and 'Negotiation' allows the Firefighter to try to persuade the cat to come out of the tree.
Speaking of cats the class gets a 10 foot cat snatching pole as an item, this is a nod to the classic old school DnD item with a twist. They also have a heavy duty torch which is super useful at navigating within the dark tunnels, some matches to start fires with, a child’s teddy bear for sad reasons and a megaphone so the cats can hear them.
Each class in Shadow of Mogg has a different set of resources they bring to the collective party pool. The PandyPonty Firefighter comes with Scran and Juice. Scran serves as food and Juice serves as an energy and light resource.
I wanted to give most classes some Scran to start so the group wasn’t short on food at the start of the game, Juice here is so the PandyPonty FireFighter can actually use their hose at the start of the game.
As their special they simply get +1 Hench which is the games 'strength' statistic. This is clean and simple and is partly a vestige from when the game was more of a D&D clone and hence the fighter simply got bonus strength and toughness.
The class was initially the 'Shoreditch Station Firefighter'. Mostly as I passed Shoreditch firestation a lot on the way to work. Shoreditch however is associated a lot more with hipsters than fire fighting. I decided to change it to PandyPonty FireFighter rather last minute during some playtest feedback as I thought it would be funny. For those not in the know PontyPandy is the home of the British children's character Fireman Sam.
I also gave the class a Black and White Cat, this fit the 10 foot cat snatching pole item the Firefighter has and was a riff off of Postman Pat another British cartoon character. Why does Fireman Sam have Postman Pat’s cat? You decide?
Each character in Shadow of Mogg has a ‘bond’ question. In theory players can make up their own versions of these in repeat play however one is given to wet the whistle. The intent is to create connections between party members in the group in order to start to construct a story as to how the party found themselves together in the London Underground tunnels. In the case of the PandyPonty FireFighter the bond asks to name another character in the group that the PandyPonty FireFighter has saved which gives the players lots to flesh out with eachother.
I had considered in design also adding effectively personal goals to each character as well and had play tested this. However I found each character having their own personal goal in a game so heavily about group dynamics split the party in ways I wasn’t a huge fan of so I removed it. I also didn’t want players to basically ‘follow’ the quest given to them at the start of the game and wanted them to explore the world more organically.
Keeping things simple is a wonderful design maxim.
Overall I'm really happy with this class, it's clean, evokes the horrors of the world and if you're lucky enough to roll it is a pretty simple one to play as it knows quite clearly what it is.
And that’s the Pandyponty Firefighter. What are your thoughts on the class? Any hilarious in game cat based mishaps?
In the next article we'll be taking a look at the Intensive Care Nurse which you can read here.
Written by Panayiotis Lines
Buy Shadow of Mogg here.
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