Like any good rpg player, I like having character options. Cataclysm already gives you a pretty interesting set of character traits and options to choose from, but oddly enough you never really get to determine what your character was doing before he survived a zombie apocalypse.
What I propose is to add a completely new tab to the character creation screen that would let you choose your character’s background or profession, which would in turn offer the character a variety of different bonuses as well as affect his or her starting loot. I’ll give a few examples of what I mean:
Doctor - +1 extra skill rank to first aid. Starts with lab coat and a scalpel.
Police Officer - +1 extra skill rank in firearms. Starts with a pistol with 12 shots and a kevlar vest.
Teacher - Begins play with one free beginner rank book of the player’s choice.
Construction Worker - +1 extra skill ranks in construction. Starts with hard hat and hammer.
Drug Addict - Starts addicted to one drug of the player’s choice. Starts with syringe/cheap lighter/crack pipe depending on drug chosen, as well as a week worth of doses of the chosen drug.
Now, I need to stop myself cause I could just keep writing these all day, but you get the idea. Not only does it give you interesting starting options, but it also helps give your character a bit more flavor.
With regards to balance, I’m sure you all have noticed that they aren’t exactly at the same power level, and that’s the idea, because obviously a police officer or a soldier would be better fit to deal with having to kill zombies to survive than a drug addict. I’m thinking a good solution would be making professions mandatory and removing 1 of the 6 build points given at the beginning to represent the average profession’s strength. Then, professions that are more powerful than the baseline would cost build points, whereas professions that have drawbacks would add build points.
Another point I wanted to make is that I conceived of the “+1 skill ranks” to mean that the character is always considered one point higher than his actual rank only for purposes of crafting recipes and skill checks. This would mean than a Doctor and a normal schmuck who both read The Big Book of First Aid would not have the same skill level, even though they technically have the same experience in the skill. This would also mean that characters whose backgrounds make them better at something would be less prone to losing that particular skill over time.
What do you guys think? Personally I would love to see this in the game, and although it might make characters stronger overall, that just gives an excuse to make the zombies more brutal