Tuesday 25 July 2023

Option Menu: Re-Skinning and Modifying Callings

BREAK!!’s Callings are designed to be well defined but provide players a lot of chances to make them their own. Each starts in the same place, but depending on the Elective Abilities one selects, along with how the Calling interacts with the character’s Species, Quirk, and History, that foundation can go in any number of directions. This variety comes with growth and advancement, intended to be influenced and very much a part of the Saga the character is involved with.

There may be times where one might want to tweak or alter this foundation a bit. A player might have a particularly well formed idea for a character from the get-go. A Game Master may want to have a specialized version of a Calling available for a homebrewed setting. Someone might like the mechanics of a character option but wants to go with a different vibe - whatever the reason, there are any number of ways to facilitate these desires. In this Option Menu entry, we’ll present two easy ways to do so.

Re-skinning and Re-Flavoring

The simplest way to go about this is briefly noted in the core BREAK!! rules but bears repeating: sometimes you can achieve what you are going for simply by choosing a different name and flavor for a particular character’s version of a Calling but retaining the mechanics as is. This can be achieved in a few ways:

  • You can look at a character's History and use that to inform their interpretation of a Calling. For example, you might call a Champion with the Holy Isle Samurai history a Bushi or Musha.

  • If you have already planned out a certain trajectory for your character, you could choose a new name based on that as well. Sages that are going to mostly learn Status Ailment afflicting Abilities might be called Witches or Hexers.

  • This does not need to be limited to Calling names either - you could also alter Abilities in a similar way. As an example, you might change the titles and look of the sealed names your Heretic calls upon while keeping their actual effects intact to create a necromancer or summoner.

Ability Swapping

Another, more advanced way to customize a Calling is to swap out one of their Starting Abilities for another. While relatively simple on the surface, this can change the feel and trajectory of Calling significantly.

  • When choosing a Starting Ability to swap out, make sure it’s not a key one that ties into the Calling’s Other Abilities. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to take away the Battle Princess’s Heart’s Blade as it ties into a good number of their electives.

  • The simplest and most straightforward use of this method is taking an entry from a Calling’s list of Standard Elective Abilities and switching it with one of the Calling’s Starting Abilities. The Starting Ability then becomes something the Character can select when they increase in Rank. 

  • You may also rename the Calling to reflect this change if you would like. For example, a Sneak who has Sticky Fingers switched out for Able Alchemist might be called a Sapper or Saboteur instead.

It is also possible to take this a step forward and swap an Ability from another Calling entirely. This one requires a bit more thought and careful consideration. 

  • In this case, one of the Character’s Starting Abilities can be swapped with a Standard Elective or Starting Ability from another Calling. The swapped out Ability does not become one the player can select from when advancing in Rank.

  • You want to avoid doing so with an Ability that might be too useful combined with the other benefits provided from the Calling, and you want to avoid encroaching on another Calling’s greater role (especially if the party also contains a character from said Calling). Your mileage will vary in this factor, so try to keep your group or the games you want to run in mind for this step.

  • Finally, this should be an Ability that adds an interesting twist to the character when applied. A Champion learning a Sneak or Factotum Ability adds a new facet to the character, while drawing from another warrior like the Raider is somewhat redundant.

  • The most suitable Abilities for swapping are useful on their own and at least somewhat standalone from the most common mechanical functions of the original Calling. Abilities that grant Crafting Disciplines or have self contained effects (such as Everyday Divination or Master Tactician) are good examples.

  • Conversely, Abilities that grant Bonuses or Edges, increase your Speed Rating, or grant you Supernatural Abilities shouldn’t be considered - these were written with being locked to their particular Calling in mind, and might unbalance things if given to other ones.

  • The new Ability might need to be reworked just a bit to fit in with the desired Calling thematically. This can take on many forms: a natural magical Ability might be retooled into a little ritual the character learned in their travels, or the Rolls required for the Ability might be altered to use the new Calling’s primary Aptitudes. The one strict guideline is any changes should not eliminate any existing limitations the Ability has (at least without adding a new one in its place).

Below are a few examples employing these methods. The first two show what you can do by Ability swapping and re-flavoring things within the same Calling, whereas the second set also includes an Ability taken from another Calling and re-worked to fit.


The Bruiser is a variant Champion. Rough and tumble fighters that prefer to rely on their fists and muscles rather than the armaments of war, Bruisers often come from humble stock that don’t have fancy weapons on hand but still need to deal with the many dangers of Outer World. As a result, they tend to be quite popular among folks in need of heroes, regardless of their particular ethical bent.

The Bruiser is identical to the Champion with the following exceptions:

  • The Starting Ability Combat Momentum is replaced with the Standard Elective Ability Brawler. Combat Momentum may be taken as an elective ability at higher ranks.

  • The Starting Ability Favored Weapon is replaced with the Standard Elective Ability Brazen Defense. Favored Weapon may be taken as an elective ability at higher ranks.

Note: Into the Fray is not an essential Ability, but so integral to how the Champion is played it’s likely best to keep it as a Starting Ability, like it is here with the Bruiser.

Bright-Heart Paladin 

The Bright-Heart Paladin is a variation of the Battle Princess. These knightly sorts insist their magic comes from a devotion to righteousness and some form of spiritual movement. This is usually a philosophy under the umbrella of the Dawn Orthodoxy, but other organizations such as the Church of the Sacred Chain count a few Paladins among their number. It is rumored that Bright-Heart Paladins will lose access to their powers if they stray from a strict moral code, but this penalty is self imposed (if applied at all).

The Bright-Heart Paladin is identical to the Battle Princess with the following exceptions:

  • The starting ability Heart’s Blade is renamed Holy Sword, which functions in the same manner.

  • The starting ability Soul Companion is renamed Bonded Mount. It functions in the same manner as usual, though Mount must be taken as its first Ability at Rank 1.

  • The starting ability Shield of Love is replaced by the standard elective Ability Compassion Cure, which is renamed to Lay on Hands. Shield of Love may be taken as an elective ability at higher Ranks.

Note: It’s important to keep in mind here the Heart’s Blade name is changed but its mechanics are unaltered. This Ability is important to many of the other Battle Princess ones, so it shouldn’t be mucked with too much if you can help it.

With a little work a similar but thematically opposed Dark-Soul Paladin that uses the Murder Princess Calling as a base could also be created.


While Sage’s are generally thought of as reputable scholars that disseminate and chronicle useful information, not all the practitioners of wizardry are so upfront. Mountebank's have learned to sulk about and deceive, complimenting their roguish ways with the magic of their more forthright cousins. While many mages have a few colorful words to describe these rakes, playwrights and novelists often delight in and romanticize their antics.

The Mountebank is identical to the Sage with the following exceptions: 

  • The Starting Class Ability Grand Grimoire is replaced with the Standard Elective Ability Murky Mask. Grand Grimoire may be taken as an elective ability at higher ranks.

  • The Starting Class Ability Sage’s Staff is replaced with Light Footed, a Sneak Starting Ability. Sage’s Staff cannot be taken later on.

Note: Light Footed was taken from the Sneak’s Abilities rather than Furtive because the Sage Abilities have access to Cloak of Obscurity down the line, so the former ultimately adds more to the Mountebank’s potential repertoire.


Scribes are offshoots of the Factotum. Rather than toting around a bag filled with knick knacks and useful tools, Scribes are constantly absorbing trivia and recording things in their massive journals. Every experience is a chance for discovery and learning, something worth taking down and telling others all about. Their accumulated knowledge can be levied to solve problems, assist others, and thwart foes.

The Scribe is identical to the Factotum with the following exceptions:

  • The Starting Ability Factotum’s Pack is replaced with Journey Journal, which is explained here. Factotum's Pack cannot be taken as an elective ability later on.

  • The Starting Ability Second to none is replaced with the Standard Elective Ability Folklorist. Scribes may choose Second to none as a Standard Elective Ability later on. 

  • Due to the replacement of the Factotum’s Pack, the Advanced Elective Ability Pack Tactics becomes Hardcore Hardcover, which functions in the same manner, just centered around the Scribe’s journal rather than the normal backpack.

Journey Journal (Starting Ability)

Every Scribe carries around an extensive journal that they are constantly scribbling notes, doodles, and other things into. They are never caught without these records, to the point they feel like extensions of their own bodies, rather than something they are carrying about.

While Journey Journals generally take the form of very large books, they don’t need to be - anything one can record information on that is suitably cumbersome could work. 

  • Your Journey Journal is a large book or other collection of notes and sketches you always seem to have on hand, but never gets in your way. While in your possession, it takes up a single Item Slot. If anyone else tries to carry it, it takes up 3.

  • If you fail an Insight Check when attempting to recall a piece of information, you may consult your Journal for clues. Stuffed full of factual tidbits, the tome will allow the GM to reveal a hint to where the elusive piece of information can be found.

  • You scribble and sketch in some personalized form of hard to read writing when jotting things down for your Journal, such as shorthand, code, or riddles. This makes it easier for you to take down everything you notice quickly, but also means it’s more or less impossible for someone else to read unless they know you very well. Those who have a Social Bond with you may use the Journal for research in the same way you do.

  • If your journal is ever lost or destroyed, you may recreate it if you take a downtime action in an area where you would be able to procure the supplies to do so.

Note: This is an altered version of the Sage’s Grand Grimoire. It has been turned into a mundane tome to fit the Factotum’s down to earth nature.


  1. Thanks for letting us into your design thinking with these variants! I love how the modularity of the callings (and the adversaries too) makes the game very easy to hack and adapt.

  2. This was a awesome read! Honestly I could see future supplements with this kind of stuff! Honestly after reading the PDF I'm excited for future supplements in general! Alas! One step at a time!