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Having beaten The Evil that Stirred Uneasily, Bob the fighter enters town and, wanting to try something new after spending the last adventure stabbing, decides to learn how to cast a few spells or how to creep around stealthily or even how to fight differently. But how?

How can the DM allow a PC to learn things outside of the normal leveling-up process through training without unbalancing the game? Further, how can such training occur without boring the other players?


Background

One of the concepts I like is that in fiction protagonists often must train to improve their skills. They have to track down the right teacher, the teacher gives them quests to prove they're worthy, their new training lets them defeat the bad guy they couldn't defeat before, and so on.

But in a role-playing game, there are problems with this:

  1. PCs will cross-train each other with skills and abilities they already have, making all the characters the same.
  2. PC are constantly running from place to place to get trained rather than having adventures.
  3. PCs serious about the process will hire trainers to tag along and train them on the road (so no adventures at school and the like).
  4. PCs not so serious about the process will try to fake it with books or wishes or whatever to circumvent the process.

I want to make training a viable option and showcase training without bogging down the gameplay and without destroying the already precarious balance inherent in the system. I was thinking that training should provide NPCs that give quests and information, but also give PCs something to do with their downtime between adventures and a way to spend their treasure that isn't on just another magic trinket that grants an additional +1 on their Profession (murderhobo) skill checks.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Miniman, KorvinStarmast, user17995, SevenSidedDie Aug 1 '16 at 6:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Consider this question. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 1 '16 at 1:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan none of the answers address training directly, which is what I'm after. Your answer is 3/4 of what I want, but the final part I'm specifically seeking would be talking about how one can be trained (but not by DM Fiat) \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Cohoon Aug 1 '16 at 1:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I have a list of what I want the training to have (let me know if I need to be more specific): 1) give NPCs to give quests / get information from 2) have the PCs learn higher/ more powerful techniques / spells, etc 3) allow "down time" between adventures 4) have the training cost money / treasure 5) delve into their backgrounds (as appropriate) \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Cohoon Aug 1 '16 at 1:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the trouble with this question is that it's “borrowing trouble”, so to speak. You have a goal (add training time to the game), but you're concerned it might have problems. But instead of trying it and running into real problems (or not!), you're wanting to avoid those maybe-problems up-front, so you're asking about how to avoid a hypothetical problem. SE is really bad at handling non-practical, hypothetical problems. Have you considered just going ahead, and asking a question about the actual problem(s) it causes, if any, once it has actually caused them? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 1 '16 at 19:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie So, perhaps, restructuring the question as What problems should I look out for if I do this? then describe a small this rather than How can I do this? for very large quantities of this? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 1 '16 at 19:22
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A simple potential option is to set up a world where adventuring is a noble profession worthy of a college degree! Depending on the scope of your campaign would determine how high of level people run your schools. This would likely be set up akin to colleges in Skyrim, but a college for every brand of adventurer! At least courses for every type of adventurer. Professors could offer extra lessons in return for errands out favors. And college must certainly had a premium on cost per class.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The Pathfinder games is set up vaguely similar to that. \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Cohoon Aug 1 '16 at 12:05

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