Niche Protection
rating: 0+x

"When my sishter's daughter vishits me on shet I watsh her like a bloody hawk I tell you"

…not a Shaun Connery quote.

Basic Information

There are two basic schools of thought in RPG design - the specialist character model and the generalist character model. The generalist model requires all players to create a broadly competent character suitable for the context of the game - any given character may be better or worse than any other at any specific skill, but there are no one trick ponies and incompetence in any relevant skill is to be avoided without a damned good reason. Adventure design will typically require players to work together but interchangeably. This sort of play is commoner in the more realistic, simulationist sort of game and is more easily performed in non-class-and-level-systems - good examples might be found in various crime and investigative dramas, assuming that the PCs are the field agents and the more unbalanced characters NPCs. The specialist character model revolves around the idea that each character has a specific role to play, specializes in the skill set for that role and then is expected to stick to their knitting - due to the creeping influence of cRPGs this role will tend to be primarily a combat role but even out of combat this concept is baked into a great many RPGs. That RPG is probably the Ur-example of it at work.

Niche protection is about enforcing the specialist model - developing rules which encourage or require specialization, usually by making characters incompetent outside their specialized field. This is really not as easy as it sounds - early examples (that RPG again) used a lot of "because we say so", with frankly predictable responses whilst later ones had a tendency to make some classes objectively worse than others by sacrificing protection for flexibility.

Sources

Bibliography
1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

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