Lightweight Careers for OSR RPGs

Recently, I’ve been really interested in classless RPGs. I’m working on a quite extensive system that I’m currently playtesting, but in the meantime, I got a pretty lightweight take that I made in preparation for a Star Wars campaign I’m running.

Image: Prepare to war by Darek Zabrocki

Design Notes

  • I primarily designed this for a Star Wars campaign, but I’ve phrased everything as neutral as possible. Besides the Ace and Technician, I feel like every career is fully usable in any other setting – fantasy or otherwise.
  • My campaign-thingy will run in Cairn, so all characters are equally capable at combat. This means you can be a Diplomat and still kick ass. On the downside, everyone dies just as easily.
  • Each career counts as a Skill in the trifecta of Time – Gear – Skill. The player explains why their career would count.
  • Each career has example questions. These are questions a player can ask the GM at any time – they are things the player might not know, but the character definitely would. The GM is encouraged to create opportunities based on these questions, but there’s no need to always say yes. An assassin might ask, “How can I make this murder look like an accident?” – it’s valid to answer “You can’t – you shot him in the face repeatedly.”
  • I’d say, pick 2 careers at the start of the game.
  • I’ve tried to phrase everything as prompts/hooks. A mercenary may ask, “What is the weak point in the enemy fortification?”. The answer could be, “The rooftop ventilation shafts are a structural weak spot – you reckon explosives would do the trick”. This can start an effort to acquire explosives and get on the roof. The answer is not a magic solution to the problem.


  • Ace – You know how to pilot any vehicle in almost any situation.
    • “How do I ride this strange beast?”
    • “What is the best way through this asteroid field?”
    • “How do I bypass an enemy blockade?”
  • Assassin – You are an expert at dealing death.
    • “What improvised weapons are available in this room?”
    • “How can I make this murder look like an accident?”
    • “What is the ideal position to take this long-range shot from?”
  • Bounty Hunter – You are skilled at tracking and finding your targets.
    • “Which door did my target take?”
    • “Where in the city is my target likely to hide?”
    • “Who would my target go to for help?”
  • Commander – You know how to inspire those around you.
    • “How can I get this group of civilians into fighting shape?”
    • “What would it take to get these bystanders into action?”
    • “How can I rally these troops for a last stand?”
  • Diplomat – You know how to get what you want out of negotiations.
    • “Who would I need to talk to for results?”
    • “What does this person want?”
    • “How does this person feel about the situation?”
  • Explorer – You are skilled at survival and navigation in extreme and dangerous environments.
    • “Where can I find food in this wasteland?”
    • “How can I survive this dangerous storm?”
    • “What would be the safest route through the dangerous jungle?”
  • Medic – You are medically trained.
    • “What killed them?”
    • “How do I cure this disease?”
    • “How can I stabilize my dying comrade?”
  • Mercenary – You are skilled at intimidation, protection and causing destruction.
    • “How can I intimidate this goon?”
    • “How would the enemy ambush the VIP I’m hired to protect?”
    • “What is the weak point in the enemy fortification?”
  • Smuggler – You are skilled at getting goods to where you want them, and getting out.
    • “How can I best escape this situation?”
    • “How can I get these goods past authorities?”
    • “Where can I get the best deal on these illegal goods?”
  • Soldier – You are an expert at warfare and combat.
    • “How can we push through the enemy frontlines?”
    • “How can I best take down this overwhelming threat?”
    • “What are the weaknesses of this enemy force?”
  • Spy – You know how to get in and out – unseen.
    • “What are the weak points of this secure facility?”
    • “How do I move through this area unseen?”
    • “What are those two people of interest meeting for?”
  • Technician – You know how to fix (or sabotage) almost any technology.
    • “How can I disable this vehicle as quickly as possible?”
    • “What would it take to get this hyperdrive running again?”
    • “How do I bypass this security system?”

3 thoughts on “Lightweight Careers for OSR RPGs

  1. Hello! I was having some trouble accessing that notion link for those lightweight careers. I’m pretty interested in playtesting it myself.

    1. Thanks for your interest! The notion was getting quite messy, as I’m ramping up towards publishing all the options in a full document. Turns out that if I combine, expand and improve all of my Cairn-related posts of the last year, you basically have enough to fill a rulebook!
      Updates under this category: and in future posts on this blog 🙂

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