I have spoken about this in a previous blog entry.
The 1st ed. Advanced and Original (AD&D, OD&D) games grouped skill clusters into Classes. This allows for a story driven style of play because you can elaborate around these themes without being tied down to mechanical detail.
This model is most simply expressed in Risus (the free Anything RPG) where characters are described by general cliches. If you have not looked at this system, regardless of the system you play then you must do yourself a favour.
FATE has an elegant extension of this called Aspects, and have built a clever system that allows you to ‘tag’ items in the game world as a whole with cliches.
For now, in my own private solo OD&D game, I am using the simpler, comedic, Risus interpretation. The setting is based on Classical Greek artistic and cultural sensibilities, though a fantasy geography. The time is an undefined number of generations after the Titans have been ousted by the Olympian young gods, with all the same names and descriptions used. Predating the current civilisation is an older culture that was Titan worshipping that has Meso-American and Khmer architectural sensibilities. Human sacrifice and all that it implied was part of this collapsed elder civilisation and their ruins litter the land, as do the remaining artefacts of power.
I developed the character thumbnails using a card driven system that I will describe in a different post. From these descriptions I derived the cliches.
In the adventuring party we have:
- Lycophon, a fighter whose cliches are: being a physical jerk, showing off, gambling
- Triopas, a philosopher (magic user) whose cliches are: reading, writing, meddling in things man was not meant to know, being a pompous ass, having a chip on his shoulder
- Dardanus, a priest of Athena whose cliches are: praying, bandaging, pontificating, buying his way out of trouble
- Octyos, a thief whose cliches are: climbing, burgling, intimidating, skulking, cussing
- Epicydes, a philosopher whose cliches are: being corrupt, reading, writing
- Chrysaor, a thief whose cliches are: lying, cheating, stealing, telling inappropriate jokes