[Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Big Mac » Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:52 pm

RobJN wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:22 am
On splitting the fan base, I'll point you to the 2001 Wizards' announcement about shutting down the Alternity line:
In Conclusion

It has become increasingly important to Wizards of the Coast to focus our attention on increasing the number of people who know how to play our core roleplaying games and helping them stay active gamers longer. Having two slightly different sets of rules in Alternity and Dungeons & Dragons makes it difficult to focus the company's resources on developing and retaining players. That is the driving reason behind our decision to shift resources away from continuing to develop the Alternity game. In the future, we will continue to explore the worlds of science fiction roleplaying using rules that are derived from 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons.
Thanks for this.

This is not quite what I was expecting (as I am pretty sure it predates Mike Mearls working at WotC).

I'd say this was WotC saying that they were going to switch from the Alternity rules to what would become the d20 Modern (and d20 Future) rules.

If you look at what Paizo have done with Starfinder, they have made a game that (I think) is mostly compatible with Pathfinder, so that some stuff made for one game can be used with the other game.

5e seems to have learned from Paizo's better engagement with the fanbase. If WotC could create a 5e version of d20 Modern...and build in at least one of the classic Alternity or other TSR/WotC science fiction settings, I think it would do well.
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by RobJN » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:24 pm

Old news is old. I honestly don't see Hasbro letting the D&D team divert time and effort away from shoring up the brand by diluting it with a whole separate "competing" game line. Now, if they were to capitalize on the F.S.S. Beagle's crash landing and introducing an "infiltrate the aliens/head off an alien invasion" storyline tying together City of the Gods, Barrier Peaks, and Tale of the Comet.... I wouldn't complain, and they could introduce high tech to high fantasy without necessarily needing a whole 'nother game line selling "against" D&D, when it could supplement it instead.....
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by shesheyan » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:58 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:52 pm
5e seems to have learned from Paizo's better engagement with the fanbase. If WotC could create a 5e version of d20 Modern...and build in at least one of the classic Alternity or other TSR/WotC science fiction settings, I think it would do well.
I truly hope they come out with something in 2019. Not everyone like fantasy. A 5e version of d20 Modern is necessary. I don't understand why they would leave that market to others when they can grab it. They could work with external designers if they don't have the man power.

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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Angel Tarragon » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:19 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:52 pm
If you look at what Paizo have done with Starfinder, they have made a game that (I think) is mostly compatible with Pathfinder, so that some stuff made for one game can be used with the other game.
At its core Starfinder is closer to PF 2E than 1E.

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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:28 am

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:19 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:52 pm
If you look at what Paizo have done with Starfinder, they have made a game that (I think) is mostly compatible with Pathfinder, so that some stuff made for one game can be used with the other game.
At its core Starfinder is closer to PF 2E than 1E.
That's not what I was getting at.

I was getting at Starfinder is to Pathfinder, what d20 Modern is to D&D. :)

So...

...with WotC looking at the open test of Pathfinder vs the closed test of 4e D&D and then returning to doing an open test for D&D Next...

...would the success of Starfinder (assuming anyone thinks it is a success) influence WotC and make them want to do some sort of "d20 Modern Next" thing.

Hope that clarifies what I meant a bit.
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:30 am

shesheyan wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:58 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:52 pm
5e seems to have learned from Paizo's better engagement with the fanbase. If WotC could create a 5e version of d20 Modern...and build in at least one of the classic Alternity or other TSR/WotC science fiction settings, I think it would do well.
I truly hope they come out with something in 2019. Not everyone like fantasy. A 5e version of d20 Modern is necessary. I don't understand why they would leave that market to others when they can grab it. They could work with external designers if they don't have the man power.
How easy would it be for a third party to take the MSRD and the 5e SRD and make a 5e-compatible MSRD?

You seem to be a bit of a d20 Modern expert. Is there enough in both SRDs to make it viable for someone with the level of knowledge you have to take a shot at this?
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Ashtagon » Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:58 pm

I'd be interested in seeing how much of Alternity could be re-created using available SRD material.

At a rough pass, I'd need to figure the maths of Alternity's progression to see how much of a zero-to-superhero thing it has going on, and then depending, it could either use existing classes or have a whole set of new classes made (new classes might well be on a different power scale, so while it would use the same rules, they wouldn't be fully interchangeable). Alternity's professions seem to translate to 5e classes, and Alternity careers to 5e class archetypes.
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Angel Tarragon » Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:00 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:28 am
I was getting at Starfinder is to Pathfinder, what d20 Modern is to D&D. :)

So...

...with WotC looking at the open test of Pathfinder vs the closed test of 4e D&D and then returning to doing an open test for D&D Next...

...would the success of Starfinder (assuming anyone thinks it is a success) influence WotC and make them want to do some sort of "d20 Modern Next" thing.

Hope that clarifies what I meant a bit.
That makes sense. I'd be on board with Paizo doing a modern game engine so long as it wasn't a clone of PF 2E or SF, which the odds of that are probably slim to none.

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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Angel Tarragon » Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:03 pm

Ashtagon wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:58 pm
At a rough pass, I'd need to figure the maths of Alternity's progression to see how much of a zero-to-superhero thing it has going on, and then depending, it could either use existing classes or have a whole set of new classes made (new classes might well be on a different power scale, so while it would use the same rules, they wouldn't be fully interchangeable). Alternity's professions seem to translate to 5e classes, and Alternity careers to 5e class archetypes.
That's an interesting comparison. I really don't like 5E, to me it has no elegance. What I remember from Alternity...the fact that I really liked it and was able to more easily understand it ( I saw it as an inversion of the D20 system), it had charm, class and elegance.

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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Moderne

Post by RobJN » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:37 pm

Ashtagon wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:58 pm
I'd be interested in seeing how much of Alternity could be re-created using available SRD material.

At a rough pass, I'd need to figure the maths of Alternity's progression to see how much of a zero-to-superhero thing it has going on, and then depending, it could either use existing classes or have a whole set of new classes made (new classes might well be on a different power scale, so while it would use the same rules, they wouldn't be fully interchangeable). Alternity's professions seem to translate to 5e classes, and Alternity careers to 5e class archetypes.
You could go the opposite way, also, and completely do away with any notion of class/profession and just go skills a-la carte, doing away with the profession-related "cost-1." Leveling up would be the same (achievement points turn into usable skill points after X amount are attained. You could even do away with levels, and just make skill points available "whenever."

I'm not sure whether or not it ever made it into the OGL/SRD, but there was an alternate rolling mechanic in one of the 3.x books (Unearthed Arcana?) that replaced static bonuses with a die roll (the Altenity Control +situation die); I think they even played with that idea in D&D Next for the Proficiency bonus (+d4 at tier 1, +d6 at tier 2, etc) but it didn't get much traction because of the "oh crap, I rolled a one" effect. (see also: sAdvantage)

Do you have the Alternity core books, Ash? Also, the boards over at alternitrpg.net have some math-y type posts and discussions over the years that have made my eyes glaze over, but you might find pertinent to your work, if you haven't mined them already.

One of the "flaws" of the game was the notion that beginning characters were either really good at one or two things and sucked at everything else... or they'd be middling-good at a spread of things... and suck at everything else. So the zero-to-hero is somewhat avoided at the beginning: fairly competent, not too squishy heroes..who either get better at a handful of things, or get slightly better at other things, but stay not-too-squishy their whole gameplay. Barring purchasing certain Achievement benefits: your Con is your hp, basically, and if you don't buy extra stun(s), wound(s), or mortal(s) or increase your hero's Constitution itself, your hero doesn't become an ever-bigger-pile of hit points as the levels progress.
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by shesheyan » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:20 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:30 am
shesheyan wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:58 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:52 pm
5e seems to have learned from Paizo's better engagement with the fanbase. If WotC could create a 5e version of d20 Modern...and build in at least one of the classic Alternity or other TSR/WotC science fiction settings, I think it would do well.
I truly hope they come out with something in 2019. Not everyone like fantasy. A 5e version of d20 Modern is necessary. I don't understand why they would leave that market to others when they can grab it. They could work with external designers if they don't have the man power.
How easy would it be for a third party to take the MSRD and the 5e SRD and make a 5e-compatible MSRD?

You seem to be a bit of a d20 Modern expert. Is there enough in both SRDs to make it viable for someone with the level of knowledge you have to take a shot at this?
I wouldn't say I'm an expert. I played Modern for several years but that was a long time ago and my brain does not come with the type of memory that retains ruleset for very long after I stop playing a game.

Its certainly feasible. There are enough Modern advanced classes to create starting classes and archetypes. The major turn off from d20 Modern for many players I met is the concept of Basic classes for level 1-3 [Charismatic Hero, Dedicated Hero, Fast Hero, Smart Hero, Strong Hero, Tough Hero]. While I understood the idea behind this decision (and embraced it) it was not very appealing for many players who saw them as too generic in nature. A 5e Modern game would have to do away with those and propose «sexier» starting classes and builds.

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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:41 pm

shesheyan wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:20 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:30 am
shesheyan wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:58 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:52 pm
5e seems to have learned from Paizo's better engagement with the fanbase. If WotC could create a 5e version of d20 Modern...and build in at least one of the classic Alternity or other TSR/WotC science fiction settings, I think it would do well.
I truly hope they come out with something in 2019. Not everyone like fantasy. A 5e version of d20 Modern is necessary. I don't understand why they would leave that market to others when they can grab it. They could work with external designers if they don't have the man power.
How easy would it be for a third party to take the MSRD and the 5e SRD and make a 5e-compatible MSRD?

You seem to be a bit of a d20 Modern expert. Is there enough in both SRDs to make it viable for someone with the level of knowledge you have to take a shot at this?
I wouldn't say I'm an expert. I played Modern for several years but that was a long time ago and my brain does not come with the type of memory that retains ruleset for very long after I stop playing a game.

Its certainly feasible. There are enough Modern advanced classes to create starting classes and archetypes. The major turn off from d20 Modern for many players I met is the concept of Basic classes for level 1-3 [Charismatic Hero, Dedicated Hero, Fast Hero, Smart Hero, Strong Hero, Tough Hero]. While I understood the idea behind this decision (and embraced it) it was not very appealing for many players who saw them as too generic in nature. A 5e Modern game would have to do away with those and propose «sexier» starting classes and builds.
Fair enough, but I played one d20 Modern game set in the Virtual Eclipse universe, so you probably have much better understanding of it than me.
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:45 pm

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:00 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:28 am
I was getting at Starfinder is to Pathfinder, what d20 Modern is to D&D. :)

So...

...with WotC looking at the open test of Pathfinder vs the closed test of 4e D&D and then returning to doing an open test for D&D Next...

...would the success of Starfinder (assuming anyone thinks it is a success) influence WotC and make them want to do some sort of "d20 Modern Next" thing.

Hope that clarifies what I meant a bit.
That makes sense. I'd be on board with Paizo doing a modern game engine so long as it wasn't a clone of PF 2E or SF, which the odds of that are probably slim to none.
That's not what I meant.

I meant that WotC could bring back d20 Modern as a 5th Edition compatible thing to try to compete with Starfinder...at any time they wanted to.

WotC own a number of campaign settings that were already done for the 3e d20 Modern and can also look to anything older, that TSR published, that might have better traction against Starfinder. (The one thing they can't bring back is Star Wars, as they have not kept the licence.)
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Angel Tarragon » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:56 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:45 pm
That's not what I meant.

I meant that WotC could bring back d20 Modern as a 5th Edition compatible thing to try to compete with Starfinder...at any time they wanted to.

WotC own a number of campaign settings that were already done for the 3e d20 Modern and can also look to anything older, that TSR published, that might have better traction against Starfinder. (The one thing they can't bring back is Star Wars, as they have not kept the licence.)
Sorry about that going over my head. I'm not a fan of 5E, but I do wish WotC all the success they want with their product lines. I can't really imagine that WotC will produce anything rpg-wise other than D&D though.

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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Ashtagon » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:25 pm

In a hypothetical mashup game system using 5e, d20m, and alternity, I'd probably plan on the following classes and archetypes:

Warrior class
  • Gunslinger (light infantry/security cop)
  • Martial artist (unarmed specialist)
  • Dreadnought (armoured specialist)
Free Agent class
  • Infiltrator
  • wheelman (general vehicle specialist; may need renaming)
Technician class
  • Scientist
  • Engineer
  • Medic
Diplomat class
  • Investigator
  • Socialite
  • Negotiator
  • swindler
Adept class (because Alternity has mindwalkers and two books for exactly this sort of thing)
  • psion
  • arcane caster
  • divine caster
Confirmation of what's in SRD: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d2 ... /msrdlinks are broken though. Anyone have access to an official version of the MSRD that is definitely not mixed with anything not part of the MSRD? Archive.org may have one here https://web.archive.org/web/20060913081 ... d/MSRD.zip Notably, Alternity/Star Frontiers races seem to be missing (definitely, fraal and weren are missing). It shouldn't be too hard to file the serial numbers off though. Fraal can be replaced with "greys", which are so deep into popular UFO mythology that they can safely avoid legal issues. Weren can be replaced with a generic ursoid race, mechalus with a generic cyborg race. The others may be more problematic without going into licencing issues.
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Ashtagon » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:43 pm

Alternity's progression scale:

Alternity nominally uses levels, which grant skill points that can be spent on skills, skill benefits (ie. buying the skill benefit ahead of when it would have been granted for free from a higher skill rank), perks ("feats"), buying off flaws, or various stat advances (which translates to ability score improvements in D&D terms).

The number of points per level is effectively enough to advance your best skill by one point, plus a point or two extra. However, it's also worth noting that Alternity does't specifically define any skill benefits for having more than 12 ranks. It' strongly implied that a character would max out at 12 ranks. This potentially provides a useful calibration yardstick in defining character advancement.
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by RobJN » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:53 am

The Dark•Matter book "reskins" Weren as Sasquatch, while the Mechalus are mostly re-done as the etoile-nanite-infected Sandmen.
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by shesheyan » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:08 pm

Ashtagon wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:25 pm
In a hypothetical mashup game system using 5e, d20m, and alternity, I'd probably plan on the following classes and archetypes:

Warrior class
  • Gunslinger (light infantry/security cop)
  • Martial artist (unarmed specialist)
  • Dreadnought (armoured specialist)
Free Agent class
  • Infiltrator
  • wheelman (general vehicle specialist; may need renaming)
Technician class
  • Scientist
  • Engineer
  • Medic
Diplomat class
  • Investigator
  • Socialite
  • Negotiator
  • swindler
Adept class (because Alternity has mindwalkers and two books for exactly this sort of thing)
  • psion
  • arcane caster
  • divine caster
Confirmation of what's in SRD: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d2 ... /msrdlinks are broken though. Anyone have access to an official version of the MSRD that is definitely not mixed with anything not part of the MSRD? Archive.org may have one here https://web.archive.org/web/20060913081 ... d/MSRD.zip Notably, Alternity/Star Frontiers races seem to be missing (definitely, fraal and weren are missing). It shouldn't be too hard to file the serial numbers off though. Fraal can be replaced with "greys", which are so deep into popular UFO mythology that they can safely avoid legal issues. Weren can be replaced with a generic ursoid race, mechalus with a generic cyborg race. The others may be more problematic without going into licencing issues.
Interesting. Any class/archetype list should make sure that it can handle several genres of campaigns because this is the major difference with D&D. The modern/near future world is a kaleidoscope of possibilities in terms of rpgs. A core book that doesn't address that will only appeal to a limited amount of players :

• Arcana : Supernatural, Buffy, Dresden
• Detective : CSI, NCIS, Bones
• Vigilantes : Gritty superheroes (batman, spiderman)
• Spec-OPs : SWAT, The Unit, military
Low sci-fi : Walking Dead, Island of Dr Moreau, alien invasion, mutants
Hi sci-fi : Babylon 5, Galactica, The Expense, Stargate

Also, its important to have a category of classes for each of the six D&D base abilities.
Last edited by shesheyan on Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Ashtagon » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:35 pm

shesheyan wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:08 pm
Interesting. Any class/archetype list should make sure that it can handle several genres of campaigns because this is the major difference with D&D. The modern/near future world is a kaleidoscope of possibilities in terms of rpgs. A core book that doesn't address that will only appeal to a limited amount of players :

• Arcana : Supernatural, Buffy, Dresden
• Detective : CSI, NCIS, Bones
• Vigilantes : Gritty superheroes
• Spec-OPs : SWAT, The Unit, military
• Post-Apocalypse : Walking Dead, Island of Dr Moreau, alien invasion, mutants
Good point. It needs to cover a wide variety of genres.
Also, its important to have a category of classes for each of the six D&D base abilities.
On this however, I'd strongly disagree. Having six classes with each being "the xyz ability score class" was something I feel really crippled Modern's popular appeal. Alternity had a better model for base classes.

In some ways, d20 Modern has similarities with the video game Path of Exile, in that each class is "the xyz ability score class". The overall result is that it feels like you are designing around a set of game mechanics rather than a storytelling role.
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by shesheyan » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:41 pm

Ashtagon wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:35 pm
shesheyan wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:08 pm
Also, its important to have a category of classes for each of the six D&D base abilities.
On this however, I'd strongly disagree. Having six classes with each being "the xyz ability score class" was something I feel really crippled Modern's popular appeal. Alternity had a better model for base classes.

In some ways, d20 Modern has similarities with the video game Path of Exile, in that each class is "the xyz ability score class". The overall result is that it feels like you are designing around a set of game mechanics rather than a storytelling role.
Isn't that what D&D 5e does? Wizard = int, rogue = dext, fighter = str, bard = char, cleric = wis, barbarian = const.

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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Ashtagon » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:49 pm

I'd say the barbarian-constitution link is rather tenuous, although I'll grant you the others. However, in all cases, every one of these classes meaningfully benefits from at least one other ability score as part of the core concept the trope represents. That link doesn't really exist for d20 Modern's core classes.
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by Big Mac » Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:43 pm

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:56 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:45 pm
That's not what I meant.

I meant that WotC could bring back d20 Modern as a 5th Edition compatible thing to try to compete with Starfinder...at any time they wanted to.

WotC own a number of campaign settings that were already done for the 3e d20 Modern and can also look to anything older, that TSR published, that might have better traction against Starfinder. (The one thing they can't bring back is Star Wars, as they have not kept the licence.)
Sorry about that going over my head. I'm not a fan of 5E, but I do wish WotC all the success they want with their product lines. I can't really imagine that WotC will produce anything rpg-wise other than D&D though.
No problem.

I have no idea where WotC is going to go with support for their old science fiction product lines.

And I've got no idea if Starfinder is going to ever have support for a range science fiction campaign settings as iconic as some of the ones that TSR and WotC have supported.

It will be interesting to find out one day. :)

But, I've gotten us off topic a bit. :oops:
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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RobJN
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Re: [Alternity] WotC really raided this for d20 Modern

Post by RobJN » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:12 pm

Alternity took the "two stats" approach to the professions, where each leaned more or less on a primary-secondary.
Combat Specs emphasized STR (had to be at least 11) and CON (had to be at least 9);
Diplomats 9 WIL, 11 PER;
Free Agents 11 DEX, 9 WIL;
TechOps 9 DEX, 11 INT;
Mindwalker 9 CON, 9 INT, 11 WIL*
*they're optional, anyway :P

The system doesn't really have a "CON-prime" concept. There aren't all that many CON-based broad skills (3 vs 5+ for all the other Ability Scores), but the stat itself helps everyone as that is the foundation of the hero's Durability track.
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