It reminds me alot of Blades in the Dark, and while I have some concerns about the applications, I overall really like the idea. Ultimately in my games, I think I prefer giving players a relatively small number of customizable classes rather than a lump sum of them.
Anyway, I still like my Cuckoo Folk idea but not so much the implementation so...here's another go at it.
In this interpretation, rather than a unique species, Cuckoos are just masters of Confidence Scams of the highest level, using deception to blend into places and positions they aren't meant to be in. Then they just stick around and eat the food.
|This is not a king|
Skills (2, d6): 1. Military History 2. Law 3. Forgery 4. Connoisseur 5. Gambler 6. Music
✧: You can convince d4 people in close proximity that you are a close friend over the course of a few minutes, and they will treat you as if you were a beloved family member until you leave their presence.
✧✧: 2d6 people in close proximity, and their positive feelings towards you last for d6 days.
✧✧✧: You can Brood-Mark anyone with a written letter sent in advance.
2. Pull Rank
✧: You can determine someone's relative position to authority through observation. Military Rank for soldiers, Court Position and general favor for courtiers, rank in the line of succession, etc; get overlapping results if they exist.
✧✧: If you are aware of someone's position in an authority structure, you can appeal to it and act as their superior as long as one exists.
✧✧✧: You can convince someone within an authority structure that you are their superior, even if one *doesn't* exist. ("I am the real king, and you are my pawn")
✧: You can perform a technical skill once after witnessing it performed (anything from lockpicking to special fighting techniques).
✧✧: You can perform a technical skill three times after witnessing it performed.
✧✧✧: You can permanently learn a technical skill after witnessing it performed three times.
4. Act Like You Belong
✧: You can avoid notice by slipping into a group of 4 or more. You are treated as if part of the group, and given access to any resources or restricted areas that they would normally have access to, as long as you accompany them.
✧✧: You can avoid notice by accompanying even a single individual. After you leave, you are difficult to describe and your features can't be recollected if you choose.
✧✧✧: You can get anywhere with confidence. No guard will halt your progress, though they may take notice. The most minor change in clothing can throw off pursuers.
5. Thick as Thieves
✧: You can recruit d4 thugs in town who're loyal so long as they'll get a cut of the loot and are sure they'll make it out alive. They will flee, cheat, or betray you and each other if either of those conditions becomes sufficiently murky.
✧✧: d6 thugs or d4 thieves, each with 1 rank in a random thief ability (besides this one).
✧✧✧: 2d6 thugs or 2d4 thieves, each with 2 ranks in a random thief ability (besides this one).
6. Social Parasite
✧: You live on someone else's property with their blessing. You don't have downtime costs. Begin each session with an extra ration, packed with care.
✧✧: You live on a nobles property, with their blessing. Begin each session with a bottle of fine wine. When carousing, you can roll twice and take the preferred result.
✧✧✧: You live on the royal estate or its equivalent in the area. Your friends can come along as well, but only you get the royal treatment. If an ally gets bonus XP through carousing, you get the same amount without having to spend the money.
Some design notes:
- I'd probably have the Brood-Mark abilities only work once per person
- For Pull Rank - Believing someone is your superior doesn't necessarily mean earning their respect, and sometimes it can mean them challenging you in a formal duel or test of strength for your position. "Aha, if you ARE the real king, what if I just kill you and take your place for good!"
- For Mimicry it might be necessary to have certain things be witnessed in active use rather than in training (particularly fighting styles) but perhaps not.
- Act Like You Belong is supposed to just be like blending into a crowd in the Assassins Creed games. The final ability might be a bit strong but I welcome any players who pushes its limits and want to walk past a pair of Frost Giant guards alone just to see what happens.
- Social Parasite should probably be more active for games that don't have carousing or downtime. In those cases I'd just run it as a built-in safe haven, full of people who will protect you no matter what. It might need some further tweaks anyway.