View Full Version : d20 Minerva [Viability Check]

Kuma Kode
2011-01-09, 08:38 AM
Like many playgrounders, I am compiling data for a system project. It is tentatively called Minerva, and I would like your opinions or suggestions regarding the project specifications. Quite simply, would you play this? No sense in wasting time on a system no one likes, after all. It is currently based on the d20 chassis, though I may change that or create my own dice rolling scheme if the system would be better that way.

Note that what follows is only brief rundowns of my ideas for these particular categories accompanied by some examples. This is not currently a working system, nor are there many hard rules or prepared statistics. I apologize in advance for its poor organization, it's simply ideas right now.

Design Specifications
➜ Skill Based. Your character's capabilities are primarily derived from your skills. Your class determines health, the cost of various skills, and offers talents but does not restrict you from delving into things it does not typically cover. If a warrior wants to learn a smattering of healing or blasting magic, he shouldn't need to take a level of a completely different class and endure all of the effects that entails.
➜ Realism. Minerva does not attempt to be rules-lite, and makes some attempts to provide realistic effects while not being bogged down.
➜ Unity of Form. If two activities can share the same mechanic, they should. Attack rolls with weapons and rolls to resist special attacks can follow the same rules as skill checks.
➜ Balance. The game avoids having assumptions as to what the party can do when only a few characters are actually capable of doing so. Minerva does not assume the party can fly, teleport, or overcome certain defenses if only a handful of characters can actually do so. This allows freedom in the party's specializations while allowing them to be challenged tactically.
➜ Options, Modularity, or "Lego-ness." Minerva is designed to be expandable. There is no need to make a ninja class when simply adding a new talent tree to the rogue is possible.
➜ Skill Power. Skills grant additional capabilities related to their use beyond simply rolling the dice, rewarding characters who focus on them while making every skill potentially useful. Weapon skills grant special maneuvers, while magic skills grant spells and even tricks or exploits can be performed with social or adventuring skills.

Minerva is built upon the d20 chassis, sharing some traits with Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and d20 Modern.

Strength - The physical power of your muscles. Strength affects the accuracy and damage of many melee weapon skills. Strength adds to your Vitality.
Dexterity - Hand-eye coordination. Dexterity affects the accuracy and damage of ranged weapons and weapons in the knife category. Dexterity affects your ability to avoid attacks.
Constitution - Your physical endurance and the efficiency of your biology. Constitution affects your Valor capacity, and adds to your Wound.
Intelligence - The speed and efficiency with which you think, as well as your brain's ability to relate information in a coherent way. Intelligence affects many skills, particularly magic skills, and determines your Focus capacity. Intelligence adds to your Psyche.
Wisdom - Your perceptive capability and your attunement to your surroundings. Wisdom affects perception skills and your ability to acrue Focus.
Charisma - The strength of your identity and personality. Charisma affects social skills and determines your Essence.

A class is a kind of starting package for a character. It determines the character's health die, the cost of the character's skills, and offers talents and special abilities relating to its field. At every level that is not a multiple of 3, a character gains a talent. They can select from any of their class's talent trees, so long as they meet the prerequisites for that particular talent.

Additionally, each class can have what are known as Archetypes. An archetype is much like a subclass in that it modifies the base class's skill costs, as well as altering talents or perhaps introducing a new talent tree related to its niche.

An example entry of the Soldier, the offensive physical class, is below.


Vitality Die: d12 + Str Modifier per Level
Wound Die: d12 + Con Modifier per Level
Psyche Die: d4 + Int Modifier per Level
Essence Die: d4 + Cha Modifier per Level

The soldier's skill cost adjustments are as follows. These adjustments are in addition to the ones granted by your race.

Armor (-5%), Axes (-25%), Blades (-25%), Bows (+5%), Crossbows (+5%), Dodge (-5%), Dual-Wield (-25%), Firearms (-5%), Flails (-25%), Hammers (-25%), Knives (-25%), Mettle (-25%), Picks (-25%), Polearms (-25%), Shields (-5%), Slings (+5%), Spears (-25%), Staves (-25%), Thrown (+5%), Unarmed (-25%)

Arcanology (+25%), Elementology (+25%), Evocology (+25%), Meditation (+25%), Mensology (+25%), Necrology (+25%), Numenology (+25%), Vacuology (+25%), Vitology (+25%)

Animal Handling (+5%), Deception (+20%), Diplomacy (+5%), Intimidation (-25%), Knowledge (+15%), Linguistics (+10%), Merchanting (+5%), Perform (+0%)

Acrobatics (+0%), Athletics (-15%), Mechanics (+25%), Medicine (+5%), Navigation (+5%), Perception (+5%), Pilot (+0%), Stealth (+0%), Survival (+0%)

Craft (+0%), Craft (Weaponsmithing) (-25%), Craft (Armorsmithing) (-25%), Craft (Fletching) (+5%), Craft (Magickal) (+25%), Craft (Mechanical) (+25%), Craft (Apothecary) (+25%), Profession (-5%)

Great Tree's Warrior Archetype
Requirements: Must be a tigrine yeenash.
Armor (+25%), Firearms (+15%), Meditation (+5%), Vitology (+10%), Animal Handling (-5%), Acrobatics (-10%)
This archetype adds the True Form talent tree. This talent tree replaces one of the Soldier's standard talent trees (player's choice as to which). Once
this choice is made, it cannot be changed.

True Form Talent Tree
Shapeshifting Power : Your unarmed attacks now deal 1d6 Vitality and 1d4 Wound damage, and deal piercing and slashing damage. The damage
die increases for every 4 ranks you have in Unarmed, as is normal.

At every level except for those that are multiples of 3 (3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 15
th, or 18th) a soldier gains a new talent from the following talent trees. Most
talent trees have an order to them, but a character may freely pick between talents for which he or she meets the prerequisites. Talents cannot be
selected more than once unless explicitly stated.

Weaponmaster Talent Tree
Military Training: You gain a +1 bonus on all Warfare attack rolls.

Weapon Specialization: You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls, defense rolls, checks, and damage with one weapon skill.
Requires: Military Training

Combat Focus Talent Tree
Verve: Whenever you successfully deal damage to an enemy, you gain an additional point of Valor. This talent can be taken multiple times, each
time increasing the bonus Valor gained by 1.

Combat Momentum: If you strike and deal damage to an enemy two rounds in a row, you may enter a furious trance called Momentum. While so
entranced, you cannot take actions that require concentration, such as spellcasting, most social and economic skills, and some adventuring skills. You
may still utilize your maneuvers. You gain a +2 bonus to Strength and Dexterity while in Momentum, as well as a +10 ft. increase to your base speed.

Combat Momentum lasts as long as you continue to deal damage every round. When it ends, you are fatigued for 1d4 rounds and cannot enter
Momentum for the rest of the encounter.
Requires: Verve

Steel Mind: When affected by a spell, spell-like, or supernatural effect that allows a Meditation defense roll to resist while in Momentum, you may
immediately end your momentum to automatically succeed on the defense roll. You suffer all the normal penalties for ending Momentum, as if it ended
normally. You may choose to activate this talent after you have made the roll, but before you learn if it is a success or failure.
Requires: Combat Momentum

Steel Nerves: When affected by a spell, spell-like, or supernatural effect that allows a Dodge defense roll to resist while in Momentum, you may
immediately end your momentum to automatically succeed on the defense roll. You suffer all the normal penalties for ending Momentum, as if it ended
normally. You may choose to activate this talent after you have made the roll, but before you learn if it is a success or failure.
Requires: Combat Momentum

Steel Body: When affected by a spell, spell-like, or supernatural effect that allows a Mettle defense roll to resist while in Momentum, you may
immediately end your momentum to automatically succeed on the defense roll. You suffer all the normal penalties for ending Momentum, as if it ended
normally. You may choose to activate this talent after you have made the roll, but before you learn if it is a success or failure.
Requires: Combat Momentum

Characters in Minerva have four pools of health that represent different kinds of damage. A necromancer draining a monster's soul while the assassin stabs it and the barbarian bludgeons it with a hammer does nothing to contribute to the overall effectiveness of the group, since these three forms of damage are not at all related (life draining, blood loss, and structural damage, in this example).

Vitality: This health pool represents your character's structural durability. You add your strength modifier times your level to your Vitality.
Additionally, you gain a point of Vitality for every rank you possess in the Mettle skill.

Wound: Wounds represent system shocks and blood loss. You add your Constitution modifier times your level to your Wounds pool. Your Valor pool can never be higher than your current Wound.

Additionally, you gain a point of Wound for every rank you possess in the Mettle skill.

Psyche: Your mental strength is represented by your Psyche pool. Your current Psyche determines the maximum amount of Focus your
character can harvest. You add your Intelligence modifier times your level to your Psyche. Additionally, you gain a point of Psyche for every
rank you possess in the Meditation skill.

Essence: Essence is the strength of the character's soul. You add your Charisma modifier times your level to your Essence. Additionally,
you gain a point of Essence for every rank you possess in the Meditation skill.

Different weapons and attack forms interact with the pools in different ways. Bludgeoning weapons primarily harm the character's physical structure,
for example, and therefore deal mostly Vitality damage. Daggers on the other hand kill through blood loss, not broken bones, and deal mostly Wound

Monsters may lack one or more pools of health. They don't have a 0 in the pool, they are missing it altogether. A skeleton, for instance, has no flesh.
It is purely structure. It has no Wound points, only Vitality. It ignores all Wound damage dealt to it. An ooze, conversely, is purely flesh with no structure. It has only Wound, no Vitality. A hammer would not be terribly useful against the ooze, but it is the most effective weapon against a skeleton. A creature with no physical body, such as a shadow, lacks both Vitality and Wound, making them impossible to harm with conventional weaponry.

Likewise, creatures with no mind lack Psyche. Both the skeleton and the ooze mentioned above would lack Psyche.

A creature with no soul lacks Essence. Many constructs lack Essence, even if they have a mind; such intelligent constructs would possess Psyche
despite lacking Essence.

Minerva is primarily driven by skills. Every level, a character gains more skill points to spend on buying their skills and can spend up to 1/5 their points on any one skill at every level. Skill ranks are not bought on a 1-to-1 system. The baseline cost of a skill rank is the sum of all ranks before it, including itself.

For example, the cost for your first rank in any skill is 1 (the sum of all ranks before it is 0, as there is no rank before it, and itself, which is 1). A second rank costs 3 skill points (The previous rank cost 1, plus itself, which is 2). A third rank costs 6 points (1+2+3) while a fourth rank costs 10 (1+2+3+4). A beginning character has 200 skill points, enough to level 10 baseline skills to rank 4 and increase them by 1 every level. A character may spend more points in a skill if they choose. A rank of 6 is achievable at level 1 if the character's race and class specialize in the skill.

Your class and race affect the final cost of a skill rank. For example, the axe skill costs 10% less for dwarves, and 25% less for Soldiers. A dwarf soldier has a -35% cost reduction.

Skills are grouped into categories, which affects how they can interact with one-another and which mastery slots they share (see Masteries, below).

Armor, Axes, Blades, Bows, Crossbows, Dodge, Dual-Wield, Firearms, Flails, Hammers, Knives, Mettle, Picks, Polearms, Shields, Slings, Spears, Staves, Thrown, Unarmed

Arcanology (The study of secrets), Elementology (the study of the elements), Evocology (the study of summoning), Meditation, Mensology (the study of the mind), Necrology (the study of the dead), Numenology (the study of Heaven), Vacuology (the study of the Void), Vitalogy (the study of life)

Animal Handling, Deception, Diplomacy, Intimidation, Knowledge (Multiple skills in one), Linguistics, Merchanting, Perform

Acrobatics, Athletics, Mechanics, Medicine, Navigation, Perception, Pilot, Stealth, Survival

Craft (Multiple skills in one), Profession (Multiple skills in one)

Skill Modes
All skills have four modes: attack, defense, check, and use. These modes represent how the skill is being used, and certain modifiers only apply to
particular modes. Most skills use certain modes more than others.

Attack: Attack mode represents when a certain skill is used against another character, such as a blade attack to strike a monster or a deception
attack to lie to the town guard. Attack skills are usually either opposed or must beat a certain difficulty set by the defender's statistics.

Defense: Defense mode is used when a character is attempting to resist or prevent an attack. This could be a blade defense to prevent your
weapon from being sundered or a perception defense to notice a hiding enemy.

Check: A check mode skill is used when only a particular difficulty must be achieved. The target number is usually static and determined by the
environment or circumstances. Examples include a jump check to cross a chasm and a craft check to make an item.

Use: Use mode does not involve rolling dice; it is passive. Use mode skills are most commonly used as part of another action. The shield skill's
reduction of an equipped shield's encumbrance penalty is use mode.

Weapons are similar to how they are in Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, except that they damage both Vitality and Wound points in different ways. You use roll the appropriate weapon skill to hit with a weapon, as there is no such thing as Base Attack Bonus in d20 Minerva. Additionally, there are no iterative attacks. Instead, for every four ranks you possess in a weapon skill, your damage die increases by one step, as if the weapon had grown larger. All types of damage the weapon deals is affected by this increase, even damage types it is not designed to deal.

Generally, bludgeoning weapons deal all of their damage to Vitality. They may deal a small amount of Wound damage, but such damage is coincidental and the character does not add their relevant ability modifier to determine that kind of damage. The weapon is simply not designed to deal Wound damage.

A maul deals 1d12 Vitality damage, plus 1.5 times the character's Strength modifier (if wielded two-handed), plus 1 point of Wound. If the wielder had 4 ranks in Hammer, the Vitality damage wound instead be 2d8 and the Wound would become 1d2 (still without the Strength modifier).

Axes are primarily crushing weapons with a blade. They deal 2/3 of their damage to the Vitality pool, while the remaining 1/3 is Wound. The relevant ability modifier applies to both damage types.

A greataxe deals 1d8 Vitality damage, plus 1.5 times the character's Strength modifier (if wielded two-handed), plus 1d4 Wound damage, plus 1.5 times the character's Strength modifier (if wielded two-handed).

Swords are bladed but are still capable of some structural harm. A sword deals 1/3 of its damage to the Vitality pool, with the remaining 2/3 being Wound.

A longsword deals 1d6 Vitality damage, plus the character's Strength modifier, plus 1d2 Wound damage, plus the character's Strength modifier.

Piercing weapons such as knives, and bows kill their victims primarily through blood loss. They are not designed for structural damage and only deal a small amount of coincidental Vitality damage.

A dagger deals 1d3 Wound damage, plus the character's Dexterity modifier, plus 1 point of Vitality. If the wielder had 4 ranks in Knife, the Wound damage wound instead be 1d4 and the Vitality would become 1d2 (still without the Strength modifier).

Armor primarily reduces damage you take, but can add to your Dodge to deflect some damage outright. Some armor is better at protecting against certain kinds of physical damage more than others.

Your skill in Armor is deducted from the Encumbrance penalty of the armor, which applies to all rolls involving motion, including attack rolls and Dodge. For every five ranks you have in Armor, you may reduce the speed penalty by 5 feet, to a minimum of 0 feet.

Ringmail adds +2 to Defense, reduces Vitality damage taken by 1 and Wound damage taken by 2, has a -6 Encumbrance Penalty, and a -5 feet speed penalty. Reinforced ringmail is just like normal ringmail, but has a -7 Encumbrance and 2 Vitality protection.

The pinnacle of protection, on the other hand, is Reinforced Heavy Plate. It adds +4 to Defense, reduces Vitality and Wound damage by 6, reduces your speed by 25 feet, and carries a -20 encumbrance penalty.

Unlike armor, shields are specifically designed to deflect incoming attacks, and do not reduce damage taken. Like armor, they carry an Encumbrance penalty.

Shields have two modes: active and passive. An active shield grants a greater bonus to your character's front, but does not protect the back. A passive shield is slung over your shoulder or hanging on your back, and grants a smaller bonus against attacks from behind you. You can benefit from both modes simultaneously, but only one of each. A shield specialist could carry a Kite shield on his arm while shielding his back with a tower shield like a turtle.

A kite shield, for example, has an active defense bonus of +4 and a passive bonus of +2. It has a -8 Encumbrance penalty. A tower shield grants a +8 defense bonus if active, but still grants a +5 bonus if slung over your back. It carries a -15 encumbrance penalty.

Valor and Focus
Masteries (see below) often require an energy expenditure to function. For warfare skills, this power is a warrior's energy called Valor. For spellcasters, the energy is harvested from nearby spirits and is called Focus.

Valor: Gaining valor is a natural part of combat. Whenever a character makes a warfare attack roll and succeeds, they gain an amount of Valor
equal to their roll result 9. For example, a soldier in combat rolls a 17 on his Blades attack roll, and successfully hits his enemy. In addition to dealing
damage as normal, he gains 8 Valor. Valor cannot exceed your current Wound, and it fades away at the rate of 1 point per round.

Valor is only gained when attacking a hostile unit. It is not gained through attacking friends or objects.

Focus: Meditation is the key to gaining Focus. As a move action, a spellcaster may make a Meditation check, and gain an amount of Focus equal to their check result 9. Focus cannot exceed your current Psyche, and fades away depending on how much of it you have. If your current Focus is equal to or less than half your current Psyche, you lose Focus at the rate of 1 point per round. If your Focus is between 50% and 75% your current Psyche,
you lose 2 points per round. If you have more than 75% your current capacity of Focus, you lose 4 points per round.

A spellcaster may opt to overcharge their power and gain more Focus than is normally acceptable. To do this, a character spills their Focus into their
Essence pool. Your total possible Focus cannot exceed your current Psyche plus your current Essence. Whenever you lose Focus for the round,
however, you also lose the same amount of Essence points as the arcane energies burn away part of your soul. This phenomenon is called mana burn.
At 25% your current Essence, you lose 6 points per round. At 50% or less, you lose 10 points per round. At 75% or less, you lose 15 points per round,
and any higher, you lose 20 points per round.

A mastery is a special capability derived from a skill beyond the skill's normal use. Whereas an entire skill's capacity is available to anyone who uses it, a mastery must be studied, and a character only knows a limited number. They are reserved only for those who spend the time and energy to unlock them.

Masteries are divided into five categories, just like the skills that grant them. Warfare masteries are called Maneuvers, Magic masteries are called Spells, Social masteries are called Exploits, Adventuring masteries are called Tricks, and Economic masteries are called Techniques.

Gaining and Learning Masteries
For every two ranks you buy of a skill, you are entitled to one mastery related to that skill. A character with four ranks in Axe and two in Intimidation, for example, knows two Axe maneuvers and one Intimidation exploit. The exception to this rule are Magic skills; every rank of a Magic skill gains you one spell.

You must meet any and all prerequisites of a mastery to select it. Once learned, a mastery is retained permanently. However, if they so choose, a character who has just acquired a new mastery may exchange a previously learned one for a different one, in addition to the newly acquired mastery. You can only exchange a mastery for one that could have been acquired at the same time. For example, if the Axe wielder mentioned above, upon acquiring an 8th rank, decided to drop his first maneuver (the one he got at his second rank in Axe) for a different one, he cannot choose a new maneuver that requires more than 2 ranks in Axe.

Using Masteries
Though a character may have a wide array of masteries at his disposal, he may only have a few memorized at any given time. The number of slots available is determined by your highest ranking skill in a category and is shared by all masteries of that category. A mage with 6 ranks in three magic skills will have 4 spell slots, which all of his magic skills share. His warfare and social skills each share their own sets of slots.

You add your Wisdom modifier to the number of masteries you may have readied of any particular category. Dropping a mastery and readying another in its place takes 15 minutes.

Maneuvers typically consume Valor to function. Valor is acquired through successfully striking an opponent. Spells, conversely, consume Focus. Focus is gained through use of Meditation checks.

Occasionally, expensive or unusual costs can be associated with a mastery. Such a cost will be explicitly stated in the mastery's description.

Techniques, Exploits, and Tricks do not normally come with a cost, but they are either limited in scope or only function in certain circumstances. They are outlined below.

Spells have an additional quality called Spellcraft. Spellcraft allows the character to alter the power of the spell by increasing its cost. This cannot be done on the fly, but a caster can prepare multiple versions of the same spell at different costs if they so choose.

Subtle Pump
Your demeanor and physical form are so imposing you can intimidate others casually.
Prerequisites: Intimidation 4 ranks
With a gentle flex or knowing glare, you can make a point without even having to say it plainly. Your Intimidation attacks must be opposed by a Perception defense in addition to the normal Intimidation defense. If the target fails this Perception roll, they do not realize you were intentionally trying to intimidate them. The target's attitude does not step towards Unfriendly when the intimidation effect wears off.

Might Makes Right
You are a strong believer in the power of brute force to solve problems.
Prerequisites: Intimidation 2 ranks, Str 15+
You may use your Strength modifier instead of your Charisma on Intimidation rolls.

Pass the Buck
You are skilled at deflecting blame.
Prerequisites: Deception 6 ranks.
If you successfully deceive an individual with the Deception skill, and they later find out they have been duped, you may make a second Deception attack roll opposed by their Perception defense. If you succeed, you may blame another individual nearby, and the originally duped individual will believe your blamed target to be ultimately responsible for the deception.

Fleet of Foot
Prerequisites: Dodge 6 ranks
Valor Cost: 10
You may make a 5 ft. step in any direction. This does not count against your movement for this round. Using this maneuver is an immediate action
that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Knife Twist
Prerequisites: Knife 2 ranks
Valor Cost: 15
You stab an enemy and twist your blade, creating a painful, gaping wound. You deal an additional 1d6 points of Wound damage with a successful
knife attack. Activating this maneuver is a free action and can be done after the attack roll has been made.

Minor Electric Arrow
4 Elementology [Electricity]
Casting Time : 1 standard action
Range : Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Effect : One elemental arrow
Duration : Instantaneous
Focus Cost : 6

You summon essential electricity, and fire it at your target. You must succeed on a thrown touch attack roll. If you hit, your electric arrow deals 1d12
points of electric Wound damage.

Spellcraft: You can increase the Focus cost by 2 to increase the Wound damage dealt by 1. You can apply this multiple times, but the extra
damage cannot exceed your bonus to Elementology.

Minor Enfeeblement
4 Necrology [Curse]
Casting Time : 1 full-round action
Range : Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./rank)
Target : One creature
Duration : 1 minute
Resistance : Mettle negates
Focus Cost : 10
You cause the target's flesh and muscles to wither. Your target suffers a -2 profane penalty to Strength and Constitution for the duration of the effect.
Effects of multiple castings do not stack. This curse cannot reduce an ability below 1.

Spellcraft: You can increase the Focus cost by 10 to increase the penalty by 2. This can be applied twice, for a total penalty of -6.

Hungry Beetles
4 Vitology
Casting Time : 1 standard action
Range : Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./rank)
Target : One creature
Duration : Instantaneous
Focus Cost : 8
You call forth a swarm of hungry, parasitic beetles and launch them at your target. You must succeed on a thrown touch attack roll, opposed by your
victim's Dodge defense. If you hit, the beetles bite and burrow into your victim before dying and vanishing seconds later. Your target takes 1d6 points of
Vitality damage and 1d4 points of Wound damage. This damage is both piercing and slashing and ignores armor.

Spellcraft: You can spend 3 more Focus to deal +1 Vitality and Wound damage. This can be done multiple times, but the extra damage cannot
exceed your bonus to Vitology.

2011-01-10, 02:39 AM
Too complicated for my taste. Skill costs per class being represented by percentages was a definite turn-off. Having to make multiple damage rolls and deal multiple kinds of damage for every single attack seems like it would make combat very slow.

The ability scores also didn't seem different enough from standard D&D to make them interesting.

Kuma Kode
2011-01-11, 12:27 PM
The ability scores also didn't seem different enough from standard D&D to make them interesting. Minerva is more like Fax's d20r. It's not a completely new system so much as a houseruled-to-hell-and-back D&D 3.5.

Too complicated for my taste. Skill costs per class being represented by percentages was a definite turn-off. Indeed, percentages are inelegant at best, even if I pre-made a table with skill costs. I was unsure of how to model skill affinity with a more granular approach, since many systems use a flat character point cost or do the D&D rout. I wanted something a bit more granular than "completely and potentially game-breakingly competent in this skill" and "must struggle to achieve a passing level of competence." The skill points allow characters to have specialties but also have a few skills that sit at lower ranks without penalizing them for it. I'll work on a different system that still achieves what I want.

Having to make multiple damage rolls and deal multiple kinds of damage for every single attack seems like it would make combat very slow. I wondered about this, too, but it didn't seem too much different to me than rolling additional die for sneak attacks and flaming swords. Again, my first run was rather inelegant. Perhaps having a static modifier would be easier, like "Axes have a -4 damage penalty to Wound?"