View Full Version : Power Up: The Platformer RPG (for Videoland)

2011-04-20, 02:43 PM
This is the system I've set up for use with the Videoland setting. The design goal was to produce a simple and effective system for emulating the feel of 8-bit platformers, which I'm afraid makes it a bit inflexible. The original inspiration for this version of the system was There Is No Spoon, the Matrix RPG by Steve Darlington, but it's been quite heavily modified from there.


The core dice mechanic is the concept of d6 + modifier vs 7. If your roll meets or beats 7, you get a success. Dice are counted separately, and you always roll one for a stat and one for a skill. Skill successes are worth 1 success, stat successes are worth 2 successes, and double successes (both skill and stat together) are worth 3 successes.


Characters are composed of two parts, both very important. The first part is the Player, representing you, the player holding the controller. The second part is the Hero, the little person on the screen being controlled. The Player has Stats, Skills and a Score, while the Hero has Commands, Lives, and Power Ups.

If a Hero gets a Game Over, the Player may create a new Hero without losing any Player-based traits. After all, it's just a matter of hitting the Select button until you find who you want, and then hopping right back in, right?

Players have two Stats, which represent their inherent ability to play games.

Platforming relates to hand-eye coordination and timing, the overall ability to do well when it comes to the physical aspects of the game. Rolled with a Hero's Commands.

Puzzling represents the mental aspects of the game, and includes logical reasoning, intuition, and fast thinking. Rolled with a Player's Skills.

Each of these stats starts at +1, and must be increased through play. This is handled with your Score, which we'll get to soon.

Players also have four basic Skills, rated by priority. These are always rolled with Puzzling.

Cheating is how well you know how to use cheat codes to get what you want. This has its own section.

Enemies is how well you know the enemies of the Game, and can often let you discover a weakness on a Boss or give some other tidbit about your opponents. This knowledge can be either from experience with that specific Game or just an understanding of the genre as a whole.

Levels is how well you know the layout and design of the Game's stages. This can help you find more Power Ups, locate shortcuts and warp zones, or just figure out a movement puzzle. This knowledge can be either from experience with that specific Game or just an understanding of the genre as a whole.

Logic is simply your ability to work out problems through reasoning. Not everything in videogame worlds operate on logic, but some things are designed to. This can help you solve puzzles and riddle out clues, which is usually optional but can lead to some good rewards.

Choose a Primary skill to be +4 and Secondary skill to be +3. The other two will be +2. Easy enough, right?

Score is how many points you have at the moment, gained each time you roll Platforming or spend Power Ups. At the end of each Stage, your Score gets added to your High Score, below. When you roll Platforming, take the result of the die and multiply by 100. That's how many points you add to your Score. Think of this like your experience points.

High Score is a running tally of how many points you've earned so far. It goes up at the end of each Stage, taken from your Score at that point. This represents how long you've been playing the Game and how good you've gotten at games in general. Think of it like your current experience point total in other games.

Players are pretty simple, aren't they? They may not interact with the Game directly, but their influence is what makes it so the Heroes can succeed. Speaking of the Heroes, let's look at their abilities.

Heroes don't have Stats at all, but they do have Skills. We call them Commands when they're on a Hero.

Hitting is the Hero's ability to make close attacks on an opponent, usually a strike with some sort of melee weapon. Sometimes this can mean just jumping on a target's head.

Jumping is the Hero's ability to jump high, and is often rolled to handle certain platform puzzles.

Running is the Hero's ability to run fast, and is often used to flee opponents, rush them, or make a break for the Stage's exit.

Shooting is the Hero's ability to make ranged attacks accurately. This skill grants an ability to make ranged attacks at all, whether by having some innate power or just holding a gun.

These get prioritized, like Player Skills, but arranged a little differently. Primary gets +4, and the other three get +2. If you choose not to have one (+0), you can bump up one of the others to Secondary at +3. So you can have +4, +2, +2, +2, or you can have +4, +3, +2, +0.

Lives are how many times the character can get hit and keep going. Heroes start with 3 Lives, meaning they can get hit four times before getting a Game Over. More on Game Over later. More Lives can be gained by using Power Ups. When you lose a Life, your Score for the Stage resets to 0. Be careful about that.

Power Ups are a point resource that get spent to gain bonuses and abilities. It represents being able to locate and claim the various items abundant in video games. They can provide Command bonuses, new Commands entirely, Extra Lives, protection from losing Lives, and some other effects. Power Ups always affect the Hero, though some may simply increase the Player's Score. Heroes begin with 0 Power Ups, and earn more by defeating enemies, surviving platforming puzzles, and through some other means as well. The most a Hero can build up is 3 Power Up points, and Heroes can usually only have 2 Power Ups active at a time.

I haven't started on the Cheating section yet, but I have ideas for it. That doesn't seem as important at the moment as making sure the rest of this is usable. My big concerns just now are Player growth and balancing Power Ups. Hero growth should generally be unnecessary, as they'll get their temporary Power Ups and then plot-based upgrades as rewards. The upgrades likely won't have much effect on the gameplay itself, but if they do then I'll get to that in a later section.

Any comments, suggestions, or questions so far? I'd like to get this to something resembling playable in a way people will enjoy, and I haven't gotten much feedback from other sources. Is it just a terrible idea to begin with, or is there potential for awesome here?

2011-04-20, 03:05 PM
I'm very interested on where you might go with this, and if you have any general mechanical ideas or preferences you should state them. I'd like to help out, but I don't know if I'll have much time for a while.

2011-04-21, 06:11 AM
Well, I want to keep the mechanics as light as I can get away with. To that end, I've ensured that resolution stays a relatively simple mechanic, rolling one success each for a stat and a skill. The real crunch is going to be the Power Up mechanics combined with whatever gets put in place for determining the difficulty of a given encounter/session/adventure setup. And that really should be something fairly structured, as I do want the feel of a Checkpoint/Stage/World/Game style for actual adventures.

I'd gone through some ideas using things like 3:16 for its use of tokens to represent threats. That might still be usable, but it's kind of a weird idea that may not go well with the feel of a platformer in which enemies can spawn any time you bring their spawn point onto the screen and they don't already exist (like those horrible boxers in Ninja Gaiden, or the eagles, or...gah). Perhaps the tokens themselves would represent a Power Up that goes along with defeating that particular set of enemies or overcoming that obstacle for the first time?

I'm not really sure what else it needs at the moment. Right now the problem is deciding what's part of the big picture and what's the smaller focus, and working from there.

2011-04-21, 10:52 AM
So, right now, if I'm getting this straight, all a player needs to roll is 7 to resolve an action. When resolving Player Skills he gets a +1 from his Puzzling, yes? And when resolving Hero Commands he gets a +1 from his Platforming? Now this is where things may break down. Assuming a +4 in Primary skills or commands, we have a total +5 modifier at "1st level" (if such a concept even exists; it seems to). That's an 83.33% success rate before any player/hero growth and before any power ups at all.

I tend to like the model of 75% success rate with a character's strong suit, 50% success rate with only an average skill set, and 25% success rate with a poor skill set. This way power ups can offer a +25% success rate boost (in D&D +5 to a roll gives you that nice +25%). But with d6s that's going to be harder to achieve.

I'd say your top priority is making sure your resolution mechanic does exactly what you want it to. From there you'll need to determine this stuff:
whatever gets put in place for determining the difficulty of a given encounter/session/adventure setup.

2011-04-21, 02:26 PM
Ah, not quite. You're rolling two separate d6.

1d6 is your Stat die, and adds your Puzzling or Platforming. If the Stat die gets 7 or higher, you get 2 successes.

1d6 is your Skill die, and adds your Skill or Command rating. If the Skill die gets 7 or higher, you get 1 success.

If both get 7 or higher, you get a Double Success, worth 3.

It my be easier if I take out the + signs and simply return it to a roll-under system like There Is No Spoon started with. I just don't like roll-under, but the math ends up the same and the concept is probably easier to explain when you aren't adding anything.