View Full Version : Original System AARGS - Alternative d20 Rule System

2015-06-03, 07:53 AM
Just thought I'd let people know about a new d20 rule system that I have been working on for some time. Its still work in progress, but i'll update the documents as I go along.

The basic premise was to design a rule set where every sub system worked together in equal measure.

The combat is designed so that everyone and everything uses exactly the same rules. A spell attack works in the same manner as a melee attack or a ranged attack, and the special manoeuvres you can perform with a sword can also be performed with a bow or even with a spell (disarming with magic missile for instance).

The spell system is designed to work with the combat system so that all spells operate as an attack against a defence value, just like attacking someone with a sword (which eliminates the need for spell resistance and spell DCs).

Underpinning these systems is the core mechanic of Action and Reaction. Any Action you take (swing a sword, search a room, jump off a cliff, cast a spell) uses a d20 roll + modifiers. This is always checked against a Reaction which is equal to 10 + modifiers. That way the only person rolling the dice is the person whose turn it is, which should speed up play by reducing the number of dice rolls.

Skills, Feats, and Class abilities are all grouped together into one "Options" system. Each class grants a number of options at each level, each feat is a universal option that is acquired at specific levels, and all skills are improved through either class options or universal options. Each of these options as a general rule improves a statistic by +1 point so that all options should be equivalent to one another.

Classes are completely customisable. At each level a class gets 2 class options, and they can pick from a list of options, no two fighters, clerics, rogues, or any other class should ever be exactly the same, and there shouldn't be a need to multiclass anymore (but it is still possible if you want). All BAB, Fort, Ref, and Will bonuses accrued at each level are completely removed which means everybody starts out on an equal footing and even a wizard should be able to hit in melee. I even made caster level a class option so you can have paladins, rangers, wizards, clerics, sorcerers, etc that cant cast a single spell (if you want to)

Monsters and NPCs come in 4 levels, Minion, Average, Elite, and Boss. Minions have 1 option and significant penalties. Average monsters are equal to the stats printed with only 1 option. Elite receive bonuses to stats. Boss monsters have a number of options equal to 2 per HD (like PCs) and significant bonuses. Because every monster should be effective at any level there is no need to add class levels and so only the end of dungeon bosses or characters of special significance require customisation (with options).

Anyway, enough rambling. Here are the links. Please peruse and let me know what you think, I've been running a campaign with these rules for quite a while but if anyone can think of any flaws or errors then by all means point them out.

Classes (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPdWU5X0RvSy1OcTQ/view?usp=sharing)

Combat (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPcWNFZXViSm9fM00/view?usp=sharing)

Conditions (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPQkhzTGliZDFSTFU/view?usp=sharing)

Monsters (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPSE45NGgtOXNJaDg/view?usp=sharing)

Races (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPQ0Z2dzdQOGMwS2s/view?usp=sharing)

Skills (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPdkNkMjd3VktJR3M/view?usp=sharing)

Spells (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPZXVFNEI2OE1SUjA/view?usp=sharing)

Feats (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPUHJSajBORHZidHM/view?usp=sharing)

Weapons (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPYWIwNHRLUUR4Y3M/view?usp=sharing)

Armour (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPTG1MQ0E0MWVLYzg/view?usp=sharing)

Magic Items (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPcmpwajk2dlNNejA/view?usp=sharing)

Themes (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPQW1fR3M3aGs1RW8/view?usp=sharing)

Character Creation Guide (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx2yr4B9kIXPSnY2VW02RzE5WGM/view?usp=sharing)

2015-06-04, 03:57 AM
So far only brushed through the Classes file (net problems) but I'm liking what I'm seeing. I'll probably try to download the whole lot today to read in peace w/o net interruptions :)

2015-06-04, 04:24 AM
Well thankyou for taking a look, i'd appreciate any critique you can give, no matter how harsh..

By making classes fully customisable i was able to trim down a lot of the rules associated with classes (making character creation easier) and trim down the number of classes as well.

You might notice there is no paladin class, or barbarian class. A barbarian is really just a type of fighter, and a paladin was really just a holy knight. I've tried to design the classes along themes. So the fighter is all about weapon combat, dealing damage to individuals, and protecting himself from harm. A knight is more of a tank able to protect himself and others with a few morale boosting abilities, he is not so focused on damage dealing as the fighter but is by no means incapable. For those that don't like spellcasting but want to be a paladin, they can make one out of the knight class very easily, and for those that like the spellcasting there is a palading theme that adds in all the paladin abilities.

However if you really wanted a paladin like character that could smite evil and combat undead then you could just as easily make one using the cleric class.

The wizard and sorcerer were the most difficult to separate into distinct classes with distinct abilities. I decided to have the wizard focus purely on magic and improving said magic (including metamagic), whereas the sorcerer focuses more upon using his link (bloodline, etc) in order to empower himself.

2015-06-04, 10:18 AM
For the record, I really like what you did with the classes. The themes are a nice touch.
However, the list of Feats is pretty sparse - I get the feeling that you customize within your class, but how about branching out a little?

I'm loving the skill list, but I think some things are repeated there (Draw Runes, Emulation) without real need too. Why not say

Draw Runes (Wis)

See Draw Runes (Int)

or even better

Draw Runes
Stat used: Int for mages, Wis for clerics

I like armor as DR too. I saw that you use defense and attack as skills, but haven't read Combat/Spells/Monsters yet, so not sure on exact usage.

I think you could use a character creation document. So far I got that you pick race and class as per d20, but what about starting skills? Is the x4 rule in effect? How about Int bonus affecting number of skill points? How do race levels work?
/EDIT: I found that info after reading through the Classes file again. Still, the first 3-4 pages of it should be a separate document/

And for goodness's sake, change SPAM to some other abbreviation. I know what it stands for, but the mental image is too overwhelming ("make wisdom your SPAM" -> "ooo, I love me some spam with wisdom included, but hey, how does that work? some arcane meat was ground to make it?")

+10 xp per skill check is a rule I'm gonna crib for my own OGL stuff.

So far it's tickling all of the homebrew/variant stuff I love :)

EDIT: "Skill training feat" is referenced in the Skills and Classes files both, but I can't find any explanation how it works (it's not in the Feats list).

If I were you, I'd put it up on a site like wikidot - this way you can have links to individual pages and users can look up stuff quickly. And others could help edit :)

2015-06-04, 10:51 AM
Well i couldnt think of a different abbreviation and then i realised that the point of an abbreviation was to be memorable as well as descriptive and SPAM certainly fills that role (i'm open to suggestions if you have an alternative).

As far as skills go, there are no skill points, its all improved using your Class Options and Universal Options (Feats). That way everything is part of the same system. I really dont like number creep so i took great pains to ensure it doesnt happen, including in skills. And since most of the skill actions can be used passively (so its 10 plus your modifier) it means you will rarely fall off your horse of fail to jump on a table, or climb up a knotted rope - its only the more difficult stuff that you will need to make checks for.

I am just finishing up the Skills document so i will go through it and change duplicate references to "See xxxx" as you suggest, it makes more sense, and is easier for me to maintain.

For Feats, i wanted those to only include things that everyone can do with just a little bit of instruction, or options that should be open to almost all classes (i put caster level and metamagic in there so as not to restrict the sorcerers, clerics, and druids that wanted to go down that route), but i didnt want a huge list of randomly available feats that covered tons of abilities and came with even more restrictions (feat chains were a real pain and most people turned off in previous campaigns when i showed them the complete feat list for 3.5/PF so i ended up picking feats for them). So i opted to stick to just the basic skills (and you can do a lot with skills), plus a few of the core iconic abilities for each class (another attempt at multiclassing without taking another class).

I'll work on the character creation document tomorrow. It shouldnt be too difficult.

2015-06-05, 07:08 AM
Okay, I've altered the skills document to remove repeated skill write-ups. I have kept some duplicates deliberately because they are either subtly different (like influence) or in the case of Knowledge checks I wanted to make it really obvious that every skill has its own knowledge action.

Character Creation Guide now included, with a sample character sheet I use in my own campaign. I'm not sure how indepth you want it but it should really be a simple as - roll stats, pick race, pick race options, pick class, pick class options, pick universal options, pick equipment, write it all down, and off you go.

I haven't changed the SPAM abbreviation, but only because I can't think of anything else to use.

Just in case you haven't read that far yet, I'd recommend reading the Countermagic rules. Hopefully it makes it a useful mechanic now (in the 4 campaigns I have run for 3.5/PF, nobody ever bothered to or was able to use Countermagic, so I wanted to change that). At some point I intend to go through the spells again and try and add a Redirect Spell option to each spell to make that Action useful as well.

I also hopefully reduced the dependency upon healing magic for every little scratch, by beefing up the Heal skill. In fact a variety of skills are now a viable way for removing a variety of negative conditions that can be imposed upon a character. So if no one wants to be a cleric, you can still sort people out after combat (or during if you are daring enough). However having a cleric is always going to be best because the healing magic is more effective.

And if anyone has ever played the Star Wars WEG system, my solution for multiple attacks in a round (and indeed multiple actions) is based on that. Every action after your standard and move action imposes a cumulative -2 penalty, so in essence everyone can have as many attacks as they like, but every subsequent action will be that much less likely to hit. For me it solves the problem of two weapon full attack migraines that I used to get whenever you reached level 10 in a campaign and people started to attack several times in a round with various feats and magic items and I needed a scientific calculator to figure out the result. It also means everybody is again using the same rules, wizards (yes they can cast the same spell several times in a single round), lions, fighters, rogues, etc, so you only need memorise the rule once.

2015-06-07, 10:32 AM
Thanks for the character creation doc, it cleared up a few things.

If I were you, I'd show an example of skill usage somewhere at the beginning of skills.

I have Skill Training in Acrobatics and in Stealth, what bonuses do I have to the base (10 if reaction, d20 if action)?

2015-06-07, 02:45 PM
Examples is a good idea. I think i'll add an example tag and a design workshop tag (like the Advanced Play tag) so I can show how it works in play and why I made it work that way.

As for skills.

You can take the Skill Training option multiple times for the same skill, or for many skills. So the bonuses depend upon how many times you took Skill Training. But if I just assume a few things. 1 - you are a rogue or rogue like character, 2 - you have put a 15 or higher in Dex (lets say 16), 3 - you are level 1.

So a rogue starts with 12 Skill Training options, spread among 20 skills. So assuming you use 4 options for weapons and armour (Defence) training, that leaves you with 8 choices left and I'd imagine you want to be better than average at about 6 skills so how about Acrobatics and Stealth both get Skill Training chosen twice.
Then lets also assume you wear Studded Leather.

Your Stealth and Acrobatics skill modifier total is +2 Feat modifier, +3 Ability modifier, -1 Item modifier, giving you a total of +4.

So there are a number of ways you could use both skills. Lets start with Acrobatics because its alphabetical.

1 - You are running down a corridor, notice a huge hole in the floor and for your action you choose to jump it. That means you roll 1d20 and add +4 then you use the skill to check what your DC is, using the various modifiers (they only ever modify the DC, not your skill modifier).

2 - You are walking across a room which is covered with scree. You don't notice the scree (because your Perception skill is rubbish and so your passive Perception check picked up nothing) and so cannot choose to try and use the Balance action to run across it. So you are therefore using the Acrobatics skill passively. Your check is 10 + 4 against the DC which given the scree and no other modifiers is a 12 so you walk across it without ever noticing there was anything wrong, the clumsy fighter behind you however falls on his ass.

3 - You are trying to circle around behind a group of monsters. You get a bit close and move through the threatened area of one of the creatures but don't realise it and so just move without declaring your intention to use Acrobatics(Tumbling) to try and not get hit. Your passive Acrobatics check is 10 +4 against a variable DC with a +2 modifier which means you probably succeed and you walk away without getting attacked.

4 - This is a hypothetical situation or one made up on the fly by the GM because I don't think I have anything noted down yet that is made against a reaction Acrobatics check. So a spell I haven't made yet targets an opponent's Acrobatics check. The caster rolls 1d20 +3 for his Spell Attack check (he's not a brilliant caster), the result of that is compared to the reaction Acrobatics check which is 10 +4 and so the spell misses.

Onto Stealth which is easier to imagine because stealth and perception go hand in hand.

1 - You perform a Stealth action to gain the Hidden condition which means no one is aware of you (and can't gain line of sight). You roll 1d20+4 and lets assume you get a check result of 15 (11+4) which is enough to stealth you while moving at 1/2 speed or at walking speed. So you gain the condition and creep into the room.

2 - There are 3 creatures in the room. None of them suspects anything and so none of them are using their Perception skill to search for you. Their passive Perception check is 10 which is lower than your reaction Stealth check of 14 and so they don't notice you.

3 - You move into the corridor and one of the guards here is especially vigilant, every minute he has a search to find anything suspicious (he is a workaholic and no one likes him). He rolls 1d20+1 for his action Perception skill check and gets a 16 which is greater than your reaction Stealth check of 14 so he spots you.

4 - You chuck some smoke producing powder as a Standard Action and then try and Stealth again as a Move Action. Your action Stealth check is 1d20+4 and lets assume you beat his reaction Perception check of 10+1. You gain the Hidden condition again and he cant see you. He can however use his Perception skill check as an action every round until he spots you or you escape.

Hopefully the skill checks now become a contest and a mini game in themselves, rather than you roll check guard doesn't spot you you kill guard, or you roll check guard spots you you kill guard.

I hope I've covered all the bases of Action, Reaction, and Passive check.

Almost any skill can be used in the above ways. Linguistics could get the most use if you wanted it to, you no longer automatically fluent in a variety of languages and no absolutely nothing about any other languages. Instead you roll a check every time you come across a rune written in a language you don't know, or a particularly specialised subset of a language you do know (for instance a medical text or a spell book). If you beat the check you can decipher it, if you don't then you can't decipher it, if you fail spectacularly or are untrained in linguistics then you decipher it wrongly.

Most important of all though, those secrets DM's put in that don't get discovered because a player didn't think to check a room for treasure, still has a chance to be discovered if the characters are Perceptive enough because a passive Perception check could succeed just by them entering the room. Unfortunately that means a little bit more work for DMs but that could be sorted by them having a list of each character's skill modifier for certain skills.

I'll update the documents tomorrow with examples, and I'm also going to work on rewording attacks, saving throws, and armour checks to make sure I'm explicit about them being essentially specialised skill checks - might need to reword some class options as well.

2015-06-29, 01:20 PM
Updated skills and combat to make them work with the idea of attacks, saves, and armour checks being skill based.

The skills document should be pretty much finished apart from a few examples and bits of tidying up.

2015-07-27, 02:24 PM
Pretty much finished the Combat section now.

Looking at Classes again and I'm wondering if I should take the simplification one step further.

I moved Monk and Barbarian out to a theme because they were more like a job or a person's background than a stereotypical grouping of adventurer. A barbarian is (ignoring the rage ability which not all barbarian people would have) really just a fighter that hasn't got access to expensive armours and shields (and so rely on light armour and bigger weapons. A bard is really just a rogue that can cast a few spells.

Using that logic, there are only really 3 types of classes: Rogue/Expert, Fighter, Prepared Magic User, and Spontaneous Magic User

So do I simplify it so that all the more complex classes (druid, cleric, wizard, ranger, bard, barbarian, monk) are merely just expanded themes for a base class. If so, what options should I give to the base class. I could use the base class to determine HD, spellcasting ability (caster level), and skills, then all options are from the themes.

The benefit is that when designing an NPC you use exactly the same base classes and process for creating an NPC as creating PCs (except that you wouldn't add a theme with all its complexities unless you wanted a major NPC).

The downside is that I either need to allow players to have multiple themes, or make the themes very broad and expansive to allow lots of customisation (so for instance a Wilderness Warrior theme that includes everything a ranger and druid can do, then a Holy Warrior theme that includes everything a paladin and cleric can do. Also there might be some problem with hybrid classes (i.e. if I had a ranger theme that did not have a caster level option then the player would need to pick a Magic User base class). Plus i'll also need to rewrite the Classes document, but it makes it simpler and smaller to deal with in the end.

2015-07-30, 02:44 PM
I've gone for moving Ranger, Bard, and Knight out to themes (along with the Monk and Barbarian which I already moved previously).

So for base classes there are Fighter, Rogue, Druid, Wizard, Cleric, and Sorcerer. A much more friendly number of classes for people to choose from.

Pick Fighter if you want to do fighting. Pick Rogue if you want to use skills. Pick Sorcerer for something exotic. Finally pick from Druid, Wizard, or Cleric according to what type of spells you want to cast.

That's the Classes and Combat finished, Skills just needs tidying up but its nearing a final draft.

I'm going to restart my gaming group again soon and try out the latest version of these rules (I had to take a break because of work problems).

I don't suppose anyone else fancies having a playtest for me. I'm more than happy to design races, magic items and monsters on request for people to use in any adventures they want to run?

2015-07-30, 02:54 PM
Oh and I included examples of the characters we have in my gaming group (I'm sure they wont mind) if anyone wanted to see what a finished character looks like.