View Full Version : Original System Core rulebook for an original system, to be released within one week.

2016-03-13, 05:32 PM
I will be releasing the first draft of the core rulebook of an original system sometime in the next week, right here in this thread. Right now I'm literally just adding setting notes and items to the rulebook, then I have to proofread it. Before that time, I'm going to describe the tiny portion of the game's universe present in the game, a single realm called "Limbo", and a few core principles of the gameplay itself.

What is Limbo?
The only setting available for the core rulebook is called "Limbo". Limbo is an afterlife, and it's not a very good one. It's harsh, dark, barely maintained and used by the gods as a dumping ground for spirits they don't want to spend resources on.

It's a series of dark, subterranean tunnels dimly lit by bioluminescent fungi and glowing rocks. The surface of Limbo is seared each day with a bright, cursed light. The light of limbo burns the skin, leaving painful blisters and sickness of the mind and body, mere minutes of exposure being enough to cause fatal sickness in those exposed. Repeated minor exposure will often leave black marks and growths on the skin, which are malignant and eventually can be fatal. The surface is only safe at night, and even at night its safety is questionable.

All that lives in Limbo are its fungi, plants on the surface, and the spirits of the dead. As only the dead of sapient mortals are preserved long enough to make it to Limbo, everything moving here is either a person, or it used to be.

Why am I in Limbo?
There's two ways to end up here, excluding the use of occult magic. The first and most common way, which doesn't apply to you, is to spend a long time (well, usually a long time, it varies) in other afterlives and have your mind or body break down across your lifetimes until the gods decide you are no longer worth space in their afterlives and move you to Limbo. This process is known as "hollowing", and will be explained further below.

Additionally, about 1 in 10,000 of Limbo's inhabitants got there by offending their gods in a manner that made said god either not want to deal with them, or in a manner that made said god want to give them a chance for redemption. The reasons a god would send an intact spirit to Limbo are wide and varied between the gods, and as all the actual sorting is done by their underlings it varies even further.

For example, most of the sane people here are sent by the elder god (often referred to by his detractors as "The Excuse", as a reference to him being used as a justification for every heinous thing his followers do), a vicious war god who seeks more than anything to become the only god. The elder god runs many religions under other names, playing all sides against eachother so that the threat posed by each of his religions will drive to flock to his other religions to protect themselves. His only universal tenet in his religions is "kill or convert", demanding his followers wage war on followers of other religions, with an exception for those whose religions also worship him (who are allowed to live without conversion if they submit to the authority of the victors). Some of his believers, however, claim to be pious followers or even his clergymen but are openly against his endless holy wars. These people cannot be sent to his afterlife lest their infectious belief of tolerance corrupt his true believers, but he also can't override the process the other gods set up and just erase them, so he puts them where nobody can find them and pretends they don't exist. That is most likely how you got there, and if so you can never leave.

As a third option, sometimes people come over intentionally from other realms using occultic magic. The gods don't much care for this, especially when it comes to Limbo, and if somebody sent you through you can bet they'll get raided within the hour.

What is a hollow?
Hollows are almost the entirety of the population of Limbo, spirits whose minds are too badly damaged to function properly. Hollowing happens slowly, and usually follows distinct stages, though the minutia of the condition is highly individual and some stages might be skipped or occur out of order, and many can be reversed for some time.

Stage 1: Healthy spirit.
This spirit starts off healthy and capable. However, over time, they will accrue more memories than they can keep, and fewer and fewer memories will be recorded. Many will be erased, even some quite important. This is the beginnings of the later stages' dementia. Further, the mind prefers to erase (or simply fail to record) positive memories and keep negative ones. This also leads to the depression and misery of later stages. For the moment, though, this process is only starting off. Recent memories still take precedent, and the bias towards negative memories isn't too severe.

Stage 2: Hollowing.
As time goes on, though, the bias towards negative memories leads to more negative memories than positive ones, and this shapes the mind of the spirit. Confirmation bias sets in, and this exaggerates the bias towards negative memories. This quickly becomes a vicious cycle, and hollows quickly become extremely depressed. While this is happening, the passage of time causes a breakdown in their internal narrative as their memories lack enough context to remember when each of them happened. Recent memories may be confused with past lives and vice versa, and this becomes more severe as time passes. This confusion does not mix well with their depression.

Stage 3: Functioning hollow.
Eventually, a spirit becomes a hollow. This occurs when they have lost their ability to keep track of when events transpired and become deeply depressed. They haven't began suffering the worst of their condition, however, and can still recover, though even if they do recover they'll end up hollowing again eventually. Sometime in this stage or the next, they will usually be sent to Limbo.

Stage 4: Demented hollow.
Dementia has set in. They can no longer distinguish between long-term and short-term memory, and have lost their perception of time. Flashbacks begin. Traumatic events that may have occured lifetimes ago now seem to have just happened, or even to be ongoing. Hollows in this stage are often violent, responding to threats that have been gone for centuries and confusing people they're seeing now for people who were there when those traumas occurred. It's hard to tell what might set them off, and it's important to avoid force if you don't desire to kill them, as they will often confuse harmless uses of force for harmful ones, and react with greater violence.

Stage 5: Lost hollow.
Eventually, hollows lose too much and cease functioning. Their traumas begin to blend together, and they lose the ability to create new memories, leaving them with only their traumas on an infinite loop and no way to escape them. At this point, it is impossible for them to be recovered, and as they can't take care of themselves they soon die one last time and are not brought back.

Hollows encountered in Limbo will usually be stage 3-4, with occasional stage 2 and stage 5 hollows. 0.01% of the population is stage 1. Usually, the PCs in a campaign are the only "healthy" spirits in the campaign, and them being together means they likely died in about the same time and place, and were sent to Limbo for the same reason.

How does this game play?
As people sent at the same time and place tend to end up together each area often has its own story, which the players are introduced to by the sheer virtue of ending up in that area. Players are rarely given a lot of information, and expected to make decisions despite that. Often, these decisions will be wrong.

As many hollows are violent, and as there is so little food available, combat happens frequently in Limbo. In this regard, Limbo is being used as an introduction to the game's combat system, as in Limbo there's few enemy types and they aren't very complex. The combat system uses an action point based system with zero randomization. Instead, players must think tactically so that they can damage their opponents without receiving damage, as a single wound can easily turn fatal over time. Vulnerabilities can be created and exploited with various actions, feints and deception are fair play and what constitutes a winning strategy will vary wildly between encounters, and as the players also generally won't have all the information they might have to change their plan quickly when new information suddenly comes to light.

The game also features a stealth mechanic based strictly on range, again with zero randomization. Enemies can detect you at fixed ranges depending on their perception, concealment, light level and orientation. This is mostly common sense stuff, such as enemies have shorter visual ranges in the dark and having to rely on hearing if you're behind something. This can give you the ability to survey an opponent before engaging them, to help avoid unpleasant surprises once the fight starts. This also allows you to start the fight on your terms, as to play to your advantage, and get the first turn when your enemy is most vulnerable.

Will playing this game like I do other games get me killed?
Yes. Playing this game like other games means picking fights you don't need, rushing in head-first with no idea what capabilities your enemy has and using the same attack over and over again in the enemy's general direction with no strategy and no attempt to defend. There might be times when it's okay to do any of those things, even times when it's the best option available, but those are in the minority and it only takes one hit to get you killed.

Can I really be killed in one hit?
Yes, but not how you're thinking. This isn't a movie, you aren't going to get stabbed once and obligingly fall over dead. One hit can kill you, but it'll do so through blood loss or infection, and those both take time and are preventable. As a result, it'd be more accurate to say that one wound is life threatening, not fatal. You can live through getting shot, cut or stabbed, and with many weapons the odds are on your side, but you don't want to take that chance. Even if you get stabbed and survive, you will likely lose a lot of blood and the wound will get infected, which doesn't have to kill you to be a problem in the future. The damage can easily impair you in the next fight, and make it less likely you'll survive your next wound.

The wound may also cripple you, which will impair you for the rest of your life. Not every life-threatening wound is powerful enough to cripple you, and not every wound that can cripple you is life threatening, but it's definitely something to keep in mind. A broken arm or leg can be an insurmountable disadvantage.

Character creation? Classes? Progression?
This game's character creation is very flexible and freeform. There's no classes and no alignments, and there's no levels either. Instead, you are given a set amount of experience when you first create your character, which can be spent on your attributes, skills and talents as you so choose. There aren't any restrictions, either, except that your GM usually will demand that you learn a language, and it might be a specific language. Progression in the game comes from gaining experience as well, and that experience can still be spent however you damn well please. Experience is allotted entirely from completing quests, there isn't any other source, but the game counts many things as quests that other games would not.

In the system and universe as a whole? Yes. In the core rulebook and Limbo? No. Magic in this setting works off of something called "vitae", and vitae just doesn't exist in Limbo. By the time things are brought to Limbo, they just don't have any left and the gods won't give them any more of it. As a result, you can't use magic here. At all. That's okay, though, because Limbo is meant as an introduction to the system itself, and magic complicates things substantially, so keeping it out of the first world was my way to make the system more approachable.

No, not really. There's twenty different species to be found in Limbo, and they are often wildly different, but there's no actual monsters here. This was also a decision made to make the system more approachable. Dealing entirely with NPC enemies makes it a lot easier to learn how to fight, and using hollows helps make it less likely you'll get killed in the first fight. Hollows are physically identical to regular spirits, but lack tactical complexity, are often poorly equipped and in poor condition.

First off, the fact that this can be a different question from magic says a lot about where you are. Second... Kinda. It'll be a while (about a month) before you return after being killed, and while you return to the same place you likely won't be at all relevant anymore. So while death isn't permanent here, you should treat it as if it was.

Further, some damage remains even when you come back to life. The exact mechanics of the afterlife are hinted at by this fact. Damage inflicted before death, and damage inflicted during death, will often leave scars on the new body. Crippled limbs will still be crippled when you come back, severed limbs will still be severed. Death by decaptitation, amongst other causes of death, may prevent you from coming back at all. (Decapitation after death, however, will not affect your resurrection one bit.) Further, if the cursed light of the surface has caused growths on your body, those will still be there when you come back to life.

If you have to ask, it's probably not for you. This system was built by a HEMA practitioner for HEMA practitioners. The combat system is meant to be very tactical and very close to reality, and the setting is a dark fantasy setting that deconstructs many tropes found in more typical fantasy settings. Most of the strengths of the setting aren't going to be present in Limbo, but some will, and the reason many are missing is because Limbo is more simplistic and meant to introduce players to the system more than it's meant to stand on its own merits.

Play by post?
I am undecided as to whether I am going to run a play by post on this site, and will largely decide based on the response this thread gets. I will be running a play by post somewhere, but it might not be here. If it isn't here, that doesn't change that the rulebook will be going up. If you're interested, let me know.

The delay is the result of issues regarding the crafting rules, and I might just not include them.