View Full Version : Original System A half20 System (1d10, early design) (PEACH, WIP)

2016-05-13, 04:26 AM
This is something I've been working on for a couple days now, and it's still in a very rough, unfinished state.

Before I get into the mechanics, I want to talk a little about what I'm doing here, at least a little so I have it down in case I change my mind about the why's and who's and wherefore's later.

In my groups, I tend to have a lot of players that like feeling as though they are part of the game world, and having connections to NPCs and other players built into their characters. The problem is, these same players often can't be bothered to give me any kind of write-up or solid idea about who these NPCs or what their connections actually are. Usually, I just make these things up for the players, because I like them to be connected to the game world as well. But, well, I'm also lazy. So I thought it would be nice if there were a system that had those connections built in as a mechanic.

That warped somewhat as I did my very first write-up, and now I have this very much d20 inspired mess I'm piecing together out of old ideas. My current build goal is to have a simple, generic core system that is hopefully not terribly copyright-infringing and can be built on to create narrative-specific subsystems for short campaign books. (Like Adventure Paths, but for wildly different settings and themes).

So that's some project history for you there - here's what I actually have. Feel free to tell me it's too much like DnD and I'm stupid for wasting my time. Because that's pretty much how I feel about it already.

The primary resolution mechanic is 1d10, roll under. Simply put, you roll 1d10, compare the result to the difficulty, and if the result it is higher, you fail. Lower or equal to, and you succeed. Most tasks are accomplished by rolling an Ability Test against the value of your Prime Ability score, of which there are three - Body, Mind, and Spirit. Each Prime Ability is likewise divided into three Sub Abilities, which act as modifiers on appropriate Ability Tests. The Sub Abilities for Body are Power, Precision, and Endurance. The Sub Abilities for Mind are Intelligence, Wisdom, and Education. The Sub Abilities for Spirit are Resolve, Composure, and Charisma.

There are also Skill Tests made against a set value - from easiest to hardest these values are 8, 6, 4, and 2. These rolls are typically modified by an appropriate Sub-Ability modifier and less-often, situational modifiers. A natural result of 1 always succeeds, while a natural result of 10 always fails.

Physical attack rolls are made opposed to the target's Body score and modified by appropriate Sub Abilities, situational modifiers, and the target's Armor Bonus. Magic Attacks are rolled against the target's Mind or Spirit. Damage rolls are made with a d4, d6, d8,or d10 - the size of the die varies by situation and weapon type. Damage is always deducted from the target's Hit Points, a value equal to the target's Body and Spirit added together.

Save Tests are rolled against a value equal to 1, plus the Prime Ability relevant to that Save.
Ideally, character creation will be done by rolling your character's lifepath - these results would give you a fully-formed character with a history, NPC allies and enemies, and a close connection to the other characters in your party. But, those would be story specific, and this is meant to be the generic system, so here are the character generation rules for generic characters.
There are three Prime Ability Scores - Body, Mind, and Spirit. These are the three facets that make up a complete person, and in this system are represented by a numerical value between one and ten. To determine your starting Prime Ability Scores, either role 1d6 once for each of the three scores or divide ten points between them. If using the latter method, make sure you have at least one point in each ability.

To determine your Sub Ability Scores, simply divide the value of each Prime Ability score among that abilities' Sub Abilities. A Sub Ability is allowed to have a value of zero. (I.E, a character with a Body of 5 could have a Power of 3, an Endurance of 2, and a Precision of 0, or any other valid distribution of points). It's recommended you do not put all of your points into one ability, however.

Your Prime Ability Scores are the difficulty you are rolling against for most tests - thus, a higher score is always better (because it's easier to roll under six than three). Your Sub Ability Scores are a modifier subtracted from the results of any applicable test - you can choose which Sub Ability Score or Scores to apply to any test, but it has to make sense (using intelligence on a test to lift a portcullis is just silly, though a case could be made if you are using a lever and fulcrum). The GM has final say on which modifiers, or how many, may be applied.

A measure of the physical form
Rolled against to determine physical tests, such as lifting a portcullis or leaping a great distance

Sheer, brute strength
Added to rolls when lifting, carrying, or throwing, for instance

Aim and co-ordination
Added to rolls any time special balance or accuracy are required

Stamina and physical well-being
Added to rolls when tests of health or stamina are made

A measure of your mental faculties
Usually rolled to determine what a character knows or how a character uses what they know

How well you learn
Added to rolls made while solving riddle or finding cleverly hidden objects

The application of knowledge
Added to Rolls when making decisions or recovering information

How much you have learned
Added to rolls to determine what you know, primarily

A measure of a person's intangible aspects
Usually rolled against for tests involving spiritual or emotional trials

Strength of purpose or determination
Typically added to rolls that require extra effort

How well you hold yourself together
Usually added to rolls made to resist effects that alter the state of your mind

How likeable and well-received you are
Typically added to rolls made to influence people

Skills are areas of expertise, which grant you a bonus on Skill Tests. Typically, a Skill is a learned or trained ability that represents time or effort invested in a trade, craft, or talent. Though there may be some overlap between the two, it's up to the GM to determine whether a situation calls for a Skill or Ability test.

Also up to the GM is this - a player can either make up his skills, choosing whatever he likes so long as it fits the definition provided above, or the GM can prepare a short list of skills for the player to choose from (even if the former method is preferred, GMs should still veto Skills to specific, broad or bizarre for his game). Either way, simply possessing a skill is enough to receive a -1 modifier on rolls made using it. Investing extra skill slots in one skill decreases the modifier by one, to a maximum of -3.

At character creation, every player has three skill slots to spend.

EXAMPLE SKILLS (of varying usefulness): Hunting, Climbing, Sneaking, Sheep Shearing, Long Distance Spitting, Catfish Identification, Engineering
Base Attack Modifier is subtracted from every attack roll - it is equal to -1, and modified by Power for Melee attacks, and Precision for ranged attacks.

Initiative - rolled at the beginning of every encounter - is 0.

Armor Bonus is a modifier to an attacker roll granted by the defender's worn equipment - by default, it's 0. Light armor adds +2, medium is +3, and heavy is +4. Shields or helmets add +1 as well. Thus, somebody targeting a character wearing heavy armor, a helmet, and using a shield would receive a +6 on any roll made to hit them.

Hit Points are equal to the sum of a character's Body score, plus their Spirit score.

Saves are rolled against to determine whether or not you resist certain special effects. These effects always inhibit your character in some way, and are usually difficult to remove, so good saves are a priority. The three saves are Fortitude, Reflex, and Will. Each save is equal to 1, plus the value of the appropriate Prime Ability Score. Specifically, Fortitude is 1+Body, Reflex is 1+Mind, and Will is 1+Spirit.

Weapon damage varies based on the size and use of the weapon, as well as the situation in which it is used. For instance, a two-handed greatsword would do more damage than a dagger at a reasonable range, but when your enemy is holding on to you or when you are fighting in a narrow hallway, swinging that greatsword is a lot more difficult. In that situation, daggers are much more useful.

Die Type
Weapon Size

Light, one-handed or makeshift weapons; large weapons in close quarters

One handed weapons or low-caliber firearms

Large one handed weapons, small two-handed weapons, and average firearms; small, light weapons in close quarters

Large two handed weapons or high caliber firearms

And finally, Tricks. Tricks are unique to each story and represent special things characters can do - magic spells or special effects. Tricks are like class abilities or feats in other systems, and are a major way to make your characters distinct. I will, eventually, write up a general list of Tricks as an example, but again, the available tricks would vary campaign to campaign. Each character begins play with three Tricks.

Characters earn XP over the course of their adventure, which is in turn spent on increasing various values or purchasing new Tricks or Skills. This replaces the traditional level system as a more free-form method of customization. I will add costs and values in a later update.

That's as far as I've gotten, three or four days in. There are obviously gaps, and it feels a little too plain, generic or no. The final plan is to write campaigns for the system, each of which would add new sub-systems or expand on the ideas here. I want the systems, characters, and narratives to all be intimately connected - no more characters that don't fit the setting or theme (the Luchadore in Ravenloft? You know who you are, and you know that I'm not pleased) or out of place systems.

To do this, I'm planning for each module to have it's own feel, and it's own cast of customizable characters. This would be done with lifepaths, ideally - the results you roll would give you built-in ties to npcs, the setting, and other characters. And, those ties would have tangible, mechanical benefits, as well as providing a full background. I'm actually blaming this idea on Borderlands - the whole "Axton as... the Commando" thing. You pick a playbook, as, say, the Commando, and that gives you a set of possible backstories. You could play the same character ten different times and get ten different backstories. Of course, gender and names and descriptions would be left blank for the player to customize themselves.

As for systems, I have a few ideas. One story, for instance, is inspired by Japanese myth and is pretty combat heavy, so I'm working on expanding the simplified combat system I have here into a more tactical, duel-like system emphasizing give and take. Another story revolves around a frontier town, and so I'm looking into mechanics for exploring and building and seasonal adventuring (wouldn't want to be too far from home in the harsh winter months, after all).

But first, I'm looking for critiques on the core system. Any feedback would be helpful, especially if it's pointing me away from wrong-thinking or obtuse mechanics.

2016-05-13, 03:28 PM
Core concept sounds interesting, especially Lifepaths as connections to game worlds that vary wildly (in this game I'm a samurai, in this one a Navy Seal...cool).

Rolling mechanic is very simplistic. this may be exactly what you want, but as systems get more simplistic numerically, stats matter less and actual rolls matter more; that said, depending on how long each game goes and how much advancement there is, that may be okay, but if you've ever been annoyed by the bookworm outshooting the soldier because of bad rolls, this may not be the best route. Of course, systems that are mechanically simple but numerically complex are hard to come by, so...yeah.

Also, if rolls are that simple, maybe trim down attributes? Not sure how many you need with only 10 outcomes for a roll. Then again, maybe this is where you get your complexity? I dunno.