View Full Version : Records of JAK trying to design a system

2019-05-27, 12:57 PM
So for a long time I've enjoyed the idea of building an rpg system. Mostly for fun, but recently with my current game I'm running in the middle of a collapse I've decided to actually knuckle down and work on a system. I'll make posts here detailing my efforts.

So far I've gotten a rough idea of what combat in my system will look like (and ended up shamelessly stealing from M&M). I know how character creation will work (you pick 3 concepts for your character from a list and). Now I'm actually starting the hard stuff. Primary fleshing out concepts.

I did a quick and dirty prototype of a concept here, though it is planned to change quite a bit:

Since then abilities have been split into 4 levels; Mortal, Heroic, Epic, and Divine. The ones on the sheet being examples of Mortal and heroic. Each level with have 6 gifts in it, which give players a total of 72 options for gifts by level 20. Certainly not a small number. That's not even getting into grabbing abilities from other concepts to help round out your character (more expensive, but allows a bit more flexibility), or picking up extra concepts entirely.

Currently I'm working on design Document that lists all the concepts I'd like to have in my game. Currently they are broken up into the following catagories:

Racial: This is for things like the concept of being peak human, or Asimar or dragonborn, or even something like fey who can end up with fantastical abilities. If you just want to be an elf with dark vision there are simple one off ways of getting it.

Profession: This is for 'normal' people. These tend to be professions in the world like soldier. Unlike every other concept a character gains no super human abilities from this. Instead these allow for networking and working with large numbers of other people in the world to allow the impossible. To give an example: a high level soldier would have access to mages or artifacts allowing long range communication, and have reports coming in from scouting parties. In battle he could call on one of his mages to open a way and march a legion of soldiers and battle mages into a battle (though it would take a bit of set up). Even when 'alone' in a dungeon the soldier takes up a 10'x10' space because at that level he is always with a squad of 5 other soldiers and they all worth together to fight foes that would be to strong for a normal person by themselves.

Class: This is for the DnD style classes. You have things like mage, channeler, Contractual magic, martial artist. No surprises here. All classes here become explicitly super human. A Blademaster can cut buildings in half, and a martial artist can punch people across the room.

Conceptual: These are for people bounded with a concept of reality, such as life, fire, Love, or Cut. In universe these people are called sorcerers, though only mages and arcane scholars tend to know that they aren't really doing magic, but instead calling on their bonded concept.

Attribute: These are areas that everyone has where the character happens to excel. Things like Strength, Intelligence, or even odd things like Mana or wealth.

Those are the ones I'm sure of. I'm currently trying to decide if I want one more or not. Class and conceptual are 16 concepts each. Attribute and Profession are 10 each, and Racial has 6 concepts. I'm trying to decide if I should try to come up with 6 more Professions (Bringing it up to an even 16 as well), or if I should add one more category to even things out. If I do add a category I'm thinking something like:

Roll: These are the role player wants the character to fit into. Protector, Killer, team heart. In universe some people have a destiny. But this is more to allow a player that wants to play the Tank, or Healer to have a simple option that allows them to do just that.

I still haven't decided yet.

Either way, here is a list of all current Concepts in my design doc. The final group is on like 80.

2019-06-03, 12:11 PM

Combat system is roll to hit vs a targets defense, then they roll to save vs your attack. On a failure they take a point of stress. Most non combatants have no stress so are immediately taken out, while most combatants have a single point of stress. PCs will start with a single point of stress. If you don't have a stress box free when you fail a save you are taken out.

Either way, this isn't about that, it's about me having finished the soldier Concept! I know a lot of people like the idea of mundane heroes, so this is an attempt to make one that they can enjoy, that can still keep up in the late game.


Be aware the unless an ability has the Special tag, you can use it as an improvised action. This makes the cost effort till your next long rest, or, if the ability is already effort till your next long rest, then it becomes two effort till your next long rest. The chart below lists what level you gain access to abilities. Some of them have the tag Improvised. This means you can buy abilities of that tier, but you only have access to those abilities, and you have to use them as if they were improvised. It's a way to let you get a taste of the next tier early.

0: Improvised Mortal
1-3: Mortal
4-6: Improvised Heroic
7-9: Heroic
10-12: Improvised Epic
13-15: Epic
16-18: Improvised Divine
19+: Divine

Each level you get 4 ability points and costs are as follows:
2: Moral
3: Heroic
4: Epic
5: Divine
7: New Concept

The Soldier
Soldiers are everywhere in the Realms. Some are mercenaries, and others serve a higher cause, however all have been trained in combat and have had discipline drilled into them. Unlike many others that have training in the arts of combat Soldiers specialize in working with others. They have the training to pick up and lead a squad should their leader fall, but can just as easy work in formation even with those who donít have the training themselves. A soldier is at their strongest however when they are in a group with other soldiers. While some look down at soldiers for being common, at the heart of every epic about a battle or war you will find tales about the heroics and bravery of soldiers.
Soldiers gain +2 to hit, and damage with up to 3 favoured weapon types as well as +2 hardiness (These bonuses donít stack with others). They also may raise their either Strength or Constitution to 16, or to 18 if their Strength or Constitution is already 16. They may add a new favoured weapon type with a month of practice.


A Veteranís Skill Action
You press the attack. Commit effort till your next short rest to make a weapon attack at a single target with advantage. If you hit with this attack the target makes their save with disadvantage.

Hold the Line Instant
When fighting with a shield you may commit effort till their next short rest to hunker down against area attacks. This allows you to use their toughness to save against area attacks as well as to remain stationary instead of dodging. This includes attacks which would normally require a spirit save.

Soldierís Gossip Action
When gathering information about a location, person, or organization you may commit effort till your next long rest to know one piece of information that isnít secret or hidden. This is usually just a single sentence, though it can be more if the GM feels it would be appropriate. This ability can only be used once per target. If it fails because there is no information that is not hidden or secret then you are refunded your effort.

Thousand Yard Stare Supplemental
You may commit effort till your next short rest to give any who are aware of you a look that lets them know youíve seen true horrors. Gain advantage to intimidate them for the rest of the current interaction.

Combat Medic Action
In combat you may commit effort till your next long rest to stabilize a downed ally, preventing them from dying. During a short rest you may commit effort till your next long rest to remove a physical wound from an ally.

A Warrior's Grit Ongoing/Instant
When needing to make a toughness save a soldier may commit effort till their next long rest to succeed.
Additionally you may instead commit effort to stave off being exhausted for as long as they leave effort committed. Keep track of the soldiers exhaustion as normal, but ignore its effects. When the effort is reclaimed the soldier is once more affected as normal by their exhaustion


Rally the Troops Action
You give a rousing speech to your allies while in combat. Commit effort till your next long rest, each of your allies that can hear you makes a spirit save opposed by the highest intimidation of the foes that you are facing. All allies that succeed on the save may recover one point of stress. This only may be used once per battle.

We Are Legion Ongoing
When in combat with a mob of allies you may fade into them, attacking with them and being protected by them. Commit effort during combat to be hidden among a mob and unable to be targeted till you are located. Even when located you fight in concert with the soldiers around you and anyone targeting you specifically has disadvantage on their attacks. Area attacks are unaffected.

Last Man Standing Constant
Long experience has allowed you to persevere through what would end the lives of others. In combat you may take 2 stress before being taken out.

Push the Offense Action
You lead your allies forward shouting encouragement during combat. You commit effort till your next long rest and make an attack with advantage. All allies that can hear you get advantage on their next attack.

Patriotic Support Action
When socializing with someone you may commit effort till your next short rest and tell them that you were/are part of their army. Make a Charisma check modified by any relevant facts with advantage. If you succeed they believe you and feel that they owe you a favor. If you fail and were telling the truth the target is unmoved by this. If you were lying they will know from you getting facts wrong.

Unfailing Skill Instant
Chen using a shield commit effort till the next short rest to counter an attack action aimed at you or an ally within reach. Make an attack roll against your target. If your roll is higher than theirs their attack is disrupted even if it would hit and you deal damage to them as if you had made a normal attack.


Perfect Communication Ongoing
While you commit effort a network of couriers both magic and mundane carry your orders to any mob that you command. You are also aware of anything they are aware of.

Personal Strike Force Constant (Unique)
You always have a retinue of soldiers that work with you in perfect harmony. You count as a small mob of soldiers for the purposes of combat. You fill space as if you were four individuals of your normal size that stay together. Any ability that would affect you instead affects your entire mob. You gain a special stress box when you take this gift. When you fill it, you immediately take a wound representing that your strike force is unable to keep up with you. You lose access to this gift till that wound is healed. If separated from them when they are not incapacitated you may commit effort for the day as an action to have them arrive at your current location through whatever means you desire.

Scouting Report Action
When you have a mob under your command you are constantly sending out scouts. You may commit effort for the day to be aware of anyone the GM feels would be of interest to you within an hours travel of that mob not hidden by a stealth ability. Only those with Heroic abilities will be aware of the scouts and the scouts are skilled enough to locate people in buildings and ruins.
Diverse Forces Action
When you take this ability choose two mortal gifts. You may commit effort till your next long rest to command specially trained forces in one of your mobs to use them. The mob may use them as Improvised Abilities till the end of the current battle. You may swap what two mortal abilities youíve chosen during a long rest.

Only Outnumbered Ten to One Ongoing
Commit effort for the day, till the end of the current battle, mobs under your control do not suffer disadvantage to attack for being outnumbered. Additionally mobs attacking your allies do not gain advantage to their attacks for outnumbering your mobs.

Through Long Experience Action
Commit effort till your next short rest to get a single sentence giving you an idea of what a target you are aware of is planning to do in the short term. You donít get reasons why, but this does work in social situations as well in battle. You do not need to directly see or hear the target to use this ability. As long as you have some type of interaction with them you may use this (even if that interaction is them using magic from the other side of the world


Never Alone Action
During a long rest you may send any number of mobs into Special Operations. While in Special Operations they exist in a state of uncertainty. As an action you may commit effort for the day to have any number of mobs that were in Special Operations arrive at a location you or a mob you have communication with can perceive. You may choose the manner of their arrival, some examples being emerging through the Ways, or having been hiding in the area in advance. You and your allies may use this ability, though you may not use offensive abilities while using it, and Perception Abilities can counter it, forcing you to appear at a valid location of your choosing.

The Soldiers Loyal Heart Constant
Soldiers in your service will never betray you, though they may still refuse orders they find morally reprehensible. If they refuse an order they will accept any punishment for such actions as you deem fit. Additionally you know automatically if someone is one of your soldiers or impersonating one. Finally, your soldiers will never break in the face of the enemy, automatically pass all moral checks, and have advantage on spirit saves when you are on the battlefield with them.

A Father To His Men Constant/Instant
When a mob you control is in combat you may commit effort for the scene to have them succeed on a save without rolling. In addition unless you and all your forces on the field are completely defeated all mobs under your control do not suffer permanent losses in battle, and return to full health after a long rest, ignoring normal healing times. Noone is left being to die, and all are saved through any means you decide, from divine healing to great doctors
The Strategic View Action
Commit effort till your next long rest to gain one sentence explaining the long term plan of a target you are interacting with. You gain knowledge of the current long term plan that would most interest you as judged by the GM. Additionally you know when the plan is either completed or abandoned. Addition uses of this ability do not reveal anything until the plan you know is completed or abandoned.

The Greatest General Action
As an action you may commit effort for the day and gain command of a factionís mob that is at least mildly friendly to you. Doing this means that faction with expect a favour to be paid back to them. In addition how you treat the mob can impact your relations with the faction in the future. You must commit effort till your next long each morning you remain in command of the mob, though increased duration of command doesnít increase the level of favour you owe, nor does it count against how you treat the mob.

Sudden Strike Action
You call on a mob of soldiers to make a lightning strike on a target then retreat. A small mob of soldiers under you command arrives at a location you are aware of and make a standard attack at any targets present you wish. This mob must be drawn from a larger mob you control and shares their stats. After making the attack they fall back and fade into the surroundings. They arrive back with their main force during your next long rest.

2019-06-04, 02:27 PM
So I wrote up a design doc for my game a while back with a list of all concepts that I was considering for my fantasy game. However the list is too big. When building characters a player picks 3 concepts that they want for the character, so they need a lot of options. But as it is right now each Concept takes a full 2 pages each (one page double sided to make it easy to print and keep around). Right now I have around 60 concepts, and I want to pair that down to 45, with 10 in most categories. So, with that said, I am going to list them all with a line or two description, and ask for advice on what to keep and what to drop.

These are fairly broad, fairly mundane concepts. They are fairly common in the world and you will run into a bunch of level 0 npcs with these. They do scale to the same power as other abilities, with a bit less direct power, but a bit more breadth.

Street Rat This is for people who live on the streets of cities. Either stealing, or surviving through quick wits, and always knowing ways to get in, and out of places.
Soldier This is for a soldier. I already have this concept written up and would hate to drop it. He eventually leads armies.
Woodsman This is for people who live on the edge of the wilds. The wilderness holds no fear for them and they are expert hunters.
Guard This is for people of the town watch, or protectors of important people. Either way they are good investigators and great at protecting others.
Scholar This guy knows everything about everything. While not great in combat, he can point out weaknesses, and his reputation can get him in almost anywhere.
Artificer A catch all term for crafters. He designs and builds items, eventually creating brand new inventions whole cloth.
Noble Wealth is a useful tool. A noble has grace, social acumen, and loyal followers. Not great at combat, but great where social abilities are called for.
Trader He's been around and knows all the rumors. He knows how to keep himself safe on the road, and he always has what you need, and a lot of wealth to boot!
Priest While not divinely blessed (usually) a priest can convert others to their faith, provide healing and comfort, and has no issues when dealing with society. (And can raise an angry mob in a pinch!)
Ritualist Able to do magic through long study, the ritualist does enchantments and large slow workings. It's not flashy magic, and it takes time and help, but it can do very impressive feats.
Knight A Knight is a defender of the nation, and a leader of men. He tends to ride into battle and protects his allies. Off the battlefield the title of knight allows him power in social situations.

These are closer to normal DnD classes. High on combat power, but usually a bit more narrow.

Enhancer The enhancer empowers others through spirit magic while only slightly enhancing themselves
Blade Master I already have half this concept written up so I'd hate to toss it. A Blade Master moves quickly around the battle field and has a bunch of special stances and moves to be even more effective.
Mage A person with formal training in magic. A mage needs prep time, and lacks sheer power, but can draw spells from the entire sorcery list (a set of concepts after this one). They do so on a weaker level then proper sorcerers though
Necromancer Raise Dead, Summon Undead, Throw an undending wave of undead at foes. Use undead for guarding or building. If only they weren't so individually weak.
Illusionist Make people see things that aren't there. Make them more real than reality. A rather deceptive class
Brute The class for hitting things with a stick while angry. Slower, but very powerful, and with a deceptively far reach.
Channeller Channel the power of something far greater than yourself (Nature, divine), then grow to where you are the greater power others channel
Summoner Summon others to fight for you, give you rides and cheer you up. Also enhance them to be the best there ever was
Martial Artist Fight with your bare hands. Throw around waves of Ki. Design your own fighting style. Do impossible feats of agility and strength.
Contractual Make contracts with others and draw power from them, or empower them. Bind defeated foes to steal their abilities
Archer You shoot arrows really well. To the other side of the setting if necessary. and you never miss.
Shadow master a master of invisibility and stealth. Able to teleport through them, and use them to hide or find things. Or summon shadow monsters.
Weapon Bonded You have a single weapon you rely on above all others. Improve it through technology, or through magic. Never lose it again!
Wind Runner Teleport across the battle field. Teleport weapons to yourself. Teleport foes. Now you're thinking with portals!
Seer Know the future, alter the future. Plan the future. Subtle, but very useful in all situations
Shifter For when you want to shapeshift at will. Why have a weak human form when you can turn into a bear?

These concepts are about being connected with a piece of reality. It looks like magic, but its more calling and controlling a fundamental concept of the world.

Fire Burn things, unburn things. Teleport through fire. Heat control, cold control, and igniting passions in others
Water Control water. Create it, or destroy it. Make land fertile, or make it unable to sustain life. Heal by using the water in the body, or rip out someones blood from their body.
Earth Destroy objects, create objects. Make a thousand swords and hurl them at your foe. Yours is the domain of anything solid
Air Fly, open holes in reality to go elsewhere. Be invisible. Move fast. Steal the life from someones body or breath it back in.
Cut Cut anything. Cut metaphorical chains to free slaves and break mind control. Cut away at someones self worth. Or just make someones sword unable to cut at all.
Pierce Pierce defenses, pierce hiding locations, pierce deception. No one can hide, and no one can stop you. You can also make it so others can't pierce your defenses.
Crush Crush an opponent into the ground so they will never stand against you again. Destroy things completely no matter what they are. Crush rebellions. Crush Tyranny. Destroy it all!
Life Create new forms of life, keep things from dying, make life flourish. Or take life away.
End Allow things to keep existing, or end their existence. Anything ongoing will one day end, and that is your domain. To make the end come now, or delay it forever
Motion Make things move fast, make them never move again. Choose what direction they move in. Choose what direction society moves in.
Time Chance the past, stop the present, see the future. Change how time flows. Change what time effects.
The Weave Control magic itself. Alter spells to have different effect, alter what magics work in an area, and take the ability to do magic away from others, or grant it too them.
Light Control hope, light, and joy. From light springs peace, harmony, and order. Those are now yours to give, or take away.
Dark Control Pain, Hate, and Despair. From the dark springs destruction, deceit, and chaos. These are now yours to give or take away.
Bonds Bind people or things together, or sunder them for eternity. End friendships, and consecrate love that will never end.
Boundaries Manipulate the boundaries between concepts. Shift light to dark, or death to life. Reshape the boundaries of what a person or nation considers their own.

These are for playing up a specific aspect of your character. A way to have a strong character, or a wealthy one. I know there are only 10, but I'm up for ideas if you think something should be dropped or switched out.

Strength Be strong enough to go anywhere, lift anything! Use weapons way to big for you!
Dexterity Dodge attacks and move fast. Dance on a cloud and hide like a ghost
Constitution Survive anything and keep going when all others would fall. Never be wounded again!
Intelligence Know everything (Even? Yes, even that!).
Wisdom Be aware of whats around you. Have a will like iron that will never break. Know the best course of action to take to achieve you goal.
Charisma Be loved by all. Excel in social situations and have the force of personality to bend others to your will. Step on people and have them thank you for it
Luck You're lucky. Play with the dice. Stop getting bad rolls. Make sure you succeed on tasks you are attempting. Have things work out for you without actually doing anything yourself
Mana Have vast amounts of magical energy to play with. Choose a few spells and just keep amping them up over time with your overwhelming power.
Ki You have mastered the life force running through you. Withstand blows, use it as a weapon, and fly insanely fast. Supercharge your attacks so they reach further, and hit harder, and devastate more things. Also heal people!
Wealth Have all the money. Buy all the things. Bribe all the people.

These have to do with how you were born and what legacies you carry from an earlier life, or your ancestors. Again only 5. This is honestly just for completeness's sake. These 5 are locked in because they are important to the setting.

Born of light You have the bloodline of the divine flowing through you. You have angelic abilities.
Carrier of Shadow You are tainted by the shadow. You bring destruction where ever you go, but you have learned to harness that to your ends, instead of the Shadows.
Ancient Soul You have been reincarnated many times. You have faint memories of your past lives to help you on your way.
Peak human You're a pinnacle of humanity. You are well rounded and shine in all areas, though are a master of none in particular. you are also great at organizing others.
Half Alive Your life force is only partially there and you straddle the line between life and unlife. As you grow your powers of unlife grow making you seem more and more like the tales of undead of old. You are also almost impossible to kill.
Eternal You come from a race that lives nearly forever, and you know things humanity has forgotten. You have ancient rituals and knowledge that you can call on to aid you, and as you grow, so do your abilities to harness your peoples powers.

2019-06-04, 08:46 PM
We have a subforum (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?15-Homebrew-Design) specifically for Homebrew.

2019-06-05, 01:40 AM
We have a subforum (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?15-Homebrew-Design) specifically for Homebrew.

I thought Homebrew was when you were modifying another system, not building a new one? Am I mistaken?

Either way I have my next concept done. Behold the terrifying power of the Blade Master! Fast, Quick, and with cool special attacks you get to design!

2019-06-07, 11:39 AM
Behold, my first Sorcery Concept! The Magic of cutting things.

Okay... hear me out, it's actually pretty different from being a blade master. Take a read!