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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Grod_The_Giant's Avatar

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    Oct 2006
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    Default STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    UPDATE: A new edition is available! Major changes include the removal of separate skill ranks, and a major quantification/clarification of how Scale works. Most of the examples and modules should still work.


    The Promise:

    No books! No math! No prep time! No more than 15 minutes to make a character and start rolling!

    Designer Notes:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Some of you may remember STaRS. This is the second draft of the rules, written in more detail after more playtesting.

    STaRS is, at its heart, an attempt to create a lowest-common-denominator RPG system without drowning in rules. It started off very simple, because I didn't have the time, expertise, or inclination to do anything else. It stayed simple because, well... simple is good. Don't get me wrong, I like games like D&D, but the more I play RPGs, the more I start to appreciate simplicity. Too often, I've observed the argument that "well, it makes sense that you could do that, but there's a specific feat/advantage/spell/charm/class feature/power/buzzword that explicitly lets you do so, and I don't want to render it useless, so..." Mutants and Masterminds did a good job with its hero points/extra effort system, but it just doesn't go far enough.

    My primary goal is for STaRS to sidestep that attitude entirely by simply not having a big list of feats/advantages/spells/charms/class features/powers/buzzwords. This leads to the secondary design goals (but primary marketing points): a system that's extremely flexible, and extremely easy to learn. I'd like it to be good for beginners. And I'd like it to encourage creative thinking and roleplaying, not just squatting on a grid and using pre-written abilities.

    Current Draft: 3.75
    v1: ranks, no numbers
    v2: numbers replace ranks; point buy appears
    v3: scale, advantage, and greatly expanded explanations
    v3.5: add 2 new abilities, revise point-buy, expand adversary creation, and rename things
    v3.75: more and more tweaks. Expanded rules for actions and degrees of success, most significantly.)


    One-Page Rules
    100% honest- they fit on one standard page of Word before I had to replace paragraph breaks with line breaks because of forums.
    Spoiler
    Show

    (will come back when I stop changing things so much)


    Introduction
    What is a role-playing game? In the simplest terms, a game like STaRS is a shared storytelling experience. One player, the Director, presents a world and an adventure. The other players, the Stars, explore it. Each Star controls a Character, an imaginary person with their own skills and personalities. Beyond that, the game is up to you. Will your Characters delve into an ancient dwarven tomb, searching for treasure? Will they compete in contests of skill and daring to win the fair princess' hand? Will they explore and conquer alien worlds? The only limits are your imagination!

    The Basics

    The Basic Mechanic
    Whenever you attempt an action which has some chance of failure, you roll a ten-sided die (d10), and compare the result to your rank in the relevant Ability or Skill. If your roll is equal to or less than your rank, you succeed. This roll is known as a check.

    Flourishes and Fumbles
    When it comes time to roll, there are successes, and then there are successes. For every 3 points by which your d10 roll is less than your Rank, your result has one Flourish. For every 3 points by which your roll exceeds your Rank, the result is one Fumble. Flourishes and Fumbles are not quite the same things as successes and failures— instead, they're representations of how much you succeeded, or how badly you failed.

    For the sake of speed, Stars might wish to make a note of what rolls for what skills give Flourishes and what rolls give Fumbles. For example, a Star might record a Chemistry skill in the following way: Chemistry 7 (1,4, 10)

    Advantage and Disadvantage
    Sometimes, circumstances conspire to make a task more or less difficult than normal. A rainstorm might make it harder to shoot a bow, but easier to sneak past a guard. There are several ways that a Director can take these circumstances into account, but the main method is to apply Advantage or Disadvantage.
    • When attempting a task with Advantage, the Star rolls two checks of the appropriate type and takes the better result.
    • When attempting a task with Disadvantage, the Star rolls two checks of the appropriate type and takes the worse result.


    Mathematically, Advantage is (roughly) similar to a +2 bonus to a check, and Disadvantage is roughly similar to a -2 penalty.

    Each additional source of Advantage beyond the first grants a +1 bonus to the Rank of the Skill or Ability being rolled against. Similarly, each additional source of Disadvantage grants a -1 penalty.

    If a situation calls for both Advantage and Disadvantage, one application of Advantage nullifies one application of Disadvantage. For example, a character attempting to hit a target with a sniper rifle might take the time to line up a shot (granting Advantage) and be using a computerize scope (granting Advantage), but have to deal with high cross-winds (granting Disadvantage). In this case, two sources of Advantage and one of Disadvantage cancel out to leave him with one source of Advantage. He rolls two unmodified checks and takes the better result. Stars and Directors shouldn't worry about quantifying every source of Advantage or Disadvantage— in most cases, it's far better to make an estimate and assign either a single application Advantage or Disadvantage than to slow down the game trying to quantify every variable.

    Occasionally, two applications of Advantage or Disadvantage can shift the scale at which an action can be performed, allowing characters to automatically succeed at normally difficult tasks, or struggle to accomplish relatively simple goals.

    Who has Advantage and who has Disadvantage?
    Because Stars make all the rolls, it can sometimes be confusing when to assign Advantage and when to assign Disadvantage. Here’s a simple rule: if circumstances favor the Star, award Advantage. If circumstances favor the foe, inflict Disadvantage. If it helps, think of the Star’s Disadvantage as the result of the foe having Advantage.

    Why Not Bonuses?
    Some may find the idea of Advantage and Disadvantage to be somewhat imprecise. Surely some situations should give greater or larger bonuses? And might this circumstance be less of a hindrance than this one? Why use such a catch-all modifier instead of more flexible numerical bonuses and penalties?
    While numerical modifiers certainly would work, they add in an unnecessary element of complexity. One winds up debating whether this circumstance is worth, say, a +2 or a +3. Worse, the game either suffers from inconsistency, as the Director imposes different modifiers on different occasions, or slows down as the Director consults records or tables to try and determine the exact situational modifier. Better to use easy-to-remember modifiers and keep things flowing than agonize over every 1-point modifier.

    Scale
    STaRS is a fairly abstract system. In two different settings, a superhero and a medieval knight might both have a Strength Rank of 7. And yet, the superhero can lift a car over his head with ease, while the knight would struggle to carry an armored comrade. The distinction lies in the use of Scale. All of a character's attributes lie on a Scale. The exact details of the Scale vary from character-to-character and setting-to-setting, but its effects are the same.
    • A Trivial task is one for which no check is required, and there is no real chance of failure. Trivial tasks for an average human might include a Strength check to lift a bag of groceries or a Smarts check to view your email.
    • A Minor task is one for which a check is required, and there is a real chance of failure. Minor tasks for an average human might include a Strength check to bench-press a hundred pound weight or a Smarts check to try and remove a virus from your computer. Because Minor tasks are so variable in difficulty, Directors should make liberal use of Advantage and Disadvantage to adjust the difficulty of the roll to the difficulty of the task.
    • A Major task is one which is almost or completely impossible. Major tasks might include a regular human lifting a car or curing cancer.


    Examples for an average human:
    {table=head]Ability|Trivial|Minor|Major
    Agility|Balance on a sidewalk.|Do a gymnastics routine.|Dodge bullets.
    Awareness|See a house across the street.|Catch a stranger in a lie.|Read the lips of a man two blocks away.
    Cunning|Know that it's a bad idea to jump off a cliff|Plan an ambush|Swindle a god
    Manipulation|Tell a white lie|Persuade a guard to let you past|Lie to a telepath
    Presence|Tell a joke to a friend.|Befriend a stranger.|Stop a riot with a few harsh words.
    Smarts|Check your email|Solve a logic puzzle|Create a cure for a disease.
    Strength|Carry a 10lb bag of groceries.|Carry a 100lb weight.|Lift a compact car.
    Speed|Jog down the street.|Dodge a sword stroke.|Win a race against a car.
    Vigor|Ignore the effect of being hit with a foam dart.|Ignore the effect of a punch.|Ignore the effect of being stabbed.
    Will|Say "no" to a stranger.|Keep calm when being threatened by a monster|Resist a mind control spell cast by a god.[/table]

    Inherent Scale
    Different beings and vehicles operate on different Scales. A horse, for example, can carry more weight, run faster, and endure more than a human, but is less intelligent. The horse doesn’t need to purchase Traits and Flaws to represent this inherent scale—it’s a natural part of being a horse. STaRS should consult with the Director to determine what parts of Scale are inherent or not.

    Abilities
    Abilities represent a character's raw physical and mental capabilities. They are used in situations where skill is irrelevant— such as when trying to break down a door or sprint across a room— or when a relevant skill is lacking, such as when attempting to dodge an incoming attack. The ten abilities are:
    • Agility— Physical and hand-eye and coordination.
    • Awareness— Perceptiveness and insight.
    • Cunning-- Common sense and lateral thinking.
    • Manipulation-- How well you can persuade and control others.
    • Presence— Force of personality.
    • Smarts— Logical reasoning and "book learning."
    • Speed— Reaction time and physical speed. The default check for avoiding physical attacks.
    • Strength— Raw physical strength.
    • Vigor— Your ability to withstand physical exertion and damage.
    • Will— Your ability to withstand mental exertion and damage.


    Abilities are ranked on a scale of 1-10, where a 5 is average, a 1 is barely able, and a 10 is superhuman perfection. Abilities below a 3 or above a 7 should not be allowed in most games.

    Skills
    Skills represent areas where a character has special training or talent. Sword-fighting could be a skill, as could Fast-Talking, Stealth, or Fire Magic. Skills should be broad enough to be applicable in a range of situations, but not unrealistically so. A Martial Arts skill, for example, could cover both attacking and parrying melee attacks. "Analytical Chemistry" is too specific for most game types, but "Science" is probably too broad. The Director is the ultimate arbiter of whether or not a Skill is appropriate.

    Each Skill must be Linked to an appropriate Ability. A melee combat Skill like Fencing, for example, could be Linked to Speed. A Fast-Talking Skill might be linked to Manipulation. Your Rank in a Skill starts at your Rank in the Linked Ability.

    Your total Rank in any Skill may not exceed 8. To represent incredibly Skilled characters, make use of Traits (see below).

    Skills verses Abilities
    While Skills represent major areas of training, they cannot cover all possible actions. For very basic actions, such as kicking down a door or solving a logic puzzle, characters can and should make Ability checks at no penalty. But at other times, they may wish to attempt more complex options. A normally law-abiding character might be imprisoned, with no way of escaping except by picking a lock. A scientist might find themselves caught up in a car chase.

    All of these cases would normally require an appropriate Skill to attempt. In some circumstances, a Director might allow a Star to use a related Skill or an unmodified Ability check in place of the appropriate Skill, but the check should be made at Disadvantage.

    The Director is the ultimate arbiter of whether or not the usage is appropriate— a biologist might be able to make a Smarts roll to perform a chemical analysis, but a computer engineer might not.

    Traits and Items

    Besides raw ability and training, heroes often possess special powers and unusual equipment to aid them in their tasks. In STaRS, these are known as Traits and Items. A magic sword, an all-terrain vehicle, the ability to fly-- all fall under the broad category of Traits and Items.
    • Traits are inherent abilities of a character. They might be common to the character's species, mutant superpowers, or the result of cybernetic enhancements, but the result is the same: a special ability which cannot easily be nullified or taken away.
    • Items are equipment, treasure, and technology. An item might take the form of a magic sword, a suit of armor, or a high-tech laser rifle. While Items might grant similar abilities to Traits, they can be lost, stolen, or left behind.

    Not all powers are created equal. There are three ranks of Traits and Items: Major, Minor, and Trivial.

    Trivial
    Trivial traits and items generally have no impact on the game mechanics.
    • Trivial Traits are almost purely matters of flavor, with little in-game application, such as the ability to change your hair color or a foot-long tongue.
    • Trivial Items are widely available— if a character does not have a Trivial Item already with him, he can easily obtain one. Examples from a modern game might include a cell phone or a watch.


    Minor
    Minor Traits and Items alter the things your character can achieve with his Abilities and Skills, generally by either altering Scale or manipulating Advantage and Disadvantage. For example, a Minor Trait or Item might:
    • A suit of armor might the Scale at which a character can resist damage.
    • A machine gun might allow a character to ignore Disadvantage stemming from attacking multiple targets in a single action.
    • A "Master Duelist" trait might grant a character Advantage when fighting one-on-one.
    • A "Flame's Heritage" trait might grant a character apparent immunity to fire by shifting the Scale at which he resists fire and heat-based effects.


    Directors might wish to limit how much the Scale can be shifted by a single Trait or Item. If they do so, Stars should be allowed to stack multiple Scale-boosting Traits and Items to achieve the desired Scale, paying for each individual Trait.

    Major

    Major Traits and Items grant new abilities, or alter how many actions a Star may take in a given turn-- although Traits and Items which simply grant characters extra actions without any sort of caveat should not be allowed. Example Major Traits and Items might include:
    • A sidekick
    • A special vehicle, such as a personal spacecraft
    • A jetpack allowing a character to fly
    • The ability to make an immediate counterattack after deflecting a foe's attack with a Fencing skill.

    Flaws

    Just as characters have special abilities, sometimes they might have special handicaps, known as Flaws. Flaws are sorted into the same three categories as Traits, with similar effects.

    Trivial
    Trivial Flaws have little to no in-game effect, and are there mostly for flavor, such as colorblindness or a stutter.

    Minor
    Minor Flaws alter the things a character can achieve with his Abilities and Skills, generally by either altering Scale or manipulating Advantage and Disadvantage. Example Minor Flaws might include:
    • Coward’s Heart— you have Disadvantage on all combat skills when outnumbered.
    • Vulnerable to Fire— decreases the Scale at which you resist fire and heat-based effects.
    • Code of Honor— you do not gain Advantage when attacking surprised foes.


    Major
    Major Flaws remove inherent abilities, or alter how many actions a Star may take in a given turn. Example Major Flaws might include:
    • Crippled Legs— you cannot walk.
    • Overwhelming Fear— Each turn in combat, you must make a Will check or lose your action for the turn.


    Combining Traits and Flaws
    Sometimes, a Star might wish to artificially limit his character’s powers. A character might have superhuman strength, but only at night. A character might be exceptionally persuasive, but only when attempting actions against the opposite sex. Clearly, these powers are worth less than the unlimited version, but how much less?

    Directors and Stars should consult on whether or not the limit is “worth” a discount. A good guideline is that if the Trait will lose at least half of its potential effectiveness because of the limit, it should be discounted. If a discount is awarded, Directors should make sure that the limiting circumstance crops up in-game from time to time, inconveniencing the Star—otherwise, the limit does nothing.

    A less restrictive limit may not be worth a discount, but, similar to Items, should allow for slightly more powerful abilities—shifting the scale more than an unrestricted Trait, giving a slightly broader immunity, and so on.


    Conflict
    No story is complete without conflict, be it verbal or martial. Like most RPGs, combat in STaRS is divided up into rounds. During each round, a character may take a single action, such as attacking, moving, or using a Skill. At the Director's discretion, certain actions, such as drawing a weapon or drinking a potion, may not consume enough time to be considered an action. Conversely, certain actions, such as attempting to hack a security system, may take more than one round. Full and partial actions may be combined-- a character might draw his weapon and attack in a single action, or run across a room and take cover under a table.

    The Round
    The basic unit of conflict is the Round— a hypothetical unit of time during which all participants in the conflict act. The length of a Round varies from setting to setting and scenario to scenario— a Round of swordplay might only be a few seconds, but a Round of social dispute at a ball might last for many minutes.

    Turn Order
    At the beginning of conflict, all Stars make Speed checks. Those who succeed may take their Action before their foes, and those who fail act afterwards. Within those categories, characters act in order of Speed. If two characters have equal speed, determine who acts first either by common agreement or random chance—roll a die or flip a coin.

    Actions
    There are three types of action in combat—Trivial, Minor, and Major.
    • Trivial Actions are things that take no real time or effort, such as dropping a held item or—the archetypical example—talking.
    • Minor Actions are things that take time, but little effort. The most common Minor Action is moving, but things like mounting a horse or switching weapons may also be Minor Actions.
    • Major Actions are things that take both time and effort—generally attacks.


    In a given round, a Star may take one Major, one Minor, and any number of Trivial Actions.

    Movement
    In a Minor Action, an average human can move approximately five feet for every Rank of Speed. To move farther, make a Speed check.


    Attacking
    When attacking a foe, be it physically, magically, or socially, the Star makes an appropriate check. This may be a weapon or social Skill, or an Ability such as Strength (for a melee attack), Agility (for a ranged attack), or Presence or Manipulation (for a social attack). If he succeeds, he affects the target, damaging or persuading it, as appropriate to the nature and Scale of the skill. As a general rule, only one or two successful attacks are needed to incapacitate a normal target of appropriate Scale.

    Defending
    When attacked by a foe, the Star makes an appropriate check to avoid the effects of the blow. This may be a defensive Skill, or an Ability such as Speed (for a physical attack) or Awareness or Will (for a social attack). If the check succeeds, the Star successfully dodges or parries. As always, the rules of Scale apply.

    Damage
    If a character’s defense roll fails, he is affected by the blow. Usually, this inflicts Damage— an ongoing penalty to one or more Abilities. Typically, an attack inflicts one Damage—that is, a -1 penalty—to Vigor (for physical attacks) or Will (for mental attacks). For every Fumble on the defensive roll, characters take an additional point of Damage. Occasionally, Damage will be higher—a -2 penalty for a failed check, with an additional -2 for each Fumble—or will apply to multiple Abilities at once. In the latter case, there must be a clear thematic link between the damaged Abilities. For example, a strike to the hamstrings might inflict Damage on a Star’s Vigor and Speed, but it’s difficult to explain how one attack might affect both Strength and Cunning.

    Remember that the penalty from Damage applies to all checks based on the Ability, including linked Skills. If an Ability's Rank drops to zero or below, it becomes Crippled, with consequences as shown on the chart below. Skills based on a Crippled Ability may not be used, even if their Rank is still greater than zero.

    • A character with Crippled Strength, Speed or Agility can't move their body at all.
    • A character with Crippled Vigor is unconscious or dying.
    • A character with Crippled Awareness cannot perceive the outside world in any way.
    • A character with Crippled Presence, Smarts, or Cunning is in a coma.
    • A character with Crippled Manipulation cannot communicate with others.
    • A character with Crippled Will cannot take actions unless commanded, and obeys all commands.


    Maneuvers
    Not every action in a conflict is a straightforward attempt at to injure a foe. Warriors and diplomats alike constantly seek ways to gain an advantage over foes. Such an attempt might be as simple as a feint, or as complex as setting a verbal trap. The details of these attempts—known as Maneuvers-- are up to the Star, but the effects are similar. A Maneuver might be an action all by itself, or might be part of another action. As a general rule, if the advantage gained from a Maneuver will last for more than an instant, the Maneuver is a full action.

    When a Star attempts a Maneuver, he makes a check of an appropriate Ability or Skill—Fencing to disarm a foe, Fast-Talking to try and confuse him, Acrobatics to somersault behind him, Speed to throw sand in his eyes, and so on. If he succeeds, he inflicts a Condition on his target.
    A Star has Advantage when attempting appropriate actions against a foe with a Condition. A Star might have Advantage over a foe with a “knocked prone” Condition when it comes to sprinting and melee attacks, but his social skills, for instance, wouldn’t be affected.

    When a foe attempts a Maneuver against a Star, the Star makes a check of an appropriate defensive Ability to Skill—Fencing to avoid being disarmed, Cunning to follow a foe’s confusing wordplay, Speed to keep up with a foe trying to get behind him, Dodge to keep sand out of his eyes, and so on. If he succeeds, the Star is unaffected.
    If the defensive check fails, however, the Star is the victim of a Condition, putting him at Disadvantage in appropriate situations. A Star suffering from the “knocked prone” Condition might be at Disadvantage when attempting to move or make melee attacks, but can probably make social attacks at no penalty.

    Some Conditions are transitory—a “surprised” Condition rarely lasts beyond a character’s next action. Others take time but no skill to recover from—retrieving a dropped sword or standing up requires an action, but no check. Certain Conditions, however—“confused,” “bleeding into the eyes,” and so forth—are not so easily shaken. Stars can usually recover with a successful defensive check.

    Foes typically are unable to recover within the time limits of the conflict. For those who can—usually more powerful “boss” type enemies— the Star makes a new check of whatever Skill or Ability was used for the original Maneuver, representing the quality of the original Maneuver. If he succeeds, the Condition persists. If he fails, the foe successfully recovers.

    When it comes to these longer-lasting Conditions, for every Flourish on the original Maneuver check, foes must wait one round before attempting to recover. For every Fumble on the defensive check, Stars must wait one round before attempting to recover.

    Aid
    Aid actions are attempts to help an ally in combat—defensive spells, decoy attacks, pointing out foe’s weaknesses, and so on. The function in a similar fashion to Maneuvers— the Star initiating the Aid action makes an appropriate check. If he succeeds, he grants his target Advantage on appropriate actions for one round, plus one additional round for each Flourish on the check he used to establish his Aid.

    Directors may agree that some forms of Aid, such as defensive spells and pointing out weaknesses, should last for longer than a few rounds. For such actions, he may require the initial Aid check to be made at Disadvantage, but allow it to last for the duration of the encounter on a success. He might also require a Minor Trait.

    Stars may use Aid on themselves. 

    Character Creation
    Characters in STaRS begin their lives with no Skills, no Traits or items, and a Rank of 5 in each Ability. At the beginning of a campaign, Stars have 3 Ability Points and 8 Experience Points to spend on improving their character.

    As a general rule, at character creation, no Skill or Ability should have a Rank of less than 3 or more than 7. For a shorter campaign, characters might start with more Experience Points, and Skills and Abilities as high as 8. For a longer campaign, character might start with fewer Experience Points-- the default of 10 creates fairly capable characters, with reasonable amounts of both power and versatility.

    • Increasing an Ability costs one Ability Point per Rank.
    • Decreasing an Ability below the starting Rank grants one Ability Point per Rank.
    • Adding a Skill costs one Experience Point, and the Skill's initial Rank is equal to the Rank of the Linked Ability.
    • Increasing a Skill costs one Experience Point per additional Rank.
    • Trivial Traits and Items are free.
    • Minor Traits and Items cost one Experience Point each.
    • Major Traits and Items cost two Experience Points each.

    The bonuses from multiple Traits and Items can be combined into one unified power or item, although you must pay the price of each component power separately. For example, a suit of high-tech armor that increases the Scale at which you can resist damage, lift weight, and grants the ability to fly would cost 4 Experience Point: 2 Experience Points for the Major Item ability (flight), and 1 Experience Point for each Minor Item ability (damage resistance and strength).


    Quick Distribution
    To quickly spend starting points, pick 1 Ability to start at a Rank of 7, 2 to start at a Rank of 6, and 1 to start at a Rank of 4. Buy 1 Major Trait or Item and 2 Minor Traits or Items. Spend the remaining 6 Experience Points on Skills.

    Advancement
    Characters advance by gaining new Experience Points to spend on Traits, and Items, using the guidelines described above. The recommended rate of advancement is one new Experience Point per session. Sometimes, a Star might acquire a new Item as a treasure; in this case, the new Item counts as his advancement for the session. Stars should not increase their character's total Skill Ranks above 8— after that point, the game's math starts to break down. Instead, consider using Traits to represent increasing competence— they can allow you to hack more difficult computers, affect more targets with a single spell, run faster, jump farther, and so on.

    Ability Points should only be awarded after major milestones in the game-- they are incredibly powerful resources, boosting a large number of Skills at once.

    Sample Character-- Marshal John Wild
    Spoiler
    Show

    Abilities- 3 AP
    • Agility: 6
    • Awareness: 5
    • Cunning: 5
    • Manipulation: 4
    • Presence: 5
    • Speed: 7
    • Smarts: 5
    • Strength: 5
    • Vigor: 6
    • Will: 5


    Skills- 6 XP
    • Gunfighting (Agility): 7
    • Dodge (Speed): 7
    • Ride (Agility): 6
    • Persuade (Presence): 6


    Traits- 1 XP
    • Animal Empathy: John can use social Skills on animals with no penalty. (Minor)
    • Marshal: John is the law in these here parts. (Trivial)


    Items- 3 XP
    • A Horse Named Jimmy (Major)
    • Colt Peacemaker (Minor)
    • Camping Supplies (Trivial)
    • Saddle and such (Trivial)
    • Badge (Trivial)


    Jimmy- 3 AP
    Agility: 5
    Awareness: 5
    Cunning: 6
    Manipulation: 5
    Presence: 5
    Speed: 6
    Smarts: 5
    Strength: 5
    Vigor: 6
    Will: 5

    Inherent Traits: can move faster than a man and carry more weight


    The Fast Fifty
    The following are a set of example skills, drawn from several potential setting types.
    Spoiler
    Show

    1. Acrobatics
    2. Air Magic
    3. Archery
    4. Athletics
    5. Biology
    6. Block
    7. Chemistry
    8. Computers
    9. Conjuration Magic
    10. Disguise
    11. Dodge
    12. Drive
    13. Earth Magic
    14. Enchantments
    15. Engineering
    16. Fire Magic
    17. First Aid
    18. Forgery
    19. Handle Animal
    20. Heavy Guns (machine guns, rocket launchers, etc)
    21. Heavy Melee (axes, hammers, etc)
    22. History
    23. Illusion Magic
    24. Insight
    25. Investigation
    26. Lie
    27. Locks and Traps
    28. Martial Arts
    29. Music
    30. Necromancy
    31. Notice
    32. Occult Lore
    33. Persuade
    34. Physics
    35. Pilot
    36. Polearms
    37. Ride
    38. Robotics
    39. Sail
    40. Scare
    41. Sleight of Hand
    42. Small Guns (pistols, rifles, SMGs, and shotguns)
    43. Staff Fighting
    44. Stealth
    45. Streetwise
    46. Survival
    47. Sword Fighting
    48. Thrown Weapons
    49. Transmutation Magic
    50. Water Magic
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2014-07-10 at 08:17 PM.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

    Grod's Guide to Greatness
    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Grod_The_Giant's Avatar

    Join Date
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    Default Chapter 2: Using the rules

    Common Situations
    In this section, we will discuss some common situations which may arise, and how to adjudicate them using the rules of STaRS. These are just guidelines— Directors shouldn't commit them to memory or halt the game to refer back to them.

    For the sake of consistency, Stars and Directors might wish to work out the rules governing various situations in advance, particularly those which characters specialize in.

    Attacking Multiple Targets
    Sometimes a character might wish to attack multiple foes in the same action. He might be allowed to do so, rolling any number of separate attack checks, each at Disadvantage. For a more concrete restriction, limit the number of targets attacked by the Rank of the linked Ability—up to one half the Rank at Disadvantage, or up to his full Rank at double Disadvantage. (An upper limit of some sort is highly recommended)

    Grappling
    Grappling or wrestling, in general, requires two things: Skill checks using Skills like "Martial Arts," "Brawling," or even "Wrestling," and unmodified Strength checks. As a rough rule, bringing an unwilling foe into a grapple requires an attack, after which Strength or Skill checks are required to pin, choke, or otherwise wound your foe.

    Lifting Capacity
    A good approximation for a lifting strength is that a character may lift, as a Trivial action, 10 pounds for every Rank of Strength.

    Magic
    Magic is controlled by Skills, generally. In certain games, Directors might require characters to take a Minor Trait to be able to use magic in general.

    Magic Skills can be complicated because there's no easy comparison to real life. When a Star takes a Magic Skill, he and the Director should agree on what kinds of things compose a Trivial, Minor or Major task for that character. In addition, various rulings on bonuses, penalties, Advantage and Disadvantage should apply-- a character attempting to incinerate a number of targets with one fire spell should take the usual sort of penalties for attacking multiple targets (see above).

    Another option for balancing magic in particular is to increase the casting time, requiring the Star to take additional actions to cast a more powerful spell. As a very rough guideline, an extra action is worth one application of Advantage-- at least in combat.

    Movement Speed
    A good approximation for a Trivial movement is that, in a single action, a character may move 10 feet for every Rank of Speed.

    Player verses Player
    Stars don't always agree on how the story should progress, and sometimes, characters come into conflict. At this point, there are three options:
    • Roleplaying: resolve in-character arguments through in-character speeches and actions, but do not roll any checks. This method works best when the issue in dispute is primarily a narrative one, or when a player wants his character to take an action, but feels like the character would not do so without some prodding.
    • Repeated Checks: resolve the conflict primarily through the standard rules. One character makes an offensive check, imposing Disadvantage on the target if he gets at least one Flourish. If he succeeds, his target makes a defensive check. For every fumble, he takes an addition -1 penalty, as normal. This option has the advantage of relying on existing rules, but— particularly when both characters have high Skills— can quickly devolve into a stalemate.
    • Opposed Check: Handle player verses player conflict using variant rules. Instead of the basic mechanic of rolling a d10 and succeeding if you roll higher than your Skill or Ability Rank, players roll a d10 and add their Skill or Ability Rank. Whoever's roll is higher succeeds. For every three points by which the attacking character's roll exceeds that of the defending character's, he inflicts an additional -1 penalty. This option has the advantage of being highly variable, adding uncertainty to conflicts between characters of similar power and giving the underdog a chance against a stronger foe, but requires Stars to learn a different basic mechanic.


    Shapeshifting
    Shapeshifting is generally a Major Trait, allowing a character to re-allocate his Abilities. He gains one Ability point for decreasing a Rank, and spends one to increase a Rank, as normal, but gains no extra point just for changing shape. In addition, he loses any Traits inherent to his original form—such as a pair of wings. If he wishes for his new form to have its own Traits, he must purchase them with his own Experience Points. The exception is inherent Scale shifting.

    Sidekicks
    Sidekicks— be they another human or a friendly dog— are best treated Major Traits or Items, costing two Experience Points initially. Sidekicks begin play with their own set of Abilities, all beginning at Rank 5, all beginning at Rank 5, and 5 Ability points, similar to a new character. The Star can spend his own Experience Points on his sidekick, buying them new Ranks of Abilities, Skills, Traits, and Items.

    Skill Mastery
    Some Stars might be frustrated by the inability to advance their Skill Rank beyond a certain point. To compensate, characters should buy Minor Traits to boost their favored Skills, increasing the Scale at which they operate, eliminating normal penalties, and so on.

    Note that it’s not always necessary, or even desirable, to increase the Scale at which the entire Skill operates. Particularly for combat Skills, Traits should be more limited—increasing damage alone, or boosting only accuracy.

    Superpowers
    New or exotic abilities, such as telepathy or teleportation, are Major Traits. In addition, opposed abilities, such as telepathy, might require a Skill to govern their use-- for example, a character might spend 2 Experience Points to gain telepathic powers, and another Point to buy 1 Rank of a Telepathy Skill (linked to their Will of 6).

    See also the section on magic (above) for more suggestions on how to deal with exotic abilities.

    Surprise
    Characters may have Advantage when attacking surprised or otherwise unsuspecting foes.

    Vehicles
    A vehicle can be purchased as a Major Item. Vehicles have their own set of physical Abilities— Agility, Speed, Strength, and Vigor. As with a character, all start at Rank 5. The character can spend additional Experience Points to improve his vehicle's Abilities, and add new Traits to the vehicle-- such as cannons, hyperdrive, armor, or what have you.

    In addition to the potential benefits of an alternate set of Abilities, the main advantage of a vehicle is to shift the Scale. Vehicles can go faster, carry more weight, and take more damage than humans. No Traits are necessary to convey this; it's an essential part of being a truck.

    Weapons and Armor
    According to the standard rules, weapons and armor are Minor Items-- they alter the Scale at which you can inflict or resist damage, respectively. However, for some games, especially those with an emphasis on combat, weapons and armor are essential tools. In these cases, handheld weapons and lighter armor (pistols and bulletproof vests; swords and chainmail) might be given "special dispensation" and be treated as Minor Items.

    Directing

    Running a game of STaRS is a somewhat different experience than using many other systems. Because non-Star characters have no statistics, there is considerably less effort required to prepare encounters. On the other hand, because characters all have unique abilities, it becomes much more difficult to predict what Stars may or may not do.

    One suggestion for the latter problem is to ask each Star to write their Skills, Traits, and Items on an index card or spreadsheet. When a Star describes an action and asks what kind of check to roll, it's easy to look at the index card and see what Skills they have that they could use. Knowing your Stars' abilities also makes it easier to plan adventures that are within their capabilities to complete, but difficult or impossible to easily bypass.

    Creating Adversaries
    Creating foes for Stars to encounter is much simpler in STaRS than in many systems, given that all rolls are made by Stars. There is no need to buy specific Abilities and Skills. An adversary has three aspects:

    • Scale-- on what Scale are the foe's attacks? Defenses? Social skills? In most cases, this is fairly obvious, and doesn't need to be written down.
    • Traits and Items-- Does the foe have any special abilities? Again, there is no need to specifically codify these-- the important part is knowing what they let the foe do.
    • Endurance-- How much damage can the foe take from physical and social attacks?



    Endurance
    Because NPCs don't have Skills or Abilities, a unique mechanic is needed to track how much damage they're taking. An NPC has two sets of Damage Boxes-- one for physical damage, and one for social. For every degree of success a Star achieves against that NPC, check off one box. When all are filled, the NPC's threat is over-- he's knocked out, killed, persuaded, or what have you.

    Most NPCs only have a single box of each category. The exception is discussed below.

    Extras and Named Characters
    Most NPCs Stars meet are not important-- they're guards, innkeepers, and civilians, there to fill out numbers and little more. NPCs of this category are known as Extras. Extras may pose a threat in numbers, but they generally only have a single box of Endurance.

    That's not to say that they can't be a challenge-- Extras can still have all the advantages of Scale on their side. One man with a gun can cause a great deal of trouble for an unarmed and unarmored hero, after all.

    Some NPCs, however, are more important. They're bigger threats, significant characters in the setting, and so on. A simple rule for determining if a character is not an extra is "Does he have a name?" If the answer is yes, then the NPC is a Named Character.

    Named Characters have more than one box of Endurance in at least one, if not both categories. They often possess Scale-shifting Traits and Items. In addition, Stars frequently are at Disadvantage when dealing with Named Characters.

    Designing Encounters
    Directors should make liberal use of Traits, Disadvantage, and tactics to challenge Stars. Perhaps one foe is under the effects of an enchantment that blocks all metal weapons. Another enemy might be a multi-headed dragon, where Stars need to kill each individual head before they can defeat the beast. In a third fight, crossbow-wielding goblins have taken up flanking positions, and are making attacks against Stars' Speed to pin them in place.

    Creating a Setting
    When planning a game with a system as flexible as STaRS, Directors should take the time to help their Stars create characters. A short list of suggested Skills, Traits and Items is an excellent idea, as well as a list of the Modules (if any) that will be used.

    For example, with a swashbuckling-type game, the Stars might be given a sheet like this:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Five Musketeers Campaign
    Theme: Intrigue and action in early Elizabethan England. Mostly lighthearted, with black-and-white morality.
    Suggested Skills: Acrobatics Athletics, Fast-Talk (as a social defense skill),Fencing, Investigation, Lie, Persuade, Perform, Seduce, Streetwise.
    Suggested Traits:
    • Silver Tongue (Minor)- reduced penalties for outrageous lies
    • Unmoveable (major)- immunity to social attacks
    • Perfect Acrobat (minor)- ignore one level of penalties for acrobatic actions.
    • Two Swords (minor)- ignore penalties for attacking multiple foes in melee
      Suggested Items: Rapiers, daggers, horses, carriages
      Modules: Action Points, Character Goals, Stunting, Swashbuckling, Wealth
      Notes: Players are noble's sons-- a free Minor trait boosting their Wealth scale.

    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2013-01-06 at 03:29 PM.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

    Grod's Guide to Greatness
    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Chapter 3: STaRS and Stripes: Expanding the Rules

    Modules
    Modules are sets of optional rules. Directors may pick-and-choose modules based on the setting of the game they intend to run and the personal styles and preferences of their group members.

    Action Points
    Goal: Reduce the role of luck and make characters succeed more often.
    Suggested uses: Action-heavy campaigns, or those where characters should succeed more often than they fail.


    At the beginning of each session, all Stars receive a single action point. At any time, they may spend this Action Point to reroll a check. Alternately, they may spend an Action Point to increase the Scale at which they may attempt a single check.

    Action Points may be gained in any or all of the following ways:

    • As a reward for actions or role-playing that the Director or group as a whole judges particularly "cool" or impressive.
    • Whenever the Director imposes difficulties on the character that do not follow from their own mistakes, such as deciding a character has run out of ammunition at a vital moment.
    • When a character gets into trouble by obeying his flaws and motivations, despite the Star knowing that the actions are a bad idea.
    • When the character accomplishes significant goals; see the "Character Goals" module.


    Aspects (Not stolen from FUDGE/FATE at all, no, not even a little bit )
    Goal: To encourage character individuality and roleplaying
    Suggested uses: Character-driven storylines


    At character creation, Stars pick one or more Aspects for their character. These might things like "Bad-Tempered," "Brother of [Character]," or "Loyal Beyond Death"-- not necessarily good or necessarily bad, but simply aspects (ha-ha) of the character's history and personality. Any number of Aspects may be chosen, although the Director may assign a specific number. Any number of Aspects may be chosen, although the Director may assign a specific number— 3 or 5 are good choices.

    At the beginning of each session, a character starts with one Aspect Point for each Aspect. At any point in the session, while acting in accord with an Aspect, he may spend an Aspect Point to gain Advantage on a single check. For example, a character with the "Loyal Beyond Death" Aspect might spend an Aspect Point to gain Advantage on a Block check made to defend a wounded ally, while a character with a “Cowardly Lion” Aspect might gain Advantage on a Speed check made to outrun a foe.

    Aspects are not always positive. At certain points in the game, they might Compel the character to act in a particular way. For example, the "Cowardly Lion" aspect could be compelled to force a character to flee from battle. Generally, the Director points out that an Aspect would be coming into play, and the Star decides how it manifests. Stars may also point out when Aspects should come into play, although the Director is the ultimate arbiter.

    When a character is being Compelled, the Star has two options. He may accept the circumstance, acting in accordance to his Aspect, and gain an Aspect Point. Alternately, he may spend an Aspect Point to ignore the Compelling circumstance, editing the scene if necessary to accommodate his choice.

    Aspects and other modules: Aspect Points can easily be combined with Story Points, using one unified point currency for both sets of uses. They combine less easily with Action Points-- their roles are too similar.

    Character Goals
    Goal: To give characters a sense of purpose
    Suggested uses: for character-driven games


    During character creation, Stars should come up with a list of Goals— things their character wants to accomplish over the course of their career. Like most aspects of STaRS, Goals can be divided into three levels.

    • Trivial Goals are easily-accomplished, easily repeated tasks. They're often more along the lines of favored activities than long-term objectives. Samples might include winning drinking competitions, seducing women, and winning duels.
    • Minor Goals are difficult but achievable tasks. They generally require a substantial investment of time and energy to accomplish. Samples might include avenging a loved one's death, overthrowing an evil king, or spreading the worship of your god to a heathen land.
    • Major Goals are grand, overarching ideals. They should be theoretically achievable, but almost impossible in practice. Character who accomplish major Goals tend to retire shortly thereafter. Samples might include killing a god, conquering a world, or curing all diseases.


    Goals and other modules: Character Goals work well with the Action and Story Points modules, particularly the latter. If any of the latter modules are being used alongside this one, here are some suggested rules for expansion:
    • Accomplishing a Trivial Goal grants a single Action/Story/Hero Point for use that session.
    • Accomplishing a Minor Goal grants an additional Action/Story/Hero Point at the beginning of every session.


    d12 STaRS
    Goal: To give the d12 some love.
    Suggested uses: Why not?


    As an alternate to a d10, checks can use a 12-sided die, or d12. If this module is used, characters should start with a 6 in all Abilities and 6 Ability Points. Groups may also choose to start with 12 Experience Points, although that's important only for symmetry. More importantly, the "cap" for Skill and Ability Ranks becomes 10.

    As a side note, you may use the guidelines in the above paragraph to play with 2d6 in place of a d12, although doing so is not recommended-- it makes rolling multiple die for Advantage and Disadvantage more clumsy, and the resulting bell curve doesn't work well with the basic system math. Still, six-sided die are a lot more common than any other type...

    Extra Effort
    Goal: To simulate extraodinary busts of energy, or extremely draining actions.
    Suggested uses: Any game


    At any point when rolling a check, a Star may grant himself Advantage. Afterwards, he takes a point of Damage to the Linked Ability.

    Hero Points
    The Action Points and Story Points modules can be combined, creating a single unified resource for both sets of uses— Hero Points

    Lethal Combat
    Goal: To make combat faster and more dangerous for Stars.
    Suggested uses: Low-power or "gritty" settings.


    When struck in combat by a Scale-appropriate attack, the Star rolls a check using the appropriate Ability. If he succeeds, he shrugs off most of the blow, taking a cumulative -1 penalty to the Ability until healed. If he fails, the Ability is Crippled.

    Other Modules: If using Action or Hero Points, spending a Point allows a Star to reduce the effects of a failed check to a -2 penalty.

    Races/Species
    Goal: to provide guidelines for characters of different species
    Suggested uses: settings with a wide variety of different sentient races, such as fantasy or science fiction games.


    Reduce starting Experience Points by some amount. Stars may choose between a set of different "packages," representing different racial attributes. Packages for different races should have equivalent Experience Point values, equal to the amount starting Experience Points are reduced by, and usually distributed between Ability Rank modifications and Traits.

    For example, in a fantasy campaign, Stars might start with only 5 Experience Points, and choose from one of these three racial packages:

    • Human— +2 Experience Points on character creation.
    • Dwarf— +1 Vigor, -1 Speed, the ability to see perfectly in the dark (a Minor Trait), and immunity to being moved against their will (a Minor Trait).
    • Elf— +1 Agility, -1 Vigor, the ability to make Smarts checks without penalty to simulate knowledge skills (a Minor Trait), and one Rank of any magic-based Skill.


    Random Ability Generation
    Goal: Make characters even more distinct
    Suggested uses: Groups willing to accept that their characters have different power levels


    Roll 1d4+3 eight times, once for each Ability, and assign the numbers as you see fit. For a truly "old-school" character generation method, roll the Abilities in order.

    Sanity
    Goal: To enhance the experience of horror games.
    Suggested uses: Settings where horror and madness are important themes.


    Characters add an eleventh Ability, Sanity. Sanity represents, well... sanity. It is not the same as Will-- some strong-willed characters might have difficulty adjusting to truly alien threats, while some weak-willed characters might be used to going with the flow and accepting what they see.

    Sanity is a primarily defensive Ability. When faced with truly horrific or alien threats and events, Stars make Sanity checks, taking ongoing penalties on a failure. In addition, some monsters might make attacks against Sanity.

    A character with Crippled Sanity has gone mad. In most cases, he passes completely out of the Star's control, falling under the Director's hand.

    Slow Advancement
    Goal: To slow down power growth without rendering characters entirely static.
    Suggested uses: Long-term campaigns.


    There are three kinds of milestone in the game: Trivial, Minor, and Major.
    • Trivial Milestones occur at the end of every session, or whenever a significant piece of the story is resolved.
    • Minor Milestones occur at the conclusion of a scenario or longer plotline, usually once every two or three sessions.
    • Major Milestones occur at the conclusion of a long-term story arc, usually once every five or six sessions.

    Characters are able to change their attributes at any milestone, although the type of milestone determines what and how much they change.
    • At a Trivial Milestone, characters may re-assign one Experience Point they have already spent. This enables them to change Skill Ranks, possibly obtaining training in a new Skill, exchange Minor Traits and Items, and so on. This represents a shift in focus, rather than the gain of new power.
    • At a Minor Milestone, characters gain a new Experience Point, in addition to the benefits of a Trivial Milestone.
    • At a Major Milestone, characters gain a new Ability Point, in addition to the benefits of a Minor Milestone (and, thus, a Trivial Milestone as well).


    Story Points
    Goal: To give Stars more narrative control.
    Suggested uses: Groups or campaigns where the story is the most important aspect of the game.


    At the beginning of a session, each character receives one Story Point. This point may be spent at any time during the session to affect the narrative or setting. Each use of a Story Point must be approved by the Director. As a general rule, the use of a Story Point should be used to provide new avenues of advancement, rather than to instantly bypass an obstacle.

    The use of Story Points falls into two categories: Stating a Fact, or Asking a Question.

    • State a Fact— A Star can spend a Story Point to introduce a single true fact to the setting. For example, one Star might spend a Story Point to determine that the assassin the party is chasing was the one who killed his mentor years ago. Another might spend a Story Point to determine that, while lost in the woods, his character just stumbled across an old path. A third might spend his Story Point to determine that the captain of the town guard is a drunkard.
    • Ask a Question— Alternately, a Star can spend a Story Point to introduce a mystery. Questions alter the world in a similar manner to Facts, but they cause problems, rather than solving them. One Star might spend his Story Point to ask "why are there no men in this town?" Another might ask "What killed all the dwarves in this mine?" In both cases, the world is altered to make the circumstances of the question true, but the Star does not know how.


    Story Points may be regained when the Director imposes difficulties on the character that do not follow from their own mistakes, such as deciding a character has run out of ammunition at a vital moment, or when a character gets into trouble by obeying his flaws and motivations, despite the Star knowing that the actions are a bad idea.

    Story Points work well with the Character Goals module.

    Stunting
    Goal: to encourage Stars to be more creative and dramatic when describing their actions.
    Suggested uses: more light-hearted or "epic" settings


    Directors should award Stars Advantage to checks when the Star describe their actions in particularly interesting or exciting ways.

    Swashbuckling
    Goal: to encourage Stars to take risks in the name of looking cool.
    Suggested uses: swashbuckler-style games with lots of rapiers and somersaults.


    Whenever a character takes an unnecessary physical risk, such as sliding down a banister instead of using the stairs, he gains Advantage on the roll.

    Wealth
    Goal: to include an economic system in the game.
    Suggested uses: any setting involving significant amounts of money or treasure


    Characters add a eleventh Ability, Wealth, representing their character's monetary reserves. Like all Skills and Abilities, Wealth operates according to Scale.
    • Trivial uses of Wealth include things like buying food, ammunition, and cab fare.
    • Minor uses of Wealth include things like buying plane tickets, bribing officials, and so on.
    • Major uses of Wealth include things like buying cars and houses.


    Unlike other Abilities, Wealth can change during gameplay.
    • Characters can permanently lower their Wealth Rank to increase the Scale— in other words, they can buy more expensive items, but doing so requires them to spend enough money to significantly affect their bank accounts.
    • Characters can gain permanent bonuses to their Wealth Rank as a result of their actions— rewards for quests and so on.

    As a general rule, any purchase significant and permanent enough to count as a Major or Minor Item should lower a character's Wealth by the appropriate number of Ranks.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2013-01-06 at 03:32 PM.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

    Grod's Guide to Greatness
    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Chapter 4: STaRS in Play

    (The following is a transcript of an actual game, copied from a text chat and used with the permission of all participants. Slight editing has been done to remove some out-of-character chatter and sort out the occasional "two conversations at the same time" thing that happens in text chats)

    Spoiler
    Show

    Charlie: Recently, you were hired by a cranky old wizard to retrieve the Orb of Aranth. The wizard was able to track it to an old tower on the Northern frontier, but he's too old to make it up there himself. And there may be slightly monsters.

    Karli: (oh goody)

    Charlie: After about two weeks of riding, you have made it to the tower. You're currently atop a low hill, survaying the area

    Nat: (Eww. Saddle-rash)

    Charlie: The tower stands atop a larger hill, dominating the landscape for miles around. It must have been very impressive, once, but the years have not been kind. Some of the smaller turrets and butresses have crumbled into ruin, and the stones are weather-worn and moss-encrusted. Old Aranth Flametounge would be disgusted. Although come to think of it, he'd probably be more upset about the goblins camped all around the tower.

    Karli: (So what is this orb again? Why does the wizard want it?)


    Charlie: A smallish tribe, as such things are reckoned-- only a few hundred warriors and their women

    Nat: (Gotta love some goblins. Also, what's he paying us?)

    Karli: (Because if it's just a mcguffin I am going to smash his face in)

    Ben: (I'm looking up nicknames for Karli's character)

    Charlie: (the Orb is a repository of Aranth's mystical knowledge. The wizard is paying you twenty pounds of gold each)

    Ben: (Not bad.)

    Nat: (Fancy. Hokay)

    Charlie: (So. Tower's ahead. Lots of goblins in the way. Go!)

    Karli: "So what are you guys going to do with the money?"

    Ben: Spade folded his arms. "Well, we're not sneaking by. Not with Slab McHardcheese." He said, jabbing his thumb at Hammer.

    Nat: "Well, I don't particularly find the thought of fighting off dozens of goblins appealing either" Chloe declared

    Nat: 'Even if we could manage it' she thought loudly.

    Karli: Hammer looks at Spade, smirking. "Sneaking is for wimps anyways. I say we smash our way through, even though Clubs here might not approve. Grow some testicles"

    Ben: Spade looked around thoughtfully, looking to see if there was anything they could take advantage of in the environment to get past the goblins. He snorted. "Says you, Blast McHardpecs. You can go down there first." He made a shooing motion. "Go on."

    Nat: (Who is Clubs s'posed to be? The name could be either of us.)

    Ben: (Spade)

    Karli: (yup, Spade)

    Nat: (Cool)

    Nat: "Just relax. Maybe we can talk them into letting us past."

    Charlie: (Terrain, FYI, is moors-- low hills, tall grass, and gloomy weather)

    Karli: Hammer slaps his pecks. "Oh are we jealous, cardman? These pecks were hard to come by. Got them by beating up wimps like you." He lifts his hammer and gets ready to charge. "Anyone else coming?"

    Ben: Spade put a hand on Hammer's elbow, the highest he could reach. "Now, hold on there, Rip Steakface. The wind mage might have a point."

    Nat: Chloe sighs slowly. "Thanks Spade. Look, there's a lot of them, and they are unlikely to want the orb. All we have to do is convince them that we don't want anything they have and won't bother them, and then we can be on our merry way... And," She adds as an afterthought, "If that fails, THEN we can smash their teeth in. Or try, at least."

    Karli: Hammer lowers his hammer. "I got no problem trying to reason with them. I shouldn't do the talking, obviously, but I can easily give you some musical accompaniment. I've been known to assist with negotiations that way."

    Ben: "Fine by me." Spade replied. "Just let Windy and me do the talking." He grinned. "You'd be surprised how persuasive I can be."

    Nat: Chloe nods "If they'll listen to logic, I manage that pretty well, too. Though" She snorts, "That's not exactly goblins' strong point. Shall we?"

    Ben: Spade nodded. "Anyone got a white cloak or a bed sheet or something?"

    Nat: "I have some spare clothes in my backpack. Would they do?"

    Karli: Hammer snorts. "Are you going to pretend to be a ghost? They may be goblins, but I doubt they're THAT stupid"

    Nat: (Now if we only had a holocaust cloak)

    Ben: Spade snorted. "I know you're not as dumb as you look, Slab McChestpunch. I'm making a flag."

    Karli: The insult appears to go over Hammer's head.

    Ben: Spade holds out his hand to Chloe. "Anything white will do. Just something I can wave so they don't just rush us."

    Nat: Chloe ruffles through her backpack for a couple of minutes, then through her mage's pack. She pulls out some white chalk and a black bandanna, that she promptly covers in chalk. "Here," she extended it out to Spade. "Will this work?"

    Ben: "Yes." Spade replied. "I don't even know whether they know what a white flag means, but it'll probably confuse them long enough for us to talk to them." He raised the bandana over his head and started walking down the hill towards the goblins.

    Karli: Hammer flips his hammer over and begins playing a song- a song of defeat

    Nat: Chloe shakes her head mutely and follows behind them both at a slow trot

    Charlie: You're most of the way down your hill when the goblins spot you. A patrol comes hurrying over- half a dozen warriors with spears and axes, led by a goblin with an ill-fitting leather jerkin and a dirty straw hat.
    "Go away, humans," he snaps at you, as his band glares at you from about fifty feet away

    Ben: Spade raised his hands. "We're not here to fight." He said smoothly. "All we want is to go into the tower, clean out some trash, and leave. That's it."

    Karli: "No."

    Nat: Chloe glowers at Hammer "Shush" She mutters under her breath.

    Ben: Spade shoots Hammer a very clear "Shut up before you get us all killed" look

    Karli: Hammer rolls his eyes and continues playing.

    Charlie: The goblin's leader gives you a suspicious glare. "What are you talking about?"

    Ben: "We were hired by a waste disposal company to go into the tower and take out some garbage there. The old owner of the tower had them on contact to clean out his tower occasionally." Spade lied. (Should I roll something?)

    Karli: (nice)

    Charlie: (Yeah. Roll Deception)

    Ben: (Exactly 7. Just made it)

    Charlie: The goblin sniffs. "Well, it's our tower now. You don't gotta do no more cleaning work."

    Charlie: (he believes you, but isn't really convinced to let you by yet.)

    Ben: (Yeah, figured.)

    Ben: "Are you sure? There might be some...hazardous waste." Spade replied. "Be a shame if your entire crew got turned into hamsters." He said, shaking his head in mock sympathy. "I mean, it's your call. As the new owners, you are the bosses."

    Charlie: (roll another Deception)

    Ben: (Six. Made it again)

    Charlie: The goblin scratches himself. "Haza... haz-ard... you mean the ghosts?"

    Ben: Spade paused. "Not necessarily. What ghosts?"

    Karli: Hammer's tune transitions to a somewhat creepy series of notes

    Charlie: "We sent some soldiers in to check it out back when we first arrived," the goblin says. "They never came back."

    Nat: Chloe makes the wind whistle.

    Charlie: "And there are weird noises at night and stuff."
    The subordinate goblins look somewhat creeped out by your special effects.

    Nat: (YESH)

    Karli: (SUCCESS)

    Ben: "Ahhh, ghosts." Spade replied with a smile. "That's what my friend here is for. She's an ectomancer." He said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder at Chloe. "We'll have those ghosts out of there in a jiffy, never you mind."

    Karli: Hammer stops playing. "You never told me that Chloe!"

    Nat: Chloe smiles vaguely. "The things you don't know would fill several books, Hammer."

    Charlie: The goblins stare at you in mild confusion. "So you're really not here to kill us?" one of the smaller, hat-less goblins asks, trying to hide behind his own spear.

    Nat: (Karli, that's your cue to say "Not unless you make us")

    Ben: "Nope." Spade replied. "We're waste disposal agents. We don't kill people."

    Karli: Hammer looks around at the other two. "Well apparently, not today. Tomorrow, maybe."

    Charlie: (want to roll Intimidate on that?)

    Karli: (yes I damn well do. 2 vs a 7. I AM SCARY)

    Charlie: (so that's one Flourish. You're extra-scary!)

    Nat: (God, Karli, you're terrifying)

    Ben: (Spade is vaguely annoyed)

    Karli: (Always, Nat, Always)

    Nat: Chloe smiles rather nastily "Unless, of course, you try to interfere with our work. We're very serious about our jobs."

    Charlie: The goblins shutter, and one or two of them let out little "eeps!" of terror. The one who asked the question in particular looks like he's about to piss himself. You suspect that if you so much sneeze in their direction they'll take off running.

    Karli: Hammer raises his eyebrows at the goblins, then smiles and innocently returns to his flute.

    Charlie: The leader, his face rather pale for a goblin, coughs nervously. "So... err... I... let me take you to the tower..."

    Ben: "Thank you." Spade said courteously.

    Karli: "That would be nice."

    Charlie: The goblins scamper back towards the camp. The sentries look nervous as you approach, and don't relax very much even after the hat-wearing goblin shouts at them, but no-one starts shooting, either.

    Nat: Chloe smirks and refrains from giggling. Goblins are so stupid.

    Ben: Spade strolls in a dignified manner. He barely gives the goblins a look as as he approaches the tower.

    Karli: Hammer whispers to Spade. "We are going to kill them on the way out, right?"

    Charlie: The camp is crowded and smelly. Goblins give you a wide breadth as you walk through. Especially the goblings, who you constantly spot peeking out of hiding spots with varying degrees of terror and fascination.

    Ben: Spade smiled. He'd been in sewers before. A lot. The goblin stench barely ruffled his cloak.

    Charlie: Eventually, you reach the base of the tower. You have to admit, even with the disrepair it looks a lot more imposing from up close. The wood of the doors has long since rotted away, leaving a bunch of rusty iron strips handing unattached to anything else. Beyond, you can dimly see the rotted remains of wood flows and spiral stairs

    Ben: Spade stepped back, gesturing for Hammer to go forth. "You may have the pleasure of first entry, Fist Rockbone." He said, smirking.

    Karli: Hammer looks at the entrance. "Oh, excellent." He boldly and confidently walks forwards into the gloom.

    Charlie: You take two steps and halt as your foot finds only empty air. A closer look reveals that the floor's gone, leaving a yawning hole into the basements. Or maybe dungeons would be a better word. This is a wizard's tower, after all.

    Karli: Hammer looks down into the hole. "...Well, should we just hop in?"

    Ben: Spade looked around to see if there was another way around.

    Nat: "I wouldn't advise that. I can probably make the air thicker to slow down our fall, though." (Feather Fall, anyone?)

    Charlie: There's a... oh, 60% intact flight of spiral stairs about twenty feet away, leading both upwards and downwards.

    Ben: "Let's drop down and head for that staircase." Spade said confidently. "Seems like the most efficient way."

    Charlie: You...can't quite see all the way down. The light's really quite bad. (you're at Disadvantage to all checks requiring vision)

    Nat: "Can do." Chloe responded, and started weaving the magics in the air, working so that no matter how far the fall, they hopefully won't be significantly injured. (Air magic roll?)

    Charlie: (yep)

    Nat: (6/8)

    Charlie: (and may I remind you one more time that it's really dark in here?)

    Nat: (Oh yeah. I also pull out and light my torch)

    Charlie: The shadows from the torch flicker wildly as the flame is pulled this way and that by your magics. Wind howls around your legs.

    Nat: "Sorry guys", Chloe said, glancing at the light. "Hazard of being a wind mage"

    Charlie: The tower appears to go down for quite a few levels. Even with the torch, you can't really see much down there.

    Ben: "It's fine, better than nothing." Spade replied.

    Karli: "Hope you guys like exploring!" Hammer strolls out into the darkness.

    Charlie: Hammer drops like a stone, vanishing into the darkness below.

    Nat: "Wait, Hammer!"

    Karli: (whoops)

    Charlie: (Karli, roll Agility)

    Ben: (You're an idiot)

    Karli: (SHUT UP IT WAS A PERFECTLY IN CHARACTER DECISION)

    Nat: "Dammit. I don't know if my wind spell had fully formed yet"

    Charlie: (the magic's in place, don't worry)

    Nat: (Good)

    Karli: (Also that's a 9. So no. Vs Agility, which is a 3, so SERIOUSLY no)

    Charlie: The winds slow your fall, but you're none too agile, and you REALLY can't see where you're going. You land flat on your back, the air blasted from your lungs

    Nat: (So you double fumble. Great)

    Charlie: You can't see anything. But in the darkness, you hear some faint tapping, like lots and lots of claws on stone

    Nat: Chloe looks at Spade. "Well, I don't think there's anything for it. Ladies first?"

    Karli: Hammer wheezes loudly. "God...dammmit OW." He calls up into the darkness. "I thought your wind magic was USEFUL, Chloe!"

    Nat: She asks and leaps into the hole.

    Karli: Pull out my hammer?

    Ben: Spade swears quietly. "Whatever. We've just gotta get down there." He pulls his cloak around him, forming sort of a wind sock and leaps down.

    Charlie: (Karli, would you roll me Block at Disadvantage, please?)

    Karli: (Oh Jesus)

    Nat: (Agility? Any sort of modifier?)

    Charlie: (nah, don't worry about it, you two can see where you're going)

    Karli: (Rolled a 4, vs. a 7)

    Nat: (Awesome)

    Charlie: (that's the worse roll?)

    Karli: (OH RIGHT, Disadvantage. Worse was a 7)

    Ben: Spade drifts down like a seedpod on the breeze, landing gracefully on his feet, pulling out a pair of knives as he landed.

    Charlie: The clattering approaches. You instinctively raise your shield, just in time to deflect some kind of slashing blow. As your companions land, the light from the torch reveals your attacker-- the skeleton of a goblin, handaxe clutched in one bony hand, strips of rotting flesh hanging off its bones.

    Karli: (wee)

    Charlie: A quick look around reveals another fourteen skeletons-- some with axes, some with spears, and some with only bony claws.

    Ben: "Oh well done, Smash Lampjaw." Spade sighed. "You've landed us in a fight against zombie ghosts."

    Karli: "Yeah, well. It's what I do."

    Nat: "They're called Skeletons, Spade," Chloe stated "And I think it was now or later." She raises her staff and her eyes seem to sparkle "I'm all for now."

    Ben: "It's called sarcasm!" Spade snarled.

    Karli: "Stop flirting you two and KILL IT" Hammer swings his hammer.

    Charlie: (everyone roll Speed)

    Nat: (Lol no. 10/6)

    Ben: (3/5)

    Karli: (2/6) HAHAHAHAHA

    Charlie: (so it's Karli, Ben, skeles, Nat)

    Karli: STOP. HAMMERTIME.

    Charlie: (facepalm)

    Karli: (hey man, that's what the skill is called. Don't hate the messenger. 6/8). Hammer goes for a full frontal smashage at the nearest skeleton.

    Charlie: Your hammer whistles through the air, scattering bones across the cavern. One down, 14 to go!

    Karli: (...I KNEW I should have taken cleave)

    Nat: (Yeah, and now the AOE person doesn't get to go before them)

    Charlie: (reminder: multiattack is a thing-- up to 1/2 speed dudes at disadvantage, up to speed at double disadvantage)

    Ben: Spade flips his knives around. "Bloody undead." He growled, hurling the knives so that they would hit two goblin skeletons in the skulls handle first. (Roll v. knife fighting)

    Charlie: (hmm. Roll Knives at Disadvantage, yeah. And roll it twice, once for each)

    Ben: (Hooray 4 rolls)

    Ben: (1 and 3/8 for the first one)

    Charlie: (well damn)

    Nat: (That one's dead-a-lot)

    Ben: (1 and 2/8 for the second)

    Nat: (That one’s deader-a-lot)

    Charlie: You whip the knives across the room with incredible speed and precision, shattering two skulls.

    Karli: (Well slap me in a wig and call me tiffany)

    Nat: (Okay. *gets out the Annie Wig and starts to chase Karli* oh TIFFANY!)
    Charlie: The skeletons charge.

    Ben: Spade grins, pulling out two more knives. "Just because I don't like them, doesn't mean I can't deal with them."

    Charlie: Everyone roll me their defense skill three times. At Advantage.

    Nat: Each time, or only once at the advantage?

    Karli: (1, 3, 4 vs. 7)

    Nat: (I got nice rolls regardless. 1, 4, 4, 5, 3, 1 vs. 6. In that order)

    Ben: (Wow, this is coming out well. All vs. 6 9/5, 7/4 and...spoke too soon, 9/8)

    Charlie: Chloe twirls away from the undead with impressive grace. Hammer bats their attacks aside with contemptuous ease. Spade manages to dodge two, but manages to slip almost directly into the path of the third.

    Karli: Hammer points and laughs. "AHAHAHAHAHA"

    Charlie: (Ben, that's a failure: -1 Vigor)

    Ben: Spade grunts as he's hit. "Ow! Blasted skeletons."

    Nat: (How many am I allowed to hit with my traits without a penalty?)

    Charlie: (1/2 will at no penalty, speed at disadv)

    Nat: (What do you guys think, worth the dis?)

    Nat: (Sure. Let's do it. Six at a disadvantage. I'll give each end result.)

    Charlie: (like 2/3, perhaps? I have your sheet right here)

    Nat: 8/8, 1/8, 6/8, 7/8, 5/8, 2/8

    Nat: I did full speed at disadvantage

    Charlie: well then. Describe what you have done, because you just hit all of 'em

    Karli: (GODDAMIT)

    Nat: (Awesome)

    Ben: (hahahahahahah)

    Nat: Chloe squints a moment, and begins chanting. Then, she slowly begins to swivel her arms. She looks abnormally graceful for her rather pudgy frame, almost as if she was dancing. Then, among the center of the enemy skeletons a whirlwind begins to form, and it grows as Chloe continues her odd movements, steering it left and right, sending bones and scraps of rotting goblin flesh flying high into the air, only to be caught again and whipped about by the whirlwind.

    Charlie: (Karli?)

    Karli: (How many are left?)

    Charlie: Five skeletons remain— two by you, two by Spade, and one by Chloe

    Karli: MOAR HAMMERTIME! (9, so newp.) Swing and a miss!

    Charlie: Ben?

    Ben: Spade threw his knives again, trying to take out the two near him. (knives at a disadvantage again?)

    Charlie: (Well, they're right next to you, so throwing ain't the best idea. I'd say that'd be another thing of disadvantage)

    Ben: (Oh right)

    Nat: (Maybe just stab their faces off?)

    Ben: (I can't stab them, they're skeletons)

    Nat: (You can decapitate them, that does it for most things, undead or not)

    Charlie: (Well... roll Magic Lore, Nat?)

    Nat: (1/8. So two flourishes)

    Nat: (I am rolling like a god today)

    Charlie: Well. You, ma'am, know all about skeletons. Undead are usually animated either of their own accord, in which case they're sustained by spite and need to be utterly destroyed, or they're animated by an exterior source, and need a constant flow of energy. Destroy the source of energy, destroy the undead. In this case, you're pretty sure the energy is grounding itself in a particular rib. Breaking the rib should kill the skeleton-- easy enough to do, even with a knife. (you may inform your friend of this)

    Nat: Chloe, seeing Spade surrounded, looks up at him and yells "Third rib up on the right's the weak spot!"

    Ben: "Thanks, Windy!" The rogue yells back, striking at the aforementioned ribs with his knives.

    Ben: (Knives twice?)

    Charlie: (at disadvantage, yes)

    Ben: (I thought the knowledge canceled out the disadvantage?)

    Charlie: (the disadv from your weapons. Not the multiattacking. 2 dis + 1 adv = 1 dis)

    Ben: (Ahhh, ok. Rolling... vs. 8, 4/6, 8/4, both succeed, no flourishes, sadly)

    Charlie: It's enough. Your knives dart out, breaking two old, dry ribs. Immediately, the skeletons fall apart, mundane bones once again.

    Ben: Spade sighs with relief, preparing to deal with the remaining enemies.

    Charlie: The survivors' turn! The skeletons attack the closest targets-- Karli, roll 2 defense checks, Nat, roll 1.

    Nat: (2/6)

    Charlie: (you're fine)

    Karli: (Eep- 5,8 vs 7)

    Charlie: You block one, but the other slips through. (-1 vigor. Nat?)

    Nat: (I see there are three left. Excellent. I shall attempt to smite them all- I'll describe flavor depending on whether or not I hit)

    Charlie: (You have that fine control trait, so you can actually target well enough to get advantage by going for the rib)

    Nat: (Whew, 2/8, 1/8, 5/8)

    Ben: (Muhuhahahaha)

    Karli: (EXCELLENT)

    Nat: Chloe continues her odd chanting from last round, but the tone changes. The whirlwind disperses, leaving bones clattering to the floor. She rips the weapon out of the hands of the one nearest her, impaling him on it, then ripping his bones apart with her breezes and shanking the other two through the ribs with the remains of their fallen comrade.

    Charlie: The basement is clear. The flickering torch shows piles of rubble from the upper levels of the tower. A few passages yawn open, but most are either blocked by the rubble or have collapsed. As you look around for more enemies, you hear a dry, hollow laughing from one of the few intact passages.

    Nat: Chloe looks briefly at hammer "What was that about the usefulness of my wind magic?"

    Karli: Hammer shrugs.

    Ben: Spade grinned. "Well, that went well." He said, brushing his cloak off. "Bloody undead."

    Charlie: A dull purple light shines from the passage to your left, along with more wisps of eerie laughter. You hear shuffling footsteps.

    Karli: CHAAARGE!

    Ben: Spade hurries forward, keeping behind Hammer.

    Nat: Chloe groans and follows after them. Always charging into danger.
    Charlie: Limping down the hallway towards you, nearly at the common area, is a goblin. A live one. Well, maybe alive-- it's incredibly gaunt, with every bone showing clearly through parchment-thin skin. It wears no clothes, and carries no weapon. Instead, a glowing purple orb the size of a human head is embedded in its chest, pulsing with a slow, even heartbeat.

    Karli: (KILL IT)

    Nat: (LICH!)

    Charlie: "So. Heroes," the goblin wheezes. "I knew you'd come sooner or later."

    Nat: (Also can I roll Magic Lore to see what the hell this is?)

    Charlie: "You shall not have my secrets!" (yes)

    Nat: (3/8)

    Charlie: It's... well, it's a normal goblin with an incredibly powerful magic artifact embedded in its chest. It's probably possessed or something. You might or might not be able to destroy the orb and shut down its power, but... that's almost certainly what you're being paid to retrieve. (no useful weak points, sorry)

    Ben: "Heroes is such a strong word." Spade replied. "We're waste disposal agents. And you are trash." He said with a chuckle.

    Karli: Hammer looks confused. "I thought we were adventurers."

    Nat: Chloe rolls her eyes "Whatever. We come, we get treasure, we slay."

    Nat: (It's good. I was just trying to figure out what the hell it was, and it was what I suspected so we're good)

    Charlie: "I know your type well," the goblin hisses. "I did the same, in my youth. Now I have the treasure, and your type seeks to slay me." Sparks begin to gather around its hands. "You'll notice that I still stand."

    Ben: "Not for long." Spade replied, hands full of knife.

    Charlie: The goblin-- no, the lich of Aranth Flametounge laughs. Combat has begun!

    Karli: Hammer hefts his hammer. "Let me guess. You took an arrow to the knee?"

    Charlie: (This is a Named Character-- all rolls against him are at Disadvantage. So, with that in mind, roll Speed, everyone.)

    Nat: (including Speed?)

    Charlie: (yep)

    Karli: (7/7)

    Ben: (vs. 5, 4/8. I fail)

    Nat: (Here we go again 10/6. As opposed to my first roll of 2/6)

    Karli: Erm- (7/6, sorry)

    Charlie: The lich raises a hand, firing a bolt of violet power at the nearest target-- Hammer. Karli, roll Block.

    Karli: (at a disadvantage?)

    Charlie: (yes. He has a name! names give power!)

    Karli: (whoops. 9/7)

    Nat: (Karli, you so sad)

    Karli: (I SO sad)

    Charlie: You interpose your shield, but it doesn't help all that much. The force of the magic blasts you from your feet, carrying you across the room and slamming you into the far wall. (Another -1 to Vigor.) But it's your turn now.

    Nat: "Hammer, Spade, the power's from the Orb, but don't break it!"

    Karli: Hammer stands up slowly, wincing slightly. "Don't break it? Do you even know who you're talking to?"

    Nat: "Someone who wants to get paid!"

    Karli: Hammer sighs, then lowers his hammer and begins to sing. It's a song of lost love, of broken dreams, of tragedy beyond all measure. (Rollll singing at a disad- HA 4/8)

    Charlie: Aranth sniffs, loudly.

    Karli: (HE’S DISTRACTED GO FOR IT)

    Charlie: (you've hit him with a successful maneuver, putting him at disadvantage 'cause he's sad. That effectively cancels out his Named Character advantage. Nat?)

    Nat: Looking around, Chloe picks one of the weapons from the undead Goblins the next room over. Pointy and simple generally gets the point across. She spins it through the air, trying to whip it into the Lich's face. (Air magic?)

    Charlie: (ayup)

    Nat: (4/8. So 1 flourish)

    Charlie: The gust of wind spins the lich around. When it finally manages to stop, it glares at you with several spearheads and bone fragments jammed in its face. Anger and sorrow war in its eyes. (Ben?)

    Ben: Spade scurries forward and performs a cross slash, attempting to behead the goblin, to at least make it more difficult for the lich to see them. (just knives?)

    Charlie: (yup)

    Ben: (8vs. 8)

    Charlie: The lich jerks away, but your knives cut away large strips of dead flesh

    Charlie: Lich's turn. Karli, roll a new Singing check

    Karli: (Ehehehehehehehehe 1/8)

    Charlie: Still sniffing, he tries to slap Spade aside. Ben, roll Reflex.

    Ben: (9vs.6. That's a fumble)

    Charlie: His hand strikes with the kind of force only undead muscles can deliver, and nearly takes your head off. (-2 vigor)

    Ben: Spade grunted, stumbling with the blow. (down to two vigor guys)

    Nat: (That sucks, you might go down. Whee!)

    Charlie: (Karli? You don't need to keep singing to keep him sad, So...)

    Karli: (Can I switch to despair? To make him give up on holding the orb? Or commit suicide?)

    Charlie: Well, the orb's embedded, so he can't really give it up. Despair/suicide... you can make a mental attack, sure.

    Karli: (Awesome) The lyrics to Hammer's songs subtly change, so one of despair. (5/8)

    Charlie: (success and a flourish!)

    Karli: (weee)

    Charlie: Aranth's motions slow for a moment, though he doesn't stop fighting yet. (Nat?)

    Nat: Chloe closes her eyes and seems to almost meditate for a moment. When she opens them, the air around her shimmers as if condensing. It slowly forms a clearer shape- a large sword. Chloe swings her airblade, attempting to decapitate the Lich. "No, I don't think you got it. Your head should be over there, and your body should be over here, and the orb should be here" at the last she points at her arms. (Air magic again?)

    Charlie: (yeah.)

    Nat: (Barely. 8/8.)

    Charlie: You lop off an arm, though the lich doesn't seem particularly perturbed. (Ben?)

    Ben: Spade has managed to recover, so he goes for a less disagreeable bit of the lich: its other arm. (rolling knives…5/8)

    Charlie: And you successfully take that one off, too!

    Ben: Spde chuckled. "I believe he has been thoroughly disarmed.

    Charlie: Aranth's turn. Karli, roll a new Singing check. (these are basically his saving throws, remember)

    Karli: (4/8)

    Charlie: (he's still sad) Aranth growls. "All this... and for what? Maybe this is the end. THE END!" With his shout, fire explodes everywhere. (Roll dodg-y skills or Speed, everyone, if you don't mind.)

    Ben: (4/6)

    Nat: (3/6)

    Karli: (oh Jesus 10/7)

    Ben: (FUMBLE)

    Nat: (KARLI! THAT KILLS PEOPLE!)

    Charlie: A fumble! -2 vigor! The rest of you manage to dive for cover in time to avoid all but mild singing. (Karli, your turn.)

    Karli: Hammer reaches one final note, stops singing, lifts up his hammer again, and goes directly for the head. (The orb wasn't in his head, right?)

    Ben: (Nope, chest)

    Karli: (2/8)

    Nat: (Double flourish like a boss)

    Charlie: (well then)

    Karli: We're going for total watermelon-getting-hit-by-a-truck thing here. POP!

    Charlie: Dusty fragmnets of skill drift to the floor. The headless body collapses, the orb's light fading to a dull glimmer.

    Nat: "Don't Touch it!" Chloe yells. "Let me have a look at it first. We don't need anyone else enchanted"

    Ben: "Don't worry, I've got this." Spade said smoothly, pulling out his sack and scooping the orb up and closing the sack.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2013-01-06 at 04:24 PM.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    More stuff-- Aspects stolen from FATE, and a new section on temporary conditions.

    I'm also considering playing a little more into the STaRS name, and relabeling players as "stars" and the GM as the "director," but I can't decide it doing so would be clever or silly.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

    Grod's Guide to Greatness
    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Okay, first off, may I suggest that your system be renamed TaRS, because it sure as hell isn't simple. The 15 minutes to start playing is a joke.

    I'll read through it all, but my brain is already starting to hurt. I'm sure D&D wasn't that hard...

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    All right, having had a closer look it does seem like the kind of thing I could get used to. So, let's have:

    What I like:
    - It is, now that I look at it, fairly simple.
    - Universal application. Gotta love it.
    - It makes sense. Nothing in the setting is particularly silly, like the D&D character who can run at the speed of light by casting timestop a lot. No, this is going to make sense, and it's going to do it well.
    - Lot of potential to do your own thing.
    -You HAVE to hand it to the stunting and swashbuckling mods, they are brilliant.

    What I don't like:
    - The DM has to write up equipment and skill rules each time.
    - Your rules don't really cover any of the exciting stuff I want to do - there are no grapple mechanics except for throwing loads of opposed strengths around, for example.
    - Ship-to-ship combat. Or even person-to-ship. What do we do, stat the ships as though they were people? It works for ships Vs ships because of The Scale, but then with humans it messes up. You could just advantage the ships and disadvantage everyone else, but...

    In short, I like the flexibility of setting, but I could just get a specific setting which actually has rules for everything I want to do. Yes, it's fairly simple, but it's too simple. It doesn't do a lot of the things that I, as a story writer as much as a player, want to do.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    I'm sure D&D wasn't that hard...
    Oh yes it was. D&D took me a couple weeks to get most of the rules down. When he can fit all the standard rules into two posts and the optional stuff in a third, it's pretty simple.

    And he might've meant "15 minutes to create a character", not "15 minutes to learn the game and make a character".

    Vehicles are a concern though. Good point. Also, is there a stunting system? That might help spice up combat. Edit: yep.
    Last edited by Hiro Protagonest; 2012-12-10 at 05:16 PM.
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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    What I like:
    Thank you.

    What I don't like:
    - The DM has to write up equipment and skill rules each time.
    I'll ultimately type up suggested skills for settings, but... not really. They can make suggestions if they want, but you can also let the players propose the skills and things that make sense for their character.

    - Your rules don't really cover any of the exciting stuff I want to do - there are no grapple mechanics except for throwing loads of opposed strengths around, for example.
    OK, that'd make a good entry for "common situations," I admit. And I admit, it will boil down to a lot of Strength checks. (Not opposed; there are no opposed rolls in the game, unless two players are going at it). But... I want to avoid things like the D&D grapple rules. Simple, remember. Here:

    John Wild is staring down the barrel of a bandit's six-shooter, and his own guns are nowhere in sight. He needs to disarm the varmint before he gets shoot. His player rolls a Brawling check to disarm. If the situation's more dramatic, and the GM wants to add some tension and difficulty, the Brawling check can be to grab the gun, with a Strength check to pull it away.

    John Wild's been roped into a wrestling contest with an Indian brave. They lock up. John rolls a Brawling check to pin his opponent, and succeeds. The opponent tries to break free-- John rolls a Strength check to hold him, and fails. John tries to shake his foe up with a few choice insults-- he makes a Charm check, and succeeds. The GM awards him advantage on his next few rolls. The brave tries to throw him, and John must roll Brawling to stay on his feet. The fight goes on.

    - Ship-to-ship combat. Or even person-to-ship. What do we do, stat the ships as though they were people? It works for ships Vs ships because of The Scale, but then with humans it messes up. You could just advantage the ships and disadvantage everyone else, but...
    If you're on foot, scale is not in your favor-- it's a major task to damage a ship with a handgun, and probably a major task for you to shrug off a ship-mounted weapon. Here:

    Johnny Doughboy is a soldier, with base human traits, an assault rifle, and some grenades. He's a good soldier, but sadly, he just came face-to-face with a tank. Since there's just him and the NPC tank, he makes a Speed check. Succeeding, he goes first.

    He knows that his rifle's no good-- it's a Major task to damage a tank with a small arm-- but his grenades might work. The GM agrees that he can use a grenade at disadvantage to try and knock out the tank. Johnny rolls a "Throwing" skill check, but fails-- the grenade hits the tank and explodes without causing significant harm.

    The tank shoots back at him with a heavy machine gun. Johnny has no body armor, and this is a heavy gun, so it would be a major task for him to resist-- in other words, if he gets hit, he dies. Luckily, he succeeds on an Agility check, and manages to dive behind a tree.

    Later, he manages to find a tank of his own, and goes back to the fight. In a vehicle, he uses his own Skills and mental Attributes, but the tank's physical ones. He fails his Speed check on the rematch, and the foe attacks first. Johnny fails a "vehicle" skill check, and his tank is hit. Luckily, tank armor and tank guns are on the same scale, making the vigor check a minor task. He rolls and fails, and his own vehicle is damaged, taking a -1 to vigor until repaired. He orders the crew, takes aim, and fires, again using his "vehicle" skill. He succeeds on the check, scoring a direct hit and destroying his foe.

    In short, I like the flexibility of setting, but I could just get a specific setting which actually has rules for everything I want to do. Yes, it's fairly simple, but it's too simple. It doesn't do a lot of the things that I, as a story writer as much as a player, want to do.
    Ah, the irony of one simple-system writer criticizing another... yes, STaRS doesn't have written-out rules for a lot of situations, but it should be easy enough to improvise something. That's the idea-- to provide a strong, flexible platform. I hope the above examples illustrate the point a little better?

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Ah, the irony of one simple-system writer criticizing another... yes, STaRS doesn't have written-out rules for a lot of situations, but it should be easy enough to improvise something. That's the idea-- to provide a strong, flexible platform. I hope the above examples illustrate the point a little better?
    So basically, it works like the Descend "If the GM thinks it's a blah check, it's a blah check"? That makes sense. I might actually use this one. My game of Descend isn't going very well, right at the moment.

    In fact, I'd love to see you DM'ing a game of STaRS, and with me playing in it.

    One more criticism: All races are worth 3 XP points. Why would you ever not play a human? They are all the same power, but the human has more choice. You could make a human and a dwarf who were otherwise exactly the same, because the human can just spend points to have the dwarf's bonuses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    One more criticism: All races are worth 3 XP points. Why would you ever not play a human? They are all the same power, but the human has more choice. You could make a human and a dwarf who were otherwise exactly the same, because the human can just spend points to have the dwarf's bonuses.
    Flavor? I didn't put that much effort into making the races interesting; I was mostly just copying D&D. Humans were a default, just like there. I dunno.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    I didn't read through it all, although you might want to look at HeroQuest and perhaps steal liberally from see if some of the concepts will fit what you are trying to do.

    If you are rolling d10s, then perhaps have ranks range from 0 to 9? This seems like it will be a bit easier to people new to RPGs in general, as they won't get confused to what "0" means, and a short explanation should make it obvious to experienced players that "0" is always the low roll (and thus always wins).

    From a minmax standpoint, I am not quite clear on why I would ever want any Skills. Anything I could do as a Skill I could do as an Attribute, and it would cost the same to possess a Rank-10 Skill as a Rank-10 Attribute. The only time this wouldn't apply is during character creation, or with one-shot games. (Alternatively, Rank-7 Attribute with some Trait that grants +2 to an Attribute will be almost universally better than a Rank-10 Skill, unless the Skill is so broad to be applied to everything.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    The tank shoots back at him with a heavy machine gun. Johnny has no body armor, and this is a heavy gun, so it would be a major task for him to resist-- in other words, if he gets hit, he dies. Luckily, he succeeds on an Agility check, and manages to dive behind a tree.
    The problem here is that characters automatically fail Major tasks. Johnny only had a chance to damage the tank because the GM changed it from a Major task to a Minor task at a disadvantage. Johnny should be immediately killed in this situation.

    Which does bring up a problem: If you are having trouble distinguishing between Major tasks and Minor-disadvantage tasks (And with you as the designer!) then I'm not expecting players and GMs to fare much better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    One more criticism: All races are worth 3 XP points. Why would you ever not play a human? They are all the same power, but the human has more choice. You could make a human and a dwarf who were otherwise exactly the same, because the human can just spend points to have the dwarf's bonuses.
    Why would you want to play a human with the dwarf's bonuses, rather than just playing a dwarf?

    I actually find this (race cost = XP cost of abilities) to be a feature of the system, rather than a drawback.
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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    I absofrigginlutely love this idea so much freedom and choice so many ideas racing through my mind. I only have one complaint and its a trivial one, basically with the whole system being so simple there's little room for understanding major concepts.

    Ok so Pyro Johnny has ranks in Fire Magic how do I make the distinction between a single target firebolt and a mass firestorm. do I "channel" making so many successful checks before the spell goes off, or do I roll a concentration check after every successful fire magic check. Either one is good and works, but there's my thing almost all of the minor details at all times falls to the DM with the player's along the the ride.

    I love this and will be using it with some more detailed alterations, which I'm guessing might be your goal all along with some of the examples you gave. One thing that might work better is using skills like D&D so a firebolt is a fire magic check of 5 simple easy to do while a firestorm is a 20 harder to do but doable with experience and skill.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by erikun View Post
    If you are rolling d10s, then perhaps have ranks range from 0 to 9? This seems like it will be a bit easier to people new to RPGs in general, as they won't get confused to what "0" means, and a short explanation should make it obvious to experienced players that "0" is always the low roll (and thus always wins).
    Hmm. A thought, certainly.

    From a minmax standpoint, I am not quite clear on why I would ever want any Skills. Anything I could do as a Skill I could do as an Attribute, and it would cost the same to possess a Rank-10 Skill as a Rank-10 Attribute. The only time this wouldn't apply is during character creation, or with one-shot games. (Alternatively, Rank-7 Attribute with some Trait that grants +2 to an Attribute will be almost universally better than a Rank-10 Skill, unless the Skill is so broad to be applied to everything.)
    Yeah, I had noticed that... one thing I was thinking was turning them into a +2 for certain tasks. Like, if you have a Swordfighting (linked to Agility) skill, when attacking someone with a sword you'd roll Agility and add 2 to your effective rank/subtract 2 from the d10 roll (whichever's easier to think about). That also solves the point cost issue nicely without having to go to fractional ranks.

    Or I could make it 2 points to boost an Ability.

    The problem here is that characters automatically fail Major tasks. Johnny only had a chance to damage the tank because the GM changed it from a Major task to a Minor task at a disadvantage. Johnny should be immediately killed in this situation.

    Which does bring up a problem: If you are having trouble distinguishing between Major tasks and Minor-disadvantage tasks (And with you as the designer!) then I'm not expecting players and GMs to fare much better.
    Sorry, maybe I was a bit unclear. The Agility/Dodge/whatever check to avoid getting hit is a Minor task. If you get hit, though, it's a Major task to shake off the hit. That could mean you automatically take the -1 Vigor, or the GM could be more cruel. Yes, it's mad dangerous... but you're a guy on foot going up against a tank.

    I actually find this (race cost = XP cost of abilities) to be a feature of the system, rather than a drawback.
    Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherishade
    Ok so Pyro Johnny has ranks in Fire Magic how do I make the distinction between a single target firebolt and a mass firestorm. do I "channel" making so many successful checks before the spell goes off, or do I roll a concentration check after every successful fire magic check. Either one is good and works, but there's my thing almost all of the minor details at all times falls to the DM with the player's along the the ride.
    I'm glad you like STaRS so much. To answer your question... it depends on how mass the firestorm is. My rough guideline is that if you're trying to affect multiple targets, roll multiple checks, each at a penalty equal to the number you're rolling. So if you try to incinerate 4 people with one fireball, you roll 4 checks of Fire Magic, each at a -4 penalty. If you succeed on 2 and fail 2, then you burn 2 targets to ash, but don't significantly hurt the other two. (They 'made their save'). If you're trying something bigger... well, GM's call. "Channelling" isn't a bad idea.

    If it makes you feel any better, this is the kind of situation that should appear in the "Common Situations" setting-- guidelines for GMs, if not hard-and-fast rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Sorry, maybe I was a bit unclear. The Agility/Dodge/whatever check to avoid getting hit is a Minor task. If you get hit, though, it's a Major task to shake off the hit. That could mean you automatically take the -1 Vigor, or the GM could be more cruel. Yes, it's mad dangerous... but you're a guy on foot going up against a tank.
    So do you always make one roll to successfully attack but two rolls for defense? Because I can safely assume that Johnny does not have a "Making Grenades Explode" skill for dealing damage.

    Do melee attacks have something like a "Broadsword Damage" skill? Or do you roll again with the "Broadsword" skill for damage? Or does one roll - the first Broadsword roll - tell if the attack hit and caused damage at the same time?


    If you were intending for attacks to be one roll while defense to be two, then realize that means most attacks against PCs simply won't connect. Unless either the dodge or resist is a Major task (as with the machine gun) or the character gets two chances to completely avoid damage.

    Conversely: if you were intending attacks to be two different rolls, how would this be handled? As mentioned above, I suppose a player could make the same skill roll twice (once to hit, once for damage) but this seems awkward. Making one skill attack and one Strength roll for damage makes me wonder why you don't just increase Stength and use that for hitting things.
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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by erikun View Post
    So do you always make one roll to successfully attack but two rolls for defense? Because I can safely assume that Johnny does not have a "Making Grenades Explode" skill for dealing damage.

    ...If you were intending for attacks to be one roll while defense to be two, then realize that means most attacks against PCs simply won't connect. Unless either the dodge or resist is a Major task (as with the machine gun) or the character gets two chances to completely avoid damage.
    It's one check to dodge, and one check to avoid damage, yes-- I based it on the M&M Toughness checks. You're right, though. It might be better to just have a -1 Vigor penalty be the default reaction to being hit by a Scale-appropriate attack, with no check to avoid it...

    Anyway, proposed changes:
    • If you fail a defense roll, you're affected by the attack, period. (Probably a -1 penalty)
    • Buying a skill costs 1 point, and is still linked to an ability. It allows you to do 'trained-only' things (like hacking) with the linked ability, and provides a +2 bonus to the check. (With this, abilities need to cap at around 7, most likely, to prevent perfect checks)

      OR
    • Abilities cost 2 points to raise, and give back 2 points when lowered. Re-emphasize that some things are impossible without a relevant skill, or can only be done at Disadvantage.

      OR
    • After character creation, you can't put more points into Abilities, barring unusual story circumstances. Re-emphasize that some things are impossible without a relevant skill, or can only be done at Disadvantage.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2012-12-11 at 05:29 PM.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Some systems use one roll to hit, with a successful result dealing damage, and one roll to dodge, with a failing result causing damage. The newer World of Darkness is a good example of this, with "the attack" and "the defense" being summed up in one roll.

    These systems tend to be simplier to use, but frequently de-emphasize the importance of weapons. Throwing rocks is just as dangerous as throwing grenades, as their ability to damage is almost entirely dependent on the thrower's skill. World of Darkness got around this a bit by adding modifiers to the result based on the weapon in question, but in exchange needed stats for all the weapons available. Something more like HeroQuest or even your familiar Mutants and Masterminds choose to rather keep things abstract in order to cut down on the paperwork.

    Both can work for you, it just depends on which you want. It sounds like you're leaning towards HeroQuest / Mutants and Masterminds for this system, though.

    Other systems, such as D&D, make two rolls for attacks and (frequently) two rolls for defense: one to see if the attack hit, and one to see if it dealt damage. Such systems tend to emphasize equipment far more, because it is the equipment which gives the big difference between rocks and grenades. (Just for a comparison.)


    HeroQuest handles the generic-vs-specific skill situation this way: If there are two different character skills which would cover a situation, but with one being vastly more general and the other for that specific situation, then the more general skill receives a penality when rolling. This is to keep the more general skills from overshining the specialist characters. In other situations, the general skills are just rolled as they normally would, without penality.

    You could probably implement something similar with your system. Either grant skills an inherit bonus (+2 or so) which would mean some "specialist-only" difficulties in the 10-12 range, where only someone practiced would be able to succeed. Or you could do as HeroQuest does, and implement a penality (or disadvantage) for abilities when there is a specific skill in play.

    I would not recommend trying to include unique abilities for different skills. Remember that the point is to have the GM/players create their own skills. You couldn't implement that without making a huge skill list (against the point of the system) or somehow encouraging people to create unique abilities for each skill.


    When working with the point-values for Skills and Abilities, remember that you still have Skills starting at an Ability+1 score. This could cause some awkwardness when trying to increase Ability scores. You might want to consider skill ranks in the form of Skill (Ability +X) rather than just Skill (Ability) rank X. For example, rather than Marshal John having Agility 6 and Gunfighting (Agility) 7, he could have Agility 6 and Gunfighting (Agility +1).

    It could be more practical to limit Abilities to 7 and Skills to +5, even if it would mean switching to a d12 system. Idonno, play around with the idea for a bit.
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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by erikun View Post
    Other systems, such as D&D, make two rolls for attacks and (frequently) two rolls for defense: one to see if the attack hit, and one to see if it dealt damage. Such systems tend to emphasize equipment far more, because it is the equipment which gives the big difference between rocks and grenades. (Just for a comparison.)
    Given that enemies have no stats besides descriptors and scale, damage is a fairly arbitrary system. Most of the time, if you hit an enemy with a scale-appropriate attack, he goes down. ("boss" enemies might be able to take an arbitrary number of extra hits). Weapons here make a big difference in that they describe the scale of your attack-- a machine gun > a sword > bare hands, for instance.

    HeroQuest handles the generic-vs-specific skill situation this way: If there are two different character skills which would cover a situation, but with one being vastly more general and the other for that specific situation, then the more general skill receives a penality when rolling. This is to keep the more general skills from overshining the specialist characters. In other situations, the general skills are just rolled as they normally would, without penality.
    That's the idea here-- you can use sometimes use Abilities in place of Skills, but you do so at a penalty, probably Disadvantage.

    You could probably implement something similar with your system. Either grant skills an inherit bonus (+2 or so) which would mean some "specialist-only" difficulties in the 10-12 range, where only someone practiced would be able to succeed. Or you could do as HeroQuest does, and implement a penality (or disadvantage) for abilities when there is a specific skill in play.
    Difficulties in the 10-12 range is... err... not how STaRS works. You're trying to roll under your Ability/Skill Rank, not adding it and comparing it to an external DC.

    I would not recommend trying to include unique abilities for different skills. Remember that the point is to have the GM/players create their own skills. You couldn't implement that without making a huge skill list (against the point of the system) or somehow encouraging people to create unique abilities for each skill.
    I'm not sure what exactly you mean here. Are you talking about how Skills are linked to Abilities? The player picks the linked Ability when he invents the Skill. Traits and Items? There are guidelines for players to make their own.


    When working with the point-values for Skills and Abilities, remember that you still have Skills starting at an Ability+1 score. This could cause some awkwardness when trying to increase Ability scores. You might want to consider skill ranks in the form of Skill (Ability +X) rather than just Skill (Ability) rank X. For example, rather than Marshal John having Agility 6 and Gunfighting (Agility) 7, he could have Agility 6 and Gunfighting (Agility +1).
    Skills are linked to Abilities, so when you change the Ability, the skill automatically changes. Vigor damage modifies Vigor-based Skills. Will damage modifies Will-based Skills. Same goes for Ability boosts.

    It could be more practical to limit Abilities to 7 and Skills to +5, even if it would mean switching to a d12 system. Idonno, play around with the idea for a bit.
    Hmm. d12s are fun dice, and can be simulated/replaced with 2d6 for a bell curve... rarer die though...

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Skills are linked to Abilities, so when you change the Ability, the skill automatically changes. Vigor damage modifies Vigor-based Skills. Will damage modifies Will-based Skills. Same goes for Ability boosts.
    I think the point here is that it would be simpler if you didn't have to remember to increase your lockpicking and five knowledges by one every time your smarts go up, because they're just smarts+blah.

    Also, would you ever put more than one point in a skill?

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    The whole "Abilities >> Skills" thing is something I'm trying to fix-- see my earlier post about my ideas. (I haven't really decided; still polling my playtesters).

    As long as you remember what Skills are linked to what Abilities, I don't see it being that much of a mess to change things. Penalties, maybe, but changing a few numbers between sessions after you get experience? Unlikely.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Some more thoughts: I kind of want to add another 2 Abilities, to bring the total up to 10. (Consistency, hooray!) I figure one of these should be Dexterity, for manually dextrous tasks like picking locks. The other... I can't quite think of another. Fighting, maybe?

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Some more thoughts: I kind of want to add another 2 Abilities, to bring the total up to 10. (Consistency, hooray!) I figure one of these should be Dexterity, for manually dextrous tasks like picking locks. The other... I can't quite think of another. Fighting, maybe?
    8 is enough, I think. Even D&D only has 6!

    Idea to counter the stats>skills thing: allow 2 or even 3 skill points per XP rather than just one.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Well, of course, the best way to check if a game system works? PLAYTEST!

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    Abilities:
    AGL: 5
    AWA:5
    CHA:2
    SPD: 4
    SMA:6
    STR:8
    VIG:8
    WIL:5

    Skills:
    None.

    Traits:
    Space marine (Maj): Every 3 rounds, recovers 1 STR and 1 VIG.

    Items:
    Power armour (Maj): Gives an advantage on all physical defence rolls.
    Thunderhammer (Maj):Doubles all damage.
    Bolt pistol (Minor): Ranged weapon.


    Farseer Alterys.
    Spoiler
    Show
    Abilities:
    AGL: 7
    AWA:5
    CHA:5
    SPD: 7
    SMA:6
    STR:3
    VIG:4
    WIL:10

    Skills:
    None

    Abilities: Mind war (Min): Psychic attack.

    Items: Singing spear (Maj): Adds 1 to strength when using it, can be thrown and returns to hand.


    The ultimate battle of ultimate destiny!
    Spoiler
    Show
    Alterys uses action Mind War on Avarius (1) and succeds, and Avarius defends (5) sucessfully.
    Avarius uses action move next to Alterys
    Alterys uses action move away from Avarius
    Avarius uses item bolt pistol on Alterys (2) and suceeds. Aethrys tries to dodge (9) and fails, losing 1 VIG from the attack.
    Alterys uses action Mind War on Avarius (4) and suceeds. Avarius (9) fails to defend, losing 1 WIL.
    Avarius uses action charge on Alterys [going to make it a SPD at -1 to move double, and a STR at -1 to attack] (3,1) and succeds. Alterys attempts to resist (4) and fails, losing 2 VIG.
    Alterys uses action Mind War against Avarius, (3) succeeding, and Avarius (6) fails to defend, losing another WIL
    Avarius uses item Thunderhammer against Alterys (8), succeding. She (1) manages to resist. [?]
    Alterys uses action Mind War against Avarius, (4) succeeding, and he (9) fails, losing yet another WIL.
    Avarius uses item Thunderhammer against Alterys, (3) and succeeds, and she (4) fails to resist. Alterys has crippled VIG, and is dead.


    Ooh, very close. Alterys ALMOST managed to bag herself a space marine zombie. Well, it seems to work...

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    After some late-night spitballing with a playtester, I'm proud to announce the release of STaRS v3.5! (well, more like 0.35, but eh).

    Major Changes:
    • Charm has been broken down into Presence and Manipulation, allowing for more variety in social characters
    • Cunning added, bringing the number of Abilities up to 10 (yay, symmetry!) and, again, allowing for more character options.
    • The idea of degrees of success has been codified.
    • Point-buy has been altered, moving Abilities into a separate pool that can only rarely be affected-- solving some of the "why boost Skills?" issue
    • More detail on building enemies, including a more codified version of health for them (Endurance).
    • Vigor/Will checks to avoid damage are gone.
    • Suggested Speed as the basic stat to dodge attacks, giving it more useful and Agility a bit less of a catch-all.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

    Grod's Guide to Greatness
    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Hmm... looks good, now. You should give it a test run as a real game, I'd quite like to play.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    Hmm... looks good, now. You should give it a test run as a real game, I'd quite like to play.
    Thanks! I have done a decent amount of playtesting, albeit mostly of the second version. Not much time to try the new edition, since it's the end of the semester, but I hope to do some more testing soon.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

    Grod's Guide to Greatness
    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Thanks! I have done a decent amount of playtesting, albeit mostly of the second version. Not much time to try the new edition, since it's the end of the semester, but I hope to do some more testing soon.
    Excellent. I look forward to it...

    If you have no time, requesting permission to run a game of STaRS? It is, after all, your system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    Excellent. I look forward to it...

    If you have no time, requesting permission to run a game of STaRS? It is, after all, your system.
    Go ahead! I didn't post it here to keep it to myself Let me know how it goes.

    Oh, and incidentally, you overcomplicated your mock-battle thing. As I describe in the "Game Mastering" section, NPCs just have Scale, Traits (ish) and Endurance (which is new, granted). (Also, Ranks need to cap at 7-8, to be fair). So assuming that Alterys is your PC, it would be something like:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Enemy: Brother Avarius
    Named: opponent's rolls at Disadvantage
    Endurance: 4 physical, 2 social/mental
    Scale: armored human, heavy melee weapon, lethal ranged weapon

    • Alterys goes first, and rolls for Mind War (She now has a Mental Combat skill of 8, to make it work). She rolls 2 die and takes the worse result-- but as she gets a 9 and a 10, she fails anyway.
    • Avarius charges and swings his hammer. I rule that charging grants Disadvantage to the charger; since an NPC is charging, the player gains Advantage. That cancels out with the Named Character bit, so Alterys rolls Speed normally to dodge. She gets a 4, succeeding hardily.
    • Alterys uses Mind War again, rolling a 5 and a 1. She takes the worse result, which is still a success, and inflicts a point of mental damage on her foe.
    • Avarius swings again. Alterys rolls Speed again to dodge, getting a 1 and a 6-- luckily, she's still around.
    • Alterys wants to mentally order Avarius drop his hammer. She rolls Mind War again, and sadly gets an 8 and a 9-- failure!
    • Avarius feints, pretending to swing the hammer while really going for his gun with his free hand. Alterys rolls Awareness to see through the maneuver, getting a 1 and a 4-- success! She still has to dodge the pistol shot, but she's not surprised, and, with a 2 and a 7, succeeds (if barely).
    • Alterys is getting scared, now. She turns and runs, trying to outrun her heavily armored foe to get to cover. I agree that Avarius' armor would slow him down, so she gets Advantage (cancelling out the Named character Disadvantage). She gets a 2, and succeeds handily-- that's an extra degree of success. She pelts down the street, leaving the armored marine in her wake.
    • Avarius rushes to catch up, spending his action moving.
    • Alterys uses Mind War again. And 8 and a 1 is still a success. She inflicts another point of damage, which is enough to drop the over-muscled marine! Her player gleefully describes how she forces him to aim his own pistol at his head and pull the trigger. Victory!
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2012-12-15 at 07:16 PM.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

    Grod's Guide to Greatness
    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Go ahead! I didn't post it here to keep it to myself Let me know how it goes.

    Oh, and incidentally, you overcomplicated your mock-battle thing. As I describe in the "Game Mastering" section, NPCs just have Scale, Traits (ish) and Endurance (which is new, granted). (Also, Ranks need to cap at 7-8, to be fair). So assuming that Alterys is your PC, it would be something like:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Enemy: Brother Avarius
    Named: opponent's rolls at Disadvantage
    Endurance: 4 physical, 2 social/mental
    Scale: armored human, heavy melee weapon, lethal ranged weapon

    • Alterys goes first, and rolls for Mind War (She now has a Mental Combat skill of 8, to make it work). She rolls 2 die and takes the worse result-- but as she gets a 9 and a 10, she fails anyway.
    • Avarius charges and swings his hammer. I rule that charging grants Disadvantage to the charger; since an NPC is charging, the player gains Advantage. That cancels out with the Named Character bit, so Alterys rolls Speed normally to dodge. She gets a 4, succeeding hardily.
    • Alterys uses Mind War again, rolling a 5 and a 1. She takes the worse result, which is still a success, and inflicts a point of mental damage on her foe.
    • Avarius swings again. Alterys rolls Speed again to dodge, getting a 1 and a 6-- luckily, she's still around.
    • Alterys wants to mentally order Avarius drop his hammer. She rolls Mind War again, and sadly gets an 8 and a 9-- failure!
    • Avarius feints, pretending to swing the hammer while really going for his gun with his free hand. Alterys rolls Awareness to see through the maneuver, getting a 1 and a 4-- success! She still has to dodge the pistol shot, but she's not surprised, and, with a 2 and a 7, succeeds (if barely).
    • Alterys is getting scared, now. She turns and runs, trying to outrun her heavily armored foe to get to cover. I agree that Avarius' armor would slow him down, so she gets Advantage (cancelling out the Named character Disadvantage). She gets a 2, and succeeds handily-- that's an extra degree of success. She pelts down the street, leaving the armored marine in her wake.
    • Avarius rushes to catch up, spending his action moving.
    • Alterys uses Mind War again. And 8 and a 1 is still a success. She inflicts another point of damage, which is enough to drop the over-muscled marine! Her player gleefully describes how she forces him to aim his own pistol at his head and pull the trigger. Victory!
    Oh no. This is what heppens when two PCs don't like each other. :p

    Anyways, I'll have a look through the rules and have a go.

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    Default Re: STaRS: Simple TAbletop Roleplaying System (homebrew system, PEACH)

    Finally did as I threatened and added some meaningless name changes-- player to Star and GM to Director.

    OK, not entirely meaningless. It makes the system name a bit more relevant and offers a good hint at what their respective roles are.

    Now, five cookies to the first man, woman, or cactus who can figure out how to work "STRIPES" into the system somehow.

    STaRS (and STaRS Lite)
    A non-narrativeist, generic rules-light system, by me. Now officially released!

    Grod's Guide to Greatness
    A big book of player options for 5e, by me

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Giants and Graveyards: My collected 3.5 class fixes and more.

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