A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground

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    Aug 2014

    Default Working on an original system

    I'm revamping a system I made from scratch... around 14 years ago? Geez, I'm old.
    Anyway, I'd like to have some feedback on it. It feels overcomplicated right now, but every bit seem important to me.
    Several subsystems (for combat, social interaction, investigation and maybe magic) should be coming up eventualy.

    Continued in other posts :
    Combat rules
    Investigation rules

    Any entity with some form of agency can be made to be a character. They are defined by skills, attributes, trainings and traits. Characters may also be affected by conditions.

    Every character has various skills associated with a number. They measure how competent said character is when performing a variety of tasks.
    Having a high number in a skill make it more reliable; you can consistently perform at your best.
    The list of skill available can be adapted for specific games, but it is meant to be exhaustive with as little overlap as possible.
    Spoiler: Proposed skills
    Fitness : general physical prowess
    Lore : everything knowledge related
    Cunning : noticing and guessing things
    Influence : the ability to affect the behavior of others
    Dexterity : tool use, sleight of hands and other fine manipulations
    Reason : infering and analysing things
    Magic : changing the world in supernatural ways

    Every character has various attributes associated with a number. They measure the limits of their abilities.
    Having a high attribute allows you to do more and better. Character with an attribute higher by even a single point can completely outclass other weaker characters, even if they have higher skills.
    Like skills, attributes can be adapted to specific settings, and are meant to be exhaustive and non-overlapping.
    A distinction is made between physical, mental and sensory attributes.
    Spoiler: Proposed attributes
    Vigor (physical) : general strength and stamina
    Agility (physical) : flexibility and fine motor control
    Speed (sensory) : reaction time and sense of rythm
    Awareness (sensory) : covers all senses
    Memory (mental) : ability to learn and recall things
    Will (mental) : staying focused and knowing what you want

    Every character may have various trainings associated with their skills. They are used as keywords to improve a character's performance every time they're relevant.
    Trainings are always beneficial. They can be as broad or as specific as you want them to, and frequently overlap. Their benefits stack with a diminutive return.
    A character cannot have more trainings in a skill than the numerical value of that skill.
    There is no list of trainings.

    Traits describe a character peculiarities. Much like trainings, they are keywords used to impact a character performance.
    But unlike trainings, traits can be beneficial or detrimental. Some can go either way depending on circumstances. They are not listed with skills even when they would thematicaly fit one.
    There is no fixed list of traits.

    Characters will receive various conditions during play. Conditions are much like temporary traits
    Most conditions are meant to be detrimental, but like traits, they could go either way depending on the specific circumstances.
    Some conditions may have a numerical value.
    You are free to imagine any conditions you want or change the proposed conditions to suit your campaign's needs. With that said, sticking to pre-established conditions greatly helps streamlining the game.
    Conditions are either minor or major, based on how difficult it is to recover from them.

    During an adventure, how successful characters are at the various actions they perform will be determined by checks.
    Before rolling the dice, it is important to define the check properly. Every check is done using a skill, under an attribute, against a difficulty and with a complexity. To overcome the check, the character will accumulate edges.

    The basics
    The player rolls a D10, add the relevant skill of their character to the roll, then compares the result to their relevant attribute and keep the lowest. That final result is compared to the check difficulty; if it's higher or equal, the check is a success.

    Edges represent every little things that a character can do to stack the odds in their favor. They are gained and spent before rolling the dice.
    You can spend edges to push your limits. For each edge spent, increase your relevant attribute by 1 for this check.
    Every edge you have remaining when rolling allows you to roll a bonus D10 and choose the result you keep.

    You can gain edges for any of the following reasons (and more) :
    Favorable circumstances.
    Using specialized tools. You can pick a lock with a hairpin, but using an actual lockpick will give you an edge. This doesn't apply to tasks that can't be done without tools, like driving a car.
    Overqualification. Having more trainings than required for the check complexity gives you edges. Every new edge require one more extra training than the previous one. You need 1 extra training for your first edge gained this way, 3 for the second edge, 6 for the third, etc.
    Taking your time.
    Taking a risk. You can choose to receive a penalty later (sometimes immediately after the check) for gaining an edge right now.
    Following a plan. If the action you are taking was predictable enough that you planned for it, you will have an edge. More elaborate planning may reward additional edges.

    Overcoming complexity
    To overcome the check complexity and do the check with no penalty, a character needs at least as many relevant trainings as the check complexity. The trainings don't have to be associated to the skill of the check.
    Each relevant negative trait increase the check complexity by 1. Each relevant positive trait or condition can be used as a training.
    If the character fails to overcome the check complexity, they receive the two following penalties :
    The character receives a penalty on their skill equal to twice the check complexity. If their modified skill is negative, the check is an automatic failure.
    For each missing training, discard one of your highest dice result. If you have no more dice, the check is an automatic failure.

    Combined checks
    Sometimes, an action requires to do different things at the same time. Sometimes, the result of different actions are inextricably connected. Sometimes you're just multitasking. In all of those cases, the different checks are combined.
    When making a combined check, define each individual check, add up all of their edges together, then roll the dice. You may now assign one dice for each individual check and resolve it normaly.
    If you don't have enough dice for every check, the diceless checks use the value 0 for their dice roll unless you failed to overcome the check complexity, in wich case it is an automatic failure as usual.
    When spending edges to increase an attribute in a combined check, that attribute is increased for every check.

    Opposed checks
    When a character faces another character, the situation is resolved with an opposed check.
    In an opposed check, each character rolls as usual, except that instead of being a fixed number, the difficulty is equal to the result of their opponent.
    Opposed checks are often combined with a check establishing a base difficulty and complexity for the task. Failure on that check causes an automatic failure on the opposed check.

    Group check
    When a group of character work together to pass a check, make a single roll with the following modifiers :
    Use the highest skill available, then add 1 for each other character with a skill of 5 or more.
    Use the highest attribute available.
    Add up all relevant trainings, trait and conditions from every characters, including duplicates.
    Add 1 to the check complexity for each character with no relevant training, trait or condition unless the check has basic complexity.

    Rolling against conditions
    When a negative conditions is relevant to the check, the check is combined with a check against that condition. The check difficulty is generaly equal to the value of the condition, and the check complexity depends of the condition.
    The consequences of failure on a condition check depends of the condition.

    Receving and merging conditions
    Most conditions are the result of a failure to pass a check. In such cases, the value of the condition is equal to the margin of failure of the check.
    When receiving a condition that you already have, the conditions are merged together. Make a check against the higher value condition. If the check is succesful, your new condition value is equal to the higher condition plus one. If the check is a failure, your new condition value is equal to the sum of both.

    How hard should a check be?
    When determining the difficulty and complexity of a check, start byb asking yourself what kind of people can reliably succeed at them and consulting the difficulty range and complexity range below. Then increase complexity by one for each complicating circumstance.
    Spoiler: Difficulty range
    0-2 : Trivial. Those actions can be done without even thinking about them.
    3-5 : Easy. Well within the reach of most people.
    6-8 : Challenging. Even though experts can aces those consistently, failure at such checks is commonplace.
    9-11 : Hard. These simply can't be done by accident, and only qualified people can expect to succeed at them regularly.
    12-14 : Heroic. Those checks are simply beyond the ability of the vast majority of people.
    15+ : Epic. Such feats are thought to be impossible, and performing one in public will make you famous overnight.

    Spoiler: Complexity range
    0 : Basic. Most people learn how to do such tasks simply by growing up.
    1 : Simple. These task can be made easier with the right skills, but are still manageable without it.
    2 : Tricky. Requires very specific knowledge to perform properly.
    3 : Sophisticated. It takes an expert to get any results at all.
    4+ : Convoluted. Such complexity is generaly the result of circumstancial complications.

    When to make a check
    Basicaly anything you do can be represented by a check. But given how the mechanics work and for a better flow of play, trivial and easy checks should be treated as automatic success unless the character can't overcome their complexity.
    Last edited by Cazero; 2022-05-18 at 06:30 AM.
    Yes, I am slightly egomaniac. Why didn't you ask?

    Free haiku !
    Alas, poor Cookie
    The world needs more platypi
    I wish you could be

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari
    Also this isnít D&D, flaming the troll doesnít help either.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
    Maat Mons's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Working on an original system

    Okay, so if I understand correctly...

    Complexity is your "must be this tall to ride" metric. You can't attempt any roll unless you have enough +1s from Trainings to match the Complexity rating.

    As an exception to this, you can expend Edges to roll when you wouldn't otherwise be tall enough to rise, but you take some penalties to the roll.

    Attributes are your automatic success mechanism. If your Attribute is greater than or equal to the Difficulty, you'll always succeed at the task, and you don't even really need to roll.

    And finally, if you're tall enough to ride, but not awesome enough to succeed without rolling, you make a roll involving your Skill and the Difficulty.

    So you basically follow these steps to determine outcomes:
    1. "Do I have a chance of success?" Compare Complexity to Training. If Training is lower, you fail. Otherwise proceed to step 2.
    2. "Do I have a chance of failure?" Compare Attribute to Difficulty. If Attribute is equal or higher, you succeed. Otherwise proceed to step 3.
    3. "Do the dice favor me today?" Roll Skill versus Difficulty.
    And then you have a pool of Edges to tweak that process when you really need to.

    That seems like it satisfies the basic necessities of a resolution mechanic... and also has a mechanism to sometimes give players a shot at doing something they otherwise wouldn't be able to manage. It should be a functional system.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground

    Join Date
    Aug 2014

    Default Re: Working on an original system

    Attributes actualy represent your limits, you can't roll higher than them without spending edges. If you have a good skill, topping off is a regular occurence and using your edges to push your limits become more interesting than keeping them for extra dice. And in an opposed check, whoever has a higher attribute starts with a tremendous advantage.
    Yes, I am slightly egomaniac. Why didn't you ask?

    Free haiku !
    Alas, poor Cookie
    The world needs more platypi
    I wish you could be

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari
    Also this isnít D&D, flaming the troll doesnít help either.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground

    Join Date
    Aug 2014

    Default Re: Working on an original system

    Today's update with combat rules. I also changed the base rules a bit, notably combined checks.

    Fights can be solved by simple opposed checks, but for games with more emphasis on combat, you may follow these optional rules.

    Turn sequence
    Combat is divided in turns during wich each character may take one action and one reaction.
    Each turn is divided in 4 steps : Initiative, Declaration, Clash and Interaction.
    A turn typicaly lasts only a few seconds, but may be expanded indefinitely if no characters has any intention to take new action until an ongoing one is resolved.

    At the start of each turn, every character rolls their initiative. To do this, make a Cunning check under Speed with difficulty and complexity of 0 and keep your result.
    In some circumstances (for example, if your character is surprised or wounded), the initiative check may be more difficult or complex. Failing an initiative check forces a character to lose their action for this turn.
    In every opposed check of combat, the character with the higher initiative gains an edge.
    Tip : each player should have a D20 at hand to mark their initiative for the turn.

    Declaring actions
    Once initiative is rolled, characters declare their action for the turn. Characters with lowest initiative must declare it first.
    A character may forfeit their action to gain a 2nd reaction for the turn.
    An action is either a Clash or an Interation. Clashes involve attacking or interfering with other actions in some way. Interactions cover every other action types.
    An action initialy declared as an Interaction can turn into a Clash if a competing character declares an interfering action.
    You can do multiple things in a single action by combining their checks. This may radicaly alter the resolution of an action.
    Declaring a clash action to attack an enemy or interfere with them in some way also declares a defense from their own action at no action cost, unless you decide to take a risk to gain an edge.
    Reactions are not declared during this step. Characters use them in response to the resolution of an action.

    This is the main combat step during wich attacks are resolved and most reactions are taken.
    The clash step involves many individual clashes between characters. Each individual clash is resolved by an opposed check, however each character must combine the checks of every clash they are involved in.
    In addition to other interfering actions already declared, a character may use their reaction to try to interfere with any clash action as it is resolved. The specifics of the action(s) and reaction(s) declared should give you everything you need to establish a proper opposed check and resolve the clash.
    A character who already used their action to interfere with another clash action and still decides to spend their reaction to hinder it further does not trigger an extra clash. They simply get an edge.
    If no interfering action or reaction were declared, a clash action is unopposed and almost certainly successful. This includes every form of attack.
    By default, all clash actions and reactions are considered simultaneous. Any character wounded by an attack gets to perform their attack of the turn before being receiving any penalty.

    This is an all purpose action step, where characters do all sort of things.
    Interaction order rarely matters as most timing sensitive actions are considered clashes, but in the cases where it does, characters with higher initiative act first.
    A character may need to spend their reaction during this step to cooperate with another character, for example to catch a thrown object.
    A character who still has their reaction available during this step may spend it to perform a minor action, such as standing up or taking a few steps.
    Some interactions such as hiding may still involves an opposed check.

    Hiding in combat
    Attacking while hiding gives you an edge and combines two opposed checks : one to determine wether or not you are spotted and one to resolve the attack as usual. However, your opponent must assign a dice to the attempt to spot your first or forfeit their defense entirely.

    Action cards (optional)
    To help you remember declared actions, each player may use a deck of actions cards covering the most common combat actions. The following list is a good starting point.
    Spoiler: Common combat actions
    Engage (clash) : the character engages an opponent in melee.
    Shoot (clash) : the character attacks an enemy from a distance.
    Sneak attack (clash) : the character attacks from hiding while trying to remain concealed.
    Total defense (clash) : the character defends themselves from multiple opponents.
    Protect (clash) : the character intercepts an attack destined to another character.
    Improvise (clash-interaction) : the character uses the environment.
    Go (interaction) : the character moves to a position.
    Follow (interaction) : the characters follows another character or object.
    Hide (interaction) : the character attempts to conceal their position.
    Setup (interaction) : the character prepares an elaborate action for their next turn.
    Recover (interaction) : the character tries to recover from minor conditions.
    Riposte (reaction) : the character attacks an opponent who attacked them.
    Defend (reaction) : the character defends themselves against an attack.
    Gang up (reaction) : the character joins in a group attack.

    Planning ahead (optional)
    When declaring their actions, players may also declare the action of their next turn. If during the next declaration phase they do not change their mind, they receive an edge for their action.
    This rule is easier to implement when using action cards.
    Last edited by Cazero; 2022-05-11 at 12:11 PM.
    Yes, I am slightly egomaniac. Why didn't you ask?

    Free haiku !
    Alas, poor Cookie
    The world needs more platypi
    I wish you could be

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari
    Also this isnít D&D, flaming the troll doesnít help either.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
    Maat Mons's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Working on an original system

    Ah, sorry, I misread Attributes.

    In that case, Attributes are telling you that there are some things any given character may not be able to do, even even with a very high roll. Thing is, Complexity and Training are also telling you that.

    I suggest that the two different mechanics for automatically failing a roll even if your dice-modifiers would otherwise have allowed you to succeed be merged into a single mechanic. "Can't succeed without Strength X" and "Can't succeed without X Trainings" just seem too similar to warrant handling them differently.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground

    Join Date
    Aug 2014

    Default Re: Working on an original system

    I don't really see how to merge those two mechanics of automatic failure. Or rather, I found a way that doesn't really work out as I want.

    The simple and elegant way to do it would be to have complexity increase difficulty when it is not overcome. This way, a check with high complexity might require spending edges to push your limits just to be able to pass it and still be very unreliable due to the high difficulty.

    However, I put that solution to the test with a simple task with expected automatic failure : translating ancient text from a dead language.
    Translating is a lore check under memory. The ancient text is plain language, so the base difficulty can't be very high. I might decide to increase the complexity by 1 as the ancient script uses pictograms completely unlike modern alphabets. So at most, the check will be of easy difficulty and tricky complexity.
    All you need to score an automatic success is 2 relevant trainings. Barring that, you should still have a fair chance of success with 2 edges from taking your time and using a translating device.
    But since the base difficulty is so low, that's not something I can properly emulate with a simple increase of difficulty based on complexity. The task will be either too easy and manageable without edges at all, or too hard and virtualy impossible to succeed without training. I need that extra edge eating oomph in there.
    Yes, I am slightly egomaniac. Why didn't you ask?

    Free haiku !
    Alas, poor Cookie
    The world needs more platypi
    I wish you could be

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari
    Also this isnít D&D, flaming the troll doesnít help either.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground

    Join Date
    Aug 2014

    Default Re: Working on an original system

    When solving a mystery in a role-playing game, we're often confronted with oddities, dilemmas and pace-killing stumps. These rules and guidelines are here to help you solve such situations using the game mechanics.
    Remember that the most important part is to write a good mystery to begin with. If my guide gives you any actual help for that, it will be purely incidental.

    Make a list of every little bit of information that can be pieced together to find out the truth and resume what they imply in one sentence each. Those are your clues. Keep track of wich ones your players have found.
    Keep your list of clues open-ended. You probably will have to add clues you haven't initialy thought off during play. Such added clues can be redundant with pre-existing ones.
    Your players can ask for a reminder of the clues they found at no cost.

    Resume the answer to your mystery in one or two sentences maximum, and identify the most important elements of those sentences. Those are the keys to unravel the mystery. Players will need to discover all (or at least most) of them to solve it.
    Each key has an intricacy level roughly measuring how hard it is to figure it out. When making a check to figure out a key as described below, both the difficulty and the complexity of the check are equal to that intricacy level. While this result in a prohibitive check complexity, relevant clues that your players found are counted as trainings to make it manageable.

    Investigation points
    Your players, as a group, will start the investigation with a handful of investigation points representing the time and resources they have to solve the mystery. They can spend them to help their case, but running out spells trouble.
    They should usualy start an investigation with as many points as there are keys to discover.

    Investigation scenes
    As their investigation progresses, players will come across investigation scenes. Finding a new investigation scene awards the group an investigation point.
    An investigation scene is any situation including at least one clue to find. Each clue has its own conditions of discovery. Some may be obvious and awarded simply for reaching the scene, others might require a check, and some may require having found related ones on a different scene to observe a pattern.
    If you have many scenes including only one or two clues, you may decide not to award an investigation point for all of them.

    Confirming an hypothesis
    It's not enough to simply guess or figure out a key. Your players will have to put their ideas to the test.
    Players can spend an investigation point to confirm an hypothesis. This generaly takes the form of a group reason check under memory of challenging difficulty and sophisticated complexity. The relevant trainings depend on the related clues they found.
    If they're trying to figure out a key, use the key's intricacy as the check difficulty and complexity unless your players found a way to put their idea to the test in a more material way, in wich case they can ignore intricacy levels entirely.
    If your players' idea was correct, confirm it to them. On a succesful check, give them their investigation point back.
    If your players were wrong, give them a new clue demonstrating why. On a failed check, bad things happen.

    Tackling multiple keys at once
    Sometimes, your players might be in a situation where the hypothesis they're trying to confirm is directly related to multiple keys at once.
    In such cases, make a combined check against all of those keys. They need to get every key right and succeed at every check to get their investigation point back, but only one failure on one wrong guess is enough for bad things to happen.

    Taking a hint
    While your players may be stumped, it doesn't mean their characters should be.
    Players can spend an investigation point to get a hint. They may specify the subject matter by asking a question or leave it up to you.
    When taking a hint, the players will make a check. It usualy is a group reason check under memory of hard difficulty and basic complexity.
    Provide your players with a new clue (answering part of their question if they had one) regardless of the check result. If the check is a failure, bad things happen.
    If they already know enough to ask the right question, players may accidentaly (or deliberately) ask for a key. If they do, adjust the check using the key's intricacy as usual and give them the whole key on a succesful check.

    Running out of investigation points
    When the group runs out of investigation point, and after resolving the action that costed their last point, the characters are given a chance to crack the case. It is a group check of reason under memory of challenging difficulty and sophisticated complexity, combined against every key they have not already confirmed.
    If every check is a success, the characters figured out the truth in the nick of time and the mystery is solved, allowing the players to intervene right before bad things were about to happen. But if even one check fails, the players make no progress until bad things do happen.

    Bad things
    Bad things happening is trouble for your players. It is an opportunity for whatever opposes them to act against their investigation directly. Maybe some evidence is destroyed, making your players' case harder to prove. Maybe a key witness is murdered. Maybe they arrest an innocent. Maybe the nefarious plan of the villain of the week progresses further. In the most dire circumstances, the mystery may become unsovable, dooming the party to fail.
    While those bad things should and will make it harder for your players to achieve their goals, they also mean that at least one new investigation scene should open and become obvious to them, or in the case of an unsolvable mystery, a brand new adventure.
    In addition to the game triggers tripped by your players, you might decide to have bad things happen as an immediate consequence of some event. If you do, you may award them an investigation point.
    You might decide to have your mystery be practicaly unsolvable before bad things happen at least once or twice, in wich case you should provide less investigation points at the start of the investigation and award them back as bad things happen.

    Secret scenes
    Sometimes, the group doesn't know yet that the scene they are in contains evidence for solving the mystery. In such a situation, take note of wich clues they uncovered and retroactively award them an investigation point when they realise it is important or the next time bad things happen, wichever comes first.
    Last edited by Cazero; 2022-05-18 at 06:32 AM.
    Yes, I am slightly egomaniac. Why didn't you ask?

    Free haiku !
    Alas, poor Cookie
    The world needs more platypi
    I wish you could be

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari
    Also this isnít D&D, flaming the troll doesnít help either.

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