A new RPG system

Drafting a Lite version

One of the things that D&D does well, and that a game like, say, GURPS does poorly is sufficiently staging the complexity for players.  GURPS, has to a lesser extent remedied this by releasing GURPS Lite, and they smartly made it free.  In that vein we’re going to want to start with a set of minimal rules that can be expanded upon without violating those minimum rules.  This also lets us spin up a game we can start testing sooner, and makes future rules modular.

So what do we have to do to get to Living Myth Lite?

Consider the following a very rough Outline, this is not intended to be a working rules set.

Minimum Rules Set

Playstyle Exposition

All RPG’s work with some set of assumptions about how the game is going to be played whether it is stated explicitly or not.  For example Dungeons and Dragons assume that people start and first level and exploring ancient things and killing monsters is the primary activity they’ll engage in.  Fate by contrast assumes that players are to varying degrees active participants in constructing the narrative of the game.  GURPS assumes that the game will involve being immersive and that rules referencing is not a problem. For Living Myth, some assumptions I’m working for in design include:

  • The Players will be invested in the Characters POV
  • The world will express consistent metaphysics
  • That the Players will be free to narrate anything from their end and that rules are then used as resolution, and the Narrative/Rules relationship will stay that way.
  • That Players and Game Masters will be free to make reasonable minor assumptions about their environment

Introductory exposition needs to reflect those principles, and give a general outline of what play looks like.

Basic Mechanics

Basic Mechanics need to be explained early and explained often.  Not only does the Kernel of the Game Engine need explanation, how it relates to other rules needs to be made explicit. As of now this Mechanic seems decided.  Specifically all resolution is to be handled by the following mechanic: Ability + Modifiers + 2d6 vs Difficulty + Modifiers + 2d6 Though that gives a simple description of task resolution, it masks the complexity that can come.  There is more than just the simple task resolution.

Rule of 12

If you roll a 12, add a single d6, if that is a 6 keep rolling and adding dice until a 6 doesn’t come up.

Challenges

A challenge is a task that can require multiple successes to accomplish a task.  It has a minimum Difficulty Rating and a Challenge Track.  The total roll, if it exceeds the difficulty rating, subtracts from the Challenge Threshold.  For example if a Challenge has DR-10, and CT-50. A Character attempting to overcome the challenge rolls a 20, some gains in the challenge have been made, but the challenge remains with 30 points left to score.

Contest

Sometimes two characters are attempting to work opposite ends of a challenge.  In such a case one character is moving the success of the challenge track one direction, and the other is moving it in the opposite direction.  In this case if the total is equal to the negative of the Threshold the negative side wins.

Abilities

Our ability list is more or less defined here.  In the case of the rules lite version we don’t need detailed examples for each of these, the ability ladder should suffice.

Perks and Flaws

The crunchier version will have a list of available perks and flaws.  For the rules light version it will involve simply describing something, associating it with a magnitude, and working out a Fatigue exchange.  A likely rule for this will be something along the lines of:

  1. Give a brief name for the trait, e.g. “Ninja training”
  2. Describe the conditions the trait can be used “Bonus any time Ninja Training would have a substantial impact on my ability in the scene”
  3. Buy ranks.
  4. By spending one Fatigue per +1 you may take that bonus any time the condition applies up to your ranks.
  5. The GM may penalize you in the same manner, but in that case you regain Fatigue.

Of note: This is kind of fuzzy, and clearly needs some work and is based on some unknown assumptions right now.

Fatigue

Fatigue is a stat I haven’t spoke of much.  It is going to reflect damage, be used for Perks, and be usable for bonuses in certain situations.  As it can be used for damage it’s going to need to scale relative to that, turning combat into a challenge as above.

Damage

High stakes situations need consequences, and those consequences need to be strong enough to create the necessary dramatic tension.  Combat damage needs to reflect the narrative drama one expects fro combat.

Extra Effort

Rules need to be made for putting extra effort into something.  Like everything else in games it needs to come with either cost or risk.

Combat and Action Scenes

Combat rules need to be called out explicitly, thought they should reflect the general rules set.  The more general rules we’ll call action scenes.  Two things need to exist for something to be an action scene.  1, Stakes need to be high.  And 2, Timing needs to be important.  This means that an Action Scene could be a Courtroom Debate, Disarming a Bomb, or Navigating a Lava Pit.  The most common occurrence is likely to be Combat, but is in fact anything scene for which the stakes are sufficiently high and timing is important enough.  In fact, combat does not necessitate declaring an action scene.  Timing could be unimportant because the only attack involves a Gun and Run, and the stakes could be insufficiently high if the combatants are of radically different power levels.

Initiative

Action Scenes begin with rolling initiative.  Each side rolls whatever their speed ability is and adds 2d6.  If one person started the action with a declaration that person is at +10 to this roll.  Anyone surprised is at -10 to this roll.

Action Points

The first hand each character has a number of action points equal to their initiative check.  The person with the largest Action Point pool declares first and spends a number of action points equal to the “speed” of the action.  Then the next largest action pool declares, etc… Following rounds each character uses only their speed as their action pool, however up to 10? unspent action points may be carried from one round to the next. An attack will probably typically take 5 Action Points.

Attack and Defense

Attack and Defense uses the basic mechanics.  Physique can be used for unarmed attacks, Athletics can be used for dodging.  Melee is used for unarmed or armed attacks.  Ranged is used for ranged attacks. Of note.  Weapons will not only give bonuses to Effect, they will also frequently give defense bonuses.

Character Creation

For the first draft of the rules light version Character creation will go as follows:

Set power level

For the rules light version we will range from Apprentice to Legend since that range is simpler in terms of having mostly a linear progression.  Setting the Character Points  and Maximum Rank accordingly it should look something like this:

Level Max Rank Character Points High
Apprentice 4 100
Skilled 8 200
Journeyman 13 325
Expert 17 425
Master 21 525
Grand Master 26 650
Legend 30 750
Super Human 39 975
Mythical 47 1175
Godlike 56 1400
Divine 60 1500

Here you can see the max ranks for a given ability, and the Character Points should work out to being 25 times that.

In terms of maximum depth of perks, it is 1 level of depth per level.  So a Legend can have 7 levels of a single Perk or Flaw.

Abilities

Abilities are purchased at 4 per Ability Point

Reflex

The characters Reflex Score will be used to determine Initiative.  It costs 20 Points per level.

Fatigue

Physical Fatigue (PF) is equal to 10+Endurance.

Mental Fatigue (MF) is equal to 10+Will.

Additional Fatigue may be purchased at 2 points per level.

Perks and Flaws

While the heavy system will have a complex list of Perks and Flaws, for the rules light version there will only be the following.

Positive Aspect

Cost: 5 Points per Level

Describe something that is true about your character, for example “Strong”, or “Trained by a master”.

Decide whether the Aspect is Mental of Physical.

For each rank purchased in this, the Player may elect to spend a fatigue (from the appropriate pool) and gain the ranks of the Aspect as a bonus to any test. This may be done after the check.

Additionally, the player may offer the GM a fatigue to assert that something is true.  The GM sets the difficulty of that thing, and the player rolls their ranks in the aspect against that difficulty.  If the check succeeds, it’s true, and the Fatigue is spent.  If it fails, the fatigue is not lost.

Negative Aspect

Cost: -3 Points Per Level

Describe something that is true about your character, for example “Weak”, or “Easily Fooled”.

Decide whether the Aspect is Mental of Physical.

For each rank purchased in this, the GM may elect to give the Character a fatigue (from the appropriate pool) and give a penalty to a test equal to the ranks of the Aspect.

Additionally, the GM may offer the Player a fatigue to compel that character towards a specific action.

Equipment, Movement, Etc…

Being a rules light version, rules for this won’t be specified.  The GM is free to grant equipment bonuses, bonuses to “damage”, etc…

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