View Full Version : Pretender [WIP independent RPG where you're a god]

2009-10-16, 09:46 PM
The RPG market is crowded with games where you play as a single character, generally a mercenary type with freedom of movement despite the political structure of the land, who bands together with like mercenary types to travel abroad to clash with powers beyond your ken. Well, what if you were one of those powers? I always wanted to play a god in a game; someone who's not omniscient or omnipresent but still has power over his domain and worshipers (think the Greek gods hanging out on Mt. Olympus). Unfortunately, no system can accurately represent the POWER of a deity because the rules are designed around being mortals.

This topic is where I'll be jotting down notes and going through the motions of creating a fully fledged RPG system. With Gen Con nearly a year away, I'm hoping I can get a finished, fully playable system by then. The title is work in progress and any creative input by outside sources is welcome.

The Pitch
Congratulations, hero! Through your bravery and tenacity in the mortal world the greater gods have blessed you with ascension into their realm. As a god you'll spread your influence across the world using any means possible. However, being a pretender god roots your existence solely in the faith of your believers; should they abandon you, so too will you cease to exist. You're not the only pretender vying for a seat in the upper pantheon, though, and other pretender gods wield as much power as you do if not more.

You're a servant to the people as much as you are their lord; such is the life of a god.

The Premise
You're a pretender god; a lesser deity who exists outside the pantheon of greater deities. As a pretender, your existence is tied to the belief of your followers. If they stop believing, you cease to exist. You spread your influence by getting more people to believe in you. How you do this will change the world's perceptions of your existence. Will you conquer territory and demand unswerving loyalty or will you openly accept the faiths of rival pretenders? The choice is yours and as a god the morale code of the mortal realm is beyond your concern.

Pretenders are neither omniscient or omnipresent however your holy spirit can be split into multiple "aspects" each controlled by a different player. These aspects are autonomous but collectively share the same goal of spreading influence. The GM controls the events of the world and the players, as pretenders, react to the situations the GM presents. The game is designed around a cause-and-effect system; the GM creates a situation, the players react in turn, then the GM describes the end result including changes in influence.

The System

Haven't decided on one yet. I like using a single type of die and d6s are both easy to find and easy to work with.

God Creation

Each player creates their own aspect which is part of a single collective deity. I want few governing attributes. God's should be measured by their insight (you're not omniscient; you can still make mistakes!), their presence (when you do even mundane things people really take notice!), and their spirit (spiritual power; how effective your powers are).

Each player collectively shares influence[b], [b]faith, and belief. Your influence is your relative power; the more you have the more power you wield over the mortal realm. Your faith represents the energy a god receives through worship and is the basis of your power. Belief is the strength of your worshiper's conviction; when you run out of belief you cease to exist! Influence and belief aren't synonomous; many gods cease to exist but the truly influential ones live on in legend and mythology.


2009-10-17, 10:23 AM
note: Because I haven't decided on a name yet, I'll be using WIP as a fill in.

Game Overview
The basic element of all play sessions involve at least one player, an Overdeity, and dice.

Pretender God
All players assume the role of an aspect to a lesser deity called a pretender god (PG) who are vying for a seat in the upper pantheon of greater deities. As an aspect, your goal is to spread your influence until you become powerful enough to ascend into the pantheon; the exact requirements are set by the Overdeity. All players are seperate parts of the same whole; you may have similar powers or take vastly different actions but you make up a single, collective entity.

One person assumes the role of Overdeity (OD). He acts as:

Narrator: The OD creates the game world and describes the daily
events to the pretenders who respond with their reactions. The OD provides the framework for the game and runs it with the help of the players.

Event Constructor: The OD designs the events pretenders face each day. It's through these events that players make decisions that affect the world's outlook on the pretender.

Referee: The OD is the final arbiter of all decisions. If there is a disagreement, his word is final.

The ultimate goal of WIP is to ascend to the greater pantheon. To do this, pretenders need to gain influence. Every action the players make directly affects their influence either positively or negatively. OD created events can also change the pretender's influence.

WIP uses six sided dice for resolving actions. All players should ideally have at least three.

Playing the Game
The goal of the players is to gain influence for their pretender god. They do this by directly acting within the mortal world. The Overdeity responds to player decisions through the use of events players need to overcome. There are two phases to the game:

Player Phase: Each player describes how their aspects spread influence in the mortal realm. Pretender gods can start wars, cast miracles, inspire mortals to do great things or spread plagues across the land. Each of these actions raises a pretender's influence but they're limited to direct actions only within their influence.

Event Phase: The event phase allows the OD to create the reactions to the player phase. Events are based around a cause-effect-result model (detailed later). In this phase rival deities challenge the pretenders, missionaries convert their followers, natural disasters ravage the land or believers lose faith. The resulting player phase allows the pretender to react to the ever changing structure of the world.

Acting as a God
The players are gods and their existence relies solely on the belief of their followers. Should their followers stop believing then the god ceases to exist.

Gods are above the moral realms of the mortal world. The only goal is influence which is gained simply by making their presence known. However,
a player's actions ultimately affect the outlook the world has on the pretender god. A feared god is treated differently than a respected god.

Players should act in a manner that best serves their end goal. Demanding mass sacrifices of their most devout followers will likely be more of a detriment than a boon. Likewise being too lenient threatens their livelihood by introducing outside deities' influence. Players are separate parts of the same whole requiring teamwork and understanding of each others' powers to successfully ascend.

Although pretenders have near unlimited power, they're confined within their area of influence. A pretender can directly alter their own realm but have to rely on missionaries, armies, and miracles to affect the world outside of their influence. Their influence is spread through the construction of holy sites that carry their power. Holy sights are protected from direct attacks by rival pretenders but susceptible to mortal hands.

Pretenders rely on faith to make their presence known. Their faith pool is generated through worship. Every time a pretender acts in the mortal realm they use up their faith pool. Faith is regenerated fully at the beginning of a new player phase meaning that player's should use up as much as possible before ending their phase.

Core Mechanics
All conflict in WIP is solved by rolling three six-sided dice (hereby referred to as 3d6) against a target number to determine success or failure. If the dice beat the target number (TN), it counts as a success; if the dice are smaller it counts as a failure. An average task would be TN9 while a near impossible task would be TN18. The difference between the dice and TN is called the marigin of success (MoS) written as a positive number or marigin of failure (MoS) written as a negative number.

Situations that benefit the players add a bonus to the final roll. Situations that hinder the players apply a penalty to the final roll. Regardless of the final roll, if the player rolls a base 3 it is an automatic failure and a base 18 is an automatic success.

The golden rule to WIP is don't stress the details. You're a god; the exact number of cornstalks growing in a podunk is beyond your concern. How many spearmen are in an invading troop isn't important. What's important is how you handle a plague of locusts that are destroying the crops or whether you destroy the invading army with a rain of fire or scare them off with a holy fetish that rips through the sky.

The ultimate goal of WIP is fun. If the players aren't having fun, the game is being played wrong. Players should work together to acheive their goals and the OD should ensure they are challenged but never frustrated.

Character Creation
There are two steps to character creation: creating the pretender god and creating the individual aspect.

Pretender God Creation
The players are aspects of a single entity called the pretender god. Because attributes of a pretender god are shared among all aspects, it's important that players agree on the pretender god before beginning.

1. Name: A god's name is his most powerful attribute. Without a name, mortal prayers are directed nowhere. Pretender gods may go by many names but a single, strong name is enough for mortal's to channel their prayers.

2. Primary Attributes: Pretender gods have three attributes that govern their spiritual form and modify die rolls that rely on them. A new pretender god begins with a +0 in all attributes and 15 points to increase them. Increasing an attribute by 1 costs a number of points equal to the next rank. For example, a +1 costs 1 point and a +2 costs 3 points (1 for +1 and 2 for +2). The three attributes are:

Insight: Gods are aware of all that happens within their influence but they're not omniscient nor all knowing. Insight allows a god to see events beyond their realm, predict the results of their actions, and provide wisdom to their followers.

Presence: Some gods are more assertive than others. A god with a high presence commands the attention of mortals and spreads influence easier. His actions are more noticeable by the mortal world.

Spirit: Lacking physical bodies, a god's spirit is his being. The stronger the spirit, the more a god can assert himself within the physical realm. Gods with strong spirit cast more powerful miracles, generate more faith, and are more resistant to change.

3. Secondary Attributes: Secondary attributes are derived from the god's primary attributes and cannot be changed during creation.

Belief: Represents the the power a god gains through worship. When worshipers lose faith, they stop believing. A god with zero belief ceases to exist.

Belief begins at 10 + Insight + Presence.

Influence: Gods can only directly act within their area of influence. Influence is spread by building altars beyond their realm and converting non-believers into worshipers.

Influence is equal to 1 + Presence and can never be less than 1.

Faith: Faith is the energy a god gains through the conviction of believers. Faith is used when a god acts within the mortal realm and is fully restored at the start of a new phase.

Faith begins at 5 x spirit.

4. Miracles: Supernatural powers that a god can manifest into the mortal world. Miracles are a god's primary source of influence allowing a wide range of abilities from bringing rain to tearing holes in the earth.

All gods begin with miracles equal to 3 + insight.

5. Description:


Aspect: The physical representation of a pretender god. These beings carry out the pretender god's will and act as a fount for its power.

Pretender God: A mortal that ascended to become a god. Their single goal is to ascend into the greater pantheon by spreading their influence throughout the mortal realm.

Dragon Elite
2009-10-17, 10:34 AM
Seems interesting, I will playtest it with two of my friends and report.
You should add some examples of different difficulty to be a base for the OD.

2009-10-17, 10:45 AM
Seems interesting, I will playtest it with two of my friends and report.
You should add some examples of different difficulty to be a base for the OD.

I'll be sure to call on you when I need playtesters, thanks!

I've got the basic idea for conflict resolution and the player phase down but right now the biggest hurdle is taking my messy notes and putting them into a readable format.

Dragon Elite
2009-10-17, 02:11 PM
Kay, I know a dozen or so people who would be willing to do so.

2009-10-17, 03:13 PM
God games of all kinds and with different rule systems have quite a following over in the play by post section... if you were to post there, I'm certain you'd find a lot of interested people.