View Full Version : Rules geeks: care to help me tweak a homebrew system?

2009-11-10, 03:35 PM
I have worked, off and on, to develop a homebrew RPG system. My idea is to program it for PC use, though honestly, it would probably be quite playable with pen and paper.

I'm attaching what I have so far. I'd love to hear feedback and suggestion from the community.


Attributes range from 2 (horrible) to 21 (outstanding). Choose wisely - attributes never increase over the life of your character.

Attributes are: strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, charisma

Average for an attribute is 10-12. 13 and above earn plusses, 9 and under suffer minuses.

Note that I'm unsure of how I want to handle health.


Characters earn experience that grants levels. Level advancement caps at 20.


The system itself is classless - instead, you spend points in whatever skills you like to come up with a character that fits your concept.

Characters start with 10 skill points, and earn 5 more per level. No skill can be higher than your character level plus 1.

Skills come in two flavors: basic (such as one-handed blades) and specialized (such as dagger, broadsword, short sword, longsword).

All skills cap at level 10. to qualify for a specialized skill, you must have at least 5 ranks in the appropriate basic skill.

Basic skills stack with appropriate specialized skills when making checks. Basic skills give a bonus of 2% per rank, specialized grant 3%. So a warrior with 6 ranks in 1-H blade and 4 ranks in longsword would have a total bonus of 24 (6*2 + 4*3).

There are four major skill categories: combat (weapon), rogue, magic, and general.

As it works out, you can earn 105 skill points in your career. That's enough to allow you to be an uber-master at, say, two complete schools of magic (includes all sub-schools), and have enough skill points to weakly swing a pointed stick and perhaps dogpaddle. Or, you could master a couple of weapons, one type of blasting spells, be good at first aid, decent at bartering, and able to handle a lot of locks if need be. Or... you get the picture.

Combat: made by opposing skill rolls (attack vs. defense, adjusted for dodge, surprise, etc) modified by random die. Armor does not make you harder to hit, but it does soak damage for you if you are hit.

Magic: Five schools of magic available (as skills). Each school has subschools (as specialized skills). For instance, elemental magic allows air, earth, fire, and water magics. Necromancy allows bindings, physical necromancy, and spiritual necromancy. And so on.

Magic requires mana to operate. For each rank in a magical skill, the character gains mana. I have a chart that shows progression in mana available plus the appropriate cost per spell level; suffice it to say that thrugh skill level 10, this works beautifully (a character can always cast 2 of his most powerful spell, usually with a little mana left over... or he can opt to mix and match).

I am looking at game balance here, though - a character could easily take several magical disciplines and gain enormous amounts of mana. I'm thinking, then, that characters may only gain the full value for their most advanced magic skill, then half values for their next most advanced. Further skills give abilities and access to spells, but no additional mana (the body can only hold so much mystical energy).

Whew! That's a lot! Items I am still pondering:

Should armor use be a skill? I want to say yes, but it doesn't seem to scale well with the other skills (no subskills, no real value in continued progression).

What to do about health? I don't like artificial hit points, but they seem almost a necessity, else higher level attacks (especially via magic) become insta-kills.

What else have I overlooked?

2009-11-10, 03:47 PM
If you're worried about health, simply don't let attacks scale in damage with skill. It just helps you hit people and not be hit. So two master swordsmen fight for about the same amount of time as two novice swordsmen, but one of the masters would be much more likely to hit the novice than another novice would.

Similarly, more magic skill doesn't necessarily mean more damage. After you can do enough damage to reliably kill someone, you're better off making more complicated/powerful spells do other things too, like AoE or be harder to dodge or whatever.

Also, you seem to be creating something similar to GURPS (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/), but with levels.

You might want to ask to have this in the homebrew forum instead.

Fiery Diamond
2009-11-10, 05:32 PM
Yeah, homebrew is the best place for this...but I'm curious to see the actual specifics. This looks like something I'd be interested in playing, to be honest.

2009-11-10, 05:40 PM
Huh. Sorry for overlooking the homebrew section!

What sorts of specifics would you like to see? Feeback in those areas would be useful, I'd think.

Dark Herald
2009-11-10, 10:46 PM
make health tied to constitution. add some general skills that increase it and call it a day. YOu need constitution to do something as much as DnD does, and it makes the most logical sense. That wasy people know what stat to buff for more health. also, less health makes combat more lethal, which is good for everyone.

2009-11-11, 09:24 AM
Huh. A general skill for health? Interesting idea. At first glance, I say "no way", but on second look, it makes some sense...

2009-11-11, 12:09 PM
Why have levels if you're going classless? Look to GURPS for more inspiration, or even White Wolf systems. Scion might work well for you in particular, seems to accomplish most of what you're trying to do here, and the Legend system is like a quasi-level system in that it gives a definite measure of how 'powerful' one toon is compared to another, but without the solely numerical advantages that come in a system like DnD.

Fiery Diamond
2009-11-11, 03:15 PM
Why have levels if you're going classless? Look to GURPS for more inspiration, or even White Wolf systems. Scion might work well for you in particular, seems to accomplish most of what you're trying to do here, and the Legend system is like a quasi-level system in that it gives a definite measure of how 'powerful' one toon is compared to another, but without the solely numerical advantages that come in a system like DnD.

Because some people like the mechanic of levels. Myself included. Just because someone wants to go classless doesn't mean we want to go level-less.

Things I'd like to see... hmm...

Spells- Well, I'd be curious to know what the chart for mana is like, as well as more information about how the spells are divided up and perhaps some examples of how you're thinking of running the mechanics of the spells - for instance, would the power of a single spell change with leveling? How long would it take to cast a spell compared to using a single attack? In what way would your stats (and which ones) affect spellcasting? Do you have to roll to hit or roll to determine some other effect when casting? Do you have any example spells? How often does mana recharge? Is there a way of manually forcing a recharge (mana potions, etc.)?

Hit points, stats, damage-...what different things would each stat affect? Do you want people to gain hit points as they level, or do you want something more static? Do you want damage to be localized ("Ow, he slashed my arm! Now I can't wield this greatsword properly!" "Ouch, my foot! I can barely hobble along!") or more generalized ("Agh, I'm hit! [insert whatever problem you wish, or put no problem at all]")? If you don't want hit points per se, then how are you planning to calculate damage? On the same note, how do you plan to calculate weapon damage, and is it in any way similar to calculating spell damage? Would armor protect you from magic or just physical attacks?

Skills- Could you elaborate on the divisions of skills? For example, what are some examples of "rogue" skills vs. "general" skills? I can probably guess, but it would be nice to see some examples. Also, along with the issue of calculating damage, how many different weapon skills are there? How many basic ones? How many specialized ones? Would a crossbow and a longbow both fall under the same basic skill of "bows" or something different? How about a javelin vs a sling? How are stats going to affect skills?

Combat-I'm assuming based on how skills work that this system is d% rather than d20 for everything. What kinds of modifiers do you intend to use in combat to supplement weapon skills? How do you intend to determine dodge modifiers or surprise modifiers? What would affect the defense roll? If armor is simply soaking damage, then there needs to be some skill-related way of improving your defense roll. Is that going to come from whatever weapon you're wielding? But then, what about characters that are built on the concept of simply dodging rather than parrying? Will there be any mechanical difference between a dodge and a parry? How many times can a character attack on his turn? Does this change throughout his leveling progression? How much movement can the characters make? Is there going to be some categorization of actions (move actions, standard actions, certain number of actions of each kind per turn/per round)?

Other- What are we going to do about avoiding/resisting danger? For example, how are we calculating whether a poison is successful or not? Whether a character manages to avoid a pit trap? Whether a character can resist mind control or see through an illusion?

I hope that provides you with something to work with as far as figuring out what you might need to think about and letting me see specific stuff. Heck, this could really be fun!

2009-11-11, 05:47 PM
We see eye to eye on levelling, Fiery Diamond. Understand that I have some vague ideas as to many of the items you have asked, but I have yet to nail down specifics in amny cases (such as weapon and spell damage).

I am thinking that yes, you will absolutely be able to increase your skill-related defense ability. I'm thinking that ranks in a weapon give you attack AND defense skills with it. As for dodge and such... I have no mechanic in place for this yet, but it makes sense. Perhaps there needs to be a skill tree that includes this.

Here is the skill list that I currently have. It is not perfect nor complete. I am sure that there are glaring holes or things that may need to be edited/removed.

Weapon skills:
1H Blade -> Broadsword, dagger, longsword, short sword
2H blade -> bastard sword, greatsword (other?)
axe -> battle axe, great axe, hand axe
blunt weapon -> club, hammer, mace, staff
bow -> longbow, shortbow
brawling -> improvised weaponry, pugilism, wrestling
chain weapon -> flail, morning star
crossbow -> heavy crossbow, light crossbow
longshaft weapon -> halberd, lance, spear, pike
sling weapon -> sling, staff sling
thrown weapon -> dagger (thrown), throwing axe

General skills:
athletics -> acrobatics, climbing, running, swimming
healing -> first aid, physic, surgery
influence -> barter, bluff, charm, intimidate
perception -> listen, search, spot

Rogue skills:
artifice -> disarm trap, manipulate lock
sneak attack -> backstab, distant attack, flank
stealth -> hide, move silently

Magic skills:
elemental -> air, earth, fire, water
mentem -> divination, illusion, influence, psionics
necromancy -> bindings, physcial necromancy, spiritual necromancy
summoning -> animal, monster, outsider, spiritual
transmogrify -> fauna, flora, object, reality

Mana progression:
Skill level / total mana / cost for spell of level
1 / 2 / 1
2 / 6 / 2
3 / 12 / 5
4 / 20 / 8
5 / 30 / 13
6 / 42 / 18
7 / 56 / 25
8 / 72 / 32
9 / 90 / 41
10/110 / 50

As mentioned above, I was thinking that a second set of magic skills would grant half mana, and nothing beyond that (besides more spells, obviously).

This is what I have now. More to come as we discuss / I brainstorm.

2009-11-16, 12:00 PM
Any other feedback? any opinions on scaling mana?