View Full Version : Ichneumon's Homebrew Role-Playing System

2010-01-24, 11:12 AM
Ichneumon's Homebrew Role-Playing System

Another system?
A role-playing game is a game of collaborative storytelling in which players take on the roles of characters. Usually one player, called the Dungeon or Game Master, acts as a referee, determining the setting and plot, deciding on the outcome of the player’s actions and interpreting the rules. The other players take on the roles of one character each. They play the protagonists of the story.
To determine the outcome of the character’s actions (whether or not they make the jump, kill the dragon or drown in a river) there is a set of rules, the game system. The game system is used to determine whether someone’s actions succeed or fail. Although the Game Master has complete control over the setting and the difficulty of the challenges the characters face, it is the system that determines whether or not a characters are able to overcome them.

There are many different games systems. The most famous are the different versions of the Dungeons and Dragons d20, GURPS and Hero systems. Different systems focus on different aspects of a game and different styles of play. Many systems are made for a specific genre, while others are “genre neutral”.

In my opinion any story and setting can generally be played with any system, simple or complex. I’ve decided to design my own game system, though, as I felt the need for a simple system that would combine the best parts of other systems while staying simple and leaving the focus on the story. Because most role-playing games are set in a fantasy setting, I will initially built by system for a fantasy genre, yet I intend it to be easily adaptable for other genres as well.

In my view a game system’s only real task is to aid the storytelling. A system needs to be simple and non-intrusive, while still offering the level of flexibility and accuracy needed to make the outcome of the player’s actions feel meaningful and not arbitrary, even though the dice results are random. This has been my main design philosophy.

Because the end result of my game system is so minimalistic I hesitate calling it “mine” as it feels in many ways as just a downgraded version of some kind of fusion of maybe the d20 or Fudge system. Therefore I do not claim this system as being “revolutionary” different or anything. This is just my interpretation of how a game system should look like. I am realistic and realise the market of systems AND homebrew "fixed" systems is so large that nobody will likely play it.

Why I made the game the way it is

I’ve decided to use “attributes” or “abilities” as the main way of describing the character’s physical characteristics, similar to how games such as Dungeons and Dragons do. I’ve however decided not to include social “attributes” or “skills”.

The reason behind this is that I feel they are largely unnecessary, not because there are few social situations in game, but because they don’t need a system to resolve the outcome of the player’s actions. When a character tries to persuade a guard to let them enter the city, the manner in which the character tries to persuade the guard and the content of his speech should determine whether or not he succeeds. This is difficult if not impossible to accurately simulate with rolling dice, so I decided to leave such a system out completely and leave it up to the Game Master’s judgment.

I do this also because I do not want to encourage “dice rolling your way through social interactions”. Social interactions are a vital part of the game and giving the players the option to roll “persuasion checks” somewhat encourages them in my opinion to just roll dice and skip role-playing the social parts entirely, or at least pay less attention to it as it isn't what determines the eventual outcome.

Similar reasons I had for excluding “search” or “alertness” skills or attributes. I didn't want the players to simply go into a room and roll the dice and say “I search the room” and have them find the key that was hidden behind one of the books on one of the shelves when the dice result would be favorable. Therefore I've decided to leave out a “searching skill”. Now, players need to say “I investigate the books on the shelves and what's behind them”, before finding said key.

I decided on 5 attributes: Accuracy, Nimbleness, Muscularity, Endurance and Fortitude. Apart from filling all the different types of actions, I tried to make all of them relevant in some way to combat. Muscularity fulfills the roll of “Strength” in d20 and similar systems, in that it provides a bonus to melee attacks. Endurance provides the hit points. I divided “Dexterity” in 2 different attributes, accuracy and nimbleness. Nimbleness is more about reflexes (and thus concerns defense), while accuracy is about ranged attacks and hand-eye-coordination. In my view it never made sense to have these two combined in 1 stat anyway and having them separated allows you to define your character better. The only attribute that isn’t directly involved in combat is fortitude. I wanted fortitude however, because I wanted to have a stat to control/resist fear and mind control, also when I would add the magic system later, such an attribute would come in handy.

When I had to decide on how to determine the scores, I choose against the “normal” D&D/d20 method of having a score between 7 and 18 have different modifiers between -2 and +4. I choose to simply have all scores be directly the modifiers and I choose against negative attributes, simply because adding a bonus to a dice roll is more fun than subtracting something.

I tried to keep “skill rolls”, or “feat rolls” as I named them, as simple as possible. You just add the appropriate attribute score and compare it to a DC. I had to change the DC to 3 higher than they normally are in d20 like games ( so 10 becomes 13, 15 becomes 18 etc), because the “standard” modifier for attributes now was 3 instead of zero.

When deciding on the combat system I was inspired by the 0e D&D rules (like in Swords & Wizardry) and the parody game Mazes and Minotaurs. I wanted the combat rules to be simple. However, I also wanted combat to be exciting, a bit like it is in 4e Dungeons & Dragons. I wanted the sliding, pushing and pulling, battle-field controlling you find in that game. I believe I succeeded in incorporating it in a simple and elegant way.

In many situations I think the movement of your enemies in such a way can be explained by you bashing against them, overwhelming them with force or something similar. I am still thinking about also adding a mechanic for startling your enemies, which would allow me to make the fortitude attribute more important in combat. The current version of startling is included in the rules, however I am not sure if I am entirely happy with it.

Although I like systems with different classes, as they encourage characters differentiation, I decided against creating an actual class system. I felt it would complicate and limit the system too much and make it too genre specific. However, I did add “aspects” which function a bit like class abilities and help differentiate characters more. I gave the different “aspects” names that imply a certain background, but the abilities are generic enough to be interpreted in another way. I was inspired by True20’s conviction points and core abilities, as well as D&D 4e’s healing surges.

The equipment table is mostly based on the d20 srd, yet switching gp to sp. The equipment list seems large and maybe unnecessary, but considering this will likely be the only “official” source for players to find equipment, I wanted to make sure they have something to choose from, if only to inspire peoples inspiration when looking at the lists.

2010-01-24, 11:14 AM
The Character Sheet

The character sheet is a sheet of paper on which you write all your character’s game statistics.

The first thing you need to do when creating your character sheet is determining the character’s attribute scores. The attributes are Accuracy, Nimbleness, Muscularity, Endurance and Fortitude. They define your character’s qualities. Is he quick, strong or handy?

Accuracy is the attribute that determines the character’s aim and dexterity. A high accuracy lets the character excel at ranged combat, sleight of hands and acrobatic stunts.

Nimbleness is the attribute that determines your character’s stealth and reflexes. A high Nimbleness allows your character to sneak around unnoticed and to evade dangerous blows in combat.

Muscularity is the attribute that determines your character’s physical strength. A high accuracy let’s your character excel at melee combat and physical tasks like climbing, jumping and swimming.

Endurance is the attribute that determines the character’s health and constitution. Your character’s endurance is used to determine your number of hit point for combat. A high endurance let’s you excel at resisting diseases, shaking of poisons and ignoring hunger or thirst.

Fortitude is the attribute that determines your character’s mental strength or force of will. A high fortitude allows you to resist magical attacks on your mind and allows you to stay calm and be brave when facing absolute death.

Generating Attribute Scores
You can use dice to determine your attribute scores. Just role 1 six-sided die for each attribute. That’ll be your score. Alternatively you can assign attribute points to your attributes. If you do this, you’ll have to start with 18 attribute points. You can assign them anyway you like, however each attribute should at least have a score of 1 and you can’t assign more than 6 points to one attribute at character creation.
Modifying attributes
In game you’ll find that your attributes are modified for different reasons. Some (magical) possessions might give you a bonus in certain situations for example.

Aspects & Luck
After determining your attributes you should choose 2 aspects, special abilities. Many aspects use “luck points”. At the start of the game you get a total of 3 luck points. By spending a luck point you can get different to choose one of many temporally advantages. When spending a luck point you may:
• Reroll any dice roll you just made and take the better of the two rolls
• Heal 1d6 damage you have. If you use a luck point in this way during combat, it costs a combat action though.
• Use a special ability granted by you Aspect

You can only ever spend 1 luck point at a time. You regain all your luck points each morning.

Expert’s Aspect
You may spend a luck point to gain a +4 bonus on a certain feat roll until the end of the “encounter” or scene.

Aspect of the Paragon
When choosing this aspect, select an attribute. For all feat rolls assigned to that attribute you may roll 2 dice and use the better result of the two rolls. If you choose to spend a Luck point for a feat roll for that attribute, you may only reroll 1 of the dice.

Aspect of Altruism
You gain the ability to use your own luck points to heal others. If you do this during combat, you need to spend a combat action. You heal them for 1d6 hit points.

Aspect of Bravery
You become fearless. You can´t be startled and are immune to all fear effects.

Aspect of the Unholy
You have an unholy aura. Anyone who comes near you within 2 squares for the first time during combat must make a d20 roll adding their Fortitude against a d20 adding your Endurance. If they fail, they are startled.

Aspect of the Dwarf
You can’t be knocked prone and every time someone tries to move you, he or she can only move you 1 square less.

Aspect of the Avenger
You choose one type of enemy (elves, robots, criminals etc). Instead of 1d6 your attacks deal 1d8 damage to them. (If by some other cause your attack wouldn’t deal 1d6 damage, adjust the dice accordingly. 1d8 becomes 1d10. 1d10 becomes 1d12. 1d12 does not change.) You may spend a luck point to switch the type of enemy it applies to. You can’t do this during combat though.

Aspect of the Berserker
During combat, you may spend a luck point and for the rest of the encounter you go “berserk” and you may push, pull and slide your enemies 1 square extra. You also gain a +1 bonus on feinting and your targets are already knocked prone if your attack role is 3 higher than their defense roll, instead of the normal 5 that’s required.

When the characters have adventured a while, the Game Master may reward them by giving them experience points. You may an experience point to increase an attribute by 1 or to increase your luck point total by 1. You may also spend 3 experience points to gain another aspect.

2010-01-24, 11:16 AM
Feat Rolls

In some situations the outcome of the player’s actions is significant. Do they succeed or not? With mundane tasks such as regular walking or putting on clothes, you can assume your character can do that. However, for actions that require a certain amount of challenge and risk, such as jumping over a river or climbing a mountain, you roll dice and do feat checks. The Game Master should tell you if a feat check is appropriate in a given situation.

When making a feat check you should roll a d20, that’s a 20 sided dice, and add one of your attribute scores to the outcome. The higher the result, the better. This result is compared to a fixed number (the Difficulty Class) and if that number is the same or lower than your result, you’ve succeeded. The height of Difficulty Class depends on the situation and is up to the Game Master to decide. Easy tasks have a DC of 13, while moderate tasks have one of 18 and hard tasks have one 23 or higher.

Because the number of possibilities in which you could use feat checks is endless, the rules don’t cover all possibilities and tell you which attribute to add. Instead, we give general guidelines what attribute would be appropriate for a certain actions. Although we hope players and Game Masters can find a consensus, the Game Master has generally the final say.

Depending on the circumstances, you can get a bonus or penalty on certain checks, ranging from -2 to +2. For example, moving silently in heavy armor is difficult (if not impossible).

{table=head]Attribute |Type of Action
Accuracy| Tasks that require a steady hand: disabling traps, opening locks,
Nimbleness |Tasks that require stealth, balance, good reflexes: tumbling, acrobatics, balancing, moving silently
Muscularity |Tasks that rely on muscular strength: jumping, swimming, climbing
Endurance | Tasks that challenge your health and stamina: Enduring harsh weather, poison, disease
Fortitude |Tasks that require great discipline and self-control: Resisting horror, bravery, resisting attacks on the mind[/table]

2010-01-24, 11:18 AM

Combat encounters need some more detailed rules because they often involve different people acting simultaneously and effecting each other. Typically it’s one side against another, players vs monster/guards/<some other enemies>.
For practical reasons combat is broken down in rounds in which each character may make a “combat action”, which may be combined with a movement action.

Depending on how the game is played, miniatures on maps with square or hex grids may be used. In such a case it might add to the fun of the game to lay more focus on tactical movement. If no map is available or if the game if played on a medium in which detailed map-and-miniature combat is not easy to accomplish, tactical movement in combat may be ignored and you can just assume that character are able to move in and out of a position in which they can attack. The basics of combat though, stay the same. In these rules though we will assume a map and miniatures are in some way available. If you use a map, the number of squares a character may move should in some way depend on the character’s stats. We advise to make the speed at which characters may move during one round in a movement actions to be equal to the character’s nimbleness score, after subtracting an armor penalty.

When a combat encounter starts, initiative should be determined. Either the enemies start first or the players. Context should determine which starts first, for example, if the players are ambushed, it makes sense the enemies start first. If context doesn´t provide a clear answer, dice may be used to randomly decide on initiative.

Each character gets 1 turn in a round, in which they may make a combat action and a tactical movement action, which involved changing position, running to an enemy, teleportation etc.

A combat action is a form of attack. Attacks are made in a similar manner to feat rolls. The attacker makes an attack roll, by rolling a d20 and adding the appropriate attribute score. In case of melee combat, the attribute score is muscularity, in case of ranged combat it is accuracy. So, an archer rolls a d20 and adds their accuracy score, while a swordsman adds his muscularity instead. Weapons also provide a bonus, of either 1,2 or 3 to the dice result, depending on how good the weapon in question is.

The “victim” of the attack makes a defense roll, which consists of a d20 with added nimbleness score and an armor bonus of 1,2 or 3.
If the result of the attacker is equal to or greater than the result of defender the attacker hits and deals damage. To determine the amount of damage you should roll a six-sided die, a d6, and add the weapon bonus of the attacker and subtract the “armor bonus” of the defender. The minimal damage is always 1.

Depending on how much higher the end result of the attack roll is compared to the defense roll, the attacker may either push, pull, slide the defender or knock him prone.
Sliding, pushing or pulling should make sense “in game”, so story wise it should be explainable.

You can slide, push or pull the attacked individual a number of squares equal to the difference between the attack and defense rolls. So, if there was an attack roll of 18 and a defense roll of 16, the attacker may push the defender 2 squares. There is a limit though as you can’t move someone more than 5 squares and you can’t move them into a square that is taken in my somebody else.

If the difference between the attack roll and defense roll is 5 or more that target is knocked prone (possible after being pushed, pulled or slid). A prone target must spend a tactical movement action to stand up and get a penalty of -3 on making attacks until they do stand up.

The amount of starting hit points a character has is equal to 15 plus your endurance attribute score. If the number of hit points drops below 11, the target takes a -1 penalty on all rolls, until they are healed. If the number of hit points drops below 5 the character falls unconscious and if the number of hit points drop below 0, the character dies.

Optionally, instead of attacking you may as a combat action try feinting to startle your opponent. You roll a d20 and add the relevant attribute (muscularity for melee, accuracy for ranged). Your opponent must make roll a d20 as well and add his or her fortitude score. If your result is the same or higher the opponent is startled for his or her next round and take a -1 on attack rolls. You can be startled by multiple enemies and the penalty stacks.

2010-01-24, 11:19 AM
Reserved for Equipment....

2010-01-24, 11:20 AM
Reserved for Poison and Diseases

2010-01-24, 11:21 AM
Reserved for the Magic system...