View Full Version : Original System So I was making a d20 system and I wanted to ask some questions.

2016-06-14, 02:29 AM
So I myself and some friends are making a D20 based rpg system. The goal is to make it more in-depth, more dynamic while also giving players the option to play a huge variety of characters. I will attempt to describe it quickly.

The system still uses the same dice - d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20. It still uses the same ability scores, though they are now relative(instead of an 8 or 14, it is simply -1 or 2). The way that armor and evading works has been altered.

The biggest difference is that there is both health(HP) and another resource we call wit, which is just similar to health as all characters gain it per level. Wit is a strange amalgamation. It is still health, but it represents what damage a character might take under the hood. Basically, anything from fatigue to mental strain cause wit damage. But wit is also used to cast most spells and use some abilities. Characters can die from both loss of wit and hp. Depending on what class you take, you get varying amounts of wit and hp. For instance, a spell may cost the caster 1d4 wit. This would be a low level spell, as he can spam it a lot. With wit DR 1 can sometimes even cast it for free. Certain things like ethereal creatures can damage wit, while constructs have no wit etc. Essence creatures have no wit or hp, and instead have essence(which is a combination of both)

Then there's the classes. We decided to put a large emphasis on multiclassing, as this way we avoid the pitfalls of having 1000+ different alternate classes that may want to severely mess with the mechanics of the parent class. Thus far there are 6 "paths"(basically classes) that offer various abilities. The six classes are currently labeled "battle", "perseverance", "cunning", "Arcane", "faith" and "passion", though for ease of communication we call them fighter, monk, rogue, mage, cleric and bard, respectively. Each class offers a different abilities to approach something or how to interact with the world. The arcane class deals with all sorts of magical things like detecting auras, casting spells, familiars(in this case granting true companions(pets) sentience) while the "monk" class deals with surviving in the wilderness and dealing with all sorts of self-empowerment methods, unarmed combat, pure physical strength etc.

The typical druid archetype is simply an aspect of the faith class(taking a domain means you accept certain edicts, like do not lie, or do not use iron weapons in this situation), while a paladin is a combination of faith and battle classes, etc

Each level a player character can choose what class they wish to pursue this level, then what ability to take from that class, and then what feat and trait to get. Abilities offer something new, feats usually modify something existing, traits offer a small change in stats(+1 to a skill check, for instance).

The armor class is split into four defenses - natural, dodge, block and armor. They sort of stack against each other. So a character with a natural defense of 10, dodge defense of 3, block defense of 2 and armor defense of 4 would treat an attack roll of 1-10 as a miss, 11-13 as a dodged attack, 14-15 as a blocked attack. An attack of 15-19 would hit the characters armor and be reduced by armor reduction, while anything above 19 would strike true and not be reduced by the characters armor's dr.

Obviously these stack differently if you are in a similar situation to flatfooted or if there is a touch attack.

Combat works differently too. All characters have three actions per turn and instead of attacks of opportunity, there are simply reactions, which by default they have one per turn. This reaction can be used to move outside your turn(usually, if provoked). Casting costs 2 actions most of the time, while attacking costs 1. Yes, this means you can attack three times per turn, still, consecutive attacks take the -5 penalty for all previous attacks. There are many types of attacks - lunge, parry, simple, defensive, wild(and perhaps some more im either forgetting or which have not been finalized). Basically, what im saying is that this is an attempt to clean up the flow of actions(as a DM, so many times people get confused about the difference between having two standard actions and 1 standard action and a move action. This bypasses it, at least as far as we've tested.)

There's also mental state slots. Most characters have only one(except gnomes, who we decided should be unique and have two, representing how they experience the world in a stranger way emotionally.) Mental states are sometimes occupied by rage, fear, flow, trance etc. These have certain rules. For instance, a character in rage must always act and cannot wait to do something, a character in a state of fear MUST avoid the source of their fear as best as they can etc. Feel free to critique this. I know this may take away from the actual aspect of roleplaying the actual emotions of the character.

Aside from that, the skills have been changed. Study surroundings/tracks/person/item replaces the ever-used perception, while senses adds a very nice con scaling skill that works as passive perception. There's a lot more.

But there's a problem. I am stumped as to what to do with spells. On the one hand, spells can now be more powerful, as they cause the caster to lose some portion of wit, which everyone needs, and also because that means that with enough wit dr, some spells can become cantrips(cast forever with no cost). But the question is how to assign spells to a character? Currently gaining a spell is a class ability of the arcane class, which means that they can, at most, gain 1 spell per level. An idea was to add a feat that allows for also gaining an extra spell(of a lower level than current). Neither seem quite satisfactory.

Another aspect was the schools of magic. I, personally, dislike the wizard archetype. It feels too... modern? The idea of learning magic from a book seems benign to me. It downplays the mystery of magic. But for the purposes of auras, enchantment stacking(or preventing it) and various others, we decided to divide magic into spheres that deal with the essense of reality(the physical, energy and the spirit) and ended up with the following:

Conjuration - creates the physical
Transmutation - manipulates and changes the physical
Evocation - Creates energy and pure power
Alteration - Manipulates and changes energy(we need a better name for this one)
Animancy - Creates the spirit(psychic/mental effects belong to this as well. Illusions fall under this as well)
Psychomancy - Manipulates and changes the spirit(like enchanting, but also deals with physical manifestations of ethereal things)
Necromancy - Manipulates and creates negative energy.(all essences)
Vivimancy - Manipulates and creates positive energy(Hold your horses its not just healing ok, I know that's not meant for the arcane spellcasters, calm down. we just had to make it)(all essences)
Planermancy - bends and creates space(mix between the physical and energy)
Divination - Deals with observing reality(mix between the physical and spirit)
Abjuration - Guides, blocks or destroys the flow of magic itself(mix between energy and spirit)

So with that, you can make like this three circle venn diagram to describe the arcane nature of the universe... Now most of the time when an entity(character or object) becomes the target of an enchantment(a spell that lasts, like for instance bears endurance or curse), it can only hold one enchantment of a certain sphere. A character, for instance, cannot have two transmutation enchantments. This is out attempt to bypass the Christmas tree adventurer syndrome by simply making it an inherent part of the game. It also has some rules, such as necromancy and vivimancy oppose each other(cannot have one with the other at the same time) or that abjuration is always harder to dispel.

I hope someone read all of that, because I have a few questions and I'm seeking some advice. What do you think about the armor system, about the multicalssing aspect as well as the 6 "classes" approach, specifically about spells(suggestions are welcome) and about the spheres of magic system. Also, any critique of the wit resource is welcome. Aside from that, we are internally debating if faith and arcane spells should ever overlap(both have access to the same spell). To us the idea was that arcane vs faith magic should be like cyberpunk vs steampunk. One is more versatile, while the other packs a cold knuckled archaic punch.

If you got this far, thank you for your time.

2016-06-14, 05:34 PM
OK, some thoughts:

- Wit: You'll need to explain a lot more, but with what I understood doesn't mesh for me with the spellcasting.

- Classes: I think you're for the right way, but also need to explain more, maybe you'll need to break down by class and what each of it does, also, a good point that always is valued for players is customization, let they minds fly on the character creation step, don't know if you have this, it's a point you should consider.

- Armor class: this is a good one!, great job, I like it. And how about other bonuses to defense like Deflect and Parry, or it will substitute let's say the block value?.

- Combat: Overall looks good, but again, you'll need to explain a lot more before I can give my verdict.

Why 3 actions?, how did u came with this number?, can the number of actions be altered, meaning I can have more or less that 3 action caused by haste/slow spell or other means?.

Can I transform this number of actions into additional reactions (obviously you'll need to skip turn if you used all the actions on reactions in the round)?.

How does Dual-welding interact with the attack actions?

What means, mechanically, each attack type?

Did u already consider Grapple in this combat system, will you simplify it?

Mental state slots: This is an interesting idea, and also a way for the DM to direct characters. I think it will go well with the role playing thing, you see, mental states like Rage and Fear needs to be out of control from the character (as if in real life), a way to get out of a particular mental state can be a roll every amount of rounds depending your INT and/or WIS stats.

- Magic: This one will be hard to figure out, but have in count that the current versions of the game allows spellcasters to be way above other classes, so you may want to make magic less powerful (IMHO).

On assigning spell slots, I have this idea of learning spells per arcane class equal to half the spellcasting mental stat, rounded down, min 1. And have Mana points instead of Wit as fuel to be able to cast spells (spell cost equal to spell level, just like psionic powers, that is a good and simple spell casting system), So cantrips will cost 0 MP, Lv1 spells cost 1 MP and so on.

- Schools of Magic: Not much to say here, you pretty much have it, still, I will need to have all the details to make the verdict.

hope this helps you in some way. :smallbiggrin:

2016-06-15, 11:00 AM
I think Wits sounds interesting. Does it have a governing attribute, like health has Constitution? I would personally rename "Wit Damage Reduction" to something less wordy, as having "Wit Damage Reduction" requires that normal DR be renamed "Health Damage Reduction".

Perhaps "Mental Resistance"?

I like that "Essence creatures", who I presume will include outsiders combine the mental and health points. It really helps hit home that they are monadic beings, instead of dualistic ones.

I'm slightly worried the defense rules will require a lot of player-remembering or writing things down, as they the different defense values are intertwined and not independent.

So, for example, if an ability raises my Natural Defense, it also implicitly raises all of my other defenses, which requires I recalculate them. This may end up being a lot of math. So, I feel like it's something of a Red Flag for complexity.

Otherwise, I like that different defenses have different effects mechanically.

The action rules are well in-line with what I personally like to do with d20 modded rules, which is collapse Standard and Move actions into a single type, called Basic. This is usually more intuitive as well! Your rules also stealth-rig the action economy in favor of martial characters without making it completely apparent that they do. Nice.

I love combat system mods, so I'd be excited to see what the different attack types do.

So, about your question regarding magic:

Without seeing the whole modifications you're making to individual spells, it's hard to say much about this.

Personally, if you want to limit the number of spells a character has; perhaps make magic seem more thematic you could always just have each spell have add-ons. For example, a character might learn a spell to let them throw fire at people and then figure out new "techniques" or applications for this power, like learning how to use it to start fires that sustain themselves without fuel or how to defend themselves from fiery blasts.

Like so:

Bolt of Flame
Evocation, Novice
WP Cost: (Low cost)

The caster may hurl a bolt of conjured fire at a target, dealing (Low amount of damage) on a successful ranged attack.

If the caster knows at least one other Novice-level Evocation spell, they may spend an additional action as part of cost of the spell in order to shoot (Scaling number) of bolts instead.



By spending (Moderate WP Cost), the caster may create a flame sufficient in size to serve as a campfire. The flame requires no fuel; burns at a constant rate until the next sunrise before expiring.

If the caster knows a Novice-level Vivamancy spell, they may spend an additional (Moderate WP cost) to give the flame rejuvenating properties. Any creature who rests for at least eight hours near the flame heals at an accelerated rate, either gaining (Number) extra HP from resting or healing from (Low level afflictions) more rapidly with rest.

Quenching the Burning Fires

As a reaction, the caster may spend (Low WP Cost) to increase their Block Defense by (Scaling number) against attacks that deal fire damage, or gain a (Scaling number) bonus on saves against spells or abilities that deal fire damage.

If the caster knows a Novice-level Abjuration spell, they may also spend (Low WP Cost) to gain, or cause an ally within (Distance) to gain, (Low Amount?) fire resistance until their next turn.

While a bit presumptuous about your system, it gives a nice example of what I'm talking about. This would make magic seem more personalized; less distant. Instead of being a matter of "I know this spell and this spell", it would become a matter of "I know how to do X,Y and Z with Fire and A,B, and C with Wolves". I feel like that would make magic more mystic and more thematic.

This also makes knowing few spells less boring, since a single spell can be trained to do a lot. (How you gain techniques might be related to levels, or a matter of feats, or perhaps something you could allot skill-points towards.)

On your spheres, I personally would just make Necromancy govern positive and negative energy as within D&D I view it as the manipulation of life energy as a whole, but that's a matter of personal taste. I also would consider looking for alternative names for some of them, as I honestly have a hard time taking Vivamancy totally seriously. (If using the standard prefix/suffix thing, perhaps Biourgy, which basically means 'Technique for working with Life'.)

2016-06-15, 05:39 PM
Wit vs. Hit Points is a huge red flag to me.

Why? Because the sides have no interaction. Take the following scenario as an example:

A master Enchanter and his Fighter buddy are fighting a Red Dragon. Then Enchanter has powerful magical effects that sap his foes mind: he deals large amounts of Wit damage. The Fighter, by contrast, deals a lot of physical damage. Let's assume the Enchanter deals 20 Wit damage per turn, and the Fighter deals 15 Physical damage per turn (numbers don't actually matter here). The Dragon has 400 hit points and 400 wit.

It takes the Fighter 27 rounds to kill the Dragon by himself, assuming every attack hits. It takes the Enchanter 20 rounds to kill the Dragon by himself. Working as a team, they kill the Dragon in...20 rounds, since the Fighter's damage doesn't help the Enchanter at all.

It becomes impossible to mix damage types. If I deal more Wit damage than anything else, it's going to be super frustrating to my party's Hit Point damage dealers, AND to me.

2016-06-15, 08:05 PM
This sounds like every fantasy heartbreaker ever. That's not automatically a bad thing, especially if it is only a home system, but it means a massive hurdle to get anyone else even slightly interested.

Probably my biggest recommendation would be to look at each individual mechanic, see how it works, see how the change works, and implement it if you want to. There's really a ton you could get into with each individual aspect, to the point where I'm not that inclined to go much into any one part right now. Djinn makes a good point on the aspect of Wits; another concern is that dying from becoming witless doesn't make too much sense. Heck, even in D&D3e, getting reduced to a braindead state doesn't immediately kill a character. I have to wonder if a Stamina system might be a better idea, especially since it could be used for characters other than spellcasters - stamina regulating Rages or combat maneuvers, or in granting quicker/extra actions.