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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Jun 2016

    Default Let's Just RPG! — An easy-to-play OGL system

    Welcome to Let's Just RPG!

    Goals:
    • To capture the feel of D&D gaming, while reducing the bookkeeping needed to the bare minimum (I'm coming from 3.5 and 5th editions, but there's an old-school D&D feel to this as well).
    • To be able to build a character in mere minutes, even at higher levels.
    • To be able to fit a character's information on a single index card, with the exception of spells, which should ideally fit on a second index card.
    • To present monsters with simplified stat blocks and easy rules, so they can be easily recorded and easily improvised.
    • To provide a mechanism for GMs and gaming groups to increase the game's complexity in a modular way, so as to broaden the appeal of the admittedly simple system.
    • To abide by the terms of the OGL, so that there are no trademark or copyright issues and the resulting game can be freely distributed.

    Results:
    • A classless rule set that relies almost entirely on attribute scores and character level, rather than a smorgasbord of special abilities.
    • Playing rules that are simple enough to be summarized on a two-page Quick Reference Rules sheet.
    • Abstracted weapons and diceless damage as the default options, to enable quicker play and streamline the rules complexity.
    • Streamlined spells, such that the vast majority of the spell descriptions consist of three lines or less, combining to take up six pages total.
    • The inclusion of a Threshold Level rule, to enable GMs to choose the ultimate power level of each campaign, in a manner similar to the E6 variant of D&D 3.5.
    • Optional rules to add traditional class-defining signature abilities, combat maneuvers, weapon qualities, damage dice, and more, intended to be used in a mix-and-match manner to each gaming group's taste.
    • Monster stat blocks were extremely simplified, but then I thoroughly revised the monster math and rules. There are now straightforward and quick rules for creating a wide variety of monsters at any level, but the revised Bestiary of finished monster stat blocks is not yet completed.
    • And finally, this system expects players to trust the GM, and the GM is empowered to make rulings on corner cases. I've chosen to empower GMs and rely on common sense (and to an extent gaming traditions) rather than add paragraphs and paragraphs of rules clarifications to a sparse rule set.

    If you despise dead levels, and get most of your enjoyment from constructing complex character builds, this is not the system for you—I rather prefer dead levels to trying to squeeze more and more special abilities into a character sheet and bogging down play with analysis paralysis. This system is meant to enable quick and easy play, so you can dive right in on a moment's notice.

    The system is something I've been toying with for a few years now, but it's still a bit of a work in progress. I'm interested in feedback, but at the same time I'm now past the point where I'm willing to re-work the foundations of the game. It's very much a system built to my personal taste, but I imagine there are others with similar tastes out there. I'm putting the rules here to see what glaring issues people find, and also so I can refer to them for playtesting campaigns.



    Player's Guide
    Grimoire
    Game Master's Guide (still under construction)
    • Part 1: Default RulesLink (this link currently omits the incomplete sections on Treasure and Wealth, Magic Items, and Equipment Prices)
    • Part 2: Optional SystemsLink

    Quick Reference Rules (Player rules summary on 2-sided sheet)
    Fillable Character Sheet (for PbP play, save as a template for Google Docs)
    Spoiler: Explanation of Purpose and Origins
    Show
    TL;DR: See above.

    Where did Let’s Just RPG! come from? I started gaming with Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition, which I found to be a fun and exciting game. However, especially as I came to know more of the options available in that edition, I realized that creating a new character, or even leveling up, was a long, laborious process, from choosing skill ranks and calculating bonuses, to purchasing equipment and writing down the multitude of special abilities offered by each race and class level. Building a higher-level character, using wealth-by-level tables, and searching through the Magic Item Compendium became less an exercise of the imagination, and more of a logistical nightmare each time—especially if I wanted to avoid giving every character the same magic items (hello, Handy Haversack).

    Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition has been hailed for how much it simplified the needlessly complex math of 3.5 (just as 3rd edition simplified the math of AD&D), with fewer skills, the unified Proficiency Bonus, the reduction of feat bloat, and the curbing of endless prestige classes. They’re even releasing supplements more slowly to avoid the excess that make 3.5 and Pathfinder characters so daunting to put together. But most of the game is pretty much the same, and there are still a lot of choices that need to be made just to get going with a new character. Customization is great, and making different types of unique characters is fun and imaginative, but there are so many abilities tied into each race, background, and class level, that the character sheet is bloated with tons of information. The poorly organized Player’s Handbook doesn’t help, as it takes far too long to look up each detail of the still-complex rules.

    So, Dungeons & Dragons (like Pathfinder) has complex rules, with lots of decisions and rules interactions which slow down the actual playing-your-character part. But the games are fun, the math is familiar, and I like thinking about my characters through their game statistics and abilities.

    Let’s Just RPG! is my attempt to retain the feel of D&D, to retain the sense of what the numbers mean, and even to retain most of the underlying math of the D&D editions I’ve played—but to simplify everything down to the most important bits and get rid of the mechanical bloat. I’ve redesigned the ability scores to cover the core needs of the game through attributes instead of class levels. My goal is that it should take no more than a few minutes to build a character, even a relatively advanced one, and that you can write down most of your character’s information on a single index card. Spellcasters remain the exception there, but I’ve pared down the spells so that the entire spell description of the vast majority of spells is only 1–2 sentences long. In this, I was inspired by the miniature spell descriptions given in the 3.5 Player’s Handbook class spell lists. These short descriptions gave the basics of each spell, but then the spells had paragraphs-long descriptions which were necessary to understand the mechanics. I’ve worked to simplify and unify the mechanics so that those shorter descriptions could include everything necessary to use the spell, trusting the GM to adjudicate any awkward corner cases.

    One of my greatest departures from D&D is in the ability score ranges: I’ve opted for a scale from 0 to 10 (at 1st level), instead of the 1 to 18 or 20 that D&D uses. The traditional ability scores have an odd correspondence between the ability score and the associated bonus or penalty (18 = +4, 10 = +0, 8 = -1), based on the 3d6 tradition rather than an intuitive numerical logic. For common uses like weapon attacks and hit point rolls, these bonuses are then added to a die roll with various sizes of dice. I noticed that, for the majority of characters, the ability bonus was pretty strongly correlated to the size of the dice: a barbarian with a d12 Hit Die would probably max out Constitution, a fighter with a d12 weapon would add a maxed-out Strength bonus, a cleric with a d8 weapon probably adds a modest Strength bonus, and the wizard forced to draw his d4 dagger probably lacks a bonus to add to the damage. I used this correlation to formulate the new ability scores:

    D&D Hit Die Usual Hit Point Formula Hit Points per Level LJRPG! Constitution
    d6 1d6 + 1 c. 4.5 4
    d8 1d8 + 2 c. 6.5 6
    d10 1d10 + 3 c. 8.5 8
    d12 1d12 + 4 c. 10.5 10

    Consequently, characters in this system gain their Constitution score in HP each level. In the same way, characters can deal their Strength score as damage, cutting out the mechanics of different weapons. The stronger characters will still use larger and more complicated weapons, but the weapons can be chosen by flavor instead of mechanical optimization. Unarmed and ranged attacks simply do half of normal melee weapon damage. This method does mean that dice are no longer rolled for damage, which will speed up the game a little, but rolling dice is fun! So, there’s always the option to come up with a die roll to approximate the same damage, if that’s what the group wants.

    I’ve added a Fighting attribute so that accuracy and damage do not depend on the same attribute. I’ve also added a Defending attribute to determine a character’s Armor Class. Dexterity becomes Reflexes, as it’s more about the skills and saves now that it does not affect ranged attacks. I condensed the three mental statistics—Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma—into Mind, largely because I’m separating magical ability from mental scores so that all smart/wise characters do not have to be magical. I also added a Skills score, which while not perfect, creates a way to build more skill-based characters through attributes. The skill system is much like 5th edition’s, but leaves even more up to the discretion of the GM.

    For magic, I do away with spell slots and spell levels, per se, using a spell point system. I’ve added Arcana and Spirit as two new attributes, so that Spell Points can be calculated from them the same way Hit Points are calculated by Constitution—ability score times level. While I was at it, I made some of the game-changing spells cost more than their old levels would indicate, since they can get in the way of verisimilitude in many campaign worlds. And, inspired by the popular E6 variant and some old-school leveling rules, I included the option of setting a threshold level, after which Hit Point and Spell Point accumulation dries to a trickle.

    So those are the building blocks of Let’s Just RPG!. I set a commoner’s array as a starting point for building a new character’s attributes, which can then be improved by a set of attribute points at character creation. There are no classes—your character type can be described by how you set the increased set of 9 attributes. Leveling is a simple, mathematical process, adding 1 to attacks, saves, etc. based on level in a manner similar to 3.5, but without differences by classes. There are additional attribute points added every 4 levels, much like in both 3.5 and 5th edition.

    For treasure, I utilize a novel Wealth score which obviates the need for keeping track of small expenses like inn stays while allowing wealth to grow and expensive products to eventually be purchased.

    I designed monsters to be built and advanced in much the same way as characters, but with additional hit points and more frequent attack bonuses, in order to match the combat math to the underlying structure of D&D combat.* I also felt free to add a few unique but semi-complicated abilities to the monsters to differentiate them, but I did so while keeping their stat blocks small and consisting of mostly vital information.

    *I've since re-worked the monster math—monsters are no longer advanced in the same way as characters, as I found that to be a needless layer of complexity for GMs.

    Finally, I’ve added some optional tweaks in case these changes strip too much away from what makes a game D&D for a given group. So there are feat-like Signature Abilities which can be purchased by attribute points to offer iconic class abilities like sneak attack, rage, and wild shape, if the GM decides to offer them. I also have suggestions for small and limited racial abilities to differentiate the races without adding excessive character options, and I’ve worked on a number of other options which I wouldn’t personally mind including or excluding, with the effect that the system can support a larger spectrum of play styles and tactical complexity. There’s plenty of room for houseruling, but hopefully Let’s Just RPG! succeeds in its goal of simplifying the mechanical density without removing that great D&D feel.



    By now it should be pretty easy to see how I've tried to maintain the key elements of the 3.5/5.0 rulesets. The most complicated part now is probably counting spell points, but since that's so similar to counting hit points, I find it simpler than keeping track of different levels of spell slots. And I like the symmetry and math of determining HP and SP the same way. YMMV, for sure.

    Monster Revision: My biggest change to the rules since originally posting them was a complete revision of the monster rules, throwing out my half-finished Bestiary in the process, to create a set of monster building tools which are quick and easy while providing substantial depth. Those revised monster building rules are available in the GM's Guide, which offers a revised table of baseline monster statistics by level, a set of templates to use in conjunction with the table, and rules for quickly adding special abilities and selecting spells. The XP system and encounter building guidelines are also available in the GM's Guide.

    Next up: I'll release bits and pieces of the revised Bestiary and work on the remaining sections of the GM's Guide, but I'm taking my time building monsters and the treasure tables—the two largely incomplete portions of this system.
    Last edited by Vegan Squirrel; 2019-09-03 at 09:56 AM.
    Let's Just RPG! (quick & easy OGL system)
    My 5e Monster Repository (a modest collection)

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    Reserved for Author 5

    EDIT: I deleted the other reserved posts, as I certainly won't need so many now that I'm posting links instead of dividing the rules by post, but I'm saving a few to leave myself the flexibility to potentially add variant material in separate posts at the top of the thread.
    Last edited by Vegan Squirrel; 2018-11-19 at 09:31 AM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    I'll keep an eye on this thread, looking forward to seeing everything you have to post. I would suggest you check out 13th Age, if you haven't already. I don't know how much of it you can use, but it's an interesting way to simplify classic D&D, and it should at least give you some ideas.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    Just off the bat. If you need to reserve 13 posts, each at 50,000 characters, then this isn't going to be easy to play.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Knaight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    Right now this looks a lot like any number of existing systems out there - that's not a bad thing, but the hype given is maybe a little overblown. The "novel" wealth system in particular sounds like something I've seen a lot of times before, and while it's perfectly functional the term "novel" is maybe a little excessive.

    Also, do you not have this written up anywhere? If it's a project with several years put into it I'd expect there to be something which you could link now. If you're planning on building it over the next few weeks from nebulous ideas, go for it, but if you already have it it's probably better to release the whole document now, get a first wave of responses, then refocusing the thread on a particular aspect.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
    -- ChubbyRain

    Current Design Project: Legacy, a game of masters and apprentices for two players and a GM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    This is just a brief reply in between other things.

    Yes, I do have this all written out, but I decided I'd rather load it here and re-format things. I gave myself a couple weeks so I don't have to rush it, and hopefully the reality of sharing it will urge me to edit it with renewed focus.

    I honestly don't know if someone else has the same Wealth system, but it's not the same as the wealth score variants I've seen elsewhere. The word choice there was probably poor and will be changed. In brief, it's a single number that indicates both a silver coin limit for negligible expenses (don't change your score if you spend under it) and a gold coin spending limit (how much you can spend in total).

    I probably won't need all 13 posts, but I wanted to make sure all the game information would be together at the top of the thread and well-organized; I doubt any post will approach 50,000 characters. I am undoubtedly too verbose in my explanations, but conceptually it's quite simple and largely based on other systems. I'll add more soon, but, for instance, my spells section, with around 100 spells, prints on a few pages.

    One more thing. I know there are a lot of systems out there, and I haven't seen them all. This was mainly built for my own use, but with an eye towards sharing it so others could take what they like of it. The entire system is open game content. So, despite poor word choices and rules written to present the system to an inexperienced audience, I really don't think this is a huge breakthrough of creativity. It's just my take on things and a system simplified closer to my tastes than the other simplifications I've seen.

    EDIT: You've got me re-thinking this decision now. I think I might prepare a pdf link instead of loading the rules onto here. I initially thought it would be easier for forum users to have the rules posted here directly, but with the re-formatting I'll need to do, it would be easier just to share a link. At least some seem to think that's a more logical course of action, anyway.
    Last edited by Vegan Squirrel; 2018-11-18 at 11:01 PM.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Knaight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    Quote Originally Posted by Vegan Squirrel View Post
    EDIT: You've got me re-thinking this decision now. I think I might prepare a pdf link instead of loading the rules onto here. I initially thought it would be easier for forum users to have the rules posted here directly, but with the re-formatting I'll need to do, it would be easier just to share a link. At least some seem to think that's a more logical course of action, anyway.
    Generally just sticking it in google drive works fine - and putting that pdf link up in no way prevents writing it out on the forum as well.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
    -- ChubbyRain

    Current Design Project: Legacy, a game of masters and apprentices for two players and a GM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    I posted the player rules (Player's Guide and Grimoire) last night. A few notes: much of this is essentially unchanged from when I first wrote it a couple years ago. However, the list of conditions at the end of the Grimoire is new—I was originally trying to avoid a set list of conditions, but then I ended up wanting to define the effects when designing monsters.

    As I indicated, these player rules have changed little over the years. The unfinished part of the system is all on the GM side—I'm only planning to post selections from the unfinished Bestiary for now, as finishing that is the remaining major phase of this project. There are also some elements of the GM's Guide which still need refining, and most of the options in there will be more subject to change due to playtesting.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Knaight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    On the player guide:

    Page 1: The introduction repeatedly defining itself as changes and relational to other RPGs isn't necessarily the best stylistic choice. Calling things typical RPG conventions later exacerbates this, particularly when they're D&D quirks to begin with.

    Page 3: The attributes are simpler if you just use 52 attribute points and start everything at 0. It's less to reference, it's easier to memorize, it lets you physically lay out a deck of cards in 9 columns to determine your attributes. Advantages all around.Some of the names are also not great, with Fighting/Defending really standing out there (the former seems like it would completely encapsulate the latter).

    Page 4: The derived statistics here have some pretty noticeable min maxing incentives in them; Defending of half Reflex or less is literally completely useless, for instance.

    Page 5: Having skills as an attribute which determines the number of skills is interesting - it's a bit like a priority system with a bit of a smoother gradient, and other stats eventually coming back to this (e.g. spells known) is similarly interesting.

    Page 6: This is one of those "D&D quirks presented as RPG conventions" I was talking about. Wealth seems basically fine, though if the purchases intended are more those of a night at the inn and not adventuring consumables it might help to use a copper/gold system instead of a silver/gold system.

    Page 8: Some of this seems a little bit janky. Attack/defense growth is distinctly nonparallel - every 12 levels you get +4 to +7 attack and another 1 to 1.75 attacks, while defense goes up by 3 at most. Save DCs work out better, given the attribute investment needed to keep them high versus saves.

    Page 10: It's basically impossible for characters outside the most feeble to bleed to death - which is fine, but if that's how you're going to operate it's probably better to just not have the rules in there at all.

    Page 12: The tricker spends 3 points on Defending to get literally nothing out of it (4, if you let it hit 0), and it's one of several examples where the Reflex/Defending mix has weird results in terms of points spent not doing much.

    Overall: It's a lighter D&D, and it doesn't really stand out in that field. That said classless ones are less common, so there's at least a niche there. It looks mostly functional, though I haven't run some of the numbers I'd want to before saying that, let alone actually played it. That said I'm not really seeing any reason to play this in particular over other classless light weight D&D analogs, though I really do like the Skill attribute.

    Pageless Particulars: Constitution is a bit of a god stat, as are the spell casting stats (but really only one of them, this pushes hard towards picking arcane or divine) because of HP/SP scaling. Defending is just a garbage stat in general, causes weird waste problems, and is probably best removed. First inclination would be to split Fighting into Ranged and Melee, and have separate ranged and melee defenses that are 10+Ref/2+Combat/2, where Combat is the relevant skill there.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
    -- ChubbyRain

    Current Design Project: Legacy, a game of masters and apprentices for two players and a GM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    On the player guide:

    Page 1: The introduction repeatedly defining itself as changes and relational to other RPGs isn't necessarily the best stylistic choice. Calling things typical RPG conventions later exacerbates this, particularly when they're D&D quirks to begin with.
    Thanks for the feedback! About the references to other game systems: I knew I wanted to be able to publish this under the OGL, so I made a point to avoid saying D&D because it's product identity. There's probably a better way to say things, but that's where I was coming from. Because it's clearly a D&D derivative, aiming to have character stats (attack, damage, HP, even skills) come into the same range as either 3.5 or 5th. I also was assuming most people I'd share this with would be more familiar with D&D than other game systems, due to its popularity, so it seemed "typical" enough to me. Would "iconic" be a better way to frame it?

    Page 3: The attributes are simpler if you just use 52 attribute points and start everything at 0. It's less to reference, it's easier to memorize, it lets you physically lay out a deck of cards in 9 columns to determine your attributes. Advantages all around.Some of the names are also not great, with Fighting/Defending really standing out there (the former seems like it would completely encapsulate the latter).
    That's one of the variant options, for sure. What I like about starting from the commoner's array is that it sets a reasonable idea of a floor for a heroic character's abilities, and it circumvents the value of min-maxing that you cite in the next bits. For instance, everyone's AC is at least 12 without investing in Defending.

    Page 4: The derived statistics here have some pretty noticeable min maxing incentives in them; Defending of half Reflex or less is literally completely useless, for instance.
    If players want to min-max, they'll min-max. If you want to max out Reflex skills and saves, you can save some attribute points that would otherwise go into Defending. This makes sense to me as a trade-off. Oh, and I would expect this system to appeal much more to the players who willfully play unoptimized characters for the character side of it, and not to the players who relish the optimization. I understand the appeal of both (if I didn't enjoy a bit of optimization, I probably would never have found these forums), but this is definitely aimed at the more casual, story-first approach to character-building.

    Page 5: Having skills as an attribute which determines the number of skills is interesting - it's a bit like a priority system with a bit of a smoother gradient, and other stats eventually coming back to this (e.g. spells known) is similarly interesting.
    I'm glad you like this idea! Honestly, this is one of the aspects of the system that I've been pretty unsure about, but it had enough advantages compared to other alternatives that I kept it in. It lets you build a truly skill-focused character if you want, and the increased bonuses are a trade-off for the combat skills you're not spending the points in.

    Page 6: This is one of those "D&D quirks presented as RPG conventions" I was talking about. Wealth seems basically fine, though if the purchases intended are more those of a night at the inn and not adventuring consumables it might help to use a copper/gold system instead of a silver/gold system.
    Basically going for familiarity here. A lot of players will be used to the gold piece prices of common items. I have worked out prices for most things, staying fairly close to D&D, but that's in the GM's Guide. I wanted to be able to just use the prices from your D&D edition of choice and have it work out about right.

    Page 8: Some of this seems a little bit janky. Attack/defense growth is distinctly nonparallel - every 12 levels you get +4 to +7 attack and another 1 to 1.75 attacks, while defense goes up by 3 at most. Save DCs work out better, given the attribute investment needed to keep them high versus saves.
    That's in line with D&D, though. I'll just stress again that I wanted to keep the feel of D&D, and that includes things like "what's a good AC?" and "what's a good attack bonus?" So in 3.5, you get increases to BAB at intervals (varying by class), and in 5th you have the same thing with proficiency bonus, but you can only increase your AC slightly (buying better armor or increasing Dexterity). I know you had bonuses to AC in 4th edition, but my experiences are 3.5/5th.

    To be clear, I'm not saying you're wrong about anything here, at all. This system just comes from my realization that I could trim D&D down to the core math and cut out all the extra abilities that fill up the character sheet with too many options (which is fun, sometimes, sure).

    Page 10: It's basically impossible for characters outside the most feeble to bleed to death - which is fine, but if that's how you're going to operate it's probably better to just not have the rules in there at all.
    Fair point. I showed this to a friend last month, and he thought these rules made it way too easy to down a PC. So it's interesting to take the other side of the argument this time. I want there to be a chance to bleed out, but I also want there to be a generous cushion. It's more that I wanted stabilizing naturally to be hard but possible. A very slim chance of death is fine. Especially since you can still take damage while you're bleeding out (reminder: self, add this to the Quick Reference Rules, it's only in the Player's Guide so far), so if you're caught in an area effect or a monster tries to finish you, those individual HP can make the difference.

    But I totally get your argument, from the perspective of making this rules-light. I can live with it, since it's easy to consult on the one-page (two-sided) reference sheet.

    Page 12: The tricker spends 3 points on Defending to get literally nothing out of it (4, if you let it hit 0), and it's one of several examples where the Reflex/Defending mix has weird results in terms of points spent not doing much.
    I should reconsider the archetypes, good point. I'm surprised I missed that one, though. Those started from translating the stats such a character would have in D&D, rather than building an optimized attribute spread.

    Overall: It's a lighter D&D, and it doesn't really stand out in that field. That said classless ones are less common, so there's at least a niche there. It looks mostly functional, though I haven't run some of the numbers I'd want to before saying that, let alone actually played it. That said I'm not really seeing any reason to play this in particular over other classless light weight D&D analogs, though I really do like the Skill attribute.
    As a very amateur game designer, that sounds like a pretty good result to me. If you or someone else takes one or two things, like the Skills attribute, and makes an even better game out of it, then so much the better. I just want it to be functioning, intuitive for a D&D veteran, and much quicker to put together and run. If it's there, then I'll get some use out of it, and of course the experience of working on it has given me a better understanding of these games in general.

    Pageless Particulars: Constitution is a bit of a god stat, as are the spell casting stats (but really only one of them, this pushes hard towards picking arcane or divine) because of HP/SP scaling. Defending is just a garbage stat in general, causes weird waste problems, and is probably best removed. First inclination would be to split Fighting into Ranged and Melee, and have separate ranged and melee defenses that are 10+Ref/2+Combat/2, where Combat is the relevant skill there.
    Yeah, but then again this is based on D&D, where spellcasters reign supreme. I tried to rein that in just a little, but it's part of the feel. I guess I figured Defending is a more valuable stat than Reflexes, generally (starting from the commoner's array, they take the same investment to reach AC 13, but after that, it's much cheaper to invest in Defending). I figured most tanky melee characters would dump Reflexes and go for an AC of 19 or 20 through Defending, and I allowed the Reflex alternative to represent the light armor tradition and to lower the opportunity cost of investing in Reflexes.

    I guess I can go into my thinking a bit more. Investing in Fighting, in 3.5 terms, is a decision of whether to take a high BAB class or a low BAB class. Investing in Defending is your choice of armor, without having to go through the tables of armors. Investing in Skills is deciding to take a skillmonkey class; this probably means you're also investing in Reflexes, which means you're using up attribute points that could've been spent on offense and defense. Strength means damage, which is normally the case anyway, while Constitution is still your HP. I guess it means more now, because it's taking the place of both your Constitution and what would have been your Hit Die. But most people try to keep Constitution reasonably high anyway. Then the spellcasting attributes (and I have considered re-working things so there's only one of these, maybe called Mana, but I keep talking myself out of it), they're powerful but require a heavy enough investment that you can't be great at the other things while maxing out your magic.

    I really value your perspective on these things; it definitely gives me a list of things to think about as I do the playtesting. The combat math was worked over in spreadsheets (and I'll put up some monster stat tables soon for you to look at), though whether that was a successful approximation of play will soon be discovered.

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    Quote Originally Posted by Vegan Squirrel View Post
    I'm glad you like this idea! Honestly, this is one of the aspects of the system that I've been pretty unsure about, but it had enough advantages compared to other alternatives that I kept it in. It lets you build a truly skill-focused character if you want, and the increased bonuses are a trade-off for the combat skills you're not spending the points in.
    It is, by far, my favorite thing about the system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vegan Squirrel View Post
    Fair point. I showed this to a friend last month, and he thought these rules made it way too easy to down a PC. So it's interesting to take the other side of the argument this time. I want there to be a chance to bleed out, but I also want there to be a generous cushion. It's more that I wanted stabilizing naturally to be hard but possible. A very slim chance of death is fine. Especially since you can still take damage while you're bleeding out (reminder: self, add this to the Quick Reference Rules, it's only in the Player's Guide so far), so if you're caught in an area effect or a monster tries to finish you, those individual HP can make the difference.

    But I totally get your argument, from the perspective of making this rules-light. I can live with it, since it's easy to consult on the one-page (two-sided) reference sheet.
    So, the short version hers is that the reset to 0 health rule essentially creates a power rule. The higher your Constitution, the more rounds you have to fail in a row to die, and that sort of thing can build up fast. On top of that, the Constitution also increases your odds of succeeding at any one of these rolls.

    So if you have low Con, you're in a really bad shape and probably going to die, but that drops off fast. Some quick math:
    Con 1: 5% survival
    Con 2: 19% survival
    Con 3: 27% survival
    Con 4: 48% survival
    Con 5: 56% survival
    Con 6: 74% survival
    Con 7: 79% survival
    Con 8: 90% survival
    Con 9: 92% survival
    Con 10: 97% survival

    Those aren't necessarily terrible numbers, but rolling 10 dice to see if the 3% death chance hits you is a little annoying, and that's without boosts to save from level, boosts to Con above 10, or any help from allies. If you hit a commoner with a sword and they fall bleeding on the ground they've got pretty close to even odds of living, and that just keeps going up.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
    -- ChubbyRain

    Current Design Project: Legacy, a game of masters and apprentices for two players and a GM.

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    So, the short version hers is that the reset to 0 health rule essentially creates a power rule. The higher your Constitution, the more rounds you have to fail in a row to die, and that sort of thing can build up fast. On top of that, the Constitution also increases your odds of succeeding at any one of these rolls.

    So if you have low Con, you're in a really bad shape and probably going to die, but that drops off fast. Some quick math:
    Con 1: 5% survival
    Con 2: 19% survival
    Con 3: 27% survival
    Con 4: 48% survival
    Con 5: 56% survival
    Con 6: 74% survival
    Con 7: 79% survival
    Con 8: 90% survival
    Con 9: 92% survival
    Con 10: 97% survival

    Those aren't necessarily terrible numbers, but rolling 10 dice to see if the 3% death chance hits you is a little annoying, and that's without boosts to save from level, boosts to Con above 10, or any help from allies. If you hit a commoner with a sword and they fall bleeding on the ground they've got pretty close to even odds of living, and that just keeps going up.
    Okay, so let's see what happens if it's not a Con save, just a straight d20, stabilize on a nat 20.

    Con 1: 5% survival
    Con 2: 10% survival
    Con 3: 14% survival
    Con 4: 19% survival
    Con 5: 23% survival
    Con 6: 26% survival
    Con 7: 30% survival
    Con 8: 34% survival
    Con 9: 37% survival
    Con 10: 40% survival

    That would make it much more likely you'd bleed out, but still give your team the same amount of time to heal you. Since it's the only thing a dying person can do on their turn, rolling a die doesn't seem too complicated to me. What do you think?

  16. - Top - End - #16
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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    Quote Originally Posted by Vegan Squirrel View Post
    Okay, so let's see what happens if it's not a Con save, just a straight d20, stabilize on a nat 20.

    Con 1: 5% survival
    Con 2: 10% survival
    Con 3: 14% survival
    Con 4: 19% survival
    Con 5: 23% survival
    Con 6: 26% survival
    Con 7: 30% survival
    Con 8: 34% survival
    Con 9: 37% survival
    Con 10: 40% survival

    That would make it much more likely you'd bleed out, but still give your team the same amount of time to heal you. Since it's the only thing a dying person can do on their turn, rolling a die doesn't seem too complicated to me. What do you think?
    It's functional. That said, I'd be inclined to go the other way - a con check, but just one of them, made at the end of a more standardized timer (though maybe one that takes level into account).
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
    -- ChubbyRain

    Current Design Project: Legacy, a game of masters and apprentices for two players and a GM.

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An original, easy-to-play OGL system

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    It's functional. That said, I'd be inclined to go the other way - a con check, but just one of them, made at the end of a more standardized timer (though maybe one that takes level into account).
    Also possible, but that does raise the question of what happens if you take damage while dying. Maybe a Con save vs. death any time after 5 rounds of unconsciousness, or any time you take damage? I don't know, I think I prefer having the negative HP as a timer; I can just set -10 as death like in 3.5, but I liked negative Con as a houserule in 3.5, too. Although if I did -10, I would have you lose 1 HP per round, plus any damage, and then when you reach -10, get one Con check to stabilize at 0 or die. But 10 rounds seems like a lot, though it didn't bother me if only high-Con characters would get 10 rounds. Setting it lower than 10 makes it easier to finish off a dying character.

    I guess none of the options stand out as great to me.

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An easy-to-play OGL system

    If anyone's still watching this, I've finished and integrated the monster math re-work! Building a monster is intentionally more complicated than building a character, but it should still be quite simple and quick. There's a baseline statistics-by-level table, a set of optional templates with straightforward adjustments to make to the baseline statistics, a list of optional special abilities set up with a few more statistic adjustments to balance them, and a set of thematic spell lists to make selecting spells easier.

    With that, you essentially have monster statistics already, but I'm going to re-work my Bestiary monsters and post some of those at a later date. So, specific monsters, Treasure/Equipment, and Magic Items are the only sections still outstanding.
    Let's Just RPG! (quick & easy OGL system)
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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An easy-to-play OGL system

    Hi all, just a quick post to assure anyone watching that this project is not dead. I haven't added anything new since the monster rules revision at the beginning of the year (though every so often I find and fix a typo), but I also haven't seen any feedback on the monster math, or actually any of the GM's Guide (I'm realizing now I never posted specifically to say the GM's Guide was up, but I think that's because it was only a day or two after the Player's Guide went up?).

    I'll start to get some monsters released soon.

    Side note, I also cleaned up the top post, as the list of updates was hard to read, and I want the top of the page to quickly and clearly articulate what the system is.
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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An easy-to-play OGL system

    Aren't you worried that by stripping the game down to attributes only you've taken some of the opportunities for fun out? I mean, say I want to play an elf, how is that different than say playing a human? Do I just rely on some DM fiat to treat me like I'm special? If my character fights with a dagger or a greatsword, how is there any difference reflected in the game? It feels like everything is overly samey, even if the differences are often ribbons, they are differences.

    Outside of the basic combat and spellcasting stuff, most of the game boils down to roll a die and it may or may not impact what the DM tells you happens. Even skills and the DCs have no anchor points for that a roll of a 35 does. Great, that accomplishes something Very Difficult, and yet, well what does that mean. Is that a 9' standing long jump, or did I just just jump completely over an enemy and given that movement in combat means nothing, did either of those things even matter?

    IMO stripping DND down to just the math, even if its streamlined and different math, takes away a lot of fun and leaves behind something that people will not find exciting enough to dive into. Numbers only do so much, usually they are a way of expressing interaction with the world and others around you. I feel this system had almost completely de-tethered the math from meaning much of anything. IMO verisimilitude is a big goal of any RPG, and in an effort to strip Dnd down to the basics, you've lost the spark that makes people look past all of Dnd's numerous failings.

    Looking through what you've got, a little formatting for say the suggested archetype attribute allocations would go along way. A table identifying which attributes should be what would be very helpful. Having to remember the order of nine attributes without some kind of localized legend is rough. In generaly, it feels like this document was laid out for you and not for a third party to learn this system. Even many terms are being used assuming previous RPG experience, that can be problematic.

    Maybe what is missing is a step by step character creation guide, a way to go step by step and make decisions about a character and give some meaning to their attributes. Maybe being a Elf means that my Reflex has to at least be 4, or being a Half-Orc means my Strength has to at least by 5, etc etc. Maybe instead of classes we all have to pick an archetype, at least a skeleton of abilities and then have a pool of free ones to adjust as we want.

    From a balance perspective, at first glance, it looks like there is some serious disparities between the attributes. Would you ever play a dexterous fighter? No, not really, because if you're going to go for any kind of combat character you are far more efficient going Str and Def over Ref. You can't skip Str as a fighter or deal virtually no damage, etc etc.

    I feel like for everything that has been stripped out, more was lost, and what is left doesn't tell a story. We have a set of numbers that increase at certain intervals, but those numbers are unthethered from tangible things and core concepts, things we want to express, just aren't doable. Maybe I'm missing a lot, maybe some of this is in the additional rules, but as a stripped down basic system, IMO I feel like it is lacking too much to be viable.

    Edit: It appears there is a lot that is in the GM guide that is relevant to what I said above. My core points stand, and as a stand alone, I feel like there is much in the GM guide that needs to be in the main document, the "system" can't really afford for them to be optional.

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    Default Re: Let's Just RPG! — An easy-to-play OGL system

    Quote Originally Posted by Zman View Post
    Aren't you worried that by stripping the game down to attributes only you've taken some of the opportunities for fun out? I mean, say I want to play an elf, how is that different than say playing a human? Do I just rely on some DM fiat to treat me like I'm special? If my character fights with a dagger or a greatsword, how is there any difference reflected in the game? It feels like everything is overly samey, even if the differences are often ribbons, they are differences.
    First off, thanks for the feedback! I'm going to try to defend my perspective on most of these points, but they are all well taken. On the whole, the Player's Guide can use a re-write, even without changing any rules.

    I guess to answer your first question, no, I'm not afraid of losing the fun. And as you noted after checking out the GM's Guide, a lot of those types of differences are at least available as optional. Allow me to invoke a couple of straw men for a moment. On the one hand, there's the argument that 3.PF games have a rule for everything you can do, so your character's only allowed to try things that they have a feat or special ability for, or there are skill rules for. You know, you look to your character sheet to see what you can do. I know, a straw man, stay with me. On the other hand, there's that true role-playing magic sauce where you can try anything you can imagine, and the GM has to figure out how to resolve it from the available game mechanics. A bit of straw there, too.

    I know most gamers fall somewhere in the middle—they like character abilities that open up possibilities and feed them ideas, but they also want to try outlandish things and see if they work. It's a spectrum, and it's not even that, because you can crank both ends up to 11 and go crazy. Personally, I favor the imagination side, where I don't have to look at the character sheet until I need to check what I add to a die roll. I want the mechanics to get out of the way and only show up when something needs to be resolved. And then quickly get back out of the way. So that's where I'm coming from.

    So the differences are in how you describe what you're doing, and probably in how you set your attributes to account for your role-playing choices. As for GM fiat, I'm comfortable with that. If I don't trust a GM, I'm not playing with that GM.

    Outside of the basic combat and spellcasting stuff, most of the game boils down to roll a die and it may or may not impact what the DM tells you happens. Even skills and the DCs have no anchor points for that a roll of a 35 does. Great, that accomplishes something Very Difficult, and yet, well what does that mean. Is that a 9' standing long jump, or did I just just jump completely over an enemy and given that movement in combat means nothing, did either of those things even matter?
    To me, the game isn't roll a die and see what happens, it's decide what your character does, and if the outcome's in doubt, the GM will have you roll a die. That applies to all editions I've played of D&D as well. The only time when you specifically decide to roll a die is usually when you make an attack or cast a spell.

    Specific jumping distances are admittedly a weak point here. Especially in the year or so after 5th edition came out, I saw endless forum arguments about skill rules, with one side saying more simplified skill rules are easier to run and empower the GM to use common sense, and the other side complaining that it's not clear what their characters can accomplish when it can change from table to table. Personally, when I DM 5th edition, I don't have much trouble deciding whether something is Easy or Hard, though obviously other DMs might rule differently. As a player, I've never once felt that leaving the difficulty up to the DM was unfair or in any way changed how I played. And, after years of using 3.5 rules, I found the relaxed attitude to skills inspiring.

    Perhaps I'll put together some rough guidelines for skills, but if they're anything more than guidelines, then that feels like it defeats the purpose of using simplified mechanics. Honestly, picking 10, 15, or 20 should still work for most ad-hoc checks, as it does in 5th edition, with the higher checks for either outlandish things a skill-invested character can still try, or specific challenges carefully built into an adventure. Maybe that right there is enough guidance, actually (worded better, of course).

    IMO stripping DND down to just the math, even if its streamlined and different math, takes away a lot of fun and leaves behind something that people will not find exciting enough to dive into. Numbers only do so much, usually they are a way of expressing interaction with the world and others around you. I feel this system had almost completely de-tethered the math from meaning much of anything. IMO verisimilitude is a big goal of any RPG, and in an effort to strip Dnd down to the basics, you've lost the spark that makes people look past all of Dnd's numerous failings.
    I guess my goal is to provide a framework to use when players are already excited to play something, but the time and effort required to build effective characters drains that excitement. As much as I think it could be an easy system to learn, it's really meant for experienced players who don't have the time, energy, and desire to page through books to choose a race, a background, a class, a subclass, feats, spells, invocations, maneuvers, weapons, armor, gear, fighting styles, and more, all before playing the game. Look, I can dive into building a complex character as enthusiastically as the next person, when I get into it, but my dream is to be able to decide to start a campaign and start playing it within the same 10 or 20 minutes (and long-term, that means I'm looking at putting together more GMing tools to help build a satisfying adventure on the spot). I also think a lot of those issues can be helped out by improved presentation, sure.

    Looking through what you've got, a little formatting for say the suggested archetype attribute allocations would go along way. A table identifying which attributes should be what would be very helpful. Having to remember the order of nine attributes without some kind of localized legend is rough. In generaly, it feels like this document was laid out for you and not for a third party to learn this system. Even many terms are being used assuming previous RPG experience, that can be problematic.

    Maybe what is missing is a step by step character creation guide, a way to go step by step and make decisions about a character and give some meaning to their attributes. Maybe being a Elf means that my Reflex has to at least be 4, or being a Half-Orc means my Strength has to at least by 5, etc etc. Maybe instead of classes we all have to pick an archetype, at least a skeleton of abilities and then have a pool of free ones to adjust as we want.
    Very much noted. This was very much built for me first, then for other D&D players who want a simpler experience. I expect the majority of people who read it to be experienced with D&D, but I need to make sure all of it reads well for someone new to RPGs (or just experienced with non-D&D RPGs). To help get players excited about character ideas, and also to clarify the rules, would it be a good thing to do something like this?

    Building a Character
    A character is described by a set of 9 attributes: 4 natural attributes, 2 mystical attributes, and 3 training attributes.

    The natural attributes describe the physical and mental qualities of the character.
    • Strength describes your character's physical strength; it is used to determine how much damage you deal in combat, as well as your skill at physical activities such as wrestling, climbing, and swimming.
    • Reflexes describes your character's agility and reactions; it is used to determine who goes first in combat, your success at dodging the flames of a dragon's breath, and your skill at moving stealthily, manual dexterity, and acrobatics.
    • Constitution describes your character's toughness and durability; it is used to determine how much damage you can take, as well as how you withstand poisons and similar tests of fortitude and your skill at maintaining concentration under duress.
    • Mind describes your character's intellect, awareness, and willpower; it is used to determine your success at resisting mental manipulation, your knowledge, and your natural aptitude for a wide range of additional skills.

    ...

    Attribute Points
    The standard way to build a character is to start with the Commoner's statistics, and use 32 attribute points to improve them into the character you wish to play. An attribute point can be used to improve a natural attribute or a training attribute by one. Improving a mystical attribute by one requires two attribute points. Level 1 characters are limited to a maximum of 10 in any attribute.

    Commoner Statistics
    Strength 4 Reflexes 4 Constitution 4 Mind 4 Spirit 0 Arcana 0 Fighting 1 Defending 1 Skills 2

    The commoner's statistics represent an unremarkable humanoid—a little below average in each of the natural attributes, incapable of magic, and minimally trained. An attribute of 6 or 7 is respectable, while a 9 or 10 is exceptional. Any level of magical ability is noteworthy, but a dedicated spellcaster usually has a mystical attribute of at least 7 or 8, if not 10. Fighting and Strength are similarly important for characters dedicated to physical combat, while Defending and Constitution are especially important for characters who expect to stand their ground and take a few hits in combat.
    From a balance perspective, at first glance, it looks like there is some serious disparities between the attributes. Would you ever play a dexterous fighter? No, not really, because if you're going to go for any kind of combat character you are far more efficient going Str and Def over Ref. You can't skip Str as a fighter or deal virtually no damage, etc etc.
    I agree that you can't skip Str as a fighter. This is closer to 3.5, where Str was used to modify all types of damage, than 5th, where Dex was buffed. I guess I don't see it as a problem. If you're focused on melee, put points in Str, Con, Fighting, and Defending. If you're focused on casting, put points in Spirit or Arcana. If you want to be a skill monkey, put points in Ref, Mind, and Skills.

    To my mind, the choices of attributes in this system are more analogous to the choice of class in D&D than just the choice of attributes.
    Strength: This is your weapon damage die.
    Reflexes: This is your Dex save and a skills modifier, admittedly a less substantial attribute, but available for customization. The AC option is really just a boon to those who already want to max out Reflexes (probably a skill monkey maxing out Skills as well), giving them a moderate AC to save a few attribute points.
    Constitution: This is your HD.
    Mind: This is like Reflexes, it's mainly a save and a skills modifier, but it's there for filling out the edges with the points left after the big attributes.
    Spirit/Arcana: Obviously this is your magic investment, full casters invest as much as you can, partial casters decide how much you want.
    Fighting: This is your BAB, in 3.5 terms. With Str and Fighting, you can decide whether to focus on accuracy or damage, or evenly. This is easier to do together at first level, but when you gain attribute points every four levels, fighters will be balancing Str, Fighting, Con, and Defending with 2 points available.
    Defending: This is your AC.
    Skills: This is how much of a skills-oriented character you are. If you raise it high, it's like having more class skills and turning 5e proficiency into 5e expertise or more, giving the skills-oriented character both higher bonuses and a broader base of abilities. I expect most characters to go with a 4 to 6 in Skills.

    A dexterous fighter?
    Strength 10 Reflexes 8 Constitution 10 Mind 4 Spirit 0 Arcana 0 Fighting 10 Defending 8 Skills 2
    -Sure, Str and Con are still higher than Ref, but the character is dexterous.

    or
    Strength 10 Reflexes 10 Constitution 10 Mind 4 Spirit 0 Arcana 0 Fighting 10 Defending 1 Skills 7
    -Here, bringing the AC down to 15 means you're not the party's tank any more, but you can flank with them, deal good damage, be good at acrobatics and Reflex saves, and serve as an effective skill monkey.

    I feel like for everything that has been stripped out, more was lost, and what is left doesn't tell a story. We have a set of numbers that increase at certain intervals, but those numbers are unthethered from tangible things and core concepts, things we want to express, just aren't doable. Maybe I'm missing a lot, maybe some of this is in the additional rules, but as a stripped down basic system, IMO I feel like it is lacking too much to be viable.
    I'm not sure what you can't do. For instance, I don't think you need maneuver rules written down for a GM to allow that kind of combat. It's an attitude thing. So I should probably sprinkle in some flavorful descriptions somewhere, talk about how players can decide to leap onto a chandelier to swing and tackle an opponent, or try to knock their foe over a ledge, etc. In my experience, the best sessions are the ones where players come up with crazy ideas, not the ones where they only select abilities listed on their character sheet.

    I tend to skip over the parts of rulebooks where there's a paragraph of fluff text describing some character doing something fantastic, because when I read the rulebook, I'm just looking for the rules. But that's there for a reason. New players aren't going to get hooked by the rules without that descriptive element to ground the rules in. I was looking to parse down the rules and limit the page count; perhaps I should let it grow by a few pages and add some interludes describing a couple characters at different moments of an adventure where nearby rules come up.

    Edit: It appears there is a lot that is in the GM guide that is relevant to what I said above. My core points stand, and as a stand alone, I feel like there is much in the GM guide that needs to be in the main document, the "system" can't really afford for them to be optional.
    And I suppose they can still be optional, but included in the players' document.

    I guess the one other point I haven't really addressed, is that I'd prefer a system where a full combat can take a couple minutes and then you move on. If the mechanics are bare, they're also really fast to resolve, and if combat flies, I don't think the simplicity feels too constraining.

    Thank you for your input. In replying, I've been able to think more thoroughly about why I've made the choices I've made, and I'll let your suggestions percolate for a while. I feel like, if nothing else, I'll eventually put together a much better presentation that tries to hook players while showing what the mechanics can do. And maybe I'll move a few rules from optional content to default content, with the option to exclude it for even faster gameplay. I'm specifically thinking about combat maneuvers and maybe signature abilities. Maybe critical hits and glancing blows, too.
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