d12 Project

I’m planning a new RPG campaign and rules.

It’s going to be gritty space opera/space fantasy with old school rules. In this case old school means the Old School Renaissance that’s currently running wild all over the internet. I’m currently running Pathfinder RPG game so I got the fantasy covered and because I’ve itched to play/run scifi game for a long time now is good time to do that. Second, I really liked WEG D6 Star Wars, so it’s another old itch that gets scratched.

I plan to make the rules framework light and easily extended during play. Immediate benefit of this is that I don’t have to write endless lists of crunch before even starting to play the game. The amount of crunch you have to go trough is one of the things I don’t like about Pathfinder but it is tolerable. In this case the idea is to tell player that to use their imagination and suggest stuff. The stuff is then assigned game mechanics based on how other things in the game work. This is an idea that I tested in my friend’s summer campaign.

Another thing about this project is that I don’t plan to make this original. The idea is to pick things from different game systems and combine them to make something I like GMing. Another thing I like to try is to minimize GM preparation if I don’t want to prepare stuff. This means lots of random generation tables, like Vornheim. I’m lately become fascinated by all sorts of procedural things and want to try them out in my own games.

The setting will be post-apocalyptic human populated galaxy with lots of forgotten tech, mystical powers, hidden riches and enemies from beyond and within. Think old school D&D with exploration, mystery, horror of unknown and grittiness of Warhammer 40.000 with threats to humanity everywhere and you’re on the right track. Besides, WH40k style chain swords are pretty cool way of dispatching your enemies, they’re not “an elegant weapon for a more civilized age”, they are manly. That’s the kind of action I want to see in this game.

Before I start rambling anymore, here the core mechanic of the game.

Task resolution is done by rolling 2d12 + skill (+ bonus/penalty dice + other stuff) vs. difficulty.

  • Skill: Still under development what this exactly means, current idea I’m playing with is attribute (0-24) + skill (0-6) with attributes being very broad (agility) and skills being much more specific (melee)
  • Bonus/penalty dice: These are the conditional modifiers that GM assigns to character actions like bad visibility, vital piece to information and such. Each bonus or penalty die is another d12 added to the pool the player rolls. Bonus and penalty dice cancel each other and if after all modifiers the character has bonus dice he rolls his whole pool and take 2 best rolls and adds them together. In case of penalty dice, 2 worst results are used.
  • Other stuff: This is the catch all category I leave open in case I think something that need to be added.

Difficulties are following:

  • 10 – easy (everyone should be able to do this)
  • 15 – normal (some skill required)
  • 20 – hard (professionals don’t have problems)
  • 25 – difficult (requires effort or great skill)
  • 30 – very difficult (experts only)
  • 35 – legendary (stories are told about these)
  • Additional difficulty in increments of 5  (you’re either really stupid or really good)

These rules don’t have critical success or failure, they use degree of success. Every full 5 points over the difficulty in character’s roll is a degree of success. Other way around, every full 5 points under the difficulty is a degree of failure.

Degrees of success can be used by player to stunt additional benefits/success form the task he was trying to accomplish while GM can use degrees of failure to introduce additional complications. For example, characters is trying to hack electronic lock. Degrees of success would enable him to do it in half the usual time, he did it without raising an alarm or he could gain access to the whole security network with all door and cameras. Degrees of failure would mean that the lock didn’t open and the character took more time than usual to find out that he can’t open it, he could have triggered the alarm, or worse he triggered a silent alarm and didn’t notice and now he hears the armored boots of security forces approaching around the corner.

Degrees of success/failure are all up to the GM but character’s can give their input on the matter. GM being quite powerful is another old school thing I want to include, GM is neutral party, he plays the uncaring world that the characters face without trying to make sure that the PCs “succeed” like D&D 3.x and 4th edition do. If a die roll kills a player character then he is dead. GM doesn’t fudge rolls.

This is post is getting quite long, I’ll write more about the system in future posts by detailing attribute/skills and various subsystems like character creation, combat, vehicle & equipment and magic.

See any obvious flaws in the system? Feel free to point them out, this is still work in progress, until I play the first session thing can change.

P.S. Why use 2d12? I got asked this almost every time I spoke about this project. The answer is because I’m fighting for the underdog. d12 has to be the most underused regular polyhedron in RPG history.

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Is it a trap?

I killed two characters today.

I was GMing Pathfinder and Children of the Void, slightly modified by me. On the eastern end of the island there is a ruined lighthouse. With little poking around the PCs managed not to break their necks by falling of the cliff and found the magical sword hidden nearby. What they didn’t find was the wraith lurking in the ground beneath the lighthouse.They think the mostly intact lighthouse is a good campsite on the hostile island. The druid even uses various stone shaping spells to fix the place up.

Come night and the vengeful spirit rises and proceeds to suck life out of two completely surprised PCs. One PCs got away by riding his harpy zombie to safety and the fourth was away from the camp scouting their opposition.

PCs are around 4-5th level and the wraith is about same level. What makes it particularly nasty in this context is that it is incorporeal undead. In fact I think it is the first incorporeal undead in whole Adventure Path so the PCs didn’t know they should prepare for one. PCs of the party’s level have very little effective means against incorporeal undead besides clerics and the party had none. Their oracle almost had enough levels to try to control the creature (he needed one night of rest to ding 5th level) and couple of magical weapons and offensive spell which weren’t very effective.

This encounter got me thinking that although it looks like standard combat encounter with magical sword as price it plays more like trap. The trap might trigger the next night after the PCs have visited the site (the wraith pursues them), during the day the wraith hides because it is powerless in sunlight. The PCs can come and get the magic sword and slip away without ever facing the wraith. Or if they make camp at the lighthouse they invite surprise visit from the restless dead. There is very little warning that there might be nasty undead, besides mentioning that the island is haunted. Of course there is dead body with the magical sword but this D&D, when does dead body mean anything besides loot!

All in all, cruel way to kill of 5th level PCs.

It kind of reminds me of the wizard in the Tower of the Stargazer. The difference is that the wizard can’t do anything without the PCs letting him out, so the PCs have to decide (whether knowingly or not) to let the shit hit the fan. And the PCs can talk with the wizard. In this case, it’s hit or miss. Either they get out without problems with the loot or somebody dies.

The question is, is this good design for adventure?

The cruel bastard in me definitely likes this. Anything to see the PCs in trouble and having to earn their XP and magical loot. On the other hand, it kind of suck to have your PC die on basically “save or die” way. But I’m leaning towards old school gaming so I guess that it is okay.

Yeah, it’s brilliant.

Adder in the manor…

Hello reader

Brave beginning and my first ever blog. It being first is bit surprising since I do web development for a living but here it is. We’ll have to see where it goes.

The real need why I started this blog was to share some though about my gaming hobby (both computer and tabletop) to my friends. Currently that means my Pathfinder RPG Second Darkness campaign and upcoming campaign I’m currently planning.

Posting are probably irregular until I get this blogging thing going and start the habit of posting everything that is suitable content for this blog. Also the theme, layouts, widgets and all visual stuff on the blog are at their default. They are not priority, I’ll fix them when I have time and get enough inspiration.  First priority is content, especially the upcoming campaign. I need to get everything online so prospective players can see it.

More to follow…