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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