Game System (RPG) development

  • Several people on this board, including myself, have been working individually on game systems (RPGs) for their individual projects. I think that is awesome, and I have gained a lot of insight into situational things that I might not have otherwise considered, thanks to people's thoughts and examples.

    I know that @Bobotron and I have started comparing notes, @Ganymede has pitched over ideas, and others have dropped hints here and there that they are doing system development.

    Would people be interested in pooling efforts, if only to use each other for sanity checking system rules, writeups, ideas?

    I am super excited for this, because this collaboration (granted, it's been just creative chats up to now) has really helped me get past the creative obstacles on system approach that I was facing, which has enabled me to see a light at the end of the tunnel that I'd been faced with! That's big and exciting news for me, and I want to thank everyone for the discussions that spurred this!

    So I will start off.

    "My" system is named MyriadRPG, named from the primary goal of the system to be customizable and adaptable to character creation. I have always intended to open it both in the Open Gaming System sort of non-trademark sort of way, and in the free MUSH code available to download and install on your game sort of way.

    It is a simplified combination of ideas and mechanical styles from D&D systems and World of Darkness systems, and should be recognizable to players of both genres. I've tried very hard to design this system in the sense of use on a MUSH, so it is not designed specifically for table-top style play, but I don't see why it couldn't be. Thus, lots of my design desicions were made slanted toward:

    • Easily MU codable.
    • Easy to understand and dive into, very low learning curve for CharGen and XP spends.
    • Gives players full creative control over advancement of character talents.
    • Expandable and customizable "template" approach for magic, weapons, fighting styles, and etc.
    • Cut down on the cruft of "tiny print rules", allowing for faster and easier combat/scene resolution.
    • Designed for a PvE environment, not a PvP sort of game, so that cooperative players can mostly resolve things themselves.
    • EDIT TO ADD: This system is designed for a non-heroic style of game with what some might say is a lower power level.

    I am in the process of building out parts of my game site's wiki to house this system documentation, and anyone that wants to peek, discuss, participate is more than welcome to hit me up. I am happy to provide text documents of what I have so far! I think that collaborative brains are best for development and catching things that could be Big Things in ways that a single person usually cannot.

    If not interested, but have material that you are proud of, believes is the One True Way to go, then please also feel free to share if you like. Inspiration happens in many areas and ways.

  • @Rook

    Mine is a very basic system reminiscent of Blood Bowl and FFG's system for Star Wars. Please forgive some of the formatting issues; I composed everything with tables in Word, so some of it might get garbled here. ( @Thenomain, I've been meaning to get this version out to you, but have failed; sorry.)

    2.0 Skills

    Skills are used to determine whether a character successfully performs an action, especially outside of an Encounter. Determining success requires a Skill check, which uses a pool of eight-sided dice determined by an appropriate baseline.

    2.1 Skill Dice

    The value of each Skill die, once rolled, provides a different outcome, as below:

    Roll Result
    1 Failure.
    2 Failure, BUT the aggressor gains a Drama Point.
    3 Failure, BUT the aggressor gains an Insight.
    4 Failure, UNLESS the aggressor is proficient.
    5 Success, UNLESS the defender is proficient, if contested.
    6 Success, BUT there’s a Complication.
    7 Success, BUT the defender gains a Drama Point.
    8 Success.

    2.2 Skill Checks

    There are two types of Skill checks: simple and contested. Simple checks occur where a character is attempting a task that is unopposed; contested checks occur where a character is opposed by another character, actively or passively.

    Step 1: Determine Difficulty and Baselines

    For a simple check, the GM determines the applicable Skill, baseline for the aggressor (the rolling party), and the difficulty of the check. In doing so, the GM should consult the following chart:

    Difficulty / Description
    2 Simple
    3 Professional
    4 Difficult
    5 Extremely Difficulty
    6 “Impossible”

    For a complex check, the GM determines the applicable Skill and baseline for the aggressor and the defender (the non-rolling party). For the purposes of determining proficiency, the GM may determine that the applicable Skill is different for each party.

    Step 2: Determine Dice Pool

    The GM then determines how many Skill dice shall be rolled by the aggressor’s player. To do so, the GM determines the aggressor’s score from his baseline and applicable modifiers; then, the GM determines the difficulty or defender’s score – from her baseline and applicable modifiers. Next, the GM consults the following chart to determine the Skill die pool and which party gets to select the result.

    Step / Scores / Pool
    -3 to -5 / Only through modifiers. / Roll four to six Skill dice; D or GM chooses.
    -2 / D’s Score or Diff. > (A’s Score)*2 / Roll three Skill dice; D or GM chooses.
    -1 / D’s Score or Diff. > A’s Score / Roll two Skill dice; D or GM chooses.
    0 / A’s Score = D’s Score or Diff. / Roll one Skill die.
    1 / A’s Score > D’s Score or Diff. / Roll two Skill dice; A chooses.
    2 / A’s Score > (D’s Score or Diff.)*2 / Roll three Skill dice; A chooses.
    3 to 5 / Only through modifiers. / Roll four to six Skill dice; A chooses.

    Step 3: Shifting the Odds

    Some Talents allow you to adjust a Skill check by raising or lowering its Step. This means that, rather than using the pool indicated by the scores, you use a better or worse pool, depending on whether the scenario is raised or lowered. For example, a Talent that raises a Step may turn an even-scored scenario, where only one Skill die is rolled (Step 0), to the greater-than scenario, where two Skill dice are rolled, and the best outcome chosen by the aggressor (Step 1).

    Alternately, a player may spend a Drama Point (DP) to raise a pool by one step per point. Only the aggressor may spend DP this way, and he can spend as many DP as desired.

    Step 4: Determine Outcome

    Now that the aggressor knows how many dice to roll, he does so. Once the outcome is determined, the parties involved should role-play the results, with the GM moderating.

    Example: Mordin is attempting to hack into a console. The GM decides that this will require a simple Hacking check at difficulty 3, using Mordin’s Mind Baseline Score (MND). Mordin has a MND of 5, so his player rolls 2 dice, which have the following outcomes: failure; and success. Mordin’s player chooses “success.”

    Example: Mordin is at the top of the Shroud Tower, which is coming down around him. He’s injured, and the task of recalibrating the system to accept the genophage cure is exceedingly difficult. The GM decides that this will require a Code check at difficulty 5, using Mordin’s MND. Mordin’s injuries, though, shifts the Step of his roll down to -1. Mordin’s player decides that Mordin will burn all remaining Drama Points – 3 – to boost the Step to 2 for this very-critical roll. He rolls 3 dice, one of which is a “success.”

    Example: Something Wrex said ticked Tali off, so she takes a swing at him. Tali’s Fitness Baseline Score (FIT) is low (2) and Wrex’s is much higher (5). On a contested Melee check using FIT, Tali would be at Step -2; however, her player decides that she really wants to show her stuff – and burns 4 Drama Points to bump her roll to Step 2. Tali’s player rolls 3 dice, and gets a 1, 5, and 6. She chooses 6 – Success, but there’s a Complication. Tali therefore manages to hit Wrex right in the face … which causes a bone in her hand to break, the GM decides.

    Use and abuse what you want. Comments are welcome, here or by PM. There's more to it than this, but this is the bare bones around which the rest of the system is created.

  • The system I am writing puts more focus on skills than attributes. Attributes are only used when a skill is not learned at all, and that's a bad thing. Otherwise what attributes do is provide soft cap limits on skills after which skills become more expensive (But not exhorbitantly so).

    When I have more of it ready to go will continue to add, but I am a bit tired of systems where attributes are king.

  • @Ganymede said in Mass Effect: Andromeda: The Thread:

    @Misadventure said in Mass Effect: Andromeda: The Thread:

    Is it publicly linked here? -_-

    Not yet.

    OMG, direct publishing. Mostly. Hurrah for follow through!

  • I know some people on here hate it, but I really like Fate's Aspects. I like narrative-form stats that can affect the game, and I like things on character sheets that have advantages and disadvantages bundled together. Aspects and the compel/invoke system are the simplest incarnation of those two elements combined that I've found.

  • I agree, but only when the given FATE product has a kit to make sure your Aspects do have valuable benefits and drawbacks.

    I also love being able to draw upon passions, convictions, values, motivations or what have you, but it can become really rote and flat if you are supposed to do it often.

  • @Misadventure said in Game System (RPG) development:

    I agree, but only when the given FATE product has a kit to make sure your Aspects do have valuable benefits and drawbacks.

    And the gaming group or online game where it's being used has given thought to how to do this in that specific environment.

    I also love being able to draw upon passions, convictions, values, motivations or what have you, but it can become really rote and flat if you are supposed to do it often.

    I agree and I disagree. There are some versions of this where the passions, convictions, values, or motivations are represented as high, character-defining aspects: CoD aspirations, or the High Concept in Fate. There are some versions where the traits are presented as general - they may be broad, but the character isn't the only one with that trait: CoD Virtue/Vice, Unknown Armies' madness meters and passions. There are some versions where the trait reflects a basic way of approaching the world: in both Apocalypse World and Fate Accelerated Edition, your stats are your personality traits. There's no separation between the character's stats and identity and there's no way to get away from it.

    The prescribed frequency of drawing directly on personality to affect the game system will scale with where those personality-reflecting system elements sit on this scale.

    My ideal system would sit between points 2 and 3. Like if Unknown Armies and Apocalypse World had a baby. know what would be a fun thing to design? Unknown Armies powered by the Apocalypse. UAPA. Yes, City of Mist is a thing (I backed the Kickstarter), but that's almost more changeling/Scion.

    I feel like @Thenomain may have had thoughts of what would happen if Apocalypse World met a MU* environment.

  • Pitcrew

    The system I'm working on, the Furystorm system, is for a specific universe, the Codex of Alera series by Jim Butcher. It's designed to represent a system in which great and terrible things can be done in the physical and social arenas, where furycrafting (magic) is a powerful force, but one that can (sometimes) be overcome through skill and luck.

    I would love to take a look at other systems that folks are working on, give my opinions, and get the opinions of others on my own system (@Misadventure has actually been quite helpful with looking through social combat).

    The system is housed on the system tab of the wiki:

    At its base, the system is an exploding multi-D10 system looking at the number of successes rolled. An automated combat system will (eventually) run combat through a menu of options each round, and then handle the rolls for you, so I went a little hog-wild on rolls and put a lot of them in there. As @Lithium noted, Attributes are mostly used for defaulting and for soft-capping skills (although they are also used as damage resistance).

    I'd love to get some more eyes on it, just as I'd love to take a look at the systems of others (drop me a line, @Rook).

    @Ganymede Your table is a little fascinating to me, comparing skills and then not rolling the difference or not allowing both sides to roll. Very much not what I'm used to, but kind of fascinating. I think that at first it will result in a lot of referencing the table, but after some practice, it could be a pretty dang quick system.

  • The thing I was working on was called Pantheogenesis. That was based on the original world it was created for, but it worked as a generic name, too, since it was intended to allow for people to create their own worlds with their own structures and beliefs and whatnot.

    It had a broad array of attributes, specifically, in clusters. There were 7 clusters of 3 attributes each, for a total of 21 core character attributes, attributes being defined as 'things everyone and every being in the universe has in some measure', unlike skills, or special traits. To me, this worked nicely for an online environment because of the disparity between the number of players common to a tabletop RPG vs. a LARP or especially a MUX, and the general desire of players to have something 'special' systemically that distinguished them from someone else in ways the systems I see used more often, especially WoD, do not accomplish as successfully or with as much specificity as I would have liked.

  • @Seraphim73 said in Game System (RPG) development:

    Your table is a little fascinating to me, comparing skills and then not rolling the difference or not allowing both sides to roll. Very much not what I'm used to, but kind of fascinating. I think that at first it will result in a lot of referencing the table, but after some practice, it could be a pretty dang quick system.

    Thank you. You hit on one thing I wanted to do: make a dang quick system. The other thing is making a system where there's a lot of variation. If you want a feel as to how this goes, I drew a lot of inspiration from Blood Bowl, which is, again, simple and quick to pick up.

    Combat is a little more involved and delicate. Like Blood Bowl, you need to time your team's attacks to make them most effective. E.g., Asari Adepts can use Pull to bring enemies into close range, where your Krogan Brute can mudstomp them into next year. Another e.g., a Turian Tactician can shift his squadmates' position in Order, so that they can get the jump on and attack the opponents before they can act. There's cover, and Status effects, and combat shouldn't take too long to get through.

    If anyone wants a full copy of the v.4 draft, just PM me. I'm working on the Political System right now, which will include social combat.

  • Pitcrew

    @Ganymede I like the idea of benefiting "combos," it's very fitting for Mass Effect in particular (I assume you can set up your own "combos" by using, for instance, Warp one turn and then Pull or Throw the next). I've just given a ganged-up-on penalty which is effective but not fancy--I'm curious what you came up with.

    I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • Pitcrew

    In the system I am designing, Attributes are conceptual (I'm considering Virtues or Elements, depending on where I go with it, for now I've been using the classic alchemical elements + 'spirit') and they intersect with Categories which are Physical/Social/Mental to create Skills, which are basically the Attribute as functioning in the Category. Since there are 5 Attributes, there is a total of 15 Skills. It's not a lot, but it's not meant to be a very detail-oriented system (and the nuances often come from Vocations, which if you've ever played 13th Age, are a little like Backgrounds in that game).

    Each Attribute (Element) represents a particular thing. Fire is Power, Earth is Substance, Air is Freedom, Water is Change, and Spirit is Intuition. These are rough, and not at all encompassing. They're just words I've chosen to better illustrate why they combine with the Phys/Soc/Men categories to create the Skills they do. Elements go from 1-6, and they determine how many sides the dice you roll for an action has. Just double your rating in the Element and that's you die (1 would be a d2, which is just a coin).

    From here, we start combining the Elements with the categories to get Skills. For example, Physical Fire is how your character physically exercises their power. We call it 'Brawn'. Your Mental Earth is how your character mentally exercises their substance (as in, their cohesiveness) and we call that 'Resolve'. Your Social Spirit is how your character socially exercises their intuition, we call it 'Empathy'. and so on and so forth. Your Skill rating can go from 1-12 and it determines how many dice you roll. All characters start with 1 in every Skill.

    Despite each Skill corresponding to an Element, that doesn’t mean they are always rolled with that Element: every Skill can be combined with every Element. You roll Skill+Element, where Skill is the number of dice (1-12) and the Element is the type (how many sides). If you have Brawn 5 and Earth 2, you would roll 5d4.

    The Skill is the means while the Element is the goal. If you are looking to be heard through the din of a crowd, you might roll Presence+Fire; while if you are trying to change someone’s mind about something, you might roll Socialize+Water. A person being psychically tortured might roll Resolve+Fire to power through it; while someone else might brush off social awkwardness with Integrity+Air, because they can be free of such concerns.

    It’s not a static system and the narrator should allow players some leeway to interpret how their Skills and Elements can combine to achieve the same things through different combinations. Hanging from a ledge by one’s fingertips can be a Fortitude+Fire roll, or it can be a Brawn+Earth roll.

    There's other considerations, but unless the narrator is determined to have someone use a specific combination (or a supernatural power calls for a specific roll), they should allow the player to decide which combination best suits (and it's usually the one most advantageous to the character, which again, is usually the one with the most amount of dice, as it raises the minimum success rate).

    I haven't finished the system though I do have a combat system written up. More later if I am inclined.

  • Pitcrew


    I definitely want all the deets on your Political System when you have it!

  • My first RPG/MU system was designed based on Quentin Tarantino movies, and the general 'feel' he presents. Specifically, it was inspired by Kill Bill 1 and 2, but others could apply. I find that if you can find one particular work of art that you keep coming back to in your mind, you can craft that into a system for an unrelated theme, or perhaps just a generalized system applicable to multiple themes.

  • Pitcrew

    I have thought about trying to use something similar to Mystic Empyrean as a system in a MU*. It uses 7 elements as skills - fire, light, lightning, water, earth, shadow, and air in a wheel. Characters are ranked in each element and has a deck of cards consisting of these skills, so if you have a fire of 4, your deck will have four fire cards. When you want to perform an action you draw a card from the deck. If the element drawn matches the element of the action (fighting physically requires fire, for instance), it succeeds better than expected. If the element drawn is one step away, it succeeds normally. If it's two steps away, it succeeds but only if it's not being opposed or difficult. If it's three steps away, it's a failure. Balance.pdf

    I want to use the system in a game where the PCs are spirits and gods. It encourages specialization in certain areas, so a spirits of fire and war is going to have a bunch of fire cards and some light and air cards, while trying to minimize other cards.

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