Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
February 24, 2020, 09:42:59 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 71 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2
Author Topic: [Föld] "moral inhibitions" system?  (Read 10554 times)

Posts: 28

« on: September 13, 2011, 09:22:25 AM »

Hi all,

I am a french author (apologies for my english mistakes by the way) of a RPG universe called 'Föld'. In a nutshell, it's a frozen post-apocalyptic world where survivors try not to die to lack of food, climatic hazards or wandering demons. The big draw of this universe is to understand what the world is about and all its mysteries.
Lots of details about the universe can be found here, unfortunately in french only: http://valvolt.free.fr/fold
I tested the universe during a full LARP campaign (over 4 years) and I want now to adapt it to table RPG format. And to put in there all the concepts that were not working well in a LARP format, namely insanity.

When it comes to table rpg rules, I need my player characters to be losers - real losers. The players will actually see a lot of their characters die, I even consider generating them at random. However, unknown to the players, their characters will have something in common: they are chosen by demons, who will carry over some memories of previous characters to the new one. Namely magic powers.

That's for the basis. Now for my pondering:

As I said, PC are rather weak. None of them are heroes of legends nor do they want to become heroes. Namely, I want the characters to be full of social / moral inhibitions and of paralyzing fears. These guys should a priori not seek fighting and would even have difficulties to steal food even if absolutely necessary.
For this I thought about having special stats, related to such inhibitions. I could think of 2 so far: 'Courage' and 'Deception'. If you're low on Courage, you will not be able to use a sword. If you're low on Deception, your attempts at stealing or lying will be laughably easy to debunk.
The idea being that these scores go from 0 to 10. When a player wants his character to fight, he rolls 1D10. If he scores less than his Courage, his character fights. If he rolls higher, the character is paralyzed in fear, unable to even defend himself.
Now the player can chose to burn an XP (or a token or whatever) for forcing the character to fight anyway. If this happens, then automatically the Courage score goes up by 1, and the characters inherits a mental disorder (fear of the dark, bloodlust, anything appropriate). So in the end the characters can become good at fighting but will have serious mental injuries. Last, at the end of a session, XP could be used to heal some of these disorders.

That's it for the idea, now my issue is: 'what should be the caracteristics to use in order to cover characters' inhibitions and fears' ? Are 'courage' and 'integrity' enough? What is missing in this picture?

That's where I am now, I like to idea of characters not solving every problem with a bloodshed, that's my attempt at addressing this from a gaming rules perspective.
Would you know of any existing system already addressing this moral aspect? And how would you do it?

Last point: these mental injuries are necessary in the sense that the more deranged the character, the more he will master magic... But hush, that's a secret ;)

Callan S.

Posts: 4268

« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 03:36:56 PM »

Hi Cédric,

I think your trying to create a leash.

The first thing I think you need are players who are interested in playing characters who are full of social / moral inhibitions and of paralyzing fears. Now it's easy enough for anyone to come to a game and play it like a boardgame, but coming to a game to play out a certain character type - on average people need to know in advance what type of character they should draw upon for the game in question. And if they can't think of one - they can't play in the game. I know this sounds ultra against gamer 'include everyone!!1!' culture, but really if you bring in one or more people who doesn't have a character in mind, they will play it like a boardgame. And so you bringing them in is you inflicting the problem on yourself.

The second thing is, you don't need a leash, you need a reward for people who play within the scope of play you aim for. The riddle of steel RPG is an example with it's spiritual attributes, which are player defined as to what the character cares about and every time they pursue these cares they get a bonus dice (important: even if they fail at the pursuit they get the bonus dice - if you only give it on a pass, you start pushing towards play to win boardgame play).

With the latter in mind, what are the players, via their PC's, trying to actually do? If it's just 'survive', that's kind of problematic in the key mechanic of getting the reward even if you fail - because the PC will be dead. Unless of course, the reward is simply passed on to another character. And though your kind of have that with the demons, it seems to be part of your theme. This reward mechanic is about rewarding the players only - it's not part of the game world, it does not represent part of the simulation or anything. It's entirely a pat on the back and empowerment of the player directly for giving a damn about their character(s).

That's one model of approach, anyway.


Posts: 657

« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 09:55:06 PM »

I guess the main thing is, are you trying to simulate what it would be like being a normal non-hero type of person in a terrifying situation, or are you looking to find the the answer to exactly what will make this person resort to fighting, stealing etc...  the answer to that will influence your design.

Just off the top of my head, I think the "if you fight you have mental issues" is backwards.

People avoid fights because they are afraid of being hurt, and it sounds like you are not adverse at all to killing off PCs, so simply make fighting in your game incredibaly dangerous.  these guys arent heroes - if they fight, there is a high probability of death.  I think where the menal issues come in is when you dont fight.  Would you abandon a comrade in order to preserve your own safety - guilt!  shame! 



Posts: 68

« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2011, 11:01:10 PM »

Awesome idea Cedric!

Disclaimer: My girlfriend would only translate so much french for me, I wasn't able to read many of the details. Forgive me if I missed something vital.


1.) Your game doesn't feature rampaging demi-gods; I consider it a "low-potency fiction", a world where survival is a very real threat for PCs. Your description suggests that this game is not designed to breed optimism. Death, decay, and penalties run rampant and I like that.
2.) Violence isn't the go-to solution? Excellent. Remove the default dagger Dons "gift".
3.) Why only 4 health points?
4.) Why is the unconscious duration 3 minutes? Change this to a narrative quantity to promote fluidity over accounting.
5.) Why have you chosen the Gifts and Competencies that you have? My concern is that they are too restrictive. Can players customize or create their own?
6.) You mentioned characters receive injuries when they recover from unsconsciousness. That seems like a painstaking task to keep track of.
7.) Change your Inhibited Traits from Courage-Integrity/Deception to Welfare, Discernment, Fortitude.


1.) Low-Fiction Potency. Pure survival would be difficult to retain people's passion. I agree with Callan's comment in this regard. But I don't think that's what you intend the game to be about. Your Inhibited Traits are a very cool feature. I don't think it is a restriction on players, I think it helps build characters that are wary of the world. The spirt of spiritual attributes is retained here. This is a game of punishment and fear, not joy and rewards. The decision to break an inhibition carries a cost, and that cost becomes very real for the character. No they're not being rewarded mechanically, but they're impacted narratively--and that can be just as good if not better.

The necessity of a mental disorder is very cool, especially because you seem to have tied it into the mythology of the world. Perhaps a scale of 0-10 for the Inhibited Traits (and thus mental disorders) would result in too much mental paralysis. Perhaps decrease the scale to 0-6 or something. Or even introduce a disorder for every 2 points of an Inhibited Trait "IT".

The capacity to buy off mental disorders seems reasonable, but will it eventually dampen the mythology of your world (i.e. demons and magic)?

2.) Dagger Dons
. Not solving every problem with bloodshed is a big plus from my point-of-view. But giving everyone free training in daggers seems counter-productive here. You don't want them to resort to knifing every problem away, then train them in knifing by default. House-wives, school-children, bakers, and politicians... they all know how to use a dagger?! I don't know why you chose to make "daggering" free, but I suggest removing this freebie. Grant another point somewhere else or force them to take a gift relevant to their position in life.

3.) 4 Health. Not a real concern, mostly just curious. Will this number properly mesh with the rules for conflict resolution? 4 seems too stringent...

This means (if I understand the nothing I know about your conflict resolution correctly) that a character can only fail 4 bouts before failing a conflict. The refresh rate for health will be very important here.

If characters go unconscious at 0 health, how do they die as you've said they likely will? Remember, death doesn't have to be the worst thing you can do to your PCs. Being unable to influence the fiction could be just as painful to the player without necessitating a full gauntlet of character creation again.

4.) 3 Minutes Unconscious. 3 minutes can be a lifetime if you've been knocked overboard an ocean vessel or if you're lost in a savage jungle; then again, 3 minutes is next to meaningless if a fever has knocked you out in your own home. Bottom line: 3 minutes seems very arbitrary--I would suggest using a narrative time-scale such as "until end of scene/conflict/turn". Unless, of course, you are striving for a numerical/mechanistic feel of doing the accounting for initiative and order or turns and actions per turn.

5.) List of Gifts and Competencies. I am wary of lists because they must be absolutely comprehensive for all situations yet distinct enough to be meaningful while also being organized in a reasonable fashion and then (likely) balanced out to not bias one over another. Lists worry me. So is there an important reason for choosing these exact phrasing for all Gifts and Competencies in your game?

I would suggest a system akin to "Fate" Aspects or Bonuses from "The Pool". Effectively the character writes down a sentence about their character and then makes a "trait" out of it. This method is very customizable so it allows players to plan for scenarios they want to involve themselves in while also negating the need for balancing because the PCs' "traits" will be so diverse as to be difficult to compare on a one-to-one basis. (Also check out Fate Points from Fate, Compelling Aspects is very interesting there: players/GM can elect to bring strife upon the character to allow them more influence on the fiction).

6.) Injuries
I don't like lists, and I really don't like accounting. Keeping track of a broken left ankle, sprained right wrist, bruised third rib from bottom on left, and metal shrapnel in right shoulder doesn't sound fun. I have no idea how you were planning on dealing with injuries but such a feature strikes me (in principle) as more work than its worth.

Granted this all depends on the duration of the injury and the hurdles the PCs must complete to heal themselves. Personal taste suggests omitting such book-keeping.

Depending on the frequency of physical injury, a severity scale may work. Minor, Moderate, and Major. Minor fades at end of scene, Moderate persists until end of session, and Major remains forever.

7.) Inhibited Traits.
This is what sparked me to respond. Courage and Deception seem workable, but they don't encapsulate the moral inhibitions that you wanted to enforce within your game. My alternate triad of Welfare, Discernment, and Fortitude is routed in ethics--specifically Plato's Four Virtues (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardinal_virtues)--which allows the system to (by default) track moral strenghts and weaknesses. Note: I used these four as the foundation for my game's morality system.

I am assuming a system of 0-10 where the player begins at 10 and gains Virtue Points "VP' to decrease any one Inhibited Trait "IT". (Perhaps give 5 VP at character creation to be spent as desired across all 3 IT). If a situation arises that the character must overcome one of their inhibitions then they roll a d10 and must roll higher than their IT.

Of course a failed roll means the character is inhibited from acting in a Virtuous manner for that particular instance. The player can still elect to spend XP to deny the character's nature and proceed anyway--at the cost of decreasing their IT and earning a condition.

It makes sense to gain a condition for fighting back. Not because the character must have mental issues to fight, but because they gain mental issues by denying a life-time of conditioning to act unnaturally (for themselves).

Conditions will become a spotlight feature of this game, so it'll be important to properly phrase them, include them in the rules, and determine their narrative and mechanical ramifications.

Note: Rolling for a high number seems to make more sense from a psychological point-of-view "POV". Freeing your Inhibited Trait with Virtue Points also makes sense. I recognize your initial idea was to (I think) begin at 0 and move upwards attempting to roll below.

I suggest these 3 Inhibited Traits: Welfare, Discernment, and Fortitude are derived, respectively, from Plato's Justice, Prudence, and Fortitude.

Welfare regulates the PC's ability to make ethical decisions. Discernment accounts for a PC's ability to be aware of societal standards. Fortitude quantifies a PC's ability to persevere through adversity and balk at unnecessarily dangerous tasks.

More details:


A character with an Inhibited Welfare Virtue would be petty and shallow or over-committed to a lesser good (as opposed to something significant or great). Such a PC is unable to sacrifice for the greater good. They would prioritize inconsequential goals such as personal financial profit, fleeting romantic interests, addictive substances, minor grievances with other people, earning fame, or pursuing irresponsible political goals. They would not have the best interests of others in mind. Note: A character with an Inhibited Welfare Virtue may be overly generous with their time and resources. Though they'd be a "nice" character, their Welfare would still be inhibited. Being over-generous can hamper one's ability to accurately perceive the "big picture" and important long-term goals.

One would require a low(er) Welfare value to donate to the needy, protect strangers (or even loved ones), sacrifice for the sake of the community, give up an addiction, swallow one's pride, forgive others, engage in meaningful romantic relationships...


A character with a high Inhibited Discernment Virtue would be socially oblivious or close-minded. They would be constantly tricked/duped/bullied by others. They would say things at inappropriate times and fail to interpret others' desires and emotions. Conversations rarely go their way. Also, an Inhibited Discernment Virtue would result in a lack of knowledge about social norms such as dinner etiquette, proper titles for hierarchy, which area of the city to avoid, who to not piss off, what not to say when others can overhear you.

A character would an uninhibited Discernment Virtue to effectively barter, navigate courtly affairs, interpret veiled threats from others, recognize implicit offers or promises of allegiance, detect liars, not get kidnapped because they took the wrong path, and listen to advice of wiser people.


One would not be Fortitudinous if they procrastinated, gave up easily, or persevered to the point of obsession. They would rarely finish tasks, struggle to maintain relationships and jobs, and get in situations that they can't get out of. It is very important to note that Fortitudinous was chosen over "Willpower" or some such because Willpower is rather easy: "I'll just try harder!". But putting more effort into something isn't always the best solution--sometimes too much effort can be equally ruinous; thus the "perservere to the point of obsession" as being the quality of an individual with an Inhibited Fortitudinous Virtue.

A character with an uninhibited Fortitudinous Virtue would struggle through adversity when the reward outweights the risk and be able to give up on farfetched objectives and impossible tasks. They do not tire themselves out unnecessarily but they're ready to exhaust their reserves of willpower when something significant needs completing.

Note: Welfare is the "what am I willing to do?", Discernment is the "what should I do?", Fortitude is the "should I give up?"

Important: Your previous system of Courage/Deception would very often result in players losing their PC because their PC failed to protect themself. Granted you want a gritty fiction--that's fine. But I'd be pissed to keep losing PCs simply because they failed to put something between them and imminent danger such as a person/creature/environment. Especially when they have the Dagger Gift!

This new morality-founded system is not designed to hinder a PC from protecting themself. Consider the difference in gameplay.


Scenario: Your PC and another player's PC are searching for treasure in a wolf-infested forest. You've been granted seniority and all decisions rest on you.

Old: Courage- I failed the roll. My character trembles uncontrollably, failing to raise his rusty sword or second-hand shield before getting sliced open by the wolf's fangs. Great. New character. Again.

New: Welfare- I failed the roll. My character doesn't go help the friend in need. He narrowly manages to kill the attacking wolf as I run for safety. Now there's strife between us; this causes deception, treachery, and eventually a plot to rob/kidnap/murder me! I could smooth this over with my companion if I choose to (unlike the Courage situation).

New: Discernment- I failed the roll. My decision for us to swim across the river because wolves can't swim has gone disastrously. They can swim, and apparently faster than us. We survive, barely, and are now stranded without food or shelter.

New: Fortitude- I failed the roll. The treasure is close. But a pack of wolves are closer. I should give up and head home to safety, but I'm too stubbourn for that. Now my leadership has me and my companion stranded in wolf country despite the many (furry fanged) obvious reasons we shouldn't be here.

I like the feeling of "burning your own bridges" these morality-based IT encourage. It seems to align with the punishment of this harsh world. The PCs are actively making decisions that will only later come back to haunt them--as opposed to dying (as I suspect Courage would likely result in more often than not) or Deception (which seems limited in applicability).


Tired. That was long. Hope it helps.Great idea, interested in learning how this system develops.

I like the harsh world, tease of mythology/demons/magic, the system for gaining disorders by acting unnaturally, and the low-potency fiction.

Why can everyone use a dagger. 4 health, 3 minutes unconscious and will the gifts/competencies be comprehensive enough to account for all situations without being too similar or biased? How does conflict resolve?

I suggest 3 Inhibited Virtues (changed from Inhibited Traits as an afterthought) of Welfare, Discernment, and Fortitude.

I recognize the titles will change when translated. Btw, your English is strong so no need to apologize for that.


Posts: 28

« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2011, 06:55:26 AM »


Posts: 68

« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2011, 12:55:38 PM »


Don’t apologize for me not recognizing the written rules were for LARP. If I had been more alert I would have realized that because you had said as much.

For 2, 3, 5 I was ignorant of LARP practices. Thanks for letting me know.
2.) Agreed.

3.) Same concern exists: every 1 hit (from any source) causes the exact same damage? This may or may not be a problem. That depends on the purpose of your game. From a designer/GM/player POV. Why are you creating/playing this game?

Here is where I shuffle you deeper into Forge philosophy. These articles, and others, have really helped me focus my game how I wanted it.

Check out Ron Edwards’ GNS Theory wikipedia: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNS_Theory) or on the Articles page of this site (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/). Search for Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism on the latter link. Here is a direct link with a direct explanation of the terms (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/3/).

Mutilated summary for the 4 hit point issue: Gamism- Does my better sword act as a better sword and deal more damage than a lesser sword? Narrativism- Does a loss of 1 hit point affect the story? How so, and to what extent? Simulationism- How is the wounded character different in the fiction? Is it consistent with the rules of this world?

4.) Changing (or removing) the 3 minutes unconscious will largely depend on your GNS purpose here. Gamists would likely prefer a numerical value as determined by their skills vs. their target's skills. Narrativists would likely want a narrative unit of time such as end of conflict/scene/session. Simulationists would likely want a time that is reasonable based on the game's fiction.

Again, don't take my short-form as complete. Read the articles.

5.) 1 job seems too limited. Likely to get one-dimensional characters with only that. But I agree in principle. A single word/phrase/sentence that the player can draw on to get bonuses to do “stuff”. My system is based off of Fate Aspects.

Go find/read about Fate Aspects (and Compelling in that game) and/or The Pool (it's free I think). I think they will help ease you into designing a "job" system.

Note: A new character involves a new physical description and social backstory. It won’t be as easy as “name job, switch over conditions, go”.

I’ve found it is very important to bind the PCs to other PCs and the environment. Elsewise the players (if inexperienced, uncreative, or simply unenthusiastic) will feel segregated from the game.

6.) Ya, injuries (so far) don’t seem necessary. This is also hinged on your GNS interpretation.

1.) Probably just the French-english translation, but what do you mean by “with an overall almost out-of-reach backstory”? I interpreted that to mean that the world is unique and original so players won’t be able to assume they know details about the setting (as they can in a elves/dwarves/ogres... setting). And so far as I can tell, yes your setting is unique and original. And I, and I suspect many others, appreciate that.

Note: It is especially cool that everyone emits this magical liquid. True it's not "new" on a historical scale. Refer to Elan Vital (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89lan_vital) if it were applied to all matter. Or, more scientifically, to Entropic Decay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy) which basically says stuff gets disorganized over time. This also reminds of the usage of "aether/ether" in many video games and movies/books/comics.

The similarities to your setting are not a bad thing! Just wanted to offer some references for further insights.

Excellent. I hadn't thought that single Conditions could simply be made worse. Makes perfect sense.

I know this is your game. I know you've played it for 3 years. I don't mean to intrude or devalue your decisions.

But I am seeing a disconnect within your mythology. And I think others have said as much in this thread. Here's the problem:

Current: The more crazy my character (i.e. the more mental Conditions they possess) the more powerful they are at magic. Justified because they can see what others can't because they are uninhibited by social/moral standards.

New: The more Virtuous my character (i.e. the less inhibited my Virtue Traits) the more powerful they are at magic. Justified because they are less vice-like, such as their less enlightened peers.

I think this solves a few problems.

1.1 The characters aren't getting better at something because they are getting crazier. That doesn't even make sense intuitively. My experience with the mentally unstable is that they are over-all less effective at daily (and magical) tasks.

1.2 Characters get better at magic (a fundamental force in this world) because they are becoming better people. They are getting better in a very specific way. They are becoming more Temperant/Moderate/Balanced people--they are becoming Virtuous. I like that both aesthetically and philosophically. This focus centers the game on players attempting to encourage their characters to become more virtuous. This also begs the gameplay features you wanted--observing characters struggle with doing the right thing in a cruel world.

But what about Conditions? This is where it gets better.

Current: I act against my nature and thus inherit a detrimental mental Condition.

New: My virtues are naturally inhibited, but I have made a virtuous decision and have thus been punished with a detrimental mental/social Condition.

1.3 Your world's mythology is now ingrained in your system.

Let the demons using/toying with the characters do the punishing. The demons intentionally afflict the characters for being Virtuous.

I've inferred this, so forgive any misinterpretation: Your world is cold, bleak, cruel. Everything is constantly decaying and releasing energy. There are demons that control/possess/curse humans. Why not say these demons are the root cause of the world's decay? And that every character (NPC or PC) has a demon afflicting it. The demons do not want virtuous characters running amok so they initially inhibit people socially or mentally but are able to actively burden/curse the people with Conditions if the person attempts to act too Virtuous.

The Demons are using/toying with people, and this shows in the major mechanic of your game: the Inhibited Virtues and their necessary rolls.

1.4 Players are rewarded for acting Virtuously, despite their characters being punished for it.

All PCs begin with Inhibited Virtues, but the players are rewarded (by having more narrative control--succeeding at rolls-- and by stronger magic) for striving to become less Inhibited. The characters struggle to act Virtuously, but are then cursed with a Condition for doing so. Thus the players (and perhaps characters eventually) are making a conscious sacrifice to act Virtuously, knowing they will be cursed with a mental Condition.

1.5 Darker Mood

The characters aren't just cowards that turn into crazy courageous cowards. The characters are now vice-like, petty, shallow, ignorant people that turn into Virtuous and enlightened cursed people. The mood of punishment and cruelty seems stronger when Conditions are punishments instead of natural consequences.

It seems like an eye-for-an-eye setting.

Demon: "Sure you can get better at magic and make consistently better decisions, you'll just have to pay the cost of accepting whatever detrimental Conditions I give you."

It feels aesthetically rewarding making the virtuous choice especially knowing you'll be punished for it regardless. That strikes me as a true tragic world.

1.6 Easier

Demons can inflict curses in roundabout ways. You don't have to worry so much about the psychology or "real-world" implications of the Conditions. Of course it would be best to attempt to make the Condition a natural consequence of the action that provoked it--but you've got some magical leeway now.

1.7 It makes sense

Thus you aren’t getting better at magic because you’re really scared of the dark. You’re getting better at magic because you are a more virtuous (balanced/moderate/temperant) person than those around you.

Until you give me further notice I’m straying toward “characters begin vice-like and petty yet grow in virtues over time, due to this growth they are cursed/punished/afflicted with mental/moral/social conditions that hinder their activities (by the demon that is toying with their soul across countless generations and innumerable bodies?)” as opposed to our previous “if a player forces a character to do something that the character otherwise couldn’t, then the character inherits a mental/social disorder for acting unnaturally”. Maybe every character (and object?) in the world has a demon but the PCs are the only characters willing to sacrifice enough to rise above their demonic shackles.

7.) Roll when the GM (I assume you have someone in that role) thinks it necessary. Or when a player thinks it necessary. This will depend on the power differential between GM and players in your system.

[Help I recall reading an article (I'm sure it was on this site) that discussed narrative control between player and GM. I can't recall the terminology or the article name. If someone knows please notify me so I can properly document it as an important article. Thanks.]

No, each action does not require 3 rolls. That would be tedious and over-burdening. Unless that’s the play you want… (it seems, oddly, that some people do). I would suggest only the most important one for necessary situtations.

I see your update of Courage (physical), Integrity (social), Self-Esteem (emotional). I like that you've tied them to different types of damage, it helps organize them. However, after reading your position I (but I don't quite matter cause it's your game) would stick with Welfare, Discernment, and Fortitude.

First I'll refine my 3 suggested terms and then I'll compare them to your 3 suggested alternatives.

7.1 Perhaps it's best to change the order to Discernment, Welfare, and Fortitude. This is because Discernment is rolled to identify (information), Welfare is rolled to initiate (action), and Fortitude is rolled to quit/persist (action). Usually decision-making follows the DWF chronology, not WDF chronology.

Note: DWF are better titles than IIP because we're less considered about "when to roll" as we are "what virtue is necessary here".

Welfare considers more than personal safety and personal greed.

Ex: I make a character that has a code of honour to not hit females. This is actually a good thing, but can impair a Welfare judgment. "Good is the greatest enemy of Greatness".

The character is in a situation where there is a female dictator that has done terrible things and is poised to do terrible things and has frequently said as much. Really terrible things. And she won't stop without bloodshed. Morality isn’t the question here. The greater good is served by stopping her. But the problem (the Welfare roll) is whether the character can overcome their personal desire/vow/personality trait to do what is ethical on a larger scale. Will the character be able to harm/kill this dictator? Roll Welfare.

Ex: Superheroes. Spiderman and Mary Jane. Superman and Lois Lane. Batman and, err… Robin? Will the character sacrifice their personal friendship/romantic interests for the sake of the greater good?

That’s welfare. It stretches beyond simple courage or personal safety. It is called into question when a character is able to recognize the ethical choice of self-sacrifice for the greater good (whatever that may be in a given situation). Welfare doesn't require immediate (or potential) physical (or other) danger. Welfare is the virtue of doing what is right for the whole.

Your Welfare example of a blizzard and a town building a fence in defence (haha, why would a fence stop a blizzard btw? :P) Perfect ex though.

Successful roll: Guy recognizes the need and helps out.

Failed roll: Character doesn't help. Gets shunned. This causes problems for him later. Does he do anything to try and fix the situation, I dunno that's up to him. But the town dislikes him now.

Failed roll, XP spent: He normally wouldn't go out of his way to help (due to his laziness, alcoholism, fear of crowds..) but chooses to in this case. He has acted Virtuously and is now punished with a Condition of an increased desire for laziness, alcoholism, or fear of crowds (as applicable) or any other relevant Condition that will hinder him.

His short term virtuous act results in a long-term Condition. He does a good thing, gets better at magic, and is cursed with a Condition.

is more of identifying informtaion than it is making a good decision. It limits or broadens the information available to characters.

Ex: You are a shepherd sitting in on a town council meeting. The mayor of your small village wants to spend the last 48 hours before the blizzard constructing a wall around the inner village. Does your character a.) recognize that the mayor is being greedy and only defending himself, or b.) notice that other shepherds recognize that this plan will ruin their farms and livelihoods because they will be forced to spend their time building a wall, or c.) observe that the mayor’s assistant is smiling mischievously and deduce (from your world-awareness) that the mayor’s assistant has manipulated the mayor into making this decision for some unknown reason.

That example seems muddled. But basically Discernment provides characters an opportunity to notice useful information or have useful memories/knowledge available.

Fortitude doesn't force the character to act dumb. Failing a Fortitude roll requires the character to make a dumb choice by giving up too early/late. Whether that means trying too hard on something worthless or giving up too easy on something of value.

7.2 Compare Discernment, Welfare, Fortitude to Courage, Integrity, Self-Esteem.

Ex 1: I want to solicit the king to free my neighbour’s slaves.

Old: Is this physical, social, or emotional dmg at risk? The king could behead me for my insolence (arrogance in asking). Or socially ostracize (devalue) me. Or I may be too shy to ask such a thing of anyone, let alone the king. So perhaps I risk emotional grief.

New: This would be a Welfare roll because I am concerned about another’s well being. I want to Initiate an action. I may have needed a Discernment roll to learn that my neighbour had slaves. And I may need a Fortitude roll to continue attempting to free them once I learn that my neighbour would burn down my house in retaliation if he loses his slaves.

Ex 2:The Winter Ritual hasn’t been completed and everyone that has tried has been killed this year. The Ritual is very important to our village for religious reasons. Only males can attempt it. You are a female that has snuck out on pretense of being male and you are running out of food. Should you turn back now or continue?

Old: Physical, threat of injury/death. Social, you are a female considering doing a man’s job in a man’s society (assumed). Or scared of ridicule for failure. Emotional, Fear of: freezing to death, mauled by wolf to death, starving to death. Or lack of self-confidence. Or too self-centered to consider it.

New: This is a Fortitude roll. You need to decide if it’s worth it to complete your task or turn home. I likely needed a Discernment roll to learn who to go to/what to do to pass as a male for the Ritual. I certainly needed a Welfare roll to embark on such a dangerous mission for the good of the village.


I really like the originality of your world mythology and your focus on moral choices in a cruel setting.

I think I recall reading that you have different races. Could you translate some basic details of each please?

I don't have my game online anywhere. I am currently preparing it (and focus questions) for online discussion. I (very much) appreciate that you're interested in reading it. I'll try to get it (or some fraction of it) online soon.

As of now I'd suggest reading those links I sent you.

Oh! And keep posting questions here, I like this brainstorming. It was a real treat to read and respond to your post today.


Posts: 28

« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2011, 08:51:04 AM »

He he, I really will spend the remaining time of my lunch break for writing an answer (damned it actually 18h30 now, took longer than expected). I will for sure continue posting here, I'm only too glad I can finally talk to people and confront points of view - that's the best way I know for moving on.

So, let's go:

About G/N/S: thanks for the links ! I read some articles on this theory in french as well so I'm not entirely new to the topic (I namely read a translation of the "System Does Matter" article http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/system_does_matter.html, referenced from the wikipedia article and wherefrom I found out that The Forge exists !)  - I won't claim I master it though ;)
Still, I guess I am more of an N-type. I dislike heavy rules that slow down the story flow, I don't like overspecialization which turn character skills into full libraries. I also don't like it when the success or failure of a critical action is purely based on a dice roll (and did I mention that I'm particularly unlucky with dies? ;))

That's probably why I'm not that much concerned that a sword does equal damage than an axe or a dagger. In my narrow-minded view, I see it more as a mean to say: "ok, what weapon you carry does not matter, now can we go on with the story and stop trying to optimise stats?". It's also a confession that I'm probably not able to come up with a balanced system, I just can't think "powergaming" hard enough...

About job system: will do the reading, promised ! Meanwhile, just some more words about the system I have in mind (by the end of this topic thread, I will have no more secrets for you ;)) which is about 'contacts'. By this I mean social network.
Since XP won't be spent in making your character stronger, I thought of 'buying' relationship upgrades. One XP for a simple contact, 3 for a close friend, etc. Of course this will have to be consistent with how the game goes and you won't be able to turn your enemy into your best friends in a single go (with the occasional exception for say love/hate relationships).
The twist being that upon death, the new character will have the possibility to link again to his old contacts. Good luck explaining to your wife that it's really you (where actually it won't - the new guy will just inherit mixed memories from the other one(s)...)

About my weird french-english sentence: you got the idea :p (I was not sure how to write it - and it's not a translation problem since while in 'english' mode I don't think in french... most of the time)

About the magic liquid: thanks for the references ! Also, I was influenced here by a video game (Final Fantasy VI, not that it matters much) where magic is not restricted to the frail wizard but can be mastered by everybody. Which is good here, since magic is so damn powerful. During the LARP sessions, nobody complained about the powerful magic since they could also learn it eventually ;)

Now some more details about magic and demons: I need to give you more insights about what demons and magic really are, and why I don't see at the moment how to mix this background with the Virtuous concept - that I find really interesting, by the way. What's left is 'simply' to find how to make both aspects work together...

- People emit magic liquid. And when they don't control it consciously (e.g. what happens 99% of the time), they still influence it inconsciously - with their beliefs, doubts and fears. Demons are created that way. The more believers, the stronger the demons (strong in the sense of 'better defined personality traits and autonomy', versus 'roaming blurry creature with no consciousness'). Demons are like humans, they have their own motives, and most of them are not even aware that the 'human world' exists (or that they are a demon). Actually, they don't have any intrinsic evil nature, they are just beings. Also, the rules of magic apply to them in the same way (they decay and generate their own 'liquid') than humans, so they cannot do everything to the Player Characters.
The demons which manipulate the Player Characters are such beings which have their own personal goal (which demon will be associated to which Player will be an initial setup phase, possibly aligning the Player's interests with the demon's goal) and that, as already mentioned, see and ear through humans, one at a time. An example of such a demon is the 'demon of robots' (sounds better in french ;)) which is entrapped underground. He feels loneliness and wants to break free. He also knows that if he does nothing, then people will forget him (what are robots anyway?) and stop 'materializing' him with their 'liquid'. His goal will be as such to manage people to find his spot and to start digging.

Once free on the world he will not necessarily behave as a tyrant though.

Just to say that punishing humans for being vertuous is not necessarily in their own interest.

- Föld is planet Earth in year 4000 something. And the justification for magic is that in order to manipulate the fluids, you need to 'loosen control' on yourself. This can be achieved by two means: very strong indoctrination, or getting insane. As of today (2011), we don't have magic users because 1- the sect gurus never achieved such indoctrination on people (they would need first to believe in magic themselves) and 2- mental disorders are seen today as pathologies, and such people are shun with medicine and isolated. There is the occasional magic user among them, but this is always rationalized away (it was an accident, man I'm getting crazy too, it was just a dream, etc.)

So my main issue is now: how to justify that vertuous people in year 4000 can master magic, where in 2011 no-one was able to? It is also important that this does not get explained by a Deus Ex Machina (such as contact with aliens in year 3020 ;)) since one of the main ideas is to say: "We learn by doing trial-and-errors. We adopt a theory until we discover something new that makes it wrong." The full magic stuff (and existence of 'demons') is supposed to have always existed, only we never understood it so far.

Last, about the different races: there are half a dozen of races available. They are all humans (almost :p) since they all are our own descendants. Still, there was a cataclysm in year 3333 (where calendar was reset to 0) and survivors organized themselves in small autonomous groups for the next 400 years, thus creating differences (mostly cultural). I guess I'll keep the reasons why the cataclysm took place for later, let's just say that demons played a very small role in it.

- Frontaliers ("men from the border") is a generic term for the plethora of small groups living at (one) border of the known world. They live mostly in the mountains, where the weather is a bit better. They possess the best fields and are good with growing plants and domesticating animals. Their elders are highly respected and are seen as mentors for everyone.

- Aréniens (guys from Arena, the known world's biggest town) built a city (Arena) on top of ruins of one of the 'ancient world''s cities. They survived by repairing and customizing old artifacts that they don't really understand. There are lots of underground tunnels under the city which provides shelter during violent storms. Since they are in the middle of the world and have all these cool gadgets, they became relatively rich once transportation was established. They live in a democracy and are good diplomats.

- Itinérants ("wanderers") live into strange city-boats that float above the ice. They possess a handful of such boats and are known as the best way to travel (if not the only not-too-dangerous way) between cities. They are messengers and also highly suffer from consanguinity (thus breeding lots of weird guys who become able to move the boat with magic ;) - This is one of their (shameful) secrets)

- Borélians (guys from Boréalis, a city which appeared from nowhere and is looking like cristal towers) are really weird guys. Actually (big secret !) they are androids (think: T-1000 from Terminator) but with a human 'soul' (they are not programmed, there is a human mind in there) which are not aware of their own nature. They are good with blades and are really afraid because they can't seem to get children. As such, each life is really precious for them - don't think a borélian will happily rush into battle.

- Létara (girls from Létar, a floating city, (secret) actually a spaceship...) is an all-female clan. Well not entirely, but female are shadowing males completely. They are good at arts (dancing, painting, also tatoos) and have a reputation of assassins. There is also an in-game reason why this clan exists ;) and how they ended up in this ship in the first place.

- Élus ("chosen ones" - they chose this name themselves) are wizards. One of the main characters of the universe (a very unstable guy who is, like the Player Characters, transferred from body to body because a very powerful demon is in love with him and basically 'maintains' him) developed this group from scratch. His technique is to kidnap kids in which he sees potential for magic usage, and to indoctrinate them and hypnotize them until they reveal their power. This is not without consequences.
The Élus' mission is to track and kill demonists - understand magic users who are not Élus. This sounds arbitrary but actually, since the magic users are ax-crazy, this is not such a bad thing to do. And since the PC will eventually become demonists...

- Céphyrans (guys from Céphyra, a remote city) live in a city which is governed by a demon (unbeknownst to them). This demon tries to understand her true nature, why the cataclysm took place and how to make the world a better place. In order to do this, she made up her own city in which she experiments (in a not-so-nice way) on her subjects. Besides this, this city is probably the most advanced in terms of 'new' technology. These guys namely master guns. Céphyra is a
city which is beyond the known limits of the world map; the city was discovered during one of the LARP events. I did not decide yet if in the table RPG version the timeline should start in 713 (before Céphyra was discovered) or in 718 (after the events of the LARP).

There are two extra races which were introduced during the LARP sessions, but they are not as developed (background-wise) than those seven. One race is Pillards ("raiders") who are outlaws from Aréna and living just outside the city (and under it). They are a mix of real bad guys together with clever guys a bit 'too clever' for the politicians from Aréna...
The last race are Mutants (well, mutants) who actually come from one of the old cities which survived the cataclysm, but where the people suffer from a strange illness which eats the brain. Paradoxally they are the ones with whom to talk if you want to understand the past...

Let's assume that this will be enough writing for today :)

Summary: magic was released as people stopped restraining the mentally challenged. Can this be made compatible with the Virtuous approach?

Hope you (still) like the ideas and that we'll find a convergence point for the inhibition system !


Posts: 68

« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2011, 12:50:20 PM »


I really enjoy that your world has such a rich history.

That's absolutely fine that you'll allow a dagger to do as much damage as an axe! I'm glad you've communicated that to me (us), because it really helps focus the purpose of your system.

Question I should have asked earlier: are you building an infinite or a finite rpg (terms I use)? An infinite rpg is designed to continue endlessly, for months or decades in real-time. A finite rpg is designed to complete within a specified number of real-time sessions (often 1). I am assuming it's the former, but thought I'd clarify.

Must your players work and travel together? Or are the PCs able to go their own ways on solo adventures (within a group session) and actively work against one another? This is an important question that affects the players' experience and the designer's system choices.

XP So, as far as I understand, players can spend XP to force their character to act virtuously/do something against their nature, remove a mental Condition they've acquired from doing the former, and purchase a friend.

What about dons/competencies (gifts/knowledge in english?)? Can they be bought or upgraded? Can maximum health be increased beyond 4? These aren't things that need to be improved with XP (it actually makes sense that you've not mentioned them yet, considering you're more focused on the moral/relationship aspects of the game--generally more story related than skills or health). Just wondering if you intended for players to improve these stats.

Magic System You say "magic is so damn powerful", but how powerful is it? What can characters do with magic and how is the magic system organized? What are the schools of magic, magic resource that is spent, cooldown periods? I suspect you'll want to link many of these answers to the answer to the Inhibition Traits that sparked this.

Magic Setting

So one person can fear something and thus create a demon. Then as soon as anyone else fears the same (or similar) thing the demon becomes better defined. The first person could then enjoy something and thus create a second demon? And over time the population of believers determines the demon's ability to act autonomously and cohesively? May be repititious, but just ensuring I understand exactly.

So does an insane person (who has loosened themself) recognize the magic fluid (do you have a name for it?) and demons? Or just the fluid?

What can demons actually do? This will likely stem from the answer to "what does magic do". Are demons naturally loosened such that they can see the magic fluid (and manipulate it)? They don't seem to directly control humans (as in your robot example), so do they use subtle suggestions and alteration of chance... or what?

I like your setting's fusion of magic and tech. magic fluid/demons and robots/spaceships/aliens all roaming about (generally) oblvious to their natures.


Really like how quickly you broke from cliche! Each of the races seems to fill a necessary niche and carry a tantalizing backstory. (And I didn't read the word "elf" anywhere! YAY!)

Curious. Are Itinérants linked to Mercury/Hermes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_%28mythology%29) the Roman/Greek god of messengers and trade?

Are Létara linked to Leto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leto) a female Goddess in Greek myth that was mother to Artemis/Diana (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemis)--the Goddess that lived among pure-female groups that were dedicated hunters?

The descriptions seemed to match well with mythological figures so I figured I'd hazard a guess. If I'm wrong then at least you have more references to read!

Not much else for me to really say about the Races. I like them. I think they're cool. Normally I avoid systems where my character's appearance/skills/beliefs are pre-determined by their race; but here I feel rewarded, rather than limited, by the backstory of each race. I think that's simply because the races are engaging! (FYI Létara and Élus pique my interest as a player).


Just a list of questions that I believe any setting designer should consider. I don't expect answers here, just wanted to air them.

What is the scope of your world's geography like? An immersion issue that often shuns me away from games is that they have many diverse races that have been raised in isolation from one another but are capable of speaking perfectly fluently with one another. Another logical problem: simple geographical distance. Which races are easily accessible? Which ones live together, and where?

And perhaps the biggest issue is racial relations. Are these races willing to work together? Does this limit the players' choices of races at character creation? And if players choose all different races will they be forced to deal with in-world (simulationist) ramifications of having to (frequently) justify their desire to work together?


Here is a very innspiring quote I found on wikipedia (sparked by my recollection of greek myth). From the Dionysus/Bacchus page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacchus).

"whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subverts the oppressive restraints of the powerful."

(This idea also appears on the Dionysian Mysteries page (Dionysian cults of ancient Greece) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysian_Mysteries)

This seems more in line with what you're striving for than virtues. Your issue began with inhibitions, as opposed to virtues. I did (and still do) naturally associate the two, but let's not allow that to bias your game.

 [Note: "Associated" in the sense that a non-virtuous person is simply inhibited, and thus an inhibition is rooted in the lack of a character's ability to express their Virtues.}

It's just difficult (philosophically) for me to agree with the "something that betters the person (freeing themself from inhibitions) naturally causes them to suffer a detrimental Condition" perspective.

Granted, I also really like that you're using a post-apocalyptic earth,  striving for universal rules applying to now as then (this magical fluid and demons), and that you're appreciating the (historically) socially excluded mentally unstable.

It seems you've conflated "mentally challenged"-ness with magic powers. Before you had said that non-inhibited/loosened people are good magicians. One can be non-inhibited without being crazy. You've said that Elus is able to hypnotize children into becoming better magicians. But hypnosis (in the sense I am considering) is not identical with "make someone crazy". Perhaps that's how you're thinking of it.

Regardless, I am now going to stray away from the Virtues set-up. (Refer back to it or use it as-is any time you'd like). I am moving away from it to focus on the key-word you've been repeating: Inhibition. You mention morality/ethics but your (and your setting's) main concern seems to be individuals uninhibited by social constraints.

New Inhibition Mechanic

Have a universal Inhibition trait on a 0-20 scale. Characters will begin somewhere between 15 and 18 (beginning with a 10%-25% success probability). If a character would normally be unable to make a difficult (but good) decision due to their inhibitions then they must roll their Inhibition stat. If they roll above their stat they are able to do it. If they fail they are not able to proceed with the good decision. If they fail but the player spends 1 XP then the character proceeds as if they had succeed the roll.

The fail-spend XP option must carry negative effects. Until now we've both operated under the assumption that these effects must be mental deficiencies.

The effects now fall into 3 categories of Conditions, Consequences, and Chores.

Conditions can be harmful beliefs/doubts/fears/emotions/phobias that are situation-specific. Same as before.

Consequences are narrative in nature. Consider: the character's Inhibition trait has just decreased (permanently, unless XP is later spent), thus they are less inhibited. This results in them being better at magic--and likely drawing the attention of other magic-wielding forces in your setting. Demons and Elus (and others like him) come to mind.

Perhaps the Consequence is that the character must deal with assassins that have been sent after them. Or they meet someone trying to recruit them to a mysterious cause. Or someone wants to kidnap and use their powers.

These narrative consequences don't have to be obvious or immediate. (great for story building and expanding the fiction!)

Ex: Character spends XP to decrease Inhibition stat. After the conflict (physical or verbal!) the character meets 3 new NPCs. The player knows that one, all, or none (perhaps the consequence has yet to befall him) of them have negative intentions.

Chores tie in your mythology. You mentioned Elus can hypnotize children into becoming better magicians. Perhaps these adults require hypnosis every couple of hours/weeks/months to maintain their skills. Or perhaps a magician requires a drug/substance to maintain their powers, and must therefore constantly make/purchase this substance. Or participating in a wild dance (such as Dionysus quote) at a secret location with a select group of people. The Chore may be a daily habit such as not eating meat, only waking at noon, uninterupted prayer at sunrise and sunset, or any number of other responsibilities.

Each Race could have preferred Chores that the characters are able to explore. The lower one's Inhibitions the more drastic the Chore becomes.

This CCC model is far more flexible. It encourages story-building and adds mechanical significance to your setting. It is easier to use than the Discernment, Welfare, Fortitude or the Courage, Integrity, Self-Esteem mechanic. You'd have to use a d20 as opposed to a d10, but I don't see any reason why that should be too big of a hurdle.

I recognize you really want the characters to be mentally unstable, so how about this: use the first 2-5 points (recall the chars start somewhere between 16 and 18) for some spread of Conditions, Consequences, and Chores. Perhaps a 3-1-1 spread respectively.

Historical accuracy is maintained in that magicians in 2011 have so many Conditions and Chores that they only seem incapable of performing magic.


Dunno if you've noticed but I refine the idea as the post continues. So prioritize statements made latter in the response (especially the summary!) in case of a discrepency.

Great Setting. Infitie/Finite? Group/Solo? What is XP spent on? What can magic do/how is it organized mechanically? How do Demons influence the setting? Great Races. Consider the Immersion questions of Language, Accessibility, and Co-operation.

New Inhibition: Scale of 0-20, begin between 16 and 18. Roll above: success, do what you want. Roll below: failure, don't do what you want or acquire a Condition, Consequence, or Chore if you've failed but spend an XP to proceed anyway.

Hope this helps.


Posts: 68

« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2011, 05:33:57 AM »


Check out Stefoid's Ingenero.

It aligns with your narrative emphasis and is easily adaptable to your setting.

It has a clever and effective "job" system of Proficiencies and Signature Plays, which is a course-then-fine method of differentiating characters. The Signature Plays are what really make this system shine.

Body and Soul may be akin to what you're seeking in your Inhibition traits. Thus an inhibition may be (ultimately) rooted in a Bodily or Soul-y reason. [Note:I would still suggest the mechanic I created in the last post (biased, duh), but this one may spark an insight.]

The fundamentals of the conflict system (barring execute, target, cross--which collectively seem too detailed for my taste) are simple and straightforward.

And there's lots of examples! Those are a big plus.


Posts: 28

« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2011, 01:28:42 PM »

Wow, it sure helps, I really like how fast you are generating ideas, how you put things into perspective and how you don't try to force me adopt anything. Thanks for having made this statement since I have difficulties in refusing other's proposals, especially when they put some much effort in formalizing them. I'll be careful ! :)

Infinite VS finite RPG: I guess this is definitely an 'infinite' one. I guess that the core arc-stories could themselves be run in three standalone campaigns. If you add to this the exploration of each race's secrets, you have a handful more, not to mention the fact that some sessions can be organized in this universe just for its color, not necessarily seeking to find out any cosmic revelation !

Team-work VS (sometimes) antagonistic player characters: Ideally, I'd say both. From a background perspective, we are in a survival setup - it's already difficult to survive to the weather conditions alone, so better work together - but tension between characters always makes up things more spicy. I enjoyed for example playing Guilds, where you are tied to two possibly contradicting causes: your guild, and your tribe. Most of the time you work for the guild, but not always.
In Föld, since all players will be bound to a demon, I guess we can support teamwork play (characters versus their demons, characters observed by friend demons) and antagonistic goals (strong different beliefs, family secrets).
This full paragraph to basically tell 'I don't know' !
I recently heard about a game that is promoting this kind of selfish attitude of player characters (Wasteland) but I did not read the rulebook. Really recent work by the way which shares some common ideas with Föld (this kind of world is maybe trendy these days?)

On XP: I did not think really much about XP so far. I considered buying / upgrading contacts, altering inhibition stats, buying off disorders and also buying off addictions to drugs - topic which we did not discuss so far. Keeping with the harsh setup, drugs shall be the (almost only) way to accelerate healing and could be used for un-inhibiting (is that an english word?) oneself. But drug consumption comes with addiction and will require higher doses for performing the same effects as you get used to it.
I also thought about giving the PC a fixed amount of XP before the session starts. The players will have the possibility to use these for e.g. forcing a roll success. At the end of the session, only the remaining XP will be used for modifying the character. Ideally these virtual XP could come back with good roleplay, how this should exactly work, I did not really think yet about.

About upgrading Gifts / Knowledge and Max HP: I would say no upgrade of these, but I'm open to suggestions. As I told you, I thought about: 1 job, 4 HP, that's it. If XP are spent in increasing stats, then what will happen when the character dies? Either we transmit them to the new character, which will then turn character transition into a long process. Or the XP is gone, which is frustrating for the player. When I spoke about killing-off characters, I thought about avoiding the typical GM attitude with players doing stupid things like going straight into a blizzard. I would like also to explore difficult things such as illness and condemn some characters just because 'life is not fair'. I want the players to feel part of a decaying humanity and not feel different simply because they get the spotlight. If it comes at XP expense, players will go mad at the GM. If it moves the story forward as they begin wondering why the new character remembers what happened the previous day with the other guys, then we're talking.

Magic system: I was sure I'd have to detail this. Ok. Now we begin to address the core concept on which Föld is built. I'll try to keep it concise.
- Human beings (and animals and plants and insects) are made of two elements. One is the 'body' and one is the 'mind'. Both are mixed and made solid. I call this a Cristal, in essence the Cristal is here the creature itself. But Cristals are melting over time (entropy), freeing-up a flow of 'body' and a flow of 'mind' (I defined the flow as 'fluxes', the body flux as 'Szerv', the mind flux as 'Élő', the Cristal combining Szerv and Élő as 'Eleven' - congratulations, you now know half of the 'cosmic
terminology' :))
The Cristal are pulsing, they all have their natural pulse. When Dissolving, they emit the two fluxes. These behave like waves, the waveform directly based upon the pulse of the emitting Cristal.
Humans control the fluxes by modifying the wave length, resulting in four basic magic families. The 'Forced Szerv' family works by making the Szerv wave pulse at a certain speed, either very quick or very slow. By beaming a target with a high-speed flux, the target's Cristal will resonate and accelerate its pulse accordingly. In a nutshell, this makes the Cristal heat-up, possibly to the point of ignition. So much for pyrokinesis. By sending a very slow beam, one can effectively freeze the target. Ultra-high speed can lead to Cristal shatter - I let you imagine what this means.
The 'Induced Szerv' family works by adapting one's Szerv speed to the natural speed of the target Cristal. Once perfectly aligned, this creates a sort of invisible link between the magic user and the target. By acting on this link, the magic user can then lift the target in the air, push it in any direction, even control it as if it was a puppet (experts only of course). It can even be used on oneself for levitating. So much for telekinesis.
The 'Induced Élő' family also creates a link, but via the 'mind' flux. Once established, one can read into the mind of the target. The 'Forced Élő' family allows altering the target mind via carefully crafted beaming. This can lead to simple brain damage, but allows for changing memories, implanting orders (a la Words of Power from Dungeons and Dragons) or even increase the target's intelligence by accelerating its thinking process.

That's it for the basis. Now when you consider that you can also combine the fluxes together or 'transfer' them instead of making them resonate, it opens-up lots of possibilites and few chances to resist. Vaporizing someone on sight or completely erasing his memories sure is something scary...

One remark here: with one exception (the demon of death), all known magic users were ever able to master only one of these magic families. They consider that their power is simply 'their magic', just as some people have blue eyes or green ones, and never thought further. They even self-restrict them further into sub-categories. For example, the "Élus de Io" specialize in magic freezing but consider pyrokinesis as demonic magic...

Now when it comes to cooldown and resources spent, this is simply fatigue. No wizard components, no need for particular conditions (theoretically - the Élus inflict lots of restictions onto themselves). In terms of game rules, they cast with their HP. The exact cost remains to be defined - I have cost tables depending on the type of spell but that's quite heavy at the moment. An old idea I had (which does not fit well with the current progress on the inhibition stuff) was the following:
- for casting a spell, you define the difficulty level based on the spell type (thanks to the tables)
- you roll two dices simultaneously: a D6, called the resolution dice, and a D10, called the control dice.
- the control roll succeeds if you roll less than X, where X is your total number of mental disorders. If the control roll is a success, then the spell will go off, whatever happens.
- the resolution dice succeeds if you roll more than the difficulty level of the spell. If you succeed, good, spell is resolved. You sustain 1 HP of fatigue.
- If the resolution dice fails while the control dice succeeded, then you will lose 1 HP *per missing point* on the resolution roll. If you fall to 0 HP and that you are still under the required score, you fell unconscious and only then is the spell cancelled.

This was nice in the sense that at full mental health you will always fail the Control roll. What was not nice is the fact that this does not work well with a 4 HP limit and that it adds quite some calculation. I'm sure this can be made simpler.

About demon creation: they are based on our unconscious thoughts. Initially these could be anything, but the more I think about it, the more I would like to restrict these to phobias only. And yes, the population of believers will basically dictate the autonomy level of the demon and even define its inner nature. This process takes a very long time and require massive belief - prayers are not necessary. And as belief change, so will the demon. The 'god of wind' adored by Élus is noone else than the greek Eole god.

About fluid awareness: the magic fluid is never recognized as such. It is usually called 'miracles' when it's Élus' magic, 'demonic power' when it's not an Élu. Some call it 'Iridia' ('the power that iridiates within the self') but these are not many. The official name (read: for gamemasters) for is is 'flux', 'szerv flux' or 'élő flux'. Oh and (some) demons call it 'High Mágia' (for their magic) and 'Low Mágia' (for humans') but it's just them being cocky :) Demon magic is almost the same as humans, but with certain differences. I'll keep these for later.

The demons are not better than the humans. And for simplifying, let's say that they can only use the Élő magic on them. They use induced Élő for reading their minds and seeing what they see, and that's pretty much it. Some demons know how to alter the mind, but since they don't master both mind-reading and mind-writing, they are left blind and can't actually do much. So the demons will have to plant subtle suggestions indeed. I thought about allowing communication through dreams once the PC is unstable enough. But I'm not entirely sure since this is bending the rule a bit. The other solution is just to have the demons allow human experience to stack by carrying it over to other humans, possibly selectively, until they ask themselves questions, eventually meet with a demon, and let the demon guess which other demon is using / guiding the player characters. If you (or anybody) have better ideas I'm all ears.

About magic and tech fusion: yeah, that's deliberate. I read so much about 'magic versus technology', I just thought: why not have both? (in the same way that I wanted to break the 'fighter versus wizard' paradigm).

Links between races and greek gods: well these links were not intentional. Itinérants are not meant to be close to any messenger god, and Létara... well, that's complex. Let's just say that the purity thing is involved somewhere. Big secret again, a female demon is trying to become human and is experimenting with the Létara through eugenism and magic. For added fun, this demon is the daughter of the demon of Céphyra. Experimenting is in the blood, it seems.

Immersion...: The races grew apart for 400 years. Then the Itinérants starting linking them. We are in year 700 something so mixes happened ! Aréna is very cosmopolitan, for example. There are no major tensions between the races. Racism exists but not to the point of starting a war. Cities are quite far away from each other, say a few weeks to a few months with an Itinérant vessel (depends on the moon phases and seasons). Each race has its own written alphabet, but they kind of speak the same language. A kind of english actually - since it's well known, in year 3333 English will be the universal language and french will be but a dialect ;)
Aréna is mixed, Frontalier villages are also appreciated by all races, Itinérant vessels also host people from all races. Boréalis, la Cité-Ręve (the Élus' headquarters) and Létar are not welcoming strangers, but people don't really care.

Players should be allowed to choose any race, there is no reason they should not work together.

Inhibitions...: you wrote "It's just difficult (philosophically) for me to agree with the "something that betters the person (freeing themself from inhibitions) naturally causes them to suffer a detrimental Condition" perspective." It just sounds unnatural for me as well. My definition would rather be "I did not want to do this, I forced myself to do it and now I regret so much more". This 'thing I forced myself to do' could have been for the greater good, but it was too much for the character.

Maybe the disorder should appear only if the tempted virtuous action failed (a backfire) but this would require to keep track of such failures and will inevitably be subjective. Or is it not? It took too much time to write my answer, I see you had the time to propose the "Stefoid's Ingenero" approach as an alternative. Guess I'll have to read it before my next post - but this 'bodily' versus 'soul-y' already seems to align well with the magic system? Well I'll have to read through it first.

You also wrote that you can be non-inhibited and not crazy. You are correct. (I actually hope I'm one of those. Now completely non-inhibited but not completely not crazy either I guess ;)) This would apply only to Player Characters, to demonists (which are basically (non) Player Characters which turned bad) and to characters using magic without saying it (miracle workers for Frontaliers, transe dancers for Létara, levitators for Itinérants...)

And about the Élus and hypnotism: they are not really crazy indeed. Still the crazy ones among them are also the most powerful magic users. The hypnotism serves as a mean to convince them that they were chosen by a god. They are conditionned into thinking that their mentor god can talk to them, watch over them and use their (own) magic when the Élu asks him/her to help.
At the end, they think that their god mentor hears their prayers and acts for them. The 'good' part is that it is easier to convince the Élu about this than to convince the Élu that he himself has the power. The 'bad' part is that this confines the Élu into the very specific sub-school of magic belonging to this god, and the magic will trigger only if all the requirements are met (the Élu is convinced that he needs to recitate a prayer in the language of gods, while performing certain movements etc. These act as catalysts and technically lower the difficulty level for the spell). In the end they are kind of broken magic users.

Ok, now I've reached the part where you propose the CCC system (Condition Consequences Chores). Yet another idea that I find really interesting; still I'm not sure whether I can write an answer back right away, I need to think about it some more. And now I also have the Ingenero system to ponder.

So I will stop here, maybe the extra details I provided in this post will be helpful for you to reassess which direction the inhibition system concept should go towards?
Comments on the other parts are of course also welcome, even if slightly off-topic for this thread ;) - especially on the loophole about demon influence on the Player Characters...

Thanks again for your help


Posts: 68

« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2011, 02:42:20 PM »


Awesome response! Very excited to get into these points…

Yes. Un-inhibiting is an English word.

I give PCs a fixed amount of XP before each session. I should have mentioned that earlier, but it just seemed so obvious to me because that’s how my system works. I’ve forgotten that most other systems don’t do that. So yea, I’d suggest giving them some quantity of XP to spend during the session. I find this way encourages players to explore the world and story as opposed to doing things for the sake of XP.

What do you mean “Ideally these virtual XP could come back with good roleplay”?

Possible interpretations.
1.)   Good players will get extra XP in a session?
2.)   Good role-play gives players extra XP in between sessions?

You have a very good point about the GM/player relationship when discussing transferring the characters from one “demonic” generation to another. For that reason (and your stated purpose of story first) I’d agree that XP shouldn’t be spent on gifts/knowledge.

However, I’ll maintain that more than 1 job would help diversify characters. Think: Tim wants to be a warrior and Pierre wants to be a warrior. They both choose warrior as their job. Pretty dull, huh?

Once you’ve read Ingenero’s solution I think you’ll like that approach. You could just have all characters have 2 or 3 jobs. Or 1 job with 2 specializations… or something.


I nearly shed a tear of joy when I read your magic “schools”. They are so elegant and effective! And so very very unique. You are a paradigm smasher, now aren’t you?

The difference between Forced and Induced is clever, and splitting the Body and Mind also makes sense (especially due to your mythology).

 I really like that you melded excess heat and absence heat into Forced Szerv, it’s always bothered me (from a science perspective) that games segregate fire/cold despite them being two extremes of the same principle.

Induced Szerv also makes sense (and I like that it aligns with the idea of induction as opposed to force).

Forced Szerv: Heat Manipulation, Induced Szerv: Puppetry, Forced Elo: Mind-Writing, Induced Elo: Mind-Reading

That’s how I summed your four “schools”. I like that they are inclusive (they cover most magical spells I could think of) and elegant in that the system is self-consistent and easy to use.

I also use HP as “mana”. Biased, but I like your decision here :P.

Magic Resolution

I think this resolution mechanic is brilliant! It’s simple: 2 dice. And all of the significant variables for what you are trying to do (i.e. use magic) are covered. (1) Can I do it? And (2) can I control it?

Why do you say your resolution system doesn’t correspond with the Inhibition trait proposed on the last post (the 0-20 scale)? [Note: As you’ve not disagreed with my prior idea on the Inhibition trait I’ll assume that’s what we’re working with].

Just change the d10 (control dice) to a d20. It’ll do the same thing as a d10, just provide more room for earning CCC through gameplay. The characters will still only have a better chance of controlling the magic if their Inhibited Trait is low (roll high for success in this system). Every PC would begin with a control value somewhere between 15-18, and would have to become less inhibited to get a better chance of controlling the magic.
The d6 would remain unchanged. Health of 4 still makes sense so far as I can tell. What’s the difficulty scale for magic? 1-5? Well as long as it’s 1</ x >/ 5 it should work.

I really like the use of resolution die. It means the players won’t want to attempt magic when they have 1 health (fatigue) and that they’ll run consistently higher risks of harming themselves when they attempt more difficult magic.

Come to think of it, that’s similar to my system where motes (hp/mana) are expended to perform magic. My system is diceless so we don’t mesh completely there, but very similar nonetheless.

Magic/Tech. Awesome.

Immersion. Very detailed answer. I really like that the setting’s racism isn’t strong enough to limit a player’s choices at character creation “CC”. I like systems (like yours) that don’t force a player to compromise their desired aesthetic for a desired mechanic or vice versa.

Ex: I want this skill “underwater breathing”, but only the Amphibious race has it. But I want to be a cool Jungle Cat race because I like the look/mythology of them. I’m stuck in an unwinnable situation before the game even begins!

For your game the player can choose a race that has a deep mythology for their aesthetic without being limited mechanically. So, good job on that design choice!


Tracking failures certainly seems like it would be a lot of work. I agree that it would be subjective to determine and all around too much work.
I’m itching to keep revising this Inhibition system because of all this new information but I know I should wait for your input. It’s your game and your ideas and your goals. You tell me what you need once you’ve weighed the options.

Now that I know body/soul is important to your mythology I would lean heavily towards using those two traits in the Inhibition system. Somewhere somehow. We can figure that out later when you let me know where you’re at.

I really respect your design choices and would feel honoured to play this game. Looking forward to seeing where you take it!


Please clarify that quote.

(More than 1 job :P) but XP can't be spend on jobs so XP at death is a non-issue.

How does mundane resolution occur? You’ve explained the magic resolution  mechanic, but how about picking locks, swimming, swrord-fighting, singing, lying…? The difference between Tasks (PC vs. environment) and Conflict (PC vs. PC/NPC)?

Great Magic schools/resolution.

What do you think of the CCC proposition?



Posts: 28

« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2011, 12:23:03 PM »

Mmm... what does 'Thriff' stand for? I should rename you 'Thrill', because that's what happens when I read your posts ;-)


I read Ingenero, great piece of work and lots of good ideas in there. Where I shall write my feeling on the proper thread, a few words pertaining to what I'd like to achieve with Föld.

- I love the Body and Soul stats, also because one shall distribute a fixed amount of points between the two.
- The Plays and Signature Plays look really nice, I also liked the idea to attach Plays to McGuffins. There might be some space for reuse and for making shallow characters a bit more special (well not too much :p)
- I don't buy the whole concept of letting the PC making suggestions to the GM (e.g. 'the treasure was a hostage and not gold') namely because non-creative PC will be lost.
- I like the split between Story and Challenge phase, but would do it differently. In my system so far, 'challenge' starts as soon as anyone rolls a die. The guy also gains initiative. Suffice to have the GM playing with a die when the story gets hot for putting the PCs on nerve and maybe trigger a conflict in a preventive way...
What I don't like in Ingenero is that dice are rolled when a Goal is near - and when that's a great mechanism for distributing rewards, it forces the GM to deal with 4 to 6 goals for each PC at any time (that's what I understood, I should read again this part probably)
- The Story Seeds table is a Must Have (too bad I don't understand some of them - "Waiting for the other shoe to drop"? - but that's off-topic)

Bottom-line: great inspiration, I still need to let it sink but I'll probably adopt some of the mechanics.

The CCC:

Ok, now I got it. So, time for remarks and questions !

- The idea is that Chores and Consequences 'count' as much as Conditions. In essence, this potentially permits a character to be an accomplished magic user, without suffering any mental disorder. What works well here is that the Élus are basically stuck into this Chores stuff, making it better aligned with the initial settings of the world. Conditions 'should' primarily be for the guys playing with 'demonic' magic, so this can work.
- Now, about Chores and Consequences, can we justify that these come into play only if a roll is missed and an XP is spent? For Chores, I can imagine this to work in the mid-term ('my spell failed, next time I should draw a pentacle before casting') but in an immediate reaction, I don't see. Unless this new chore is a Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but that's another Condition? Last, why should Consequences only happen if the roll success is forced? Should not these be systematic?

To sum it up, I'd see Consequences as happening in a systematic way; Conditions remaining the same; Chores should add a bonus on the Inhibition roll for a specific action (chore can also be placebo effect or self-suggestion through superstition rituals)

Do you agree with this? Because if yes, then we're back to square one (with a unique Inhibition trait on a D20 scale ;))
Actually, what do you think is broken with the Courage (pain) / Esteem (ego) / Integrity (social) idea? I'm wondering whether when becomming less inhibited, this works for everything or only on one domain - is a guy which gains self-confidence with girls also becomes less afraid of swearing at his boss? I'm still sticking to this idea of 3 scales and only Conditions, can you help persuade me that it's a crappy idea or help identify how to fine-tune it?

Now for some off-topic stuff which helps with context and which helps me build the rest of the system:

XP coming back to PC: I've thought about this. I thought about giving XP to PC who is playing a Condition going against his own interest, for example.
But maybe I've found something better:

- XP is represented with dice
- A pool of dice is made available to the Players. At session start, the pool is filled-in with 3 dice per Player
- Any Player can use one of these dice for e.g. forcing a dice roll (any roll, not just Inhibition ones - might not force a success but can simply add a bonus or allow for a reroll, to be defined)
- The GM can also use a die for forcing a success or for activating a PC Condition. When doing so, he *adds* the die to the pool
- The pool dice can also be used when a PC dies: the GM assigns him a new PC; the Player can spend one die for changing something - for example, the race of the newly assigned Character.
- At session end, the pool (what remains of it) is split among the Players, any way they want.

Here, no reward for good roleplay (unfortunately), but a way for the GM to activate Conditions any time he likes - the Player will not be really cheated since an XP will come back in the pool. Having a pool has one advantage (Players might be reluctant before burning the XP of the *group*) and one disadvantage (one Player can effectively use all XP selfishly). Not sure what is best.

Mundane resolution: here I tried to come-up with something simple, well let's see. Maybe Ingenero could come to the rescue with this system?

- The resolution die is a D6, but a bit special. I call it the +-D6. It does not go from 1 to 6 but like this: -2, -1, 0, 0, +1, +2. So you get a 0 on average, and a 67% chance to roll at least 0.
- An action in the scope of the PC's job yields a +2 bonus
- ND is the difficulty level as set by the GM

- Simple action succeeds if (current) HP + job bonus + +-D6 > ND
So bad health leads to poor results, hence initiative is important in battle...

- Opposed action is done the same way, only both protagonists roll, highest wins.

- For battles, it goes like this, imagine A attacks B. Possible scenarios:
  - A attacks, B defends actively. Both roll. A hits if he beats B's score.
  - A attacks, B defends passively. A rolls, must beat B's passive ND.
  - A attacks, B attacks. Both roll against the other's passive ND. May lead to damage to both sides.
  - There is also a token system to limit the number of actions per round and to give a disadvantage to an outnumbered side, but maybe this starts again to make things complex...

- In all cases, the score difference (roll minus ND or roll minus roll) is supposed to have some impact, but here again it's a bit heavy and relies on tables (I hate tables).

- Last, the Player can actually choose his die. The standard one is the +-D6, but if he decides to play it risky, he can use the +-D8 (-3, -2, -1, 0, 0, +1, +2, +3) which can yield a +3 (but which has a 62% chance only to roll at least 0, and which can yield a -3) and if he decides to play it safe, he can use the +-D4 (-1, 0, 0, 1). Playing safe means going slowly and playing risky means going fast, but the exact gameplay effects are not defined yet.
Actually, I'm not sure whether I need these +-D8 and +-D4 at all. I threw them in because I wanted to give some liberty to the players, especially since I did not think about 'signature plays' (I had heavy 'specializations') and thought that yes, having a bunch of 4 HP 'fighter' PC as a party would be dull...

I came-up with the +-D6 because I don't like it when pure randomness is at work. In D&D, you roll D20 + skill, where usually your skill is around 5 points. That leads to score between 6 and 25, the difference is just huge ! Here, a competent guy at full health will almost always win against a non-competent guy or against a hurt guy. Unless he uses the +-D8 and gets lucky, that is. But this is a calculated risk here, not a game mechanic...

Oh and I found a solution to my demon-character connection issue: (actually I thought about it when coming-up with the idea, then forgot) Both demon and character are linked by a mental link, as the demon can read the character's mind (and see via his eyes). But since this is a link, it goes both ways. As the character becomes stronger in magic, he begins to receive information from the demon's mind as well. Maybe he will see through the demon's eyes for a moment or capture some memories. Case for extra nightmares I guess :)
I also thought that XP could be spent for reading in the demon's mind, searching for info...


- XP pool system
- I should give a go at signature plays and maybe keep one job
- +-D6 system for mundane resolution
- Still not sure about the Inhibition system, one unique scale or 3 scales?
- Chores as roll bonus instead of consequence of forced roll result?

Posts: 657

« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2011, 04:39:44 PM »

Cedric, thanks for the Ingenero-related feedback, I have responded in my own thread.


Posts: 68

« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2011, 06:34:10 PM »


Apologies for delayed response. I’ve been focusing on getting my own game online.

[Which it now is btw: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=32007.0]

I’m really glad to know what I know about your system—it truly would be very fun to play!

"Waiting for the other shoe to drop" means "nervously expecting something bad to happen".

You mentioned players can pay XP to allow them to see through their demon’s eyes. This is a useful feature that will help explore the setting while also giving the GM a tool to support/guide/direct the PCs. It’s basically a way to give extra information to the PCs. Cool.


An observation: you seem to emphasize a GM-driven game over an emergent/creative free-for-all. That's fine, this style carries many advantages.

One advantage of this GM-centric style is that the GM can ensure the characters are receiving enough Conditions to keep them as crazy as you (the designer) want characters to be. This can be made into a written rule if desired (such as a ratio where half of the CCC must be Conditions).

Chores and Consequences don't have to be immediate. You can have them take effect later in a scene or session. Perhaps even the next session... or many sessions later. You've said this game is non-finite (on-going campaign), so Chores and Consequences don’t have to take effect immediately.

Haha. The characters will be "waiting for the other shoe to drop" ;)

I don't know what this means "Last, why should Consequences only happen if the roll success is forced? Should not these be systematic?". I think you were asking “why can Consequences only happen when someone forces a success?” Answer: you could introduce Consequences at any time... but it'd be best (considering they are, effectively, punishments) to not use them too often.

You wouldn't need to give a bonus on Inhibition rolls for Chores. Simply by gaining the Chore the PC's Inhibition value has dropped, which directly increases their magic power.

From here on I’ll be framing this post as “Knowing what I know about your intentions for your game, these are the changes I would make in your position”. This way I don’t have to preface everything with “Well I think you should…”.

I will still try to design a new (ish) system that fits with your stated objectives. You may like it (if so, take it) or you may not. Either way I’ll be glad to have created a new system (always fun for me).

XP as dice pool

Your XP as dice pool idea sounds similar to a game called "The Pool" by James V. West. Not sure if that's where this idea was sparked. (I also read that game early in my design phase).

Warning bells go off when you suggest a resource shared by all people at the table. It'd likely cause strife. Not in the obvious way of one person using it all the time. But such that all players will want to use it (but won't) but they’ll then resent whoever uses it. Perhaps I’m being cynical… but I don’t think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks

I really don’t think there’d be anything left in this pool by the end of the session.

This is a cool idea that could be made workable. But I think the current mundane and magic systems are excellent as is. No need to complicate the math with more potential modifiers being thrown it. Simply put: different die sizes produces the same result as a shared dice pool but it is far easier for the designer and players.

Mundane Resolution

Is super awesome. It’s simple (again) and produces a very manageable spread. I very very much like the different die sizes.

I like the 66% success ratio of your +-D6. Your +-D6 sounds similar to Fudge dice which are -, -, +, +.

I like that you’ve included health as one of the determinants for mundane resolution.

Conflict: is there a benefit for exceeding the opponent’s score? You mention tables but I don’t know what’s in them so it’s difficult to tell. Could you let me know what these tables say? And why you chose them in the first place?

I really like that damage can only be inflicted upon oneself. Is there any other way for PCs to take damage? Any way for them to deal damage? (Forced Fluxes I would imagine…)

Definitely use different die sizes. From designer’s Point-of-view “POV” this allows you to force characters to take big risks to achieve specific goals. From a player’s POV this allows me to choose how much I am willing to risk. Not the GM. Not my Class. Nothing else. Me. I like that kind of control over my character. This will help keep players focused and immersed.

I would definitely use D4, D6, D8, and D10. Yes, introduce the D10 as a as -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 0, 1, 2 3, 4. With a job giving a +2 this provides an ultimate spread of -3 through 10. All tasks can be scaled along a 10-point continuum. So to perform a 10-point difficulty the player will have to use a D10 (and assume all of its risks). Any time a character reaches 0 they are unable to influence the fiction for a time (probably a scene).

It bears repeating: your not-die-at-zero decision is great! Really focuses the game on narrative control (in a survival-ish world) over a “can I kill it?” perspective.

I didn’t do all the numbers but under a worst case scenario (1 health and no job) A character is taking the risk of being knocked unconscious if they use anything other than a D4. Under these situations they can at best get 2 points.

Best case scenario (4 health and a job) means a character can use a D4, D6, or D8 without any risk of being knocked out. And at best they can get 10 points.

With 4 different dice, 4 different starting healths, and 2 different job (job or no job) statuses the game will have 32 different probability spreads. But they’ll all be within a small range and well within the players control as calculated risks. Variety and control, great! Also, these different spreads don’t need to be listed anywhere in the game. So no tables! Even better :)


The +2 from a job will make a big difference. So deciding on how to define a job will be very important. A Job (for +1) and Specialization (for an additional +1) would work… but I’d prefer simply granting players more than one job and each job gives +2. How many? Not sure, that’ll require playtesting.

Instead of “job” I’d use Identities from my game, ASH. I have 4 categories of resource (special item: map, gun, telescope), relationship (lover, pet, patron, slave), experience (war veteran, prize-winning author, retired priest), and style (good memory, strong, classy).

Identities are much broader in scope than jobs could ever be. Jobs will likely end up being archer or fighter. Perhaps farmer, blacksmith, prince, sailor… may come up.

But again, not enough variety. Only one Identity can be used per conflict and it will always give +2. Variety and Simplicity.

Perhaps force characters to choose 3 Identities but they must all be from different categories. This will encourage a structured game (as you seem to like, which is fine) but also give players opportunities for customization. [I wouldn’t bother with this requirement, just let them choose 3 from any categories].

Identities don’t always have to be positive either. They could be “negative” and still benefit the character through a Compulsion system. Refer to ASH or the game Fate. I can describe this more later if you’d like. It could be used as a way to regain XP during the session.

Initial ideas on Inhibition Trait

I would rather have 2 stats instead of 1 for the Inhibition mechanic. Especially since Body/Mind are so important to your mythology. I think these two are much easier to track than CIE would be. In the latter system you have to decide which type of danger is most imminent (or important… or likely…?).

Having 2 stats makes the game much more customizable as players can choose to have a character less inhibited by physical or emotional issues. As opposed to one universal term.

I read your comment in Ingenero’s thread. I really like the suspense that is created by granting initiative to whoever rolls first. Heightens tactics, psychology between players, and focus of the group.

So. The System.

New: Character Creation

1.) Choose race.

2.) Characters choose (say) 3 Identities at creation. A short phrase will suffice for each.

3.) Characters have two Inhibitions of Body and Mind. Sometimes they want to do/should do something, but can’t because of an inhibition they’ve been raised with. The less inhibited the better—because the character has more options to choose from.

The player chooses whether their character is less inhibited by Body or Mind. Each exists on a 10-point scale. Characters either begin as 9/8 or 8/9 for Body/Mind.

4.) The player takes on 3 Conditions, 1 for each point of Inhibition lost. Each Condition must be specific to Body or Mind.

5.) Backstory.

Add some backstory/aesthetic.

Wow, that is blisteringly fast to do. This could be done in less than 20 minutes. Really impressive (the mechanics you have).

New: Inhibition Resolution

Player wants to do something. GM decides if the character would be inhibited (based on backstory, race, current Conditions…). If no, then the character proceeds with intended action.

If yes, then the character must roll a d10. The GM/player selects the appropriate Inhibition stat of Body or Mind. Choose and roll Body if failing the action would (primarily) result in negative physical effects. Choose and roll Mind if failing the action would (primarily) result in negative non-physical effects. Simple.

Note: This is remarkably similar to CIE, just simplifies it down to 2 things: Body and Mind—akin to your mythology.


If the stat is 6 then the player must roll above 6 to succeed. If they roll less than 7 they fail and the (GM I think you’d say) narrates the result. The character can spend 1 XP (use physical tokens to aid visualizing how many are left) to force a success.

Forcing a success means that the character is performing Magic. All characters must always have at least 3 Inhibitions, explaining how it possible for them to perform magic. Forcing a success is the result of a character distorting their own Szerv or Elo flux—changing their fundamental composition for a moment.

The Distortion can either be a permanent change to their Szerv or Elo flux (Condition), slow decay of their Szerv or Elo flux (Chore) or a temporary distortion of the Szerv or Elo flux (Consequence).

A Condition would be the result of one’s Cristal being fundamentally altered. This extremely unnatural event would result in a physical or non-physical (as determined by the relevant stat) Condition. [this justifies physical Conditions such as weakness, chronic illness…].

A Chore would be a character’s attempt at re-stabilizing their flux by performing a chore or consuming a certain substance at frequent intervals. Their flux is permanently decaying but the Chore is like a “medicine” that brings them back to normal.

A Consequence leaves no permanent effect on the character’s Cristal—but it will always be sensed by another magic-user. That other magic user will seek out the character and ultimately complicate the character’s life. (being hunted to be murdered, enslaved… or even engaged to a powerful—and insane—witch).

As a designer and player I think I find Consequences to be the most fun.

Task and Conflict Resolution

Task: Character wants to do something. GM decides if it needs a roll. If no, then it happens. If yes, then the character chooses a D4, D6, D8, or D10. They then add their current health and any one applicable Identity to the result. Same as you stated before.

Conflict: Same as Task except two players roll dice. Whoever is higher wins. The difference is scores does… something. Not sure yet, need to know what you put in your tables.

Magic Resolution

No different from last post except you add two D10s to get the value, as opposed to 1 D20.

Character Sheet

Do you have a character sheet yet? I was just wondering what traits would need to go there. Here is what I’ve thought of so far.

Space for name, physical description, unused XP of current session, 3 Identities and their descriptions, Body/Mind stats, space for purchased Relationship Identities (with XP), and potentially 20 CCC.


Long (6 pages!). Again. Oh well. I think you’ve got an excellent game here. The system and setting are both so strong yet compatible!

No XP as dice pool.

What are in your Conflict tables?

More than 1 Job, (3?) Identities. No Specializations.

Add D10 to Resolution.

Fast CC (congratulations)

Use 2 Inhibition traits of Body/Mind on D10. Used for physical danger and non-physical danger respectively. (Effectively Courage, Integrity, Self-Esteem condensed into 2).

Tied in CCC to the setting.

Hope this helps,


Posts: 28

« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2011, 01:24:22 PM »


Seems you begin to understand how I'm working. You have a lot of good points here, and we're definitely making progress !

ASH: I read through your posts. Not yet read ASH itself but will definitely do it. I hope that our discussions so far had some positive feedback for your system as well !

XP as dice pool: ok, you suggest to drop these altogether. The initial reason I wanted this (or individual pools) was for allowing XP dice to come back to the players. But maybe we don't need this at all? I remember I liked it during my Legends of the Seven Sea sessions when I was getting a 'heroic die' when doing some dramatic action, I wonder whether something equivalent could be put into Föld. But it's maybe a bad idea, the 'virtual' starting XP are probably sufficient and the mood is not really on heroism here. So the following question is: can the GM force a Condition to be played? Or, what if the players don't play their Conditions?

Mundane resolution: glad that you like it.

- About the benefit of exceeding the required score: two options. One, no benefit. The issue is that failure is really hard (if you fail by one point, then you're screwed) also meaning that, since each point is so important, the difficulty assignment must be perfect. Two, some benefit. This is more forgiving to the player I assume since a failure by 1 point will be less horrible than a failure by 3 points.

What I defined so far (heavyweight incoming) was based on deltas, the deltas being attached to skills and objects (a bit like signature plays). A simple example: Alice knows how to use a dagger. She specialized in this skill and learned the specialization 'dance of blades'. This specialization is defined as follows: "Delta: 3 - Damage +1". During a battle it would materialize like this: if Alice lands a successful hit with a dagger, she will inflict 1 point of damage (base weapon damage). If she wins by 3 points or more, she will inflict 2 points of damage instead of one. If she wins by 6 points or more, she will inflict 3 points of damage (by stacking the delta effects).
And of course, the delta effects can be anything you can think of, including providing inflicting a penalty for the next roll of the target instead of extra damage, etc. And typically defensive delta effects would provide an advantage to the defender (like "snake escape: Delta: 2 - Bonus +1 on next combat roll").

Now what I dislike is that creating delta effects takes time and will be lost when the character dies... (the other shortcoming is that these effects will be awful to balance in terms of gameplay...) So I don't know what to think here. Ironically my system was originally called 'Delta system' because of this, and now this is the very part I dropped !

- About the different dice: ok for adding the +-D10, you convinced me ! I was afraid that people would go for the highest die in any case, but actually no. More control, less randomness, yet some possibility to 'go beyond' yourself by taking extra risks. Everything I like ;)

Jobs: I'm interested in the Identity concept, especially about the Compulsion part. I read the corresponding part in ASH, but I did not understand it fully. I find really interesting the idea of 'resisting' or 'accepting' the Compulsion, also because the very same approach could be used for the Conditions. But I understood that where the positive part could be triggered by the player himself, the negative part is being suggested by the other players? Or is it just suggesting, since the concerned player can always choose to resist or accept?

Last, how shall this combine with +2 bonus? Let's say that I have the 'Mon Pere Pistol' (let's reuse the french stuff ;)). So each time I roll a die where I use this pistol, I'll have a +2 bonus right? But here, where is the Compulsion? Is it that I can't resist the urge to use the pistol? And that when the GM tells: 'you wanna shoot', I can shoot and earn 2 XP or refuse by burning 1?

Inhibition traits: ok for 2 traits, one for body and one for mind. I admit I always try to put in there multiples of 3, be it only because 3 is the arc number of Föld but I like simplicity better ! So let's give it a try.

Character Creation: just a few remarks here. 1- Each race should have a little something special. I hesitate between giving a short list of reserved identities to each race, or to give an extra bonus if you pick an identity aligned with the race. The former looks biased and for the latter I'm not sure what the bonus should be. An extra +1 to the rolls looks quite powerful, a free re-roll per session arbitrary... (plus I already thought about offering a re-roll for 1 XP)
2- Wondering if the character should start with 10 and 9 as Inhibitions and just a minor phobia as Condition (which will be the link with "their" demon) ? 3- about the backstory, provided the GM does his job and creates the backstory for each NPC (a habit I have) even the character transition upon dying will be kept minimal. Yeap, I like that too. Congratz to you as well, we did this together !

New: Inhibition Resolution: well you convinced me. Because you tied the CCC with the mechanics of Föld. That's why I wrote that you begin to know me, I'm particularly receptive to explaining the rules in-universe and vice-versa...

I really like the part that forcing the success is basically performing a magical feat. That's really really neat ! It can also say that *any* person suffering from Conditions or bad karma has basically inherited from this because of his flux emissions. You do something you think should backfire. It backfires. Congratz, you actually created the situation yourself !

Permanent change of flux for Condition just works perfectly. Internal reorganization.
Chore means that you have found a way to improve control, but by doing so, you lock yourself in your own perspective. What I really like here is the idea of locking oneself, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve since this is a major paradigm of the settings. Humans fail to do magic because they don't think they can. There is a french saying which translates word-by-word as: 'the worst deaf is the one who refuses to listen', e.g. self-conviction is really hard to challenge from the outside ! So, thanks a zillion for that.
And Consequence are achieved by your unconscious emissions. You are so convinced that you'll get a karma backfire someday that it actually will materialize. Again, really nice.

So, it's now just a matter of balancing these and preventing a character goes away with Consequences only (even if yes, they are nice by what they add to the story). Shall this be decided upon die roll? Or upon choice of the player? Or on the context? Too many Conditions and the character becomes unplayable. Still they can generate XP by following your Compulsion idea. Chores are neutral for the character, we might transform these into superstitions and play them as compulsions as well. Too many chores and the character will be blocked in his magic skills because it will be too difficult to hold to these all. Consequences leave the character 'intact' and generates story. No real disadvantage since story is what the game is about ;)

Magic resolution: you wrote "No different from last post except you add two D10s to get the value, as opposed to 1 D20." I don't understand this sentence. Do you mean that the character must pass two inhibition tests? And this aside, if D4 D6 D8 and D10 are used for mundane resolution, maybe we should consider using D12 for Inhibition (and Control) rolls; so that they remain different, not for the sake of being different, but for enabling magic rolls where two dice are rolled simultaneously? Always easier than having two identical dice of different colors.

Character sheet: I have an old one, but definitely (and heavily !) outdated. For reference, it can be seen here: https://sites.google.com/site/foldjdr/feuille-de-personnage


- We're getting there, I owe you a lot !
- Playing Conditions as ASH Compulsions?
- Do we need success margins, can Delta effects be made simple?
- Identities instead of jobs: details on Compulsion please?
- Races Specials?
- Distribution of C vs C vs C?

Thanks again for all your inputs,

Pages: [1] 2
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!