[Untitled RPG] An RPG Based on Simplicity and Complexity, with Wiggle Room

Started by Joseph, May 17, 2012, 07:22:11 PM

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I'm a video gamer, but I love tabletop games. I play them whenever I can. I've just started working on an RPG with what I think is a pretty innovative system (at least, for tabletops). I'm not trying to escape die rolls or do anything crazy, I'm just trying to make something that is easy to expand and easy to keep balanced - of course, what "balance" means is up to the GM and players.

Primarily, the additional rules are where I want it to shine, but the core system should take up maybe a couple of pages in the final document. The Additional Rules should contain everything except what a success is and what a failure is. There won't be degrees of success or failure, just a binary result. Everything else will be in the Additional Rules.

I have a Task Resolution system, and a Combat system. Task Resolution is a D20 + environmental factors + the relevant stat, of which there are seven. Strength, Dexterity, Agility, Constitution, Perception, Intellect, and Affability. These handle your physical characteristics, your knowledge, your personality, and or course, your perception. I won't provide a list of skills in the core rules, instead there will be a table of sample actions and their relevant stat. Combat is rolled into Task Resolution in the core system, but will have a sizable section of Additional Rules dedicated to it.

The core system ignores a lot of things, but it should be perfect for narrative play. With a mere seven abilities, the Core character sheet would fit on a 3x5 index card, with room to doodle or add notes.

Currently, I'm still writing my first draft, but I will post it when I have something concrete.


I'd like to hear more about the "innovative system" that you talked about?
Author of the Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game.


The "official" combat system is to mix up the way characters can act during their turn. I'm borrowing from a few video games that have an "Action Pool" that determines how many actions a character can take in a turn. Different actions use up different amounts of points from the Action Pool, and some actions restore them. These points recover on their own, but only when no actions are being taken. For instance, say we have a character with 8 points in their Pool. They perform three attacks, for 1, 2, and 3 points. They are down to two points, which isn't enough for another combo. They can either use a couple of weaker attacks, or switch to the defensive. Naturally, it has some bugs to be worked out, but it is intended to take over for Actions per Turn and Magic Points/Daily Spells at the same time.

Aside from that, I want there to be a good system in place for Special Attacks. Anima: Beyond Fantasy is a big inspiration here. In Anima, characters develop special attacks with a pool of Martial Knowledge, and can use them after accumulating Ki. There are tables of effects, and costs in MK and Ki. I want to generalize that system so that magic users and melee fighters can use something similar for customizing their abilities. It's like Words of Power, but you can't make it up on the fly. Special Attacks should have an element affinity, which links it to another system.

A Special Attack leaches power into the environment. Repeated use will make an area of elementally charged earth and air that can be used to empower other abilities. Basically, it creates an aura that has a particular effect once used enough. Using a Special Attack inside the aura will destroy it, as will leaving it alone. Here's a YouTube video of the game I'm shamelessly taking the idea from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izBJGvm9dQo.

Of course, Special Attacks and Aura Effects, as well as everything other than basic melee combat is optional. That's something I'm really pushing for.


Oh dear. They seem to have disabled the ability to edit posts. So, allow me to post what I have so far, in the way of my minimal rules:


Let me know if the link doesn't work, I am not too familiar with Google Docs' sharing options and publishing features.

Naturally, there will be modules for adding things like life points, critical successes and failures, and for character advancement. As it stands, the game would be most suited to high-mortality playing or one-shots. Equipment is probably going into the core rules, but it'll more likely be in the "recommended rules" section, as it's extremely important in most games; there are at least a few where it's not a big deal. Some sample settings for this very bare ruleset:

Survival Horror
Let's face it, there aren't a lot of reasons to have hit points or equipment when you're more likely to die from the environment than from an enemy, and even if you need combat, you're not going to have a +5 anything of anything. You'll have a shovel, if you're lucky. The Tally system for health works here, too, since your GM can use it to show how weak people are getting from environmental conditions and little scuffles as easily as life points would express the same.

One-Shot Fantasy
Not having to worry about levels and classes and feats and skills means you can get a sheet of paper, rip it into a few pieces, jot down seven numbers, and play. The simplicity means balance is implicit, and combat is more up to luck than design. It can also be suitable for larger groups, since it's been boiled down so much.

One of the major themes of some ultra-futuristic games is that life is cheap. You can use the minimal rules to put more focus onto the flavor of the narrative, which can be very important for some settings, especially where not many players are experienced. You can even use it for an intro adventure if your group doesn't want to learn a large number of rules for something they might never touch again!

So, there's a few examples. The minimal rules are not intended to be used indefinitely; the gaming group might start out with them and add on during the course of play. The feature-barrenness can be great for introducing new players to roleplaying!


Man, I wish I could edit those posts. How about some discussion topics up in here?

  • What do you see an ultramodular system being good for, with regards to play styles?
  • What do you see an ultramodular system being good for, with regards to player accessibility?
  • What sort of quality assurance should the author have to be responsible for in a system like this, and what sort of balance work should fall squarely on the GM?
  • What do you think the Additional Rules should focus on? Character development? Combat systems? Something I've overlooked?
  • With regards to that point, should individual players be allowed to choose a different character development ruleset than others in the same game?
  • Should a combat system be mutually agreed upon, or is there a way to make sure more experienced players can get their complexity fix while new players can go with uncomplicated whack, smack, and roll?
  • What other topics should I be considering while asking for input? This is something totally new to me.

Thanks for putting up with me, guys.


Yeah the no editing can be a bit painful for those small "oops, I forgot!" moments.

The Google Doc you linked to displays fine. It reads a lot like the D20 system, just with different attributes. I tend to like systems that write to a specific genre and have the rules tuned to that setting instead of doing the GURPS approach, since "jack-of-all-trades but master of none" becomes an apt description.

Anyways what I'd really like to comment on is this:

Quote from: Joseph on May 18, 2012, 12:44:08 AMShould a combat system be mutually agreed upon, or is there a way to make sure more experienced players can get their complexity fix while new players can go with uncomplicated whack, smack, and roll?

This to me is truly an innovative and unique idea. Allowing one math-loving player to add complexity to their attacks while the others can achieve the same thing with fewer rolls or calculations all at the same table is a really neat idea. I wonder if something like this is even feasible, or if players would just naturally gravitate to the simpler system or whatever the majority is doing.
Author of the Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game.


I was kind of hoping to make sure that equipment and basic attacks are at least somewhat balanced internally. If a player wants to go the super-complex-build-everything-from-scratch route, they shouldn't necessarily be dealing more damage than a melee fighter, but they might have different effects. Again, I'll point to Anima; there are at least 3 or four supernatural abilities, but a straight Warrior can still just pummel them into dust if he gets the upper hand. I have a player who uses Ki, and has put in hours of work into his abilities outside of the game. Another player is a Rogue-type, and he is a melee fighter. They both deal roughly the same damage, and so far this seems to be the reason: straight melee combat has higher ability to deal high damage, but the various buffs that the Ki user has equate to a more consistent ability to deal good damage. He's got a lot of utility, but he ends up just as effective as the other player.

I hope that I could design a system that balances itself; perhaps esoteric effects should result in less focus on straight damage? As an aside, the Ki user has 3 pages of character sheet that they use, and the Rogue has about one and a half. One is way more complex, but that complexity doesn't mean less balance. I'm working on a few additional rules right now, mostly to bring it to parity with a basic no-Magic d20 game. As it stands, I don't think that it's unbalanced yet.

I've added rules for armor and weapons, but I don't have any tables yet for various equipments. I've got a sidebar with a couple of options for blackjack-style or exploding dice. Here's a PDF with what I've got so far. http://www.mediafire.com/view/?62l1q81z8260r8l

There are some areas where not everything is finished. As far as the "Feature Completeness" section is concerned, I'm currently basing it on d20, but I'm willing to change if I hear a good argument. So far, it's still pretty barebones, but it's a start.