After thinking on it for a while, I decided that HTML would be the best format to typeset my RPG in. It gives me the level of control I want and I can print to PDF to make an actual ‘book.’ I can also, of course, use the HTML itself as a webpage.
I’ve come up with an unusual problem, though. Both Chrome and Firefox, my browsers of choice, have problems with the actual printing.
In Chrome, there’s no way to print background colors. This is bad, because the background colors are important for keeping my tables legible.
In FireFox, for some odd reason, embedded fonts which work perfectly on the screen do not work in print mode.
Additionally, I found that sometimes a block of text I didn’t want split up would get strung across a page break. There’s actually a CSS property to fix that: “page-break-inside: avoid”.
To top it all off, Opera has a shortcut for previewing in print mode, which is a godsend when you’re trying to optimize CSS for printing as well. Ctrl-shift-p.
So Opera doesn’t suffer the font problem, allows printing background colors, has this unique and highly useful CSS rule, and makes print previewing easy. So… I guess Opera is the browser of choice for typesetting in HTML.
Damage in the system is intended to be rather swingy, and to that end I use a multiplicative system. At the current time, I only expect to have 8 damage expressions in the game; 2d6, 2d8, 2d10, 2d12, 3d6, 3d8, 3d10, 3d12. You just roll the listed dice and multiply them all together. If you have bonus damage dice, you roll extra dice but only keep the highest two or three, depending on which damage expression you’re using.
Using this multiplicative process, damage is weighted heavily towards the ‘low’ end and it’s always possible to roll a 1; however, it’s also very possible to roll significantly higher.
Damage is also a bit more granular than the limited number of dice expressions would have you believe. Every character has a damage multiplier which, as the name implies, multiplies the damage. At level 1, only rangers have a damage multiplier greater than 1 (they start at 1.1).
Finally, if someone manages to roll a crit result, they’ll get to throw in their crit multiplier as well. The base crit multiplier is 1.5.
For a few different reasons, I decided I needed a good variety of stats that were important for people. This is the current list:
- Block: Present on melee and ranged defense tables, but only if character has a shield. Generally results in partial damage.
- Dodge: Present on melee and ranged defense tables. Generally results in no damage taken.
- Parry: Present on melee defense table. Generally results in the defender getting some bonus against the attacker.
- Hit: Present on all tables; in essence, hit is how much your last defense has to be beaten in order for the attacker to score a crit.
- Partial Resist: Present on magic defense table. Generally results in a less severe effect.
- Resist: Present on magic defense table. Generally results in no effect.
- Reflect: Present on magic defense table. Generally results in the attacker suffering some ill effect.
- Mobility: A bonus to defense some characters have against melee counterattacks. Always a multiple of 10, to keep math simple.
You can read about most of the defenses in this earlier post.
- Toughness: Incoming damage is divided by the defender’s toughness to determine VP loss.
- Vitality: The maximum amount of VP a character has.
See the last post for info on these.
- Attack Bonus: Your attack roll is d% + attack bonus, plus or minus any situational modifiers (e.g. mobility).
- Bonus Dice: Bonus dice are extra dice rolled for damage. Read about damage above.
- Damage Multiplier: Multiplies damage done.
- Crit Multiplier: Multiplies damage done on a crit.
- Piercing: Reduces defender’s
- Precision: If you score a hit result on your attack roll, you add your precision (always a multiple of 10) and might improve your hit into a crit.
When creating their character, every player is going to get to pick a buff. This is a permanent bonus which is added to all characters in the group; thus everyone gets a little boost from everyone else. Buffs do not stack, however, so it was important that there be a good variety of choices.
At character creation, every player chooses a buff which will increase the stats of every character in the group. Buffs are permanent bonuses to the stat (as long as the character remains in the party), and are recorded on the character sheet just like any other bonus. Buff bonuses do not stack, so players should work together to ensure they pick a variety of different buffs.
There are ten stats which are eligible to be buffed (Block, Dodge, Parry, Partial Resist, Resist, Reflect, Toughness, Attack Bonus, Piercing, Crit Multiplier). For each stat, there are two classes which can buff that stat, and each of the five classes is eligible to buff four different stats.
Thus, there will be a good selection available, and even if you had four people playing the same class they’d all be able to pick different buffs.
One thing that sets AARPG apart from other RPGs is that I expect every player to have a calculator. Nothing fancy, just something to allow you to quickly and easily add, subtract, multiply and divide. You can probably get a solar powered calculator from the dollar store.
It seems a bit odd, granted, and I expect that there will be some who either feel it’s too onerous a requirement (to which I reply, how is being expected to have a calculator any different than being expected to have a set of dice?) or perhaps even unnecessary. To that last group, my reply would be, sure, you can add, subtract, divide and multiply 2-digit numbers in your head… But why bother? I could spend 5-10 seconds calculating 97/14 in my head, or I could just punch it into a calculator.
This brings me to the damage system I’m going to be using, consisting of vitality and toughness. A base, level 1 character will have a toughness of 10 and 10 vitality points, before other modifiers.
You can think of vitality points as your hit points, except one point of damage doesn’t equate to one point of vitality. Rather, you divide damage taken by your toughness, and that’s how many VP you lose (rounded down). As an example, if a character with 10 toughness takes 46 damage, that’s 4 VP lost.
Armor improves toughness, and characters may have a piercing rating which reduces their opponent’s toughness. For example, if a rogue with piercing 2 attacks an enemy with toughness 13, the enemy’s effective toughness would be reduced to 11 against the attack.
Magic frequently interacts with VP directly, completely bypassing toughness. Healing restores VP, and offensive magic takes away VP. Thus, magic is comparatively more effective against well-armored enemies, while physical attacks are better against ‘squishies.’
One of my design goals in AARPG is to abstract out movement in combat. I’ve flirted with using a system of abstract distance and groupings similar to what Warhammer FRP 3e uses, but even that is more… tactical than I want. I want to completely get rid of the notion of distance.
This leads to a problem of how to make ranged combat distinct from melee combat. It’s not a big problem in the case of magic, where enemies who are vulnerable to magic will likely not be as vulnerable to physical damage and vice versa, but in the case of ranged combat the differences in defense are going to be relatively minor.
My current thought is some kind of system of counterattacking. Whenever you make a melee attack, your opponent gets to make a melee attack back at you. This leads to some interesting consequences.
First, it means melee is very effective against casters and ranged attackers, since they will tend to have a weak melee attack if they have one at all.
Second, it implies that people who fight in melee must have formidable melee defenses. In the case of fighter-types, this would be heavier armor which mitigates damage. In the case of rogue-types, they would have some kind of mobility bonus, reducing their opponent’s chance to hit with a counterattack.
The third consideration is a matter of time and complexity; if every melee attack provokes a counterattack, that’s going to slow things down a bit.
Combat in AARPG is all about resource management. You have to manage your initiative, and your energy.
At the beginning of each round, each combatant rolls 3d6 and adds their initiative skill modifier. They get this many Initiative Points (IP). Ip should be kept track of with some kind of physical token.
Whoever has the most IP goes first. In case of ties, players go before NPCs. If players are tied with each other, they decide which of them goes first amongst themselves. Similarly, when NPCs are tied, the GM decides the order they act in.
Every action has an IP cost, which is a measure of the time and effort required to perform that action. The character spends an appropriate amount of IP, performs the action, and then their turn is done.
After each turn, whoever has the most IP goes next. If a character had a significant lead in IP and performed a quick enough action, they might actually get to take several turns in a row.
If a player doesn’t have enough IP to pay for the action they’d like to use, they take the amount they’re short in IP debt. For example, if a player wanted to use an attack which cost 5 IP but only had 3, they’d get 2 IP debt. IP debt is subtracted from your next initiative roll.
Whenever a character has no IP left, they may take no further actions in the current round. When all characters have run out of IP, everyone rolls initiative and gets IP again, just like at the beginning (although they may have to use some of it right away to pay off IP debt from the last round).
Every class uses a different type of energy, such as focus, discipline, rage or mana. The class”s description contains specific details on how much energy you start each battle with and how you recharge energy.
Casting and Channeling
Some powers are cast or channeled. These are similar in that both are hampered if someone casting or channeling is damaged while doing so. A cast spell does not take effect until it finishes casting, and will take longer to cast if you’re damaged. A channeled spell has a certain duration which is shortened when you’re damaged.
To track a casting power, first spend however much energy the power costs and then place 1 IP in your casting pool (it no longer counts for your total IP). Each turn thereafter, place an additional 1 IP in your casting pool. When you’ve accumulated enough IP in your casting pool, you execute the power. Whenever you’re damaged, you discard one IP from your casting pool. If your casting pool is ever empty, the power fizzles and you lose it; any energy spent to cast the spell are lost as well.
When you use a channeled power, first spend however much power it costs and then place as much IP in your channeling pool as the power specifies. Each turn thereafter you will continue to place IP in your channeling pool and continue the power’s effects. Once you have as many or more IP in your channeling pool than the power specifies, the power may no longer be channeled. You may also choose to stop channeling it sooner, though any energy spent remains spent. Whenever you’re dealt damage while channeling a spell, place 1 IP in the channeling pool. If you don’t have any IP left, take on one point of IP debt and then place an IP from the supply in your channeling pool.
Each character and NPC has three defense matrices–melee defense, ranged defense, and magic defense–which attackers will roll against to hit. With a melee attack, for example, you’d roll 1d100, add your melee skill modifier, and compare the result to your target’s melee defense matrix.
Defense matrices list a number of different results, based on the attacker’s roll. In general, higher rolls are better for the attacker. Here are a set of typical defense matrices.
|Melee Defense Matrix|
|Ranged Defense Matrix|
|Magic Defense Matrix|
Results generally don’t have any inherent meaning. Rather, the power you use will tell you what happens when you roll particular results, and additionally you or the defender may have traits which are triggered when a certain result is rolled, such as counterattacking when someone rolls parry on your melee defense matrix, or regaining hit points when you roll a crit against someone else.
Your class will tell you how ‘wide’ each result should be. You use the width of each result to determine the start and end of each range.
Characters may have one or more armor values, which directly reduce damage taken. For example, if you’re wearing a chain shirt which gives 5 armor and your shield gives you 5 armor on a block, you’d reduce damage you take by 5 when you’re hit and by 10 when you block.
Some attacks may have the armor piercing (AP) quality. Armor piercing reduces each individual armor value, so in the above example if you were being attacked with a spear which gives AP 2, your shirt’s armor would count as 3 against the attack and your shield’s armor would also count as 3. Armor value cannot be reduced below 0, and excess AP above the target’s armor value does not result in increased damage.
I’m currently working on an RPG… It’s not even in a playtestable form, yet. However, I have some ideas I’d like to share.
A bit of background: my working title for the RPG is AA RPG (Asmor’s Awesome RPG). I’ll change it when I come up with something better.
It’s sort of a hybrid of a class-based system and a point-based one. Each character will have three important choices to make; race, background, and class.
Today I’ll be talking about background. Background primarily affects your skills. So first, I’ve got to talk about skills…
Skill checks, like most things in the system, are d100 based. The GM assigns a difficulty, and you roll d100 and add your modifier. If you meet or beat the difficulty, you pass.
Most skills are categorized into one of 5 skill groups. There are also some combat skills which do not fall into any skill group.
- Athletics: Running, Jumping, Strength, Climbing, Swimming, Balance, Block
- Crime: Disable Device, Stealth, Pick Pocket, Sleight of Hand, Hide, Disguise
- Knowledge: History, Science, Strategy, Religion, Arcana, Nature, Geography, Resist Magic
- Social: Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Empathy, Detect Lies
- Awareness: Spot, Search, Listen, Intuition, Detect Magic, Dodge
- Special (not a skill group): Parry, Ranged, Melee, Initiative
Your skill modifier is the sum of the points you’ve placed in the skill, your mastery for that skill’s group, and any other bonuses, e.g. racial bonuses.
Skill Group Mastery
One important innovation in my skill system is that training any skill actually makes you better with a variety of related skills. You have a mastery rating for each skill group, equal to half the sum of the points you’ve spent in that skill group, rounded down. For example, if you’ve got 5 points in stealth and 10 points in hide, you’d have a Crime Mastery rating of 7 ([10+5]/2). Your total modifier for stealth checks would be 12 (7+5) and your modifier for hide would be 17 (7+10). For any other skills in the Crime skill group, you’d have a modifier of 7.
The special skills do not belong to a skill group and do not receive any mastery bonuses. It’s also important to note that only spent skill points grant mastery; other skill bonuses do not.
Your background gives you a number of skill points for certain skill groups, and a number of general skill points which can be spent as you please, per the table below.
- Martial: Someone trained to fight. E.g. bodyguard, militia
- Religious: Someone trained in the ways of the clergy. E.g. priest, temple maiden
- Nobility: Someone from the noble courts. E.g. prince, vizier
- Street: A poor peasant from an urban area. E.g. beggar, thief
- Rural: Someone raised in the countryside. E.g. farmer, hunter
- Merchant: “Middle-class” people with decent jobs. E.g. trader, cobbler
- Entertainer: Someone skilled in giving others a good time. E.g. jester, courtesan.
- Academic: Someone who’s spent a significant portion of their life studying or experimenting. E.g. student, professor.
A starting character may not put more than 10 points in any single skill, and not more than 40 points in any skill group.