This started out as an article at EN World, an RPG I wrote out in 30 minutes. I decided to give it a home here. The goal is a simple game of fantasy adventure and dungeon exploration, in the tradition of The Fantasy Trip.
--Starfox 13:47, 20 June 2011 (CEST)
Body - the ability to take and absorb damage Dexterity - the ability to hit and not be hit Skill - The ability to perform magic and non-combat tasks
The basic character comes with a basic melee weapon and nothing else.
Say each character starts with 8 in each skill with 8 points to distribute. They also get to pick one feat or a nonhuman race.
Attacking means rolling your Dexterity against a DC of 10 + the target's Dexterity.
Damage roll is 1d20 + Body with a DC equal to the target's Body. You do one point of damage, plus one per ten points of margin on the roll.
Other kinds of attacks hit differently and damage different attributes, but all work in the same basic way.
Damage comes in three types, based on each attribute. There is Body damage, Dexterity damage and Skill damage. Damage reduces your effective score in that attribute, making you weaker and more vulnerable. Due to how the damage system is designed, Body damage is generally less debilitating than the other kinds.
Taking damage more than half the attribute score means you are out. Taking damage matching the attribute score means you are dead.
After each fight, each combatant recovers one point of damage to each hurt attribute. Further healing takes rest - make a skill roll each hour against the current value of the hurt attribute to recover one damage. Basic damage is against strength, but other attributes can also be damaged.
Skill is used for noncombat tasks, of which there are only a few you can do without feats (see below). You can find and remove mundane traps, make basic deals with friendly people (like haggling with a merchant), sense hidden opponents, stay hidden yourself, forage for food, apply basic first aid, and read simple runic messages typical of a dungeon. All with a successful Skill roll (DC varies, of course, but is often 10+opponent's skill).
Every fight you win, every treasure you find, each role-playing scene, and every dangerous/complex situation you resolve gives one xp. Increasing an attribute has a cost equal to your current score. Learning a feat costs 20 points. No award for trivial tasks, and extra-special obstacles can give multiple xp at the GMs whim.
I advise giving all players the same xp; even those not present at the session. This lets everyone interact on an equal footing. The better and more engaged players will dominate the game anyway, there is no need of giving them additional xp.
Each human character starts with one feat. Nonhumans instead have a racial ability (see below).
Feats give you distinct areas of competency. You start out with few feats and early on it is likely you want to gain one or two, but you'll probably focus on attributes as these give more immediate rewards. As you progress, attributes get more expensive while feats do not, so diversification gets more attractive. Each feat gives a range of new things you can use your attributes for.
Where reasonable, a character lacking a certain feat can still try to use it, but suffers a -10 penalty on the roll.
- Scout: You can hide even in light cover and move around while hidden.
- Ranger: You can spot enemies by other senses than sight (hearing, smell, tracks etc) giving you a skill roll to spot them before actually encountering them. You can track and survive in the wilderness; you can forage for a whole group of people. You can set and remove simple outdoor traps, like pit traps and snares.
- Healer: A successful healing roll removes all damage, not just a single point.
- Thief: You can pick pockets, perform sleight-of-hand, open locks, and remove complex/magical traps. All using skill rolls.
- Cleric: You are devoted to a higher cause. You can sense evil (dire enemies of your cause). You can learn prayers.
- Mage: You can perform some cantrips; create light, move light objects nearby, sense active magic nearby. You can learn spells.
- Tank- You can use armor that increases your Strength by 5 when taking damage. Exceptional armor might provide more protection.
- Archer - You can make attacks at range using a bow or crossbow. This takes two hands.
- Shield Fighter - You increase your Dexterity by 5 when defending and wearing a shield. Exceptional shields might provide more protection. This takes up one hand, meaning you cannot use both hands for weapons.
- Greatweapon Weilder: You can use a two-handed weapon to increase your damage in melee by 5.
- Two-Weapon Fighter: You use two weapons in melee, increasing your Dexterity by 5 when making melee attacks.
- Linguist: You can read basic text and runes automatically. You can decipher damaged, coded, foreign-language or otherwise undecipherable text with a Skill roll.
- Sage: You can make a Skill roll to recall pertinent information, such as what abilities a particular monster has, tidbits of history for a person or place, abilities and drawbacks of magical items found, and so on.
- Bard: You can charm people with an opposed Skill roll. People who are hostile might stop fighting for a moment to talk or take you prisoner instead of killing you. They do not automatically become friendlier, but you get a chance to make a proposal, offer, or to explain something. People who are noncomitted become friendly. People who are already friendly become bemused and happy. You only get one attempt each encounter at this.
And so on... There are many more feats.
These are learned like feats and work like feats, but you must be a cleric or mage to learn them and they can do supernatural things. Some of these are prayers (P), some are spells (S) and some are both. Spells marked * causes one point of Skill damage when used.
- Lay on Hands (P*) - You can perform a healing roll against ally you touch. Benefits greatly from the Healer feat. You cannot heal yourself.
- Bless (P*) - Make a skill roll against one attribute of an ally you touch. If you succeed, that attribute increases by 5 for the current fight.
- Fire Blast (S) - A ranged attack. The Damage roll is based on Skill instead of Strength.
- Fire Ball (SP*) - a ranged attack that can attack up to five targets in a group. The Damage roll is based on Skill instead of Strength. Also known as Flame Strike.
- Zap (S) - a ranged attack that does Dexterity damage. The Damage roll is based on Skill instead of Strength.
- Lightning Bolt (SP*) - a ranged attack doing Dexterity damage that can attack up to five targets in a line. The Damage roll is based on Skill instead of Strength. Also known as the Wrath of God.
- Cold Ray (S) - A ranged attack that does Skill damage. The Damage roll is based on Skill instead of Strength. Can also be the chilling effect of the undead.
- Blizzard (SP*) - a ranged attack doing Skill damage that can attack up to five targets in a group. The Damage roll is based on Skill instead of Strength.
- Invisibility (S) - you can hide in plain sight. If you stand absolutely still, opponents can only find you by hearing, touch, or scent, usually meaning they must actively search (unless you are standing where they want to pass).
- Charm (S*) - as the Bard feat, but you can use it as often as you like.
Instead of choosing a feat for a beginning character, you can choose to be nonhuman. You cannot become a nonhuman later by spending xp. Nonhuman races have racial abilities that are similar to feats in function.
- Wood Elf: You see in the dark outdoors and can sneak like a Scout.
- High Elf: You can see in the dark outdoors, detect magic, and learn spells.
- Dwarf: You can see in the dark out to 20 meters, sense traps and and unsafe construction underground and keep track of your location underground.
- Halfling: You can hide like a Scout and resist all damage at +5. Strength must always be your lowest attribute - it cannot be higher than either Skill or Dexterity.