A Really Simple RPG System

A Really Simple RPG System

I've posted this concept for an RPG game system previously, and I think it's worth reposting again now I've redesigned the blog. I may develop it a little further in the future, and refine some of the mechanics.

The concept is for a pen and paper RPG system that simplifies game mechanics and character stats in a way similar to systems like Fudge while utilising some of the narrative driven character development of systems such as Spirit of the Century or Shadows of Yesterday. You'll want Fudge dice, ideally, but you can make do with D6 ( 1, 2 = '-' / 3, 4 = ' ' / 5, 6 = '+').

Your character sheet has three sections, Attributes, Traits, and Talents/Conditions.

Attributes are Body, Mind, and Awareness. Traits are player defined and apply to attributes, Talents are player defined and describe what that character does.

You have ten points to assign between the attributes Body, Mind and Awareness, which each fall between a minimum of two and a maximum of five. The value of an Attribute directly corresponds to the dice you roll. If you are going to perform a feat of strength you will roll your Body score in dice and the number of plusses is your level of success.

Traits come in three forms, Weaknesses, Descriptions and Strengths. You get two strengths for free, and they are adjectives that apply to an attribute. Strengths for the Body trait might be 'Strong' or 'Agile'. Weaknesses might be 'Ugly' or 'Frail. Descriptions are adjectives that are more ambiguous, that may be a benefit or a disadvantage dependent on situation. A description for Body may be 'nondescript', which could be an advantage if you wanted to blend in to a crowd, but may be a disadvantage if you were trying to create an impression.

You can have any number of Descriptions that fit your concept, but for any Strength additional to the first two, you must also define a weakness.

Strengths, Descriptions, and Weaknesses provide re-rolls on your dice pool. If you have 'Strong' listed under 'Body' and you're trying to lift rubble to free a trapped party member then you will have the option of re-rolling some of your dice. Once you have made your initial roll, and the GM has agreed that your Trait applies, you may re-roll only dice that have come up blank. Dice that have come up with a minus may not be re-rolled, and any new plusses are added to your existing successes. Where you have a Weakness the GM is granted a re-roll instead of the player to represent the character's disadvantage. The player and GM may negotiate the application of Descriptions, which will situationally be of benefit or hindrance to the player, and either the player or the GM will gain the re-roll based on agreement.

Talents are broader descriptions of a character's abilities and you get four of them. They may specify a profession, or a level of education, perhaps a level of wealth, a magical item or a superpower. So long as is is relevant to the story you are trying to tell. This could range from "Law Professor" to "Telepathy". These are the things that define your character's role in the game, their lifestyle, and their skillset in broad terms. Where a dice roll overlaps with a character Talent you get an extra dice on the roll. For some actions that require particularly specialist skills or knowledge, the GM may ask that you specify a talent that that corresponds to the task and if you are unable to then your roll is penalised by removing one dice.

As an example, anyone can reasonably be expected to drive a car and you wouldn't really want to specify this on your character sheet. Reasonable actions with a car, such as losing a tail in a car chase do not require particularly specialist skills, it would just be a difficult roll. Jumping a row of busses in a monster truck however is pretty specialised, and someone with the Talent 'Stunt Driver' would get a bonus dice to this, but someone without a similar talent would lose a dice. Negotiation between the player and GM should determine when this is appropriate.

In opposition, in a sense, to Talents are Conditions. When losing a roll the outcome may be that a condition affects the character, missing a jump may result in a broken leg. A condition applies a dice reduction to rolls that it would impact, with a severity agreed by the player and GM. Conditions are removed narratively, or can become Weaknesses if they become permanent. The narrative should determine which is appropriate. A broken leg can be healed, where another wound may leave a permanent scar and become a 'Scarred' Trait.

All tasks are opposed rolls. The player determines their available dice as per above, and the GM generally rolls two dice if it's a simple task, three dice if it is challenging, and four if it is a difficult task. The GM may roll five dice if the outcome has specific narrative importance, or it is dramatically appropriate. There is no negotiation on the GM's number of dice, it is their choice. The player and GM however must negotiate and agree upon an outcome. If the player gets more successes than the GM, then the result of the action should benefit them in the narrative, and if the GM wins the roll the player is instead set back. The severity of the setback should be appropriate to the situation and the narrative, and there must be agreement before dice are rolled. Once the rolls are made, negotiation is allowed on the application of Traits for re-rolls.

Experience is granted at a rate of five per session. Players may spend thirty points for a new Talent, or twenty for a new Trait. Players may sell an existing Talent for a discount of 10xp on a new Talent. Players may either take a negative trait or sell an existing positive trait for a 10xp discount on a new positive Trait. All changes should be agreed between the player and GM, and should have a basis in the game's recent narrative. A character that has been to school may sell 'Illiterate' for a discount on 'Educated'.

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