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A gathering place for anyone, either casually or professionally, designing, hacking, or otherwise working with the mechanics of pen-and-paper tabletop role-playing games.


A gathering place for anyone, either casually or professionally, hacking, designing, or otherwise developing/publishing pen-and-paper tabletop RPGs.

RPG Design

Is for discussing Role Playing Game Design and Development:

  • Homebrew game mechanics
  • Design, layout, and other production aspects of RPGs
  • Asking for advice about your system/setting
  • Recruiting assistance with game design and development
  • Mechanics and design of existing, published RPGs
  • Other elements of RPG production and publication

Is not for...

  • Video game RPGs, including MMOs
  • Tabletop boardgame design
  • Flaming professional or amateur game designers

Before you Post:

  1. Check out the WIKI! The WIKI contains resources for designing and reviewing your game, as well as a section to list your project.

  2. See these posts for commonly asked questions on licensing, dice probabilities, and asking for and giving feedback.

General Rules

  • Be civil - the person you're critiquing now, may be reviewing your work tomorrow.
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  • If someone took the time to offer feedback for your project, it is good manners to offer feedback for their project in return. After leaving feedback, if you want reciprocal feedback for your own project, you must provide your own separate thread / location for feedback; do not derail other member's feedback thread.
  • Also see our subreddit rules.

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  • Member's Twitter: We now have a Twitter Share list for mutual social media promotion. See it here.

  • Activity Thread: We have weekly, pre-planned discussions about mechanics, game design examples from published games, and aspects of the games we are designing. Listing of these Activity Threads (2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019) is maintained in the wiki.

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So happy how my character sheets turned out! I feel like sharing

Thanks to the brilliant work of u/MasterRPG79, whom I connected with via Reddit, my character sheets for Adventurous turned out really well, they are one of my most favorite things about the whole system actually.

You can check them out here.

Feel free to drop any feedback, but I mostly just wanted to share my satisfaction with them.

1 Comment
21:36 UTC


EXPEL EVIL: A PVP TTRPG of Ghost Hunting

So I'm just challenging myself to create a TTRPG each month without getting too stuck on perfecting it so I can keep practicing. Would love thoughts and opinions, for everyone to play and share what they changed what felt like it was missing, etc. It's free! I have it on a Patreon site just so I could have em all in one place and offer for free. So Let me know what you think. I love the idea of PVP RPG and would love to know about others you've played that you felt had good structures and was easy to follow.

Go here to view the Game and get the FREE PDF



Within the walls of a tattered, but luxurious mansion awaits unwelcoming spirits. This mysteriously opulent new owner will pay the highest price and has chosen a select few from the hundreds that have applied to cleanse its depths.

Are you amongst the Living? Or the Dead?

You decide.

Either way, only the cunning will win.

PVP(Player vs Player)

ALL players will compete against each other. Whether living or dead you’ll have the opportunity to scheme, mislead, frighten, cleanse, trap, or even…kill.

Alliances can be made, but be careful who you trust.

Players will take turns strategizing, investigating, and conspiring to take out other players. The goal is to be the last one(s) standing.

18:34 UTC


Cyberpunk "Cyber Prosthetic" Upgrades Compilation

I'm working on a rule to translate Cyber Prosthetics into my current game system. I have the rule in place to translate it and it works well, but I'm having trouble producing/collecting the actual upgrades/impacts of the prosthetics. For instance, Cyber Leg is a possible prosthetic in this system. So, I've made one of the upgrades to the Cyber Leg prosthetic to be "Articulating Foot" which basically turns your foot into a hand that you can still walk on. That's an Upgrade that is available for the Cyber Leg prosthetic.

So the purpose of this post is to try to poll the community and get together materials and examples of such Upgrades. I'm mostly trying to get the major, archetypal cool stuff like "XRay Vision" and stuff like that. But I feel like it would be useful to more than just me to get a good collection together.

Do you guys know of games that implement upgrade ideas like this and pull it off? I know of 2400, I recently played that and it was the inspiration behind this.

Edit: These are some suggestions from the community:
William Gibson's Cyberpunk Novels
Cyberpunk (2020 or Red)
Tzimichi in VTM (Biological Modifications)
40k Games
Deus Ex (Video Games)

18:15 UTC


Big 5 / OCEAN based character creation: roleplaying game about emergency workers

I made a short rpg about emergency workers: ambulance drivers, doctors, nurses and first responders. With this game I aimed to give a simple toolset to tell the stories behind the people we trust to save us in our time of need.

I'm a novice designer interested in any and all feedback and tips but specifically: What do you think of the personality model in character creation? Is the mechanic clear, fun or interesting? I've yet to see this mechanic anywhere else and I'd like to see if similar games exist.

You can download the game from whenallelsefails.hiskih.fi (links to itch.io)

17:19 UTC


The Most Tabletop Games per Square Centimeter (a record-setting TTRPG collection)

12:44 UTC



What is the best mechanics to use?

12:15 UTC


Length of melee weapons

Does anybody know of a good system that incorporates combat modifiers based on length of weapons?

I ask because, as someone who practices HEMA (historic martial arts) I know that … length DOES matter :)

For example, if I am fighting with a dagger against a rapier or two handed longsword, I am at a massive disadvantage.

How best to accomodate this kind of thing?

02:30 UTC


Check out our new line of hand-drawn hardback journals inspired by old fantasy leather tomes!

Hey everyone! We're excited to announce the launch of our latest product line, featuring 10 unique designs of hand-drawn hardback journals. These journals are inspired by old fantasy leather tomes and are perfect for anyone looking to add a touch of magic to their writing.

Our journals are available now at https://cat20designs.com/collections/roleplaying-game-notebooks, so head on over and check them out! We can't wait to hear what you think!

02:04 UTC


What are the benefits of Fudge Dice?

I've been studying FATE as game design training, and I really like these dice, and I feel they have untapped potential, but I'm not sure how to find it.

The main value I see in fudge dice is the relative ease reading the results with a dice pool. I like that it has a small range with small easy numbers (-4 to +4), which make it easier to add up 4 dice. And the fact it has 3 values per die also make faster to read.

So far I only read the core book, so maybe one of the supplements addresses this, but I think there has to be a way to squeeze in more into each roll to use. E.g. having an ability that depends on how many dice you rolled a 0.

I'd love to read your thoughts on the matter

22:50 UTC


Struggles when writing to publish

Hello everyone,

Apologies in advance if this is too misplaced of a discussion for this forum. For about a month now, I have decided to digitize my adventures, encounters, supplements, worldbuilding docs and rules systems, and gather them in a portfolio.

While it sounds like all I need is to format, at times translate, rephrase, and arrange my texts into a nice looking document, I must say thay every work session has so far felt extremely crappy.

Although I consider myself a very experienced DM, "lore writer", and have a great understanding of game design principles, I get extremely self-conscious, feel the need to add more content, delete other bits, rephrase everything into something "more professional", I think in terms of phantom standards that I imagine and assume I have to follow, and struggle to give a personal spin to my products.

Making progress has felt very difficult (I spend five hours on different projects and the whole then feels like tiny steps), the whole enterprise seems titanic, I get unsatisfied with content that has otherwise encountered great success when being played/tested, and I feel restrained in my creativity.

For those of you who are experienced with publishing adventures or game systems, I want to ask: how did you make your workflow feel fast and feel good, how have you surpassed those feelings of self-consciousness, how much have you been affected by what you believed to be the "standards way of writing" for the industry, and how have you worked around them?

My mood is terribly low right now, and I could use some cheer-up and caring advice.

15:03 UTC


How much similarities to other systems is acceptable?

TL;DR I found out my TTRPG's character creation is unintentionally almost identical to City of Mist, should I rework it?

Yesterday I was browsing through TTRPGs that I've wanted to check out as inspiration for my cyberpunk theme game, taking most inspiration from PBtA, Lasers & Feelings and Fate. I then stumbled upon a system I've heard a lot about, City of Mist, and upon closer inspection I realized that the core of the character creation was almost identical to my game with just minor differences.

Instead of themebooks my game has normal playbooks but each has space for 4 Aspects on them (going back and forth between 3 and 4 as of now), aspects can either be Punk or Cyber, similar to Logos and Mythos in CoM. These aspects also have labels which act as skills/traits and also weaknesses of the character, similar to tags in CoM, but because my game is a dice pool system which works similar to Lasers & Feelings for each label that applies you get a d6. You can gain Momentum on aspects, starting at 2 but ranging from 0 to 5, you spend some to do stuff like upgrade your aspects, give yourself more dice to roll, perform special moves and change the story, which works like a mix between Fate Points in Fate and Attention in CoM. One major difference between my system and CoM is no equivalent to Fade/Crack, instead if you deplete your Momentum to 0, you loose the aspect, this is to give it more of a give and take feel. When you fill your Momentum you can use your Moment of Truth but using it depletes your Momentum and destroys the aspect. There's also the concept of having only punk aspects turning you into a Normie and having only cyber aspects turning you into a Freak, similar to becoming a Sleeper or an Avatar in CoM. The original inspiration behind all of this was actually the Fate system, with a goal of tying aspects, skills and fate points all neatly together, while adding the feeling of self discovery and constant change like PBtA games have.

At the end of the day I feel like I unintentionally created a CoM hack which is upsetting because this was supposed to be an original system, taking only some inspiration from other rpgs. There are differences in other parts of the system but the character creation is essentially the same, so what do I do now?

11:33 UTC


Riddles in solo RPG [question and rpg generated short story]

07:42 UTC


Would these principle be interesting to you? Teamwork without "roles"

In almost every RPG I've seen so far (admittedly, I don't exactly research them), there is a concept that you build a team out of players who perform different roles and their roles somehow synergize so that the sum is greater than the parts.

In fantasy combat-oriented games, it's often something like Tank-Healer-Attacker. Or Melee-Ranged-Magic.

Sometimes, in less combat-oriented games, it's like Investigator-Guy who is sneaky-Guy who talks to people, and so on.

I want to make a game that moves away from roles as much as possible. People still play as a team, but that team is less about each individual taking on a role and then performing solely in that role, and more about the team needing to allocate their manpower and resources in clever ways to distribute hardships and responsibilities more or less evenly. The game I'm designing takes a lot of inspiration from the computer game Vermintide (and Darktide), where characters obviously have vastly different strengths, and yet in any given mission, any character has to be able to do everything that everyone else can do. A player playing as the Ironbreaker might have a ton more health and ability to block, but he's not really there to "tank." He'll also usually have to shoot his gun or crossbow a lot even though the Waywatcher player is a lot better at shooting by many standard metrics and has much lower health and ability to block.

An example of how this philosophy manifests in the game I'm designing is this. Spells are extremely powerful and, if successfully casted, can trivialize a combat encounter by itself. The entire player party shares the list of spells they know. In order to cast a spell, you must have a currency that's gained from killing a strong enemy and then the killer must succeed on a roll to "absorb" that currency. Some characters are better killing strong enemies than other characters. Some characters are also better at absorbing the currency. Some characters are even better at paying the currency (like, for example, they might get a rebate).

Another example of this philosophy is that every player character can bring a single melee weapon. There is a large selection of melee weapons in the game that behave differently, but they all kill monsters and are all (balance pass pending) meant to be equally powerful. Some weapons hit more enemies at once and some hit fewer, some weapons pierce armor and some do not, and some weapons have different special properties.

Does this design philosophy seem sound to you? Does it seem interesting? Is a game designed this way something you would consider playing?

07:33 UTC


In a world where there are hundreds, if not thousands of RPGs, how do you, personally, even justify trying your hand at design?

Like, on a purely theoretical, philosophical level, how can I justify to people why I am trying my hand at design when there are thousands of games that I can access for free on the Internet?

I’m getting stuck in a moral dilemma, personally. I’ve been working on my own system and, in doing so, have been playing other games. But I’m lost, philosophically. Why should I try at designing a game when it is highly, highly likely that the game that has what I want is likely already made? I would just need to look long and far enough to find that game. So, how do the rest of you justify your endeavors? How do you justify designing, even in a world with thousands of phenomenal systems?

Edit: Wow! This blew up practically overnight! I want to say thank you to the numerous comments and ideas. I can’t respond to all of them, but I have been trying to read through them. Thank you for the help, discussion, and just willingness to share. You guys are awesome!

2nd Edit: there seems to be confusion as to my exigence in this post. This really stemmed after an argument between me and my parents, but is truly motivated by an internal debate. My party, my group, wasn’t happy with the games we played. So I tried my hand at making one. But it feels like the better idea, the one that would be better for the group, even if I didn’t like it as much, would just to keep trying new games, hoping to find what they are looking for. That’s the underlying motivation behind this internal doubt, truly.

04:21 UTC


Monster Manual

I have been working on my system for a while now and I believe I am ready to start making a "monster manual."

I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations or advice before I undertake this big project. Do I even need a Monster Manual for a high fantasy world?

Thanks in advance.

03:26 UTC


Class Archetype Mechanics

Hi all,

I'm designing my own take on the pulp-action genre of ttrpg's, and I'm trying to nail down how my archetypes will work. I don't want a crunchy class system with lots of abilities, but I want to provide some basic types of characters that pop up in these sort of stories (think Tintin, Blake + Mortimer, etc.).

The six I have selected are:

  • The Investigator - typically reporter/detective type characters
  • The Brawler - some form of beef; soldiers, thugs, etc.
  • The Researcher - professors, scientists, archaeologists
  • The Entertainer - performers, or backgrounds like salesmen
  • The Explorer - nomads, dilletantes, etc.
  • The Operator - specialization in something, so like a pilot or guru

In any case you can make one character fit into any archetype, and their primary goal is to give a grounding when working with your character. For example, if you make a Researcher character who is a professor, and you get into a situation where you don't know how your character might act, you can fall back on the larger archetype to pull inspiration.

Mechanically speaking, there are no differences. The system is a modified version of the Freeform Universal RPG, which is a classless d6 system. Each character has a few skills and items at their disposal to add to their pool but otherwise the sheet is very simple. Currently, my rules give some guidance for each archetype on sample equipment or goals, but otherwise they don't do much.

I had some ideas for dice-y mechanics that could be equipped similarly to the Quest RPG, where you pick and choose abilities as you go, but I want the system to be pretty rules light. Is this system unnecessary? Are there obvious things I can use these archetypes for in a creative way? Any thoughts are appreciated!

tl:dr - I have 6 archetypes that don't add abilities but are used to help build out a party. What's the stitch?

00:48 UTC


Discovery as a core mechanic?

You've probably played a few RPG's, video games, or even board games that place an emphasis on giving incomplete information to players that can then be filled out through experience or investigation.

With a boss in Dark Souls, the game expects you to learn the bosses' move set or weaknesses so that you might eventually overcome them. Exploration properly executed also come's with its own discovery attached to it. However, both of these examples are usually more the realm of level design rather than mechanics, and the discovery experience can only happen once on a single topic for a group of players.

With a TTRPG being as free as they are it should open up a lot of opportunities for discovery, but I find that its very much DM and adventure dependent. Some players are also very much hit or miss on the experience. Also, requiring players to find hidden information is often too punishing for the players who are only ever 1 encounter away from a TPK.

I know that knowledge checks exist, but the process of looking at something, rolling a die, and learning important info does not feel as compelling to me. I feel like it does not do the process of learning, exploration, and adaptation justice. Its also very subject to DM fiat and presentation.

Meanwhile things like hidden identity board games where you try to deductively reason information that is purposely hidden from you feels like it does the process more justice.

So my question is:
What kind of discovery systems can be built directly into the rules that focuses on limiting player information, and provides an engaging path to uncover that information?

Can we make an interactive description such as an NPC card or a boss stat block that contains all of the relevant information that is revealed as players perform specific actions? Can we extend the concept to exploration? How might a well thought out system like this work, and can we tie reward systems to this like learning new spells that others observe and then research? Are there any better approaches you've seen?

23:25 UTC


Some Definitions of Subtypes

I see Simulationsist/Narrativist, Gamist/Realist, Detailed/Broad (Setting) as all different sliders along with an additional properties of Aesthetics as all different dials we can use to build games to create emergent properties like Crunchiness, Immersiveness, Fun, Engagement, etc. That it is about fiddling with these dials to create the games we want to play. There is no right way, no right or wrong fun. Hell I enjoy games from all across these spectrums if for no other reason then they are a way I can connect with another person on a deep personal level and get the chance to experience their definition of fun. That is a glorious thing.

Simulationist/Narrativist - I would define this as how much liberty the players are given in how they perform their actions vs how much the game provides that narrative through mechanics. Narrative games generally have broad definitions of actions so the players have the narrative freedom to act as they wish within limited bounds. A more simulationist game is intended to provide much more of that narrative or force a more minutely detailed narrative through its mechanical systems.

For example, if you have to minutely track rations on overland journeys you might need mechanics for foraging and hunting which may be little more than skill rolls. This is the mechanics telling the narrative under the the threat of starvation in order to enforce a specific narrative. Great stories can be told this way, but such mechanics aren't appropriate for all stories. A different story might benefit from leaving behind the minutia of overland travel and necessitate Jumping from narrative action scene to narrative action scene keeping the rules breezy and leaving most of the narrative control in the player's hands.

Both are good, but exist on a spectrum. The more you simulate an environment the more the rules enforce a specific narrative. The narrative being forced is what the game is trying to simulate. Want to simulate traveling through a sucking swamp? Build mechanics which bog down the players, slowing and annoying them as their rations are depleting like the very swamp is an enemy working against them. The less you simulate a setting or environment the more you free up the players to create their own emergent narratives in any direction they wish. In a more fast paced narrative game the same trip through the swamp would likely be accomplished through a brief narrative description, maybe a complication or what have you, or a quick roll or two, but generally something quickly resolved to facilitate a quick return to the action. You don't get that same oppressive dangerous feel out of a more narrative approach, but you do get to the action faster.

Gamist/Realist: I would define this as the degree of abstraction that exists within the rules. A game which trends towards Realism would maintain as much verisimilitude as possible between how the mechanics operate and the setting of game world. Different from simulationist games in that it isn't the level of mechanical detail which is important, but rather how accurately the mechanics at any level of detail of the setting to create the impression of realism. A Gamist Game is generally more concerned with creating engaging and interesting game mechanics than with maintaining verisimilitude with the game world.

For example, lets say you have some gun slinging, card gambling western game you might have some slick resolution mechanic based loosely on poker using just the face cards and aces of a card deck along with a whole lot of bluffing. This mechanic does not promote verisimilitude with the game setting. It aesthetically ties to it, sure, but that's different and I will get to that in a minute. What it has done is provide a fun resolution mechanic in the form of a poker mini game. It is fun and engaging way to resolve duels, but not very realistic. It lacks realism, but its game like elements are fun and engaging.

Again both Gamism and Realism are enjoyable in games. They exist as a spectrum, at least how I see it. They both bring something different to the table, but you have to find a balance within them appropriate to your game and how you want it to play.

Detailed/Broad Setting: This one is fairly self explanatory. It is how detailed your setting is. The more detailed the setting is the more all the specifics are predetermined. The more broad it is the more those details are left up to the GM or the Table to develop themselves.

For example, a game might have a highly fleshed out setting that describes nobility, their alliances, religious faiths, what the political climate is, or any other in depth detail about the setting. A more broad setting would be much loser, utilize broad ideas and concepts and encourage the player to build out their microcosm within the setting. Perhaps they provide several basic broad setting and some useful tools to further personalize and flesh out each broad setting. You see this a lot in universal systems or space travel games.

There is no right or wrong level of detail. Sometimes its approriate to leave a lot up to the imagination and build a game about building a world at the table with everyone participating. In others its great to have a super detailed laid out world surrounding you and lose yourself in the detail. Both are fun depending on what you are in the mood for.

Aesthetics: Simply how visually appealing your game is. How the art and layout come together to draw the reader into your world and teach them your game. Every game benefits from good aesthetics. This is something general locked behind money, talent, taste, or some combination of the three.

At least this is my take on things. Any thoughts?

22:58 UTC


Alternatives for XPs as Character Progress mechanic

Hi you all,

I am pretty done with XPs for a while now. I think it is a system designed to reward players for doing something they hopefully already like to do and therefore don’t need further motivations for.

I think XPs (or what ever they are called in your preferred system) can even be harmful if players start to chase them instead of having the most interesting game possible.

But on the other hand I am also not against character progress. I am therefore looking for alternative systems that allow characters to grow but without this forced reward approach.

Do you people have suggestions? Have you seen it done differently in some games or do you have thoughts?

Many thanks in advance!

22:25 UTC


Can Pendragon's black-jack style roll resolution mechanic be improved in any way?

I know that King Arthur's Pendragon black-jack roll mechanic is one of the slickest, most streamlined dice resolution mechanics, liked by many. I wanted to implement it in my "final fantasy-esque" RPG that I am currently working on. It is supposed to have class-based system and tactical combat, but in a newer, less mathematic approach, more like Modiphus Conan2d20 system, than DND 5E/Pathfinder

General idea: Roll is single D20 roll under, but you want to go as high as you can without going over your TN.

  • Stats go from 6-14, with 8 being kinda middle beginner stat.
  • Skill scores go from 0-5
  • These 2 things added give us our target number.
  • Scoring our TN exactly gives us critical success. 19 is a hard cap, and rolling 20 is always considered a critical failure.

In unopposed rolls, we just try to go under our TN.

In opposed rolls, we go under our TN and hope our adversary over-rolls his/hers. If he or she does not, we compare the scores - We want to be under our TN but have a higher score than the opponent.

Critical Sucess always beats normal Sucess. A tie is always resolved in favor of the player characters. If we roll under our TN but the opponent still beats us, we get partial success. ( i.e. We may not be able to pickpocket a guard but at least we do not get caught).

Now - it's really solid and I know why It appeals to so many. But for me, it lacks some kind of tools for and/or the possibility of manipulating the roll.

For example: What if my player is a really good roleplayer, and he gives a passionate speech to the king? How can I reward that?

I had 3 ideas:

  1. Moddifers/penalties added by DM to the TN, going from -3 to+3. It's very easy to calculate gives DM some freedom for punishing shenanigans or rewarding creative solutions at the table. But it cannot be used, if characters TN is already 19. (But honestly idk if characters 95% of sucess probability need any more help)
  2. Advantage or disadvantage dices: Honestly I am not sure how to implement them here or if it's even possible. With normal roll-under system it's easy: Disadvantage is rolling 2 keep higher, advantage is roll-under keep lower. But here, i'm not so sure. Maybe it can go accordingly, but just closer/furhter from the TN?
  3. I was thinking about some possiblity of meta currency for players, something akin to luck or fate points, for which players could buy D4's to try to "push" their scores, like in real black jack card game. There is of coure risk in going over TN if player is unlucky. I suppose player could buy more than one D4 to support their roll, maybe with cap being +3d4 per roll?

So please great hive mind, share some of your ideas and your insight with me. What do you think? Do you see any potential problems with these resolutions? Will some of these options be "too much"? I appriciate all criticism!

Thank you kindly for your time.

20:33 UTC


"effort" and "action points" mechanics

a particular quirk of the mechanics I am using is that it doesn't have target numbers; it uses matching sets of numbers to determine success (a bit like O.R.E.)

the mechanic is a dice pool and as the dice pool gets closer to its full size the chance for multiple sets increases

effort becomes the determining factor for how many sets a character may use, the amount of effort allowed it to be used it typically tied to the tools the character is using (for simplicity sake everything is pretty much a tool including weapons)

small tools can use one effort
medium tools can use two effort
large tools can use three effort

in terms of combat a character can choose to use effort to for defense, any left over effort can be used to attack - when attacking the player will choose how many sets to use in their attack after they roll

the numbers used in the set (or sets) used to determine success become the number of action points the character must use, it also determines the characters initiative order

lower number are considered more favorable in both cases

the following is example of how this might work:

Bob has a low skill for fighting, he decides to use two effort for defense because the likely hood of multiple sets is small, Bob can use one effort for success

the player rolls 1,2,3,4,5, & 5, Bob has a single success (the pair of 5's) he can use his one effort to succeed with the 5's and spend five action points and have initiative five, or fail with an initiative and action point cost of any other of the rolls (in this case the 1 is probably the best choice)

Bob has gotten a little better at combat, he decides to use one effort for defense, the player rolls 4, 5,6, 11, 11, 11, 12, 12, & 12
Bob can choose to fail with a low action point cost, or succeed with either the 11's or the 12's, or succeed with both the 11's and 12's by using two effort but the action point cost is twenty three

if a character doesn't have enough remaining action points left, or doesn't want to use that many action points for some particular reason, they may opt to take a little damage in the form of a stun

action points recover at a rate of 1 per minute, stun recovers at a rate of one per hour

characters have 60 action points, and 12 stun, 6 minor wounds , and 3 major wounds

17:43 UTC


I'd love any thoughts on this playtest-explanation of my apocalyptic, asymmetric new game, Onslaught at World's End

Hi all! I've been picking away at this idea off and on for years—an extremely asymmetrical, rules-light RPG with a tight focus on the battle for the end of the world in a fantasy setting. I call it Onslaught at World's End. I've struggled and struggled to express the game well, since it seems straightforward in my mind but writing rules text isn't always my strength.

Recently, I took my latest batch of rules and tried running a playtest through ChatGPT—not to create the mechanics at all, but just to provide "players" to talk through the system. The result can be read here. I'm curious what you all think about...

  1. The game itself
  2. The idea of using a dialogue like this as a method of teaching a game
  3. The appropriateness of using ChatGPT or other generative AI in this way

Eager to hear any reactions. And thanks in advance for taking the time to look through it, I really appreciate that!

(PS, in past years, I've posted a version or two of this here, previously under the title, Clashland... it also bears heavy resemblance in the role setup to my board game, Vast: The Crystal Caverns ... so if it looks familiar to any old-timers or board game enthusiasts, that's why.)

15:47 UTC


Help needed: anticipate an opponent's attacks

Hello everyone! I'm currently writing the combat chapter in the game I'm working on, and I'm trying to give a few examples of how to rule some specific actions like the attack action or the reaction to dodge an attack. I have now arrived to the part where I'd like to give more tactical characters something to play with during a fight, so of course I thought of introducing the option to take an action to analyze your opponent's style and movements to anticipate their attacks, and I'm trying to translate that into a rule, but I'm a bit stuck. While it is easy to say that the character should use the analyze skill to understand how their opponent fights (or even the insight skill), I would not know what to have the opponent roll, or even if they should roll at all. The skill list I use is similar to that of DND 5e, but I reworked a few skills, but there is nothing in it that seems similar to what I'd need them to do. Do you guys have any suggestion?

14:51 UTC


d6 pool as currency

Trying to add some more abstract mechanics for wealth and currency to my game, I stumbled upon an idea when looking around for magic systems: currency as a d6 pool that you can roll and add to the roll where money might help, like a bribe or an acquisition.

Basic resolution-mechanic
The basis of my resolution is that you have Approaches (Careful, Clever,Flashy, Forceful, Quick, Sneaky) and Competences (Athletics, Combative, Mindful, Skilled, Social) where most start at 0, some at 1, and the combination of what makes most sense in the situation and describe action is the number of dice you roll. In addition you can add an extra dice by taking stress or by teamwork by the supporter taking less stress (Blades in the Dark). Giving a range of 0-3 dice to roll.

Next the players have Tags (descriptive words, aka City of Mist / Fate aspects) divided into multiple categories: Traits, Tallents, Tools, Transport, Turfs, etc; that says something about what it is, how to acquire and how and how often they might be changed or removed.

Tags can be used when performing an action to either:

  • Give permission for doing the actions and/or setting the position/effect.
  • Increase the value of a dice by one. Can be used max three times* per action.

GM sets position and effect as in Blades in the Dark, but the position determines a number of Dangers (consequences) that are presented to the player. The GM might also add Opportunities (bonuses). Both are represented by cards.

The player then rolls their dice pool. Any value of 5+ can be put on a card to either not suffer the consequence or to gain the bonuses. So most time a player always succeed**, but it is a matter of how much it costs in harm, expense, game time and narrative impact.

*To stop a player to look through every tag at their disposition, and any roll of 1 cannot become a success.

** Sometimes the danger(s) might be “Failure”, that must be ‘blocked’/’overcomed’ else the action fails If rolling poorly you might need to choose between succeeding and taking the damage.

Currency as a d6-pool
Back to the “currency as a d6-pool”, I am thinking that the characters start the game with some currency dice, and gain more when doing jobs/missions/quests as payment.

Each time you roll and money might help like making a bribe or an acquisition, you also roll all your currency dices. You need a 5+ for a success as normal, but here are the difference from the resolution from before:

  • You may combine/sum currency dice to create 5+ values.
  • Currency dice cannot be modified by tags (maybe some can, but must be more specific than normal?).
  • Any dice spent is removed from your pool, you do not need to spend dice if you do not want to.

And that's the basics of the rule. The roll represents the valuables and cash at hand that might be traded for other things, without going into details.

Currency tiers/scale
To add some more to it I am thinking of adding tiers of Currency dice using the tried and trough division of Copper/Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum. I think this also works okay as tiers in a more sci-fi setting I am planning. “Welcome to Athena Premium. Please have your Silver-membership card ready for your purchases”.

This can help me keep the numbers low and give some teeth to some payments of a request/job.

Can also be used to set “difficulty” (not the word I am looking for… but the one I am coming up with right now). A hobo might be swayed by a little copper/bronze, but a rich salesman needs some gold.

Buying stuff
Buying stuff is a resource to use to acquire tools/transports/turfs-tags or to improve/upgrade them.

When buying stuff it is a matter of determining the tier it belongs to and the number of successes needed to buy it. Copper/Bronze is used for tools and daily life stuff. Silver for buying things in scale of a transport, Gold can buy you a building (can use the Area-table form here as a base https://bladesinthedark.com/magnitude), and Platinum is the sums used in regional control (company to nation).

Roll your currency dice and spend enough to buy the thing.

One idea I am starting toying, taking inspiration from the Fate Space Toolkit, is that larger stuff like a space-ship and buildings consist of multiple modules/rooms containing different equipment.So more modules/rooms equal larger ships/buildings, more equal higher cost, and in addition can be used to create a floorplan.

Don't sweat the small stuff
All small stuff, clothing, etc. are considered part of your other tags, ex. if you are “Rich” you have fine clothes, and a “Skillful Thief” you might use their tag as a permission to lockpick a door or chest, as you can assume you have some lockpicks in your pocket or uses a hairpin or something.

Small stuff might be “bundled together”, for example, you do not buy a single “bullet”, you buy a “box of ammunition”. You do not buy a “lockpick”, you buy a “lockpick kit”, etc.

Bundles, larger tools / signature gear/items both have a cost and often take up inventory slots (to limit the number of such tags you can carry with you, that is an intensive for a transport or hireling so you can lug around more stuff).

Overspending and exchange currency
This is the territory I am unsure of. My initial idea is that each difference in tier between your dice and the expectation adds +-1 to the roll of each dice. So if the tiers are similar, no modifier. If you spend Platinum when expecting Silver you add +2 to the value of the roll (success on 3-6). Or if you spend Silver for Gold you add -1 to the value of the roll (success on 6, or must combine).

To add more to the value of higher tiers, you degrade the dice a tier if spending on a lower tier instead of losing it. I think it seemed a bit sour to use a high-value platinum to pay for lower tier stuff, but did not want you to not spend anything.

Also not entirely happy with the exchange rate or that you could use Copper/Bronze for Platinum tier. So I was thinking of setting a limit that you can only spend a currency at one step lower than the expectation, or increasing the +- to 2 per tier (effectively making the lowest tier to auto fail against the highest and the highest an auto success against the lowest, not that I am against that).

Tested around a bit. Concluded that the sliding expectation of tier makes the numbers/table move, and “math is hard”. So the next idea was adding a fixed number, the first being -5 up/+5 down a tier. Quickly realizing that this equals to needing one / gaining one extra success. Making a Copper/Bronze needing 1/2/3/4 successes per tier (lowest to highest) for doing one ‘resolution’ and Platinum producing a number of successes of 4/3/2/1 (lowest to highest). Again considering doubling the numbers.

If doubling the numbers the logical exchange rate then is 2:1. Seems still somewhat small. So maybe 4:1 or 5:1…

For exchanging, most of the time it does not matter so much, but exchanging low tier to higher may be interesting as a narrative scene sometimes.

Questions/seeking feedback
Is the system sound?
Are the currency tires okay? Needed at all? What to call the lowest tier?
How to exchange, if at all?

Need to work on the terminology, so any tips/ideas here are also appreciated.

11:59 UTC


What do I need for a proper playtest?

I now have:

  • a Character sheet designed,
  • a couple of monsters,
  • a base spell and ability system.
  • a base idea for the setting and location.
  • a combat system
  • a skillcheck system
  • a character growth system

anything i'm missing before i can start a playtest?

10:26 UTC


do you use "iconic" characters in your RPG?

You know how Exalted and various iterations of D&D have had these - usually one per character class (or near-equivalent) - recurring characters who show up in art and in-game fiction to illustrate the basic archetypes of your game.

Do you use them? Do you like them?

While I haven't written much in-game fiction (although I plan to) I do include a lot of actual play examples to illustrate various rules. I think it would be nice to have a set of characters to refer to in these examples to build a sense of familiarity with the reader.

On the other hand, I imagine it could complicate art production. Bear in mind that I have absolutely no idea about commissioning artwork having never anything like this before!

EDIT: to clarify, I’m not talking about setting NPCs or plot-important characters, but instead something like a set of recurring example PCs that show up in art and examples of play.

08:00 UTC


I'm looking for about 2 to 3ish players to help test my game I've been writing for awhile now.

-the setting is post apocalyptic and below is the books current summery for ya, my time zone is PDT and the preferred age range for testers is 18 to 25 but there is a bit of wiggle room.

-The core book for this Table Top Role Playing Game takes place within the united states of america during somewhere around 2045 about 20 years after the beginning of WW3 the war was started over a mixture of greed, paranoia and rising tensions over the years.

nearing the last few years of the war something weird happened suddenly something has collided with our world causing quickly appearing wormholes then eldritch creatures and cryptids from folklore started appearing slowly at first but suddenly they were becoming a new part of our ecosystem like a invasive species almost around the time of the first appearances is when earth was hit by a powerful solar burst from the sun and fried a lot of our electronics and cut off the world from each other.

When people were struggling from the wastes about a year after the solar burst slowly over a few months creatures from the wormholes appeared now called oxy nets or oxygen networks these weird animal fungal like beings that live within the breathing canals of animals and the root networks of forest started to become compatible with our worlds bio organisms being symbiotic with native flora and fauna.

In 2045 people regained some power and it's now similar to the era of the wild west if they had automatic guns, strange artifacts and limited tech like electricity and rarely computers.

-im planning on just a short one shot for the first test to make sure the basics of the game works including charter creation and you can leave whenever you like but there will be subsequent one shots and i highly encourage you to stress test the hell out of this game.

if you have experience in breaking games and there rules id love if you would do the same here so i can either patch it or have it as a actual play style/mechanic.

for more mechanical detail check out a comment below in a thread.

-fill out the form below in your comment or DM and ill get back to you about any questions and reports of if your invited to my discord for the test.

-if you help test the project i will put your name in the credits section if you'd like if not i will not name you specifically.

1-(preferred name/pronouns) 2-(age) 3-(relevant experience)[optional] 4-(days/times available) 5-(tell me about yourself)[optional]

04:18 UTC


have you used concepts from live action roleplay (LARP) games to generate streamlined rules for table top role playing games?

live action role play games, particularly what you see is what you get versions, seem to have a lot of potential for simple stripped down rules to use for design for table top games

the nature of trying to create an immersive environment that continues for hours, possibly days, really enhances the need for straightforward rules that don't take a lot of deciphering

throw in the fact that there isn't a lot of referees at times; it makes for mechanics that players need to be able to agree with amongst themselves

I am curious what specific rules people may have adopted from a LARP? or a particular set LARP rules have you seen that has good potential for rules conversion?

00:57 UTC


Survival mechanics

Does anyone have examples of games that handle wilderness survival/exploration/travel/etc. well? Or, for that matter, any thoughts on some aspects of RL wilderness skills that a city boy like me wouldn't necessarily think of, but could make for interesting gameplay?

I'm working on a fork of D&D where magic is minimal to nonexistent, and I want exploration and travel to be a major theme. The goal is to come up with a system for travel that has more depth than just "Make a Survival check", but not so complicated that it becomes "Calculus: The TTRPG", and more fun and engaging than just "Track a bunch of resources".

I've got a few rough ideas, but before I completely reinvent the wheel I figured I should ask the collective if there are some sources of inspiration I should be aware of :)

00:04 UTC


"Beyond the Wall" a setting where players visit the land of the dead

I would love to play something like this and having found nothing quite like it, I've decided to develop my own system. Basically if players have a strong enough wish to meet a spirit they are able to gain passage to cross The Wall into the lands of the dead. There they must avoid dangerous beings that prey on the living and try to find the spirit they seek. If they take too long they may get lost or loose sense of who they are and end up becoming spirits themselves or something worse. I've got some mechanics figured out and an almost complete rules draft, as well as a character sheet. But at this point, I'm just curious if anyone would be interested in playing something like this.

23:41 UTC

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