Thursday, September 19, 2013

Microlite 2d10 Fantasy: Preview 1- Character Creation

    It all started innocently enough.
    I had made a Microlite20 character for my series of posts on 1 Character, 13 Systems.  Which brought the game into my mind again.  I started gaming with D&D, my current group uses Pathfinder.  While I like Pathfinder, I have to admit just how complicated it is.  Something driven home when I decided to categorize all the Pathfinder feats.  So I loved Microlite20 when I found it for how it simplified the system while still staying true to it's core.  However, I am a newer-school sort of gamer, and I also like some crunch.  Microlite20 was great, but it was a little too simplified for my tastes.  I wondered if you could make a middle-layer, something with more of the original system but not as terribly convoluted.
    I started my path to madness thinking about classes.  In Microlite20 your class does not do much, it only gives you your weapon/armor proficiencies and a few abilities.  A far cry from the full system where class is everything.  So I thought, why don't I look at the classes in Pathfinder, just the core rulebook ones, and see what sort of common options exist?  Thus I went down the rabbit hole.  Classes in Pathfinder (I'm going off of it rather than the original D&D 3.5 SRD because I like it better) have a mish-mash of options.  There are 3 possible BAB progressions, 2 possible save progressions, 8 possible number of class skills, 4 possible skill point/level progressions, 5 possible amounts of starting money, and anywhere from 4 to 23 class abilities.  Things are just all over the place.  So how to simplify for a Microlite20-vibe?
    Well, I decided I wanted three options for players, and one default option that would represent generic NPCs.  So everything needed only 4 options.  I like point-buy, so I'll go from 0 point baseline NPC to 3 point PC awesomeness.  I'll use four attributes, but on reflection I decided Charisma worked fine as the Communication skill instead, so I made the 4th attribute Faith (which could be in oneself/confidence, or in an outside power/object).  All the cleric-y classes needed something like Faith more than Wisdom in my opinion anyways.  I also wanted to keep the 5 skills, but I renamed Physical to Athletics and Survival to Wilderness because they sounded better to me.  I dropped the outlier d12 and made hit points go from 4 to 10, and maximized them for first level.  All of that made for some fairly small additions to the existing Microlite20 system.
    Then things started getting weirder.
    I thought to myself, in Pathfinder you don't have enough skill points/level (usually) to increase all your skills every level.  But in Microlite20 every skill goes up 1 point every level.  What if we simulated the Pathfinder erratic progression by making you buy your progression for every skill, and we'll just re-use the BAB progressions?  Also, we have different systems for calculating to-hit in straight combat, spellcasting, and combat maneuvers.  What if we drop the touch and flat ACs, just make one AC, and let you buy your different BAB progressions for Weapons, Maneuvers and Spellcasting?  Let's also simplify weapons and armor into just 3 types.  I re-named them to sound sorta-historical.  And let's do the variant (mostly for original D&D) where your class is your damage die type, so your weapon proficiency is the die type you roll for damage.  And then what if we do Natural, Melee and Ranged weapon proficiencies?  Also, instead of weapons having critical ranges, we'll make the amount of armor you're wearing your crit range - after all being covered in a Full suit of Plate (crit 20) is better then a Cloth Shirt (crit 17-20).  We'll also say that a critical is just maximum damage and inflicts a wound.  Speaking of wounds, how about they become status conditions (so you're shaken from that critical hit) and we'll make the penalty equal 1/2 the damage done (so that 6 damage critical is a shaken effect with -3 instead of the default -2) ?  While we're doing variable status conditions, why not make the saves follow the BAB progressions, and just do a contested check, points you lose by equals the penalty/effect?  Criticals are also really fussy, let's simplify it by rolling 2d10 instead of 1d20, the 2d10 will make a nice bell-curve of results and make criticals less common, so if you roll the crit range it is an automatic crit without having to re-roll.  I'll change money to a base of silver pieces too, and set four possible starting amounts with some of the lifestyle types, just while I'm at it.
    Crazy as all of that was, it was still bearable.  Then I really did myself in.  Feats also needed a huge change, and class abilities I was going to merge into feats.  I really needed some sort of feat thing because of magic.  In Microlite20 you just get spellcasting as a part of your class, but I wanted point-buy which meant somehow you needed to be able to buy it.  So I decided to overhaul the magic system, going through all 500+ spells in the core rulebook and dividing them by school, but then by a sub-school I've called a Technique.  On top of the character changes, I started re-doing equipment, combat, healing, magic items, and basically everything.  So I'm now in the process of distilling and partially re-creating the entire game.

    While I'm working on that, I thought I'd preview some of the new system to see what anybody might think.  Below I have a part of the character creation system.  This is not my current working system (well, not entierly), rather this is a version of the system that should be fairly compatible with Microlite20, and aside from the new save progressions, should also be mostly compatible with 3.5/Pathfinder, I hope.  I have not been able to playtest any of this yet, so I'm going by what looks good on paper - you have been warned if you try to use any of this:

============== Basic Character Creation ==============

    You have 40 points to spend on the following elements:

    If you are Human, you get a +1 to all skills.
    If you are a Demihuman, you get +1 to any one attribute.

Strength (power and toughness), Dexterity (bodily and manual), Mind (perception and memory), and Faith (devotion and confidence)
Attributes are not used on their own, rather they are added to several other places/stats.
    +0 - 0 pts
    +1 - 1 pt
    +2 - 2 pts
    +3 - 3 pts

Ability Pools
Hit Points/HP (damage/fatigue), Mana Points/MP (internal and/or supernatural power)
Add higher of Str or Dex to HP, add higher of Mind or Faith to MP - each level after 1st add 1+(relevent attribute) to total.
HP may be spent in fatigue to power some abilities, at 0 you are unconscious.  At -10 HP you are dead.  MP is spent to cast spells and bond to magic items- no negative effects if it temporarily reaches 0, but if your maximum ever reaches 0 you have lost your free will and are taken outside the material plane and made subject to another power (or consumed by your bound magic items and turned into an NPC, whichever sounds better).
      4 pts - 0 pts
      6 pts - 1 pt
      8 pts - 2 pts
    10 pts - 3 pts

Base Attack Bonuses
Weapon (unarmed or armed), Maneuver (for combat maneuvers), Spellcasting (for spells and spell-like abilities)
This is used to hit/effect another character or target. [Progressions are below, levels 5, 10, 15 and 20 are in bold for reference]
Add Str to hit with Natural and Melee weapons. Add Dex to hit with Ranged weapons. Add Mind to hit with Arcane spells, Faith to hit with Divine spells, and higher of Str/Dex to hit with Psionic spells.
  Default:       0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2,  2,   2,   3,    3,   3,   3,    4,  4,   4,  4,   5      - 0 pts
  Slow:           0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4,  5,   5,   6,    6,   7,   7,    8,  8,   9,  9,  10     - 1 pts
  Moderate:    0, 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6,  7,   8,   9,    9, 10, 11, 12, 12, 13, 14, 15     - 2 pts
  Fast:            1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20     - 3 pts

Weapon Proficiency
Natural (unarmed and natural weapons), Melee (hand-held weapons), Ranged (thrown and projectile weapons)
Add Str to damage with Natural and Melee weapons, add Dex to damage with Ranged weapons.
    d4 base damage - 0 pts
    d6 base damage - 1 pt
    d8 base damage - 2 pts
  d10 base damage - 3 pts

Defense Proficiency
Armor (acts as DR and gives a penalty to all skill/attack rolls), Shields (gives AC bonus and penalty to attack rolls)
Buy the highest level you are proficient with, when wearing proficient armor or using a proficient shield reduce the penalties by half
    None - 0 pts
    Cloth armor or Buckler shields - 1 pt
    Mail armor or Heater shields - 2 pts
    Plate armor or Tower shields - 3 pts
Your Armor Class is 8 + Dex + AC mods
Your Critical Range is given by your armor's coverage.  If an attack hits, and the die roll totals within the crit range, then the attack does maximum damage and you take a Wound status effect (see the Damage section for details).

Fortitude (endure/soak), Reflex (dodge/avoid), Notice (spot/predict), and Will (resist/ignore)
Uses the BAB progressions, Add Str to Fort - Dex to Ref - Mind to Notice - Faith to Will.
    Default - 0 pts
    Slow - 1 pt
    Moderate - 2 pts
    Fast - 3 pts

Athletics (moving around, moving things, using your body in general), Subterfuge (stealth, disguise, forgery, the thief-type activities), Knowledge (to recall facts about people, places and things), Communication (used to interact with and influence people), Wilderness (navigation, survival, plant/animal lore), Mysticism (for anything magic-related)
Choose 1 skill to be your Background skill with a one-time bonus of +3
Uses the BAB progressions, Add whichever attribute seems reasonable given the circumstances and activity.
    Default - 0 pts
    Slow - 1 pt
    Moderate - 2 pts
    Fast - 3 pts

We only have one feat in basic character creation:
    Spellcaster - 2-16 pts - you can cast magic-user spells by spending MP (choose Arcane or Divine or Psionics).  You can cast 1 school of magic for every 2 points spent on this feat.

Starting Money
choose your starting level-
    Destitute (homeless, guest or transient), 35 sp - 0 pts
    Poor (rent room/cot), 70 sp - 1 pt
    Average (have own apartment or small cottage), 105 sp - 2 pts
    Wealthy (own a large house or suite of rooms), 140 sp - 3 pts

============== Sample Characters ==============

    Here are a few sample characters:

Name:  Gwendolyn of House Baynar
Race:  Human  (+1 to all skills)
Class:  Fighter
Power Scale: 40 pts
Experience Level: 1

Attributes-         Strength  +2            Dexterity  +2            Mind  +0            Faith  +0
Ability Pools-    HP  12            MP  4                                       
BAB-                 Weapon  Fast (+1)        Maneuver  Fast (+1)    Spellcasting  Dflt (+0)
Weapon Prof-    Natural  d6 dmg        Melee  d10 dmg        Ranged  d10 dmg               
Defense Prof-    Armor   Plate            Shields  Tower
                          Armor Class: 14
Saves-               Fort  Fast (+3)        Ref  Mod (+2)        Notice  Slw (+0)        Will  Slw (+0)
Skills-               Athletics  Fast (+5)        Subterfuge  Slw (+1)    Communication  Slw (+1)
                          Knowledge  Dflt (+1)    Wilderness  Dflt (+1)    Mysticism  Dflt (+1)
Class Abilities-

Wealth-    Wealthy (40 sp)
  Weapons     Longsword (1H)
  Armor         Full Plate w/Helmet,  DR: 6,  Crit Range: 20/ max dmg + wound,
                        Skill Pnlty: -6/-3 w/Tailored (-1 w/Prof)
                            Embellished  (ignore armor penalty to Communication skill for charm/impress)
                            Tailored (3)  (reduce skill penalty by 3, cannot be easily worn by any other)
  Shield         Tower shield,    AC Mod: +4,    Attack Pnlty: -4 (-2 w/Prof)

    Backstory: Born to a proud line of warriors, she has taken up her father's armor against tradition to bring honor to her family name.

Name:  Sylphandayelldrill  (just 'Sylph' to her friends)
Race:  Elf  (+1 Dex)
Class:  Thief/Mage
Power Scale: 40 pts
Experience Level: 1

Attributes-          Strength  +0            Dexterity  +3            Mind  +2            Faith  +2
Ability Pools-    HP  11            MP  10                                   
BAB-                 Weapon  Mod (+0)        Maneuver  Dflt (+0)        Spellcasting  Mod (+0)
Weapon Prof-    Natural  d4 dmg        Melee  d4 dmg        Ranged  d6 dmg               
Defense Prof-    Armor   Cloth            Shields  None
                          Armor Class: 11
Saves-                Fort  Slow (+0)        Ref  Fast (+4)        Notice  Fast (+3)        Will  Mod (+2)
Skills-               Athletics  Mod (+0)        Subterfuge  Fast (+4)    Communication  Fast (+1)
                          Knowledge  Dflt (+0)    Wilderness  Dflt (+0)    Mysticism  Mod (+0)
Class Abilities-
Arcane Spellcasting: can cast Illusion spells only

Wealth-    Average (75 sp)
  Weapons      Short Sword (1H)
                       Shortbow (2H, One-shot, Quick Reload)
  Armor          Cloth Shirt,    DR: 2,    Crit Range: 17-20/ max dmg + wound,  
                            Skill Pnlty: -1 (-0 x/Prof)

    Backstory: sent to recover dangerous magics stolen from the elves by humans, she has fallen in love with city life and forsaken the forests.

Name:  Yarkanan, follower of Mercy
Race:  Half-Orc  (+1 Str)
Class:  Palladin
Power Scale: 40 pts
Experience Level: 1

Attributes-          Strength  +4            Dexterity  +0            Mind  +0            Faith  +2
Ability Pools-    HP  14            MP  8                                       
BAB-                 Weapon  Fast (+1)        Maneuver  Slw (+0)        Spellcasting  Mod (+0)
Weapon Prof-    Natural  d6 dmg        Melee  d8 dmg        Ranged  d4 dmg               
Defense Prof-    Armor   Mail            Shields  Heater
                          Armor Class: 10
Saves-               Fort  Fast (+5)        Ref  Dflt (+0)            Notice  Dflt (+0)        Will  Slw (+2)   
Skills-               Athletics  Mod (+0)        Subterfuge  Dflt (+0)    Communication  Mod (+0)
                          Knowledge  Slw (+0)    Wilderness  Dlft (+0)    Mysticism  Mod (+3)
Class Abilities-
Divine spellcasting: can cast Conjuration (healing) and Abjuration spells only

Wealth-    Average (65 sp)
  Weapons       Warhammer (1H)
  Armor           Half-Mail,    DR: 4,    Crit Range: 18-20/ max dmg + wound,  
                              Skill Pnlty: -3 (-1 w/Prof)
  Shield           Heater shield,    AC Mod: +2,    Attack Pnlty: -2 (-1 w/Prof)

    Backstory: Left for dead by his home village, he was found by a Cleric of the Goddess of Mercy and raised in a loving environment.  tempering his innate bloodlust he now travels the land, doing the will of the Goddess.
    Notes: His Spellcasting BAB is only Moderate because healing spells don't require a to-hit roll (no resistance), so it's just for the occasional abjuration spell.

Name:  Talks-to-shadows
Race:  Human  (+1 to all skills)
Class:  Wizard
Power Scale: 40 pts
Experience Level: 1

Attributes-          Strength  +0            Dexterity  +0            Mind  +3            Faith  +0
Ability Pools-    HP  6                MP  13                                   
BAB-                 Weapon  Dflt (+0)        Maneuver  Dflt (+0)        Spellcasting  Fast (+1)
Weapon Prof-    Natural  d4 dmg        Melee  d4 dmg        Ranged  d4 dmg               
Defense Prof-    Armor   None        Shields  None
                          Armor Class: 8
Saves-                Fort  Dflt (+0)            Ref  Dlft (+0)            Notice  Fast (+4)        Will  Fast (+1)
Skills-                Athletics  Dflt (+1)        Subterfuge  Dflt (+1)    Communication  Dflt (+1)
                          Knowledge  Slw (+1)    Wilderness  Fast (+2)    Mysticism  Fast (+5)
Class Abilities-
Arcane spellcasting: can cast all schools.

Wealth-    Destitute (30 sp)
  Weapons        Dagger (Light- short, throwable)
  Armor            none,    DR: 0,    Crit Range: 16-20/ max dmg + wound,    Skill Pnlty: -0

    Backstory: Cast out of his tribe for being a witch, he wandered the land, learning his magic by trial and error, until taking the risk of settling in a city far from home.  Now he has taken up adventuring out of necessity to make ends meet.

Final Notes-
    So far the whole system is totally crazy, but I like the looks of it.  Trying to keep the heart of a game and simplify it is actually a lot harder then you might think.  I'm more impressed by Microlite20, it may look simple but it was a conceptual shift to develop.  But I like the heart of the d20 system, and with some streamlining and revising I think it could make an awesome system that's "rules medium."  I hope it will at least, or else I'm wasting a lot of time.  I will publish more snippets of my work-in-progress soon.  As always you can leave a comment below.

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