Finally getting more time to work on my rules
- So, here's where I am lately (some of which I've probably said before,
but hopefully some of what I've got here is new since my last post
about the rules I'm working up):
When I last looked at it, I had the following "Attributes" (these work
sort of like Classes in D&D):
for the acronym "WAGES" ... sort of a nod to WRM and RAG, games that
heavily inspired my current direction. Though, for reasons related to
my job, and a few other things, I'm going to be sticking with the name
"TWERPAGE" for the name of the rules (though, at this point, it's more
"TWERPS, WRM/RAG, and FUDGE" instead of "TWERPS, SHERPA, and FUDGE").
Plus, I've been sort of unhappy with "Socialite" as an
Attribute/Profession/Class name. Last, I had had a "computed" trait
called "Ability" or "Ability Level" that was the average of the above
Right now, I'm thinking:
Ability Level works like scale, and is analogous to D&D "character
level", or TWERPS "Strength". It also has "Adjective" like labels for
flavor. It goes from 1-15ish (3 being a basic competent starting
adult, 1 being minimum (child-like), 10 being maximum normal human,
and 15 being around the level of a non-omnipotent major deity). It is
basically an offset to the Attributes, and you only care about it
relative to the Ability Level of adversaries (so, an Ability Level
(AL) 3 peasant vs a Mythic Hero (AL of 8-10) has a -5 to -7 scale
penalty, even though they might both be Fair Warriors or Good Adepts,
The Attributes are -3 to +3, using the standard Fudge adjectives (no
"Legendary" nor "Terrible"). They can be re-balanced at any time
(with role playing justification given to the GM, and probably not
during a game session, or during an encounter -- I just mean "they're
not set in stone", they reflect an archetype, but allow for a
character's concept to change as they develop and adventure), but they
always have to total 0.
Genius (or Sage or Acacemic)
Expert (or Craftsperson or ... ? Professional?)
Any thoughts on the alternate Attribute names? or the rest of that?
Non-Spell Casters still have "Adept" ability, they just use it
defensively (like a saving throw vs spells). And a
non-Diplomat/Socialite/etc. would use their Diplomat ability to
"defend" against being taken advantage of during a negotiation, etc.
I had basically skills would be binary, but that if you had more than
one, they would build up bonuses with the square-root of the number of
skills that apply to the situation. I'm doing away with that.
Instead, they're still binary (you have the "skill" or you don't), but
there's 3 grades:
a) Mastery (comparable to MERP/Cyberspace/HARP skill groups: Weapons,
Athletics, Academics, Outdoors, etc.)
b) Proficiency (comparable to MERP/Cyberspace/HARP skills: 1-Handed
Sharp Melee Weapons, Hiding, etc.)
c) Specialization (more narrow than a skill: longsword, scimitar,
spiked mace, pick, hiding in forest terrain, hiding in arctic terrain,
hiding in desert terrain, etc.)
Specializations cost 1 character point, Skills cost 2 character
points, Mastery costs 4 character points.
The bonus is as follows: if you have ANY Proficiency that applies to
the situation, no matter how many they are, you get a +1. If you have
any Mastery that applies to the situation, no matter how many, you get
a +1. If you have any Specialization that applies to the situation,
no matter how many, you get a +1. So, in order to get a +3, you have
to have at least one of each (a Specialization, a Proficiency, and a
Mastery) that apply to what you're doing.
3) Spells and Powers:
They're the same thing, with following differences:
a) Spells require an "enabling" Gift for the scope of your spellcraft,
but you don't pay for individual spells; using a spell causes a
b) Powers make Ability Levels more expensive (but there's no direct
Gift), you only get 1 power per expenditure and it must be very
narrowly defined (duration, range, area, speed, magnitude, etc.);
using a spell doesn't directly cause a fatigue check.
Either one might be "magic" or "mutation" or "super-power" or even
"gadgets": that's all "flavor". In terms of mechanics, those are the
only differences. Spells are not narrowly defined (you can vary
duration, range, area, speed/magnitude, etc., but it affects the
difficulty and fatigue involved; but you cannot change the over-all
effect and description). For spells, you get flexibility at the
expense of fatigue; for powers you get "I can do this at will, all
day", at the expense of flexibility. A single character can do both:
have some things bought as Spells and some bought as Powers. For
example, a Cleric might have "Turn Undead" as a Power instead of a
Spell. A Paladin might have "Protection from Evil" and/or "Detect
Evil" as Powers, while all of the rest of their abilities are done as
Spells. A Barbarian might have "Berserk Rage" done either way, even
though they're not supposed to have "Spells" (a flavor limitation, not
a game mechanics limitation).
The Spellcraft Gifts are as follows:
- Cast spells only from a broad category/list, such as "Arcane Spells"
or "Divine Spells" or "Psionic Spells" or "Gadgets" (9 pts)
- Cast spells only from a moderate category/list, such as "Wizard
Spells" or "Priest Spells" (6 pts)
- Cast spells only from a narrow category/list, such as "Paladin
Spells" or "Ranger Spells" or "Deathguard Spells" (3 pts)
- Cast only a very small number of spells (5 or less) (1 pt)
(to be able to cast "any/every spell" would require buying as many 9
pt Spellcraft Gifts as there are "broad categories" in the
The specific "number of items" for each grade of Spellcraft is
ultimately up the GM, but those examples should give some idea of what
each grade of spellcraft implies.
For Skills, Spells/Powers have the following:
Mastery is applied to "Realms"/"Elements" (Fire, Water, etc.).
Proficiency is applied to "Colleges"/"Techniques" (Transformation,
Attack, Sense/Know, etc.).
Specialization is applied to a single Spell or Power (a specialization
for a spell requires the same narrow scope (area, range, etc.) as a
Skills and Powers need to define which Realms/Elements and
Colleges/Techniques are involved, even if the character never intends
to use them for Skills (their character concept might not allow them
to do so, or it might make it so that such development doesn't make
So, to be a "Fire Mage", you pay 4 character points for "Fire Realm
Mastery", and any Fire Spells/Powers you use get a +1. If you also
have "Attack College Proficiency" (2 character points), then for a
fiery attack spell, you'd get a +2. If you ALSO have "Ray of Fire"
Spell Specialization (1 character point), then you'd get a +3 when
casting that exact spell.
The reason I'm not requiring those with Spellcraft to lean specific
spells is: I think it's about like making a Fighter learn specific
attack patterns. I don't make a Martial-Arts type Monk learn
"uppercut", so why should I make a Mage learn "magic missile"?
For a super-hero that has a flexible power (say, Green Lantern), I'd
use Spells and pick a Spellcraft that suits just how flexible that
power is. (and, again, for Green Lantern, I'd probably pick the 9pt
level). For Batman's utility belt, I might pick the 1pt or 3pt
levels, where "Spell Fatigue" represents "running out of gadgets" as
he runs out of batarangs/shuriken, flash-bang smoke grenades, rope,
etc. For the 1pt level, I'd want a specific list of 1-5 gadgets. For
the 3pt level, I'd say "any gadget you and the GM (both) have ever
actually seen Batman use in a comic/movie/tv-show". For the 6pt level
I might say "any gadget you can think of that would fit Batman's
concept, even if it was never actually used in the
comics/movies/tv-show". For the 9 pt level, any gadget.
But, for super-heroes with fixed powers, especially powers that they
use seemingly at-will (lets say "Superman": flight, invulnerability,
super-strength, super hearing, x-ray vision, heat ray vision, maybe a
cold wind breath attack, maybe super-speed), I'd use actual Powers.
And you may end up with some characters that have a mix of "Powers"
and "Spells", depending on what they do "at will" and what they do "on
a limited basis" (ex: maybe Superman's heat vision, cold breath, and
super-speed are rarely seen in the comics because they cause fatigue;
1pt Spellcraft; you could even work in the x-ray vision and
super-hearing (since he sometimes needs to concentrate or "activate"
them for those to work), that's still only 5 items; meanwhile his
flight, super-strength, and invulnerability seem to _always_ work even
if he may not always be flying, and they don't tire him out -- so
those are his Powers).
You could also envision a "lesser Superman", where he can do anything
Superman does (in the list above), but it all requires
activation/concentration and it all tires him out. 3 pt Spellcraft.
Then, over-time (as he gets better at them), maybe he converts some of
those things to Powers. And when the list of "Spells" gets to 5 or
less, maybe the GM will let him downgrade his Spellcraft from 3pts to
4) Ability Checks:
I had been working on a nice multi-color chart that was sort of
inspired by FASERIP ... but ultimately decided to make that optional.
In the end, I'm probably going to use a variation of the Damage Chart,
with something like this (keeping in mind that for my rules, the GM
never rolls unless it's NPC vs NPC, in which case, the GM
semi-arbitrarily decides which NPC is the "Protagonist" and which is
the "Antagonist" ... so for NPC vs PC, the player always rolls, and a
positive "rolled/relative degree" is always a good thing for the PC
... no matter what the underlying event was (attacking, defending,
-10 or lower = Critical Failure for PC/Protagonist (Critical Wound) or
Critical Success for NPC/Antagonist
-9 to -6 = Serious Failure for PC/Protagonist (Serious Wound)
-5 to -2 = Moderate Failure for PC/Protagonist (NPC delivered a
Moderate Wound to PC/Protagonist)
-1 to +1 = Draw for Opposed actions (or Trivial Wound, after applying
ODF/DDF when determining damage), Trivial Success for Unopposed
+2 to +5 = Moderate Success for PC/Protagonist (Moderate Wound
delivered to NPC/Antagonist) or Moderate failure for the
+6 to +9 = Serious Success for PC/Protagonist (Serious Wound)
+10 or higher = Critical Success for PC/Protagonist (Critical Wound)
(I'm still debating about the exact number ranges; thoughts there are welcome)
"Trivial Wound" is the same as a "Scratch", Moderate Wound is "Hurt",
Serious Wound is "Very Hurt", and Critical is anything that is
incapacitation or lethal. The difference between "incapacitated",
"unconscious", "near death" or "dead" is role playing flavor left to
the GM -- in terms of game mechanics, they're all covered by "Critical
So, when you factor in things like Ability Level to a "Warrior vs
Warrior" roll, a Mythic Hero will probably be wading through the
battlefield without much effort if he's facing peasants ... but
against a comparable character, they'll mostly be trading Moderate
Wounds, with some Trivial Wounds thrown in (depending on weapons and
armor). Against the peasant, dice will largely indicate "Serious
Wounds" vs "Took him out with one hit".
More interestingly, lets say you have four characters that sort of fit
"Old School Gaming" stereotypes:
a) High Level (AL 9) Mage (-3 Warrior, +3 Adept, +2 Sage, -1 Expert,
-1 Diplomat; Spellcraft: Any Wizard Spell)
b) High Level (AL 9) Fighter (+3 Warrior, -3 Adept, -2 Sage, +1
Expert, +1 Diplomat; Weapons Mastery, 1-handed Sharp Weapon
c) Low Level (AL 3) Mage (-3 Warrior, +3 Adept, +2 Sage, -1 Expert, -1
Diplomat; Spellcraft: Any Wizard Spell)
d) Low Level (AL 3) Fighter (+3 Warrior, -3 Adept, -2 Sage, +1 Expert,
+1 Diplomat; Weapons Mastery, 1-handed Sharp Weapon Proficiency)
So, when the High Level Mage faces the High Level Fighter ... if it's
melee, the Mage is at a -8. If it's a spell, the Fighter is at -6 (he
can still use his "Adept", it's just that it basically functions as
his "Saving Throw vs Spells", and he can't cast any spells).
Basically, each one rules their own domain. Just like you try to
avoid sending a Mage into Melee in D&D, you'd do the same here:
Fighters try to protect the Mages against Melee, and the Mages act as
artillery until they run out of Spell Slots/Mana/Fatigue.
It's basically the same for the two Low Level characters. Mage is at
-8 in melee, and the Fighter is at -6 for resisting the Mage's spells.
Opposed characters of the same AL will face the same challenges,
regardless of what the AL might be.
But, if the High Level Mage faces the Low Level Fighter ... for Melee,
the Mage is at a -2 (not good, but almost manageable ... especially
if, somewhere along the way, the Mage picked up some amount of weapon
"skills", maybe making it a -1 or +/- 0). Meanwhile, the Fighter is
at -12 to resist the Mage's spells.
For the High Level Fighter vs the Low Level Mage ... for melee, the
Mage is at -14. For spells, the Fighter is at +/- 0 to resist spells.
(in both cases, if the Mages face off against each other, or the
Fighters face off against each other, for melee or spells, the low
level character is at -6 ; two characters that differ only in AL will
have their AL as the sole distinction of their advantage/disadvantage
when they oppose each other)
The Mage's can help their cases a little by also picking up some
combat skills as they advance, or by taking some spell skills (though,
the fighters might have picked up other Gifts and Skills at that same
time, so who knows what they've done to counter the balance). But the
overall trend is the same: even though going up in "Level" helps
every character in every Attribute, it still works out very much like
"Class based Myopia" of old-school-gaming, if you specialize your
Attributes. Or, if you decide to do something like a Multi-Classed
character (a Fighter-Mage might look something like +2 Warrior, +2
Adept, -1 Sage, -1 Expert, -2 Diplomat), or a "Jack of All Trades" (+0
across the board), the game still gives you that flexibility.
I think that's more simple to keep track of than individually raising
Attributes that are rated 1-15, and then calculating the average to
determine your Ability Level. Meanwhile, it still accomplishes the
same goals: some old-school flavor without pigeonholing everyone, and
easy "multi-classing"/non-old-school character concepts. At the same
time, a "high level" character isn't brutally vulnerable to a low
level character from outside of their own domain. Last, it keeps the
same flavor that if you're with a level or two of your opponent (same
class/archetype or not), the battle might be a little lopsided, but
it's possible to pull it off. Once you get outside of that range,
you're probably going to be a speed-bump.
Having a pre-defined list of archetypes (which I plan to create,
especially for each genre), and knowing the AL's for your group (and
the group's overall AL), then it should be pretty easy to put together
both quick and consistent encounters ... and create a generic bestiary
that scales with the characters (Goblins no longer have to be "low
level weaklings" like they were in Old School gaming ... they don't
even have to require a lot of convoluted mechanics for "monster
levels" vs "class levels" -- just pay the base price for a Goblin, pay
points to raise their AL to be comparable to the game group's AL, and
then buy any appropriate gifts until the point total is comparable to
PC point totals). A little less "off the cuff" than a completely
Fudged game, but easy to keep things both consistent and scalable. I
think it gives the flexibility and improvisational advantages of
Fudge, but at the same time giving the structure and "boot-straps" of
a lot of more popular game systems.
For the game I'm planning to run, I sort of plan to convert a bunch of
"Sword and Sorcery" adventures (ie. Old School D&D inspired game
rules), and see how it works out. I can probably also work in some
OSRIC, C&C, and d20-3e adventures without much extra effort. I may
also try to run a few one-shot games in Super Hero or Pirate type
genres... and maybe even a Space Opera-ish game or two.