A short description might give you some answers.
Here is the story so far.
So far, I just transferred what I wrote about this system. The system is point-based and uses body scores (primary attributes) and attributes (secondary attributes).
- 1 Physical Attributes
- 2 Attributes
- 3 Races
- 4 Classes
- 5 Features
- 6 Skills
- 7 Experience
Only the physical attributes of a creature are modeled in this system. They are described as "body" attributes. Secondary attributes are composed of body parts and are simply called attributes. (So there are "body" scores and "attributes").
Why? Well, for starters, mental and social attributes can almost never be accurately portrayed by the players. I think that it's simply bettter to let them play and change their characters as they see fit. Furthermore, rolling dice for social interaction when one is supposed to roleplay it just doesn't cut it.
There are, of course, ramifications of dropping mental and social values. See below for that.
Note: how relevant is the modeling of physical state? Is it important to have this distinction or would a simpler system be enough? Consider a simple separation to: Strength, Agility, Health and Reflex. Additional Attributes might be Magic and Cyber (come only to play if appropriate advantage is chosen).
This score model the muscles and bones (or other structural features) of a creature. It is used to calculate strength, constitution, hitpoints and other secondary attributes
The inner workings of a creature: heart, lungs, liver, intestines etc. Used to calculate hitpoints, disease resistance, breathing etc.
The cardio-vascular system of a creature. Used to calculate breathing, reflexes, resistance to shock etc. Also states the amount of time it will take a creature to bleed out.
The sympathetic and central nervous systems of a creature. Used to calculate initiative, Dexterity etc.
The periphery nervous system including the sensory organs of a creature. Used for sense-related checks and Initative.
Comment so far
This granulation of physical attributes is also possible for constructs / machines and magical creatures. Consider the example of a drone:
- Structure = outer structure of the machine, moving parts
- Organs = internal structure of the machine, circuitry
- Cardio = energy / fluid flow of the machine, i.e. power cables etc.
- Neural = the cpu / controlling unit / connecting circuitry / radio signal etc
- Perception = cameras, microphones etc.
Does this make sense? Well, it makes targeting of single systems of a creature possible. Also, it allows for further modifications on the body of the creature. In a cyberpunk setting, integrating cyberware is always a bit of a problem. However, trying to (more or less) accurately describing the body composition allows for simple cyberware integration:
To insert cyberware into a being, one simply puts it into the according system. This way, that system may be enhanced. In rpg terms: Your cyberware may only cost up to a number equal to the according system number. So, if you have Organs 7, you can only replace a total of 7 points of Organs with Cyberware. With avarage humans, an artifical heart, stomach and kidneys is all a body can tolerate.
A creature that has exchanged half or more of all Body points with cyberware is called a cyborg. A creature that has exchanged all of its Body points with cyberware is considered "burned out" and can no longer conjure magic and will be treated as a machine for all rule issues.
By inserting cyberware, attributes may rise. The body scores however will remain the same until they are trained. Consider this example:
- B with structure 8 may insert 8 cyberware points
- B's bones are strengthened with metal. he also gets artificial ligaments. This costs 5 structure points, so now B's structure score is 8(5)
- This cyberware gives +4 to strength. B's strength score rises accordingly
- B could insert additional 3 points of structural cyberware.
One last addition: body scores may only be raised by training or medical intervention (like a laser op for eyesight correction). Once a characters body score is completely gone cyberware, i.e. structure 8(8), that score can no longer be raised normally but has to be raised via artifical means during the game (more surgery).
Body scores / physical / main attributes may be targeted directly in an attack. Dropping to zero in one system disables that system and may result in fatality. A cardio 0 means a cardio-vascular breakdown (bleeding out - dead). Same is true for organs 0 (heart attack or lungs failure - dead). A neural 0 is either unconsiousness if its temporary or a brain flatline (brain dead). As long as neural is above 0, there is still a chance to revive the character.
These are the secondary attributes (or simply: attributes) within this system. I'll have to clear up on the naming later on. Attributes (and ONLY those, not body scores) may be raised / lowered by characteristics (perks, (dis)advantages).
Strength and Endurance
Structure + Cardio = Strength and Endurance. You'll have to assign the numbers according to your own discretion. Are you strong, arduous or balanced? Lets make an example:
- structure 9, cardio 8 = total of 17, assigning 10 to strength and 7 to endurance
- the perk "strong bastard" gives +2 to strength, so thats 12 strength and 7 endurance
- the perk "one hit wonder" allows you to raise your strength by +2 in one attempt, but you have to make an endurance roll -2 after that or you will collapse
So thats how strength and endurance are used in this system. You can't raise (secondary) attributes by assigning points to them. You have to buy perks or raise your body scores.
(Structure + Neural) / 2 = Dexterity
Structure + Organs + Cardio = Health (Hitpoints)
Neural + Perception = Initiative
Organs + Cardio = Breath
Nerves + Cardio = Resistance (to Shock)
Disease Resistance = Organs etc. Other attributes are not listed on the character sheet, but will be used according to situation.
so far, scores and attributes are scaled 1-20. it's a nonlinear scale. the average / starting score will be 8. there won't be boni / mali associated with attributes. there will only be comparitive rolls. i'm going to use the probability distributions for dice rolls to determine further details.
I like the idea that magic might get back into a modern world. I also like cyberpunk settings, so I am simply combining these two. You're saying: wait- that's shadowrun now, right? Well, no, not really. You see, there won't really be different races but only humans that are changed by magic and called "orks" and "elves" etc. by others. But essentially, they will be humans with a few defects and a few advantages.
Essentially, there will be no playable race but that of a human. All other "races" such as trolls, elves etc. Are humans with a preset of defects and adavantages. However, these also may be chosen separately without the accompanying change of appearance. You can for example pick the perk "nightsight" as an advantage - if you have the points. Example:
Preset Ork (total of 9 points): + superiour structure (+2) + nightsight (see in lowlight conditions) + bloodlust (+2 close-combat) - social outcast (GM's discretion) - aggression (impatient, -1 on long / fiddly skills)
Picking these advantages separately would cost more points those of the preset. Each preset has a "GM disadvantage" that is only effective in roleplaying situations (social outcast).
There are no classes in gangwars but there will be presets to make fast play possible. These presets will also help to define what kind of characters will be roaming the streets.
The characters attributes may define his physical facilities but the features include physical and psychological particularities that may be of advantage or disadvantage to the person. Obviously, disadvantages will gain points for the character creation.
Some features may only be chosen during character creation. Others cost more during regular play or will have to be integrated into the storyline.
Most features will be related to a particular skill or attribute, i.e. "strong bastard": gives +2 to strength. You're a person who'll ignore his pain treshold and grit his teeth to achieve a feat that involves using strength. Maybe you're a contestant in the world stronges man competition or just a woodworker who's been swinging the axe for years. In any case, you're pretty strong.
As races will be presets of features, the list of features will be quite extensive. To put some kind of structure into this, I've grouped the features into:
- modifies attributes
- modifies skills
- gives extra ability
- gift / affinities
- unlocks skill / ability
The last point is quite interesting: something like "spellcaster" is also considered a feature- one that enables the character to cast spells. Note that it only enables spellcasting, but does not do anything else. So, a person with that feature would have the facility to cast spells but might not be aware of that.
There will be an extensive feature list.
Everything you learn will be a skill. From Knowledge Skills (i.e. Archeology, History) to Combat Skills (Shooting a gun) you'll have to use skills to achieve success.
How do we model the fact that some people are better at math or languages than others? We use features. Affinity features are actually combinations of advantages and disadventages. A person with an affinity to languages will get +2 on all language skills, but -2 on natural sciences. The gift "lingo" feature will reduce the number of points a character has to spend to gain languages. Other features may negate the negative effects of some affinities.
What do we do if we don't have a skill? Nothing. If you don't know anything about the History of China, making an intelligence roll won't do any good. If you don't know how to fly a plane, you will crash. Easy as that. Some skills like "shooting a weapon" might be used without the necessary skill- but how much effect will your dexterity really have in that case?
Success is determined by rolling a d20 and adding the skill (and eventually the appropriate attribute) number to that. Some skills require a certain attribute or score number to be used effectively. Skilled and unskilled attempts have different difficulties to be achieved. so, if a skilled gunman has a difficulty number of 20, a non-skilled person will have a number of 30 to hit. Also, the non-skilled person will only be able to add his according attribute / score to the roll (always stated next to skill- perception for shooting).
Good model would be small incremental improvement depending on actions in play. As that would be far too miniscule, maybe a simple separation in exp classes would suffice: combat, non-combat and magic experience. this would also enable mixture of exps to raise certain abilities.
Some thoughts on exp, levels and advancement: I think players need both steady advancement and discrete steps. If everything changes very gradually, it feels as if it's not changing at all, even if it is. Adding descriptions might help, but actually including some special bonus for the levels would help more. The problem is: skillbased systems dont really allow for discrete jumps. Maybe it would be interesting to connect skill levels with some kind of level advancement? This way, a character could have "core skills" which define him and which would get discrete boni as they rise in level. However, that would mean spreading the skill levels a bit more.
Another problem: Skill-based systems are much easier to min-max, and a high level of knowledge of the rules becomes incredibly important. So, maybe graphical trees of skill development might become an issue here? Maybe some concepts from trading card games or computer games might also be adapted for advancement. At any rate, the system should allow for great customisation of the character.