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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:27 am    Post subject: YADFH Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Okay so I've been thinking about a homebrew setting and trying to build a super-simple system built around the principles of fast-paced play (and mechanics to support this) as well as significant player agency (which is kinda hard to support mechanically). The whole idea is for something I can play with friends who don't have the attention span to even look at a D&D character sheet and want some ridiculously fast-paced play with their beer, pretzels and bawdy jokes about the office ladies. Guys who won't play anything if it doesn't promise utter brutality and who don't care about losing characters as long as their death is sufficiently Brutal and Metal.

So. Do you think this sounds Brutal and Metal enough? While still being simple enough?

Design concept:

A d20-oriented game for very new players. Simple, fast to play. Streamlined mechanics to make the game seem fast-paced. A player turn shouldn't take more than thirty seconds, from the word 'go' to the word 'next'.

Physical combat should be badass. Tome Barbarian's physical combat ability, relative to its environment, is about the level of power I'm looking for.

Core conceits of the setting:
-Might Makes Right.
-Things used to be better, and humanity's trying to get back to that. Though not necessarily exactly where they were.
-No trade, poor communications, points of light and all that jazz. If you want something, you probably have to carve it out of someone's ass.

Core conceits of the mechanics:
-Everyone has magic, but it's more about flexibility of options and enhancement. Most combat is physical, if magically enhanced.
-No fiddly bonuses, streamlined mechanics.
-Many reasonable options for dealing with situations, but limited enough to prevent option paralysis.

Setting is sorta like Fantasy not-Europe with a heavy dark ages/iron ages feel. Dark and brutal. Life is a neverending struggle, and death is likely to be violent and early.

Setting concept:

As humanity grew, so did big business, and eventually, megacorporations came to dominate 90% of human wealth and productivity. Such megacorps could easily buy and sell entire governments, provided they were not checked by another megacorp in the process, and as a whole, governments came to place the needs of the corps first. Such businesses ruled their demesnes with an iron fist. Eventually, corps began to see greater profit in international tension and contrived to start a series of brushfire wars. Some dead troops, some dead rebel militants who didn't buy into the system, whatever, who cares. Profit!

They didn't expect this series of wars to ever go nuclear. But, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that.

Now, humanity has begun to reclaim the nuclear wastes. Some hid in shelters, some just weren't near the blasts, but for whatever reason, humanity survived, although not without change and adaptation. Mutation has set in, and humanity has divided into several stable strains of mutations, most now different enough to claim status as new species.

Humanity wasn't alone in mutation. The planet's wildlife has changed as well. That which was already threatening has become moreso (protip: avoid Australia!) and even common animals have become dangerous.

Even reality as its known has changed. When the bombs hit, something happened. No one knows what or how, and few are left who have the scientific background to figure out the mystery and now, magic has crept into the world. Humans and near-humans can cast forth mysteries and weave magic that was previously the domain of fantasy works. Every silver lining is attached to a mushroom cloud, however; where previously the small folk were just fairy tales, now they are real all too real, as is their sadism and cruelty.

Magic Stuff

Magic items are few and far between, and largely based on the legend of their wielder. Thus, hardcore warriors have hardcore magic items rather than being powerful because of their shinies.

Each PC can have as many levels of effects as they have levels, no more than half that total put towards making any one item magical. So a level 10 PC can have 5 levels worth of enchantments on their swords, and assign the other 5 elsewhere. These levels of enchantment must be spread between 3 or fewer pieces of equipment.

Blood is the life. Blood and sacrifice can be used to power rituals with a wide variety of effects. However, overuse of rituals or sacrifice of the unwilling can taint rituals and whatever they are meant to affect. As an example, enough fertility rituals will eventually give farmland The Bad Touch and give you a patch of dystopic Hell on Earth. The end result is a malignant creepy-ass presence and places nobody wants to go.

This can, in time, lead to sentient forests, forts, etc. By that point, ritual cleansing isn't enough. You have to go in and kill the spirit that corruption has spawned. (Yes this is an adventure hook.) Forests will be creepy as fuck. ROUSs, dire wolves, giant-ass spiders, all that awesome shit. Something is always watching you. Forts will have walls dripping blood, animated armor, torture equipment scattered around and the like. Towns will be infested with zombies, have blood fountains in their city squares, etc. Lots of undead, corrupted stuff. Everything is just painful to look at. Or maybe it's totally different. Maybe it's like medieval Silent Hill. The point is, these aren't pleasant places to be.

In addition, ritual and sacrifice can be used to empower equipment. Willing sacrifice leads to 'white magic', with magic items that compel users to be all goody two-shoes and shit. Unwilling sacrifice, which, humanity being what it is, is rather more common, leads to powerful blades that will harm their wielder, armor that will shit the bed when you need it the most, etc. Mechanically, you can get up to 3 more levels of enchantment on a piece of equipment by cursing your stuff, but it also gets curse levels, powerful maluses that will ensure you pay more than you receive without exception. Still, it's fast power, and someone will always find that worthwhile.

Potions, poisons and combat drugs are totally a thing. Creating them is simple, you throw some shit in a pot and watch it all day, enhancing them with your magic at certain stages of the process and fueling the reactions that make it a potion/poison/combat drug rather than just some shit thrown in a pot. Anyone can make them, though their effectiveness does rely on skill. In addition, bolts and arrows whose heads are made to carry poison effectively are totally a thing and can be bought without making people ask awkward questions, because using poison against mutated beasts isn't at all uncommon. Random redshirt guardsman #3 needs every single edge he can get against the Rampaging Dickwolf. That said, only four consumables can be carried at a time before their magic auras start to interfere with each other and break down.

Mechanically I want for potions to be awesome and useful. Enough healing to be worthwhile, enough of a combat buff to warrant carrying, enough damage and easily-enough used to be worth taking a moment to try to poison enemies, so forth and so on. But with a hard cap on how many can be carried so that teams don't spend a few minutes sucking down potions before major encounters and trivializing them completely. At the same time, the cap has to be high enough that players don't worry much about actually using them.


Advancement is level-based because characters are supposed to turn into Big Damn Heroes. If someone is badass enough to have character levels, they don't care about stupid stuff like rads (except in ridiculous doses) or the sniffles. They matter too much for petty little things to affect them. Even if they take way too many rads wandering the wastes, they don't die; they just turn into Super Mutants or whatever, because Big Damn Heroes becoming Big Damn Villains is cool.


Gods are trying to rise again. With effort, you can steal their divine rank and spark of divinity.

Gods get power from being worshipped. Worship starts by being awesome and reknowned as mortals. You can reduce their power by slaughtering their followers. Yes, this is IC justification for crusades.

Divine power doesn't really mean all that much, initially. A bit more magical 'oomph' for stuff relating to their reputation, defense and HP bonii. That's what it means as a mortal. Their mortality still limits their full power, but after they stop being a mortal they get all kinds of cool benefits, at the cost of their interactions being secondhand through an avatar or worshipers.

To steal the power of the gods, you must incapacitate them rather than kill them, and keep them alive and incapacitated for a ritual of sacrifice. And yes, using unwilling gods does indeed taint the ritual and make the recipient of that power vaguely demonic. And yes, because of this, there are some very hardcore demons out there. As well as hardcore gods who won't hesitate to hunt them, or mortals interested in divinity. For gods who are beyond mortality, the use of their avatar or a truly significant number of worshipers suffices.

So, what do you think? Is this BRUTAL and METAL enough? How can I make this more BRUTAL and METAL? Are there any parts that give a strong "one of these things is not like the others" vibe?
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sounds pretty good. Might need a bit of clarification though. What classes are being used here?
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Last edited by Wiseman on Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

30 seconds is a really short amount of time, like barely enough to declare movement, move a mini, announce an attack, roll it, see if it hit, and roll damage. I'd expect that they probably want some fluff in there in terms of posturing and talking about how awesome their characters are, but don't want to spend a ton of time waiting on other people to make decisions. One or two minutes a turn is probably a more realistic target. One big thing to do here is keep the number of options they have in a given turn small, but without feeling too restrictive. The late 3e D&D three-action paradigm is good here - you get one move action, one attack action, and one minor action. Different classes will use the minor action for different things, but it should be minimally interactive.

It sounds like everybody's basically going to be a melee bruiser, which is fine, but you're still going to want some amount of role diversity. One good way to do this is to have different resource management systems. Some options that should play well with this group:

  • Buff Stances - you have stances that you can enter that last the duration of a combat. Each comes with some buffs and maybe a minor disadvantage - the character probably has three or four, drawn from a longer list. Switching stances takes a minor action (this works best if they have something else they'd like to do with minor actions)
  • Card Deck - you have a deck of action cards and a small hand, draw one each turn, use as a standard action. There's a few different ways to handle refreshing the deck and dealing with cards that are played - discard pile that get shuffled when every card is drawn, shuffle cards back into the deck when they're played, maybe an option to discard your hand and reshuffle at the cost of an action and/or not using any cards that turn. You might have a bigger deck and choose part of it between combats.
  • Random List - you have a few different lists of abilities, use your minor action to get a random list, use an ability off it as an attack action.
  • Ability Stances - you have a few different lists of abilities, one list active at a time. You can use each ability once. use an attack action (or maybe a full turn) to switch lists or refresh your current list.
  • Unlimited Use, Cherrypicked List - you have a long list of abilities and pick a shorter list during downtime (minutes or hours to switch), you can use any ability as many times as you want
  • Limited Use, Cherrypicked List - you have a long list of abilities, pick a shorter list at the cost of an attack action or full turn, use each ability off it once.
  • Random from several lists - three or four lists of powers, pick a random one from each list each turn, use one as an attack action.
  • Ramp-up - you get a point each turn, you have a minimum number of points to use each ability, fifteen or so abilities total (two/four/six points to use)
  • Charge Meter - you get a point each turn you attack, special attacks cost one to four points, fifteen or so abilities total

There's a bunch of ways each of these can be fluffed, and they've all got a pretty limited ability pool at a given time (Ramp-up and Charge-meter less so, but they probably want to use the biggest powers they've got). What the abilities are could vary a lot. It's also possible to give multiple of these to one character with different sorts of abilities, but your group sounds like they wouldn't be into it.

I'd limit potions by the number you can use in a short period rather than how many you can carry, or at least make the number you can carry be a couple big fights' worth. The fluff explanation can be pretty similar, but it means your players won't hoard them as much while discouraging chugging potions before a fight. One thing you might do is split potions up into a set that are instant or last a single round and buffs that you can have one of at a time, that last for either an encounter or a day.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sorry for slow/nonexistent replies! Broheim finally got back from his vacation so I'm done with 60-hour workweeks for awhile at least.

Z-lord, you're probably right about the timeframe. Especially when one considers that my descriptions of significant kills trail into gore-porn. Also that's a good point about potions. You're right about resource-management. I think attaching some neat abilities to schticks and using a Winds of Fate-style management system would go over pretty well because of the added element of suspense it provides while still being simple. For my group, any management system has to be simple enough to still be viable when the players and DM are three sheets to the wind. On the other hand I'm not entirely sure because then suspense is coming from the card deck rather than what's going on in-game. It's a trade-off, and one to think about in greater depth.

Classes are going to be a bit weird in that they should be pretty nonexistent. I still have to figure out costs and such, but I want to do a build-your-own deal. You have options at the start, and options cost points, and you have so many points to spend. Start-up should be picking your schtick, picking some perks you like, and buying up stats that support your schtick. I want to do level-up similarly. You have x points and want to buy Mettle? Go for it. Whatever. Ultimate customization without dumpster-diving or getting bogged down in shitty options is the goal. There'll be enough room for role divergence simply because people are going to make different choices. Fighting game tropes will apply I'm sure.

Realistically, what the team can actually do well is going to be a function of what choices they make and what sort of things they actually want to do well. A team that's built around infiltration and assassination isn't going to sign up for guarding caravans, and a team built for bodyguard work isn't going to sign up for bug hunts or assassinations, unless they're absolutely forced to.

Things I am sure about: Tome-style feats in that they scale. Also a spellcasting mechanism not unlike the Sphere concept Frank and K put forward in Tome of Fiends, but obviously reflavored for a game where everyone isn't a demon. That already has a usable, simple resource management scheme. Also fuck ASF, not bothering with it, magic is magic is magic. That's always seemed a little silly to me. Additionally, the absolute lowest power level the game should actually start at is roughly equivalent to a lvl 3 character. That's far enough along to not suck and fail because of one unlucky roll.

I don't know if skills are even worth bothering with. Information gathering skills are meh, if information is plot-relevant you're either going to find a way to feed it to the players or waste a lot of time. Lame. Characters should be able to accomplish most physical challenges by virtue of sheer METAL and BRUTAL. Which leaves the question of how to do the whole stealth minigame if skills aren't included.

Something I want to do in order to cut down on fiddly little bonii and avenues for them is to get rid of character stats. Just attack and defense stats, use what are ordinarily derived stats as base stats. Rationalize and explain them however you like. "Ugthor gets a high melee attack but low melee defense because he's strong but not agile!" Whatever. I can see how this would be possibly immersion-breaking but I honestly don't see it being an issue, I think most people build a sufficiently strong idea of their character and exactly why they're as they are that it won't be an issue.

Last edited by Berkserker on Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think I'd go with actual classes, for a couple reasons. The biggest is that it keeps relative bonuses under control - you don't get a scenario where one player pours all his points into stats and has nothing to do but say "I attack" while another player puts everything into active abilities that never hit. Additionally, it lets you put in more than one active ability system without making the players' lives more complicated.

Have you considered doing something along the lines of e6, where there's a cap beyond which numbers stop advancing and character power increases more slowly, mostly through feat/perk acquisition? I'm not sure if it's what you're going for, but it gives you some room for advancement while keeping the scope of the game roughly the same.

Tome feats are a bad idea in this context. They're designed to let melee characters compete with 3e casters in terms of both power and complexity, which is probably not what you want. There's other ways to make feats meaningful, and if your target for system mastery isn't guys who like 3e spellcasters, you should do something else. Personally I'd either make feats have a minimum level and do one thing that is appropriate for that level, or make them into perks with a variable cost - maybe 1 to 5 points per perk.

You probably do want some sort of skill system, even if it's really minimal. Maybe make being trained/level-appropriate in a skill into a minor perk?
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2015 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think what you actually want to do is have Active Abilities that do something on a failure. Like, if you attack you do damage automatically and then its a WoF roll to find out what your non-damage options are that require a check to use successfully.
But more importantly if you elevate jerkishness into a principle, if you try to undermine the rules that keep niceness, community, and civilization going, the defenses against social cancer then your movement will fracture, it will be hugely embarrassing, the atmosphere will become toxic, unpopular people will be thrown to the mob, everyone but the thickest-skinned will bow out, and the people you need to convince will view you with a mixture of terror and loathing.
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