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Author Topic: My Systemic Freeform System: Hopefully It Helps Prospective GMs  (Read 811 times)

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Offline UrbanzorroTopic starter

Ok, so some time ago I wanted to GM an Alien vs Predator vs Colonial Marines game, and I came to the decision that I needed a system to do so properly. But every system I found didn't work/I didn't have the book to use it. So I decided to build my own. For better or worse I spent the next several days (and eventually weeks) creating said system. Which I then used in said AvP game. I was genuinely surprised at the amount of positive feedback I'd gotten from my players on the system itself. And after that it pretty much became a staple of several of my combat focused games. So fast forward to now, I've decided that I should be a good boy and share will all my friends! Here's the system that I cooked up. I call it 'Systemic Freeform'.

Systemic Freeform
Here's a breakdown of what I like to call my Systemic Freeform system. Which is a system I created for the purpose of finding a balance between freeform and system games. Within a systemic freeform game the only interaction the game's players will be required to have with the game’s system is during character creation. All other elements of the system such as determining the results of combat, determining stat alterations, determining random events, etc will be handled behind the scenes by the GM and any assistant GMs. This approach gives the game the illusion/feel of being a freeform game for the players while offering the GM(s) the structure and decision making support of a system game. In short it is meant to be a compromise between free form and system games. Ideally taking the advantages of each option with few or none of their disadvantages.

In order for the system to work posts which interact with the system(such as combat, or attempts to pick locks/hack computers/etc)  must be posted in  a way to still allow the GM(s) to maintain control of events. This means the player’s posts should illustrate their character’s actions and the intent of their actions but not the results. For instance “My character shoots at the enemy and hits them in the head” does not work. Whereas “My character shoots at the enemy, and aims for their head” does.

The System

Character Creation
The system works and is based on the use of 10 basic stats, through which the outcomes all forms of combat and interaction can be determined. These stats are as follows:

Health: The measure of how much Damage a character can take before dying
Attack: How much Damage a character can do in Melee Combat
Ranged Attack: How much Damage a character can do in Ranged Combat
Accuracy: How accurate a character’s Ranged and Melee Combat attacks will be.
Agility: How capable a character is of avoiding enemy attacks, and outrunning enemies.
Defense: How much Damage is absorbed by a character’s armor as opposed to their body.
Intelligence: How smart a character is. Effects many of their Derived Stats as well as their ability to interact with certain aspects of the world around the.
Perception: How perceptive a character is of their surroundings, and how likely they are to spot enemies who are attempting to sneak up on them.
Stealth: A character’s ability to sneak up on their enemies.
Luck: The likelihood of random events turning in your character’s favor. Has an effect on a number of Derived Stats.

The stats are set on a scale of 10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, it is highly advised that a lower limit of 3 be placed on each stat. This is to help with balancing your game, as any stats below 3 may cause drastically unbalanced results. These stats are then compared to the players' rolls and the results of the events these rolls represent can then be determined. A detailed explanation of the rolls and how they work can be found later in this explanation.
The system’s design incorporates the usage of an equipment selection process during character creation. This is used as a stat modifier and also as a means of limiting the amount of meaningful weapons, armor, etc that a single character can be armed with. In addition to this the method used for equipment selection is meant to be more interesting and/or less tedious than simple allocation of numbers.

Each player is given a number of points, which are separate from those given to allocate towards their stats, with which to ‘buy’ equipment from a list given by the GM. The exact number of points and/or cost of each piece of equipment as well as the effects it has on a character’s stats are at the discretion of the GM and should reflect the level of strength that player characters are intended to have. 
The following is an example entry in an Equipment List:

Rifle: A two handed projectile weapon, rifles are fire arms which are designed to have a greater range, accuracy, and pack more of a punch than a pistol.
Effect: +2 Ranged Attack,
Cost: 2

*It should be noted that this portion of the system is often tailored to fit a specific setting, and as such the creation of this portion of the system does require a significant amount of time and effort.*

This section of the system is not entirely necessary for the system to work and as such can be omitted should the GM want to do so.
With these two aspects of the system laid out, characters which can work into the system can be created.
This section covers the different aspects of character creation for the system. Specifically the stats used in the system and a feature designed to help regulate player characters' equipment. 
How It Works
A large potion of the system’s purpose is to decide the results of situations where combat takes place. Combat scenes involve nearly every stat at one point or another. The following is an example of a full turn within a combat scene with a breakdown of each step.  For the sake of simplicity, additional modifiers such as Critical Hits, Special Effects of weapons, etc will omitted for this illustration and explained in a later section.
*This scene will involve two characters the first being Character A and the second being Character B*

Character A Stat Profile
Health 10
Attack 10
Ranged Attack 5
Agility 6
Accuracy 4
Defense 7
Intelligence 5
Perception 4
Stealth 4
Luck 5

Character B Stat Profile
Health 6
Attack 4
Ranged Attack 6
Agility 8
Accuracy 10
Defense 4
Intelligence 4
Perception 5
Stealth 7
Luck 6

Step 1: Character Rolls; A=4, Character B=3
The GM Rolls a single 6 sided die for each character. The system uses this method due to the fact that when the stats are based on a scale of ten, a 6 sided die allows for the stats to be of greater importance than the dice roll. This means that a heavy investment in a single stat can overcome a bad roll but also allows for a dice roll to make a decisive difference when stats are relatively close in value between characters. For this round, Character A rolls a 4 and Character B rolls a 3.

Step 2: Sneak Attacks
A’s Stealth = 8 (Stealth of 4 + Roll of 4 ) vs  B’s Perception = 8 (Stealth of 5 + Roll of 3)
B’s Stealth =10(Stealth of 7 +Roll of 3) vs A’s Perception = 8 (Perception of 4 + Roll of 4)
If this is the first turn in a combat scene, then Stealth and Perception may be taken into account. Character A’s Perception is compared to Character B’s Stealth and vice versa. This allows the GM to determine if either character was able to sneak up on the other. In this case, Character A was not able to sneak up on Character be due to the fact that his Stealth was not greater than B’s Perception. But Character B was able to sneak up on A due to the fact that his Stealth was greater than A’s Perception. The effects of a successful sneak attack can be tailored to the GM’s desires and the universe the system is representing. Commonly a successful sneak attack results in the sneaker launching an extra attack at the beginning of combat.
*It should be noted that sneak attacks can be ignored by the GM should they desire to do so/should the situation in game merit it. For instance if a player illustrates their character as shouting at the top of their lungs and charging head long into the enemy when they are first spotted, it can be assumed that they will not sneak up on anyone.

Step 3: Agility Comparison
A’s Agility =10 (Agility 6+Roll 4)  B’s Agility= 11 (Agility 8+Roll 3)
In this step the character’s Agility stats are compared in order to determine which character is able to strike the other first. In this case Character B is able to strike first. Should this step result in a tie, a suitably fair method of breaking the tie should be employed such as a coin flip, a supplementary roll, etc.

Step 4: Attack Hits and Misses
A’s Accuracy=8 (Accuracy 4+Roll 4) vs B’s Agility=11 (Agility 8+Roll 3)
B’s Accuracy=13 (Accuracy 10+ Roll 3) vs  A’s Agility= 10(Agility 6+Roll 4)
In this step we determine if each character’s Ranged Attacks and Melee Attacks are capable of hitting their target. In this case A’s Attacks miss but B’s Attacks hit. In the case of a tie, the results are considered to hit their target(s).
*If the difference between characters’ stats is greater than 6 it is at the GM’s discretion to implement Depreciating Stat Values for the applicable comparisons(explained later).

Step 5: Ranged Attack Damage Mitigations
B’s Ranged Attack=9 (Ranged Attack6+Roll 3) vs A’s Defense=11 (Defense 7+Roll 4)
Remaining Ranged Damage=0
A’s Remaining Defense= 2
In this step  B’s Ranged Attack stat is compared to the A’s Defense stat in order to determine what amount of Damage A’s armor absorbs. In this example B’s ranged weapons do not succeed in piercing A’s armor

Step 6: Ranged Attack Damage Allocation
Remaining Ranged Damage=0 Vs A’s Health=10
A’s Remaining Health=10
This step determines the effect that Damage done to a character has on their body. Specifically how close it brings them to death. The character’s Health stat is altered to reflect the amount of damage done to it. This step is essential to determining who the eventual victor of a combat scene will be.
Due to the fact that B’s Ranged Attack stat did not overcome A’s Defense stat no damage was done to A’s health.

Step 7: Melee Attack Damage Mitigations
B’s Attack=7 (Attack 4+Roll 3) vs  A’s Altered Defense= 2 (Defense 7+Roll 4- B’s Ranged Attack 9)
Remaining Damage= 5
In this step B’s Attack stat is compared to A’s altered Defense stat in order to determine what amount of Damage A’s armor absorbs.  A’s Defense stat is altered to illustrate the Damage already suffered this turn.

Step 8: Melee Attack Damage Allocation
Remaining Damage=5 vs A’s Health=10
A’s Remaining Health=5
This step determines the effect that Damage done to a character has on their body. Specifically how close it brings them to death. The character’s Health stat is altered to reflect the amount of damage done to it. This step is essential to determining who the eventual victor of a combat scene will be. In this case A has suffered 5 points of damage to it’s Health and only has 5 remaining points of Health.
*It should be noted that the separation of damage mitigation and allocation into specific steps for Ranged and Melee combat is used to illustrate the fact that those with ranged weapons can often strike their targets before said targets enter Melee range. This separation is at the discretion of the GM, and both steps can be combined so that there is only a single damage mitigation step and a single damage allocation step. Furthermore the order of Ranged before Melee damage is also at the discretion of the GM and can be changed at any point to illustrate differing conditions. For instance the first turn can have Ranged damage being counted first to illustrate the closing of distance between enemies and the following turns can have Melee damage being counted first to illustrate the usefulness of melee weapons at extremely close range*

At the completion of Step 8 the turn is complete and a new turn begins. For the sake of clarity a second turn will be illustrated below. While not required for an understanding of how to work the system it is suggested that this turn be read as well. Events that have been explained in depth above will not be explained in depth during this illustration.
Turn 2
Step 1: Character Rolls: A=6 ,B= 2

Step 2: Agility Comparison
A= Agility 12 (6+6)vs B=Agility 10 (8+2)
A’s attacks hit first.

Step 3: Attack Hits and Misses
A= Accuracy 10(4+6)vs B=Agility 10(8+2)
B= Accuracy 12(10+2)vs A= Agility 12 (6+6)
Both A and B’s Attacks and Ranged Attacks hit.

Step 4: Ranged Damage Mitigation
A= Ranged Attack 11(5+6) vs B=Defense 6(4+2)
B= Ranged Attack  8(6+2) vs A Defense 13(7+6)
B’s Altered Defense=0
B’s Remaining Ranged Damage= 5
A’s Altered Defense=5
A’s Remaining Ranged Damage=0

Step 5: Ranged Damage Allocation
B’s Remaining Ranged Damage=5 vs B’s Health=6
B’s Remaining Health=6
A’s Remaining Ranged Damage=0 vs A’s Remaining Heath=5
A’s Remaining Health=5
This step illustrates the damage done to each character’s Health stat. The fact that character A was able to strike first is illustrated by the damage done to character B being determined first. Should character B have lost all of his Health during this Step any damage done to character A would have not been counted. A’s Remaining Health is 5 due to the damage suffered during the previous turn.

Step 6: Melee Damage Mitigation
A’s Attack= 16 (10+6)vs B’s Altered Defense=0
B’s Remaining Melee Damage=16
B’s Attack= 6 (4+2)vs A’s Altered Defense= 5
A’s Remaining Melee Damage =1

Step 7: Melee Damage Allocation
B’s Remaining Melee Damage = 16 vs B’s Remaining Health= 1
B’s Remaining Health=0
A’s Remaining Melee Damage =1 vs A’s Remaining Health 5
A’s Remaining Health=5
In this step, B’s remaining Health has been driven to 0 resulting in B being the loser of the combat. As such no further turns are need. Due to the fact that A’s Agility allowed his attacks to strike first, the damage that B’s attack would have done is not counted against A’s health given that B has been defeated in this step.
Additional System Uses
The system can further be used to determine other events and adapt to unforeseen situations, some of these uses are detailed below.
Critical Hits
The system can further be used to determine other events and adapt to unforeseen situations, some of these uses are detailed below.
Critical hits are moments where a character’s attacks do an unexpected amount of damage, such as a stray round striking a weak point in an enemy’s armor or setting of a fuel tank in a vehicle. The occurrence of a critical hit can be determined using the following formula.

(Attacker’s Luck+ Die Roll)-(Defender’s Luck + Die Roll)= C
This formula determines a Attack’s chance of a critical hit( C ) which is then used in the following formula.
(C + Die Roll) – (7+Die Roll)=
If the result of the second formula is above 0 then a critical hit has been achieved. It is suggested that the critical hit formula only be used every few turns, or only on turns where a character has rolled a specific number(such as 6) in order to assist in making critical hits a somewhat rare occurrence.  The exact effects of a critical hit can be anything from Double Damage, to Instant Victory and are fully at the discretion of the GM
Depreciating Stat Values
Occasionally a character or NPC may have a single particularly high stat, which when compared to another character’s stats can be unbalanced/game breaking. For instance Character A has an Agility of 9 while Character B has an Accuracy of 3. This means that no matter what character A rolls he will always have an effective Agility of 10 (given that the lowest possible roll is 1) while no matter what Character B rolls he will never have an Accuracy of 10(given that the highest possible roll is 6). This means that within the normal bounds of the system no attack made by Character B will strike Character A. In order to negate this, at the start of each turn after the first turn. Character A’s Agility stat should be decreased by 1 BEFORE the dice are rolled. For example in turn 1 Character A’s Agility will remain as 9 while in turn two it will be 8, and in turn three it will be 7, and so on and so forth. This stat will continue to be lowered until Character B has scored a hit. At which point the process will begin again with Character A’s Agility reset to 10. This method should only be used when a potential for a game breaking situation is present, not to negate a strong advantage that could be possibly overcome using the normal system.
World Interaction
The system can further be used to determine the possibility of interaction between characters and the world around them. This is done by comparing a character’s stat to a pre-established requirement and determining if said stat(s) is high enough to allow interaction. For instance, a character’s Intelligence stat can be used to determine if they can interact with a computer or other technological device. Said device can have a required Intelligence level of 6 and any character with an Intelligence of 5 or lower would be unable to use the device. The requirements and even the implementation of this aspect of the system should be left to the discretion of the GM.
Interpretations of Combat Results
The system is not designed to be used with each turn representing an individual post, but rather as the entire result of a combat round representing a series of posts. Ideally the GM should feel free to illustrate the results of any combat situation as best fits the story. For instance, a duel between characters may only last 1-3 turns in system but could easily be illustrated to last many more posts in game. The key to this is that the system is used to determine the overall results of combat while freeform posting is used to determine and illustrate the events that lead to said results.
After reading everything above it should be stated that it is important to the remember that the system, by design, is simple and meant to be easily altered to fit the needs of many different settings. For instance some stats can be omitted, minimum and maximum values can be changed, etc. Any GMs using the system should always keep this fact in mind.
In this section, the workings of the system will be detailed.
Special Rules & Illustrating Special Situations
Special Rules
Many settings have room for characters, weapons, items, and creatures to whom the normal rules of said universe may not entirely apply, or may be somewhat different. For instance, Superman is nearly to bullets but very vulnerable to kryptonite. This can be illustrated in they system with the following special rule.

Superhuman Physiology: Superman’s high level of powers allow him to shrug off bullets in the same way that average men shrug off rain. But he is also extremely vulnerable to kryptonite which is his one true weakness.
Effect:  All Ranged Attacks from projectile weapons do 0 Damage to Superman, All attacks from Kryptonite weapons do Double Damage to Superman

Obviously this is an over simplified example, but it is useful to illustrate the fact that with some effort and thought a GM can use the system to incorporate any kind of special rule that a character may need.
Special Situations
There are many situations in which a character may need to interact with the world around them. The following is a list of situations which have commonly come up in games using the system as well as suggested stat comparisons for each situation. 

Lock Picking
This can normally be done on a door by door basis. The easiest way to decide if a lock Picking attempt is successful is to use a character’s Accuracy, Perception, and Agility stats in the following formula.
(Accuracy + Perception + Agility)/3 – N=
With N being a GM decided number representing the lock’s strength. This number should be on scale with the stat scale the GM has chosen. For instance with the system’s standard scale of 10 points being maximum values a lock with a  strength of 5 would be of average strength and offer a relatively likely possibility of success.  In addition a die roll may be added to the formula in order to illustrate the role that pure luck has in picking locks this formula would be. .
(Accuracy + Perception + Agility + Die Roll)/4-N=
In both of these formulas any answer above 0 would be a successful result while 0 and negative numbers would be a failed result.

Computer Hacking
Computer hacking is done in a similar fashion to attempting to pick the lock on a door, the difference being that the following formula(s) is(are) used.
(Intelligence + Perception)/2 – N
(Intelligence + Perception + Die Roll)/3 - N
In these formulas N once again represents the strength of the device and any result above 0 illustrates a successful attempt

Resistance to Diseases
A character’s resistance to disease can be determined using the following formula
(Health + Defense + Luck –Agility) /2 = R
With Health representing a character’s body’s ability to repel diseases, Defense representing their armor’s ability to protect them from diseases, and Luck simply representing luckily not catching a disease. R represents the characters Resistance to disease. This number is then taken and each time a character enters a situation where they could/should be infected by a disease a single point is deducted from their resistance. When their resistance reaches 0 they have become infected.  Exactly what events require the deduction of a point is a decision left at the discretion of the GM. In addition some events may be worth more than a single resistance point, this is also at the discretion of the GM

Pursuing/Escaping Enemies
Occasionally characters may attempt to out run an opponent, or chase down a target. In these instances the system can be used to determine the success of failure of such an attempt with the following formula.
(((Runner’s Agility+ Runner’s Stealth +Runner’s Luck)/3) + Die Roll)-(((Pursuer’s Agility + Pursuer’s Perception + Pursuer’s Luck)/3)+Die Roll)

*It should be Noted that as with many of the non-core elements of the system, the implementation of these formulas is not in any way necessary or required for the system/game to work*

A Final Note
I’d like to take this little bit of space to state that when using this system one thing should be kept in mind. This system is designed to increase the appeal of a game, not decrease it and to allow for creativity in posts not place limits on it. As such any GMs using this system should remember that the story should come first and if the system coughs op a potentially game breaking result that instance can easily be ignored, and/or a new rule can be added to avoid genuinely negative consequences for any game.  If there are any questions about the system please feel free to ask them here and I will answer them as best I can. Also comments, thoughts and ideas on how to improve the system are greatly appreciated.

P.S. I'd love to know if anyone uses the system for their games, and if anyone would like help adapting the system for their game simply let me know and I'd be more than willing to help.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 11:09:04 PM by Urbanzorro »

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: My Systemic Freeform System: Hopefully It Helps Prospective GMs
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2012, 10:39:39 AM »
Seems like a fully workable Systemic Freeform System to me ;D!