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Author Topic: Systems?  (Read 3653 times)

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Offline NileGoddessTopic starter

« on: April 29, 2011, 01:43:58 am »
I'm in the market for organizing my first game involving a dice system, and I'm looking for a simple one to implement. Does anyone know where I could go to find any, or have any suggestions about how to make one from scratch?

Offline Funguy81

Re: Systems?
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2011, 02:19:22 am »
You can buy any of them at or eBay. Also you have a good chance of picking up anything from a comic and gaming shop, and it would also be a good place that one of the employees can teach you a few of the basic rules in each of the games.  If you are to pick up a game though, I would recommend you pick up Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, Modern D20, or Star Wars Saga edition. My opinion they are easy to pick up, learn, and start a game.

I will have to say though D&D would probably be your best bet financial wise. All of them are out of print, but some of the Star Wars Saga supplement books like "starships of the galaxies" are overinflated on because they are rare to find in a store now a days.

Offline Lord Drake

Re: Systems?
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2011, 03:06:34 am »
There are several simple systems around and at the end of the day the main point will be what you want your game to be about. If you are going with sci-fi you will need something to cover starships, if you want to do a game about pirates you'll need rules for seafaring and so on.

For normal life roleplay I always point people to the d100 Call of Cthulhu rules that easily simulate normal persons. Several good tutorials about them can be found online.

What is your game going to be about, exactly?

Offline Ebb

Re: Systems?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2011, 09:26:35 am »
There's a short discussion here that might be helpful:

Essentially there are hundreds if not thousands of systems out there, many of them available for free. It all comes down to what you're looking for or, as Lord Drake asked, what your game is about. I wouldn't try to create your own system unless that's something that really interests you. Chances are you can find something that fits your needs as-is, or can be customized with a little bit of tweaking.

Note that although there are many systems designed for tabletop play, I've seen relatively few that have been designed especially for forum-based play.

Offline NileGoddessTopic starter

Re: Systems?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2011, 11:54:06 am »
Drake, I was going to try and see if I could manage a superhero/villain themed game. Maybe mostly action, but plenty of sexy bits as well. The system I was going for was meant to be for the combat between the characters. I had played a game where the system was as simple as numbering three stats 1-3, then rolling that many die. Whoever won 2 out of 3 won the encounter.

However, I'd like a system to be slightly more complex, because my intent was to create a game in which the encounters dictate the outcome. For example, outcome A would occur if person B bested person C, but outcome B would occur if person C bested person B. This would have later implications on the story as a whole, so people would have to choose their battles carefully.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Systems?
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2011, 12:02:30 pm »
If you want something free and simple, maybe Risus would suit. Most of the supers games I know are fairly complex.

If you want a full (comlpex) supers system, you have a variety to choose from, but most would need to be bought. Smallville, Champions, MURPG, Savage Worlds NEcessary Evil, Wild Talents, maybe FATE/Fudge, though it's more a universal system than dedicated supers.

Offline Lord Drake

Re: Systems?
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2011, 03:16:55 pm »
The systems that Hairy pointed you to are good for superhero games. I am going to add this, though.... if  you do not need to simulate iper-exactly the superpowers in the system but you only need to roll dice in a confrontation, be it a knife fight or a struggle between spiderman and the hulk... well your range of choice is broader. The vampiric disciplines system of World of Darkness can be adapted to superpowers for example...

I'm sorry if these answers look like generic.. but the principle of a system game is exactly that. Decide what you want to simulate and the level of detail you are looking for.

Offline NileGoddessTopic starter

Re: Systems?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2011, 01:32:13 am »
It's okay. It's just that I don't know anything about systems to begin with. Never played D&D, or any other system game for that matter. I'm not exactly sure what I should be looking for, or if I find it, if it's right for the game.

Offline Lord Drake

Re: Systems?
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2011, 08:53:11 am »
I was suspecting that this could be the case. Fact is that there are several simple systems around and each one could nominally be adapted to basic combat amongst superheroes. Have a look at the systems proposed by Hairy... if you need something simpler or more custom, you may PM me and we may work put something starting from the details of your game if you want..

One thing, though... I will be a bit busy today and tomorrow so I'll be scarce.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Systems?
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2011, 05:36:09 pm »
Ok, here's a suggestion for you. If you're not looking to play with points balanced characters, how does something like this sound.

The Fate system for the Dresden Files uses a scale of success that runs thus

-2: Terrible
-1: Poor
0: Average
+1 Mediocre
+2: Fair
+3: Good
+4: Great
+5: Superb
+6: Fantastic
+7: Epic
+8: Legendary

Each characters abilities are somewhere along that scale. If you don't have an ability, it's considered Average.

For tests, you roll 4 Fudge dice. These are dice with 2 + symbols, 2 blank faces and 2 - symbols. If you use normal 6 sided dice, a 1 or 2 counts as a -, a 3 or 4 counts as a blank and a 5 or 6 counts as a +.

Rolling 4 dice give you a result between - - - - (-4 to the scale) and  + + + + (+4 to the scale).

As an example, if I have a skill rated as Good, and rolled +, -, - and blank, my end result would be Fair (Good -1).

Would a system like that suit your game?

Offline Oniya

Re: Systems?
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2011, 05:45:30 pm »
If what Hairy suggested looks good to you, you can make use of the Elliquiy dicebot by putting '4' in the 'Number of Dice' box, '3' in the 'Number of Sides' box and '-2' in the 'Mod' box.  It will give you results of -1, 0, and 1, and even add them all up for you.

Offline NileGoddessTopic starter

Re: Systems?
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2011, 06:54:08 pm »
I like the method Hairy! I'm currently working with Drake to fine tune it, but I think I'm getting the hang of it so far. Thanks also for the tip Oniya. I'll tinker with the dice bot and do some test rolls.

Offline Lord Drake

Re: Systems?
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2011, 05:06:07 pm »

I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with NileGoddess for a bit about how to customize Hairy's suggested system. Since it has been an interesting exchange and I think it covers some basics of how to use a simple system, I am going (with NileGoddess permission) to post it here since it can be helpful for others to see how these things are approached.

There is some math in it but not much.

So here goes:

I had a look at what Hairy suggested, but I'm not sure if that's what I'm looking for. That, and I didn't fully understand it. What he proposed today made a little more sense, though I was wondering how it could factor into combat.

Most of the roleplaying elements wouldn't be needed for the game I had in mind. What I was looking for was for players to make a character, then pick a few stats or attributes. These would reflect their character, as well as influence their combat with other characters. If one character has a higher strength, for example, they would be more likely to beat a character with lower endurance. However, that would mean they would have a lower agility, so a character with higher speed could beat them...If that makes any sense. Basically, I want the characters to be able to be exploited through planning and strategy.

Ultimately, I'd like for this to maybe be more on the freeform side of things, with the writing as the emphasis. The system is there to give an added element of uncertainty, and to actually make players work towards a certain end. We will have a certain concept in mind, but it will be the encounters that decides how the story progresses.

Okay since you are new to systems, I think you need to understand how to "tailor" a system to a game first. I will be rather blunt here... you may find this part a little boring and unrewarding because while actually playing a system may be fun, creating it means usually dabbling a bit with math and probability (since you want to make that system able to simulate what you want to, the way you want to).

As an example... a way to apply what Hairy suggested you to combat would be to make both characters make a skill roll and have the best one win over the worst. So a good result beats a mediocre one and is beaten by a fantastic one. All the skill rolls should have a bonus/malus depending on the nature of the combat (for example the Hulk arm-wrestling with the Thing should have a +2 bonus since the Hulk is notoriously stronger) that the GM (you) makes up depending on each situation.

You should make the rolls only when it has any sense to make them, and this mean that a chance to win exists for the weaker hero. Being this a superpower game, depending on your rules this may not be the case (as an example spider man would NOT have a single chance to win, arm wrestling against the Hulk unless he cheated somehow).

So your next step would be going to be figure out how to assign the scores to the players and how to calculate the eventual bonus/maluses (usually depending on the single scene).

Is it something like this what you are looking for?

I'm very willing to learn, that's for sure! I also don't have an issue with math, though not much familiarity with probability.

I'm with you so far, though. I get how to implement the roll. How would this tie in to building a character? I'd like for characters to build original characters from scratch and give them unique powers, as well as a weakness/exploit. My thought for this would be to give them a field of attributes, then have them assign a finite amount of points. Some skills would be offensive or defensive, so they could choose to go with an offensive, defensive, or well rounded character.

Then, like you said, I could tweak various handicaps, should a character have a power that exploits a weakness. Say a character is super strong, and is fighting against someone who isn't. The stronger character would be given extra dice, and the weaker less. However, the weaker character may have a power that exploits the stronger, which could balance it out, but not necessarily.

Am I on track so far?

You are definitely on the right track, mindset-wise. The next step, though, is to see what the system actually does with scores and dice, so that you know what happen when you add something (that's where the probability comes to . In this particular case, adding a die is not exactly an advantage since each die can have a positive or negative result.

Let us say that your character is going to do an action that (given her skills) should on average get a "fair" result (let us say that you are a scientific-oriented superhero trying to hack into the computer of an alien starship). Let us say - for now - that your character gets to roll one die.... the results are going to be from Mediocre (-1) to Fair (0) to Good (+1)... adding one die to the bunch will simply make the possible results go from average (-2) to great (+2) and so on... the 4 dice roll required by the system suggested by Hairy simply make the possible result going from -4 to +4.

This does mean that adding a dice does not actually give an advantage... it simply increases the possible range of success (or failure) of an action. In order to give an advantage, you have to award a straight bonus (+1, +2 and so on) to the die roll. As a GM you should decide how high a level of success is required to make an action work.

Going back to the alien supercomputer let us say that the nasty machine require a result of "Fantastic" or more in order to be properly hacked. If a hacking attempt made by your character would be "Fair" on the average, she would need to roll 4 "+" on all 4 fudge dice in order to do the deed which is rather difficult (there is a 1,3% probability to obtain that in a roll).

But let us say that she has the power of "incredible intelligence" that gives her a +3 to that roll. Then to hack the alien computer she would need a +1 or better on the roll which is much more easy (38,3%)...

Follow me for now?

I follow. Don't increase the dice, simply increase the base minimum that a character can obtain. So a +4 in some attribute, given they are rolling 4 dice, would at worst net a 0 instead of a -4. This would also increase their maximum.

So transferring this idea back to encountering other character who roll...Let's say Character A has a +4 to something like Intellect, and it manifests as some kind of psychic ability. A attacks  strength based character B who has high Endurance, but low mental fortitude (call it Perception, +1):

A rolls, gets a 5
B rolls, gets a 0

As GM, I would have to decide what kind of outcome this "superb" attack has against an "average" defense. Let's say any difference of 5 and greater is sufficient to knock a character unconscious. A lower difference could result in their defeat, but give them the chance to escape, or fight back at a reduced stat boost or number of dice.

A different scenario, where A attacks C, who has a +4 Perception, putting C on equal terms with A.

A rolls, gets a 5
C rolls, gets a 6

Not only is the defense equal to the attack, it exceeds it, which allows C to counter attack with an extra 'counter-attack' boost of +2.

A rolls (defense), gets a 1
C rolls (offense), gets a 2

Maybe this difference is too close, so they would do another set of rolls after they post, until one of them wins by a margin of at least 2. I guess I would have to come up with set values to assign different encounters and bonuses, then tell players which to use.

You are definitely on the right track here.

Now here comes the part about probability/chance. I am going to be thorough here although keep in mind that you don't always have to go that much math-happy. It is usually useful, though, to have an idea of the magnitude of the effect that a bonus may give in your system.

Let's say you roll a single fudge die... you have basically a 33% chance to get a blank, a 33% chance to get a +1 and a 33% chance to get a -1. Now... you roll four dice and this means that you have roughly (if I am not mistaken):

- a 1,5% chance to get a total of -4
- a 5% chance to get a total of -3
- a 12% chance to get a total of -2
- a 20% chance to get a total of -1
- a 23% chance to get a total of +0
- a 20% chance to get a total of +1
- a 12% chance to get a total of +2
- a 5% chance to get a total of +3
- a 1,5% chance to get a total of +4

As you can see, you have a 63% chance of remaining very near your average (between +1 and -1) and an 87% of having a result between -2 and +2.

This means that bonuses may have a big weight in this system. If you give a +1 bonus you "shift" the chart by one position... if a character needed a +3 or better to succeed in something (5+1,5 = 6,5% chance) now with the +1 he will need a 2 or better (12+5+1,5 = 18,5% chance which is almost three times the former).

Now again, you have no need to start dabbling with figures. This is only to show you the weight of a bonus. While there IS a slight chance to get a +3 or +4 as a result, +1 or +2 are far more frequent so if you need a result three steps above your current one, you'll probably need a bonus to help. Also someone that has a +2 over someone else will very often win a combat while someone with a +3 will be almost invincible.

This is something to be kept in mind when you give the bonuses. Since it is a superhero game I think that it may be acceptable to have no chance to beat an enemy in a particular kind of fight (if you arm wrestle the Hulk either you are superman or you lose. Period.)

The important part is that you and your players should be conscious of that.

I think what I'll do then is start to brainstorm and think about what kind of encounters may happen, and what kind of bonuses to stats could be applied. 

I'll also see if I can think of a generic stats template. Are there any restrictions I should adhere to when approaching that? My initial idea was to have players fill out a generic bio for their character, then a chart of six attributes, one that reflects strength, speed, and mental abilities, with an offensive and defensive attribute for each.

Power: 1Speed: 1Intellect: 1
Endurance: 1Agility: 1Perception: 1

They'd get to choose one field, and both of those stats would get a boost (my intent is for this to reflect their character. Hulk would have an initial boost in strength and endurance).

Power: 3Speed: 1Intellect: 1
Endurance: 3Agility: 1Perception: 1

Then they'd get an extra three points to distribute to somewhere else. This could use to pad the other stats, or to bolster the already high ones (I imagine the Hulk would bolster strength).

Power: 5Speed: 2Intellect: 1
Endurance: 3Agility: 1Perception: 1

So then in the game, the player could attack with a roll bonus of +5, likely resulting in the destruction of whatever they are attacking, or a +3 if defending. Note, however, due to low perception and agility, they are susceptible to an attack by a character with high speed or intellect.

This is the preliminary idea, obviously, so I'm open to changing numbers around that fit better. A +5 bonus is extremely high, especially for the type of dice system we've developed so far.

There are no restrictions you should adhere to since you are customizing a system. One thing that you may do - if you want - is to try and find the actual rules of the roleplay that Hairy mentioned using that system. You could get some ideas from there.

Your approach to the game looks like definitely the right one!!!

You should also keep in mind the following:

- a simple system can simulate simple things: this does not mean that you cannot create world-shaking superheroes with that... this does mean that you will not be able to simulate fine differences between them. While in the X-Men world Nightcrawler may be slightly more agile than the Beast and Colossus be slightly weaker than the Thing, for your game purpose you should give them the same ability scores.

- your first game will probably need some fine tuning along the way: there is no way to have everything click perfectly from the start and experience has an important weight in giving the right bonus or assigning the right result to a roll.

- better if you play your first game with nice people and friends: well this is true for every game but your first game with a system in particular. You need people willing to signal you if something looks like going awry. There is nothing like someone getting ballistic over a result to ruin a game.

- remember that there are also other systems: my advice is to go with this one because you have to start from somewhere and this looks like good. Next time, you may be willing to try another and see what happens.

Hope this helped you.

Lastly I would like to ask you if I may post our PM conversation in the forums. I feel it is a good example to make to someone who is new to systems and does not know how to adapt one... and it is a kind of question that I get asked, from time to time.

She gave me permission (for which I thank her) and thus this post.

Hope it helps!
« Last Edit: May 05, 2011, 05:09:27 pm by Lord Drake »

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Systems?
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2011, 08:40:31 am »
I am a little late to the thread, but I always recommend Atomic Sock Monkey Press' PDQ#.  It is a very rules light system and free.