Originally posted October 2008
I got bored yesterday, and started to put together an unholy hybrid of D&D 3rd and 4th edition, Fate 2 and 3, Mass Effect, and the LARP system we were working on. The ultimate goal is to feel like D&D but be as easy to run as Fate, while being simple to convert when running 3rd edition modules.
Each statistic equals the total number of talents within the statistic. A character cannot have more talents within a statistic than his or her level+2.
New talents cost the character’s current level x 500 exp. Characters can always buy basic level talents, but must have at least two instances of a basic talent to buy the advanced talent linked to it (e.g., a character cannot buy the Defend talent Aegis until he or she has at least two instances of the Armored talent).
A character can choose to increase his or her level with a brief training session whenever at least one statistic is at least equal to the current level.
Characters gain a new skill rank each level. Characters gain a new craft rank every three levels. Skills and crafts must form a pyramid (a character cannot have a rank 2 skill without at least one other skill at rank 1, a character cannot have a rank 3 skill without at least one other skill at rank 2 and one at rank 1, etc.).
Characters are automatically proficient with light armor of up to rating 2 and simple ranged and melee weapons. Talents improve these proficiencies.
Starting characters have five talents, two feats, one apprentice craft, and three basic skills (or one intermediate skill and one basic skill).
The Defend statistic represents a character’s ability to avoid blows, move quickly, and roll with attacks to reduce their effect. Many that train in Defend become tougher, as well.
- Armored: Increase the armor level you are proficient with by +1.
- Aegis: If you still have armor levels remaining, a 6+ wound fills all your remaining armor levels instead of automatically incapacitating you.
- Dive: At will, as an attack interrupt, increase your defense by 2 by going prone (requiring you to use a move to stand on your next turn).
- Evasion: Add +1 to Defend vs. AoE attacks.
- Intercept: At will, as a damage interrupt, treat an attack against an adjacent ally (from an attacker that could have attacked you) as if it had been an attack against you.
- Mobility: Add +1 square of speed when in combat.
- Dash: Once per fight, double your movement rate for one turn.
- Rally: Once per fight, remove your least wound.
- Revive: Once per fight, remove your greatest wound.
- Riposte: Once per fight, gain +2 to attack an enemy that attacked you since your last turn.
- Revenge: Once per fight, immediately deal an identical wound level to an enemy that just hit you in melee.
- Rock: Once per fight, a wound rolls down instead of up.
- Roll: Once per fight, a wound does not roll at all.
- Shift: Once per fight, ignore movement penalties from moving past enemies.
- Slide: Once per fight, move one square when an enemy moves adjacent to you.
- Toughening: Add +1 wound level. Extra wound levels progress like armor (e.g., the first extra wound level is an Incapacitated, the second is a Crippled, etc.)
- Immunity: Once per fight, add one to each wound level as extra armor. These levels disappear on your next turn, but any damage in them disappears as well.
The Strike statistic represents a character’s ability to land telling blows on an opponent, both in melee and at range. Most characters use melee or ranged weapons to use Strike attacks, but mystical characters can manifest their ranged attacks as arcane or divine blasts.
- Double strike: Once per fight, you can attack two enemies that are within your range and adjacent to one another. Make one attack, and compare the result to both targets’ defenses to find the result.
- Cleave: Once per fight, if an attack incapacitates your target, apply the attack result as an attack to an adjacent target that is also within your range.
- Dual Wield: Once per fight, when wielding two weapons, you can make two attacks against one target (one attack with each weapon).
- Florentine: When wielding two weapons, you may treat the offhand weapon as a shield.
- Hit and Run: Once per fight, after an attack, you may move a number of squares equal to the amount your attack exceeded the target’s defense.
- Charge: At will, you may attack a target within your basic movement rate (counting movement through threatened spaces normally) at a penalty equal to the number of squares moved.
- Knockback: Once per fight, instead of attacking for damage, you may declare that you are attacking to force your opponent back. You can force the target to move a number of squares away from you equal to the difference between your attack and the target’s defense. The target can be knocked into hazards, traps, or falls (but may receive an Athletics check to catch himself at the edge).
- Tide of Iron: At will, you may make a Knockback attack. Unlike the normal Knockback, you must use your move action to follow the target, remaining the same distance away. The target cannot be pushed into a hazard, trap, or fall.
- Martial Arts: Treat unarmed and improvised attacks as simple weapons (i.e., roll 1d6 for attack instead of the lowest of 2d6).
- Melee Critical: Once per fight, declare a melee attack an automatic 6 instead of rolling.
- Melee Training: Increase your melee weapon proficiency by one level (from simple to military, or from military to superior).
- Ranged Critical: Once per fight, declare a ranged attack an automatic 6 instead of rolling.
- Ranged Training: Increase your ranged weapon proficiency by one level (from simple to military, or from military to superior).
- Sneak Attack: Once per fight, against a target that is unaware of the character or threatened by another ally, make an attack at +1.
- Twist the Knife: Whenever a Sneak Attack is successful, the character deals an additional wound of the same level to the target.
The Lead statistic represents a character’s ability to direct and support his or her party. The actual capabilities granted are determined by talents within this statistic, but even without talents, a strong leader is a morale boost to his companions: adjacent allies use the character’s Lead statistic as their own when resisting debuffs.
- Armor of Authority: Once per fight, as a normal action, you or an adjacent ally may use your Lead statistic instead of Defend to resist all attacks until your next turn.
- Iron Will: The target of your Armor of Authority also gains an additional armor rating equal to your Lead rating.
- Bolster: Once per fight, you may use your normal action to heal an ally within line of site (or yourself) of his or her least wound.
- Brink of Death: Once per fight, you may use your normal action to revive a character that was struck unconscious since your last turn. The target heals his or her greatest wound.
- Inspiring Presence: For each instance of this talent, the area that is considered adjacent to you (for purposes of resisting debuffs and other Lead talents) increases by one square radius.
- Bulwark: Once per fight, as a move action, any squares that are adjacent to you for the purposes of Lead are also adjacent to you for the purposes of reducing enemy movement (i.e., threatening). This protection stays in effect until you move again (or are forced to move).
- Leader’s Standard: Once per fight, the character may add +1 to a statistic and +3 to a skill until his or her next turn. This statistic and skill must be chosen when this talent is purchased, and represents the character’s deity or lord.
- Channel Authority: At will, the character may expend a use of Leader’s Standard to strike fear into the hearts of a group opposed to the character’s deity or lord. Make an AoE attack (and the character can charge the AoE normally) using the character’s Lead statistic instead of Control. Treat the results of the AoE as a debuff rather than damage.
- Shield of Faith: Once per fight, as a move action, automatically cancel a debuff that is afflicting an adjacent ally or yourself.
- Sanctuary: Once per fight, as a normal action, automatically cancel all debuffs that are afflicting all adjacent allies and yourself .
- Strike True: Once per fight, make an attack against the target using Lead instead of Strike. Instead of dealing damage, your margin of success on the attack is a bonus to an adjacent ally’s weapon (as if it were magic, or of increased magic) for his or her next attack.
- Lead the Attack: Once per fight, make an attack against the target using Lead instead of Strike. Instead of dealing damage, your margin of success on the attack is a bonus to the next attack of all adjacent allies using the same method of attack as you (ranged or melee).
- Transposition: Once per fight, as a move action, you may switch spaces with an adjacent ally.
- Direct the Fray: At will, as a move action, you may give an ally in line of sight additional combat movement to overcome threatened spaces and difficult terrain. The ally may move your combat movement in additional squares, but cannot move more total squares than his or her own movement rate.
The Control statistic represents a character’s ability to control the battlefield by distracting the enemy and damaging multiple foes. Characters can use Control with magic or any other explanation for how they are hindering foes and affecting an entire area.
- Burst: Once per fight, your AoE describes a point-blank burst around you, with its size indicating distance in all directions (e.g., a 2×2 AoE becomes a 5×5 AoE with you in the center).
- Hedge: Once per fight, you can cause an AoE to ignore friendly targets within its area.
- Domination: Once per fight, you may make a debuff attack instead of a normal attack against the targets of your AoE.
- Confusion: Once per fight, as an attack interrupt, a target you have successfully debuffed attacks one of his or her allies in range instead of one of your allies.
- Dragonbreath: Once per fight, you may make an AoE attack that fills a straight line of squares with a length equal to the total area the AoE would normally fill. One end of the line must be adjacent to you.
- Wall: When you use Dragonbreath, the end of the line does not need to be adjacent to you, only part of it.
- Explosion: Once per fight, any targets wounded by your AoE are also pushed one square away from the center of the effect.
- Vortex: Once per fight, any targets wounded by your AoE are also pulled one square closer to the center of the effect.
- Frequency: Once per fight, you may adjust the energy or method of an AoE to an enemy whose weakness you are aware of. You attack at +1 against the enemy type targeted.
- Pierce: Once per fight, you may cause an AoE attack to ignore physical armor.
- Reach: Once per fight, as a ranged attack, you may make an AoE attack as if a distant square was adjacent to you. You may move the origin of your AoE a number of squares away equal to your Control rating.
- Innate Reach: For each instance of this talent, you may automatically extend any AoE attack, as a ranged attack, one additional square (e.g., with one instance of this talent you may anchor your AoE two squares from you).
- Zone: Once per fight, your AoE has a persistent effect on the targeted area, making it difficult terrain for the remainder of the fight.
- Storm: When you create a Zone, you may spend your normal action each turn to renew the original AoE attack, targeting all individuals in the Zone with an attack equal to your original roll. If you cease to use this every round subsequent to the original attack, you can no longer maintain the effect.
Skills are useful abilities that anyone might possess but which adventurers rely on constantly. Skills have multiple levels:
- Basic (+3)
- Intermediate (+6)
- Advanced (+9)
- Mastery (+12)
Truly experienced characters may progress even further in their skills.
Academics is used when a character wishes to recall information from studies of the arcane, historic, religious, or other fields that makes sense for his or her background. Typically, the DC for useful information about a subject is equal to its level; a roll 3 lower than the target points the characters in the right direction, while a roll 3 higher than the target gives detailed information about the topic.
3 Know something everyone knows
6 Know something commonly available but not commonly taught
9 Know something requiring extensive study
12 Know something limited to true scholars
15 Know something that’s a secret to all but a few
Athletics is used when a character wishes to climb, jump, swim, run, balance, or tumble.
3 Run on an uneven floor, climb a ladder quickly, long jump 1 square
6 Run on a slippery floor, climb a knotted rope or easy wall quickly, swim in rough water
9 Run on ice, climb a rope or hard wall quickly, long jump half your combat move, reduce a fall by 10 feet
12 Climb a very hard wall quickly, swim in icy water
15 Climb on a ceiling, long jump your full combat move, reduce a fall by 20 feet
Heal is used to treat injuries and long-term disabilities. A wound’s Heal DC is equal to its rank (e.g., 5 for Incapacitated) plus the subject’s level. It takes a normal action to attempt to heal a wound: the target heals the worst wound that the healer successfully treated (e.g., if the healer rolled 5 against a level 1 target, the worst wound of Crippled or less would be healed). The level of the target serves a shorthand for the kind of attack that could wound such a character; wounds a lesser healer could easily treat are often simply ignored by a higher level character. Healers can also treat long-term ailments.
3 A common toxin or illness
6 A serious toxin or illness
9 A designer toxin or virulent illness
12 A terrible venom or plague
15 A bane that few have ever survived
Perception is used to notice sneaking enemies. It can also allow the character to make out details too distant or too precise for normal people to notice.
3 Hear whispers in your ear and read small print at arm’s length
6 Hear whispers five feet away and make out small details across the room
9 Hear whispers across a quiet room and identify a face across a battlefield
12 Hear nearby whispers through noise and track a falcon on a cloudy day
15 Hear whispers that should be impossible and track an enemy’s progress from miles away
Social is used to set the tone of a negotiation or conversation, typically as a contested roll with circumstance bonuses. In diplomacy, the winner can demand more of the loser. In a bluff, fast talk, or seduction, the winner can make an untruth seem plausible or out a single lie as the falsehood it is. Additionally, if the character’s Social is higher than his or her Debuff, he or she rolls 2d6 and keeps the highest when using taunts or intimidation to make Debuff attempts.
3 Pass a white lie, get help from a friend, or stare down a peasant
6 Hide a single fact, get help from an acquaintance, or warn off a guard
9 Spin a web of lies, get help from a stranger, or make a knight afraid
12 Sell a mark on a dream, get help from a rival, or scare off a noble
15 Get someone killed, get help from an enemy, or give pause to a dragon
Stealth is used to hide, move silently, and tail targets without being noticed. This is typically done as a contested roll against a target’s Perception+4 (see Combat, below). Sometimes, stealth might be used to get a general idea of how noticeable a character is, or to maintain a disguise.
3 Blend in with a crowd of the same race
6 Hide in the dark or thick woods
9 Blend in with a crowd of another race
12 Hide in broad daylight with a bit of camouflage
15 Avoid notice by standing behind the target at all times
Survival is used for tests of a character’s resourcefulness in both the wilderness and the urban jungle. It is used to know things about the terrain and environment, forage for food and scavenge for items, and to track targets. Sometimes, Survival will be used in contest with a target’s Stealth or Survival.
3 Thrive in a garden or track a mammoth in the snow
6 Thrive in the forest or track a lizard on the sand
9 Thrive in the winter or track a deer through the woods
12 Thrive in a scrubland or track a goat across a mountain
15 Thrive in the desert or track a thief along a city street
Thievery is used for tests of guile and mechanical aptitude. When used to perform sleights of hand or to pick pockets, it is typically used opposed to the target’s Perception. When used to pick locks or disable traps and other devices, the difficulty depends on the complexity and danger of the device.
3 Disable a simple trap or open a stuck door
6 Disable a tricky trap or pick a very simple lock
9 Disable a difficult trap or pick an average lock
12 Disable a wicked trap or pick a good lock
15 Disable a fiendish trap or pick an amazing lock
Crafts represent trades and professions a character might practice for money or to handle life’s little problems. Crafts typically have four ranks:
- Apprentice (+3)
- Journeyman (+6)
- Master (+9)
- Grandmaster (+12)
Characters may use crafts to create goods or earn money in play or downtime. Common crafts include:
Initiative and Surprise
If one group is trying to sneak up on another, as soon as they are within perception range, the sneaking group rolls Stealth plus applicable modifiers vs. the highest Perception+4 in the targeted group. This roll may be repeated once per round if the group moves closer but does not immediately attack. As soon as they are noticed, combat begins and the sneaking group acts first (in some cases, the sneaking group may lose initiative if they do not realize they have been spotted). Depending on the light, terrain, and state of the target group, combat may automatically begin at a certain point, forcing the attacking group to use combat movement to reach their targets.
If neither or both was surprised, initiative is determined with a coin toss or other 50/50 method.
No matter which group won initiative, after the first group acts, the second group acts, then the first group, and so on until the combat ends.
A group decides the order in which its members act. For player characters, this order can be based on player tactics, or simply proceed around the table.
Players can choose to forgo an action, but cannot hold or ready an action.
Movement and Actions
In combat, each turn characters receive a move action and a normal action. The character can forgo the normal action in order to take two move actions.
Most characters can move up to six squares (30’) with each move action; this is the character’s speed rating. Talents, race, and other abilities and conditions may modify this number. If the character uses two move actions, he or she may move double this speed as a double move. Diagonal moves cost the same as orthogonal moves, and a character can move diagonally around corners.
Enemies are considered to “threaten” squares to which they are adjacent. The first threatened square a character enters in a turn does not cost extra. Each additional threatened square through which the character passes costs 1 extra square of movement for each threatening enemy, and the character cannot enter squares that would cost more movement than he or she has remaining.
A character can move through an ally’s square but cannot end in it. A character can move through an enemy’s square with a successful Athletics check against the enemy’s Strike+4; this counts as moving through a threatened space.
Difficult terrain and barriers may require additional squares of movement (and Athletics checks) to traverse.
Some other miscellaneous actions may require a character’s move action.
A character can use a normal action to make an attack (or multiple attacks with certain talents). Additionally, certain complex skill uses may require the character’s normal action.
Melee and Ranged attacks: If the character is wielding an appropriate weapon, he or she rolls 1d6+Strike against the target’s Defend+4. If the attack equals or exceeds the target number, it is a successful hit. See Damage, below.
Area of Effect attacks: By default, an AoE’s area must include at least one square adjacent to the character. Before making an AoE attack, the character can spend one or more normal actions (up to his or her Control) to increase the size of the AoE by 1 step per additional action spent. An AoE’s area is 1×1 squares (2×2 after one extra action, 3×3 after two, etc.), and affects all squares in this area unless modified by another ability. The character rolls 1d6+Control and compares this number to the Defend+4 of all targets within the area in order to calculate damage. See Damage, below.
Debuff attacks: A debuff is an attack made to weaken or distract a target. It can represent mystical curses, grappling, pinning down a target, or plain, old-fashioned insults and taunts; the type of attack determines the targets available and the weapon used. The character makes a roll of 1d6+Control against the target’s Lead+4 (or the target’s ally’s Lead; see Lead, above). If successful, the character chooses a statistic or skill. The target reduces his or her skill by the margin of success until the character’s next turn. A character can choose to expend a normal action to maintain a successful debuff in subsequent rounds, rather than rolling again, as long as the conditions that allowed the debuff are still in place.
Unarmed and Improvised attacks: When caught without a weapon, a character may punch and kick, swing or throw pottery and rocks, and, if a mystic, manifest unfocused magical energy. These are treated as ordinary melee or ranged attacks, but instead of rolling 1d6, the character rolls 2d6 and keeps the lowest die.
Characters have one level in each category (more with Defend talents). When an attack hits successfully, it deals a wound to the category equal to the amount the attack exceeded the defense. If there are no more wounds remaining at that level, it rolls into the next higher category that still has a wound level available. When the character has no more wounds in the Incapacitated category, or takes a wound that succeeds by 6+, he or she is knocked unconscious.
Armor provides extra wound levels that are the first lost to damage. Armor levels count from the bottom and wrap if they provide more than six points (e.g., Armor rating 3 adds an extra wound to the Maimed, Crippled, and Incapacitated levels while Armor rating 7 adds two extra wounds to Incapacitated, and an extra wound to all other levels).
All weapons do one wound level on a successful attack. When wielded by a trained user, military weapons roll 2d6 for attack (with either Strike or Control), and keep the best result from the two dice. When wielded by a trained user, superior weapons roll 3d6 for attack (again, with either Strike or Control), and keep the best result from the three dice.
When a character is wearing magic armor, he or she cannot be harmed by lesser weapons. Count simple weapons as 1, military weapons as 2, and superior weapons as 3, and then add the weapon’s magic bonus. If the total does not equal or exceed the armor’s magic level, the attack can only harm the character if it rolls 6+.
When a character is wielding a magic weapon, he or she bypasses lesser armor. Add the armor level to its magic bonus. If the total does not equal or exceed the weapon’s magic level, all damage from the weapon ignores the target’s armor and armor-related talents (such as Aegis).
Simple Melee Weapons
- Farming and Hunting Implements (Light Flail, Javelin, Scythe, Sickle, Spear, Wood Axe)
- Light Blunts (Club, Mace, Quarterstaff)
- Short Blades (Dagger, Long Knife, Shortsword)
Military Melee Weapons
- Axes (Battleaxe, Greataxe, Handaxe, War pick)
- Heavy Blunts (Heavy Flail, Maul, Morningstar, Warhammer)
- Polearms (Glaive, Halberd, Longspear)
- Swords (Bastard Sword, Falchion, Greatsword, Longsword, Rapier, Scimitar)
Superior Melee Weapons
- Exotic (Spiked Chain)
- Racial (Dwarven Urgosh)
Simple Ranged Weapons
- Hunting Implements (Sling, Slingshot, Light bow, Thrown blade)
- Initiate Mystical Tools (Orb, Symbol, Tome, Wand)
- Mechanical Bows (Crossbow, Hand Crossbow)
Military Ranged Weapons
- Adept Mystical Tools (Rod)
- Martial Bows (Longbow, Shortbow)
Superior Ranged Weapons
- Greatbows (Daikyu)
- Master Mystical Tools (Staff)
Characters wearing larger armor than they are proficient with reduce their effective Defend score by the difference between armor rating and proficiency rating.
- Layered cloth
- Padded cloth or Flexible leather
- Boiled leather or Flexible hide
- Boiled hide or Light chain
- Full chain or Brigantine
- Ringmail or Scale
- Banded mail or Breastplate
- Full plate or Dragonscale
A character wielding a shield gains one extra Incapacitated level as armor. Any character may use a shield. This wound is filled before armor, and indicates the shield has been breached. The shield can subsequently be dropped and the filled wound level removed with no penalty: if the character re-equips an unbreached shield, a new and unfilled armor level is added.