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Old 02-27-2017, 03:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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So I might be designing my own RPG

So not too long ago a friend started up a new campaign. A fun laid back campaign, combining the TMNT RPG with Paladium Fantasy (I'm running a Camel Knight, fun stuff). But we added a few new players for that run and had to set aside an entire afternoon to building their characters. And while to many building the character is half the fun, part of me felt we had wasted some very valuable game time.

I pondered a way to fix this for when I end up running a game. One way is to pre-build a bunch of characters and just hand them out, but I rejected that right away. Can't take all the player self-determination out of the mix. But I still want the ability to quite literally start a game with zero prep on the players. So the idea was shelved for a bit.

So oddly enough while watching the movie Hellboy the second piece of the puzzle came to me. If you can start playing a character instantly, if that character dies you can easily start a new character the very next scene. No plot armor needed since you don't have to worry about undoing hours of work if you kill off a character in the very first encounter. So now instead of the party working up to face the Big Bad at the end, you can throw it directly at them. And if you get a Total Party Kill the next batch of instant characters just need to be ramped up in power a bit (repeat as needed).

Thus the Template idea was born. Basically half a character, a basic job, basic gear, usually expected skill set and stats for that job, but a lot left blank and a pre-set number of points or skills left unassigned. To be filled in by the player AS THEY PLAY.

For example, you got four players, fantasy setting. Usual "lets build a party and go quest to defeat the legendary dragon", but instead of the night long build session arguing who ends up the cleric and if you can have an evil Assassin in the same party as a good Paladin it will be more...

GM: It's a quite afternoon in the small city of Erindale. You four guardsmen (hands sheets to the players) are on watch on the south wall.

Player 1: Can I be Captain of the guard?

GM: Sure, what kind of Captain? The grizzled old war veteran, the son of an influential citizen, the hard *** drill instructor type..

Player 1: Yeah, that one!

GM: Ok, add a rank or two to Leadership, and go ahead and set your Charisma score rather low.

Player 1: But what if the hard *** shtick is just an act to puts up to better motivate the troops?

GM: Hmmm...ok, spend as much as you want on Charisma, but you also need to take some ranks in Performance. (GM hands the player a note)

Player 1: Ok... Done. eh-hem... Alright you maggots, fall in! We have reports of bandit activity due south of here. I want everyone in position and eyes open!

Players 2-4: Yes sir!

GM to Player 2: You spot a man sprinting out of the woods and heading directly to the south gate.

Player 2: uh, really? Dang. um... Sir, possible bandit spotted coming out of the woods!

Player 3: hang on, how do we know it's a bandit? I look for him too.

GM: He's pretty easy to spot now, but still too far away for the average person to make out in detail.

Player 3: Crank up my Perception, I was thinking of specializing in archery anyways.

GM: Ok, how high you want it? And you can up your archery ranking now too if you want.

Player 3: Almost maxed, and three ranks in archery beyond our starting score... dang, not many points left after that, but what the heck!

GM: Alright, make a Perception roll

Player 3: (rolls really well) Booya!

GM: Nice! He appears to be wearing the studded leather vest popular with the local bandits, and is wearing the red sash of Brimstone's Band, one of the bigger gangs. Oh, and his clothes and hair are smoking, and you can just make out him shouting "Help! Gods above, please help me!"

Player 3: Wait, what? (to player 1) Sir! Something is wrong here. It's a bandit alright but he seems to be running from some kind of trouble.

Player 1: Nice work Eagle Eyes. You stay up here and cover us while the rest of us go and meet him outside of the walls.

GM to Player 3: Go ahead and add that nickname to your sheet.

GM to Player 1: You leave the wall and head for the gate.

Player 1: I grab any other available guardsmen as we go.

GM: There are four near by, more if you ring the alarm bell.

Player 4: Dude, it's just one guy.

Player 1: Yeah, seven of us is plenty. Lets line up about 50 feet past the gate.

GM: Ok, as you line up the bandit sees you and actually starts to sprint even faster. As he gets closer you can all hear him shouting "Thank the Gods above!"

Player 1: I shout Halt! Who goes there?!?

Player 4: Dude, seriously?

GM: He runs up to within 10 feet of you guys and falls to the ground in an exhausted heap.

Player 2: I run up and do First Aid, I'm buying two ranks in it.

GM: Roll it.

Player 2 just makes the roll: Got it.

GM: He's exhausted from running, not bleeding anywhere, but has burns over quite a bit of his body, you can't make out from what yet (you'll need a better roll than that). He comes around and just whispers a single word to you (hands the player a note).

Player 1: Well soldier, what did he say?

Player 2 looks as note: Um... Dragon...

Player 4: Crap.

GM: The four other guards here the word and start to panic.

Player 1: Form ranks you maggots! No panicking allowed in my unit!

GM: Make a leadership roll for each.

Player 1 rolls: Got it, got it, super got it, and... didn't get it.

GM: One guard sprints back to the gate in a panic. Hey Eagle Eyes, make a Perception roll.

Player 3: Made it.

GM hands him a note

Player 3 reads it: Oh crap. Guys, heads up. There's something flying this way from due south!

Player 1: uh... wait, I know, we form a shield wall!

GM: That needs rank 3 in Shield, you all have rank 1 now.

Player 2: I buy rank 3!

Player 4: Me too!

Player 1: Ok, we are the South Wall Defenders! Nothing gets past our mighty shield wall!

Player 3: Um guys, I don't have enough points left for that.

Player 1: You're our archer, you won't need it.

GM: Ok, I'll give that rank to the other guards too. I like where this is going. Your metal shields interlock into a nigh impenetrable shell in front of you.

Player 2: I make sure the bandit is behind us.

Player 1: Lets see that dragon fire get past this!

GM: You can now see the great beast. It swoops down and lands 30 feet in front of you, it's great silver scales sparkling in the sunlight.

Player 3: Silver? Does that mean anything?

GM: You'll need Dragon Lore.

Player 4: Dude, don't bother, knowledge skills suck.

Player 3: I can only afford one rank and it will completely drain all my extra points. Crap.

Player 4: Fine, I'll take a rank just to show you how much they suck.

GM: Roll it.

Player 4: Crap, didn't make it.

GM: The dragon makes a mighty inhalation and prepares to unleash its mighty breath weapon.

Player 1: Here comes the flames!

GM: All the hairs on your body start to stand straight up as a bright flash of lighting emanates from the dragon's gaping maw. The metal shields in your hands transmit the electricity directly into your bodies. You all take (makes a bunch of rolls)... well, quite a bit of damage.

Player 1: Well, I'm dead.

Player 2: Me tool.

Player 4: Dude, I'm toast.

GM: The other 3 guards and the bandit are all also dead.

Player 3: Oh hell, I'm the only one left. I sprint back to the keep.

GM hands new sheets to the other players: Good idea, you remember hearing that some of the King's Elite are stationed there.

Player 4 looks over the new sheet: Dude, I'm so ready for this now.


So that's the general gist of it. Some existing game systems would work with this concept, others not so much. I'd love to publish something, but then I'd need my own system, or an open source system, but most of those wouldn't fit this very well. Too class based.
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Old 02-27-2017, 03:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This style of play would work really well with the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire game system made by FFG.

Look into that style of RPG and you should have no problem making what you want.
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Old 02-27-2017, 04:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I do have two systems in my collection that would work, Shadowrun and White Wolf. I'll probably test it out with Aberrant from White Wolf (old style, not the later D20 version). I like how well it scales up and down, from average Joe to world smashingly powerful. Better for a modern setting of course. And since it's a superhero setting it should make for some interesting stories, even if I toss out the stock background stuff.
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Old 02-27-2017, 05:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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i liked your "narration"; as if i was playing it...

1982: i was at my friend's kitchen table; just finished making my level 1 character and i really wanted to be in the front.
i was dead in about ten minutes from a.... dragon. i failed my resistance roll.

so i spent the rest of the night watching other people play since i didn't know how to make a character...
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