... now with 35% more arrogance!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Rules Are Meant to Be Broken

Dyson Logos had an idea on G+ about an RPG rulebook that demands to be rewritten. Not just house-ruled, and not just rewritten on the setting or game world level, but rewritten on the deep underlying structural level.
Risk Legacy had mechanics where you changed the game (permanently) after a game was over based on what happened during the game. You wrote on cards, the board, changed things with stickers, and so on.

I also just picked up "We Didn't Playtest This: Legacies" which combines that mechanic with what is essentially a variant of FLUXX.

Now I need an RPG that does it.

Sure, ALL RPGs actually have this (the game changes as play progresses), but I want one where you actually go in and paste over certain rules and material, add level titles to the classes, name factions, and so on... all directly in the core rule book and all in reaction to what happened during games and in published adventures.

Because FUCK game collectors, let's teach them to write in their books!
There was a little bit of talk about spells and monsters getting rewritten, but that’s pretty trivial. And level titles could be changed during play (“From now on, all Lords shall be called ‘Caesar’,”) but that’s not really game-changing.
But class abilities? That would push the envelope. It is also the best thing to tweak if you want to force people to write in the rulebook, because you can include some powers that aren’t accessible, or limit spell effects more than gamers are used to, and challenge them to change these things in the game world.
For a “D&D-in-flux” game, I would approach it this way:

Class Core

Hit dice, chance of hitting, class prerequisite, and some kind of base saving throw.
  • Fighters use direct physical action and tools,
  • Thieves use craftiness and finesse,
  • Magicians use spells,
  • Clerics use faith.

Social Status

Political Power and Repute varies by class.
  • Fighters have political power and can found baronies, collect taxes.
  • Thieves are Outlaws and have Ill Repute.
  • Magicians have Ill Repute only.
  • Clerics have Good Repute and can found an order, but not collect taxes.
Game play can change this. Thieves or Magicians create an organization (guilds,) Clerics may challenge the political power of Fighters and share taxes, or there could be a revolution, overthrowing the Fighters.


There are four categories of magical power: Mundane (no magic,) Prayer-Based, Spell-Based, and Innate. Prayer requires a reaction roll and can be fickle. Spells always work, but must be learned and prepped to cast. No cast has Innate to start, but these can be used at will.
  • Fighters are Mundane only.
  • Thieves are Mundane at low level, Spell-based at high level (but can’t prep their own spells.
  • Magicians are Spell-based.
  • Clerics are Prayer-based for healing, dispelling, and turning undead, Spell-based for divination and protection.
Furthermore, only 1st and 2nd level spells are common at the start, 3rd through 6th must be discovered, 7th through 9th can’t be prepped to cast (must discover and use a scroll.)
Through play, class powers can be expanded or added. Prayer can be added or expanded by pacts with supernaturals. Each magical act (like healing, for clerics) is a separate bargain. If FIghters gain prayer as a class-wide power, they are called Paladins.
Spells are added or expanded through recovering lost lore, and must be done one spell level at a time, expanding one effect at a time:
  1. How to use spells of one type (like divination, for clerics.)
  2. How to learn individual spells/prep scrolls.
  3. How to prep and cast.
  4. Add a second type (like protection, for clerics.)
  5. Expand to all but one type.
  6. Expand to all types.
You can’t add Step 1 for 2nd level spells to a class until you have at least Step 1 or higher for 1st level spells. Achieving at least Step 5 for 6th level spells means that class has the ability to make magic items.
Innate powers are added by wishes. Adding one innate power reduces either Prayer-based or Spell-based power in some way by one step.

Pacts, Wishes, Lore

When making either a pact or a wish, a Neutral reaction means the power is only granted to the individual asking, and only if the petitioner agrees to completing a quest first (for a pact.) A Good reaction will allow any memberr of the petitioneer’s class to gain the power as well after some formm of ordination, vow, or quest. A Very Good reaction means all members of the class receive the power immediately, no strings attached
Lore, in contrast, can be kept secret after research, restricting it to one person, or shared with a group strictly sworn to keep it secret. Every time the secret is shared, there is a chance someone shares it outside the group, and every time a spell is used, there’s a chance that word spreads and others duplicate it, making it common knowledge; make a reaction roll, and on a Bad reaction, a rival group acquires the secret, and on a Very Bad reaction, it becomes common knowledge.

Alignment (Optional)

If using Alignment, those who aren’t Neutral who make pacts or wishes will only gain powers for those of their class and alignment, so Chaotic Fighters and Lawful Fighters may wind up with different powers. Also, the world starts with Law and Chaos in balance; if the balance shifts, the winning side gains a Prayer-based power: dispel Prayer-based magic from the other side on a reaction roll of Bad or better. The dominant alignment has Good Repute, the suppressed alignment has Ill Repute; these override the normal Repute for the class in general.
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