Since I've changed careers one thing I've missed is regular blog posting, both reading what the community puts out each week and what I can contribute to the circle. Although my hours may be excessive nowadays I want to try and kick things off with a post per day this week and I figure the best way to do that is to talk about simple topics without delving too deeply into nitty gritty design like I have in the past. Without further adieu I'm going to talk about a Quick Start guide I put together for the Avatar's & Annihilation rule set I put together.
Avatars & Annihilation (A&A) is a book saturated with the elements, player
characters (Avatars) can breath fire, whip a lake into a frenzied
whirlpool or restrain a muggers hand with nearby vines, likewise the
monsters you will encounter are equally blessed with elemental essence often with more power than control. That said A&A is divided into four parts and each
one is named after an element. The Book of Earth deals with Character
Let's run through the front page really quick. At the top we have your Origin and Home Turf; this is a combination of where you're from and what element you were born with as each nation is shaped both culturally and physically by the element that governs their island. Your favored element comes with a few perks while your cultural upbringing and Etiquette on your Home Turf describes who you get along with and the types of work you had prior to the life of heroics and adventuring. Note I don't use a skill system but one's background and profession influences what you're capable of before dice become involved.
Next up we have Archetypes. While there are many different classes one could specialize in with the right training or prestigious entry everything circles back to three broad archetypes for how you survive in a dangerous world. The Fighter is best at fighting, the Adventurer is tenacious and difficult to kill and lastly we have the Seeker capable of performing impressive feats and renowned deeds. Worried there's no sign of a magic-user class? Casting from scrolls and using a spellstaff isn't limited to a single class or Archetype, really you just have to be literate but we'll get to that later.
Moving to the middle we have Stats. Your primary ability scores are merged into Vigor, Agility, Perception and Revelation (VAPR). Personally I prefer 3d6 in order but 42 point buy is available. Now these stats do not effect combat and there are no modifiers to chase after, they're simply there to check and see if you can perform various actions while exploring. When your stats fail you there is a corresponding Saving Throw (GRID) to save your bacon.
Following Stats are Danger Levels, when you want to perform a maneuver or dangerous activity the GM will specify whether it's Risky, Reckless or Absurdly Dangerous each with their own range of values. If your Stat(s) exceed those values then you can complete them with ease, otherwise you'll need to attempt an exploit. An Exploit uses Intrepid Dice to bolster your Stat to exceed the challenge.
Example: Elpis the mild-mannered courier (V9 A13 P13 R7) is attempting to free climb up part of a wall then leap off it to catch a swinging rope and reach the other side of a crumbling castle. The GM decides this is a fairly risky (8) Vigor test to scale the wall and a reckless (16) Agility challenge to catch the rope. Elpis' Vigor already makes the cut so he'll need to make an Exploit to catch the rope. Should he fail the GM may allow a Saving Throw (Reflexes) to let him cling to the nearest handhold before falling to certain doom.
Coming up on the next Trio of bubbles we have a bit of customization for your Hero. An Attribute describes an area where your character is particularly renowned and carries a useful bonus. For example a Brave character is immune to Fear and adept at fighting while outnumbered while a Talented character picks up worldly skills with ease and rerolls any 1s.
Alignment is split three ways in this world where the Sun is on its last legs and old earth will soon be cast into infinite night. We have Saviors, those who have never given up hope; Survivors those who aren't concerned with good and evil just keeping themselves and their people alive; and then we have the Nihilists whose morals, moderation and concern have waned along with the Sun's light. Drive is a quick tidbit to give your GM an idea where to take the campaign that allows your characters to grow and bloom.
Lastly we get into some of the meat of the mechanics. In this game you have Hit Dice and Intrepid Dice. Intrepid Dice can be added to any D20 roll, they are there to help you succeed or at least stave off failure whether it be in the Combat Clash, Dangerous Exploration or a last minute Saving Throw. Hit Dice are there to either improve your constantly battered Hit Points or to add some extra oomph to your hits and bolster damage. At the start of an Adventure you start off with your pool of Hit Points and die pools for Hit Dice and Intrepid Dice (i.e. Elpis Level 3 HP 3d6+3, HD 3, ID 3). You earn a HD for each battle you survive and you earn ID for Heroic action. If you play it smart and cautious you may end up with more HP & HD than you started the Adventure with.
Rounding out the front page we have Proficiencies. This is a recent development we've been considering for a while as a way to give starting characters more ability to branch off into different disciplines right out the gate and give them something to develop throughout their career. Selecting Weapons allows you to specialize with a particular group (swords, spears, bows etc.) while choosing Armor will allow your Archetype to wear heavier armor or to move faster in their armor they are wearing. Spells give you access to three of the nine spell schools starting with Cantrips moving to Lesser then the most Formidable spells. Channeler allows you to make use of an Elemental Fury which contains more exotic and nuanced elemental effects beyond hurling fireballs and wind cutters. Using a more powerful Fury requires you to Channel Mana to saturate the environment and of course the proper training.
Next post we'll tackle the back page which encompasses outfitting your character.