Earth & Sky

Submitted by Mapache on Sat, 2004-06-12 00:00

The following is a quick little idea for an RPG I wrote up for a Pieces & Parts Challenge on

It's been a while since we've done one of these. For those new to P&P, the rules are simpleā€”build a game (system and setting) involving the pieces and parts listed below and post it for everybody's amusement and inspiration.

  • The pieces are:
    1. tattoos
    2. temptation
    3. tempests
  • The parts are:
    1. single roll task resolution
    2. use only one stat

Get creative!

For ages have all men known that there are but two things that matter in this world, Earth and Sky. The Children of the Earth slog through the mud, drudging through their dreary existence day by day. The Children of the Sky flit from here to there without a care, laughing and cavorting across the ages.

The Children of the Earth look longingly at the Sky, and wish they had such freedom. The Children of the Sky are fascinated by the Earth, jaded by their lives of empty nothingness. And both should be careful what they wish for, for they just may get it.

By inscribing in the flesh the marks of the other realm, Children can partake of the essence of their counterparts. However, nothing is without its price. Becoming more of the other realm by necessity forfeits part of this one.

A Child of the Earth who wishes to frolic and cavort and dash through creation and dine on clouds can mark upon himself the whorls and twists of the wind, with each line making him lighter and wispier until at last he cannot even remember who he was, but a mindless laugh on the breeze.

A Child of the Sky who wishes to truly experience life and feel passion and love and anger and pain can mark upon himself the rough blocks of stone and the solid clumps of soil, with each blot becoming more solid and more real until every last thing is a burden seeking to crush him underneath.

Those of either type who change too far can wander back, some bobbing too and fro in their Natures, their bodies becoming unmanageable masses of swirls and blobs, their flesh disappearing beneath unnatural ink. Children who refuse to commit to a single state become dangerously unhinged, mad hails of stone and avalanches of air that threaten all around them like a raging Tempest which must be stopped at all costs.

To create a character, choose whether your base Nature is Earth or Sky. Then, assign a number from one to ten to that Nature.

To resolve actions of any sort, roll 2d10. One die should be black or brown to represent Earth, and the other should be white or blue to represent Sky. For tasks involving strength, stamina, wisdom, or other forms of certainty and dependability, the Earth die is Acting. For tasks the involving agility, wits, charm, or other forms of speed and slickness, the Sky die is Acting. The die which is not Acting is Controlling.

If the Acting die matches your Nature, you have succeeded if it is less than or equal to your Nature, and your degree of success is equal to the Controlling die plus your Nature. If the Acting die opposes your Nature, you have succeeded if it is greater than or equal to your Nature and your degree of success is equal to just the Controlling die. If you did not succeed, you failed, and your degree of failure is equal to the Controlling die alone if the Acting die matched your Nature, and equal to the Controlling die plus your Nature if the Acting die opposed your Nature.

The GM should narrate appropriately the outcome of an attempt based on the degree of success or failure. For opposed rolls, the higher degree of success or lower degree of failure wins.

At the end of each session, you may apply tattoos to either increase or decrease your character's Nature by one, if you so wish. Note on your character sheet whether the change was an increase or a decrease. If this change is in the opposite direction of the previous change (e.g. You began with Earth 7, then changed to Earth 6, and now went back to Earth 7.) add a check mark to your character sheet and then roll 1d10. If you roll less than the number of checks, you have acquired the dual Nature of a Tempest. Add the other Nature to your character sheet with a rating of ten minus your new Nature. Tempests always resolve tasks with whichever Nature is more favorable.

Tempest characters can only increase their Natures, never decrease them. At the end of each session, Tempest characters must roll both elemental dice. If the die is greater than the Tempest's current Nature for that die, the temptation to add another tattoo is too strong, and that Nature must be increased. If the die is less than or equal to that current Nature, it may be left unchanged. When a character reaches 10 in both Natures, he goes completely insane and may no longer be played, as he is now a dangerous force of chaos.