The following are some clever mechanics and a vague setting for an RPG I wrote up for a Pieces & Parts Challenge on RPG.net:
Go here: Random Generator
Select one generated theme, create a game based on genre(s) it provides, and post it here (including your generated theme). Rules must somehow support the suggested theme in play.
Which gave me:
Theme: things man-was-not-meant-to-know/religious conversion story.
The Wild West was a time of heroes and monsters, an age when man pushed into the dark recesses of the unexplored hinterlands, unearthing strange horrors and the fabulous rewards of lost civilizations.
Characters have six Skills. They are:
- The ability to punch and stab things, as well as generally be tough.
- The ability to shoot guns, throw knives, and such.
- How not to fall off a horse, stagecoach, boat, or summoned horror from the abyssal deep.
- Making people like you and do things you want.
- Coming up with cunning plans, noticing things, and deciphering ancient navajo texts written in blood.
- The art of not being seen, and general underhanded stuff.
Characters start with thirteen dice divided between their six skills any way you wish. You can leave a skill with no dice, but bear in mind that characters with no Talk and especially no Think are going to be just this side of unplayable.
At character creation, you can buy advantages at the cost of giving up some of your initial allotment of dice.
- You can spend up to three dice on Rich. One level of Rich means you have steady work and enough cash on hand to be comfortable. Two levels of Rich mean you're really well off. Three levels of Rich, and you're pretty much a robber baron who can buy entire towns on a whim. (Being Rich means that you've given into the decadent pleasures of civilization, which is why you're less skilled than those with barbarous lifestyles.)
- You've got helpers that respond to you, whether they be deputies, soldiers under your command, or graduate students you advise. You can spend up to six dice on Posse. If you spend X dice on Posse, then you have a number of Posse members equal to X(X+1)/2. Each Posse member is a nondescript individual with seven dice worth of skills. All posse members are typically identical, though they may be divided into two or three different specializations.
- You've got a reputation on which you can spend up to three dice. People have likely heard of you, or they may even recognize you by sight. One level of Famous means your name is well-known within a given geographic area (such as a few states, unless one of them is Texas) or among members of a given profession. Two levels of Famous means you're known on sight with the same focus as level-one fame, and most of the people in the country that have any sort of contact with others will find your name at least somewhat familiar. Three levels of fame means that everyone in the country recognizes you on sight. Note that fame can be a hindrance at times…
- If you're truly devout about whatever it is you believe in, you can put dice into Faith, which acts a special skill. You can use it to resist attempts to change your world view, and can add it to attempts to do something about horrid beings from outside our reality.
- Left-Handed folk are the only ones who can master the power of Sorcery. Being Left-Handed itself doesn't cost any dice, but it does let you allocate dice to the three sorcerous disciplines of Shadow, Flame, and Summoning. There's something of a prejudice against being left-handed, given that it usually implies you're a demon-summoning, fireball-throwing lord of darkness. This tends to get noticed when you sit down to eat, whip out your revolver, or even just shake hands.
- Being Ambidextrous is only available to people who are already left-handed and costs an additional die, but lets you conceal the fact that you're a Sorceror when you're not actively summoning demons and such.
Remember, only Left-Handed characters can possess the disciplines of Sorcery.
- Shadow can be used to conceal as well as to reveal, and to warp the minds of men. Shadow can be used to boost any task requiring precision and accuracy or to call forth unnatural darkness.
- Flame can temper as well as burn, and strengthen flesh as easily as char it. Flame can be used to boost any task requiring raw power or fortitude or to project infernal fire.
- Summoning is used to call up and control demonic servants with a wide variety of useful talents.
To play, you will need two types of dice, the ersatz d7 and the ersatz d13, hereinafter referred to as the e7 and e13. An e7 is a d6 with the 4 replaced by a 7. An e13 is a d12 with the 7 replaced by a 13.
To perform an action, state what you wish to do, then determine which of your six skills is most appropriate for the task. Consult your rating in the skill and roll that many e7s. If you are trying to do something to another character, then that character will oppose your actions with a roll of his or her own. If your action has no obvious target, then the GM assigns a difficulty rating.
|Easy||4||(A character with one die will succeed half the time.)|
|Hard||8||(A character with two dice will succeed half the time.)|
|Very Hard||12||(A character with three dice will succeed half the time.)|
|Insanely Hard||16||(A character with four dice will succeed half the time.)|
The high roll or difficulty rating wins.
In addition, whenever you roll a 7 on a die, make a note of it by indicating that you have a point of Luck. Your display of prowess has so awed the fates that they will cut you a break. Luck can be spent to help you out later. Crossing off a point of Luck lets you increase the result of any roll you make by one or avoid one point of injury from any source. You can also spend points of Luck to cause beneficial coincidences to occur for your character. You should state what you will to occur, then the GM will decide what the price in Luck points is, and you can choose whether or not to pay it. For events that benefit more than one character, you can all pitch in Luck points to buy the event.
Combat & Injury
To hurt other people or things, you generally attempt to make a Brawl or Shoot roll at them. Brawl rolls are generally opposed by Brawl. Shoot rolls are generally against a fixed difficulty based on distance, cover, and evasion action being taken by the target.
For every point by which the roll exceeds the difficulty or opposing roll, the victim will take one point of injury. Subtract your current injuries from the rolled result of any actions you take. If you are sufficiently injured, then you can't do anything, because your skills are insufficient to overcome the penalties you are laboring under. Injuries heal at the rate of one per night of good rest.
Shadow and Flame can be used to boost ordinary actions. For each point that you have in the relevant sorcerous discipline, you can replace one e7 that you would roll with an e13 instead. For instance, if Black Jack McGee has Brawl 3 and Flame 2, when trying to beat the unholy crap out of someone he can roll e7+2e13 instead of 3e7. Employing Sorcery always has obvious visual effects. For instance, Black Jack's hands might be wreathed in hellish fire if he uses Flame to boost his attacks. You never have to use sorcery, and can replace less than your maximum possible number of dice (see below for why you would want to).
Shadow can also be used to wreathe an area in unnatural darkness. Roll up to your Shadow rating in e13s. The result is a penalty applied to the result of actions in the immediate area that depend on perception for the rest of the scene.
Flame can be used to set things on fire. Roll up to your Flame rating in e13s to shoot gouts of fire from your hands as an attack. These flames can, of course, set flammable objects on fire. Performing this trick on dry prairies is inadvisable.
Summoning can be used to call up demons to do your bidding. To perform a summoning ritual, you need time and materials. It takes one hour per die you wish to roll, and you cannot roll more dice than your Summoning rating. When the ritual is complete, roll the appropriate number of e13s. The result is how many dice worth of skills are possessed by the demon you conjure up, allocated as appropriate for the task you had in mind. Once the demon appears, you need to get it to do your bidding, generally by Talking to it, but you can try tricking or threatening it instead of just agreeing to its initial price. Your Summoning discipline can boost your Talk rating when trying to convince the demon. Demons want all sorts of things—worship, baby livers, gold taken from a grave (if none are handy, make one…), or the truly inscrutable, such as a daguerreotype of a virgin wearing blue. If you can't come to an agreement, the demon may try to leave or attack you. The difficulty for the demon to break out of the summoning circle is based on how well made it is. Inlaid runes of gold on polished marble floors in special chambers tend to be more durable than grooves scratched in the dirt with a stick.
There are two risks involved in the use of Sorcery. First off, notice that e13s cannot roll any 7s; pushing the limits of what the world allows does not make it kindly disposed towards you. Secondly, e13s can roll 13s. In much the same way that 7s are beneficial, 13s are undesirable; such power comes at a price. Whenever you roll a 13, note down that you have acquired a point of Taint. Taint can also be acquired from other sources, primarily learning things that are better left unlearnt and prying into matters best left alone. Violating tombs, triggering curses, and reading tomes of blasphemous knowledge can all produce Taint, at the GM's discretion.
Taint may be gotten rid of by spending Luck on a one-to-one basis. Your current level of Taint acts a penalty to all your social interactions (primarily via Talk) just like injuries do; others can sense your inner darkness, and shy away from it. If the person you are dealing with also has Taint, the penalty is only equal to the amount by which your Taint exceeds that of the other damned soul. Thus, you suffer no penalty with respect to people that have Taint levels at least as high as yours.
Taint also drives men mad. When you go to sleep, roll one e7. If the result is less than or equal to your current Taint, then you have a fitful night and your sleep is plagued by dark visions. You will be at -1 to the results of all your actions for the next day. This penalty is cumulative over several nights of poor sleep, and persists until you get a decent sleep free of tortured images of dark things from beyond. (If you roll a 7 you automatically lose a point of Taint due to your particularly restful sleep, instead of gaining any Luck.) Additionally, on nights when your Taint causes you to lose sleep, roll an amount of e13s equal your current Taint; each 13 you roll gives you another point of Taint due to having dreamt of things best left undescribed. Faith can be used to resist this Taint gain. Roll your Faith in e7s; every 7 cancels out a point of Taint.
The world is a dark place full of great opportunities and great threats. Those that survive and obtain the things they seek will do so by their own hand. Dabbling in dark sorceries gives power, but at the risk of madness. Learning to bend the world to one's will requires learning more about the world than men were made to handle. Faith in a just world can stave off the clarity of insanity, but only for so long. Eventually, even the most devout of summoners will stumble across the truth that the horrid beings we know as demons are in truth servants left by a dead God to serve and protect humanity from the encroaching madness that lives beyond the void, which seeks to drive everything into chaos and to unmake all hope.