I'm actually working on two games. They use the same system; I started writing Shifters and then realised that the system worked really well for an RPG set in the Tron universe. So I've begun adapting the rules for a game called The Grid.
I got the idea for Shifters when playing with a group that would cycle through GMs; one GM would run a game, then another GM would take over and run a different game. We played Changeling a lot, and one of the games was a crossover of Mage: The Ascension and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Several of the players in that group were new to gaming, and there was talk of introducing them to a lot of different RPGs. I found myself worrying about the fact that every time we switched to a new genre, we'd have to teach them a new system and spend time creating new characters. Even if we'd used a universal system like GURPS, we'd still have to make new characters every time we switched genres.
That's where I got the idea for Shifters. It works on a similar premise to the old TV series Quantum Leap; the characters are participants in a 23rd century experiment to travel between alternate universes or dimensions or planes or whatever. But something goes wrong; instead of appearing in the new dimension, they've swapped places with someone from that dimension. They maintain their physical and mental characteristics, but for whatever reason (illusion, mental projection, etc) everyone (including other party members) sees them as the person with whom they've swapped places. So for example, if shifting into a sword-and-sorcery dimension, one character might trade places with an elf, and everyone who looks at the character sees the elf, even though the character is a 23rd century human.
This allows you to use the same characters no matter what genre you're playing; after a while in the current setting, you shift to a new one, allowing new players to sample a different genre without having to create a new character or learn a new rules system.
The mechanics use what I named 'The Merge Engine.' It took the best bits of other systems, plus a bit of a dice fetish, and merged them into a whole. It takes the streamlined skills and attributes of the original World of Darkness, the combat system from GURPS melded with the initiative system of Exalted, the health and damage system from Blue Planet, and a dice-rolling system of my own invention, and turns them all into a cohesive whole.
Here's how it works: there are five attributes -- Strength, Agility, Reason, Psyche, and Essence -- rated from 2 to 10. Subtracting the attribute from 12 gives you that attribute's Target Number (so a Strength of 5 gives you a Strength Target Number of 7, and so on). You roll three dice, one of which is a different colour (this is called the Botch Die), and every die that comes up equal to or greater than the Target Number increases your success level. If one die equals or exceeds the Target Number, it's a Partial Success. Two dice is a Complete Success. All three dice gives you an Epic Success. If all three dice are less than the Target Number, it's a Failure. If all three dice are less than the target number AND the Botch Die is a 1, then it's an Epic Failure.
You can buy up to three ranks in skills, which will modify your Target Number when rolling for that skill.
Here's the thing: you use different dice depending on the difficulty level of the task you are attempting. Whenever you make a roll, the GM will tell you whether the task is Very Easy, Easy, Average, Hard, or Very Hard. The easier the task, the larger the dice you will use. So you will roll 3d12 for a Very Easy task, 3d10 for an Easy task, 3d8 for an Average task, 3d6 for a Hard task, and 3d4 for a Very Hard Task.
The damage system doesn't use Hit Points; instead, each injury has a chance to kill you independent of any other injuries you may have already sustained. This more closely resembles how it works in real life. If your character is the victim of a successful attack, you take the Damage Rating of the attack (for example, a punch or a kick might be Damage Rating 3, whereas a laser pistol might be Damage Rating 9), modify by your character's Endurance (a derived attribute based on Strength and Essence), and roll an Easy roll using the modified Damage Rating as your Target Number. On an Epic Success, you take no damage. On a Complete Success, you take a Flesh Wound (each two full Flesh Wounds gives you a -1 penalty to all subsequent rolls except damage rolls). On a Partial Success, you must roll to stay conscious. On a Failure, you must roll to avoid dying. On an Epic Failure, you simply die.
That's the general rules system. The Grid works the same way, although there were some slight tweaks made to the attributes to reflect the fact that there is no magic on the grid.
I'm to the point where I'm ready to release a beta version for playtesting, but I want to have some illustrations before I do so. I've got a couple I've thrown together for The Grid, which aren't very good (because I can't draw well at all), but I need several more. I'm hoping for about 15, give or take a couple, on top of what I already have. What I've done so far is to take photos and trace them or manipulate them in GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Programme), so they're not great. But if anyone is willing to draw some more Tron illustrations for me (or to pose for photos that I can trace), I'd appreciate it.
I'll need quite a few more for Shifters, as that's a longer document. These illustrations can be from any genre; fantasy, sci-fi, modern, pulp action, historical, etc.
You can see the illustrations I have so far in the folder I set up on Photobucket. I would love to have your feedback! Or, if you're willing to donate your time, I'd also love any illustrations you're willing to send me. Just leave a comment here and I'll contact you!
Until next time,
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