22 November 2015

An Overview of Shifters

It has been a very crazy couple of weeks. I haven't posted according to the schedule in some time. But at least I've got the beta playtest draught of Shifters ready to go. So this week, I thought I'd give you a quick overview of how the game works.

Characters have five primary attributes:
  • Strength: An overall measure of physical sturdiness, covering body mass, lifting and carrying capacity, health, endurance, damage capability, etc.
  • Agility: A rating of flexibility and co-ordination, which includes the basis for most physical skills and proficiency in weapon use and combat.
  • Reason: A description of general mental capacity, including logical thinking and rational cognition. It doesn't cover knowledge, though.
  • Psyche: This is the attribute that covers what you know (rather than the ability to use what you know in a logical manner). Also governs social ability.
  • Essence: This is the supernatural ability. It covers willpower, but also ability to use magic, psionics, and most superpowers, as well as resistance to these.
Each is rated from 2 to 10. The ratings are then subtracted from 12, to give you that attribute's target number (thus, if you had a Reason of 7, your Reason Target Number is 5). You purchase levels in attributes using Character Creation Points (CCPs), with each level in an attribute costing 5 CCPs. Normally, you start the game with 150 CCPs, but the GM may alter this depending on what sort of game he's running.
Don't spend all your CCPs on attributes, though; you need to save some for skills. Each skill is rated as Simple, Average, or Hard. Regardless of skill rating, each can be bought at Novice level for 2 CCPs, at Advanced level for 4 CCPs, or at Expert level for 6 CCPs. If you don't put any CCPs in a skill, you are considered Untrained. When rolling with a skill, the level of the skill modifies the Target Number of the attribute being used, as follows:

Untrained Novice Advanced Expert
Simple Skills Target Number +1 Target Number +0 Target Number -1 Target Number -2
Average Skills Target Number +2 Target Number +1 Target Number +0 Target Number -1
Hard Skills No Roll Possible Target Number +2 Target Number +1 Target Number +0

To make any roll, you will roll 3d. The type of dice depends on the difficulty of the roll as set by the GM. Very Easy rolls use d12s, Easy rolls use D10s, Average rolls use d8s, Difficult rolls use d6s, and Very Difficult rolls use d4s. If no dice equal or exceed the effective Target Number, the roll is a Failure. If one die equals or exceeds, the roll is a Partial Success. If two dice equal or exceed, it's a Complete Success. If all three dice equal or exceed, it's an Epic success.

However, one of the three dice must be easily distinguishable from the others; this is the Botch Die. If no dice equal or exceed the effective Target Number, and the Botch Die shows a 1 (both of these must be true; if the Botch Die shows a 1 but one or both of the other dice equals or exceeds the Target Number, this does not count), then you have achieved an Epic Failure.

Combat is different in Shifters than in most other games. Initiative uses a circular track; each action has a Tick Rating, which describes how long that action takes. After taking an action, you move your marker along the track a number of spaces equal to the Tick Rating of that action. Thus, there are no rounds; characters may not get an equal number of turns.

An attacker makes a roll, but if the attacker's target is able to defend (dodge or block), the target can take either an initiative penalty to his next action, or a penalty to his next Target Number. This can be up to three, depending on how many levels he has in the appropriate skill. This defense modifies the attacker's skill roll. If successful, the lethality rating of the attack becomes the Target Number for the victim's damage roll (-1 to Lethality Rating if the attack was a Partial Success; +1 to Lethality Rating if it was an Epic Success). If the Damage roll is an Epic Failure, he immediately dies. If it is a Failure, he will die unless he receives medical attention quickly. If a Partial Success, he may fall unconscious. In either of these cases, he takes a Serious Injury, which increases all subsequent rolls' Target Numbers by 1. If the damage roll is a Complete Success, he takes only a Flesh Wound. Every two Flesh Wounds modify subsequent target rolls by 1. An Epic Success means no significant damage is accrued.

There are no hit points. This system more closely mimics the way injuries happen in real life.

That's a very basic overview. I took the initiative system from Exalted, the damage system from Blue Planet, and other bits and pieces from various other games, and merged them with my own idea for using the type of dice to reflect the difficulty level of a roll, and thus I call the system used in Shifters the Merge Engine.

But please, download the pdf, try it out, and let me know what you think. Until next week,

Game on!

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