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Simplified Fantasy system for freeform

Simplified Fantasy system for freeform

Goal - Design a simple rule system to use in a freeform game

I love freeform games, but find that it can be hard to get people on the same page. Player A wants to play a gruff barbarian and player B wants to play gandalf.

I also find that without SOME level of challenge, that freeform starts to fall apart.

I have also found that most characters, crunch wise, in dnd-style games tend to be easily described in only two or three words.

Dex-fighter, trap finding rogue, battlefield control wizard, battle-cleric.

Deep down, if I say "Smart fighter" every single person will get a similar image in their head. If I say Charismatic rogue, we all think the same thing.

My arguments
1. Fantasy character concepts are so ingrained in our minds that simply naming a class gives most people a similar concept
2. We can further define that said character class by attaching a descriptive word to it
3. We can make the broad statement that in a world of freeform and a world with low crunch stats, that ALL characters are of roughly equal "power"

System Concept:

Character creation crunch is limited to two words. The class and the stat that represents the characters special aspect. We assume a baseline for all characters of a stat.

All barbarians are strong warriors of brute strength and lower intellect. We don't worry about feats and builds. A babarian has access to all things that a barbarian would. A strength-Barbarian is seemingly impossibly strong. A Dexterity-barbarian is still incredibly strong, but unusually agile. An Intelligence-Barbarian is still incredibly strong, but is better able to plan, use skills, etc.

Characters are all of the same "power level" but can be better at different things. In a 1 on 1 fight, a str barbarian and an int-wizard are equally matched. However, as part of a party, each has very different uses, pros and cons.

Die rolling is an opposed d20 roll, modified by common sense and the story telling of the player. A player controlling a rogue that is stealthing behind an enemy to get a sneak attack would receive a much bigger modifier than a barbarian trying to do the same thing.

Die rolling is limited to fights and major game changing plot points. Die rolling is also limited to only a few rolls per event. This allows the game to move forward faster. A fight might be best 2 out of 3 or may be simply one roll.

We can also assume that most rolls are going to be wins, but only effect how well the character wins. A successful roll is an outright success. A failed roll is a success with negative consequences. "Yes you kill him, but he manages to land a terrible blow before you do"

Characters are all of the same "power level" but can be better at different things. In a 1 on 1 fight, a str barbarian and an int-wizard are equally matched. However, as part of a party, each has very different uses, pros and cons.
Unfortunately, this is where I think things tend to start going awry with freeform games. The general concept is that, and one that has made fantasy characters, even in stories long before rpg gaming, is the realistic concept of matters of 'classes'. For instance, what makes a barbarian so strong and such a formidable opponent in melee or even ranged weapons, is that they've spent years, honing those skills, and most likely having been born into a specific tribe or such other similar aspect, where blood-lines have genetically conformed to a specific musculature build. The time spent honing their combat skills would leave little (though certainly some if so inclined) time for most of the members of this community to practice and learn the arts of magic. By the same pretense, if one were to spend his time practicing such arcane arts, or maybe the arts of subtlety and stealth in a rogue role, to perfect these would overwhelm the time spent on swordsmanship or bow training, leaving him weaker than average in that aspect.

Then the flip side, say as a wizard. The arcane arts take many hours and years of study to perfect. This would leave few if any wizards much time to study physical combat, though they could take some courses in basic defense to protect themselves to a small extent should their spells fail them.

According to these concepts, only at higher levels where characters have mastered their skills enough to open more available time to study in other class roles would they be possibly be able to stand toe-to-toe in a one-on-one fight (unless of course, you're assuming the wizard is keeping his distance and using his magic, avoiding direct melee conflict).

These are just my thoughts, as it is your concept it's your decision how to judge these things. Just thowing in my views on the matter for consideration

I'm not sure where your point is aimed at

I think DND does a decent job of suggesting classes as archetypes, which is why I am using it as a general frame work. This system will use stated levels to envision power and ability.

When I say wizard, people typically picture a frail-built caster of high intellect. When I saw cleric, we think of a religious person in armor with a mace and holy symbol.

They key to this concept though is that we only use these concepts as a baseline for the "statistics" of the game. As it is designed to be a freeform game, the characters are open to use their imagination. We modify the character "class" with a stat to show an unusual level of training.

A Strength Wizard is probably one with martial training. While we assume that it can do wizardy things akin to its level but is unusually strong. A wisdom wizard is probably one of religion/natural/self reflective. They can do wizardy things akin to its level, but would be harder to influence than other wizards and more wise to the ways of the world.

On the flip side, an intelligent barbarian would be smarter than average, while still being large, strong and muscular.

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