I want to make our game more immersive by replacing conventional character sheets and RPG math with more realistic, narrative-based mechanics. Instead of choosing a power from a list, checking to see whether it’s an at-will power, encounter power, or daily power, rolling a d20 and adding your ability modifier to it, comparing the result to an enemy’s defensive stats, then rolling and adding modifiers again to determine damage and subtracting that number from an HP total, I would rather do something like this:
Reagan says that her character Ulf is going to try to behead a guard. Reagan points out that Ulf is a lumberjack who has swung an axe tens of thousands of times before. James (the GM) also takes into account that the guard is a trained fighter and will do everything in his power to avoid being beheaded. James judges that Ulf needs a roll of 16 or better to succeed. Reagan rolls a 14—close. Ulf swings his axe and the guard raises his arms to protect his head. The guard’s right arm is nearly severed. “HP” is not a factor—it will be much harder for the guard to fight for his life with one arm.
This sword cuts both ways. By replacing HP with descriptive injuries, strategic thinking and staying out of harm’s way will become paramount. I think that this will make for much more dramatic combat than adding and subtracting numbers.
Numbers are out, words are in. Rather than scan your character sheet for the appropriate skill or ability score, you’ll make a case to the group that something from your character’s background applies to the situation at hand. That means your character needs to consist of:
- Basics: Name, age, gender, race, appearance
- Background: Examples of some topics you can cover include:
- Where did your character come from?
- What makes her unique?
- What motivates her? What is her ultimate goal in life?
- Why is she good at doing the things she’s good at doing?
- How has she made a living until now?
- What emotion best describes her? What emotion does she evoke in others?
- What is the worst thing that has ever happened to her? The best thing?
Obviously you don’t have to answer all of these questions, but they may be helpful in writing your character’s background. When writing, please keep two things in mind:
- Interesting characters have flaws. If your character is an athlete, her abilities shouldn’t exceed those of someone like Bo Jackson or Bruce Lee. If your character uses magic, you should glance at the page for Magic and limit her starting abilities to those of a gifted apprentice rather than a grandmaster. In this universe, powerful magic is rare and in some cases illegal.
- Our campaign will begin in Grand El-Yador. Every character should be a resident of Grand El-Yador and enter this campaign with the following set-up:
- The emancipation of human slaves and the influx of Valorisian refugees created a severe work shortage in Grand El-Yador. The Grand Council devised a plan to combat joblessness: the formation of Free Companies, teams of citizens who are paid to complete tasks that improve the state of the kingdom. Positions in a Free Company are highly coveted and determined by lottery. Your characters each have a letter of invitation to join a Free Company.
If you need inspiration, check out the rest of the Wiki. If you have any questions, let me know. Thanks!