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Revolution D100

A new RPG from the makers of Stupor Mundi and Merrie England

CHARACTERISTICS, SKILLS AND SEQUENCES

Second appointment with our updates about the basic principles of Revolution D100. These articles are more about the idea than the implementation, and many of you want to see the implementation, we know. Nevertheless, we think that explaining the underlying concepts will be useful for your understanding.

Characteristics versus skills

Historically, D100 games are among the first skill-based RPG systems. Yet they feature a rather classic set of Characteristics that represent the basic physical and mental features of your character – not how well he or she will perform, but rather how your character is shaped.

Yet one question commonly arises among players of all those excellent D100 games that people play: why do you measure skills on a different scale (percentile) than characteristics (1-20)? Why this barrier to their interaction?

In truth, this is a very good question. And different games provide different answers about the different roles or characteristics and skills.

The answer that Revolution provides is quite simple and game-oriented: characteristics are used to calculate the resources your character has available (physical prowess, cunning, personal magnetism), while skills represent how effectively he or she will use those resources. Thus, both have an important role in how your character will interact with the game world, and these roles are not interchangeable.

In Revolution, you do not calculate or roll a chance based on a characteristic, and you do not use a skill to determine an attribute score.

Now someone will say that characteristics are useless when it comes to interacting with the game world, if you never roll them. However, this is not the case. Because Revolution does not suggest you to play by simply rolling one D100 and determining the outcome of an interaction. It suggests you to run all significant interactions as conflicts – where both your characteristics and your skills will count.

How do you use characteristics and skills in a sequence?

First, let us exchange the term “conflict” with the word “sequence”. Conflict and scene are terms that have a specific and clear meaning in RPG design theory, but these updates are not for theorists but for gamers. Thus, although the word conflict is perfectly suited to define what goes on, it smells of game theory; talking about a “sequence” instead reminds us of an exciting part of a movie when tension rises and the heroes accomplish some important feats to overcome a deadly challenge.

At the start of a sequence, the Narrator determines what characteristic will be used as your point pool, depending on the main focus of the sequence; normally, CHA for social interactions, INT for investigation, DEX for acrobatic challenges, CON for survival and so on. In some cases, the Narrator can rule that the average of two characteristics is used.

The Narrator then determines who is your opponent, whether an impersonal force (the Old Forest, the Curse of Anubis, etc.) or some non-player character, and assigns it a pool of points based on a characteristic for an individual or on an abstract arbitrary value for an impersonal entity.

The characteristic point pools work exactly like Hit Points in classic RPG combat: if your pool depletes before your opponent’s, you lose.

In order to determine who “scores a hit” on the opponent’s pool, player characters and their opposition roll on their appropriate skills. Unlike the characteristic used for the pool, which remains fixed, the skill used may vary according to the action described for each round. As all of these rolls are opposed, player characters might find themselves forced to use a wide array of skills as the opposition tests them in search of their weaknesses. If more than one player character is involved in a sequence, inactive characters may use their abilities to provide bonuses to the character who is rolling for effect, or defending against an enemy attack.

Thus, in a Star Trek game, you may have a sequence involving the USS Enterprise negotiating a dangerous asteroid field. The base pool for the Federation crew is of course based on Captain Kirk’s INT, while the opposition uses an arbitrary value determined by the Narrator according to how dangerous he or she wants the obstacle to be. During the Narrator’s turn in the sequence, you may have boulders heading for the Enterprise and Mr. Sulu maneuvering to avoid them; if Mr. Scott has declared that he is overcharging the engines for a limited interval of time, his Operate [Pulse Drive] skill will support Sulu’s remarkable Pilot [Spaceship] abilities. Later, when the time comes for the crew to take the initiative, you may have Mr. Cechov use his Ranged Combat [Phasers] skill to fire at the asteroids, supported by Mr. Spock’s Operate [Sensors] to predict their trajectories.

Whoever wins these challenges will subtract 1d6 points from the opposition’s pool, until there is only one winner left. And here Captain Kirk’s well-known smarts may make the difference, as the player characters have a bigger resource pool to tap!

You might argue of course that this is too simplistic for a true Star Trek game. This is probably true. Such an abstract interaction is only recommendable for a kind of sequence that is not the core of the game. You will use it for sequences that are likely to happen once or twice per campaign: for those that take place each session, you will probably want to introduce an advanced, “pluggable” subsystem.

However, the core sequence rules of Revolution D100 are a precious tool to handle those moments in your game for which you do not want to introduce an entire new subsystem, and yet you want to feel epic. Do not underestimate them, you will find them handy.

  • Andrea Rocci

    Charactersitics as "hit points"/ "sanity" is a beautiful and simple mechanic. I'm going to steal it immediately for my RQ6 game.

  • Mankcam

    These rules sound pretty good!

  • don_coyote

    This reminds of fate and motivations Mecha. Very interesting.

  • trentincbergeron

    Core sequence rules are nifty! I could see these used for social conflict and building things under pressure. I look forward to seeing suggested plug-ins and uses.