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Revolution D100

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

The Core Principles of Revolution

Dear  Contributors and would-be contributors,

With this message we begin a series of updates about the contents of the Revolution D100 proposed draft which  you will receive, for commenting and playtesting purposes, at the end of the funding campaign, and which we will turn into the SRD and complete game in early 2016. The first two updates discuss generic principles, while later updates will include more specific details and previews of practical game elements like stat blocks, tables, etc.

For some of the advanced updates, I will let Simon and Charles speak, in order to describe the Merrie England: Robyn Hode and Homeward settings.

And now for today's update:


1. The rules should provide all the answers

Most fans of D100 games are experienced roleplayers, and love to tinker with the rules and adapt them to suit their taste. Needless to say, this is still possible with Revolution D100. However, we strongly believe that while a GM can always change a detail that does not work well for his or her group, this does not mean that a game author should fail to describe an important procedure "because it is a consolidated RPG practice that everyone already knows" or to provide a recommended solution for a situation that might arise "because there  is a GM for this". The GM is there to infuse life in the game world, not to fill the blanks in the rules.

Thus the Revolution D100 core book describes and regulates some procedures commonly applied at any game table but hardly ever detailed in a classic rulebook, like "what is downtime and what you do during it" or "how to handle different party members doing things on a different timescale". Revolution introduces, for instance, the concept of timescale as a core concept of the rules, thus giving you a solid set of procedures for handling the interaction between player statements and the flow of events in the game world. It is up to you to use the rules "out of the box" or change them, but the procedures are there, clear and defined for you to read, and for the inexperienced GM to learn from them.

Of course, this leaves us with the problem of not producing a bloated set of rules. The next two principles are there to ensure that this risk does not manifest.

2. Only keep track of significant events

Some classic games sound like an exercise for accountants, at times. They are still extremely fun, but is book-keeping a necessary part of the game? Maybe there is another way. In Revolution, details and scores are recorded on your character sheet only when a significant event occurs, that is when you lose or win a challenge that the Narrator has opposed to the party.

Let us use an example of a subject that is often boring or underestimated - albeit necessary - in classic RPGs: fatigue and supply consumption when travelling in a hostile territory. Keeping track of how many hours you travel in armour , or how many hours your experienced hunters devote  to replenishing your stock of dried meat, and then cross-indexing these quantities with the appropriate tables in the rules may be realistic, but it is not particularly interesting. In Revolution you do not need to do any of this: if the Narrator wishes to introduce these elements as an obstacle, he or she must simply run the journey as a challenge to the survival and exploration skills of the party. Any inconvenience due to lost stamina or supplies will be the byproduct of how well your adventurers performed. Did they win all Survival rolls? Then they managed to rest while travelling, and to hunt enough to keep some rations in stock, and to find plenty of water. Let's skip the details about how they did this and move on with the interesting parts of the adventure. Did they lose the challenge or at least suffer some marginal losses? Then the Narrator can count the point losses they suffered versus a penalty labeled and described as "fatigue" or "depleted supplies" or both, and applied to a significant scene later in the adventure, like combat with goblins at the end of a travel day, or exploring a cave complex once the first part of the trip is over.

3. You can add crunch to each subsystem independently

Of course, someone will  not find the above "narrative" approach satisfactory enough when it comes to the parts of the adventure that he or she wants to describe in deep detail (combat, for the average old school RPG player, but this is not always the case). Depending on what type of campaign you are running, there might be scenes for which the broad description of "what happens" provided by the Revolution core conflict system is not enough.

For this reason Revolution is designed to facilitate the adoption of optional subsystems as "plug ins" that can seamlessly replace the core system for some kind of scenes. Advanced fantasy combat is an example of this. These subsystems will provide rules that offer a direct, detailed description of the outcome of a die roll: how much damage does a sword slash yield, and to what part of the body; by how much does the ship engine overheat if the engineer fails his Warp Drive roll; how many terabytes of information your netrunner can smuggle out of the cyberspace with a Net Hacking success; and so on. But you only need to employ a "crunchy" subsystem for those particular aspects of the adventure that constitute the core and main focus of your campaign. And of course, many subsystems will not be in the core book but in specific genre books or settings.

  • Andrea Rocci

    I like the three principles. Very modern, and yet perfectly compatible with traditional tastes,
    Procedures (as opposed to resolution mechanics) are an often overlooked aspect of game systems.