I am currently designing a fantasy RPG called Silverlands. In brief, the game is built on the d20 chassis but hacked to use a 2d10 resolution mechanic and with many major subsystems completely redesigned.
While it’s not my design goal, it may be helpful to think of Silverlands as an “answer” to the OSR that’s seen through the lens of Rolemaster, Chivalry & Sorcery, Traveller, RuneQuest and other RPGs of the late 70s and early 80s, and even later RPGs designed in a similar or referential style. D&D itself is, to be sure, a strong influence as well, and the uttermost foundations still, I think, carry a strong familial resemblance.
While also not my intent, you may also see Silverlands as a “fantasy heartbreaker,” and I’m completely comfortable with that label. It is a personal “desert island game,” that I have wanted to design, and in some sense have been designing, for many years. It is an very personal project, made for me, and if other folks get something from it, so much the better. Questions about potential future publication plans are not pertinent at this time, although it’s my intention to eventually distribute it in some manner.
About the Game
Characteristics are rolled randomly, but in due time I intend to add some kind of deterministic system for setting the scores. The game has classes (Vocations) and character levels, but also has a loose but expansive skill system. Character generation is a “light lifepath” affair, where a big chunk of your starting abilities come from your background and the basic training of your chosen vocation. (You can think of these as level -1 and 0, if you like, although they aren’t framed that way.) You also fully develop your character for level 1 before starting play. The level range is purposefully tight: 1-9 is the general range, and anything beyond it is in Demigod territory.
I am very cognizant of the issues surrounding undue rules complexity. At the same time, though, I personally prefer juicier games when it comes to fantasy RPG. These rules will try to strike a balance between the two extremes, and, once stable, they will not suffer further bloat. In most cases I think that you’ll find a complexity level somewhere between that of D&D 5th Edition and D&D 3.0 — and concerning the latter, I mean only the core rules included in the PHB, not the whole array of rules and supplements. I regard this as an absolute cap on rules density.
When all is said and done, this means that Silverlands should end up being noticably less complicated than the systems in the D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder core books. But it will not be a “light” game.
Progress so Far
The game still has a long way to go; currently I am drafting the mechanics. This is not a book draft, but an outline of how everything works mechanically. I’m calling it the “skeleton.” At the moment the basic core mechanic is hammered out to this level, along with combat and part (but a usable part) of the magic system. Character creation is drafted as well, but again with only a fraction of the planned options.
With that out of the way, let’s start taking a look at specific mechanics, starting with the basics of the game system.
The following are generally in effect:
- When halving or otherwise dividing, always round down unless otherwise specified. (Aside: There will be no such speficication if I can help it.)
- The game uses D10s in various ways, and d4s for stat generation. I am not opposed to using other kinds of dice, but currently we only use d4 and d10.
The Core Mechanism
Checks are called for when the success or failure of an action is in question. They are rolled on 2d10 and come in several types:
A basic check is made against a Difficulty set by the GM. If a check type is not otherwise specified it is considered a basic check. A table of Difficulty guidelines is provided below. If the check equals or exceeds the Difficulty with his or her final result, the action is a success.
A contested check or contest is performed against another character or entity’s skill. Both parties roll and add the appropriate modifiers; the roller of the higher total succeeds or is victorious, with the specifics determinedby the GM. If the final result is a tie, it is indeterminate, although one participant may prevail by default, where deemed appropriate by the GM.
An extended check is used for a lengthy action involving several skills. Each skill is rolled individually, and a mix of regular and contested checks may be called for. If any of the checks succeeds, the overall action is successful, but the GM will introduce complications for any checks that fail. These complications can include combat but normally shouldn’t.
The GM can break out of an extended check to perform a regular combat, or can resolve it with a single quick combat check and a quick narration. At the end of the combat the GM can deside whether it was a success or failure based on the results.
A quick battle check can be used when a whole battle needs to be resolved with a single roll. This is a contested check where the two sides add their Quick Battle Bonus (QBB) to the roll. The higher total wins, and each losing participant suffers conditions with levels equal to the difference, along with a consequence determined by the GM. (Aside: Yes, this needs further development; an iteration of it will eventually appear in a set of mass combat rules.)
Regardless of the type of check, a character will add a Skill Bonus (SB) to the roll. This bonus is equal to the number of ranks the character has in the skill plus the modifier of the relevant characteristic. If a skill has multiple characteristics, the lowest modifier is used.