Modos RPG

How do I fight?

The combat chapter gives a play example at its beginning, but I wanted to break combat down to a simpler level yet. Now the Physical Conflict section begins with just such a combat breakdown, which includes a little fluff for comprehension.

There are 15 steps in the combat breakdown, and 8 are called required. It looks complicated on paper, but I’m hoping it’s easily understandable after one or two read-throughs.

Required steps:
Roll initiative.
Determine surprise.
Count actions.
Take turns.
End turns.
Round up.
Minimum damage.
End the round.

Progress: Physical Damage

I Just rewrote physical damage. It’s the same as before, but now it’s a different type of Progress: the way you measure goal achievement.

Also, what your damage means is up to you. If you have one health left, you could be bleeding profusely and clinging to consciousness, or be perfectly fine until the fatal blow ends you.

Postures – the abstract way that your position is defined – are coming along too. Offense is the default posture, and defensive posture is only available under certain circumstances.

Progress is the New Damage

The unifying feature of version 1.3 is the progress system. Progress can be used to turn anything into a conflict, whether you’re fighting skeletons, decoding enemy transmissions, or weakening an aggressive black hole.

Here’s the progress copy, for your reading pleasure:

Every extended conflict has an outcome, a goal pursued by each opponent. If it is destroying a squad of robots, picking a lock, or usurping a king, progress is what measures the path from start to finish.
Each side of a conflict gets a progress pool, and contests that contribute to a side’s goal add progress points to that pool. If you are in combat, your progress pool is usually your enemy’s physical damage pool. If you’re on an interstellar council, the GM might give you a debate pool to fill. Maximum, or max, progress is the capacity of the pool, or the total progress points needed to reach the goal.
Earning progress points requires successful contests. Progress contests come in two varieties: attacks and defenses. An attack is an attempt to earn progress, and a defense is an attempt to prevent an attack. If skills apply, the skill needed depends on the conflict. For example, a shootout would use fight (missile) for attacks, and defend (parry) for defenses. An aircraft dogfight would use profession (pilot), knowledge (scholarship), and deceive for attacks, and profession (pilot), knowledge (scholarship), and detect for defenses.
When you earn progress points with a successful contest, you’ll get to roll a progress die that reflects your ability to make progress. In combat, your progress die is your weapon or spell’s damage die. When picking a lock, your progress die can depend on your skill points or quality of lockpicks. When arguing with the president of Botswana, your progress die can increase with the size of your military, for example. In general, progress dice should start at d6.
To prevent progress, many opponents will have some sort of protection. Protection has a corresponding die like progress, which applies regardless of defense actions, and the result of the protection roll is subtracted from each corresponding progress roll. Protection cannot completely eliminate progress; only successful defenses eliminate progress. If progress minus protection ever equals zero or less, the result is instead one.
For example, Mercury is battling Poseidon in a test of wills on Mount Olympus. Each takes turns making juvenile insults, because that’s how gods fight, and the outcome of the insults isn’t very clear. So the GM asks Mercury to make a persuade contest against Poseidon. Mercury rolls persuade, adding his metaphysical bonus and persuade points to d20, for 87 total. Poseidon defends with defend (willpower), since his persuade skill isn’t very high. Poseidon gets 76. Mercury already rolled progress to save time, and got 18. Poseidon takes half for metaphysical protection, getting 10, so he adds the difference of 8 to his MP damage pool. If Poseidon had a defense contest of 88 or more, Mercury would not make progress. Whoever reaches max MP damage first will lose the test of wills. The GM will likely decide that the MP damage isn’t permanent since it’s just an argument.

How difficult is "difficult?"

The nice thing about using an “average person” rule for determining difficulties is that it enables every GM to quickly ask, “could I do this? How hard would it be?”

With that in mind, the new version will be providing some difficulty examples:

Special combat maneuver, like disarming, or
impersonating a guard without a uniform-(4)
Fast movement across ice, or concentrating near a battle-(8)
Persuading an angry galactic president, or walking a
Scoring a headshot on a hidden target, or hacking
security with pliers-(16)
Hearing a prayer in the next village, or slicing a dragon’s
head off in one blow -(20)

(Apologies for formatting – there’s no “table” option!)

Major Breakthrough

As it turns out, pumpkin porter is awesome!

Oh, relating to the game: combining actions just got easier and more complicated.

Announce that you’re combining actions. Roll all your contests at the same time, and keep the highest result for each of them, but you cannot change actions once they’re combined. This is great for getting high results, but terrible for keeping the flow of actions consistent. In other words, if other characters want to act while you’re combining two or more actions, when exactly does that happen?

On your turn, keep your previous contest if you want it. Otherwise, roll a new one and keep it. This allows other characters to act during your earlier actions, gives you a chance at a higher contest, allows you to change plans, and makes you ask, “do I really think I can roll higher than a 13?”

A GM-friendly environment

I’m finishing up the Magic chapter and starting on Conflict. A few things stand out that illustrate how a GM can make the game his own. One, spells are pretty easy to design. The level of the spell tells you how many targets you can hit, what damage die the spell should use, or most importantly, to what spells your should be comparing your new one.

Two, I just wrote up a pulse grenade launcher. It has some interesting details, but I really like the gear-level system. The launcher is level 4, which means that a 1st level character using it becomes pretty powerful (while there are rounds in the magazine). An 8th level character, on the other hand, is not going to be significantly more powerful with it. The GM can use the levels of gear to boost or maintain PC power as he sees fit.

Three, Rule Zero can really help GMs draw outside the lines in combat. The gameplay sample at the beginning of the Conflict chapter illustrates how the GM can design an action on the go, add difficulty if necessary, and even grant bonus damage when it makes sense. Of course, players can let GMs know if they were too liberal with the use of Rule Zero during each after-session review!

MORE fire spells

I’m looking at the old version and noticing the notation for spells that deal damage while being cast – designated as “per action” in Half Effect. Which means, making a defense (which results in a half effect) happens on a per casting-action basis; There’s no prolonged effect – you either avoid the damage or you don’t.

Well, these types of spells are all but non-existent in the book. Instead, there’s the Flare spell, which doesn’t deal any damage during casting, and then affects multiple targets with one damage die at the end of casting. There might be one or two others like this, but more pressing is the question: should the game have damage-over-time spells or all-at-once spells? Or possibly both?

Both types of spells offer the caster the ability to deal multiple dice of damage for a lower MP cost than casting multiple 1st-level spells. The first type allows choosing from just one or multiple targets, while the second allows the ability to catch opponents off-guard when you make multiple simultaneous attacks.

Including both types of spell is possible, but might not be necessary, especially in a light-weight, core rules system.

Work of the Grand Magus

Making a few revisions to the common spells list. While some got toned up and others got toned down, I have to remind myself: Modos RPG is a game about low math and high roleplaying. Higher-level spells don’t have to deal more damage, because they offer a different benefit: conservation of MP health.

For example: a first level spell that deals d8 damage once costs 5 MP health. While a fourth level spell that deals 4d8 damage costs 8 MP health. In terms of ratios, the first level spell deals 0.9 damage per MP health, and the fourth level spell deals 2.25 damage per MP health, or 2.5 times as much damage per health as the first level spell.

Special Equipment

Somehow, I didn’t notice it in the words themselves, but “special equipment” is a deceptively complex idea. The new equipment chapter will probably focus on two entries for each piece of equipment: actions and concept. These things are a little too diverse to standardize anything else.

Actions describes how to use each item, and what/how many actions are necessary to use it.

Concept is the gear’s description and the useful details.

However, the power of each piece can, so far, be translated into the inherent power of a character – whether that power is related to attributes, skills (specifically spells), or perks. Counting these up is a good way to measure the gear’s level, which can be compared to character level for balancing purposes.


I’ve dropped sample special equipment in the “Equipment” chapter, where it belongs. I’m also removing the confusing language on how to design special equipment, and how to assign it. Reason being: it’s too much for a light, core rules system. It’s enough to include some samples, I hope!

Here’s a hand grenade:

Grenade, fragmentation, level 6
Attributes: MP 15
Skills: cast spell (flare) -2
Concept: one action delivers this tiny bomb into enemy territory, and it blows up on the next action (same initiative count as thrower, if applicable), producing the effects of a Flare spell (d8 P (fire) damage to four enemies behind partial or no cover). The grenade’s difficulty contest takes -2, but the minimum casting contest rule does not apply.

If it looks similar to a character sheet, there’s a reason for that!


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