Modos RPG

Playtest update

Lots of revisions, recommendations, and revolutions are waiting for attention. I’m not quite ready to put out another playtest version, but I think an update packet is very likely. Visit here to get your 2 gold pieces in:

Perk evolution

I’ve been looking at levels today, which led to level points (probably becoming an optional rule), which led to perks, which are almost equivalent to level points if you consider that the perk substitution rule allows you to buy anything with a perk.

Well, as stated over a year ago, one goal of the game is simplicity. Which makes level points, perk substitution, and optional rules look pretty silly. So now I’m looking at something like this:

Attribute substitution perk:
With this perk you may increase an attribute score by 1.

Skill substitution perk:
With this perk you may add one skill point to any skill.

With these, you spend your perk (the one that you get with each level) on a perk, and that perk becomes the substitution. There’s no overlap complication when it comes to counting level points, because there are no level points. Sure, these perks can make attributes or skills look more inflated than perks (mostly when designing and balancing monsters), but it means that the total number of perks always equals character level.

Minimum Casting Difficulty

I’m taking a look at the minimum casting difficulty rule. 11 feels too high. I’d like to try a minimum of 1 instead, so that spells that are difficult to cast or spells cast under difficult conditions can have contests under 1 that prevent them from occurring. But do you really want to get caught in a magical spider web by a caster whose contest was only 4?

Bad example, because your parry contest to free yourself would be super easy. But you know what I mean…

Magic: Ice

My online group got to try out the Ice spell. As a 2nd level spell, it’s easily twice as interesting as its 1st level counterparts, Fire and Lightning. Now I believe that the caster was using a spell implement to cast the spell, which meant that Ice required three actions. For those three actions, he got to deal d8 ice damage and penalize the target’s movement by 4. Is it worth three actions for this?

Well, first, the caster gets to deal full damage at range. Second, he limits the movement of an opponent to the extent that the GM penalizes it, or gains an advantage in opposing that opponent’s movement contests. So the opponent could have a harder time chasing or fleeing. Also, that movement penalty lasts until the caster’s next turn (or until he defends with willpower), and can be maintained. So a busy opponent might suffer the penalty for the whole conflict.

Now a low level character can’t chase his slowed opponent after using three actions, because he’d be out of actions. But his friends sure could!

Next topic: minimum casting difficulty.

Savage Rules!

I played my first game of Savage Worlds. It was surprisingly similar to Modos RPG, especially considering that I wrote the majority of the game without ever having played Savage Worlds. But I had a good time and liked the system.

Some reactions:

The core rules are short and sweet, but I felt a little overwhelmed once I encountered Edges, Hindrances, Bennies, “Traits,” the Wild Die, Raises, and the derived attributes (Parry and Toughness). It’s not bad – just more than I was expecting.

The hero-makers, Bennies, the Wild Die, and Aces, feel a little redundant. Each seems designed to give the players a super-feeling.

The wound system is really cool. It looks like it does a nice job of eliminating hit points from the game, and with them some needless mathematics. Also not in the game: experience points – at least massive amounts of them. Gain 5 XP, and your character gets better. Simple and good.

While I also find it awesome that RIFTS is going to become a Savage Worlds book, I think it would be much cooler to see some Modos RPG modules doing that conversion for free – paid for with love and devotion.

Seamless Integration?

I had quite a mix of technologies yesterday: Modos RPG on .pdf, a random dungeon room generator on ENworld’s OGRE, and a virtual game table on

I would like to have included my GM screen in Excel (4th technology), but a hard drive crash made that option temporarily inaccessible. Situations like this make me extremely appreciative of the Average Person Rule (all characters and difficulties start at what an average person could do) and of course, Rule Zero (the GM is allowed to fudge anything!).

The Character Drawing Board

Just did a round of new character creation last night (and the following game session). The players would make me feel bad about drawing up character-concept-generation rules; they did a fantastic job without them!

We started with character concepts, which were fueled by knowledge of the campaign setting and the two extant PCs. Then I tried to bolster them by rolling up attribute scores, but they’d made most of the hard choices already.

After that, skills, perks, and equipment were a snap. Hero points are pretty intangible though, so we’re still working on how they’ll use them. One idea was to use them on attempts to convert non-believers! That one should be fun.


My Saturday Roll20 Modos game opened my eyes a little this week:

Things get chaotic in battle!

Out of the chaos, though, came a revelation. When the initiating player announces his action, and each player takes a moment to declare a reaction, and then everyone rolls their contests, the GM gains another opportunity for storytelling. Each player is thinking, “someone did X, I reacted with Y and my roll was Z. So what exactly happened?” When the GM assembles each action and its contest result in order, a mini-story is formed that makes combat seem more dramatic.

There’s a danger here that the GM envisions the character’s action differently than the player did, so it’s advisable to pause and let players contribute during this storytelling process.

Low-prep gaming

I’m enjoying the rules-light, redesigned nature of version 1.3. I just ran a game session that involved some information sharing, song writing, and crowd-entertaining. I think only two die rolls were needed: one to see if the songwriting was up to expectations, and one was a detect contest to notice a character’s attitude through body language, not words.

The songwriting check used a slight change that I want to put in the rulebook: I want to take “failure” out of contests. Failing should be up to the players and GM. When you make a contest, you succeed, tie, or “don’t succeed.”

Broken Perks: Martial Artist and Dual Wielder

It turns out, quite unfortunately, that it’s generally a bad thing to give bonus actions to amateur level characters. So how do we maintain the coolness in the ideas behind the Martial Artist and Dual Wielder perks, without breaking the game?

Maybe I can talk some ideas out of my head: the Martial Artist perk is a way for a PC to say, “yes, I have skill points in Fight (Unarmed), but I really kick butt when I have no weapons.” Or, “my body is, itself, a weapon.” This points at the (old) Weapon Focus perk for unarmed attacks (which start at d4 damage). But let’s avoid redundancy here. Perhaps it’s better to say “my body counters weapons.” Then, martial artists can gain a parry bonus for not having a shield…which doesn’t work because we don’t want perks to grant skill points (that’s what skill points are for). But if my plan to rework Weapon Focus succeeds, and the perk loses its stackability, then Martial Artist would be a great option for a character who could only bump up his natural protection level once with Armor Training and once with Specialize. Hmmm…

We can’t reward Dual Wielders with additional parry points, either…but not for the perk. If a shield can award parry points, being a material object, why can’t a weapon do the same thing? Obviously, it’s better to have a second weapon in hand for blocking than to block a weapon with just your hand, right? Also, the perk isn’t granting a skill bonus, so much as allowing a character to adopt a different type of shield (which already grants a skill bonus). The inherent benefit for dual wielding, then, is that you can choose, on a per-action basis, which weapon you want to use. The secondary benefit is that like a shield, you can use that weapon somewhat to avoid damage. So, when wielding a second weapon, you gain a +1 parry bonus when using it to defend against attacks?


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