STRESS is a mechanic which represents characters pushing beyond their physical limitations. For every 1 point of STRESS, a character is -1 to attack, armor class, saving throws, stat checks and skill checks. A character reduces the STRESS penalty by their WISDOM bonus. So it is not uncommon for some characters to carry a limited amount of STRESS without adverse effect. If a character has more STRESS points than their WISDOM attribute, they will become unstable and may go mad, endangering themselves or friends. If a character has more STRESS than WISDOM they must make a will saving throw each time they accrue additional STRESS, including their current STRESS penalties. If they succeed, they keep everything in check. If they fail, they suffer a mental break, reacting wildly. See the FLIPPED OUT chart.
Why another D20 based system? I had developed a game world over several incarnations over several years I called Lands in the Clouds (LitS). Frustrated as I was with D20, I had trouble convincing my gaming groups to adopt other rules sets with flexible skill systems. So GRIT rules were conceived with two main thoughts in mind. The primary goal was to have a sandbox game. The second goal was avoid having a game that was completely unfamiliar to different groups of players. With these two goals in mind, I looked at the D20 OGL. I felt the combat, stat, feat and general skill set was within the needs for this system. What I wanted and needed to change is the rigid class system and forced game balance that requires odd rules or exceptions that are only there for a type of mechanical balance. I have a long background in RPGs where there essentially is no book derived game balance, but rather GM devised balance. These games allow for a fluidity and experience more focus on storytelling.
There are a few completely new concepts introduced. Spirit is a new stat and the real strength of a character in achieving tasks but not necessary. Stress is a mechanic that can enable characters to go beyond their normal limits, but at a price. Grit is the currency by which a character advances all aspects of their character and can help in heroic tasks. Seasons are the structure by which Grit is spent. In LitS, time is as important of a resource as Grit but more precious as it is impossible to make more of it, so choosing how it is spent is important.
Also of huge importance in this system are relationships and mentoring, either natural or organizational. In this sense classes still exist. Rather than a class giving structure to character skill progression, classes (or guilds/organizations) can only be joined by having the skills necessary and/or relationships. The draw to join those organizations are the training and physical resources they provide. While characters can develop new skills and abilities without instruction or assistance, it can be quite difficult and time consuming.
Though this system was developed specifically for the Lands in the Clouds setting, I believe the GRIT mechanic can be used with any setting to provide a familiar, but unique experience that provides for character growth in ways the D20 system cannot in stock format.
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