This article by Charles Franklin originally appeared in The Way, the Truth & the Dice issue 1 in the spring of 1999. It is reposted here with permission from the author.
I was watching a classic science fiction film this weekend with my four-year-old son and one scene in particular emphasized the way combat is portrayed in movies and in our games. In this particular scene an alien, accompanied by a starship pilot and a teenager, wander into a detention zone where a firefight erupts with the evil military police. Now granted, the threesome had the element of surprise, but when the shooting starts they calmly go about their business, zapping security cameras and bad guys with amazing accuracy. Meanwhile the trained military police cant seem to hit anything. Common sense tells us that this is a less than accurate portrayal of how this firefight would occur, and I think everyone realizes that Hollywood takes great liberty with reality in their action movies. This cinematic liberty carries over into RPGs that for the most part seek to model movies, not reality.
The purpose of this series of articles is not to open a debate about the glorification of violence in popular movies and role playing games. I do believe, however, that adding a dose or two of reality to our game mechanics will reduce the quantity of violence and increase the quality of role playing. I see this as a win-win adjustment.
I thought to myself, sure, let’s go for it. I love modern ops, sci-fi, and D&D. Why not run D&D in space? So, first, I start with how firearms and modern weapons are covered in the DMG pages 267-268 and these two articles from WOTCs website:
Then I added my own flare for what you need in your personal setting, going with the D&D 5th Edition rule of “specific trumps general”. I also created two commonly used “paths” for the Rogue class, extrapolating from the long out-of-print “DragonStar” d20 setting. Read more
Now that we have good players, heroes, and villains, we have to put them to work. A campaign is an ongoing series of adventures in a game world, made up of several ingredients. First, the campaign’s premise must be sound. Good campaigns are consistent with the world you adventure in and have clear and worthy objectives. A good campaign is built from a good premise. “What if” questions are good starting points for finding a good premise. What if aliens secretly contacted Earth governments during the Wild West era? What if superheroes were all created by a single time-traveler? What if the barriers between dimensions begin to break down? Take the basic premise, and follow it through in as much detail as desired. Read more
SPIRIT is a new stat in LitC. Spirit reflects a character’s growth and presence in the spirit world. SPIRIT works much like CONSTITUTION except it applies to SPIRIT damage, which adds STRESS to a character. SPIRIT attacks seek to break a character (see FLIPPED OUT under STRESS). At that point the character is susceptible to manipulation and/or compulsion. A functional spiritual entity may be content enough to drive a character away. Malevolences will often seek to possess or consume a compromised character. A character with a high SPIRIT score has a hardness versus SPIRIT damage according to their bonus.
Similarly a character adds a bonus to SPIRIT damage dealt to spiritual entities.
Losing SPIRIT can happen through inaction in adventures. A critical event that a character chooses to avoid, most often having moral or ethical implications, will cause a loss of 1 point of SPIRIT. Much like an alignment shift in other games, it should be made clear to the player that a loss of SPIRIT will occur if they choose inaction in an important moment.
Playing good characters is another important aspect of role-playing games. Although a good GM and good players can have a good game with bad characters, it’s much easier to have a good game when the characters are good. When players create heroes, it is far easier to have fun and eliminate many of the conflicts that often arise as a result of good role-playing. A group should be well rounded with well thought out backgrounds and personalities.
Alignment in Lands in the Clouds is simplified with an optional rules mechanic of Soul Points and Rage Points. The other distinctions are left to the character in-game as benevolence or malevolence as defined by their actions. Every adventure has opportunities for characters to change their outlook. Aspiring towards benevolent goals in critical moments may reward characters with a type of bonus GRIT. In a setting where the spirit world is close at hand, the condition of a soul is harder to hide and is defined by action, not just outlook.
SOUL POINTS and RAGE POINTS are optional and can be excluded if the rules are cumbersome.
Characters that complete crucial SOUL POINT goals gain 1 soul point. SOUL POINTS can be used in place of GRIT for critical successes in most situations unless the action is knowingly evil in nature. They are also used to power GIFTS. SOUL POINTS are also first consumed in spirit based attacks before any other damage can be dealt, so they act as a type of hitpoint for encounters in the spirit world.
RAGE POINTS are generated any time a character suffers a critical attack or fails at a SOUL POINT opportunity. RP can be spent on critical successes as SOUL POINTS, but not GIFTS. They can also amplify damage, adding 1d6 damage per RAGE POINT to damage of successful attacks. The danger of RAGE POINTS are how they are amplified with STRESS and more vulnerable to manipulation.
Any time a character’s RAGE POINTS exceed their wisdom, they seek to unload the overwhelming emotional duress. Any time there is contention, make a Willpower saving throw based on the number of RAGE POINTS + STRESS. Success, the character keeps it bottled up. Failure results in the character in lashing out at the one with whom they are in contest. A second Willpower save that is successful means that the character can limit their anger to a verbal tirade or general insults. Thereafter their opponent reacts to them as 2 steps lower in reaction. That may result in a fight, which is ultimately what the character seeks. A critical failure on this save means the character has snapped and physically attacks their opponent. If their opponent is a friend, they may channel their anger to an inanimate object if a second will save is successful.
The Lands in the Clouds setting and the GRIT system are provided as a showcase of the work of a CGG member. The Guild takes no official position on the suitability or appropriateness of any game or supplement.
Experience Talks, Part I (WT&D Issue 1) discussed the contribution of the GM to a good gaming experience. Part II discusses the role of the players, characters, and campaigns in creating a better gaming experience for everyone.
Good Players are essential to any game, especially any role-playing game. A player’s attitude, willingness to adapt, and attentiveness can make the game more enjoyable for everyone involved. Several characteristics that are common to all good players will be addressed in this article. First and foremost is the player’s attitude, from which all their other qualities derive. Other traits that excellent gamers possess include adaptability, attentiveness, and a desire to help out wherever he or she can.
Over the past few weeks, Dave has talked about six roles the GM plays—Director, Writer, Referee, Host, Actor, and Tactician—and how each of those roles helps to make a fun and memorable game.
During the Game Summary
A good GM runs a smooth game by making his players comfortable immersing themselves in the game, by running a game that his players want to play in, and by making quick, appropriate decisions relating to his game world.
Away from the Game
Another aspect of running a smooth game is to make sure everything that needs to be prepared ahead of time is already taken care of. Read more
GRIT is the currency of the game for character advancement. It represents determined intent. You use it to buy all mechanical facets of the character, such as stats, skills, hit points, etc… GRIT can also be used to purchase instant rewards such as critical successes, use of GIFT techniques and other similar actions.
Starting GRIT: 100
Cost for starting Stats, Skills, Hit Points and Saving Throws is 1 per. A strength of 1 costs 1 GRIT, a Strength of 10 is 10 GRIT.
Cost for Feats is 1 GRIT per feat. All prerequisites must be met.
The Rule of Quarters
All Stats, Skills and Saving Throws (excluding adjustments for stats or racial bonuses) are organized Read more