I was recently re-reading my article Faith and Gaming: Christian Games (I often re-read my old material, and sometimes it gets me thinking afresh about issues previously addressed, so I write new ones like this one, usually posted over at the mark Joseph “young” web log). I think every time I read that article, which explains why I am not a big fan of “Christian” games, I remember something I created decades back in college which I called a “game” and which I “played” with a number of my more intelligent and/or educated Christian friends. I always think of writing it up to pass on to you, and I always nix the idea because some would say it’s not a game—but I think we had something like fun, certainly enjoyment, from playing it, or whatever we were doing. So here it is. I never named it. I suppose you could call it M. J. Young’s Bible Verse Game, if you need a name for it, or just The Bible Verse Game if you think it arrogant of me to put my name in it. (I only put my name in it because I’m sure there are scores, if not thousands, of other Bible verse games out there, but this is the only one I’ve played.)
As I noted in that article, I am not generally a fan of Christian games, for several reasons. I think this game, though, avoids most of the problems I’ve had with such games, and is particularly valuable for Christians to play with each other. Read more
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
In ages past, when the Harbingers made landfall at Cloudhead, they brought the GIFTS with them. Since that day, people in the solar system have discovered special abilities given to them. The GIFTS were to help the people thrive together and to fight against the evils which had implanted themselves into the solar system. People bearing similar GIFTS gathered together and formed what now are referred to as Houses. These Houses are not geographical distinctions, but rather talent distinctions. There are 12 Great Houses representing the most prominent GIFTS. There are unrepresented GIFTS, but they are exceedingly rare.
The Houses function like churches. The Houses are most like religious organizations and all share the same faith but pursue the tenets through the GIFTS they have. There are different sects within each House but they largely share the same principles and work towards the same goals. 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The Lands in the Clouds setting and rules will be presented as an ongoing series of articles on this site. This material is solely the property of RC Brooks. The Christian Gamers Guild does not endorse nor condemn any game system or setting. Information presented about a member’s work is for information purposes only and is not to be taken as an endorsement of that work by the Christian Gamers Guild.