Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system

Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
@Deadcrystal: I like the player involvement in which dice to keep out of those they rolled in 7th Sea. It gives an impression of having more control over what's going on. May even make it easier to deal with scenarios where maybe you aren't aiming for maximum damage- maybe you are trying to wound/incapacitate/intimidate with minimum damage/idk! Combined with Gen's idea of stats basically not changing, as NTA said there would be a certain dice pool for a player to learn to utilize in a way they like for the entire session. I gotta say, I find the idea of a game where your basic stats don't improve (by much, at least) to be thrilling and original. Instead of simple grinding being sufficient to progress and deal with dangerous situations, it would encourage players to quest for better equipment and develop their skills cleverly and more creative ways.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
Thanks for the examples DC.

It sounds like these systems are based heavily off of a long list of skills/professions as opposed to 5 cardinal stats though. I wonder how that fact would effect the balance, or if it'd effect it at all. That fact does urge the question though about how out of combat skill checks are handled. I was always a fan of roleplaying as opposed to "rollplaying" where charisma checks were more based on how the player interpreted what their character would say and the DM realistically asking themselves, "Would this NPC be swayed by this?" Thus why I avoided a charisma stat. Otherwise, I think any activity can be linked to those stats, because even though they're stats that are linked to the character's presence in the gossamer, the gossamer IS a very prevalent thing that can be utilized to create more favorable situations, or maybe even they can use their domain directly to help them out with an action, so if they can come up with a creative way to use a song, they maybe get one extra bonus dice on an action such as using an explosion to help propel you over a gap, which I think is a good example of PC logic.

Then I guess more skill-based actions such as smithing, art, and animal handling would be things that they might have a bonus or disadvantage at due to their character's history. it'd definitely be less rigid than DnD's system where you assign a handful of points to skills that you have, though maybe if playtests call for it, we can give a handful of profession and skill points to spend wherever. It just seems like a portion of character creation that we can avoid with emphasis on, "Write up with an interesting character with loves, and dislikes."

I'm considering a roll and keep system, since I thought about some songs having polar opposite effects when they failed, such as an ability to push a unit away, would instead pull them forward. This means that more dice = more of a chance to get low rolls anyways, and you can keep the low rolls intentionally to get a desired effect. Also as Mythee says, it has more of a feel of control, and Aspects are all about controlling the elements.


I think the 3 domains we can play with are:

Storms (Subdomains: Lightning, clouds, & wind)
Connections (Subdomains: Lightning, cords, & communication)
Dreams (Subdomains: Clouds, illusion, & Night)

I think rolling with familiar domains such as this would be beneficial, and the shared domains give us a chance to work with how certain subdomains can be utilized differently when paired with others.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
Yeah they've got quite the skill spread, primarily to actually quantify to some reasonable degree a character's history and aptitudes. Ditto with knowledge skills and such, where the GM needs some way of determining what characters would know about any given thing, and to what degree. (Rigidity in this regard helps avoid situations where people set up their backstory as a pretext to being hyper competent at everything) Don't forget you have to be able to stat out non-aspect NPCs as well, and some way of recognising proficiency or superb ability in certain skills is certainly merited.

When it comes to negotiation and other social skills and such whilst you can get sort of 'I roll to negotiate. I succeed.' situations, that isn't so much because the system exists as a numerical way, but because you have players who can sometimes be loath to engage in the dreaded roleplaying :P
Ordinarily a GM would actually expect you to make reasonable arguments and give you bonuses for good RP, or crippling negative modifiers for taking a bad tack on a situation. The Game of thrones RPG actually has an entire Social Combat system, and it's pretty amazing.

As for the idea of a flexible roll and keep system where you don't necessarily want to keep the highest possible? Oh my gods that sounds amazing. You have no idea. Oh godssss Legit though that would add so much depth, my mind boggles. I'm imagining people trying to do that now, like, I rolled these 7 dice and can only keep 3, I can get above 25, or I could get below 15, but only if I take the odd result, which would mean this, and oh goddddddsssssss. YESSS.

EDIT: Oh and I guess you need another stat as well kind of? Going by one of your posts, re:songs, as I understand it, each time they use a song, after a certain amount of time depending on the method by which they use them, the strain on the gossamer works its' way back to them and leave gaps in their mind and soul, which their domain then fills up. Thus giving aspects their predilection for eventual insanity, and Braves in particular for having a changed form. This'd make a difference situationally perhaps. Say for example (taking a very mundane aspect for simplicity), a brand new aspect of a fire domain walks into a domain of a water associated deity, not much would happen. But if they had been an aspect for a very long time (Or overused songs), so much of their form would be interspersed with their domain, it might cause them immediate harm?
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
I think then adding a handful of points to create an inventory of proficiencies wouldn't be too rough to incorporate then. Also yeah, I wonder about the stats of a non-aspect. Most monsters are creatures sprung from the gossamer so they'd run off the same sort of stats, but I'll consider that heavily.

I might be a bit biased against those who don't wish to commit towards roleplaying, since I wish for it to be an important part of controlling your character. It's just an oddity of a system to me where even social interactions are determined via numbers. In a bid to make things less bloated with numbers, I think I'll stay at my position on that.

AND yes I'm totally proud of this idea that we pondered up while I was slacking off at work. Like, aw shit, which effect is the player or DM going to go for? What if they go over accidentally or under? Crazy stuff. I think we should really hold onto this mechanic because it's 10/10.

I think the best way to handle the taint of a domain is to maybe handle it by levels. Like if you hit a certain level you have to roll on a table to get a random mutation that has its drawbacks and advantages, while Braves maybe roll twice, or while other classes only have to roll once every other level, braves do it every level. The thought behind this is that levels = experience = amount of songs they've probably used since songs are a pretty central part of combat and hard to avoid. (Maybe the player can choose their mutation if the DM allows it) (Mutation will not be the final term for it but it'll work for now)
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
See I'm just thinking about the awesome mechanic now, and ways to use it to do cool things; like what if Alchemists (Due to the way they use songs) could add a number of extra unkept die to a pool, but those die were a different colour (Or just rolled to one side). So when they rolled they'd find it easier to get their pick of result, but special and potentially unwanted things might happen if they end up keeping those extra dice? Like e.g. ordinarily they have 4keep3, but they use their ability to make it 7keep3, because they really need to make sure they have enough range to get the result they want, and the dice come up, 9,2,5,8 (8,4,1) and they really need the 25+ result so they have to take the 9, the 8, and also the 8 from the special pool, which means fun times for the GM.

Alternately all classes would be able to do this, but they'd do it in slightly different ways (Perhaps this would be the special luck type mechanic with limited uses) e.g. Braves get more bonus dice, Alchemists can ignore a limited amount of extra effects etc.

EDIT: Gods I am fangirling over potential mechanics, what is my life?
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
I'm thinking that maybe Orators can have a memory based mechanic, that allows them to hold over unused dice or something like that and they can use them in the same battle with that sort of feedback effect. It feels like there needs to be a more defined consequence though. Like maybe the bonus dice go to the GM as you said, where the GM can use them to give the enemies more powerful retaliations, or spend them to summon something more powerful, like feedback from the gossamer.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
Bit strapped for time, so I'll try to keep this short:

Low rolls for reverse effects: 10/10. Wonder how it might affect something with more than one reversible effect, though, or how non-effect failures work. Does the song just not trigger? And how would that affect the caster? The more I hear about songs and singing, the more hideously dangerous it sounds.

Related: you mentioned "mutations" earlier. Might it not be that Braves Mutate not more than any other class, but that their Mutations are simply more visible? One presumes how one sings, through what medium they express themselves, affects how their "scars are filled with domain," or which parts of them are "more scarred," or whathaveyou. As Braves sing with Body more than any other class, one presumes their song would affect their Body most; as Body is the most direct link to an Aspect's physical form, one presumes songs sung with Body would most directly affect an Aspect's (physical) appearance. How one might track this is up for debate - I don't really trust myself not to come up with some unnecessarily tedious or complex system for it, frankly.

Speaking of unnecessary complexity, might the Vitals with which a song is sung affect the song in some way? Rather, you have a dice pool drawn from different stats; could the dice chosen, if from some particular Vital, affect the song, or perhaps some other aspect of play? (I return again to the aforementioned Mutations, but as well return to Potential Unnecessary Complexity.) The stats themselves could be easily differentiated by color(ed dice), but again, implementation is presently moot.

E: Also: Drawing from/adding to other's pools of dice?
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
I think you guys misunderstand the immediacy of the side-effects of dabbling in the gossamer. It's not immediately dangerous other than how immediately dangerous bending the laws of physics concerning fire is. It's more of a slower influence that takes years of exposure to the chaotic forces in the realms of deities.

Also, I was pondering that maybe the whole using different stats for varied effects thing would be redundant due to how classes specialize in different ways of singing songs themselves. But I dunno, I have to think deeper about it. I know though that I can't have a different effect for every single stat combination with a song since that would just cause a lot of extra tedious work when the utility of the classes along with how some passive songs work would cover that base.

In that same train of thought though, I was like, "if there are effects that are indefinite till dispelled by the caster, how do I keep some more wild combos under control such as with the find city nuke?" The answer to that I think would be an upkeep of one die per continuous song "on the field" not counting passive songs of course, but I was considering a combination of using a summon/control cloud song along with an ability to cast from a piece of your domain to create multiple places where an enemy is under threat of getting zapped by a common lightning bolt song. Maintaining the cloud would deduct one die from an attempt to use the lightning song, since it requires energy and focus to keep around. Something like that to help keep things under control so they can't just fill a room with clouds and start zapping from a safe distance away or something.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
Presented in no real order of progression or whatever:

Lightning: The swift harbinger of electrical charges, and white hot weather discharges. Energetic yet dangerous, a primal power from the heavens.


Bright arc- A quick release of lightning. Creating a bright flash, and leaving behind the smell of burnt ozone.

Battery Charger- The use of ones body to store a growing electrical force, ready to be unleashed at a moment's notice. (Taking a turn to add dice to the next action)

Thunderous Applause- What comes after lightning, a sound that shakes walls, and bursts windows.

Greased Lightning- A step as fast as the blink of an eye. Turning the body momentarily into pure energy to come back together somewhere else.

Conductive Flow- Minimizes the damage of an electrical attack, and redirects that power in retaliation. (Maybe a passive trait of having the lightning sub-domain?)

Shocking Performance- Turns a song into electrical energy in an attack, nullifying the attack when it strikes, in return for being released full force wherever that strike may land.

Frozen Lightning- Creates a sustained spear or fork of lightning, still humming with light and electrical power.

Nervous Breakdown- Locks up the movement of a target with just a touch.

Lightning Thief- Steals the charge of an enemy for yourself. (Steals bonus dice)

Chained Current- Links the effects of a song to an adjacent target.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
(One day I'll come up with good names, I swear)
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
I like the mutation idea, but if it was a per level thing the game would almost revolve around mutation management, no? xD Maybe these ominous side-effects of dabbling in the gossamer could only be incurred as a consequence of surpassing the limits a player character should normally have, like with extra saving rolls that rescue characters from otherwise deadly situations, or wanting extra power for plot-moving moments or summat. To even have those extra dice to roll would probably require certain conditions, maybe changing according to class. Like...

- orators save a dice pool of extra story dice to bring out and add to their rolls whenever they wish to
- aspects get an extra dice they could choose to resort to when their health is low (like a berserk thing)
- braves gain access to the choice of using an extra dice when they are performing a heroic or particularly dangerous feat
- alchemists could gain an extra dice for future use whenever they encounter a specific set of conditions related to their domain, though the dice disappears after a certain length of time even if unused? Like charging a battery, almost (chemistry 8D)- maybe with the battery only having a maximum charge of 1 dice (unlike orators).

Those songs look fun, Gen! The description for Chained Current seems more like something under the "communication" or "cords" domain though and "Thunderous Applause"'s description suggests it's more of a sound thing, so... communication? I get the feeling I've understood those subdomains all wrong. xD

I like the names, they sound dramatic like something people wound announce in a play! But if you want suggestions for different ones I helped myself to these poor, innocent songs. xD

Bright arc- Bolt, Flash Bolt, Lightning Lick, Static Bolt

Battery Charger- Charge, Recharge, Charge Absorption, Absorb Charge

Thunderous Applause- Shockwave, Sonic boom

Greased Lightning- Sparktap, Zap Tap, Swift Lightning, Flicker

Conductive Flow- Lightning Rod, Thunder Rod

Shocking Performance- Lightning Sink, Energy Sink, Lightning Eater, Countershock

Frozen Lightning- Lightning Lance, Bright Lance, Thunder Lance, Thunder Javelin, Thunder Spear, Crackling Lance, Crackling Spear, Spear of Light, Zeus, Lance of Zeus, Spear of Zeus

Nervous Breakdown- Electrify, Static, Stasis, Electrolyse, Short circuit

Lightning Thief- Zap Sap, Lightning Drain, Thundersap

Chained Current- Recircuit, Energy flow, Circuitmaster, Chain Circuit
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
I didn't really want the mutations to be all that gameplay changing, like more of an example of them losing their humanity slowly while dabbling with the powers of deities. The deeper they go, the more powerful they become, but the less human they become.

Also *Places hand on your shoulder* Aspects are *places other hand on your shoulder* the generic name for everyone with a link to a domain and *Places other hand on your shoulder* isn't its own class. And those seem like alright ideas, like in the right direction but I was thinking Orators more save a dice result and at the cost of an extra dice later can use it automatically, like they're relating to the past or something. Then I think the special ability of Alchemists is that they don't easily get extra die, but have a lot more flexibility with the way they can sing a song, like turning a song that usually isn't ranged into a ranged attack, and other sorts of utilities with their options. Braaaaves, I dunno about them, something like exploding 6s sounds a lot like their style.

You might be right actually. I guess I think of chain lightning as a spell in a lot of games, but that doesn't mean I have to use it for this example.

I might get fancier with the song names than that haha. Something poncey.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
(03-26-2013, 04:44 AM)GenTrigger Wrote: »...more of an example of them losing their humanity slowly while dabbling with the powers of deities.

I personally was probably thinking of it as a more overt thing, so yeah, I can get behind a more "slowly going power-mad, losing human perspective" type thing. Brings to mind the people who focus on the Game over the Role Playing.


Actually, if you could... promote that behavior through the mechanics of "mutation," or what have you... that mentality that drives people to min/max and steal everything and exploit the game...

RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
-And dig through stranger's wastebins. Seems like an RP element (losing humanity), and if the gaining power thing is reflected by leveling up itself, maybe there would be no need for an extra mutation system?

@Gen: Looking forward to the poncey names, and thanks for the exposit. I am concerned about the third hand you just grew though. Um.
Dice result saving for Orators is an amazing idea I haven't seen in tabletop RPGs before. Maybe saving someone elses dice result instead of your own, even? Since not all stories are autobiographical!

How developed is the system for Alchemists modifying songs so far? Your description made me think of having these as raisable skills, again:
(03-16-2013, 02:39 AM)Mythee Wrote: »1- Craft - Manipulate the shape of the thing. The more you raise this skill, the farther you can bring the thing away from its original shape.
2- Stabilize - Increases how long it lasts/stability
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
Here's a re-do with new names and more flavory text.

Illuminated Branch- The purest form of the domain of lightning, a song, which releases passion into white hot energy, splitting the air in the blink of an eye. (Electrical damage, that arcs out a space in front of the user)

Thunderous applause- Chasing another song, like the thunder after lightning, an explosive shockwave that rattles walls and echoes out for miles (Sonic damage centralized on the location of the last song cast)

Bleah I'll do the rest later, monster hunter beckons.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
Now they sound like actual song names and lyrics that peeps can say like incantations followed by yelling out the attack name. Which would be really cool.

Monster Hunter's soundtrack = <3
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
I think the one theme I could have is, "Does this sound like a song name?"
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
What if... they were all ACTUAL song names?

Clouds: Smoke on the water
Night: After midnight
Illusion: I'm walking on Sunshine
Communication: Call me maybe *shot* xD
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
(03-26-2013, 04:57 AM)Not The Author Wrote: »Actually, if you could... promote that behavior through the mechanics of "mutation," or what have you... that mentality that drives people to min/max and steal everything and exploit the game...


this actually brings up an interesting question that deals with the rp part - how do character alignments tend to work wrt aspects

because what you just described is also often the action of a well-played chaotic evil character

Would moral choices affect the game in any extremely direct way
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
There was talk about the FATE system, and how it used an aspects system to create boons, and drawbacks to using those boons, that helped propel a character's personality.

A while back, there was a discussion of a quirk system, though I was at a loss of how to enforce it, though Fate had a pretty compelling system of adding a bonus to certain checks, and you recharged that bonus by letting it create a negative aspect of your personality when the opportunity presented itself.

As far as alignments go, I find it hard to describe characters in Eskero by DnDs system. There are many perspectives about the way the world SHOULD work, such as the anti-deity groups who believe that deities are unnatural demons meant to be irradicated, while there are those who say they're natural parts of the world and required for balance. Would genociding deities be good or evil? Chaotic, neutral or lawful actions are a little more valid, but morality as a system seems weird to me in general.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
Regarding alignments, the problem with Morality is also a problem with Lawfulness: it's all relative. Yes, they're decent metrics against which to judge what people value, but a Barbarian may be just as lawful as a Paladin when measured against the laws of his own people. Better to qualify it with roleplaying than quantify it in some ultimately ill-defined terminology, yeah?

Iunno. It can be a useful tool for players to use, but you don't want it to become a crutch, either.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
It feels like you're less thinking about your character at that point, less getting in their head of "What would they do in this situation?" and more, "What's appropriate for my alignment?" Because it takes a very good roleplayer to break out of the stereotypes that alignments cause.

I wanted a character generation process that made them think critically about who they were in this world, since as a cultural value of the Eskeran people, "Who am I?" Is the most noble of questions.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
Yeah, that's one of the things that has always bothered me about DnD. The RP aspect / personality / morals stuff being systematized. Not only does it force us to try to conform to guidelines that dampen character development, sometimes characters have moods, too, nom'sayin'? And sometimes they make mistakes. I remember a DnD game where people RPed their characters as they saw fit (which was good), but for some reason we didn't ditch the alignment system so the DM would actually change player alignments whenever they did stuff that doesn't fit into how the DM percieves the mold. @-@;; It was kind of messy!

I like the idea of rewarding character development/self-discovery, though. Maybe there could be some sort of game construct that GMs could choose to use (or not to use) in Eskero, a sort of event where the characters have the chance to gain a bonus from being able to answer questions like 'who am I'. Orrrr I'm overthinking it. xD
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
DM-imposed alignment changes seemed hollow, yet restricting. I'm still not even sure about the mechanical implications of alignment after many many many many heated threads on /tg/ about what this alignment means or that alignment means. I guess it determines which spells you can cast, or if you can stay in your class ie paladins.

The more I think about it, the more interesting I think the whole quirk system of, "You get this quirk and it helps you on these rolls, but you have to recharge that bonus by actually acting out your quirk in situations that call for it, even if it creates a negative situation." is. The only issue I have with that, is it would quickly create this sort of annoying token side to characters, though that can be fixed by having a selection of potential quirks that are more broad, or allowing two quirks to create more of a depth of how they're motivated to react to a situation. One of the better sides of the system though, is that it gives a very solid way of helping along the non-combat rolls, and giving them an extra "oomf".

Speaking of which, maybe I should think of songs with less of a combat use and are more like utilities to use within the world. A song, which can create a rainstorm, which COULD be useful in combat but not in a clear mechanical way such as buffing water based attacks or something, though it COULD create more water for watery Aspects to draw their songs from, or extinguish fires, or melt witches.

Addendum: Alignment doesn't really fit Eskero in a cosmology sense since in DnD Good and Evil are sort of elemental and are a part of their greater cosmology. Eskero deities are more elemental beings who are just trying to make their way in the world. They follow the laws of their domain, as they interpret them really, and that is their scope of morals, which might become very skewed from "normal" morality.
RE: Eskero: The pen and paper RPG system
okay I may have misphrased what I was trying to say but this does answer some of the questions

basically what I was kind of thinking by some of the ideas you were talking about was the idea that "Actions that would normally be considered morally wrong ("Chaotic Evil") would be "Punished" with quirks or mutations of some sort or otherwise kept in check by it"

if morals aren't actually fully defined as part of the character or are extremely loose then that invalidates most of my concern

(or to put it another way, the concept of "outright punish people for consistently choosing to take the douchebag route" is what I was getting out of some of the things you were talking about wrt morality/alignment. Balance it so that it's not the easiest way at all times, yes. Outright make it an inferior option? that's no fun. Half the fun of having a character like that in a tabletop is trying to figure out how to get the most profit without causing yourself extreme repurcussions such as getting stabbed in the back by your own teammate)