I came up with the concept for this game on my way to work one morning and I couldn’t get it out of my head all day, so I wrote it up on my lunch break.
I’ve always been a big fan of rules-light systems because they’re easy to memorize and easy to tweak. I think, one of my favorite things to do from time to time is surf the interwebz for indie RPGs that are free to download or cheap to download, especially if they’re rules-light. I’ve spent hours doing this and my hard drive is full of different systems with wildly different ways of handling similar things and I like to look through and pick and choose which part of which system I like best.
My goal with this system was to make a good beer and pretzels game. Something that takes no more than a few minutes to read through and something that, when read once, you can memorize.
When I came up with the idea, I had two things on my mind.
- I wanted to run a dungeon crawl in a mega-dungeon full of the most deadly traps from Grimtooth.
- I wanted to try an old idea of running a game where the GM rolls all the dice and the players control their characters based on the environment instead of their character sheet.
When I posted my idea on one of the forums I frequent, I got a lot of negative feedback, mostly based on not knowing your exact chance of failure or success.
So, I created this system. It’s easy, it forces you to build a character based on a concept rather than on number crunching, and it gives every chance in the form of a percent, so you always know your odds of success or failure.
Once I had the finished product, I knew it was so good I had to share it. I think it would make a great system for one of those nights where a player is missing or nobody’s really in the mood for the system you were playing and everyone wants just a lighthearted, fast paced game. My hope is that somebody finds good use of this system.
Titles and Descriptions RPG (TaDRPG)
This game is based on two simple concepts—the most general concepts of RPGs: doing something is harder than doing nothing and some people are better at stuff than others.
Each character has a title which describes the basic concept of the character.
These titles help make things easier for the character, but only as they relate to the title. For example, Jared the Barbarian will not be able to speak in public as easily as Lily the Talkative, but he will be able to fight more easily. This will be explained in more detail in the crunch section.
Characters will, in addition to their titles, get six descriptions: 3 positive descriptions and 3 negative descriptions. These also affect how easy or hard things are for the character, but to a lesser extent than titles. These can be very vague or very specific. More specific descriptions will make things more easy or more hard and are also more limited than vague descriptions.
It’s important to note that when creating descriptions, you can be too vague, but you can never be too specific.
There are two things to remember based on the two general concepts of RPGs and these make up the crunch.
Doing Something is Harder than Doing Nothing
This covers the rules for randomization and potential failure or success. What RPG would be fun if it was you and your friends describing how much nothing your characters are doing?
This game uses a percentile system, with all modifiers in increments of 5%. This makes it easy to convert to a d20, if you prefer. Either way, they’re the same odds.
To succeed, you need to roll equal to or greater than the difficulty assigned to the task.
Some People are Better at Stuff than Others
This is where titles and descriptions come into effect. There are two kinds of titles: Basic and Complex. Basic titles consist of one thing, such as Jared the Barbarian. Complex titles consist of two things, such as Theodore the Mage who knows Kung Fu.
Titles make things that relate to the title easier for the character. Basic titles make things 15% easier for the character.
Complex Titles make things 5% easier for the character. Remember, Complex titles are relevant to more situations.
There are also two types of descriptions: positive and negative.
Positive descriptions make things 10% easier for the character.
Negative descriptions make things 10% harder for the character.
Increase those percents in increments of 5% for more specific descriptions depending on how specific they are.
Success, Failure, Combat, and Magic
Whenever a character attempts something and fails, that character accumulates 1 failure. Once a character accumulates 3 failures, the character becomes incompetent and incapable of doing anything. As such, the character dies.
Whenever a character attempts something and succeeds, that character accumulates 1 success. If the character has accumulated any failures, the success will negate one of those failures; otherwise, the success has no effect.
Combat works in a similar way to other situations. When a character attacks, a die is rolled for the attack. The result sets the Difficulty for the defense. The defender must roll and match or beat the attacker’s roll. If the defender fails, one failure is accumulated.
Making an attack easier due to titles or descriptions means making the defense that much harder.
When a character decides to use magic, that character must roll against a certain difficulty to see if the desired spell has been prepared or is otherwise available. The difficulty should be adjusted by how specific a spell is rather than how powerful the spell is. If the roll is a success, the spell is available to the character. Attacking with a spell works the same as combat.
Example of Play
GM: “You’re at a large pit with a 50% chance to make the jump. Difficulty 10 on the d20.”
Jimmy the Acrobat: “My title grants me a 15% bonus to the jump, correct?”
GM: “Yes. You have a 65% chance.”
Jimmy the Acrobat: *rolls* 13 on d20. “Success.”
GM: “You make the jump.”
Jimmy the Acrobat: “I flip three times before jumping and do a somersault in the air, nailing the landing like a champ.”
Thomas the Reckless: “If I try to jump and slam my climbing spikes into the opposite wall, will my reckless title make it easier?”
GM: “Yes, but you will need to climb with a 70% chance of success.”
Thomas the Reckless: “I have the description Good Climber, which makes that an 80% chance.” *rolls* 9 on d20. “Phew! That was close, but I made the jump.” *rolls* 19 on d20. Made it.
Miri the Careful: “I make the jump carefully.” *goes to roll*
GM: “Wait. How do you jump carefully?”
Miri the Careful: “I don’t know. I kind of ease up to the edge and hang over, then try to push myself off to the other side.”
GM: “That’s ridiculous. You could never make the jump that way.”
Miri the Careful: “But, it’s careful.”
GM: “Sigh. Fine. It’s a 35% chance, but with your title, it’s a 50% chance.”
Miri the Careful: “I also have the description Good at Jumping in Ridiculous, but Careful Ways. Can I get a 20% bonus from that, since it’s so specific?”
The blog that hosts the link to download the pdf is below. The pdf version has examples and tables for easier comprehension.