Duet Saga Rules: Attributes & Skills

We are making progress on the Duet Saga Rules for the Duet Saga Handbook and Duet Saga: Knight of Curidan products we intend to release before the end of 2012. I have to heartily thank those who are helping me with the rules and apologize for the slow progress as my attention has been spread over too many projects of late. My grand plan to have January through March to focus on these projects was soundly crushed by reality but they are a priority and I’m soldiering forward. Today, I am tossing out for public opinion some of what we have accomplished to get some initial feedback.

Before that I think it’s important to explain what we’re trying to do. The default assumption for roleplaying games is that you have one Narrator who runs the world and a group of Players who control characters who have to navigate that world. I have become an advocate for another approach that is duet roleplaying where you have a Narrator and one Player. For the last seven years I have been championing duet roleplaying with threads on forums, articles in e-zines, and even a column on RPGNet based on over two decades of running duets. I’ve decided to pull all this together for the Duet Sagas line. Originally, I was going to use the Pathfinder System for the foundation of these products but I realized last year after investing a lot of time that this wasn’t the best approach. The best approach was to design a set of rules that were designed for duets.

Okay that brings us to where we are now, which isn’t that far, but worthy of discussion:

The Basic Mechanic 

In RPGs you use dice to determine whether you succeed at difficult tasks such as jumping over a chasm or hitting an enemy with your sword. In general, you want your dice mechanics to be simple and intuitive. With RPGs there are generally two types of dice mechanics. The first is the linear mechanic. You roll dice and total up the results to compare to some target number to determine the outcome. So for example you roll five six-sided dice and get 1, 3, 4, 5, and 5 for a total of 18. If your target number was 15 then you succeed but if the target number was 20 then you fail. Simple enough. The second is the success-based mechanic. You roll dice and look for a specific number that represents a success and tally up the number of successes. So for example you roll five six-sided dice where 5s and 6s count as successes and get 2, 2, 3, 5, and 6 for a total of 2 successes. If your target number was 2 or less successes then you succeed but if you needed 3 or more successes you fail. We decided after considerable discussion for a success-based mechanic.

So here’s how it works. A Hero is defined by four Attributes (Agility, Intuition, Memory, and Strength) that typically range from 2 to 10. This determines the number of ten-sided dice you roll. Every action is governed by an Attribute so trying to remember CPR would be tied to Memory while an attempt to break down a door would be Strength. So if you have a Memory 5 you would roll five ten-sided dice to remember how to do CPR while if you have a Strength 7 you would roll seven ten-sided dice to break down a door. Simple enough, but how do you know which numbers count as successes?

This is based on your skill level. Every skill can be broken down into several levels: Untrained, Trained, Skilled, Expert, and Master. If you are Untrained or Trained you count 10s as successes. If you’re Skilled you count 9s and 10s as successes. If you’re Expert you count 8s, 9s, and 10s as successes. If you’re Master you count 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s as successes. Not all actions are governed by skills. There really isn’t a skill for breaking down doors but most actions that can be expertly performed have skills. One decision we have made is for skills to be broad. So instead of having a skill for swords, axes, staves, and so forth you would have a Melee Weapons skill. Some skills obviously require you to be Trained or better to attempt but some can be used Untrained. In conjunction to skills we will have some system of specialization which will allow a Hero to focus on an aspect of a skill. So maybe the Hero is an Expert in Melee Weapons but is also specialized in Swords then this specialization would add from a number of dice to be rolled thus a bonus to the Attribute when they apply.

There you go the basic mechanic of the system.

So I’m tossing this out there for feedback and suggestions. How this interacts in conflicts, character creation, advancement, and the like is still under development and as we hammer things down we’ll toss it out here. I am interested in feedback and can and will change directions if something catches my eye. Also if you have skills you think are a must for a RPG then list them as a comment below. The Duet Sagas are intended to work for several genres and an easy trick for this is variable skill lists so if you have skills specific for science fiction, fantasy, or contemporary genres then label it as such.

It is my hope to release chunks of the Duet Saga Rules every few weeks and in a few months have the rules at a place where they can be properly play-tested with a release of the products probably by November at the slow rate that I’m moving on things.

Thanks for reading,

Kirk

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