Hello and welcome to Hexmage beta 3.0! This is a forum-based fantasy RPG system based on a slew of other game systems and some original ideas of my own. For the background on how this came to be, you can check this post in the Forum Games meta discussion thread. Essentially, the concept behind this design to to mitigate and/or fix all of the various problems that have arisen in previous RPGs on this forum. Furthermore, it is designed to be open ended and player-driven, with multiple possible solutions to every problem: it's not just hitting the badguy with sticks and fireballs. The Game Master will present you with obstacles that stand in the way of your goals, and you will have to work together to figure out how to proceed.
No experience is necessary here! Anyone can learn, and everyone is welcome. Don't be intimidated by the walls of text, either: you don't need to be intimately familiar with any of it, and I can offer as much help as you need with creating your character and understanding gameplay. Myself, as the GM will be doing all of the hard work . If you want to play, however, please note that you will be expected to post and participate regularly in order to keep the game moving.
And so, without further ado, onto the game:
As for the known world, it is still vast and diverse, and every civilization has their own definition of what "the known world" looks like. It seems like there is not only endless variation in landscape, but in race, language, culture, magical practices, religious beliefs, and more. When you meet an unfamiliar traveller, it is impossible to know how long or how far they have journeyed. It is said that some people walk for their whole lives, travelling in a straight line ever farther form their homeland. Whether or not this is precisely true, no one can say, because those who appear one day in a town claiming to have done so are necessarily untrustworthy sources, and those who leave on such journeys either return defeated, or are never heard from again.
In this setting, magic stems from the six divine languages of the gods, and is controlled by mortals by inscribing runes on physical objects. Each of the six languages is associated with a different type of magic, and a color: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Violet. Runes activate to create magical effects only when combined with an activation mark unique to the color of the spell. This mark can be included in the inscription when the spell is made, activating it immediately, or it can be added later when a magic user sees fit by drawing it, stamping it, or even simply putting it on your finger and touching the right part of the inscription. In this way, magic is accessible even to those who do not know how to use it: you just have to buy a spell, and press the button to activate.
Languages of adjacent colors are related, making it easy to mix them, while opposite color pairs do not mix well at all, and often prove volatile or simply ineffective when combined. Because of the difficulty and complexity of writing spells and mixing colors, most mages and spellcrafters specialize in only one or two colors of magic. This is further reinforced due to the concept of color affinity: every person has a natural inclination for one or two colors of magic based on their race and their homeland. This affinity affects what types of magic are more or less difficult for them, as well as myriad small effects at the whim of the GM. Think of it as a magical zodiac of sorts.
Colors of Magic
Red is the color of Force, or pure magical power, and fire. It transfers magical energy directly into physical energy - either pure kinetic force, vibrational energy, heat, or electrical potential - in order to defeat opponents quickly and destroy any objects or beings they might have summoned.
Orange is the color of Summoning and animal life. It creates temporary living beings out of magical energy to assist the mage with whatever they ask. Orange represents the brutal and violent side of an animalistic nature: like the wild animals it creates, it is a type of magic that relies on instinct, speed, and brute force to achieve its goals.
Together, red and orange are active, aggressive, and offensive. In combat they seek to win by killing the opponent and destroying their works.
Yellow is the color of Conjuration, earth, and order. It is closely tied to basic kinship, social structure, organization, and symbiosis. It uses magical energy to create structures and objects, as well as animating non-living objects, bringing them to life under a mage's control to help and support them and their allies.
Green is the color of Growth and plant life. It uses magical energy to grow and protect real living vegetation under the direct control of the mage that created it. It is focused on protection, growth, healing, and nonviolence.
Together, yellow and green are passive, peaceful, and defensive. In combat, they seek to subdue and pacify opponents rather than causing unnecessary harm.
Blue is the color of Illusion, intellect, and water. It channels magical energy in complex and subtle ways to challenge, disrupt, and counteract other colors of magic, as well as distract and disable other mages, in order to gain and maintain control of any given situation.
Violet is the color of Enchantment, entropy, and death. It channels magical energy to create magical effects directly on the object it is inscribed, to inflict psychological distress and break the wills of others, and to simply end life and negate other magical abilities and effects.
Together, Blue and Violet are reactive, measured, and calculated. In combat, they make careful plans and attempt to manipulate the battle in order to ensure victory.
There are nine total categories of spell: three which are universal, and six which are strongly associated with one color. These latter six categories are strongest when inscribed in their associated color, easily accessible to their adjacent colors, weaker when inscribed in complimentary colors, and completely inaccessible to its opposite.
The universal spell types are as follows:
Cantrip - A low powered, low cost, but high-speed spell.
Terramorph - Temporarily shifts nearby terrain mimic a terrain associated with the color of magic you are using (i.e. a red terramorph might create sand like a desert, while a blue terramorph might create a channel of water)
Telekinesis - Each color of magic is associated with its own form of telekinesis, or the ability to control an element or concept at a distance:
R - Pyrokinesis (control over fire and heat)
O - Zookinesis (control over animals)
Y - Terrakinesis (control over earth)
G - Phytokinesis (control over plants)
B - Hydrokinesis (control over water)
V - Cryokinesis (control over ice and cold)
(GM's note: while no color of magic directly controls air, Red and Violet can influence it with precise temperature control)
The Color-associated spell types are as follows:
R - Force (inaccessible to Green)
O - Summoning (inaccessible to Blue)
Y - Conjuration (inaccessible to Violet)
G - Growth (inaccessible to Red)
B - Illusion (inaccessible to Orange)
V - Enchantment (inaccessible to Yellow)
From The Primary originate six gods of color, shape-shifting anthropomorphic beings whose personalities define, and are defined by, the domain of magic they oversee. Collectively, they are known as The Wheel. These six also have children together in every unique permutation of six colors, known as the gods of the Spectrum.
Beneath these gods are the patron gods of race: each race has their own patron, who oversees and protects their people. Rumor has it that these patron gods used to be mortals themselves, before undergoing apotheosis. The goods look upon this rumor disfavorably
Below these gods are minor gods, including the offspring of the gods of the Spectrum and various demigods. In addition, every living thing has a spirit within it, and the spirits of living things in close association with one another will join together after enough time into an oversoul: so individually, each tree in a forest or each person in a city will retain their own unique identity, but collectively, the forest and the city will each have an oversoul that reflects the overall content and personality of the place that formed it.
For the most part, people will focus their religious life on the patron god of their race, and if they are involved with magic, the gods who rule their color affinities. It is often also necessary to commune with, worship, or placate powerful local spirits and minor gods, but this depends on their individual personalities.
Although an exhaustive list of all possible types of terrain and their color identities would be as long as it would be pointless, there are a few general rules you can apply along the color spectrum when judging the color of terrain:
Places that are very dry, such as deserts, will be more orange, while places that are very wet, such as oceans, will be more blue.
Places that are very lush, such as forests, will be more green, while places that are very barren, like mountain peaks, will be more red.
Places that are very hospitable, such as farmland, will be more yellow, while places that are very inhospitable, such as tundra, will be more violet.
In general, the far ends of the color spectrum indicate terrains that are more extreme, while the colors in the center, especially yellow and green, represent terrains that are more moderate and temperate.
On People and Base Stats
Your race will provide three gameplay effects: a color affinity, bonuses to certain stats, and a unique racial skill. Your homeland will provide you with a second color affinity. Your base stats will define everything else about you.
Stamina (Sta)- Your stamina stat defines what sort of shape your character is in, what their physique is like, and how much energy they have to perform actions and cast spells. Low stamina implies a person is physically weak and incapable of much exertion, while high stamina implies they are strong and physically adept.
Dexterity (Dex)- Your dexterity stat defines your character's fine motor skills and coordination. This includes both working with your hands, and being nimble on your feet. Low dexterity implies that a person is clumsy and uncoordinated, while high dexterity implies graceful, controlled, and fast movement.
Perception (Per)- Your perception stat defines your character's 5 main senses for interacting with the outside world as well as their internal self-perception or self awareness. Low perception implies obliviousness to your surroundings, and/or lack of a major sense, while high perception implies high quality situational awareness and/or enhanced senses.
Charisma (Cha)- Your charisma stat defines how you interact with other people, and how others perceive you. Low charisma implies a person who has trouble communicating, and/or is viewed as unpleasant and unlikable, while high charisma implies a person who is generally well-liked, and/or a person who is good at influencing, manipulating, and lying to people.
Education (Edu)- Your education stat defines how much knowledge and experience you have about the world in general. Low education implies a lack of experience and/or formal education outside of the place where you grew up, while high education implies formal high school/university-style education and/or large amounts of hands-on experience traveling and learning out about the world.
Willpower (Wil)- Your willpower stat defines your ability to focus and apply your mental faculties to completing tasks, or doing multiple things at once. Low willpower implies an unfocused and easily distracted mind that is not good at multitasking, while high willpower implies a strong trained focus and a talented multitasker.
Your active stamina value will underpin everything you do: it is your main resource for performing actions and using magic. Your active stamina represents your current state of being in any given situation: low stamina points means you are tired, wounded, uncomfortable, etc.; while high stamina points means you are rested, healthy, comfortable, etc. If your stamina gets too low, you will pass out, and if your stamina reaches zero, you are dead. Like in real life, the more difficult and/or complex an action is, the more physical and mental energy it requires to complete; hence, any action that you attempt will have a base stamina cost or required.minimal effort to complete it. Note that many small actions require such small amounts of stamina to complete that they are trivial, so these will be treated as having a stamina cost of 0.
Once spent, stamina can be regenerated in any of six ways: time, food, rest, medicine, magic, and special situations (e.g., your bard plays an inspiring tune on her lute).
In addition to a stamina cost, all actions will also have a difficulty value. This is either defined by the GM, or defined by the stats of another player or NPC with whom you are interacting. Every action will fit into the category of one or more stats, and your current active value for that stat must be greater than or equal to the difficulty of the action for you to succeed. Matching the difficulty will yield basic success, while surpassing it will yield increasingly better results. If you fall short, you may achieve partial success, maybe experience basic failure, or may suffer unintended consequences or catastrophic failure.
In the case of actions that fall into the category of more than one stat, both stats will be tested against the same difficulty value: if both stats are good enough, you succeed like normal. If neither stat is good enough, you fail like normal. If one stat is good enough but the other isn't, you will experience partial success, mixed results, or unexpected consequences, proportional to your success and failure for each stat. The same holds true for actions that require any number of stats.
(GM's note: "estimate the difficulty of this task" is a valid action to take. The accuracy of the results will be based on your Perception and Education stats).
On Action Modifiers
A stat requirement defines how difficult it is to correctly perform an action with a modifier. For instance, if you try to use equipment with a requirement higher than your base value for the stat it checks, you will suffer penalties. If you match the value, you will succeed with no problem, and if your stat is higher than the requirement, you may receive a bonus. Stat requirements come on a scale from 0 to 12.
A modifier value defines how the modifier actually functions in practice. This functionality will be different for each given type of modifier: in some cases, it will define combat effectiveness, while in others, it may affect your stats. Generally, a lower value indicates a weaker or less effective modifier, while a higher value indicates a stronger or more effective result. Modifier values come on a scale from 0 to 60.
A specialization range is a range of values that generally give an idea of how conceptually large, powerful, or intense a specific modifier is, although the manner in which that concept is realized practically depends greatly on the type of modifier. A Specialization Range can be between 0 and 6.
The categories of Action Modifiers are as follows: Weapons, Gear, Armor, Skills, Item, and Magic.
The stat requirement of a weapon indicates how difficult it is to use without hurting yourself. If you do not meet the stat requirement of a weapon, you are putting yourself in danger by attempting to use it without the proper training. If you exceed the requirement, you will deal more damage when using it.
A weapon's modifier is how much actual advantage a weapon gives you in combat as compared to fighting barehanded, and is factored into the damage out calculation for attack actions.
A weapon's specialization range indicates what priority slots are available to the user when attacking with it. A wide range indicates a weapon that is versatile enough to accommodate both fast and slow attacks, while a narrow range indicates a weapon with a highly specialized use.
The stat requirement for a piece of gear tells you how experienced you must be to use it properly. If you do not meet the stat requirement for a piece of gear, it will not work as intended for you. If you exceed the stat requirement, it may mean you know a better way to use it than the intended use.
The modifier of a piece of gear is essentially its hit points: if any enemy targets your gear in combat (or if you break it like a clumsy fool), it will be able to sustain that much damage before it is broken beyond usefulness.
The specialization range of a piece of gear indicates how much it encumbers you. You have as many gear specialization slots as your base stamina stat. If the sum total of specialization ranges for gear you are carrying exceeds that value, you will receive a dexterity penalty
(GM's note: you can get around this limit with magical storage solutions)
The stat requirement for a piece of armor tells you how much it will affect your movement and defense if you are not trained in its use. If you do not meet the stat requirement of a piece of armor, it will encumber your movement by giving you a dexterity penalty. If you exceed the requirement, you will receive a bonus to the defense it provides.
A piece of armor's modifier is how much actual defense it gives you when you are attacked, and is factored into the damage received calculation.
A piece of armor's specialization range indicates which parts of your body it protects. a wide range indicates an piece of armor with a large amount of coverage, while a small range indicates armor that covers only one body part. Here are the body parts each value in the range corresponds to:
0 - any clothing that offers no protection
1 - Head & neck
2 - Shoulders & upper arms
3 - Chest & abdomen
4 - Forearms & hands
5 - Groin & thighs
6 - Calves & feet
(GM's note: apply your imagination as far as mapping these bits onto birds and snakes)
A skill is a special talent, technique, or piece of knowledge that passively gives you a bonus to the active value of a stat when you attempt certain actions associated with it, as determined by its name and description.
The stat requirement of a skill tells you how advanced you must be in the given stat or stats associated with it in order to master that skill and receive a bonus.
The modifier of a skill tells you how much it adds to the active value of a given stat when attempting an action related to it.
The specialization range of a skill tells you which stats the skill applies to (where 1 = stamina and 6 = will). Most skills will apply only to one stat, but it is possible that a single skill could boost more than one stat.
Ex 1.Sarah the Spellcrafter has a skill called "Expert Zoologist (+10)" that allows her to summon a perfect simulacra of a Red Panda: a spell that would be impossible for her to craft with her base Education stat.
Ex 2. Cory the Cutpurse has a skill called "Pickpocket (+5)" that give him a bonus to both dexterity and perception when attempting to pick pockets..
If you do not meet the stat requirement for a consumable item, it will not work as intended for you. If you surpass the stat requirement, you may receive a bonus when using it.
The modifier for a consumable indicates numerically what sort of advantage it gives you when you use it (note that although most consumable are intended for combat use, many will also have alternative uses out of combat). The effects of consumable vary widely, but a general rule is that they will benefit you in a way that is consistent with the stat required to use it correctly, or its associated color of magic.
The specialization range of a consumable indicates how many times you can use it before it is completely consumed (anything that can be used more than 6 times is considered gear).
The stat requirement of any given spell is always based on willpower. This requirement tells you how much focus is required to cast the spell: common spells require only one willpower, but more powerful spells may require more focus, as they are more taxing on a mage's mental faculties. Furthermore, while some spells require your focus only while casting them, others require continuous concentration to maintain, and will be dispelled if your focus is broken.
Ex. 1 Mage-Priest Mallory shoots lightning at an enemy. While she is casting the spell, she focuses on it with 1 will, but once the spell leaves her hands, she can dedicate that will to other things.
Ex. 2 Firestarter Felix summons a fire elemental to help tidy up around the house. For as long as he wants that elemental to exist and be helpful, he will have to devote one will to maintaining its form and controlling its behavior.
The modifier of a spell tells you how much effect it will have in combat, but also how much stamina it will require to cast: spells that require more of a mage's energy are stronger. This value could a fixed number, meaning the spell always requires the same amount of energy to cast; it could be an X variable, which creates a more powerful spell the more stamina you put into it; or it could be a Y variable, in which case the required stamina to succeed is defined by the target of the spell.
A spell's specialization range indicates how long it takes to cast. Out of combat, this value is usually not relevant, because actions are not timed. In combat, when everything moves quickly and many things can happen at once, however, the amount of time between activating a spell and completing its effect can be vital. Specialization Range 0 is reserved for cantrips, which cast instantly. (see below for more info)
At the beginning of a round of combat, each participant will select all of their actions secretly and assign them to priority slots before submitting them to the GM. A low priority action takes the shortest amount of time to perform, but also has less power, while a high priority action takes longer to complete, but is more powerful. There are six slots of priority per round, so your priority numbers can range between 1 and 6, but can never add up to more than 6. Priority 0 is reserved for certain specific actions and spells, and can be use instantaneously at any time. The total number of actions you can complete in a round is equal to your willpower stat. (Note that you are not required to perform exactly as many actions as you have willpower, nor are you required to fill every priority slot every round.)
Combat Actions are categorized as follows:
Attack, Move, Defend, Skill, Item, Magic
Attack - The damage you deal with the attack action is calculated according to the following formula: damage out = (stamina spent + weapon bonus + skill bonus) x priority value
Move - Movement is divided into units based on dexterity. Your dexterity stat tells you how far you can move in one priority slot during combat. Your GM will tell you approximately how far away enemies are when combat begins and keep track of everyone's position until it end.
(GM's note: she might even draw you a diagram if she's not feeling too lazy!)
Defend - The damage you take when defending is calculated according to the following formula:
damage taken = (defense value + armor bonus) - enemy damage out
Skills, Items, and Magic will have specific stamina costs and priorities, as well as unique effects, as discussed in the sections above.
Example turn: Warrior Willy has 3 willpower, 60 stamina, and a big sword. In priority slots 1-4, he attacks with 20 stamina. Then at priority 0, he uses a cantrip of speed to make him faster. Then, in priority slots 5-6, using 10 stamina, he runs away!
In the resolution phase, the GM does math, then lets you know how everything turned out so you can do it again until you win or die.
On Character Progression
That said, anyone can still grow and progress in small ways that do not require upheaval. This can include learning new skills or improving ones you already know; acquiring better equipment; improving your spell library, and committing important things to memory. Thus, while there is no traditional experience and leveling mechanic in this game, you can measure the progress of a character, much like in real life, by their experiences, the practical and interesting knowledge they possess, and by their cherished items. In gameplay, that means it is up to the GM to provide players with opportunities to make these things happen for their characters so that they can grow and become more powerful and competent over time.
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This system is very much still a work in progress, but the basis is solid enough right now for testing, so feedback and questions are welcome!