Design and Progress Notes
This game is still a work in progress. Most of it is completely playable, but you may notice a few things here and there that seem to be missing, or issues with game balance. I still make somewhat frequent updates (as of November 2018) and alterations to the game, but usually nothing too major. The game is in a state ready for early playtesting, but if you decide to play, here are a few things to be aware of:
- The magic systems are likely to undergo relatively major revisions, and the spell selection is currently extremely limited.
- The equipment list is incomplete, aside from weapons and armor. Items still need descriptions, magic items will be added, and some prices and weights will be adjusted.
- There is no bestiary, and very little reference for how to handle NPCs and enemies.
- I may on occasion make a major change to an established system.
If you have any feedback, I'd love to hear it. If you'd like to contribute something, like new spells, monsters, or abilities, let me know.
A session of Heroes of Destiny consists of one player, the Game Master (GM), presenting a series of situations to the other players, who make choices on how their Player Characters (PCs) act. These choices then influence the state of the game world and the GM describes the results, often with the aid of dice to determine the success or failure of characters' actions. The game works best with one GM and between three and five other players each controlling a single PC.
Heroes of Destiny requires a partial set of standard polyhedral dice (4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-sided) but makes particularly frequent use of the d6 and d12. Having multiples of certain dice can be helpful in some cases. In particular, it is good to have two six-sided dice of different colors. The system also uses a d3 occasionally, which can be simulated using a d6 and dividing the result in half (rounding up). In addition to dice, each player will need some paper to track their information on (known as a character sheet). While not strictly required, you may want miniatures or other small objects to represent characters on a map or grid in order to handle movement and positioning in combat.
Dice are used to determine the outcome of any significant action with a chance of failure. There are multiple rolling methods and check types discussed below. Your attributes influence the outcome of the rolls and together help to determine your character's capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Many actions do not require rolling at all. If the risks are low and the odds of failure are small enough, you can generally assume your character succeeds without having to roll. For example, in most cases you don't need to roll to climb a ladder or jump a 5-foot gap.
Many rules in the game apply to most, but not all situations. Others apply to only those who have specific abilities, who are a certain race, or in other special circumstances. Many specific rules contradict the more general ones. In all cases where there is a conflict, the more specific rules apply.
Whenever a formula results in a fraction, always round down to the nearest whole number, regardless of the fractional value.
Whenever you attempt an action with a chance of failure, you make one of the checks defined below to determine if you succeed. Once you have a check result, add any relevant modifiers and compare that number to a target number (TN). If the total equals or exceeds the TN, your action has succeeded. Rules that call for a check will indicate what attribute and skill apply. If only one of the two is given, then the other counts as 0.
Passive Check: Add 10 + your attribute + your skill. This is most common for checks made on an ongoing basis, such as most of those using Perception, or as a defense in response to a special attack.
Standard Check: Begin with your passive check total, then roll two six-sided dice, adding one and subtracting the other (designated before rolling). This method has a relatively small range of possible values and is likely to result in a total near the average. Most skill checks unrelated to combat use this method. There are no critical successes or failures when using this method. Unless otherwise specified, if a rule asks for a check, make a standard check.
Wild Check: Roll 1d12 + 1d6 + your attribute + your skill. This method has a wider range of possible values and a greater deviation from the average. It is used primarily in combat as an attack roll. If both dice come up 1 and you fail by more than 1 point, then a critical failure has occurred. If both dice come up on their highest value and you succeed by more than 1 point, then it is a critical success. Critical successes and failures have added consequences determined by the action being attempted and at the GM's discretion.
Alternative Rolling Method (Variant)
If you prefer your games to be more random and have more of an "anything can happen" feeling, you can consider using wild rolls for everything. This will have a serious impact on how the game plays, making chance much more of a factor and character skills and attributes much less so, so it should be a deliberate choice if you decide to use this variant. You may also consider expanding the spread of target numbers in the game under this variant, since much higher and lower numbers are now in reach of every character.
Occasionally, two characters will take actions directly opposing one another. When this happens, the GM chooses one side to make either a standard or wild check, while the other side uses their passive check. Whoever has the higher total wins. In the case of a tie involving an attack or defense roll, the attacker wins. Otherwise, a tie indicates there is no change in the current situation. For example, if one side is trying to open a closed door and the other is holding it closed, then a tie means the door remains closed. If it were open initially, a tie would mean the door stays open.
For particularly long or complicated tasks, the GM may call for a series of checks rather than a single check. Completing the task could require a certain number of successes over any number of checks if there is no penalty for failure, a certain number of successes before a certain number of failures, or successes in several different types of checks. At the GM's option, the number of successes compared with the number of failures, or how long it takes to accumulate enough successes, may indicate the level of success or failure of a compound check.
Your attributes have a major effect on nearly all aspects of a character and are the primary determinant of a character's general skills and abilities. Attributes represent mostly intrinsic elements of a character and thus rarely if ever change. Concerted effort over long periods can improve an attribute slightly, or they can naturally change slowly over a lifetime.
A score of 0 is equal to an average human's ability. A score of 5 is the peak of human achievement, while a -5 is the lowest score possible while still having a playable character. Certain creatures can have scores in the -10 to 10 range, but no player character can ever have a score higher than 5 or lower than -5 except temporarily through the use of magic.
A measure of how strong you are. Higher Strength allows you to carry more equipment, helps with many physical activities such as climbing and swimming, and increases your damage with all weapons except for mechanical ones, such as crossbows.
A measurement of your manual dexterity, finesse, and accuracy. Higher Dexterity primarily affects your ability to maneuver in dangerous situations and your accuracy with weapons.
Vitality represents your overall health, fitness, and endurance. Greater Vitality increases your stamina and your ability to withstand heavier blows in combat.
A measurement of your general movement speed and reaction time. Higher Speed increases your defense and allows you to move faster and act more frequently in combat, reducing the time required for all of your actions.
Your general knowledge, education, and experience. A greater Lore score contributes to your knowledge of magic, culture, nature, and monsters, and allows you to get more use out of your magical equipment and spells.
An overall measurement of your magical prowess, intuition, common sense, and capacity for learning. A higher Reason score improves your defense and means your spells are more effective and you are better able to understand the workings of machinery, society, and nature.
Perception represents how observant you are of people and things around you. A higher Perception score allows you to act earlier in combat and notice things others might miss.
Persona measures your overall charisma, force of will, and determination. Greater Persona improves your communication skills and resistance to mental effects, and allows you to shrug off minor injuries more easily.
Ability Points (AP) are gained when you accomplish some challenging task. You can spend your AP to learn new abilities or improve existing ones, strengthen your skills, learn spells, or increase your stamina.
Creating A Character
There are several steps to creating a character, outlined below. It helps to have a clear concept for your character before you begin. Think of motivations, passions, fears, and other traits that will help to bring the character to life in play.
In a standard campaign, characters begin with 50 Ability Points (AP) and 105 (or 6d6 × 5) electrum pieces (ep). Characters introduced in the middle of a campaign should have total AP, money, and equipment comparable to the rest of the party. The GM may decide to start the campaign with a different amount of AP or money.
Step 1: Attribute Generation
The first step in creating your character is generating his or her attribute scores. There are several standard methods given in detail below, and your GM will inform you of which to use, or may have an alternative method. Once you have scores generated with the chosen method, you then increase two attributes of your choice by 1 point. Your choice of race may modify attributes further.
Each of these methods results in characters with a random attribute point total. Some characters generated with these rules will be inherently more or less skilled than other characters, which some players may not like. In general, the scores will not be off by more than a few points in total.
Roll 3d3-6 eight times and assign the results to the attributes in order.
This results in mostly random characters with fairly average scores. Players will likely have to adjust their character concepts to fit the die rolls. This is good for groups of experienced players who don't mind suboptimal scores or players who don't have ideas for what sorts of characters they want to play in the first place.
As method 1, except assign the results as desired.
This allows for complete customization of the rolls. While characters might have the same number of points as those generated with method 1, they will generally be more powerful because players can tailor their scores to better match their play style. This is good for groups where players already have solid ideas of what they want their characters to be or for those who enjoy number crunching to get the most out of their scores.
Rank your highest three attributes in order before rolling. Roll 3d3-6 eight times and keep track of the order. Assign the highest three rolls to your selected attributes, then assign the remaining scores in the order rolled.
This is a compromise between methods 1 and 2. While players can choose their highest three scores, generally enabling them to create the character that they want, their other scores will be randomized, likely resulting in strengths and weaknesses in unexpected places.
These methods guarantee party parity as far as the total number of attribute points is concerned. Groups concerned with party balance and ensuring that no character is inherently stronger or weaker than the others should consider these methods.
Roll 3d3-6 four times, noting the result and the inverse of each roll. Assign the results as desired.
This leads to characters who are guaranteed to have a baseline attribute point total of 0, with each score directly opposed by another to balance it out.
As method 4, except roll 1d4-1.
Characters made with this method are much more likely to have extremely strong and weak scores, with the total still balanced at exactly 0.
Assign the following scores to attributes as desired: 2, 1, 1, 0, 0, -1, -1, -2.
These scores are equivalent to the average rolls generated using any of the randomized methods. Using a standard array of scores guarantees that all characters have both definite strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, it ensures that all party members are balanced with each other and allows players to create characters to match their preferences. Because all players have the exact same numbers, however, it can result in a feeling of sameness, resulting in generic-feeling characters and a set of "dump stats" that the majority of the party puts their lowest values into, making the characters less diverse.
Assign scores to attributes as desired. No attribute may have a score higher than 3 or lower than -3. The total value of all attributes must equal 0.
This method is for groups where exact balance and total customization are of utmost importance and has a tendency to create highly specialized characters. It is not recommended for new players due to the increased complexity, but for experienced groups, it can create a perfectly tailored party to match the players' preferences.
The GM rolls 3d3-6 eight times, and each player assigns the rolls as desired.
Characters made with this method will have fairly average scores, but may be stronger or weaker than normal in any given campaign. However, all characters will have the same scores, meaning that if the rolls are high, then all characters are equally powerful, and if they are low, then they are equally weak.
All attributes begin with a score of -3. Roll 24d8. Each time there is a result of 1, increase your Strength by one; on a result of 2, increase your Dexterity; and so on. If a roll would increase an attribute above 3, reroll it.
This method also guarantees all characters have a baseline value of 0 when averaging all attributes, but does not require each score to be directly opposed by another.
For a high-powered game using methods 1-3 or 8, roll ten times instead of eight, and drop the two worst results. For methods 4 and 5, increase the three lowest attributes by 1 point. For method 6, use the following scores: 2, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, -1, -1. For method 7, increase the total value to 3. For method 9, roll 3 more dice.
Alternatively, simply allow a greater number of discretionary points to be added to the baseline attributes.
For a low-powered game, don't add any points to your attributes after generating the baseline numbers. If you want to allow more customization, allow increasing up to two attributes by 1 point at the cost of lowering the same number of attributes by 1 point.
Step 2: Select Starting Skills
Your skills determine how good you are at various common tasks, and one skill or another is applied to nearly all die rolls. You will be able to increase these as you gain Ability Points, but to begin with, assign the following bonuses and penalties to skills as you see fit. One skill begins at +3, two at +2, three at +1, four at 0, three at -1, two at -2, and one at -3.
Step 3: Select a Race and Size
|-5||2' - 3'||25 - 40 lbs|
|-4||2'6" - 4'||40 - 60 lbs|
|-3||3' - 5'||55 - 85 lbs|
|-2||3'6" - 5'6"||80 - 120 lbs|
|-1||4' - 6'||110 - 170 lbs|
|0||5' - 7'||155 - 235 lbs|
|1||5' - 8'||220 - 330 lbs|
|2||6' - 9'||310 - 475 lbs|
|3||7' - 10'||435 - 670 lbs|
|4||8' - 11'||625 - 950 lbs|
|5||9' - 13'||900 - 1300 lbs|
There are several races to choose from, and your GM may add more or remove some from the list for your game. Beginning players and groups may wish to restrict their selections to human, dwarf, alidran, and niera. Once you have decided on a race, add any racial modifiers to your attributes and skills and record your initial stamina, wound slots, and any other racial features. Racial skill modifiers should be noted separately from your base skill level. Racial modifiers are added to rolls, but do not count as an actual level in the skill.
Each race lists a size or size range indicating how relatively small or large you are in comparison to others. If a range is given, select what size you wish your character to be or determine it randomly. Size affects many checks almost as an attribute does, and has additional effects. Unlike standard attributes, however, increased size comes with both advantages and disadvantages. Larger characters move slightly more quickly, can more easily wield heavier weapons with improved reach and damage, and are more resistant to damage and to certain effects such as forced movement. Smaller characters are harder to hit in combat, can more easily move into close range with enemies, and take less damage from falls.
Size is a general indication of your build and includes both height and weight as a factor. Typical heights and weights are shown in the table to the right, but these are not definite limits. If you are especially short for your size, you might choose to instead be on the heavier side, or you could be tall but thin, in order to keep a rough balance and stay in line with the guidelines. If there is a question, your weight is generally more important than height for determining your size.
You should also choose your initial languages at this point. You begin knowing two languages. In most cases, these will be the common tongue of the campaign region and another racial or local language.
Step 4: Spend Ability Points
Each character begins with 50 Ability Points (AP). These points can be spent to gain various special abilities, improve skills, learn spells, or increase your stamina or mana. Many abilities have prerequisites that must be met before you can learn them. These may include certain minimum attributes or skills, or other already-learned abilities.
Step 5: Purchase Equipment
Each character begins with 105 (or 6d6 × 5) electrum pieces to spend on equipment. This can be used to purchase armor, weapons, rations, clothing, and other adventuring gear. If you don't want to take the time to look through the full equipment lists or are unsure what to buy, you can instead select some starting equipment packages from the list below. Each package includes multiple pieces of equipment with the prices and weights added together for simplicity. If your Size is not 0 and the package includes armor, adjust the total cost and weight using the armor table in the Equipment section.
- Cold weather: Boots, soft; Cloak, cloth; Coat, wool; Mittens. 8 ep. 9.00 lbs.
- Commoner (female): Cap or hat; Cloak, cloth; Gown, common; Shoes; Tunic. 8 ep, 3 sp. 8.25 lbs.
- Commoner (male): Belt; Boots, soft; Breeches; Cap or hat; Cloak, cloth; Tunic. 7 ep, 2 sp. 7.95 lbs.
- Scholar: Belt; Cloak, cloth; Gloves; Hose; Robe; Shoes. 10 ep. 8.80 lbs.
- Soldier: Arming sword; Dagger; Light crossbow; Small shield; Spear; Gambeson; Backpack; Bedroll; Lantern; Mess kit; Oil, lamp (8 oz); Waterskin (1/2 gal). 87 ep, 4 sp. 35.50 lbs.
- Thief: Buckler; Dagger; Short sword; Leather coat; Backpack; Crowbar; Grappling hook; Mirror, steel; Pouch; Rope, hemp (50 ft); Thieves' tools. 76 ep, 8 sp. 36.00 lbs.
- Tome Wizard: Dagger; Quarterstaff; Chalk, stick; Ink, black (1 oz bottle); Lamp; Oil, lamp (8 oz); Paper; Pouch; Scroll tube; Tome, spell; Vial, glass (2 oz); Wax, sealing. 61 ep, 9 sp. 10.45 lbs.
- Camping: Bedroll; Blanket; Flint and steel; Mess kit; Tent, small. 13 ep, 3 sp. 25.05 lbs.
Step 6: Calculate Derived Statistics
There are many commonly-used values that are based on others. These should be calculated in advance and noted on your character sheet for easy reference as needed. Use the following formulas to calculate these statistics. If you have any special abilities that modify the base values, include those modifications as well.
- Melee Defense: 10 - Size + Speed + Reason + shield defense + weapon defense (up to 1 + ½ Melee skill).
- Ranged Defense: 10 - Size + Speed + Reason + shield defense.
- Immobile Defense: 5 - Size.
- Attack Modifier: Dexterity + Melee or Aim (depending on if the weapon is used in melee or ranged combat) + weapon group specialization + weapon's accuracy.
- Base Initiative: 15 - Perception - Reaction.
- Surprised Initiative: Base Initiative + 5 - Perception. If your Perception is 5 or higher, you cannot be surprised and ignore this.
- Action Speeds: See the table in the Combat chapter.
- Light Wound Slots: 5 + Persona.
- Base Thresholds: 5 + 2 × Size for light wounds. For others, see the table in the Combat chapter.
- Armored Thresholds: Base threshold + armor's threshold modifier.
- Weight Allowance: See the table in the Equipment chapter.
- Maximum Weapon Bulk: See the table in the Equipment chapter.
- Movement Rate: 10 + Size + Speed + Athletics. You should also note your grid-based movement rate if you will be using a combat grid.
- Overland Movement Rate: (10 + Size + Athletics + worse of Speed and Vitality) divided by 3 in miles per hour. This rate times 8 is your speed in miles per day.
- Fall Height: 5 - half your Size (minimum of 1 foot).
Step 7: Finishing Touches
All characters should have a personality, physical description, goals, and general outlook on life. Look at your character's attributes and abilities and see what that says about him or her as a person. Are they strong but clumsy, smart but uneducated, or skilled and overconfident? Come up with some interesting mannerisms and personality traits that will be easy to bring to life during the game through roleplaying. Be sure to also include some of the more mundane statistics like height, weight, sex, and general appearance. Finally, if you haven't already, come up with a name that meshes well with your GM's setting and the rest of the party's characters.
|3-5||The party accomplishes a minor goal|
|6-10||The party accomplishes a moderate goal|
|15-25||The party accomplishes a major goal|
Characters are able to advance in skill and power by acquiring and spending Ability Points (AP). Depending on your group's style of play, AP can be gained in several ways. The most common way to gain AP is by accomplishing some defined goal, whether chosen by the players or by the GM. The more challenging or important the goal, the more AP is awarded. Use the table to the right as a rough guideline of how much AP to award for each goal. Some groups prefer faster or slower advancement than the default, so feel free to adjust the numbers to match your preferences.
Minor goals include things like finding a hidden treasure cache, overcoming or bypassing a small group of enemies, learning a piece of relevant information, and so on. Moderate goals might include exploring and clearing a dangerous area, discovering a major clue leading to the capture or confrontation of a villain, or overcoming a strong threat through skill and planning. Major goals are those that advance the story of the campaign in some large way, such as driving away a whole tribe of orcs threatening a town, uncovering a massive treasure horde guarded by traps and monsters, confronting a prominent villain and disrupting his plans, or gaining the favor of the king and convincing him to mobilize his armies. The actual goals will depend on your group and exactly what situations you find yourselves in.
|1-3||The player has an idea that saves a character|
|4-8||The player has an idea that saves the party|
|1-5||The player gives up some in-game advantage in order to better roleplay his character|
|1-8||The player makes creative contributions to the campaign that increase other players' enjoyment|
Most AP should be awarded to the entire party in order to keep the characters at roughly equal power levels. GMs may choose to give additional AP awards to individual characters based on good ideas, roleplaying, or similar activities that increase enjoyment for everyone at the table. Suggested awards are listed in the table.
Spending Ability Points
There are a few main ways to spend accumulated AP. You can improve a skill or specialization, learn an ability or upgrade, learn a spell, or increase your base stamina or mana. Skills and specializations cost a set amount based on the level acquired, abilities and upgrades cost an amount listed in their description, and spells cost an amount based on their spell level. Increasing your stamina or mana costs an amount based on what your new base value will be and what your Vitality or Lore is. This cost is calculated by subtracting your Vitality (for stamina) or Lore (for mana) from the new base value, then multiplying the result by 2. For example, increasing your maximum stamina from 17 to 18 when you have a Vitality of 3 costs 30 AP ((18 - 3) × 2), and increasing your maximum mana from 12 to 13 when you have a Lore of -1 costs 28 AP ((13 - (-1)) × 2). Stamina and mana can only be increased one point at a time.