Muscled fighters and brainy wizards [Homebrew]

Much like we talked about a few weeks ago and the week before┬áthis week, we’ll be talking about homebrew game systems. Specifically, about a system I’m designing myself. Last time, I figured out more or less what I want a basic combat cycle to look like.

However, I have no way to test if it’s any good without some dice to roll and stats to roll then against. So that’s what I’ll be trying to figure out today. In my system, what makes a wizard smart, what makes a fighter strong, what makes my fighter stronger than your fighter.

Warrior, Mage, Rogue! The triforce of adventuring parties.
Warrior, Mage, Rogue! The triforce of adventuring parties.

That’s right, we’re talking stats today, gentlefolk. Strap in, it’s going to be a wild ride.

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The Hands of Tenzin

This week, i’m trying something different. I’ll be doing a writeup of a class variant for my own D&D 5e game. One of the characters is (was) a member of an exclusive sect so it seems only fitting that they’d get a unique class variant.

And as an added bonus, I get to use these sweet powers for my adversaries, her former sisters in arms, when they inevitably come for her.

Images of a tree in four seasons.
Four seasons, Four hands, Four elemental domains. Man, this Tenzin guy sure likes his fours.

A bit of backstory on these ladies (and rarely men). The Hands of Tenzin are a group of spellcasters who serve the king of Aracea. They are responsible for keeping the magical energies of the world in check and as representatives of the god Tenzin, are expected to guide the seasons where neccesary.

Everything clear? Cool, let’s dig in.

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Combat Cycles [Homebrew]

Last week I talked about wanting to run a specific kind of system that doesn’t seem to exist yet and why I would be building a new system to accommodate my white whale of a playstyle.

This week, I’ll be taking a closer look at an actual combat encounter, how I’d like it to play out and how that might work mechanically. But first, I’m adding something to my set of guidelines.

A picture of a 12-sided die.
Poor, underused D12. You’ll get your time in the sun.

– I’d like for my system to use a D12 as its primary die.

Why the D12? because the poor D12 is criminally underused and I like the way it looks, that’s why. On to the rules crafting.

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Homebrewing thoughts

For this week, I thought I’d do something entirely different. For the last 25 or so post, I’ve talked about how to run existing games, how to deal with players and topics in specific ways and what sorts of tools you might have in your belt.

Home brewing ingredients
No, not that kind of homebrew.

This week, I’m doing something entirely new. I’ll be talking about home-brewing and house rules. Not in abstract way or from a meta perspective. No, I’m going to try and present you with some thoughts I’ve had on a combat system. It’s not complete or even compatible with most games but I figured it would be a fun write-up and possibly a fun read.

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Custom GM tools

Last week we talked about the standard tools in a GM’s metaphorical toolkit. This week I want to touch upon two additional tools for your belt, though these take a bit more work to get set up and are a lot more specific to your game.

A world map
A map of one of my game worlds, lovingly illustrated by one of my players. The lines depict travel for the first quarter of the campaign.

This means they’re not nearly as portable as the good old ‘use a notebook’ but when used properly, they can have a huge impact on your games. The two tools I’m talking about are custom character sheets and world visualization tools.

Let’s dig in.

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The GM’s toolkit

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about our games, preparing for them and even running them. We’ve talked about the metaphorical tools in your toolbox and the different tricks that can be employed by the savvy game master.

Toolkit
Well, you get the idea. Add some dice and you can probably play some obscure indie RPG.

What we haven’t touched on are the actual tools you can use to make your games easier to run or more enjoyable to be a part of. So that’s what we’ll be talking about today. I’ll mostly be going over the tools I personally use and why I find them to be a good addition to my ‘kit’ as it were but i’ll be offering a few suggestions that I intend to pick up at some point in the future as well.

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Theme and Flavor (3)

As we discussed two weeks ago and the week before, Themes can be a very powerful tool for structuring your campaign. Picking the right theme for your campaign can turn a mediocre idea into a tale of heroism talked about for years to come and drifting from theme to theme with no direction can turn the greatest campaign into a meaningless meandering soup of conflicting ideas.

Theme: No journey is easy.

So in our third installment of talking about themes, we’re going to tackle the one-two-three punch of setting up a theme, revealing its actors and smacking the characters with the consequences of what you’ve just done. This part will be focused mostly on story themes, although you can certainly apply what we learned last time about visual themes. I’ll be using two examples as a guideline for this article. Feel free to steal them for your home game.

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Theme and Flavor (2)

As we discussed last week, a proper theme can really help guide you in planning a campaign. Today I’d like to talk about using theme to not guide your own campaign but to guide your players.

You see, players are tricky creatures and will subconsciously pick up on the themes you’re putting down. You can use this to both make your game more compelling and to pull the rug out from under them for a surprising upset. How to do this, well, that’s what we’ll be talking about here.

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Theme and Flavor (1)

So you’ve decided to GM a roleplaying game. Awesome! You’ve got a system all picked out, your players are excited and you’ve started doing some prep for your campaign. You’re figuring out names for towns and what optional rules to use. You’ve read the rulebook again and are starting to draw up some NPCs and potential plotlines.

But now comes the hard part of creating and running a successful campaign. You somehow have to wrangle and wrestle all of your ideas into a cohesive whole and then herd the cats that are your players in the right direction to actually experience all that content you’ve made for them. And that’s not easy.

But fear not, dear reader. There are tricks to be employed, ruses to use and techniques to master that’ll make this if not easy, at least doable.

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The fanciest of swords!

Last week, I spoke about making treasure interesting again. I mentioned crafting custom tailored magical items for your players to make finding said magical items more interesting. This week, I’d like to go into a little more detail with regards to those magical items and offer a few examples of such fantastic pieces of loot.

I’m going to be looking at three examples here and give you my reasoning as to why these would make for engaging magical weapons, what could perhaps be improved for them and giving some tips and tricks on making your own.

Snake inspired katana
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

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