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31 December 2013 @ 10:55 am
Dungeons & Design 14: There is Nothing New Under the Sun  
So, all those changes I've been talking about in my Dungeons & Design series? Well, it turns out that I've been pre-empted--Tim Dugger, who worked on Rolemaster and a Rolemaster-lite game called HARP Fantasy, split off and made an RPG called Novus that does a lot of the same things that I was looking to do. Novus had an open beta playtest a couple years ago, and I managed to find an early copy of the rules on Scribd. While it's not the final version (it's labeled 0.3) and from reading about it on RPG.net I know that a lot of the basic rules stayed the same even if the details changed.

A list of things Novus does that I was considering:
  • Rolls are made using 2d10 + bonuses vs. a difficulty number.

  • Characters are defined by their skills. Hitting people with swords and using magic are both skill-based.

  • Willpower is a stat and Wisdom is basically renamed Perception. Dexterity is also split into hand-eye coordination (Agility) and gross motor control (Speed).

  • Combat involves rolling vs. the opponent's defense. Extra points over the difficulty translate directly into damage.

  • Weapons have a static value added to damage, and armor subtracts from damage done. Shields add to the difficulty to be hit.

  • Scoring extra points over the base difficulty allows the player to pick special effects, like a bonus to the next similar roll, making a spell harder to resist, or adding to the attack's damage.

  • It has a system of Talents that provide bonuses not covered by the skill system.

  • Like Rolemaster or HARP Fantasy, there are Backgrounds like "Urban, Upper Class" or "Sylvan" that provide characters with a starting set of skills.

  • There are Fate Points that allow the characters to influence rolls

  • There is a list of combat maneuvers that can be bought, like Power AttackStrike or Ranged Disarm or ChargeMoving Strike.

  • Spells have a casting target number that the caster has to beat with their spellcasting skill to use.

  • Spells aren't Vancian, instead using a spell point system. Apparently one of the supplements has a fatigue system as well.

Things Novus does that I wasn't thinking of:
  • The 2d10 both explode and implode. That's much better than bounded accuracy for allowing the occasional crazy result while typically keeping things in a more predictable range.

  • It's class/level-based, but class just determines how much it costs to buy skills--spells are cheaper for wizards, for example--and levels provide more points to buy skills. Also, there's a PDF supplement that allows a classless, levelless option.

  • Only the attacker rolls in combat, but the defense is based on a static 15 + modifiers, so changing it to attacker and defender both roll wouldn't be too difficult. It would make hits in combat more likely and increase lethality, though, but I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.

  • Combat has an action point system, where each participant gets 5 AP every round and different maneuvers cost different amounts of AP.

There's probably more in there that I'm forgetting, but that's a pretty comprehensive list.

Right now, I'm fixated on a weird science fantasy world using that lovely Runequest Collector's Edition, but if my interests do swing back to more classic fantasy I'll probably do it with Novus. In addition to all the reasons laid out above, it's close enough to D&D that I can use the wealth of OSR material I've found from trawling the internet and reading blogs for the past year.
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