The Deep Dark

Its been awhile. After the holidays things got busy. I cointinue to work on Twenty Pennyweights: I reformatted the book to prepare for print -including updating fonts and heading, etc. I’ve completed the chapter on Faith (Priests w/ Miracles, Clerics w/ Orisons), and finished the chapter on mass combat that Im calling Battle! I’ve complied a list of animalia and beasts for the Bestiary chapter, and I’ve reconfigured several of the appendices. Work continues. You can download the new Faith chapter here


The main purpose of this post though is, The Deep Dark; An experimental rpg I finished recently. I found out recently that April is a ‘200 word Rpg Design Challenge’ month and has been since 2015, I believe. The Deep Dark is my entry into the challenge.

The Deep Dark is a survival game about dungeon delving, and resource management, in 200 words. You can download it free here

v2.0 – System Update

I broke down. I rebuilt the system from the ground up. I did away with percentile dice totally. I decided to rebuild the system as a small 2d6+ modifier system. Accept for the rules for helping -where players share actual dice, armor -which is rolled 1d6+ modifier, and weapons – which remain unchanged.

Some changes included in V2.0:

The ‘Power’ Attribute has been changed to ‘Strength’.

The ‘Mortal Injury’ Stat has been relabeled as ‘Health’.

A new stat has been added, ‘Mettle’ will test character’s resolve against fear and pain.

Skills have been changed to be reflected as modifiers added to a roll of 2d6. The result is then compared to a target number. Target numbers increase due to difficulty of task. I think I’d like to add a note here to mention how well I think the target number system is going to work. I noticed it while working on the Armorer skill. Under the V1 rule set an armorer may have a base skill of 43%. That Armorer therefore, has a 43% chance or crafting Leather armor, Scale mail, or Full Plate. Not exactly engaging, or dramatic. With the new target number system, an armorer can have a TN10 to craft Leather armor, and TN25 to craft Full Plate.

The selection of armors has been reduced to a more streamlined grouping.

Damage has been changed from keeping up with individual injuries to tracking points of damage along an ‘injury scale’. For each point of damage a character takes the tracker is filled. As this tracker is filled the character gains penalties for there skill rankings indicated at Lightly Wounded, Severely Wounded, Traumatically, etc.

Sorcery to come!


Version 1.1.2 Playtest Notes

Possible ‘bug’ I’ve noticed in the die mechanic:

Last night we played again for a second time at home. Situations occurred in the fiction where I called for a vs. test. These versus tests called into question a few of the rules in the booklet.

[x] – The first rule for vs. tests is that defenders always win ties.

In combat this is easy to determine, but outside of combat it gets a little blurry. If two characters attempt to grab the same object at once, who then is the defender? Another murky situation: a thief attempts a prowling test, while another character attempts to spot her. Is the prowler or the spotter the defender? The prowler is not trying to steal from the spotter, only remain hidden.

[x] – The second rule for vs. tests states that if there is no defender than a roll off occurs using a differing attribute or skill.

This led to an interesting circumstance too. If the spotter fails the perception test, does the prowler automatically succeed? Well, no. Because the prowler has to make a roll too, right, RIGHT? But we know by the dice, before the prowler rolls that the spotter has not spotted her…hmmm

Now if the prowler succeeds, and the spotter has failed we know obviously that the thief has not been spotted. But what if both fail? Technically that would mean the spotter did not spot the prowler, and that the prowler did not remain hidden from the spotter. Uhm??

At the end of the night we just decided that two failed rolls were the same as a tie. And re-rolled. It worked mechanically but in the end it didnt seem to be a proper resolution. It’s not satisfying to me. It feels sloppy. I’ll have to think about it.

I think the first point of business was to determine what is a tie. Is it just two successes rolled vs. each other, or two failures as well. Per our ruling the other night, two failures also constitute a tie. This is ONLY because there is no clear winner. This still feels sloppy to me as two failures indicate -to me at least, that neither character got what they were after. Maybe thats a tie. So let’s look at this action matrix:

      Success vs. Success = Tie


      Success vs. Failure = Success to the victor


      Failure vs. Success = Success to the victor


    Failure vs. Failure = Tie

This then leads me to an observation: The statistical chance of the conflict coming up a tie is more likely than not, when its looked at with only one contestant succeeding.

Now the rule in the book states that if two contestants tie a ‘roll off’ is made. If the tied test was a skill test, the roll off is an attribute test. This is when the two swords man are equally trained, and neither can best each other. So they must choose to try and overcome each other (power) or outlast each other (fortitude).

Might write a rule that says if the roll off is tied, whoever spends the most xp (pc vs pc) wins. Or if npc vs pc if the pc spends xp they win, npc wins if no xp to spend.

I dont know.

Yeah, maybe whoever rolls highest on the roll – off while still ‘passing’ the test.

Further Thoughts and Musings

So the above mentioned problems with versus tests really got me thinking about the core mechanic in the game; percentile dice. The above mentioned rules pretty easily take care of that however. Late last week after sitting down to write the bit on sorcery i wanted to continue and actually finish the sorcery section. The ideas that I’ve had are flowing over, and friends are sending encouraging thoughts my way. But as i began to think about the corruption/destruction system combined with the linear randomness of the percentile dice, I felt that they didnt jive well together. There is no player, and no character interaction that would determine if corruption/destruction is earned by the mage, its purely up to the dice. Pure chance. I dont know how much I like that.

So I started looking for ways that the character and the player could work in tandem with one another, so that casting the spells and hitting as close to the TN (Target Number) was possible in a way that had some decisions involved. Something that wasnt just purely linear and random.

So i started thinking about a roll and keep (or roll and drop) system, and the way it could be used when trying to meet a TN. A player could roll d6 equal to attribute + skill and then keep an amount of dice equal to skill (or drop dice equal to attribute, its all the same.) These dice could then be totaled to meet or exceed a TN. Most of the time with a die system you want to choose the highest totaling of dice for the maximum effect. The roll and keep however, when combined with corruption/destruction for rolling over/under would allow the player then to affect the dice, by choosing not only the biggest numbers, but by being able to choose the dice to get as close as possible to the target number. This is neat, and I like the way it sounds.

But there’s a big problem.

This would require a strip down of the whole system, to be rebuilt with this new rule. Blah! Thats not at all what I want!

But let’s look at a few things:

Skills would work nicely in this system allowing me to add factors to the skills that weren’t so ‘mathy’. Currently we’re looking at things like ‘In the rain -5%’, in the dark and rain -10%. It could just factor as TN’s: In the rain TN:10, in the dark and rain: TN15. Thats nice.

Faith as I wanted it could be cool too. I wasnt planning on doing faith as one skill like sorcery, but I wanted each prayer to be a seperate skill. Priests/Paladins could then roll Faith attribute + prayer skill – keep prayer skill in dice.

I cant figure an armor system that works as well, and that I like as much as the percentile one I had though…Booo.
But is armor really a reason to keep a whole system, thats not your favorite?

Anyone have pointers for character creation with point buy systems?


(originally posted on Oct 18th, 2016 @


I’ve been thinking and making some notes on dark sorcerous things. This is the first long form version of those notes.

Sorcery is a skill ‘seeded’ in Will. I originally wanted to seed it in Intelligence but as I began crafting the concept of how sorcery and magic works in the setting, I decided Will was more appropriate. Dualism and Faith come into play with sorcery, but I’ll leave it to the basics. But the basics are that our world is the dark version of worlds, controlled by spirits of the fallen. These deamons can be ‘bound’ by a sorcerer’s will, and the sorcerer can use these spirit’s ‘powers’ to cast their unholy spells.

The Skill Percentage for sorcery shows the line that the sorcerer walks between corruption and destruction. The smaller the number, the more chance the sorcerer faces destruction from the powers he/she must bind and control. The larger the number, the more chance the sorcerer faces corruption from the very deamons he/she draws power from. When the player rolls the dice, they are aiming to hit as close to the skill percentage as they can.

an example: Ronnie’s Sorcerer calls out to the spirits that be, summoning the power to control sorcerous fire and cast forth into our world. His Sorcery skill is 52%. Ronnie wants to roll as close to 52 as he can. The sweet spot is 47 – 57. Within 5 ‘degrees’ of his skill percentage. Rolling a 01 – 46 will increase his sorcerer’s corruption stat. Rolling a 58 – 100 would sap the sorcerer’s fortitude, making him weaker. This corruption/destruction is earned of increments of 1 point for every 5 ‘degrees’ of success or failure. If Ronnie rolls a 32, he succeeds and earns 3 points of corruption. Because of the 15% difference. (47 – 32 = 15). If Ronnie rolls a 72, he fails at the casting (this failure is subject to the standard failure consequence rules including having the Sorcerer cast the spell at a cost), he then would have 3 points sapped from his Fortitude.

This limits the power of sorcerers. Because the player’s have to flirt with the possibility of taking literal damage when their fortitude runs out, or losing their characters to when their corruption reaches 100. Perhaps this will make them stop and question whether or not the use of spells is necessary.


If a sorcerer’s Corruption stat ever becomes a 100 the sorcerer’s time is over. its time for them to pay their dues. The souls of the damned come forth from the earth and pull the sorcerer asunder.

Fortitude Drain

Fortitude is drained when sorcerer’s fail sorcery rolls. Fortitude is drained 1 point for every 5% increment of failure. Once Fortitude is reduced to 0, the Sorcerer passes out. For every point into the negative that fortitude is drained the sorcerer takes a level of injury as follows:
-1 Superficial, -2 Light, -3 Severe, -4 Traumatic, -5 Mortal

Mortal Cost

Some spells have a higher cost. For some spells, our mortal world requires a rift to be built between the worlds. A spell example would be something like, ‘Summon Deamon’. The Deamon is a creature of spirit nature, not of our mortal realm. As such the sorcerer must offer a physical ‘vessel’ for the Deamon to cross over into our world. I seed to grow into a dark twisted tree, or a womb may due for this.

These ‘rituals’ will have individual rules for the costs needed.


Im still working on a spell list.

Notes on Version 1.0

(originally posted on Oct 03, 2016 @ – This post is in reference to the first playtest version 1.0. I released it in late September to a closed group of playtesters. Some including my own table.

So looking through the booklet I released of the rule set, I’ve begun to notice some things.

[x] – Characters seem to have a Mortal Injury limit too high to be killed outright by any of the weapon damages. Though characters can still bleed out and take a mortal injury. I’m seeing this as both a positive and a negative. There are so many times in a game that character death is the most boring consequence you can give to a player. So having a character be hard to kill allows the GM to do so many other things that change the character, and a changed character forces a player to make new decisions. I think this is a good thing. On the other hand though, I want combat to be deadly. I don’t want players running into combat after combat with no regards for their character, because they know they wont die. I do think that the injury penalties alone will help to insulate player behavior from being this way.

[x] – Character power (strength) does not factor into melee damage. I kind of wanted it to. It does factor into skill use for Axes, and Hammers though. So characters who are more powerful are better at using these weapons causing them to hit more often with them. Though more powerful characters don’t do more damage than less powerful characters, and I do not know how I feel about this. If I stuck with Palladium’s 16, 17, and 18 doing +1, +2, and +3 damage, that would work but Im not too fond of that system. Having a 16+ give a bonus is well and great, but what about the attribute scores of 3 – 15? They’re completely obsolete. They dont matter. You might as well scale all attributes 1 – 4 then. 1s dont matter. 2, 3, and 4 provides a bonus. This is one of the main reasons I set out to hack the system. A solution then, that I could offer would be to change the modifiers. You could do 3 – 8 at -1, 9 – 11 a +0, 12 – 14 a +1, a 15 – 16 a +2, and a 17 – 18 a +3. This would keep the rest of the damage ratings for Twenty Pennyweights relatively in balance.

I continue to think on this. Just ramblings. Im not modifying anything yet. I want to playtest it first to see how things work out.

Extended Combat Example

(Originally posted on Sept 15th, 2016 @

An Extended Sample of Combat

From our previous examples we have a Knight wearing Plate and Chain who is ambushed on a small road on the outskirts of a town by two bandits. One wearing soft leather the other wearing cloth. The bandit in the leather is wielding a Dirk, the bandit in cloth is armed with a Light Crossbow, most likely stolen from some other passerby. The knight wields her trusty Long Sword and shield.

After failing to convince the knight to relinquish her worldly possessions, they’ve decided to take them for her. They are state their engagements. The knight engages the bandit with crossbow. Bandit with crossbow engages knight. Bandit with Dirk engages knight.

If combatants are engaged with each other it is always assumed they are within range to be able to move and hit their enemies. If a question ever comes up concerning how far a character can move, it is assumed to be equal to the character’s speed attribute in feet.

They then look at their attacks per melee. Each has three. Though wearing Plate and Chain, the knight’s attacks are reduced to two because of encumbrance.

Each player then (knight’s player and gm for the bandits) scripts three volleys of actions in secret. These are to be distributed as evenly as possible.

      Knight: Block and Strike | Strike | X


      Dirk: Physical | Strike | Strike


    Crossbow: Strike | Physical | Physical

The knight is at a disadvantage here. She has to split her limited actions between two attackers!

Then each player reveals the first volley.
The Knight is Striking at Crossbow – is at -10% to strike because of weapon length
The Dirk is using a physical action to draw his dirk.
Crossbow is Firing at Knight –

Now let’s play and resolve!

Volley 1:

The Bandit Draws his Dirk

The Crossbowman fires at the Knight – The knight is unable to block this missile. Bandit rolls his Crossbow: 42% and gets a 4. That’s a hit! Missiles always hit torso. So Knight tests her armour. Which is 75%. The Light Crossbow is VAP-20%, so the knight’s Torso is listed at 55%. She rolls – 88%! Armour Fails! Bandit rolls damage – 2d6 = Snake Eyes! 2 Damage! The knight has lucked out. With a Superficial Injury level of 3. This two damage does not register! Just a nick!

The knight attacks the crossbowman – Now that the crossbow has fired, he no longer has a longer weapon that the knight, therefor the knight is not penalized for the attack. She rolls Sword: 47% – Rolls 63, thats a miss.

Volley 2:

The knight attacks the crossbowman who has scripted a physical actions to re-load! Her attack is unopposed. Her Sword Skill is 47%. She rolls a 64 and misses.

The crossbowman completes the first 1 of 2 physical actions to reload.

The Dirk has a strike vs the knight, also unopposed. Dirk Skill: 57% – Rolls: 36. That’s a hit! The knight player assumes that the dirk wielder is standing to her side, and chooses her left arm to get hit. She tests her armour. Its 65% in this location. She rolls an 88. The dirk slips through a gap in the armour. The dirk has no VAP. The bandit rolls damage 1d4+2 = 6 damage. That’s one shy of a Light Injury, so the knight takes a Superficial Wound. She’s now dropped -10% to all rolls.

Volley 3:

The knight has to rest this volley due to armour encumbrance.

The crossbowman completes the second physical action to reload.

The Dirk has strike vs the knight again. Dirk Skill: 57% – Rolls: 51. That’s another hit. The knight player keeps the same assumption about location and chooses the left arm. Armour here again is 65%. She rolls a 65! The armour deflects the blade this time. Bandit rolls damage. 2d4 +2 = 4. This drops the amours protection rating to 61%.

Combat then continues this way until a combatant surenders, flees, or dies.