Adventure Trove Game System
In 2004, I stopped working on an original game engine for a line of products I called Fantasy Adventures. I’ve since then tried shaping the world I began back then to fit other game engines, but when I thought about it, I found a lot to be admired about the original ideas. I’ve always had trouble fitting some of the core world concepts into generic game engines, and I had no desire to ever attempt a D&D 3.X conversion of the worlds. If only because the high concepts were similar, I felt I might be able to shoehorn it into Burning Wheel, but I decided that I was done forcing perfect spheres into undersized square holes.
As I didn’t stop working because I thought it was unworkable, or because I thought the ideas involved were unremarkable, I felt I should pick them back up again. I still think the world I drafted back then has teeth, and that the core ideas of the system I wrote at the time had potential. So the Adventure Trove Game System is an in-spirit rule set creation. For all intents and purposes it is Fantasy Adventures, as I would have designed it today, after being exposed to years of D20, and modern gaming conventions.
I feel confident in showing off aspects of the game, which is a dice pool system that encourages the use of templates but doesn’t make them necessary. I don’t feel threatened at all to share the development of the rules, as I intend to offer the core rules as a pay what you want release, while reserving pay only options for key supplements. It is the same model I have been thinking about working with for Daring Adventures related releases. To describe the characteristics of the game, here is a list of statements which are true as of the moment of publication of this article. Keep in mind that as with anything in development, things can change.
- uses a Die Pool mechanic relying entirely upon common D6s.
- uses race and profession templates, but doesn’t pigeonhole characters.
- provides players with ways to shine based on their strengths.
- is a skill based game, but doesn’t cripple characters without skill ranks.
- uses action costs and a tick based initiative cycle, that keeps things exciting.
- is designed with average powered heroes in mind but scales up well.
- uses wound thresholds and wound type boxes to represent declining health due to damage.
- treats unimportant NPCs and Monsters as dangerous obstacles and not full fledged characters.
So to give you an idea of what this all looks like here is an example character:
Theoren Manslayer, Human Assassin
Strength 2 (Muscle 4), Agility 1 (Dexterity 2), Perception 1 (Acuity 3), Intellect 1, Presence 1 (Confidence 3)
Athletics 3, Notice 2, Surveillance 2, Survival 3, Stealth 2, Weapons: Axes 3, Weapons: Knives 2
Other Skills (Active, Martial)
Brawling 3, Riding 2, Search 2, Tracking 2
Contacts (Assassins’ Guild), Lore (The Jardan Wastes), Uncanny Hearing
Defense: 4 Armor: Thick Leather (2) Total: 6
Punch AC: -1, 7D, 2 Damage, 5 Damage on Strong Strike
Elbow AC: +0, 7D, 3 Damage, 7 Damage on Strong Strike
Battle Axe AC: +1, 5D, 7 Damage, 10 Damage on Strong Strike
Long Knives AC: -1, 3D, 5 Damage, 8 Damage on Strong Strike
Dagger AC: +0, 3D, 4 Damage, 8 Damage on Strong Strike
2X Axes – Solid Hit: Ignore 2 points of worn armor.
2X Brawling – Flurry: Immediately make an unarmed strike for 1 less AC.
2X Athletics – Burst of Speed: Lower action cost of running by half
2X Survival – Environmental Mastery: You gain +1D on a Condition test versus Fatigue.
Without going into too much detail right now, Theoren is a tribal human who learned to fight amongst his people, but left them for the kingdoms of the invaders to his home territory. He now specializes in ending the lives of specific targets for money, which he uses to sustain the somewhat decadent lifestyle he has acquired since going it alone.
Let’s say that Theoren needs to climb a tree in order to gain a good vantage point in the woods. He is concerned with locating his target amongst a series of squad roaming the area. The treetop provides him with both a better chance to see further away, but also a secure location to do so. Theoren has a 5 Muscle rank, and a 3 Athletics rank for a total pool of 8. The tree is tall, but has plenty of branches and is old and gnarled, so it is only a TN 2 to succeed. Because his pool is more than double the TN, the GM decides to waive the roll, and he succeeds with 2 successes (the requisite amount).
Now however he needs to take a look around. His Acuity is 4 and his Notice is 2, so this is a pool of 6. The GM doesn’t give him a bonus for having a good vantage point on this roll because it also obscures the immediate area. Because the squads don’t fear anything in the region, they aren’t being stealthy, so it isn’t an opposed roll. The GM decides that to not only identify all the squads moving through the area, but identify which sergeant is the particular target is still a somewhat difficult task, so he sets a TN of 3, and forces the hero to roll because it is an important test for his mission. The dice come up 5, 6, 3, 4, 1 and 2, and anything higher than 3 counts as a success. This is a total of 3 successes, and that’s enough to make the roll.
Now, a 6 is a special success. Players can spend the 6 to either improve the level of success on an already successful roll, or they can use it to increase the size of a multiple die result in order to invoke Exploits (which will be explained in a later article). So for now, the player chooses extra success and with a new total of 4 successes versus the TN of 3 this is an exceptional success. With 1 extra success, Theoren easily makes out the specific shade of purple he was given to look for, and makes out the plume adorning the target sergeant’s helm off in the distance. He also notes the presence of 2 squads between him and the squad he is tracking.