Homebrew system


Dunno if this is adequate, but I thought it might interest some posters. It is the basic system that we have been using for our last games of Middle Earth and "ars magica ultralite" playing. The Ars system is not complete, but it has been used so far only for single scenario play, so the XP/lab system still need to be worked up. It has worked OK-ish, even if (like every system) has its rough edges.

In this system magi are powerful. Not as powerful as in Ars, but they are far above the "Order of the Small" and similar Ars-based systems. So, without further addo, here it comes.



Xavi's Homebrew RPG System
You have 10 points to distribute between 3 characteristics. Each characteristic has a related total.

Physical Controls all physical activities including combat. (Hit points)
Mental Controls all knowledges, and intelligence related. (Magic Points)
Social Controls all social activities, charm and info gathering. (Destiny points)

Each characteristic has a total between 2 and 5

Hit Points (HP). = Physical +2. How much damage you can take before dropping dead. When you have suffered more than half damage, you drop to -2D to all activities

Magic Points (MP) = Mental *2. They are spent to activate your powers.

Destiny Points (DP) = Social *2. You can modify a die roll by +1 spending a DP. You can spend several DPs at once. You can also spend one DP to ignore the malus for multiple foes in a combat round.

A virtue grants you a -1 to the difficulty to do something (fight with a sword, wilderness activities…) or grants you +2D to do the same thing. A flaw does the same, but in the inverse sense. Discuss with the troupe your V&F.
You get 1 free virtue. After that, each virtue must be accompanied by a flaw. You can have up to 4 virtues (and 3 corresponding flaws)

When required to make a roll, roll a D6 for each point in the characteristic. Basic difficulty is 5+. Level of success depending on how many successes you rolled. If no successes, roll a D6. On a further 1, you botch. If 3+ success critical hit (auto-success or double damage)
There can be modifiers, like the support of friends in a debate or a better (or worse!) tactical position in combat

Physical roll. 5+ difficulty.
Damage is equal to your successes + weapon damage – armor

Weapons. (damage)
• Dagger, club, sling +0
• Hand weapon (sword, mace, spear, bow) +1
• 2 handed weapon (hand and a half, pike, longbow) +2
• Freakin’ powerful weapons (lance, crossbow) +3

Armor (protection)
• Shield 1 (can be added to other armor)
• Supple leather 1
• Brigantine 2
• Chainmail 3

Defenders (as per ArM5. Defended cannot be attacked until defender(s) goes down)
Multiple opponents (-1D for each opponent after the first)
Mounted combat (The horse counts as an ally, so you can fight 2 enemies without penalty, 3 enemies at -1 die... or attack a single enemy and he will be at -1 die. Allows the use of a lace).

If you are attacking canon fodder you hit on a 4+. Each point of damage you score is a dead enemy. So a single success with a sword would kill 3 enemies.

If you are attacking an important Bad Guy you hit on a 5+ and you score 1 point of damage (maximum) per hit. 2 points of damage if you score a critical success (3 successes)

Once you drop to 0 pts of damage, well, creating a new character is easy.

You recover 1 point for damage per week of rest. 2 points if attended by someone with the Medic, Healer, Doctor or a similar virtue (and he rolls at least a success in his Mental roll)

Note: change “week” to “month” if playing “Ars style”.

(For systems like LOTR the magic system was much more basic; this variant is clearly based in Ars magica, and used for a world that is close to Mythic Europe in setting)

Needs a 6+ to cast.
Each level of spells requires a certain number of successes. And has a MP cost
• Apprentice: 1 success (Ars: 1st to 2nd magnitude). 1 MP to cast
• Mage: 2 success (Ars 3rd and 4th magnitude spells). 2 MP to cast
• Master: 3 success (Ars 5th and 6th magnitude spells). 5 MP to cast
• Archmage: 4 success (Ars 7th and 8th magnitude spells). 9 MP to cast
• Covenant: 5 success (Ars 9th and 10th magnitude spells). 15 MP to cast
• Tribunal: 6 success (Ars 11th + magnitude spells). 20 MP to cast

FOCUS: -1 MP to casting cost for spells in the focus area.
TALISMAN. +1D, -1 difficulty to casting total
FORMULAIC SPELL: -1 difficulty to casting total. Can be improved repeatedly up to a level of expertise of 3 (see “lab activities”). You get a -1 difficulty per level of expertise, so with a Talisman you can be casting spells at difficulty 2+. (Important for penetration).
ARCANE CONNECTION. -1 difficulty to cast spell
CEREMONIAL MAGIC: +2D. 30 minutes per magnitude of the spell.
VIS. +1D per pawn or make the spell permanent. If you do not reach the needed casting total, you auto-botch the spell. Vis is powerful, but dangerous.
WIZARD’S COMMUNION: Ceremonial magic (with the extra 2D and extra time for ceremony). +1D per extra magus casting the spell. +2D if the other magus knows the same spell. If you do not reach the needed casting total, you auto-botch the spell.
SUBTLE MAGIC: +1 difficulty, except if you have the “subtle magic” virtue.
FAMILIAR: +1XP per year. 4XP (and a suitable animal) to bind.

1 point per season. If you have access to a library, lab and vis you earn +1XP in the Winter season. Non magicians need access to a trainer OR library to get the 5th XP but never need a lab.

5*current level to improve a characteristic by 1 point
6 pts to earn an advantage
10 pts + adventure to remove a flaw
Learn spells and create items (see below)

You start with none of those. You can learn them in the lab.
Cost = 1 XP and 1 pawn of vis per magnitude.
You spend 1 season in the lab to learn the spell. You earn XP normally during that season. So in a season you can earn 1 XP and spend it in a first level spell.
Each level of expertise gives you -1 difficulty to cast the spell.

1 season investing effect per magnitude of spell (a year for a 4th level spell). 2 vis per magnitude of the spell.

(1 year to create). -1 spell difficulty. +1D

(1 year to bind). +1XP year

Supernatural creatures have MR of 1-5. MR above 3 is quite rare.
You need extra successes to beat it. A MR of 2 would require you to get 3 successes in your spell to affect the creature.

Magi of the OoH have it. Grants MR1. Can be improved, but only via initiations. It costs 5*current level to increase it, and requires a ceremony by a superior magus (one that has that level of expertise). Generally it is used to control how much defence a magus can get. So far the maximum parma level known in the OoH is 5. Only some very old mages have that level.

On the whole, I prefer systems with specific skills and my wife hates systems where she rolls multiple dice against fixed numbers and counts up a number of successes per die. (I don't know why, but she just can't seem to get her mind around it.)

Still, like a solid, rule-lite system. If it works for you and your's, enjoy. How are you handling spell creation/learning?

That comes down to personal preferences. I hate multiple-types-of-dice and % systems myself :slight_smile:

Spell creation as listed. 1XP per magnitude of the spell (so 4XP for a level 20 spell for example). It gives you -1 difficulty to cast it. Then, if you invest 4XP more, you will get a further level of expertise for a total of -2 difficulty to the spell. Up to expertise level 3 and a -3 difficulty. That means casting on a 2+ if you also use a talisman, but a very significant XP investment in the spell. I guess it should be rare to see expertise levels above 2. The main advantage of this is pulling a higher number of successes, so you can get extra penetration in the spell.

XP boosts are books and training. Those are not listed yet, because I am not very confident with it yet. We have used this system for LOTR adventures (where it proved fairly OK) but for a medieval European world it has only been tested as a "introduction to mythic Europe" format. No continuation/sagas, so the experience system (and most of the magic system features) remains to be tested.

I have seen that I forgot to list the Defenders (they work like in Ars) and multiple opponents and mounted combat rules. But the basic system is in place. The system is in Spanish, so I have to translate it to post in the Atlas website, and this is why it is in a rough format now

I'm curious, are you just using the Hermetic magic guidelines for spell design? How do you handle very low level (less than 5) spells? Is there just no reason to design a spell as less than level 5?

Not bad.

Feels like it has a combination of low hit/success combined with comparatively high lethality when a hit occurs.

Do you mean a Virtue or is it a separate thing?

Nice although nasty touch. :smiley:

No ability to defend at ALL? If so then the system has one major flaw, that offense always wins, making a defense oriented character is impossible. Armour protects but being evasive does not?

Yes, we are using Ars guidelines. We are familiar with them, find them cool and useful. Not much reason to use levels below 5, because they do not exist in this system, yup. I guess I could think a way to make them attractive, but I do not think it is that relevant in this system, really.

Yes, the 6pt means a virtue. Sorry for the misstranslation. Virtues tend to be a fairly generic catch-all thing, so you can have "+1 to hit with sword" and "+2 to social interactions with devil worshippers" in the same cost-category.

No defensive ability... except for a virtue.

You can have a "+1 to hit with sword" virtue, and you can also have a "+1 defence" virtue. The +1 defence can be either removing a success from the enemy, or making him incrase the difficulty to hit you (an effective -1 to be hit).

Apart from that, no, not much more chance. Still, basic difficulty to hit is 5+, but if you are actively dodging you might easily be hit on a 6+ instead. Modifers count here. In any case it is a rough, fast and dirty system. The FAST bit is specially important. We started with a confronted roll, and the winner did hit the loser. it was more balanced as you say. And it became boring and slow really fast. We prefer this because it is way more fast paced, and if you are hit twice you'd better start searching for a way out because you are gonna die if you don't.

Still, if you want to design a tank you can go for.
Physics 5 (HP: 7)
Tough (virtue, +1 armor)
Defensive stance (-1 to be hit in combat)
+4 armor (shield and chain mail).

You have 7 hit points, are hit on a 6+ (5+ if the other has a virtue to hit better) and you ignore the first 5 points of damage suffered from any attack. Not bad for a tank. :slight_smile: I used something similar for a troll. they had serious problems bringing it down since he basically shrugged most hits he suffered.

The Epic combat was introduced after someone noticed that Aragorn was killing uruk hais faster than there were rounds of combat in the whole Amon Hen scene, and that they wanted to do the same. The game designer complied :wink:


Yeah, as i said, it´s a bit on the nasty side, but it is also quite neat. It´s a good idea.

The difference in effect between those two choices is immense. One halves all dice rolls chance to score a hit, the other only comes into effect if they DID score a hit.
This is one reason why i usually avoid using a single D6 like the plague when i create gaming mechanics. For years now my standard has become 2D10 as that provides a good range for bonus/penalties and also a decent probability curve.

Overall, what this means is if i were to create a fighter, as high Physique as possible, +1 to hit and -1 to be hit and Tough would be obvious must haves.

So, a Ph 5 +-1 character vs a Ph 3 +-0 gets 5 dice with 50% successrate and around 5/6 chance to do double damage, while the other retaliates with 3 dice with 16.67% successrate and 1/216 chance to do double damage.


Also, anyone with Ph 3 or less will have little to no chance at EVER hurting someone with heavy armour+Tough+ -1 to be hit.

You could REALLY use the addition of skills to allow things to balance out.

Definitely noticed that yes.

Yeah, pretty much as you say. In the system it is assumed that the default for an average (read: totally non specialist) is a 3. If you have a 5, you are a well above average in the field.

A warrior like the one you posted would only be threatened by scores of enemies (he gets -1 die per extra enemy after the first). if he has an effective armor of 5 I would expect him to be really tough. He is the tank you were asking for :slight_smile: He will be threatened by people with great weapons and a combat skill of at least 4. Lower people, well, they are there to fill the screen in the cinema with dead bodies :slight_smile: Sounds adequate. knights were notoriously difficult to bring down after all. The "natural enemy" of this guy would be another tank or someone with some kind of weird attack. Or lots of dice. Or all of 3 combined, like a barrow wight, a drake or a magician that ignores half of his defensive virtues.

Still, the bit about discussing the character with the other members of the troupe is important. If it is one dimensional to a level that it is detrimental to the story (you need dragons on a regular basis to make the guy mildly nervous, or you need bandits that can kill archangel Michael... and the rest of the group easily) you can go and suggest changes to the rules. As usual, really. We always do that :slight_smile:

A good thing to make standard indeed.

Sorry i don´t have any good suggestions for improvements though, the system is simply too different from most those i´ve made to come up with anything easily.

It was useful to see the reactions in any case, and a maxed out defensive character. I had run the numbers for the basher, but not for the ultimate protector. It looks tough. Maybe I will make a change or 2 based on that (like capping armor, or making heavy armor reduce your number of dice (load). In any case the basic system already works. I know that. I was more interested in seeing your reactions to the (partially Ars-based) magic system. No luck there, though, heh. I guess I will have to think about the XP system before getting reactions regarding that. if at all.

Thanks everybody :slight_smile: