Needing Feedback: Hearts, Smarts and Parts.

I’m needing some feedback from RPG players, including d20 enthusiasts and haters. Keep it constructive if possible!

First off, say hello to Jot “Draft” Prototype! He’s a pretty special android experiment. I mean, just check out these stats!
http://d.scribd.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=14601582&access_key=key-16wyv1te5awhb4nrfy2z&page=1&version=1&viewMode=

You see, Jot “Draft” is more alive and real to me than just a stat block. He’s the first time I’ve put to form an RPG idea I’ve been kicking around for a few years: Hearts, Smarts & Parts. It’s more than a clever way of restating typical trinities of attributes (Physical Mental Social, Body Mind Spirit etc….). The idea was that “The Hero is more than the sum of their Parts.” I wanted to think up a system that meshed an appropriate level of stat crunch without becoming too crunchy while still leaving an emphasis on the Narrative, Role-Playing driven aspect of gaming. And last night, while coming off a massive late night caffeine binge from an online gaming cram, the idea for how to put it all together just poured into me like Whiskey-soaked lightening.
Let’s take a look at the sheet.
A lot of the above stats look pretty familiar for any d20/OGL player. The Stats and the Skills were definitely derived from the OGL as I pieced everything together. But you’ll notice some interesting changes. A few skills consolidated, Constitution has been replaced with Resolve,  You’ll notice little descriptors next to the stats, like Intelligence being “Book Smarts” and Wisdom being “Insightful Smarts.”  Skills fall into columns under Hearts, Smarts, and Parts and only a few list any modifiers to them. You may also notice he has a hit die listed, at d8, and yet only 2 hit points. Adventuring further down you may also notice some other fun quirks: Laser Gun only deals a flat Damage rating of 6? What’s up with that Missle ability dealing (8/2) damage?
Obviously, there’s a few things different from your average d20.
Let’s go back to the top, and go over a few changes.
  • First off, the change of Constitution to Resolve. Essentially, I’ve lumped not only physical endurance but mental resistence into a single stat. Sometimes, you get those little guys who are incredibly resistant to pain. Mind over matter is a powerful thing (at least we like to believe it is right?) and I felt the change in title helped that aspect, and also allowed to me lump it into the “Hearts” category.
  • Skills have has some consolidations. I didn’t see the point in a lot of the skills being stretched out, and i was a fan of Pathfinder, 4E and other systems that simply use a single skill or two for all attention-to-detail type situations. I also grouped a lot of the “Thievery” skills into Larceny, Appraisal into Craftmanship (it’s now a skill of either crafting or appreciating craftwork.) You get the idea.
  • The skills are also lumped under the three stat categories. Instead of being stat dependent for modifiers, I wanted there to be options based on circumstances. It’s debatable with some of the Physical skills, but with a lot of the Smarts and Hearts skills it can be really flexible. Especially since I’m thinking instead of Saving Throws, letting players roll certain Skills and Stats in opposing checks. For instance, someone trying to lie to a character may roll Charisma + Buff bonus while the target of the lie may roll Resolve + Buff to oppose or discern the lie.
  • What’s up with that Hit Die and Hit Points? Well, it’s not what it used to be. Taking a cue inspired by games such as The Window as well as Mutants & Masterminds, I was thinking of using a more “Save vs. Damage” type system. Bare with me on this. The Base Hit Die is the player’s health at full. When an opponent hits, he has to roll that die vs. the damage rating. If he rolls equal or higher than the rating, he stays at a d8. If he rolls lower, he loses a die. So let’s say some thug jumps our Android friend here…he attacks and hits with a baseball bat, that let’s say has a damage rating of 4. He rolls a d8…if it’s above 4, he keeps his d8. If he rolls 4 or under, however, he loses a die. What about those Hit Points? Each character has a number of hitpoints equal to their Resolve modifier.  Those represent the number of “hit dice” he actually has at any time. So really, when he takes a hit, he loses a d8, but still has another d8 to fall back on. If he’s hit and damaged again, he’ll lose his last d8 and will now fall to a d6 hit die, which he’ll have two of now.
  • So, yeah, you can figure that since that Laser has a Damage Rating of “5” that means when he zaps a foe, they have to roll their hit die vs. a rating of 5. But what about that missile cluster with a rating of  “(8/2)?” Well, the first number is the standard damage rating (8…pretty tough one to roll. For reference, I imagined your standard hero/person being a d8 hit die.) The second number is actually hitpoints of damage! So let’s say he’s fighting his Evil Twin, and manages to score a hit on him. The Evil Twin fails his hit die roll (a 1 in 8 chance as is!) that means he loses both of his hitpoints for that die, and thus automatically falls to a d6.
  • Note the First Aid kit states it “Restores 1 Hit Die.” That means it will heal a target up to one hit die, and in the process also restores the HP for it. So, if some dude was down to his last d4 (heaven forbid), quick work by Jot could get him back up to a d6, with a number of Hitpoints equal to his con modifier. No con mod? He’ll actually still have 1 Hit Die. Negative con mod? Still has a hit die, but will actually be one step lower than his base hit die! So if your average hero has a d8 hit die, heroes with any con mod will actually fall to a d6! Yikes!
  • Going back up to the Stats for a quick moment….those descriptors weren’t just cute flavor text. I’m wanting to set up a mechanic where a character gains a bonus when role-playing their descriptor that is appropriate to their character. Looking at Jot’s Wisdom, he has “Insightful Smarts.” His curiosity of humanity, looking from the outside, has given him an interesting perspective and lead to a bonus to his rolls involving analysis of human behavior. But to use another example, your typical d20 Cleric archetype would probably take “Spiritual Smarts”, and gains a leg up when dealing on matters of spirituality and faith that Jot probably wouldn’t understand.
Wall of Text Yet?
This all kinda spewed into existence at about 4 am earlier this morning in the form of a Eureka that sort of hit me out of nowhere. Still, I think it’s a solid start to an interesting variation of the OGL rules. I’d love to keep fleshing this out and throw together some game rules and settings based off these concepts. What do you guys think? What would you do different? What would you recommend? There’s still a few things I haven’t decided on yet. For instance…standard AC/Defense to hit system? Or should it stick to opposed rolls?

One thought on “Needing Feedback: Hearts, Smarts and Parts.”

  1. Russ,
    First, I gotta say I’m liking this. It’s got potential. I’m not sure how well your hit die system will work, but here’s a thought regarding a Defense system that I think will fit well and keep things simple.

    Referring to your own example above of the PC needing a 4 on a d8: Say the PC has an Armor Rating (or whatever ya wanna call it) of 1. That would mean the PC would need to roll a 3 or higher to keep his d8. An AR of 4 against a weapon dealing 4 would be an automatic save.

    The problem would be coming up with the AR number. I think you might find that sticking with an OGL based mod system won’t work too well with the hit die system you want to use. I predict the PC’s will be overly powerful in some situations and complete cannon fodder in others.

    I’d love to discuss this with you in more detail via Vent, Xfire or whatever. I never feel like my points are ever getting across the way I mean them in text lol

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