Can we get any details on the types of systems the PoE pen & paper RPG will feature? I'm excited to run a game for my friends and already brainstorming ideas.
Sure. My goals with the system are to create something that captures the the spirit of the setting and is a more flexible and simulative than something like D&D. Because I know some people will complain about this, let me restate something I earnestly believe:
It is within the power of any DM out there to run an A/D&D game in Eora with minimal work.
If you want to play A/D&D in the setting of Pillars of Eternity, you don’t have do a whole lot to the core mechanics of most editions to make that viable and fun for your group. So, personally, I’m not interested in making an A/D&D adaptation of the PoE ruleset. Instead, I’m going to make something I think combines a lot of gameplay elements I think are cool and fit the world well.
The game will use standard RPG/AD&D dice. All of them. If you buy a standard set of RPG dice at any ol’ RPG shop, you have what you’ll need: d4, d6, d8, d10/100, d12, d20. Most checks will use 2d10 and add modifiers.
One of the first things I decided about the TTRPG is that groups should decide on a cause. The cause is the common rallying point for the campaign’s players. It may be a home, a person (a superior, wealthy patron, the young heir to a noble house, etc.), a society, or an accomplishment. The group defines the cause so their characters and stories can have focus.
Backgrounds are a large part of character creation: defining the character’s childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and beyond. Backgrounds form the foundational narrative elements and stats that you build up over time. Backgrounds will not be quite as wild and varied as in Burning Wheel, but I’m taking inspiration from both Burning Wheel and Darklands for them.
The system is classless and puts a heavy emphasis on a wide variety of skills, from Astronomy and Glazing to Intrigue and Quarterstaff. Skill tests can be obstacle-based, versus, investigative, or seasonal. Obstacle and versus tests are pretty familiar to most people who have played RPGs and focus on static challenges and actively opposed checks. These tests can typically benefit from assistance, which comes in the form of d4s or d6s handed to the player by the assistant (similar to Burning Wheel).
Investigative tests give clues and information to the character with the highest relevant test. It’s most useful for mystery scenarios where the focus is not on whether or not you find a clue (often resulting in dead ends in a lot of RPGs), but how you reason out the significance of the clues you find. Most of the inspiration from this comes from the Gumshoe series.
Seasonal tests are for downtime activity like research and practice. If you’ve played through Pendragon or Torchbearer’s Winter Phase or Ars Magica’s seasonal activities, that’s what this is like. Characters are intended to grow and change with time, both in personality and mechanically, so downtime is a big element of how a character develops.
Advancement happens primarily through experience that characters earn through either adventure sessions or downtime sessions. Adventure experience is spent directly on skills that were used during the session and downtime experience is earned through seasonal activities (reading books, training, studying a magical phenomenon, communing with an adra pillar, etc.). Most of these mechanics come from Ars Magica.
Abilities, powers, spells, etc. in the book form the foundation of special tools the players have at their disposal, but I want each power source to have its own guidelines for improvisation, experimentation, and long-term breakthroughs. All of this heavily inspired by Ars Magica.
I’m still thinking through the combat mechanics. In a TTRPG, combat pacing is a serious concern, so I’m trying to weigh the pros and cons of various approaches. The math involved will be addition, subtraction, halving/rounding, and doubling. There won’t be Pillars CRPG-style percentages to deal with. Damage is less likely to be about wearing down hit point pools, more about fatigue and discrete wounds that wear characters down.
Well, that’s what I have so far, which is insane and way out of scope, but there you have it.