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Page last updated September 11, 2001




~ First Realm ~




News

September 9, 2001 -- Page started as a convenient place to post information about First Realm. This site should not be viewed as being complete, and it is unlikely it will reach anything resembling completeness for a very long time.  For now, it is useful as an introduction to the game.

September 10, 2001 -- Inserted a paragraph in the game mechanics for untrained skill rolls that I forgot yesterday.

I've also come up with an idea to help correct the imbalance in the character creation system. When purchasing skills with CF, a number of CF must be spent equal to the current level of the broad skill (so the first 10 skill levels within one broad skill cost 1 CF each, the next 10 cost 2 each, the next 10 cost 3, etc.) I think this would encourage specialization within each broad skill and also encourage the development of more broad skills.

However, it doesn't fix the problem with physical combat, because you only need one or two skills in melee and marksman to be a good fighter.

September 11, 2001 -- Another couple ideas to help balance the character generation system.

The first is that you say that none of the character's skills can exceed the level of the most applicable attribute (melee/sword couldn't exceed the strength attribute, for example).  This would effectively limit skills to about level 7-8 at most; I've never generated (or seen generated) a character with this system with any attribute higher than 8. However, this is a hard cap, and I've gone to great pains to try to make all the caps in character generation soft, so that people could push them but it would get more and more costly to do so.

As an alternative, my second idea of the day: to raise a skill one level costs a number of CF equal to the square root of the new level of the skill, rounded down. Levels 1-3 cost one CF each, levels 4-8 cost two CF each, levels 9-15 cost three CF each, and so on. So far, I like this idea the best, because it puts no exact limit on skills, but also makes it costly to get any one skill particularly high. Also, it still makes it cheaper to raise a skill than to raise an attribute (under the vast majority of possible circumstances), which is definitely a requirement, since attributes are clearly more valuable.

I think, however, that studies should remain at the same cost regardless of level -- I've noticed people don't usually get many, if any, studies, and so I don't think they need to be made any more expensive.


Game Information

Download zip with all reference material in MS Word Format -- 46.8 KB

Game Mechanics

Each character has a set of attributes and skills, which are described in Attributes-Skills.doc.  Skills are further classified as broad skills or subskills.

Subskills are purchased or trained directly, and indicate proficiency in a particular area. Each subskill is linked to a particular broad skill. The level of a broad skill is always equal to the sum of the levels of all of the subskills, divided by ten, rounded up.  For example, under the broad skill marksman are the subskills bow, crossbow, and thrown.  A character with bow at level 6, crossbow at level 3, and thrown at level 2 would have a broad skill level of 2 (6 + 3 + 2 = 11, divided by 10 = 1.1, which rounds up to 2). The broad skill represents the fact that proficiency at one skill is useful when performing a related skill because some of the same fundamental actions are performed (e.g. aiming).

Every time it is necessary to make a skill check, the gamemaster must determine a target number (TN) representing the difficulty of the action; the higher the number, the harder the action.  Then, roll two ten-sided dice (2D10) and sum the result.  To this, add the level of the subskill being used, plus the level of the broad skill being used, plus the level of the most appropriate attribute.  If the total equals or exceeds the TN determined by the gamemaster, the attempt succeeds.  In events where qualified success is possible (ex. trying to hit the bull's-eye on a target) hitting the TN exactly gives qualified success (just barely within the bull's-eye), while exceeding the TN might produce an exceptional result (splitting the arrow).  Similarly, failing the roll by a small margin may produce slight failure (missed the bull's-eye by an inch) while failing by a large margin may produce more complete failure (missed the target completely).

To allow heroic feats of near-impossibility, a system known as "open-ended results" is applied to dice-rolling for skill checks. If either die rolled comes up as a 10 (or a 0, depending on how your dice are numbered), add 10 to the total result, but also roll the die again and add the new value to the total.  If a 10 (or 0) is rolled a second time, add another 10 to the total and roll again.  In this way, infinitely high results are theoretically possible, but higher results become increasingly unlikely.

Note that a particular skill does not necessarily always use the same attribute. For example, using an axe to chop through a door would probably use the strength attribute, but using an axe to try to hit a small, fast-moving target might use the dexterity attribute because precision is needed.

If two or more attributes are all very important to the action, take the lowest applicable attribute, since if any part of the action fails, the entire action fails. However, the gamemaster should keep the attribute used in mind when determining the results of a failure.

If the character is using a skill that he/she does not have, even at level one, the gamemaster must decide whether the action being attempted is an expert action. An expert action is one which has a low probability of success without some training; usually highly technical actions. For example, casting a spell is an expert action. Throwing a rock is not. If the character needs to make a skill check for an expert action and lacks the appropriate skill, it is called an untrained skill roll. The player must roll three ten-sided dice (3D10) instead of two, and take the lower two. Note that if the character lacks the skill but has the study (see character creation below) at a sufficiently high level that the gamemaster feels that they would know how to perform the action, the penalty for the untrained skill use can be waived.

In the event that no particular skill is appropriate, the player may make a saving roll against one of their attributes.  A TN is determined by the gamemaster as normal. The player rolls three ten-sided dice (3D10), however, and uses the higher two (adding the attribute). No skill is added.

Fatigue

After performing many actions in a relative small window of time, a character becomes tired. The gamemaster will assign a fatigue point every time he feels that a character is seriously taxing his/her body. There are three types of fatigue: physical, mental, and magical. The type of fatigue depends on the type of actions performed. The player should put an "X" through one box on the fatigue monitor in the appropriate section of the character sheet.

Each point of fatigue accumulated applies a -1 modifier to all additional skill checks for the appropriate type of action (physical, mental, or magical).

There are a few general guidelines for assigning fatigue:

Fatigue is removed when the character has an opportunity for prolonged rest, usually when they sleep.

Improvement after the Game Starts

Every time a 10 is rolled while making a skill check, the character obtains one skill point for the subskill used. When the character has accumulated a number of skill points equal to 60 divided by their learn attribute (rounded up), the skill is raised one level. For example, a character with a learn of 5 needs 60 / 5 = 12 skill points to raise a skill by one level.

Every time a character makes a skill check or saving roll and hits the TN exactly -- no more and no less -- one attribute point is awarded in whatever attribute was used to represent improvement through pushing yourself to your limit. When the number of attribute points in one attribute exceeds the level of that attribute by one, the attribute is raised one point. For example, a character with a strength of 5 would need 6 attribute points in strength to raise it.

All skill points and attribute points accumulated for a particular skill or attribute are lost when it is raised.

Combat

Combat is divided into rounds approximately 6-10 seconds in length. Each round, every character participating in combat rolls 2D10 and adds their reflexes attribute for initiative. The character with the highest initiative has the option either of declaring his actions first or last. All actions are assumed to happen at about the same time, regardless of the order of declaration; however, no character may react to an action taken by another character until that action is completed.

During one round of combat, a character may make an arbitrary number of incidental actions, and in addition may make either two simple actions or one complex action.

Incidental actions are actions which require little or no conscious attention. Examples include calling out a warning, dropping an item, falling prone, or walking. There is no particular limit to the number of incidental actions that may be completed in one round, but the gamemaster should stop players from taking a ridiculous number of incidental actions.

Simple actions are actions which require attention but not intense concentration. Examples include swinging a sword, notching or firing an arrow (so pulling an arrow from your quiver, notching it, and firing it encompasses two simple actions), running, parrying, dodging, saying a sentence, drawing a weapon, picking an object off the ground, or standing from a prone position.

Complex actions require your full attention. Examples include casting a spell, sprinting, performing a series of evasive maneuvers (to make yourself harder to hit for that round, not to see and react to specific attacks), or holding a conversation.

Note that characters are restricted to one form of movement -- walking, running, sprinting, or evading (not to be confused with dodging) -- per round. It is not permissible to walk and then run, or to run twice.

Under certain conditions (such as a magical hasting or slowing effect) the number of actions allowed per round may be changed.

Taking Damage

Every time a character is struck by an attack, roll 2D10 and consult the hit location table on the character record sheet to determine the location of the hit (the table assumes that the victim is standing, on the same level as his attacker, and facing him -- modifications may be made at the gamemaster's discreation). Based on the margin of success of the attack roll, the armor worn by the target, and any other applicable conditions, the gamemaster determines how severe the wound is. It is classified as grazing, minor, serious, critical, or deadly. The wounded character should make a note on his character sheet of the injury and its location.

Each class of wound has a wound factor (WF) associated with it (grazing are 1 WF, minor are 2, serious are 4, etc.) If, at the end of a combat round, the character's WF exceeds the sum of their endurance, resilience, and willpower attributes, the gamemaster may require the player to make a saving roll against resilience and/or a (separate) saving roll against willpower, using the character's WF as the TN. If the saving roll against resilience fails, then the worst wound in a random location (use the hit location table) is increased in severity by one class due to bleeding damage. If the saving roll against willpower fails, the character loses consciousness, but may regain it at the end of any successive round by a successful saving roll, but with a -5 modifier to the roll result.

Generally, a character who is already unconscious and no longer exerting their body is less susceptible to bleeding damage, and so additional saving rolls against resilience may not be required (at the gamemaster's discretion).

The effects of wounds may be determined by the gamemaster. Grazing and minor wounds probably have little impact, serious wounds may impose modifiers on any skill checks using that part of the body, critical or deadly wounds may be debilitating. As a general rule, any action using a body part that is wounded should receive a minus modifier to their roll equal to about 1/3 the total wound factor of the affected region.

 

Character Creation Part I -- The Life Path

First, each character must go through the life path. Each stage in the life path represents a particular part of the character's life, and should be integrated into the character's personal history. The player may choose any path at stage 1, any path (not necessarily the one with the same name) at stage 2, and another path for stage 3.

Note that some paths have prerequisites for entry. If you do not meet the prerequisites, you can still enter that path; however, your luck threshold is decreased by one each time you waive the requirements, and you must have an explanation for this unexpected turn of events that satisfies the gamemaster.

At each stage, your character can receive several bonuses and/or penalties, depending on the path. First of all, attribute values may change. Each attribute has three values associated with it during character generation: a minimum value, a threshold, and a maximum value. By default, all attributes have a minimum of one, a threshold of six, and no maximum, except for intuition, which has a minimum and threshold of zero (and still no maximum).

The effects of each stage are listed after the description. A label such as "min 2 END" means that it increases the minimum for your endurance attribute (END) to two, rather than the default one. All minimums noted in the life path can only cause your minimum to go up. If you enter another stage with a lower minimum for an attribute, keep the higher one you already have. Otherwise, the minimum becomes the value listed.

A label such as "+1 END" increases your endurance threshold by one point. Changes may be either positive or negative, and are cumulative.

A label such as "max 4 MAN" means that it applies a maximum to your mana attribute of four. If you encounter more than one maximum for the same attribute, use the lowest value given to you in the life path. Remember that by default, attributes have no maximum.

After attribute changes, skill changes are usually listed. A label such as "+1 Animals/Riding" means your skill in the riding subskill of the animals broad skill is raised one level.

You may also gain or lose money (currency). The particular type of currency depends on the region in which your character lives. Note that currency can become negative, representing debt. Note also that all characters begin the life path with 25 currency.

Note that all characters receive certain skill bonuses before they begin the life path, which are listed at the beginning of the section on stage one.

 

Additionally, at each stage of the life path, the player must choose one event.  The events are listed after the descritption, and the bonuses to attributes and skills. Each event is preceded by a number, and also contains a description and a list of effects. The first number is added to your luck threshold, and the other effects listed at the end of the event are also applied. For example:

+1 Got lost in the woods (min 3 RES, -1 AEG, +1 Survival/Foraging)

Increases your luck threshold by one, gives you a minimum resilience of three, lowers your aegis threshold by one, and raises your foraging skill by one level.

The player must choose one, and only one, event for each stage in the life path. Also note that your luck threshold may never decrease below zero at any time in the life path.

 

If players wish, they can repeat the third stage of the life path, choosing the same or a different path. Each time the player repeats the third stage, however, they must lower their luck threshold by one point, and all prerequisites apply as normal (they can also be waived as normal with another point off of your luck threshold and an explanation acceptable to the gamemaster). However, if the same path is taken more than once (such as Infantry 3), the general bonuses to attributes and skills do not apply the second time (all bonuses from an event do apply, however, and you may take the same event again if you wish).

Character Creation Part II -- Spending CF

After going through the life path, each character receives 200 CF (construction factor) they may spend on attributes, skills, and studies.

Attributes

Attributes must be raised one point at a time, starting from zero. Raising an attribute by one point to a level equal to or less than the threshold value costs a number of CF equal to the new level of the attribute (one point to raise to level one, two more points to raise to level two (for a total of three), and so on). Continuing to raise the attribute higher than the threshold value costs double the new level.

Attributes must be raised at least to the minimum level and may not be raised higher than the maximum level.

Skills & Studies

Skills begin at level 0, plus any bonuses obtained in the life path. Raising a skill one level costs 1 CF. Note that only subskills may be raised directly, broad skills are based just upon the subskill levels.

In addition to skills, a character may possess studies. A study is like a skill, except it only imparts knowledge of something rather than the ability to do it. For example, having foraging as a study would allow you to determine what kinds of places it would be good to forage and what types of food are edible or most nourishing, but it wouldn't actually help you forage. Studies can be raised two levels for 1 CF (or two studies can each be raised one level). When making a skill check for knowledge of something, add the level of the substudy, the broad study, the subskill, and the broad skill (in addition to the attribute) to your roll. Study checks always use either intelligence, learn, or luck as the attribute (depending on how the character would have been likely to acquire the knowledge).

Character Creation Part III -- Money

Characters can now choose what they wish to do with any money they've accumulated in the life path. They may choose to buy any items they wish and spend whatever they wish (subject to the gamemaster's approval), but should keep in mind that the quality of the item is dependent upon the price paid for it. For example, a Super Magical Power Staff of Uberness that is supposed to give a +20 bonus to all your magic rolls purchased for 3 coronas is likely to be a worthless lump of wood with a few strange carvings on it that does no such thing. Ask the gamemaster what prices he/she thinks are reasonable, when in doubt. Any money not spent on equipment is cash that the character starts the game with.

Note that there are other ways to acquire material wealth. If your character is appropriately skilled, he/she may have stolen some items, for example; however, as a result, your character may have an outstanding warrant for arrest in certain parts of the world. Your character could also go into debt to have more money to spend at the start of the game. Just make sure that whatever you give your character is reasonably balanced, or the gamemaster will balance it for you -- and you might not even know how (for example, winning that magical artifact in a contest inspired the hatred of a powerful necromancer who now secretly seeks revenge upon you!)

Character Creation Part IV -- The Last Details

Fill in a bubble on your character sheet for each of four elemental affinities; note that an affinity for one element will be an estrangement from its opposite. An affinity with an element will allow you to better control that element (particularly through forces such as magic and geomancy), will give you resistance attacks aligned with that element, and any other effects the gamemaster deems appropriate.

Determine physical characteristics such as height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc. Flush out your character history.

Finally, determine your zodiac alignment (and therefore birth month).  It is recommended that this be determined randomly, but the gamemaster may use other means (such as letting you use the zodiac from your birth date in real life). Note that your zodiacal alignment will probably never affect your character unless you or someone in your party has some of the astrology subskills, or you run into someone who does (it should be noted that such skills are extre