Roleplaying Ruleset Wrap Up

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For those of you interested in the non-combat aspects of Unchained Heroes, I give you the Roleplaying Ruleset Wrap-up! These areas are the roleplaying rules wrapped up into a short and sweet package for you to digest. We will start with the interesting stuff and finish up with the Statistics. This will introduce you to how Experience is gained, Wealth is handled, and a little bit about Character Skill Checks. Item Levels and Magical Item limits are important statistics that cross-over between the combat and non-combat areas, so we go over them here.

Experience Model

You do not gain Experience or Experience Points in Unchained Heroes.  You will not find a section for Experience Points on your character sheet. You gain levels as normal, but no experience, because your overall participation in the adventure and journey it takes you on is all that is important, not the number of monsters you kill. You gain levels (Level Up) when and where the GM decides it is prudent for the story. GMs have a general rule that every 1-2 Adventures should grant you a Level Up, but they may treat that as a strongly suggested guideline. When you get to higher levels, that guideline changes so that you will need more adventures before you gain a level. As guidelines they are meant to determine when is a good time to give a level and when it isn’t, but the final say is always the GM and how it will occur in the story. This is probably not new to most players, since most GMs I have ever encountered use arbitrary “Level Ups” as it is. Unchained Heroes embraces that mentality. You won’t need to count up XP for each monster you kill, in fact, you don’t need to kill anything, you could bypass all the encounters with smarts and ingenuity and that would get you the same reward.

Experience points are an optional rule. If you would decide to use Experience Points, you could use Experience Point tables from your favorite RPGs out there. This has the added benefit of allowing you to match up progression with awarded XP from adventures in other game systems. I have personally used Pathfinder Adventures for Unchained Heroes an number of times and they worked out well, with minimal “hand waving.”

Abstract Wealth

Wealth in Unchained Heroes is an abstract concept that does not involve recording your gold coins or treasure hoard. It is entirely based on roleplaying. As a player you are assigned one of Six Degrees of Wealth: Laborer, Artisan, Merchant, Merchant-Prince, Magnate, and lastly Plutocrat. How does this work in practice, you might be asking? You just tell the GM what you want to buy and they let you know if you can buy it. There decision is based on one of two criteria: Is it available and can you afford it? There is a lot of “hand-waving” to this concept by design. Keeping track of money is entirely optional. You will advance in Degrees of Wealth as your GM decides is best for the story. Maybe you just turned three mountain trolls to stone and stumbled into their nearby cave hoard; you would probably get bumped up to Merchant Degree of Wealth instantly. If you spend that money well (within the means of a Merchant), you can stay there indefinitely. If you waste it, you may drop to Artisan or Laborer really fast. If you were already at Merchant or higher, you might get a short boost of cash that will push you into the next Degree of Wealth for one or two purchases. it could be used to buy a house that is typically beyond your means or allow you to purchase something that is normally outside of your means with no penalty.

Degrees of Wealth

Degrees of Wealth are first and foremost a point of reference for your standard of living. The first Degree of Wealth is the Laborer. As a Laborer you would make a good living, but you live paycheck to paycheck, job to job, and can scrounge up enough money to get something nice for yourself and yours now and again. Laborers don’t want for food, shelter, or clothing; they just can’t afford the “finer things” very often. You can easily pick up gear for yourself, but you aren’t going to be purchasing many magical items. As an Artisan you are basically upper-middle class. Artisans have money to build a surplus and are used to the higher quality life-style, but they are not rich, they still have to watch how they spend their money. As a Merchant, you can afford to pay people to work for you, you probably have servants, have money that makes money for you, and are generally rich in both property and liquid wealth. Merchant Princes is a Degree of Wealth that starts to get into the frivolous range. As a Merchant Prince, you can buy almost anything, and commonly live in the higher echelons of society. It is easier to say what you cannot do as a Merchant Prince: you can’t expect to control entire parts of the world or control mansions worth of priceless objects. As a Merchant-Prince, you are regionally influential and have a modest collection or fine or rare objects compared to a Magnate or Plutocrat. As a Magnate or Plutocrat, the level of wealth you have at your disposal is obscene and it directly equates to power and influence. These levels of wealth are at a point where you don’t need anymore money. These levels grant status, rank, privilege, and power. A Magnate has the wealth of a nation at their disposal, the Plutocrat has the wealth of an empire consisting of many nations at their disposal.

Overall the Degrees of Wealth are meant to be roleplaying and story guides more than anything else. They can help you determine the likelihood of being able to acquire the parts for creating various items in the world; use them as the tools they are. Degrees of Wealth can be measured and divided up just as easily as currency if you wish: give your players 1 week of Magnate wealth as a reward, defining what they can do with it and see what transpires! They might become wealthy through investments of their own or burn it all away on frivolous things.

Skills in Roleplaying

There are Ten Character Skills in Unchained Heroes: Arcanology, Athletics, Crafting, Education, Engineering, Influence, Medicine, Natural Lore, Perception, and Subterfuge. They all use the Core Mechanic of Roll a 20-sided dice (d20) then add your Character Skill. There are no critical successes or automatic misses with Skill Checks. The number rolled on a Character Skill Check has no special significance except when rolling a 1. These 10 Skills are meant to be broad sweeping areas to cover almost any situation.

Character Skills also have a mechanic known as “Learning from Failures.” It is a simple mechanic meant to simulate that we learn a lot more from our failures than our successes. Learning from Failures states that when you perform a Character Skill Check and roll a Natural 1, you gain a Character Skill Point (CP). It must be spent on the Character Skill in which you rolled the Natural 1. This method takes the edge off the fact that you rolled a Natural 1 and makes you better the next time you need to make that Skill Check. This mechanic does not apply to Battle Skills, however. Battle Skills have special consequences for failure already since a natural 1 is always a miss.

Advancement through Equipment

Unchained Heroes was built with the acquisition of gear in mind from the beginning and to accommodate this, we use the concept of Item Levels. Item Levels represent the worth and the game impact of items. It will directly add to various statistics based on the item being used. For example, a Main Hand Weapon will increase your Attack (ATK) and Power (POW) Battle Skills, while an Off-hand weapon will increase your Martial Strength (MS) and Spell Potency (SP) Stats. Item Levels, abbreviated ILV, go from 0 to 15 with varying levels of availability based on rarity starting at Common (ILV 0), Uncommon (ILV 1-10), Rare (ILV 11-13), and Very Rare (ILV 14-15). These bonuses are very important to all of your Statistics in Unchained Heroes. You should be getting better equipment with higher Item Levels as you advance through the game. The Item Level bonus you gain from an Item is capped by your level. This cap represents that while you might have the greatest sword in the world, you are not going to know how to use it much better than any other person at level 1. Think of Conan the Barbarian, he had the same epic sword throughout much of his adventures, but did not realize its full potential until he had the skill to wield it. The same concept applies to a Mage’s Staff like some of our favorite master magicians have had in literature, they might have been given it by their master, but did not master the staff until they were in better control of their own powers.

Aura Caps your Magical Items

Magical Item Limits are based on a concept of Mana Currents and magical power. Mana Currents are a pure energy source that flows throughout the world, within, around, and through us. The idea is that magical items possess a lot of magical power and it is a volatile source. Mana can burn you if you are exposed to too much of it. Mana can become visible and dangerous if it is left unchecked, but useful when handled correctly, much like fire. Magical Items are highly concentrated sources of this power and emit it in waves. It is why you can detect magical items and other such objects with certain spells. As magical items come in close proximity to one another, they begin to reverberate and amplify each other until they rise to dangerous levels.

In nature, mana always seeks to balance itself, flowing from areas of high concentration to low, so it self-regulates, but magical items don’t have that option. Their magic is held in place by other enchantments and so the item radiates energy in a small area. A person’s aura stabilizes magical items and keeps these items in check. As you grow in power, so does your Magical Item Limit because the power of your aura grows in proportion to your skills. Your Magical Item Limit is equal to 7 + one-half your current level, rounded down. This may be increased through various methods, most commonly through runes or by your class.

Wrap-up

These various rulesets are meant to flesh out the non-combat interactions you might experience in the world and help you provide a structure to the environment you create as you play. They were designed based on the style of play that my players and playtesters most commonly experienced. We liked the rules to be crisp and detailed for combat, but loose and simple for non-combat and that is what we have here. Armed with this information, you should be able to keep the adventure rolling smoothly for many years to come.

If you are interested in more about Unchained Heroes check out these posts:

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