March 13th, 2012


System Design Help - How much can I borrow from other systems?

I've been working on my own tabletop RPG for months now, one that I hope to have published eventually. Things about the lore and setting are finally falling into place, and the major thing that I think would push this game into finally being playtestable is a dice mechanic. Once I have that, everything should progress more smoothly.

I've been struggling to come up with my own dice mechanic, and it's not working out so far. I tried coming up with a wonky system using 2d10s - 1d10, and when I can barely explain it to someone else and can't work it out… it's time to throw in the towel. XD

Honestly, what I'd really enjoy using is a simple "roll a bunch of d10s and count the appearance of specific numbers" mechanic, with the amount of points in an attribute determining how many d10s you roll. However, as most of you can tell, this is pretty much the dice mechanic used in the Storyteller System behind White Wolf RPGs. (Is something similar to this used in any other role playing system? I would feel SO much better if it was, seriously. XD) I could just make things easier on myself and just use an OGL system, but none of them have what I'm looking for.

Here's what I'm thinking of doing with it though. Basically, what I'm working on is an East Asian inspired high fantasy setting, and the magic system is heavily inspired by fung shui and onmyoudou. I got the idea from a Chinese astrology book, where I saw the constructive/destructive cycles for the five Chinese elements and thought to myself, "Why hasn't anyone used this for an RPG before?" XD (if someone has, let me know, because while I've scoured the Internet and found some pretty obscure things, and people have used the five Chinese elements before, I have still not seen anything that uses these cycles nor yin/yang energy.) Balancing yin and yang energies is a huge part of my system, and "balance" is the theme that I want running throughout the RPG itself.

I wanted to use d10s because the number 10 has a significance in the cultural mythos I'm working with. (Plus, it would be cool to be able to use Mahjong dice! XD) I see characters as having points in things such as Yin Fire, Yang Water, etc, making for ten total attributes. (Yin and Yang versions of Water, Fire, Metal, Wood and Earth basically.) For example, Yang Fire governs both physical fire magic and Intelligence. So, as an example a character could have 3 points in Yang Fire, and roll 3d10s for checks related to that. A person could roll the 3d10s, and count the number of 0s and 8s that come up (again, 10 and 8 are pretty significant numbers in the mythos I'm dealing with) and 4s would be failures, because of the "Four = Death" pattern in East Asian cultures. (In fact, I would probably make an 8 a Critical Success where you'd roll again, since it's so lucky.)

The one thing that does make this slightly more iffy though is that, well, this game is primarily focused on shapeshifting animal characters with an animal form, an "anthro" form, and a human form. This does push it more towards the games that… the other company I mentioned makes.

Now, can I roll with this, excuse the pun? I've learned that game systems can't be copyrighted, but the terms are. Bear in mind that my terminology will be different, and I also have a magic system involving Chi points, Yang points and Yin points, as well as a my own lore for the setting. So, about the only thing I'm borrowing hopefully is "using d10s and counting certain numbers that pop up" and "number of points in a stat determines how many d10s to roll." Well, and it happens to involve shapeshifting animal people… but, again, TOTALLY different lore and terminology for it! XD

If this is getting too similar, is there something out there that I CAN use that would give me the effect I'm looking for? Or maybe even something potentially better? The only other one I've considered is the "Yang Die - Yin Die" in the Qin roleplaying game, but it was a little /too/ simplistic for this game. (That was where the "2d10s - 1d10" nonsense came from in the first place XD)
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