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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Voodoo Dolly

Amber: What It Isn't

I've read the first novel in the Amber prequels.  Now, while it isn't a very popular book, it was written with the blessing of the estate, so I'm willing to accept it on those terms.  While I will say it deserves it's 3/5 stars, I will also say it was very educational for the Amber RPG.  I've learned a lot from it in fact.

The big thing is Trump, and where it comes from.  Trump is not a power source (like they say in the RPG), it is a focussing tool for using Pattern or Logrus.  You imbue the trump with a portion of power, which allows you to 'short cut' shadow shifting and allows you to make a contact with someone, drawing off of Pattern or Logrus as the power source to do so.  Trumps are not indestructible - they can be crushed or broken like any other card or piece of paper.  They don't 'sting' Logrus users, or anything of the sort.

The Logrus does not require any form of shape shifting - Dworkin's children have navigated the Logrus, and none of them knew how to shape shift.  It is hazardous, but only in that it causes physical and mental drain.  And while the powerful bloodlines of Chaos can learn to navigate the Logrus, the weaker bloodlines can actually find it hazardous or fatal - or not be able to navigate it at all.

Each Chaosian has a 'copy' of the Logrus within them - effectively they hold in their blood a pattern of the Logrus, and navigating it attunes them to the Logrus so they can call upon it.  If this 'pattern' diverges too much, you can't navigate the Logrus.

The rest of this is spoilers, so I'll stop there.  However, as you can see, this veers wildly off from the RPG - but actually meshes neatly with the novels.  So... this means I need to re-think my Amber game some.
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calm blue ocean

Gaming: respectable geek hobby, or haven for sex-obsessed teenagers?

(rant mode on, feel free to skip if discussion of gender issues in gaming is likely to annoy you)

So, t'other day I was in my friendly local gaming store, and happened across these figures (both NSFW) plus more in the same vein:

"Bug Hunter" wears heavily armoured pants that sit so low on her hips that her thong undies are showing. The only thing she's wearing above the waist is a T-shirt, pulled up to wipe her faceshow off her breasts.

X'Stacy is wearing some solid-looking bracers, and gaiters that should keep her ankles nice and warm, and a helmet (good to see!) and... not much else. She seems to have forgotten her pants and her "torso armour" doesn't cover the two most prominent parts of her torso.

The really sad thing is the tags. The numbers indicate how many figures on the site have the same tag:

female (82)
boobs (36)
topless (23)
breasts (26)
scantily (25)
clad (25)
nipples (7)
nipple (5)
sword (25)
chain (1)

Now, don't get me wrong, I have no problem with nudity. I'm quite capable of appreciating an occasional naked woman in art (although it helps if the artist has actually met a real live naked woman at some point in their life and is not relying solely on ancient myths) and I've painted one or two scantily-clad figures in my time. The women I game with have similar attitudes.

But when "boobs", "topless", and "breasts" show up more often than "sword", that says something creepy about the focus of the game. I keep hearing how gaming has become a respectable hobby for grown-ups and intelligent children, but from this sort of stuff it looks like the "hur hur boobies" factor is still strong.

Not sure if I was really driving at a particular point here, just felt the need to rant.
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A Serious Bargain

To start the new year with a bang, 6d6 (the RPG publisher I run) is having a two day sale. As well as discounts on our physical products and PDFs we are offering a huge 80% discount on memberships to 6d6 Online.

6d6 Online is the publishing platform we use to create our products and members get full access to it. This includes all our content so that members can reuse and remix all the official 6d6 content with their own. Members can also create their own content, sharing it with the world or keep it private.

Members also get PDFs of all our products and because we are selling lifetime memberships, this means you get all the products currently released plus all the products we will release in the future.

So for £30, you get the entire commercial output of 6d6 forever.

For more details, check out:

Have a happy new year.
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Ain't it Dead Yet?

RPG Review 13 and 14, a double issue dedicated to D20 and Planescape has been released with the following content:

A Crafty Interview with Patrick Kapera and Alex Flagg, Hot Gossip: Industry News, D20 History and Product Review, Natasha Keshell: An AD&D Character, Effective Combat Tactics for Assassins, Stop The Madness! An Anti-D20 Rant, A Year With Fantasy Craft, The Shifted Soul: Pathfinder-Planescape, Planescape Spell Compendium, Planescape Charms, No Exit: An Existentialist D&D Scenario, The Illogics of D&D, D20 Horror on the Orient Express and Masks of Nyarlathotep, Recalculating Hit Points D&D 4e, PG Game Review: Virtual Villagers, Movie Review: Deathly Hallows, Movie Review: Contagion

Download from here:

Join the announce mailing list here:

Issue 15 of RPG Review will be dedicated to independent games and system concerns, with an interview with Liz Danforth!

Submissions welcome as always; reviews, scenarios, characters, rants and more :)

(no subject)

Hello, folks. I grew up with my beloved Final Fantasy cartridges, played D&D 1st and 2nd editions as a teenager, and - having moved across the country and wanting to make more geek friends - recently found some Pathfinder groups locally that I now play in. I've got a pretty good background in game mechanics in general, I feel, so mostly right now I'm the newbie of the group trying to remember which skills I have and how they work.

Mostly I'd like to introduce myself and vent a little bit. I want to find a way to get into a game that I really enjoy. Right now I play with guys who seem to know EVERYTHING in the books backwards and forwards, so as soon as the GM describes the decal on a shield someone chimes in "oh, it's a Whatever Shield with +2 To This". It seems everyone's played in the same regurgitated campaigns at least once and are only interested in level grinding or treasure hunting. I'm a pretty artsy person so I'm disappointed that the role-playing is really not happening. That's what I'd hope for from folks who opt for tabletop gaming instead of a console title. But we've had a few characters die and the player says "oh, good, he sucked anyway, let me make a new BETTER one", which promptly dies after that, ad nauseum.

I'm kind of at the point where I've started altering Pathfinder rules and writing background materials for my own entire campaign setting (based off several years of development of a comic book) but I'm really questioning myself a lot. I'm mentally ill so it's hard for me to get on with people - yeah, I'll admit it! I'm a girl so the Dude factor makes me feel left out at times. And while I feel confident in my creative abilities to run a sandbox campaign, I worry that I'll be too emotionally attached to it and potential players (even forewarned of the kind of gameplay I'm fostering) will molest the hell out of it and drag their feet through an actual storyline. Last week a friend of the group dropped by and made small talk with the GM - I would roll an attack and have to wait 2 minutes for them to stop talking so we could move forward with the battle. I was turned to stone basically for fun and the GM still giggles to the other players about it. I am not feeling optimistic about the local game scene anymore.

Please tell me I can do better than the games I'm in now. Sigh.

Product Name Woes

OK, here's the deal...

For the last three (!) years I've been working on a tabletop RPG system of my own. In a nutshell, after 20+ years of playing tabletop RPGs, I realized that I had yet to find one that I really, really liked. Yeah, I cut my teeth on the old D&D boxed sets and played everything from 1st Edition AD&D to 3.5. Not to mention various and sundry other systems: Champions, Marvel Supers, the old West End Star Wars system, Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu, GURPS, Savage Worlds, Rifts (urgh), Rolemaster (triple urgh), Alternity...and probably some I've forgotten about. All of them had something I didn't much like- or they were so old-school as to be, in my mind, outdated. So I started out to make my own system, one that (hopefully) would not only be my idea of a perfect system, but also have some commercial value.

Here is my concern: since I sent this edition off for copyrighting, I've made some rules changes. I've also discovered at least three other people using the title, "Herobound": one is a Homestuck fanfic on Tumblr, one is a series of amateur videos on Youtube, and the other is some kind of computer game currently in development by an individual like me. So, I'm thinking that maybe Herobound isn't the best title- I've always considered it a working title at any rate, and even if any legal wrangling should come from this name issue, and even if I can prove I had the name first, do I want my product confused with someone else's? That is probably unavoidable in this day and age, but still... Not to mention the potential legal fallout from the HERO system (which is what Champions is called these days) or Runebound (a board game published by Fantasy Flight). And I sure as Hell don't want to get into litigation with either of those gorillas!

What does everyone think? Should I start thinking about a new name for the next iteration of rules (the one I hope will go commercial), or stick with the name I've been using and change it only if I legally have to later on?

Google Maps for GMs

I don't know if there is such a product out there now, but I think it would be cool if there was some form of software that operated like Google Maps, but did so for RPG campaign settings. It would have to have some sort of simple, intuitive interface for building "dungeons" and maps that included a global view, national level, regional level, city level, and building level of scale. Like Google Maps, it would have to have data editing software that let you pin information to a specific location, with the ability to search by keyword. I think such software would be immensely useful.
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