There were many systems recommended for a Drenai game, but I feel none of them really captured the essence of Gemmell’s stories. The real meat of those stories was the struggle of the heroes against themselves as much as against the forces that opposed them. Time and again it was the hero’s efforts to conquer his own fear or weakness that led to triumph in the end. Note that I said triumph, not survival – for many Drenai heroes die even in victory.
So I decided, let’s make a system that will build on these tropes. Conquering fear. Internal conflict. Gritty, lethal combat. Dark magic and astral travel. I originally meant to challenge myself to create a 24-hour RPG – that is, to finish the game within 24 hours after starting to write – but there was just too much material. I finished after 49 hours, but at least ended up with something that was definitely playable. Chronicles of the Drenai is now available as a free RPG at 1km1kt.net, and Rob Lang at the Free RPG Blog has promised to review it sometime soon.
The system is based on rolling not against skills, but against a character’s Passions – Fear, Anger, Despair, Lust, etc etc. For example, combat is usually rolled against Fear, plus modifiers for more able opponents. Descriptive Traits allow rolling more than one die. To encourage roleplaying in Gemmell’s vein, I gave Karma tokens for heroic actions and choosing ‘the noble course’ as King Leonidas of Sparta would’ve put it, and Dharma tokens for antiheroic words and deeds. A player’s ‘score’ or Catharsis however is his Karma x Dharma: having 0 of either means a final score of 0. This rewards players who proactively play their characters as strongly conflicted antiheroes – just like Gemmell’s characters.
Fallout is a 1950’s zeerust take on the nuclear holocaust – computers work on vacuum tubes, the remaining cars have tail fins, and radiation produces giant mutant insects. As either a reference tool for your own post apocalypse game, or a chance to take your own romp through the B-move end of the world of Fallout universe, this is a game well worth looking into.
“That’s swell” is a “Newsies & Pickpockets” adventure you can play right here and now just by following the links. You begin by creating a character; that should take you no time at all. You will be a 12 years old young boy or girl, who lives on his own in the great city of New Paris, somewhere southwards of New York City, around 1900.
You have no parents, so you have to earn your own money by selling papers, doing errands and perhaps delivering messages in and around New Paris. But New Paris is no ordinary city, there are always some strange rumor running, sightings of ghosts, stories about foreign spies, forgotten pirate treasures, mad scientists and perhaps, just perhaps wizards.
Let me guide you as I create a character using the rules. First of all, (Section 2.1) I roll for AGE. I take one single dice and roll it, getting a 4. So my character’s age is 8+4 = 12. I also decide I want him to be a boy and his name to be Allan Krebs.