Category Archives: Gears

Gears: the core mechanic

gears_die I promised you more posts about my upcoming Gears roleplaying game system and this time I want to share some thoughts on the core mechanic.

When I started the project I was still unsure what dice I wanted to use. I am usually a fan of percentile dice, because they are so easy. You usually roll two ten-sided dice that generate a number between 01 and 100. You then compare this to your chance of success. That’s pretty easy to explain, even to people who never played any game before.

But since I didn’t need that level of granularity (especially with the skills system I had in mind), I decided to use six-sided dice. One d6 would have been a possibility, but in the end I decided to go with 3d6. When using 3d6 you usually get a lot of average results and only a few very low or very high ones. This doesn’t work as well in games that aim for a heroic or cinematic style like D&D, but it fits perfectly the more “down to earth” approach in games like GURPS or what I planned for Gears.

Ok, let’s have a look at the relevant section in the Gears rulebook:

Dice Basics
Gears uses regular six-sided dice. Usually you have to roll several dice, sum up the results and add a modifier. As a shorthand we usually use something like that: 3d6+2. This means, you have to roll three dice, sum up the result and add 2.

Basic Task Resolution
The basic task resolution method is to roll 3d6 and compare it to a given difficulty level. Is the result equal or lower than the difficulty level, the task succeeds. If the circumstances make the task at hand easier or harder, the GM may modify the difficulty level. Usually the difficulty level consists of a skill rank, the value of the relevant Primary Trait and a modifier.

That’s it. All skill and trait test work that way. If you just check against a trait (like Strength) you don’t add a skill rank to the difficulty level. The only rolls that are not made using this mechanic are damage rolls.

Gears / AARG

Gears logo I got a message via the contact form on the blog’s About page from someone who has been working on the AARG system for the better part of the last two years.

He read the post about Gears yesterday and got a bit concerned since he thought that it sounds an awful lot like his AARG system. He even gave me a link to the current AARG rules, so I could have a look.

Alas said person forgot to include his name or email address in his message to me, so I have to use this blog post to quell his fears.

Gears is in no way related to AARG. Of course there are a few similarities, but you’ll find similarities between a lot of RPGs on the market. Both system have been developed independently.

If the person working on AARG is reading this, could he please contact me again and provide me with an email address, so that I can contact him directly? Thanks!

Stargazer’s World presents Gears

GearsOne of the things I always wanted to accomplish was to write a complete roleplaying game system, a set of rules of my own design.

Over the last years I repeatedly made attempts at creating my own game. Creating Thrilling Noir Stories was just one step on the road that finally lead to Gears. Gears is my attempt at creating a rules-light game. The game is currently work in progress and not fully playable, but the basic rules are done and I already shared an early draft versions with some people on the #rpmn IRC channel. They seem to like the game so far, so I believe the time is right to talk about Gears in the open.

What is Gears?
Gears is a generic roleplaying game that should work with almost every genre. The core rules fit on a couple of pages and there will be optional and genre-specific rules that allow GMs to tweak the system to fit their campaign. I also plan to include a couple of sample settings with the final release.
By the way, did I mention that Gears will be free? As with Thrilling Noir Stories I am not out to make a buck, but I want to share my love for roleplaying with others. Gears will be released under a Creative Commons license that allows everyone to share and adapt the game as long as the use is non-commercial.

What Gears is not
Gears is not the “one game to rule them all”, the greatest thing since sliced bread nor revolutionary in any way. I merely tried to combine aspect from games I love to create something new. That said, I hope that Gears might become a viable alternative to other rules-light games out there. I am just not crazy enough to believe that my rules are the pinnacle of game design. 😉

Some of Gears’ features

  • Basic task resolution method: 3d6 roll under vs. difficulty level
  • No classes and levels
  • Point-buy character creation with optional job & background packages
  • Simple combat rules
  • Skills are ranked in four levels: untrained, novice, journeyman, master
  • Talent system that allows characters to acquire special abilities that give bonuses in certain circumstances or allow to bend the rules in favor of the player

An Open Design Approach
This post is the first of many to come in which I will give you some details on what I am working on right now. This not only allows my readers to follow Gears’ development but also influence it. Any advice and constructive criticism is highly appreciated.

What are the next steps?
The basic rules are done, combat and healing rules are written and I finished the section on character creation last night. To be fully playable, Gears needs statistics for some weapons and armor, a skill list and at least a couple of sample Talents.
After that I want to work on an effect-based powers system that can easily be used for Magic, Psi, Mad Science gadgets and even Superpowers. Along the way I probably should add some rules for vehicles and vehicle combat before finally starting to flesh out the genre-specific rules.
As soon as I have a playable version, I will make it available here on my blog. If you want to get a sneak peek at the existing rules, feel free to join us in the #rpmn IRC channel. If I am around I can provide you with the latest version of Gears.