I love the d20 system, I’ll freely admit that. I want something simple, something easy, and something familiar. But I don’t want to use another company’s material. I’ve gone back and forth on what to use for the core, and I think, nay, I hope I’m finally on to something.
About a year ago, I ran an intro adventure of Xenomega with a group of three players, all of them very new or not at all experienced with RPGs. I decided to use True20 for the rules system as it was easy to use, allowed for a lot of customization, and didn’t require a lot of books to play.
For those who don’t know what True20 is, here’s the basics. Everything is decided with a d20 roll. Skills, attacks, damage saves, fortitude, reflex, and will saves. You don’t need any other dice at all. Its a simplified version of 3.5 or maybe 3e Dungeons & Dragons, but stripped down to the core so only the basics are present. Its a solid foundation and breaks everything up into three classes. There is the Expert, a skill jockey with lots of skill ranks. Then there is the Warrior who excels at combat. Third is the Adept which can be either an arcane wizard, a divine priest, or psychic or even a super hero. Adepts are the most complicated to use as the ability to use powers is somewhat freeform.
There are a few things I want to change for Xenomega and Transcendence though. I’ll have to read through it yet again and pick out the parts I like, update the rest to be more similar to Pathfinder rules updates from 3.5, and some areas that need to be completely overhauled. I’ll probably also take some ideas from 5th edition D&D. I’m not sure what from there though as I haven’t played or read the books much. Pathfinder is likely to be more of a source.
For starters, we keep the Expert and Warrior classes (or Roles, as they are called in True20). Then we have the Adept role. I want arcane, divine, psychic, and super to all be different from each other. I just haven’t figured out how yet though, or at least not the details. I will break them into separate classes though, or at least themes within the Adept role. Those themes will be Mage, Priest, Psychic, and Paragon. Since they each deal with Powers differently, they will have different abilities.
Each class in True20 (and thus the modified Transcendence) receives a new feat with each level. Each role can choose either a generic or a role-specific feat. Adept (Mage) would therefor be able to select a Mage spell, whereas an Adept (Priest) could only select from Prayers. Psychics can only choose psionics and Paragons choose supers.
There is, however, a difference between the four types of FX. Magic spells are ways to bend reality through a combination of physical and mental exercises and form arcane energies pulled from the world. Prayers are granted by a deity or nature itself. Psionics are a way of manifesting the inner force of will and mental power. Supers are often mutations or genetic tampering, resulting in things that really can’t be explained in other ways. It is possible for a hero to take levels in different Adept themes, but if a level is taken as a Mage, they cannot take a psionic feat for that level.
Within Magic, there are also a few different schools of magic. Some mages excel in specific traditions, whether hedge, evocation, or transmutation. At the Mage level taken, the Mage picks a feat for what type of magic they have access to. Spells are built with feats, so an Evoker learns the simple Damaging spell. It does touch damage, and not very much. At second level they can choose a new feat, either a base spell or a modifier. A modifier changes any spell they know, so for instance, Ranged spell turns a self or touch spell into a ranged spell. At higher levels they can choose a new type of magic spell, or a new modifier. This does mean mages are weaker than in other games, but that is intentional.
Prayers are boons from the gods. A prayer is a specific ritual that the priest asks their god for a favor and sometimes it is granted. Prayers are blessings usually that benefit and ally or curse an opponent. At each new level, a priest can choose a new ritual prayer, based on their deity. Each god has their own set of prayers they can grant, though there is some overlap amongst them. A deity like Thor has spells that grant assistance in combat, the ability to strike with lightning, or rage in allies. A deity of pestilence grants prayers that wither plants and pull life from opponents.
Psionics are ways for the psychic to use inner strength to affect the world. Psionics are things like telekinesis, telepathy, and far-seeing. I haven’t decided yet, but I am leaning towards adapting the Dreamscarred rules for Pathfinder psionics to work within Transcendence. Psychic powers will be point derived, so the more points the hero spends on a power, the more powerful it is. The soulknife will also be available so heroes can summon weapons of energy out of thing air. Because I like soulknives, thats really it.
Paragons are super humans without a known source of their power. They might be able to fire blasts of energy from their eyes or have superhuman strength and durability. Supers are feats that grant superhuman abilities. Some can stack with themselves, others can be improved through levels. For example, one hero might take a +1 to Strength at first level, then +1 to Constitution at the next. For third level, they could take another +1 to Strength. There will be limits to this, however, so that a 20th level character cannot have a +20 Strength score as that would be insane. I have to figure out the details, but its probably going to be about +1 per three or even four levels. That way the maximum for a character would be a +5 bonus to one ability, but they could also theoretically have taken four different ability boosts.
From there, we can go through Pathfinder and rework every feat that seems like it would be a good fit, along with any class abilities that would fit Xenomega. There are many that are not needed and don’t fit the overall theme, but many others could become feats. I don’t want to fill the system with endless feats though.
I am also considering taking the idea of Themes from Starfinder and making it more like Occupations from d20 Modern. I like the idea of a religious Warrior, or a clandestine Mage, or bounty hunter Priest. These Themes are different than the Adept themes, so we’ll have to work on that. These Occupations will be a background for the hero, the way they make money and learned their Role abilities. Occupations can be very different though, and will grant something like a skill bonus at first level and a new ability, though minor, every four or five levels.
That then, is the basics. There are also Species to discuss, but for now we’ll work on Roles and Occupations. Also, I’ll have to work on what feats can be added or modified. I will also go through the skill list and figure out what skills are all needed for Xenomega and go from there. It will probably end up with a combination of 5e, Pathfinder, Starfinder, and True20. As things coalesce, we zero in on the final product.
Tonight then, I write the classes.