The Aurora RPG Engine – Part 2

Intentions and Advantages of the Aurora RPG Engine

  • Delightfully visceral, with an intuitively graspable chance of success and strong emotional engagement.
  • Uncomplicated and minimal math plus easy handling of modifiers makes for a quick and efficient resolution system.
  • In a clean and innovative way, outcomes generate a Margin of Success or Failure that tie both into crunchy rule impacts and/or narrative boons, banes, and effects.
  • Easy to hack and customize to suit a campaign’s specific needs in terms of genre, tone, feel, and playstyle.
  • Emphasizes player choice and agency, allowing for greater options, engagement, excitement, and storytelling oomph.

Aurora’s Core Resolution Engine Building Blocks

  • The task resolution mechanic is d6 pool system.
    • All die values in the game are written without the 6 on d6, as there are no other dice. For example: 5d.
    • Values are (generally) stepped up or down in ½d increments: 4d, 4½d, 5d, etc.
    • A ½d is a d3.
  • Values on the character sheet determine the base pool.
    • Exactly what these values are, and what they represent, varies depending on the genre, style, and tone of the campaign.
    • Most games will use a combination of values to generate the base pool.
    • Common value groupings include:
      • Attributes
      • Skills
      • Styles
      • Roles
      • Backgrounds
      • Approaches
      • Aptitudes
      • Traits/Aspects/Distinctions/Tags
    • Values are (generally) rated in ½d increments.
  • The base number of dice for a skilled entry-level professional is 5d.
    • Consider: “If this was someone’s profession, and they had a year or two in that profession, would this be considered regularly doable? Would this be in their wheelhouse?”  If so, this is the baseline of 5 dice.
    • A higher level of skill, experience, or capability is represented by a base number of dice greater than 5.
    • Likewise, a lower level of skill, experience, or capability is represented by a base number of dice less than 5.
  • This base pool is adjusted.
    • Tasks of greater or lesser difficulty are handled by adding or subtracting dice from the character’s base pool.
    • External and contextual modifiers to the task (for equipment, environment, situation, injuries, etc) are also handled by adding or subtracting dice from the character’s base pool.
    • Modifiers are (generally) applied in ½d increments.
    • Therefore, the total pool rolled (generally) equals the Base Values ± Difficulty Modifier ± All External & Contextual Modifiers.
  • The target number of the roll is 15.
    • This number is fixed; as above, tasks of greater or lesser difficulty, as well as external and contextual modifiers to the task, are handled by adding and subtracting dice from the character’s base pool, not by increasing or decreasing the target number.
  • Rolls that total or exceed the target number of 15 count as a success.
    • “Extra” dice (the number of dice remaining after totalling enough dice to equal 15) count as the Margin of Success.
    • These Margin of Success dice are then used to gain superior outcomes, including narrative favour, creating advantages, extra effect(s), etc.
  • Rolls that total less than the target number count as a failure.
    • “Extra” dice can be bought (one by one) to be rolled and added to the total to succeed “at cost” by incurring setbacks, including narrative disfavour, disadvantages, troubles, complications, etc.

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The Aurora RPG Engine – Part 1


To begin, I’m not sure there can be a truly universal RPG system that can, or will, fit each and every RPG possible.  Every genre, sub-genre, and even playstyle within each (sub)genre is going to have its own flavour.  For example, for a campaign set in a post-apocalyptic Australia, the tone, focus, and involvement is going to be vastly different if playing in the way of Tank Girl (silly hijinks) versus playing in the way of Mad Max (amped up action/adventure) versus playing in the way of Twilight 2000 or Wasteland (gritty, minutia, perilous).  The rules of the system used for those campaigns needs to be designed to fit and support their unique flavour and to thereby draw out the specific feel of the (sub)genre.  Between each type of campaign there are going to be differences.

That said, I do believe there’s still plenty of space for a core framework that can form the foundation for these different campaign types, using customization and specific sub-systems to appropriately mold the system to fit the (sub)genre and feel of both the world and the playstyle.  Thus, creating more of a universal “toolkit” rather than a single universal “system.” Continue reading