Alright, here we go! Time to take the foundation laid out in the Aurora RPG Engine and expand it into the first complete ruleset and campaign setting. Starting with… Star Wars.
As noted in the Aurora packet, one of the key aspects for the tone and feel of the game is the core values, so that’s where I’ll begin.
For my Star Wars game, I will use a Competency + Skill set of values to generate the base pool.
Now, as you can already tell, there is some deliberate naming going on here. In many ways, this is the very typical Attribute + Skill system, but I am very much trying to avoid the common terms of either attribute, ability, statistics, or characteristics in order to dispense with some of their perceptional baggage. Namely this: Unlike many games that use the more common terms, Competencies are not in any way, primarily, intended to be genetic or hard-coded capacities. There is nothing ingrained about them nor are they a measure of one’s potential as defined during birth. (Which is also why IN NO WAY will species choice affect or modify Competencies; you can read my little spiel about this in an earlier blog post) Instead, they are a measure of current capability within wide-ranging areas of expertise. In many ways, it helps to think of them simply as another type of skill, albeit a very broad one.
As such, how each of them manifests for each character is going to vary. While the die score tells how good or bad a character is in a particular area of expertise, it does not give the WHY or HOW. That’s open for invention. Can genetics/meat/species/inherent ability be part of it? Absolutely… but they aren’t the only one. How much a character developed themselves is much more important (as a very basic level example, just because you have a genetic predisposition to be big, how much you condition, and learn, and eat, and general health and stress conditions, and a whole tonne of other things will affect whether you are, indeed, strong or not). In addition, all sorts of other factors can play a role: cybernetic enhancement, special training, mental state, species gift, the Force, and etc.
The best part is that each player can get creative and begin to tell a story about their character. For example:
If a character wants to be physically strong, is it because they are a brick of muscles (perhaps due to their species)? Or is it because they have honed their ability over years of training to recruit every part of their body? Or is it because they have cybernetics? Or is it because they have the advantage of multiple limbs?
If a character wants to be great at deduction, is this because they are great at reasoning? Or is it because they are obsessive to the point where they can’t not figure things out? Or is it because they have a photographic memory which makes it easy for them?
If a character wants to be aware and astute, is it because they are a chronic mental cataloger? Or is it because they are paranoid and thus hyper aware? Or is it because of careful study and development? Or is it because they have unusual senses? Or is it because they are in tune with the Force and thus sense many things?
All this allows for a great variety of characters and character types… and hence great RP possibilities!
With that groundwork laid out, we now we come to the Competencies (Comps for short) themselves! There are seven:
- Awareness – How in tune your character is with the world around them and how observant and discerning they are of their surroundings, people, the mood, etc.
- Body – How fit your character is and how well they use their body to move about, including running, jumping, climbing, sports, melee combat, and etc.
- Quickness – How quick your character reacts and adjusts to changing situations and to positional/spatial realities.
- Intellect – How well your character retains, remembers, and processes information, thinking things through, and coming to conclusions.
- Guile – How creative your character is and how quick on their feet they are with thinking.
- Presence – How well your character relates to and interacts with others.
- Nerve – How strong is your character’s will, their drive, their daring, and their guts.
In perhaps another brilliant idea of presentation, here they are in what I am terming a “verb” table – for each Competency is a list of verbs that illustrate and help make clear the types of actions that are governed by each Comp:
|Awareness||Notice, Discern, Discover, Find, Observe, Intuit, Perceive, Read, Gather, Feel, Be “In Tune”|
|Body||Move, Play, Throw, Balance, Stamina, Melee, Resist (Physical)|
|Quickness||React, Rebound, Target, Dodge, Pilot/Drive|
|Intellect||Know, Remember, Recall, Think, Deduce, Reason, Study, Plot, Plan, Judge|
|Guile||Create, Trick, Improvise, Concoct, Jury-rig, Hustle, Cunning|
|Presence||Bearing, Befriend, Command, Influence, Inspire, Relate, Empathize, Rapport|
|Nerve||Brave, Steady, Calm, Self-Discipline, Dare, Passion, Psyche-Up, Steady, “In the Zone”, Resist (Psychological)|
(Ok, so they may not all be verbs, but the idea still stands!)
- Together, these seven stats create the following gamespace:
- Each has a broad reach and can cover multiple situations
- The broad reach allows a player to creatively describe how their character achieves their score
- They are spread broadly across the measure of a character
- They don’t favour one aspect of a character (for example, more physical stats than others)
And as a bonus, with 7 stats, they can be arranged on the character sheet in a lovely hexagonal pattern! Either arranged like…
I haven’t chosen yet, but rest assured, there I will design a custom character sheet when this is done. There is no way I can resist.