View Full Version : Grand Unified Theory: Modos RPG revision 1.30 thread

10-10-2014, 12:55 PM
Have you ever watched a spy thriller and wondered if thereís an RPG for it? Thought that a legendary monster would make a great addition to your game, but didnít know how to fit it into the rules? Wanted to seamlessly convert your tabletop game to a chatroom game? And back? Now thereís a free RPG for that.

Modos RPG is entering its third playtest version. This time around, everything is fitting into place: the character creation rules apply to heroes, villains, monsters, traps, and even vehicles. The combat rules are fast and flexible, but more significantly, they are a simple extension of the core conflict system which applies to all uncertain outcomes. And all these hard-coded rules still rest on a foundation of creative roleplaying and minimal table usage.

This thread serves two purposes: it is a chronicle of the gameís update process, and itís an open forum for all parties interested in using Modos RPG rules. If youíre a GM, player, adventure writer, or game designer, your ideas, critiques, and questions are welcome here.

Happy gaming,
Michael Terlisner
Lead Designer, Modos RPG

10-10-2014, 03:40 PM
Update highlights:

Combined actions are now an action-by-action option, instead of a declaration.

Combat postures will be simplified into the two major types (offensive and defensive), and three minor types (flanking, mounted, and flying). Each posture interacts with the other postures in terms of the two major types.

All outcome resolutions are based on the same rolling mechanic. The simple resolutions are One Roll Conflicts, and the detailed ones are called Extended Conflicts.

Additional tools will be added for psionics (mental conflict) and social battles (metaphysical conflict).

Additional special equipment will be added to fill your inventory.

10-16-2014, 12:25 PM
Combat design question:

Positions in combat are abstracted in order to speed play and facilitate gridless combat. They are called "postures" to help divorce the idea of specific location (position) from each condition.

Final Fantasy, as the original inspiration for this combat system, dictates that being in offensive posture allows you to deal better damage with close-quarters weapons, and that defensive posture protects you from CQW. My original plan to emulate this was to apply a 50% damage reduction for attacks reaching beyond their effective range, e.g. a sword deals half of what it normally would if attacking defensive posture from offensive posture.

While this speeds up combat (similar to the purpose of an Escalation Die), it presents the following problem: if a wizard is 50 feet away tossing arcane blasts, a savage warrior can still deal 50% damage to the wizard with his axe.

My first solution is to offer full protection for being in non-offensive posture, but this will 1) slow down combat by protecting PC health, 2)simplify the wizard's tactics, and 3) force the issue of maneuver as a means of overcoming the wizard's protection.

What to do?

Additional notes:
The defensive posture is being rewritten as more of a privilege than a right. IF conditions exist to stay out of spear-range, then defensive posture is available. Flanking posture is the current solution to attacking defensive enemies, and is another privilege. IF there is the potential to maneuver closer to a defensive enemy, then flanking posture can be taken. Flanking posture will act as an anti-posture: it is offensive to defensive enemies, and defensive to offensive enemies.

10-19-2014, 11:48 AM
Character advancement:

Characters improve in general power by gaining levels (permanent) and better equipment (temporary). Each level grants an attribute point, a skill point, a perk (that can be substituted for either of the previous two), and a hero point.

Since the game does not include experience points, what's a good way to determine when and how much a character improves?

I've been drawn to the quasi-earned elements: if a character fights well in a session, he could gain a physical attribute point, a fight skill point, or possibly a weapon focus perk at the end of that session.

It would probably be simpler to award a full level after X sessions or at plot checkpoints, but would it be less rewarding? What's a better way?

10-19-2014, 07:38 PM
The Hero system of Exp I suppose, big chunky units that are spent on improving the PC or buy down disadvantages.

10-21-2014, 11:04 AM
I looked up Hero, and found that character advancement is done by gaining character-building points, each of which gives you a direct benefit, versus the indirect benefits of gaining experience points. Which I'll interpret as a nod toward granting PCs building points (which I've been calling level points), instead of level-up-or-nothing.

The game I'm working on has two main types of character disadvantages:
- player-imposed disadvantages. These are the "flaws" in character concept, which when acted out, can recover hero points (daily bonuses).
- neglected skills or protection. If a character gets into a firefight, and he's spent all of his skill points on fight (melee) instead of fight (missile), he's going to have a tough time taking down enemies. Or if he does up against a psykinetic and hasn't taken any thought shield perks (mental armor).

Should PCs gain level points every session? After every fight? Every checkpoint?

10-21-2014, 11:27 AM
I favor session awards myself. It is a natural point at which to wrap the evening. It gives the players time to conetmplate where to put said points before the next session.

10-23-2014, 03:16 PM
Well, the game has really easy-to-make characters, and cohorts can quickly become PCs, but I thought I'd include this:

Sidebar: Effects of Max DamageIn this game, it’s best to try to avoid killing a PC. The GM should consider using the event of a mostly dead PC to make the plot or character more interesting. For example, a mostly dead character could return to play with a new scar or missing limb. Or the plot could divert, and the character could become undead, get captured, or send the living PCs on a quest to revive the mostly dead character. A character who becomes unconscious might return with a nervous tick, paranoia, or amnesia. Characters recovering from the catatonic condition might see ghosts, hear voices, or become slightly more pious, having almost met their maker.

10-25-2014, 04:06 PM
Who wants to count squares? This new Movement skill supports the fluid nature of combat: easy movement is free!


Movement - P
When movement gets difficult, you test your success in jumping, swimming, flying, climbing, tumbling, and balancing with this skill. Movement can be used to compare the speed of two characters. In conflict easy movement is free, so this skill has three important uses:

ē Changing posture. One action is required to move from offensive to defensive posture, and vice versa. If combat terrain is difficult, the GM can apply difficulty or require more actions.

ē Fleeing conflict. A character can leave battle with one action from defensive posture, or two actions from offensive posture. A contest is required if an opponent has a means of preventing flight, like a spell, net, tractor-beam, or when the fleeing character is cornered.

ē Flanking opponents. Entering flanking posture requires two actions.

See the Conflict chapter for more information on posture and fleeing. Opposed by movement, fight (unarmed), or other skills that could hamper movement.

11-02-2014, 12:11 PM
Designing some higher-level spells today, and there are two different ways to deal multiple dice of damage:

1) damage-over-time. As a fire spell, this would be a sort of flame-thrower effect. One target at a time.
2) all-at-once. This sort of fire spell would deal no damage until the end of the spell, and would affect multiple different targets.

If each option uses the same die and number of dice for damage, let's say 4d8, what are the pros and cons of each option? Should one spell be harder to cast than another? Different levels?

11-02-2014, 08:54 PM
Does damage over time have a mitigation method?

11-02-2014, 11:19 PM
I'm not specifically looking for an in-system response, but since you asked:

Everyone takes one action at a time. Which is to say - you're one person, so you have the physical limitations of one person. If someone casts a spell at you, you can spend your time defending against that spell, doing something else, or marshalling your efforts for something bigger and later in the round by saving your action.

So there are two ways to mitigate damage over time. Counter with a defense action, and if successful, you'll negate one action's worth of damage. Regardless of whether you counter, you get to apply protection (i.e. damage reduction) to reduce EVERY DIE of damage you face with your protection amount.

Regarding the OP, if a caster targets -only you- with a damage-over-time spell, your protection will apply during each action (and each die) that he spends targeting you. If you're caught in the net of an all-at-once spell, you'll only face one die of damage, but so will several of your comrades. And your protection will reduce (but not eliminate) that one die.

11-03-2014, 04:38 AM
If the target can mitigate the damage over time, IE stop it from doing its full damage I would make it lower level than the all at once spell, that obviously cannot be stopped once the damage is done.

If that is not the case. I would keep them the same level. Providing the damage potential is equal.

11-04-2014, 01:01 PM
Thanks for the help - the draft spells I have so far are agreeing with you. I have:

Burn, level 3, 1d8 damage over 3 actions, caster chooses one target per action.

Flare, level 4, 1d8 damage after 4 actions, and spell affects 4 different targets. Since flare is a "multi" target spell, characters can increase the number of targets by taking a perk for that purpose.

For comparison, a longbow deals d10 damage, and with the rapid reload perk, it can fire once per action. It has more range than Burn, but a longbow and arrows are decidedly bulkier and noisier than carrying spells. Flare can affect multiple targets at the same time, while only one arrow can be fired at a time. Also, rule zero dictates what uses fire spells have beyond damaging enemies - like providing heat or light. Arrows are a little more limited in their usage...

11-06-2014, 08:11 PM
Inspired by another thread on skill difficulty:

I'm beginning the conflict chapter remodel. Up for careful rephrasing: the take half rule.

This game uses opposing d20 rolls to determine contests, with the higher result finding more success. The take half rule states that anytime a die roll is necessary, the roller can just call his result half of the die's highest number. Among the consequences of this:

Players who want an average roll can get a (slightly below) average roll. This comes in real handy when a low roll could have disastrous results.
An opposing contest of 10 (+0), which is halfway up a d20, is an easy roll to beat. If you have no bonuses, you'll beat 10 on half of your d20 rolls - but if you have a +1, you can take half and beat 10 (almost) every time.
An opposing contest of 20 (+10, between "difficult" and "arduous") gives you 5% odds if you have no bonuses, and that's just to tie the roll. On a tie, the GM can call for a reroll, a tie, or grant victory to the player if he's been roleplaying well. A PC with bonuses adding up to +11, which might be a "legendary" level specialist with a high attribute and a specialize perk, could take half and beat 20 (almost) every time.
Difficulties are listed as bonuses instead of static numbers so that the GM can choose to roll the result, instead of taking half. Say a PC is taking half with a +4 bonus, so his contest is 14. If the GM takes half for the +3 opposition, a 13, the PC will win every time. However, if the GM rolls the opposition and adds the +3, he can reintroduce some chaos, getting a 4 through 23, as long as there's a reason for the PC to fail.

Difficulties for an average person:
Easy +0
Challenging +4
Difficult +8
Arduous +12
Impossible +16
Divine +20

11-08-2014, 05:16 PM
This game works on an action-by-action basis, so you don't have to wait for your turn if you don't want to.

However, characters waiting for their turn can get better results, and this careful action planning just got redesigned:


11-11-2014, 12:25 PM
Progress just got remodeled. It's an abstract way for the GM to measure goal completion. Here's an example:

3 PCs are trying to sew enough tassled uniforms to thoroughly confuse a gang of banditos when it arrives in the village.

The GM sets the PC's max progress at 60, and bandito max progress at 60.
Each round, PCs make a profession (tailor) contest to earn progress, and the banditos make movement contests.
If PC contests are 10 or greater, they add d4 progress points (uniforms) to their pool.
If NPC gang contests are 10 or greater, it adds d10 progress (miles) to its pool.
The old woman PC, who has a sewing machine, earns d8 progress instead of d4.
If the PCs hit 60 first, they can uniform enough villagers to scare away the gang.
If the gang hits 60 first, they'll arrive before the PCs are ready, and start a very different battle!

11-11-2014, 09:26 PM
Sort of based on a chase.

11-14-2014, 11:25 AM
Yes! I think this sort of system would work great for chases. It replaces "was my roll good enough to catch him?" with "okay, my progress indicates I've almost got him!"

I just spotted something in Green Ronin's Song of Ice and Fire Roleplay, and thought it looked like a good idea. So here's the first draft of my "combat breakdown." Its purpose is to show the flow of combat in steps, and each step is explained elsewhere in the chapter.

Question: does it make sense? Does it convey the steps of combat in an understandable (yet not fully explained) way?

Combat Breakdown
In this example, two legionnaires, the PCs, have met two barbarians, and their earlier exchange has made it clear that fighting is inevitable. The general conflict rules will be augmented by the physical conflict rules to manage the speed and detail of the battle. Required steps are in bold.

1. Roll initiative. Each PC rolls an initiative contest for his character, and the GM rolls one or more contests for the NPCs.

2. Establish surprise. If one side had caught the other off-guard, the GM would make small initiative changes.

3. Count actions. Each character gets three actions per round.

4. Take turns. The character with the highest initiative takes his turn first. In this case, a legionnaire draws a gladius.

5. Respond to actions. While the legionnaire acts, the other characters may respond with actions. The barbarians respond by readying morningstars.

6. Choose posture. The other PC uses his response to climb onto the Roman wagon, changing his combat posture from offensive to defensive. The other characters remain offensive. Simpler movements, like close combat footwork, donít require actions.

7. Attack. Still the first legionnaireís turn, he attacks a barbarian with his gladius. He rolls a fight (melee) contest and his gladius damage. The other barbarian counterattacks with his response, so he also rolls fight (melee) and damage.

8. Defend. The barbarian under attack rolls defend (parry) and his armor protection. His contest beats the PCís fight (melee), so no damage takes place. However, the PC canít defend while attacking, so he takes the damage rolled by the second barbarian. He reduces the damage by rolling his protection and subtracting that from the damage, and adds the difference to his physical damage pool.

9. Combine actions. The legionnaire can combine actions during his turn, so he can choose to keep his previous fight (melee) contest if he wants to take the same action again. He decides that it was too low and rolls again. The barbarian decides that he wonít use an action to defend, saving one for later.

10. End turns. The first PC has used all his actions, one to draw his weapon and two to attack. He says heís done.

11. Take half. The barbarians take their turns, and the GM decides to take half on their rolls to speed up play. The first barbarian passes on his turn, saving his last action for a defense if he needs it later. The second barbarian attacks the legionnaire in the wagon, and taking half gives him a 10 on his contest roll (before bonuses) and 4 on his damage roll.

12. Round up. The PC in the wagon is in defensive posture, so after he subtracts protection from the 4 damage, he multiplies the remainder by 50%. If this reduces damage to a fraction, like 1.5, the PC must round up to 2.

13. Minimum damage. If the PCís protection roll had equaled or exceeded the 4 damage, a successful or uncontested attack still deals 1 damage.

14. End the round. The barbarians end their turns, and the legionnaire in the wagon takes his turn. He readies his shortbow, and the GM allows him to nock an arrow in the same action. Then he attacks the barbarian near him, with a fight (missile) contest. That barbarian is too busy to defend, having used all his actions, so he protects against the damage and adds the rest to his pool. The other barbarian has one action left, and heíll lose it if he doesnít use it. So he responds to the legionnaireís bow attack by attacking the first PC, who is too busy to defend. When the legionnaire ends his turn, all remaining actions are lost, and a new round begins.

15. Flee or (donít) die! On the next round, each character gets three more actions. One barbarian flees, costing two actions since heís in offensive posture. The PCs let him go, to focus on the remaining barbarian. The barbarian and a legionnaire attack during the same action, and the damage fills their respective damage pools to the max. The GM decides that this reduces the barbarian to a bloody mess, who hits the ground and tries, pitifully, to crawl away. The PC decides what max damage means to his character, but whatever it is, he cannot take physical actions until he and the GM agree on how heíll heal at least one physical damage.

11-15-2014, 12:11 PM
I just finished the first draft of the 1.3 physical conflict section, and I'm excited.

Why excited? Well I had the new rules in mind, and I was pondering the age-old question: what does a GM do when his draugr (http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Draugr) get charged by PCs? And this caused me to explore the limits of the system.

The combat rules are pretty simple. You get three actions, use them whenever you want, initiative determines your speed advantage, defense actions thwart attack actions, and protection reduces damage.

The mastery, however, seems daunting. Enter the draugr. Their standard tactic is to deliver the highest amount of damage possible. This works best on the least-armored foes, and swarm attacks (concurrent attacks) work well since characters can defend against only one attack at a time. Outnumbered draugr benefit most from dropping weak opponents as fast as possible.

Once that started making sense, I wondered about bandits. These guys are living creatures, interested in self-preservation and smart enough to recognize a losing situation. How would their tactics differ from the draugr? First, they don't want to be outnumbered. Since they're not normally heavily-armored, bandits will likely flee a group of four PCs until they can gather a group of four or more bandits. If that's not possible, they'll seek other advantages, for early use in battle. Surprise attacks, from initiative and the backstabber perk, are their best bets. Bandits will probably also seek to avoid a tank PC until they can outnumber him, or use a heavy weapon to get through his armor. Bandits are less likely to swarm, because they'll want to maintain some defense against the PC with the most lethal weapon.

This is the tip of the iceberg, partly because it doesn't even touch on mental or metaphysical aspects.

11-25-2014, 02:05 PM
The first monster is in the revamped bestiary. He’s a scary one: the musician!

Artist, musician, level 1
Attributes: P 8, M 10, MP 13
Skills: persuade 2 (1), profession (artist) 4 (0)
Perks: specialize (artist)
Gear: guitar, guitar case, harmonica, Swiss army knife d4
Concept:A street performer who couldn’t become a rock star after college. He has some skill at swaying people’s opinions, and a knife for those who try to take his tips.

There are 63 monsters slotted for the new bestiary, many of which have types. The musician is an artist-type, which indicates that he’s a character for modern-genre games.

Scarier monsters will be appearing, like the unusually-sized rat (level 3), qua-toa mutant (level 5), and the shapeshifting android (level 7).

11-28-2014, 11:14 AM
As promised, the monsters get scarier:

Ghoul, starving, level 1
Attributes: P 16, M 7, MP 8
Skills: cast spell (fog) +2 (+1)
Perks: owlís eye
Gear: loose limb d6
Concept: This undead creature struggles to cling to undeath. It attacks by swinging its disgusting, loosely-attached arm. If it loses its arm, it bites or claws for the standard d4 unarmed damage. If it feels threatened, it casts off its stench-cloud with the fog spell, maintaining it until the threat ends.

12-03-2014, 03:20 PM
10 monsters written, 63 planned. Of course, the beginning of the Bestiary discusses three different ways to make your own monsters, but here's another freebie:

Slime, green, level 1
Attributes: P 11, M 10, MP 10
Skills: fight (unarmed) +1
Perks: weapon focus (acid touch)
Gear: acid touch d6
Concept: These small, seemingly magical creatures scoot along in the wild much like inchworms. They subsist by dissolving organic matter from the ground, and freeze when confronted, hoping that their attackers will lose interest or be dissuaded by their acidity. A green slime that’s under attack springs at its opponent, burning with its acidic body.

12-06-2014, 11:57 AM
The game rules are ready to go - I'm just filling in the details and bonus material like the sample adventure and sample monsters. I've done some streamlining and some expanding, so there are a lot of changes to be discovered. I will be releasing an unfinished edition or two to facilitate playtesting.

To what are we looking forward?

- Interactive, flexible combat. PCs are not bound by turns, grids, or specific actions. Do what you want, when you want. If the battlefield (and your allies) allows, you can reduce your exposure to damage by being defensive, but opponents can still flank you. The only freedom from danger is avoiding conflict.
- Earn levels as you play. After each game session, PCs improve their characters a little bit. The GM can award additional improvements, called "level points," during the game as befits the campaign: plot checkpoints, training time, etc.
- Roleplaying incentives. Hero points let you do just about anything better, and you earn them by making your character more interesting. You can earn hero points by choosing the harder (more interesting) path, customizing your attributes, roleplaying character flaws, or voluntarily failing a contest.
- Better modularity. The rules catalog is getting a big makeover. The rules build upward, starting with core rules and character rules as the foundation. Resting on those modules is the extended conflict system. Finally, if you want to customize a bit more, the combat module adds some depth to fights, and the spellcasting module adds rules for special powers that are limited by your metaphysical attribute.

The final 1.3 edition is several months away, depending on how much artwork I have to personally make. But 1.30 will be out soon, free, and open to suggestions!

12-21-2014, 11:22 AM
For those of you who have been waiting for light, modular rules, grid-free combat, hero points, spells
requiring concentration, and easy, fast math in a free roleplaying game: you're in luck. D&D 5 is out, and they beat me to the printing press.

But if you were hoping for customizable attributes, organic character development, action-by-action
combat, easy-bake monsters, and all of the earlier-mentioned features: Modos RPG v. 1.30 will not be ready this year. I don't have corporate deadlines, so I won't publish something that I'm not ready to publish.

This version has character archetypes to speed your skill, perk, and spell selections, reformatted rule modules that make the combat and spell systems more optional, brand-new sample modules (rule and adventure), and gear and monsters from three campaign genres (past, present, and future).

The surprise is a first draft .jpg of an encounter flowchart - the beginning of an adventure format designed to minimize your in-session reading time. The v. 1.30 adventure module will feature four flowchart encounters and two map encounters, and each uses three types of elements (static, dynamic, and plot) to give GMs the ability to adjust quickly and customize encounters on the fly.

As before, the game will be free to use and distribute. So if you want to use something (like hero points or defenses by attribute), take it, share it, and tell your friends!

Happy gaming,

First draft encounter format (http://www.enworld.org/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=65705&d=1419181581)

Let's fight some Imps! (http://www.enworld.org/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=65706&d=1419181617)

01-18-2015, 07:57 AM
As one of my favorite parts of the game, modules need to be done right. Iíve cut a lot of subjective material from the modules chapter, and Iím hoping that whatís left is short and sweet.

Each sample module is getting a makeover, and the rules module is complete, although I canít code the new rules without properly coding the core rules first. The sample rules are:
- New attributes: power and reflex, replacing physical.
- Piecemeal armor: why wear a suit of mail when you could wear a leather cap, steel bracers, a chain skirt, and snazzy vest?
- Dragon magic: having a fourth attribute means another damage pool for fueling more spells. Dragon warriors get free casting actions as their dragon blood increases.

02-03-2015, 10:23 AM
Home stretch!

The hard work is done, team. I'm just making sure that everything is pleasing to the eye, so you can toss it from device to device. I'll throw in a handful of inspiring monsters, like the Mutant, Model (a superhero), Elf, Mage (required), Android, Shapeshifting (Autobots, transform!), and the one lucky enough to grace the cover, the werebull.

Then, we'll have multi-genre, fast, and custom adventures! If anyone says you're not working hard enough, just call it "playtesting."

Filled out character sheet looks like this. (http://www.enworld.org/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=66628&d=1422980202)

02-07-2015, 03:47 PM
Great work! Keep writing and keep adding. It really looks good. :)

02-07-2015, 06:33 PM
Well, it's official: Mora****ar's inspiration was all I needed to finish. Well not really, but I love support anyway! As a way to say thanks...

(edit: yes, M's name evidently comes up as profanity. It's not my fault, Mods!)

Here it is: the first copy of version 1.3! (http://www.enworld.org/forum/rpgdownloads.php?do=download&downloadid=1210) Skyrim, Mad Max, the Expendables; you can run whatever you want on this game system!

Technically, this is the end of the thread, since the revision of version 1.2 to 1.3 is complete. But I'm available for comments and questions, and will probably be starting a new thread for the new system soon.