View Full Version : Q&A: How to play Modos RPG

11-26-2014, 10:05 AM
This is the discussion thread for my upcoming HoliCon game, but anyone's welcome to discuss. I'll be running my indie game, which is intended to be rules-light, so picking it up quickly should be easy. The game's homepage is here (http://modos-rpg.obsidianportal.com), but some rules have changed for simplicity - hence this discussion thread. FAQ will be copied to this post, following the rules overview, so feel free to skip the replies if you're pressed for time.

Modos RPG 1.30 - Rules Overview

This game uses a few conventions to empower both the player and the GM, which I'll discuss first to avoid misconceptions about the game.

- The elements of the game are flexible so players can create what they want.
Character attributes, skills, and even die rolling outcomes ("contests") are defined loosely, to give you more input in the creation of the story. For example, when your character takes "5 physical damage," you tell the group what that means, whether it's a wound, a dramatic parry, or simply your character's luck running out.

- Roleplaying comes before rules.
When your character undertakes an activity, the group wants to hear about it. You can just roll a contest to calm a slavering werebear, but it's more fun for everyone else if you act out or carefully describe your efforts. If you roleplay well, the GM can give you a +2 bonus to your contest. If you roleplay really well, acting against your character's goals for instance, you can regain a special-powers die called a "hero point."

- Rolls aren't required.
The game starts by assuming that all activities and outcomes can be rated in difficulty for an average person. If anything would be "too easy" for that average person, you don't need to roll. As your character improves, your bonuses can be compared to the difficulty bonuses, which raises your level of too-easy efforts. For example, if your character gets +4 when it comes to vaulting across rooftops, and the GM decides that the difficulty of some rooftops is only +2, he can let your character vault away without asking for rolls. If a roll is required but you don't mind getting a mediocre result, you can "take half," and your roll will equal half of the highest number on the die. For example, contests are always rolled on d20s, so if you take half on a contest, you don't roll the die and assume that you get 10.

Character guts: here are the elements of a character.

- Concept.
A brief description of your character includes his goals, flaws, and how he uses hero points (explained below). It also helps to write who your character was, is, and will be.

- Attributes.
Three measurements of your character: physical, mental, and metaphysical. Whenever your character does something, one of these applies. Assign 12 (+1), 10 (+0), and 8 (-1) to whichever attributes you like. These numbers give you (bonuses) and measure how much punishment that attribute can take.

- Skills.
Something that you improve through training or experience is a skill. Each skill is usually associated with one attribute, and when using that skill you add your skill points and attribute bonus to your contest. Common skills are listed here, under "common skills." (https://modos-rpg.obsidianportal.com/wikis/chapter-4)

- Perks.
If it's not an attribute or a skill, it's a perk. Perks increase your racial identity (like giving you darkvision), your profession (like with one-time training bonuses), and your efficiency (by granting bonus actions), to name a few. A perk list is here. (https://modos-rpg.obsidianportal.com/wikis/chapter-5)

- Gear.
The rules-purpose of gear is to deal damage or protect (reduce) damage. This is usually listed as a die: a short sword deals d6+1 physical damage. Boiled leather protects d4 physical damage. Most other gear provides in-game benefits.

- Hero Points.
Each day, a character gets to use a number of hero points equal to his level. A hero point is a d6 added to a contest of your choice. You can regain spent hero points generally by putting roleplaying above roll-playing. They are a way to customize your character: you could use them on profession (healer) contests whenever your god supports you, or on fight (unarmed) contests against your racial enemy, for example.

- Level.
Each level, your character gets to improve an attribute score by 1, add a skill point, and choose another perk. If you don't want another perk, you can take another attribute point or skill point instead, but your skill points in one skill cannot exceed your level. Characters in the HoliCon will be level 2 (professionals).

Contests: how you decide your conflicts when they aren't easy.

Whenever an outcome is in doubt, players roll a contest. A contest is a comparison of two results, either player-vs-player or player-vs-GM. The higher result gets the better outcome. When your character tries to do something, say, spin a sword on its tip, you roll a d20 and add the bonus of the attribute you're using (physical in this case). If you have a skill that applies, you can add your skill points as well. Fight (melee) or profession (craftsman) might imply sword familiarity, so one of those would be a good skill to add. If the situation makes your task easier or harder, you'll get a difficulty bonus as well. For example, you're trying to spin the sword in the center of a metal bowl, instead of the nearby dirt.

The other player or GM makes a contest as well. If your result is lower, you don't necessarily lose, but you usually don't win. If you tie, the GM can grant you success if you've been roleplaying well or enhancing the game for others. The GM rolls for NPCs, and even if you're not against an NPC. In our example, there's no NPC trying to stop the sword from spinning - it's just the character versus fate. Against fate, the GM chooses the difficulty to the average person and adds it to his d20 roll. Sword spinning might be "challenging, 4" to the average person, so the GM rolls d20 and adds 4 to the result. This is the number for the PC to beat.

Much of the time, just one contest will suffice. But sometimes, like with combat, characters need to act several times and in a specific order to ensure fairness. This is called...

Extended Conflict

In extended (beyond one roll) conflict, you'll make an initiative contest, choose a posture, and get three actions. This game uses action-by-action combat instead of turn-based combat, which works as follows:

- Initiative.
You roll a d20 and add your choice of applicable attribute bonus. If you're surprised, you'll take a penalty to your contest. You can act at any time, but initiative determines when your "turn" falls, which is when you can perform activities that require two or more actions.

- Posture.
Your movement and positioning in combat are mostly up to you, but you must choose what posture to take. Your default posture is "offensive." If there are safe places to hide on the battlefield, you can use an action to move to "defensive" posture. From here, most of your attacks will deal less damage, but you'll take less damage as well.

- Actions.
You get three actions each round, which will involve a contest if they are disputed or disputable. If it's your turn, you pick your action and others can respond to yours. If it's not your turn, you must wait for the initiating (turn-taking) character to act, and you may choose to respond or not to respond. If several characters act simultaneously, actions of initiating characters trump most others, and then remaining actions occur in initiative order. A typical round might involve an attack action with fight (melee), and saving your last two actions for defend (parry) if the fierce enemy comes at you, and a movement action to withdraw and heal while your allies hold the front line.

- Progress.
Many conflicts are resolved by earning progress points. In combat, your progress is damage, and you reach your goal when your opponent reaches his max damage. While disarming a trap, you earn progress points each time you make a successful larceny contest. When negotiating your own release from handcuffs, you can race to earn more progress versus your captor's social contests, like the persuade skill, or you can run for it, using movement contests to reach your progress goal before your captor does. In some cases, like in combat, you'll have protection, which is a die you roll to reduce each die of your opponent's progress. Despite protection, each successful progress contest earns a minimum of 1 progress, or in combat, deals a minimum of 1 damage.

Example Battle

Two PCs playing Whiterun guardsmen have a problem at Whiterun's front gate: a sabrecat is prowling around and seems hungry. Since the guardsmen and sabrecat are aware of each other, no surprise conditions are necessary. The GM calls for initiative.

GM: A sabrecat walks across the drawbridge on your right. Its claws and maw are covered in blood. Initiative?

PC1, playing Rrolf: (Rolls d20, adds his mental bonus, for 13.) I got 13. My ears pricked up at the cat's heavy breathing.

PC2, playing Svelta: (Rolls d20, adds her physical bonus, adds 4 from her Off the Mark perk, for a total of 22.) I'm already springing into action. 22.

GM: (Rolls for the sabrecat.) Svelta's first.

PC2: I know Rrolf, he'll draw his bow, so can I get between the cat and him?

GM: For one movement action, sure. That'll make Rrolf defensive.

PC2: Okay, one movement. Draw my sword during it, (GM nods approval for the non-action) and stab at the cat. (Rolls d20, adds fight (melee), and rolls d8+1 for longsword damage.) That's 8, I guess my fear wavers all the way down to the end of my sword. (The damage die shows 7, plus one is 8.) I'm done. (Saves her last action for later.)

GM: The sabrecat springs aside, showing some stress as it lands. (Reduces the 8 damage by d4, the sabrecat's protection, and adds that to its physical damage pool.)

PC1: Can I draw my bow and load it as one action?

GM: That's easy enough, with Svelta taking the attacks for you. The sabrecat pounces on Svelta (rolls fight and damage) 14 (contest) and 3 damage.

PC2: I'm hiding behind my shield! (Rolls a defend (parry) contest and physical protection.) Parry 10.

PC1: I'll shoot the sabrecat while it's gnawing on her! (Rolls fight (melee) and damage.)

PC2: (Protection subtracted from 3 damage is -1, but since the cat succeeded, Svelta must take 1 minimum damage.) Thanks, Rrolf. I bat the cat away, with a loud grunt. (Records the 1 damage in her physical damage pool.)

GM: Rrolf's arrow hit the sabrecat, which twitches and seems to get more mad at Svelta. It attacks again, snapping at Svelta with it sabre-teeth. (Rolls fight and damage.) Contest is 12.

PC1: I'm reloading during this attack. That's my last action.

PC2: I'm out of actions too, with the move, attack, and defense.

GM: Okay, then the sabrecat uses its last action to charge Rrolf. (Rolls fight and damage, but PC1 can't defend since he's out of actions.) Damage 6.

PC1: I'm still defensive, right? Then I shout at it, trying to scare it away, and scramble a bit. 6 damage less my protection is 3. Divided by 2 for defensive...always round up...(does some math in his head.)

GM: That's 2 physical, Rrolf. New round. Would Svelta like to start us off?

12-17-2014, 12:54 PM

1 - Roleplay. Say what your character would say, and mimic his hand and facial movements.

2 - Contest. When the GM thinks you might not succeed at step 1, roll a d20. Add an attribute bonus from physical, mental, or metaphysical, depending on what you're doing. If you have a related skill, add its points as well.

3 - Get heroic. Roll a d6 and add that to your contest if your activity is one that your character would do well, according to his character concept. This is called a hero point.

4 - Roleplay. This doesn't end once you start rolling. Act out your effort, tell the table what your damage means, and choose to fail some contests if it's what your character would do. Good roleplaying gets you hero points back.

5 - Roll initiative. When conflict starts, you'll roll a contest with whatever attribute bonus you feel best reflects your ability to get in the fight. Your result determines how quickly your actions are resolved throughout the fight, higher being faster.

6 - Take action! You get three actions per round, and you can use them during your turn or to respond to anyone else's actions. Tactical footwork is free, so typical actions are: attack an opponent, ready a weapon, reload a weapon, withdraw from melee, and parry an attack. If you act during someone else's turn, his actions preempt all others, and your actions preempt characters with lower initiative than yours.

7 - Go for combos. During your turn is when you can do things that are longer than one action. After you make a contest, your next action can use your previous contest result if it uses the same skill. You can choose to roll the new contest instead, but if you're doing something that requires more than one action, your final contest determines how well you do.

8 - Deal damage. If you spend an action attacking, you can roll your weapon or spell's damage die to deal that much damage.

9 - Protect yourself. A successful defend (parry) action will negate all damage from an attack. If you don't parry, roll your armor's protection die and subtract the result from the attack's damage. If the result is less than one, you still take one damage if you didn't parry.

10 - Use a power. "Spells" use contests like anything else. The biggest difference is that spells are taxing; you take metaphysical damage of 4+(spell level) once your spell takes effect. If you have metaphysical protection, you can reduce this damage. MP damage heals at a rate of 1 point per hour.

11 - Avoid death. If your damage of any type (physical, mental, or metaphysical) exceeds your attribute score, your character must take a time-out to resolve the damage. Too much physical damage could mean your character has died, received a sucking chest wound, or been paralyzed. Mental damage could mean you've gone insane or passed out. Metaphysical damage could mean that you're visiting the spiritual realm or energetically frozen. Fixing the problem is up to you and your Guide of Modos.