An in-depth look at my gamebook's rules sytem. 📝 🎲

As I work on the story portion of my gamebook, I thought I’d write a more in depth look at the modified d20 system I’m using. The basic mechanic is inspired loosely by d20 roll-under rpg systems like The Black Hack or Into the Odd, but modified in a couple of ways.

I use a system of four base attributes and two derived attributes. The base attributes ate Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Focus (FOC) and Influence (INF). STR is your character’s physical prowess, DEX is your finesse and ability to maneuver, FOC is your ability to memorize information and concentrate, and INF is your abilty to persuade, bluff, beguile, charm and intimadate. The derived attributes are Endurance (END) and Power (POW), which represent your ability to withstand damage and your reserve of magical power, respectively. When END runs out you die, and when POW runs out you can no longer use your special abilities.

At different points during the book, you are asked to test your character’s attributes. To do so, you roll a d20 and compare it to the attribute. If the result is equal to or less than the attribute, you succeed, and proceed to the relevant passage. Otherwise, you fail, and are directed to a different passage. Combat is handled as a series of consecutive attribute tests where success means you hit with an attackk while failure means that the enemy hits you. All in all, its fairly straightforward.

The base attributes a generated by rolling 2d6+3 for each stat, in order, than allowing the player to swap any two scores. END is calculated by adding together STR and DEX, while POW is calculated by adding together FOC and INF. So after rolling, your base attributes should be no less than 5 and no greater than 15 each, and your derived attributes should be between 10 and 30 each. I’m hoping that this gives a pretty good “Old School Roleplaying” feel while making sure the player character is fairly balanced.

I came up with this idea while looking for ways to remove references to intelligence from RPGS. My thought was that by using focus and influence instead of INT, WIS, and CHA, not only do you remove reference to intelligence (which is at best a psuedoscience and also a way to promote racist and ableist idealogies), but you also create a system which better reprsents actual neurodiversity. You could roleplay a character with low FOC as having ADHD, or a character with low INF as having social anxiety. This is something that is really important to me as a person with anxiety, autism, depression, and possibly undiagnosed ADHD, as I would like to be able to see myself in my character. I’m personally tired of the all around good at everything protagonist and want someone who reflects who I am.

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