Design Question of the Week…

Hi all…

So after last week’s playtest, I decided to go back to the drawing board a bit to see how I could revamp the Moebius Adventures system mechanics to make them a) simpler and b) more consistent. I think I’ve hit upon a solution, but it seems to run counter-intuitive to how most other mechanics go (besides GURPS anyway).

BlueprintsTo make a long story short, part of the issues stemmed from having too many details and part came from a lack of clear explanation on my part. So I’ve stripped the system down to its core three statistics – Mind, Body, and Soul. Mind would wrap anything remotely mentally-challenging – so tasks like reading, arithmetic, arcane magic, and so on. Body is pretty self explanatory – but would enc0mpass strength, endurance, dexterity, and so on. And Soul represents wisdom, faith, life force, etc.

I need some help to see if I’m totally nuts or not. I spoke with a good friend of mine whose concern is that this system focuses on having a low number whereas most focus on having a higher one. I think this is an artificial difference, but that’s just me…

So rather than splitting those three into 12 different characteristics (plus the 4 for Random characteristics like Luck, Beauty, Wealth, and Family for a grand total of 16) I’ve boiled everything back to basics. At most, this means a skill would have one main characteristic. For example – Literacy would be Mind-based. Swordsmanship would be Body-based. Prayer would be Soul-based, and so on… (There are some skills like Healing, which the player would have to choose either Mind – for first-aid type healing using your brain – or Soul – for laying on hands kind of healing. Same for Writing, and several others.)

So a character would be very simply the core stats of Mind, Body, and Soul, some derivative/secondary stats like hit points, reality check, etc., and a list of skills – some from childhood, the rest from backgrounds.

(The design question is all the way at the end of this bloody long post, so my apologies. But I work through the basics, define some mechanics, provide an example, and THEN ask for input at the end. Please bear with me.)

So a fighter character that used 20 points to split among Mind, Body, and Soul might look something like this:


Mind: 5
Body: 10
Soul: 5

HP 40
Swords (Body): 3 ranks
Shield (Body): 2 ranks
Combat Sense (Mind): 2 ranks
Running (Body): 2 ranks
Horsemanship (Soul): 1 ranks


A thief character might look like this:


Mind: 6
Body: 8
Soul: 6

HP 32
Swords (Body): 4 ranks
Acrobatics (Body): 3 ranks
Archery (Body): 2 ranks
Combat Sense (Mind): 3 ranks


Pretty straightforward.

So let’s take the new mechanic for a spin…

To determine the base target for a skill, take the characteristic and add the # of ranks. You want to roll below that on 1d20 or 2d10. (1d20 is more “random” but 2d10 has a better bell curve for results.)

Everything revolves around the Quality of a roll.
If you roll under the target, you determine the Quality of Success (QoS) by taking the target # minus the the die roll.
If you roll over the target, you determine the Quality of Failure (QoF) by taking the die roll minus  the target #.
The GM can always modify the target # by other conditions. For example, snow would make tracking easier. Crossing a stream would make it more difficult.
If uncontested, a QoS of 1 or higher means success.

If contested, you compare the two Quality rolls and the highest QoS wins. For example…

  • For a Body (Strength) check, if character A has a QoS of 3 and character B has a QoF of 3, character A wins. But if character A has a QoS of 3 and character B has a QoS of 5, character B wins.
  • For a skill check, you may be comparing two different skills, but the principle still applies. If character A has Tracking (Mind) and a QoS of 4 and character B has Concealment (Mind) and a QoS of 6, character A is unable to find the tracks left behind by character B.
QoF comes more into play where Combat is concerned.

To resolve a combat action, take the offensive skill Quality and compare it to the defensive skill Quality. The difference determines the amount of damage done (up to the maximum of the weapon + any bonus for Body of 7 or better or penalty for Body of 3 or less).

Here’s a sample combat between the Fighter and Thief characters. The Fighter has a long sword, which does 8 points of damage as its potential maximum, but also gains +4 to damage for a Body of 10. The Thief has a short sword, which does 7 points of damage as its potential maximum, but he has a Body of 8, which gives him a +2 to damage as well.



  • Fighter – d20 (14) – target 7 – QoF = 7
  • Thief – d20 (17) – target 9 – QoF = 8
  • Fighter goes first w/lower QoF
Round 1
  • Fighter attacks with sword. Rolls 2 – target 13 – QoS = 11
  • Thief dodges with a roll. Rolls 4 – target 11 – QoS = 7
  • Fighter hits Thief for 4 points (QoS 11 – QoS 7 = difference of 4). Thief down to 28 HP.
  • Thief attacks with sword. Rolls 4 – target 12 – QoS = 8
  • Fighter parries with Shield. Rolls 20 – target 12 – QoF = 8 (rolled 1 or 2 is critical success/rolled 19 or 20 are critical failure – so the Fighter may have dropped his shield during this failed attempt)
  • Thief gets solid hit in. Difference between attack & defense is 16. Short sword does 9 max. Thief does 9 damage to Fighter. Fighter down to 31 HP.
Round 2
  • Fighter attacks with sword. Rolls 15 – target 13 – QoF = 2
  • Thief dodges with a cartwheel. Rolls 19 – target 11 – QoF = 8 (Critical Failure?)
  • Fighter misses.
  • Thief attacks with sword. Rolls 5 – target 12 – QoS = 7
  • Fighter parries with Shield. Rolls 5 – target 12 – QoS = 7
  • Fighter parries (tie goes to parrier).
Round 3
  • Fighter attacks with sword. Rolls 15 – target 13 – QoF = 2
  • Thief dodges. Rolls 10 – target 11 – QoS = 1
  • Fighter misses.
  • Thief attacks. Rolls 16 – target 12 – QoF = 4
  • Fighter parries with Shield. Rolls 10 – target 12 – QoS = 2
  • Fighter parries.
Round 4
  • Fighter attacks with sword. Rolls 16 – target 13 – QoF = 3
  • Thief dodges. Rolls 10 – target 11 – QoS = 1
  • Fighter misses.
  • Thief attacks. Rolls 14 – target 12 – QoF = 2
  • Fighter parries. Rolls 11 – target 12 – QoS = 1
  • Fighter parries.
Round 5
  • Fighter attacks with sword. Rolls 8 – target 13 – QoS = 5
  • Thief dodges. Rolls 20 – target 11 – QoF = 9 (Critical Failure?)
  • Fighter gets solid hit in. Difference is 14. Longsword does 11 max. Fighter does 11 damage to Thief. Thief down to 17 HP.
  • Thief attacks. Rolls 18 – target 12 – QoF = 6
  • Fighter parries with shield. Rolls 10 – target 11 – QoS = 1
  • Fighter parries.
Round 6
  • Fighter attacks with sword. Rolls 5 – target 13 – QoS = 8
  • Thief dodges. Rolls 13 – target 11 – QoF = 2.
  • Fighter gets another solid hit in. Difference is 10. Fighter does 11 damage to Thief. Thief down to 6 HP.
  • Thief attacks. Rolls 11 – target 12 – QoS = 1
  • Fighter parries. Rolls 13 – target 11 – QoF = 2
  • Thief hits. Difference is 3. Thief does 3 damage to Fighter. Fighter down to 28.
Round 7
  • Fighter attacks with sword. Rolls 8 – target 13 – QoS = 5
  • Thief dodges. Rolls 12 – target 11 – QoF = 1
  • Fighter hits. Difference is 6. Fighter does 6 damage. Thief falls.


So… Deep breaths. After seeing a couple of sample characters, describing the basic mechanic, and providing a combat example…

Does this make sense? Is it too hard? Is the Quality of Success vs. Quality of Failure thing too difficult a concept?

The potential problems that I’ve come up with are… With a characteristic and skill each maxed at rank 10, you have a target # of 20 before modifiers. If you roll a 20 on a d20 or two 10s on 2d10, it’s a critical failure. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. Even perfect people fail sometimes IMHO.

I’m curious to hear what people think about this.  If I’m barking up the wrong tree, I want to know early so I can change trees. 🙂

Thanks in advance.


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6 Responses to “Design Question of the Week…”

    • @Zzarchov – Cool. Three attributes does boil things down to their component parts pretty quickly. I’m a bit more concerned about the mechanic for determining success/failure using QoS and QoF. The goal is to make everything use pretty much the same mechanic all the way through to minimize the brain pain and allow folks to do more role playing than roll playing.

  1. Have you ever looked at tri-stat dX? It’s very similar to what you’re doing – Mind Body and Soul, rolling low is better, and simple skills. You might be able to get some inspiration from it.

    I don’t know if you can still find it online, but I can send you the pdf (it’s free anyway) if you want to take a look at it.

  2. Cohesive and elegant simple rules do not always stimulate roleplaying, sometimes they can detract from it.

    In many older RPG’s for instance, each different activity was basically a minigame (vastly different mechanics), this allowed one to be largely ignorant of different activities because by and large they were easy to pick up, change and discard again if need be.

    The change aspect would often encourage more roleplay, if the rules on how your character worked could fluctuate, concept and roleplay can become far more important than mechanics.

    Just a thought.

    As for the combat mechanics:

    the issue I see happening is when two evenly matched opponents (say two equally skilled fighters), then one being poorly armed (say a dagger VS a the opponents longsword) matters little.

    If you will tend to roll about even, then higher maximum damage seems less useful as it will rarely come up. An edge, but not a large one with two even skilled fighters (when it would appear to account for more)
    .-= Zzarchov´s last blog ..Halloween Creature Feature – Peripheral Terrors =-.

    • @Zzarchov – Yes, I totally see your point about evenly ranked opponents. It would be the death of a thousand cuts. Neither would get any solid damage on the other. But I have to wonder if that would really be okay too – think of the great sword fights on the stairs in those great old movies with Douglas Fairbanks… it was back and forth and back and forth until one or the other got tired or careless… I think there’s merit to the argument that close combats like that could be exciting. (Could also be extremely boring if it takes forever, but that’s why there’s groups of players working together against foes…)

      On the other side, the length of the weapon came into play in very early talks we had about the rules… But as I recall, the rules very quickly became unplayable because of the amount of detail needed.

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