Many of my blog posts about Five Moons RPG talked about things that are different from D&D/PF, but there’s a lot that’s similar! This article talks about some of that stuff (and for most of these topic’s I’ll be providing more info in the next few months).
(Update September 23, 2014: If you like this post and where these ideas are going, please check out the kickstarter for my Five Moons RPG, which uses these ideas. Thanks!)
It’s a fantasy game, and Five Moons has humans, dwarves, elves, goblins, and orcs, of course. But you’ll be able to customize your race a lot. For example, if you want a character who has one elf parent and one half-elf parent, you’ll be able to alter an elf or half-elf’s standard racial abilities to create your version of a three-quarters-elf. Likewise, if you want a half-human, half-dwarf PC, you can do so. Or even a half-orc, half-elf PC.
I don’t expect it’ll be pages and pages of racial options (like Paizo’s Advanced Race Guide has), mostly because there’s a limited number of pages in the book and I need to leave room for other things, but you’ll have options.
Also, there will be ways to alter your racial abilities after character creation, or to enhance certain racial abilities as you level up.
Classes and Levels
I think classes are an easy-to-digest framework for creating a character and broadly defining its abilities. Plus, the idea of having a fixed range of character power (ranging from 1st-level apprentice characters to 25th-level powerhouses) is a really easy metric for a player to grasp. I’ve tried other games that are more of a point-based setup, and I’m just not as comfortable with them, or able to grok what a starting character is as compared to an advanced character (i.e., “You said I get 30 points to build my character… is that good?”). As compared to a level-based game, where it’s obvious that being 1st-level is a starting character.
I know that some people think character classes tend to pigeonhole character concepts, and they don’t think multiclassing handles it very well, either, but I’ve been working on a way to customize your character with power-level-appropriate abilities from other classes. More on that later, but for now I’ll just say that Jodi and I think the system I’m working on is a really fun way to make your character unique.
“Skills” in this context means “something your character can do naturally or automatically, and can improve their ability to do so,” such as climbing, jumping, sneaking, and so on.
I like being able to invest points (or ranks or dots or whatever) in my choice of skills.
I like that each of the classes can have a pre-set list of skills it should be good at; that makes it easy for a new player to understand, “this is a typical example of what this class should be able to do.” But I also like the idea that the class’s list of class skills shouldn’t be a one-size-fits all option. Much like how some archetypes in PF swap out your class’s class skills, I want a player to have more power to customize their character’s list of class skills.
I also want to add more options for doing remarkable nonmagical things with skills (like having a jumping skill not be a linear scale of ranks vs. distance, and therefore allow crazy shenanigans like a fighter jumping 30 feet into the air to attack a flying creature), and altering the relative costs of some skills (so Linguistics and Perception don’t cost the same number of skill points per rank).
“Feats” in this context means “something your character can only do if you have selected the feat” (which, by the way, is pretty much the way we defined it for 3E D&D… it’s why some things are skills, and others are feats).
Whether you call them feats, talents, traits, or something else, I like the idea that players get to customize their characters by selecting one or more abilities at character creation and when they level up. It’s fun to be able to select an ability that no other PC in the group has.
Yes, there are problems with the feat system (such as how feat chains trap characters–particularly martial characters that use feats as their main class feature–into specialized options), but there’s been a lot of discussion about ways to make it better (some of which have been implemented in other games such as 5E D&D).
I prefer fantasy RPGs to SF RPGs. No surprise there. So Five Moons RPG is a fantasy game and has magic spells.
I’ve already written about the problems with spellcasters continually broadening their magical knowledge while martial characters are extremely limited by comparison. I’ve put a lot of thought into this issue and I think I’ve come up with a way to make it fair and still fun to play. Likewise, I have a way to greatly extend the “15 minute adventuring day” for all classes.
If you’ve played a game like D&D (any iteration), PF, Tunnels & Trolls, or other examples of fantasy games with races, classes, and levels, you’ll easily be able to learn and play Five Moons RPG. My intent is that you’ll be able to convert characters, monsters, and magic items from one system to the other with only a little leg work. I’ve been playing games like these since about 1981, and writing professionally for them since 1996; it’s the sort of system I’m most familiar with, and they say you should write what you know, so it makes sense to me to start with a baseline I’m familiar with: classes, races, levels.
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