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{AethEra} : The System.

Started by Librabys, August 08, 2009, 11:46:38 PM

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Hi to all the folks interested in the development of AethEra!
I don't think It is still worthwhile to read the playtest post on AethEra, Because The game changed so much since these tests than I think it is no more relevant to read it! The only thing that is still worth a look is the short presentation of the game setting on the top.

I will rather post here the actual mechanics without to much details to keep it light

(and because little details could still change)

Please note I tried to use a clean English, but as a native French speaker I can do some horrible mistakes! Sorry for that.)


- I will do my best to provide a more narrative approach in the beggining of the character creation. Beginning by some guide questions on the concept and the background, so one will describe his character in maybe half a page.

- The Attributes are displayed by a nice circle graphic. I am a visual person and I love to have an efficient design that is as efficient in communicating the informations as it is visually enjoyable. I am just pissed off about these character sheets with just lists of stuff with numbers beside...

so to come back to attributes, It have 12 of them around a zodiacal kind of circle graphic. It is not only pretty, it is the best way i found ( for me at least) after many tries, add-ons and boiling down processes(including systems with 3, 4,5,6,9,15,16,24 or 27 attribute!!!)

These 12 attributes are displayed around the zodiac in three tiers with each the four elements this way :

(astrologers, forgive the arbitrary correspondences, I am just doing a game!)

Social (soul)

Aries    (fire)        = Presence
Ox        (earth)    = Charisma
Gemini   (air)       = Speech
Cancer   (water) = Feeling

Mental (spirit)

Lion          (f)   = Will
Virgo        (e)   = Wisdom
Libra        (a)   = Intelligence
Scorpio   (w)   = Perception 

Physical (body)

Sagittarius (f)    = Strength
Capricorn (e)     = Solidity
Aquarius (a)      = Precision
Pisces    (w)      = Agility

To generate your attributes, you have a little table with the three spheres (physycal, mental, social) on the left and the four elements on the bottom.
You distribute 48 points into the 3 spheres (with a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 25 in each). You also distribute 66 points in the elements ( min 5 max 25 ).

Once this is done you addition them by crossing in the table and it generates the 12 attributes, between 10 and 50,  with an average of 33 and a total of 390 (you don't need to know it, but I think it is interesting, should i include it in the book?)

After that, another crunchy piece is the Skill system.
Each meta-vocation (example: Wizard)  have a skill tree.
A skill tree is organized in a way that you see what to learn first in order to access more powerful skills and precise vocation.

For example, In the wizard skill tree, you have first the skill that one can access without any prerequisites.  Obviously, they are themselves the prerequisites for more advanced skills! (So the tree disposition, with the links, resemble a little map or schema with paths) It is quite natural to understand because the paths that you see on the graphic are the paths your character could take to achieve a particular skill or profession.

Lets Say for example I want to be an elementalist. I take The tree of wizardry along with my character sheet and I see that A way to achieve it is by "Occult philosophy", or by "Energy manipulation" that itself prerequisite "Visualization".
In the character creation I can only invest in primary skills (them with no prerequisites), So I will take already Occult philosophy and Visualization.

When i lvl up I will be able to chose elementalism (direct link from occult philosophy) but only level 1. more paths leading to it are unlocked, more it can be increased. I will not continue to much with advancement for now and just tell you a word about that it have similar trees for martial arts, mystic disciplines, thief talents, social interactions, etc. You can collect as many trees you like along your character sheet, but too much generalist is rather weaker. It is better to make a team of complementary specialists in few things each. It have skill crossing between the trees, but if you already have it you don't have to re-buy it! (If you took soul reading in social tree and you decide to start in the mystic tree, you already have this skill in this tree as well)

The skill system is still to be improved, but I am in a good way!

If it is not a conflict, let's say open a locked door...

The formula is "related attribute(precision: 36)" + 10% by skill lvl (let's say lockpick lvl 1) 

So in this case It would be 36+10 = 46% to unlock a normal door. This is a roll under on a D100... Malus or bonus can be applied if it is a good or a bad lock, etc.


1) Each character implied in the situation decide with which sphere he will act. (social, mental, physical)

2) Each character and creature or npc sort out a number of cards corresponding to the number of actions he can do in a round, following the sphere he chose to act in. In Social, PRESENCE defines the number of acts, In mental it is INTELLIGENCE, and in physical it is AGILITY.
Whatever shere you decide to act in, you are allowed to use 1 act for something else (if i do a round of mental, like casting a spell, I can use 1 act to defend) But this switchable act cannot be the first act of your round.

3) The cards you draw represent initiative, and further are also used to calculate if you success and the degree of success... So for initiative you count them down from 10 to 1 (court cards and jokers been removed).

4) 10 act first. If it have more than one, they are simultaneous. If you simultaneously attack an opponent that attack you, It is the biggest attack value that pass over the other, the difference is calculated and the damages from it.
If the opponent have no 10's, he can defend with his following card, but this card is flipped and cannot be used for something else.

If the attack value of my character is 5, and I attack on a 10; And the goblin defend value is a 4, and he have only an 8 as his higher card:
My attack power would be 15 (10+5) and his defense power is 12 (8+4) (the weapon skill is counted in the +5 and +4 already, added to the corresponding attribute adjustment).
I am 3 over his defence. I will add this 3 (that represent how well i touch) and add it to my weapon damage and my strength bonus (could be 3 and 3)
So I deliver 9 damages, and the GM removes it from the goblin's life.

The round go down like that, until one, and then we begin over until the end of the conflict.

It was an example in which The hero and the goblin both chose to do a physical round. What can happen if i choose social instead?

I draw a number of cards depending on my presence. the goblin will still act physically and still draw cards depending on his agility. I have a 10, so I try manipulation, a skill working with speech. I tell him: "Hey, your companion is trying to stab you in the back!" (10 + speech adjustment + 1 by skill level) Let's say I have a manipulation attack power of 14. The goblin try to defend with a 6, the next card after 8, his higher one. To this 6 he adds his feeling adjustement (maybe 3) + bonuses if he has by example "detect lie lvl2" skill. So to his 6 he adds 5 (3+2) for a defence of 11 against manipulation. his will points are decrased by (14-11=3) + ( presence adj (kind of social strength) = 4) so 7.

He must then make a will test -7 to check out if he will turn back and attack his goblin companion.  Even if he succeed in resisting this impulse, his will malus is still there and cumulative, so each attempt have more and more chance to convince him!

But he looks back at you, saying: "me dont truss you stoupid youman!" and at the initiative count of 8 he can attack! etc.


I will stop here for today... It is already quite a block of text and It expose a lot of the basics.

I hope I was able to give you an Idea of what it will be like as a system.

It is at my advice a very unique system, still to be improved, but very promising.

Your comments would be appreciated, and probably even more the questions, as they are guidelines for me to explain better!!!

Dan Maruschak

Do you have specific areas that you want feedback on? If you frame the discussion, you're more likely to get useful replies.

In the description of your conflict resolution mechanism, there are stats like "attack power" that seem to be operating on a different scale (around 5) than the stats in your character creation section (between 10 and 50). Are these stats derived from the ones you set in character creation?

QuoteEach character and creature or npc sort out a number of cards corresponding to the number of actions he can do in a round, following the sphere he chose to act in. In Social, PRESENCE defines the number of acts, In mental it is INTELLIGENCE, and in physical it is AGILITY.
It's a little unclear how you generate the number of actions from a character's stats, but changing the number of actions that a character can take can often have very nonlinear results. For your system, having more cards increases the likelihood of going earlier in the round (e.g. if I have 3 cards and the goblin gets 2, I have a 60% chance of having the highest card) and of doing more damage. Do the other stats matter as much, or can you optimize a character for winning conflicts by simply maxing out whichever stat controls the number of actions?


Well, I don't have a specific question or point in mind right now, but it will probably happen :)

The number of acts, the adjustment to the attack, to damages, etc, are in the tens place of attributes ( if I have 46 in precision, I have +4 on my attack...)

number of acts, for example, in the physical sphere, is in the tens place of agility (agility 34 = 3 physical acts/round)
the other stats matter as much: in physical agility is number of acts, but precision your chance to touch and how well you touch (giving bonus on damages) the strength damages, and solidity is defence, HP and so on.

The number of acts is not in the same element everywhere, so if you have a character based on air he will move fast mentally but a character with more water would move fast physically. Socially, it is with fire....

I hope it answer your questions, thank you for your interest.


Is it playing the way you want it to?

Is everyone having fun?
James R.


I did not test it yet... Obviously it have some goals in this design :

I want it to have a little strategy side,

I want the social to be just as important as combat or magic. ( A prince having a weak physic could win a conflict only by his strong social )

I want the system to be organic and intuitive.

I want a fun character generation

I want a graphic way to present the explanations of the rules and a graphic character sheet too, so visual people like me can understand fast and find informations easily :)

And obviously I want it to fit into my setting

Some playtesting will tell me If i meet my goals, but maybe you can see right away some things that I did not see, and that are not really working...

P.S. funny detail: I invented an optionnal rule to generate a character from an astrological birth chart, and well... I recognized me in the result! :)


Sounds pretty good so far, and I know you mentioned this, but I just can't shake the feeling that something called "Aquarius" should correspond to water.

Also, try and make the Fire, Water, Earth, Air thing more unique somehow, because, as you probably know, it has been done a lot.
Other than that, great! I really like it when game mechanics correspond to concepts outside the greater concept of the game, and I'm doing something similar with my game where your alignment corresponds to a bunch of different things like magic, the elements, your personality, etc.


Hi, I was away from a cumputer for few days.

Vladius: In fact thje correspondance between the zodiac sings and the elements are those of the astrology and the esoteric tradition. Aquarius really is an Air sing, but yes it is strange as it have aqua in the name...

The correspondances are arbitrary though in which sphere (mental, social, physical) correspond to which third of the wheel.

the four elements are in place I think, all this stuff, even if they are old concepts, work well together and does make it easy to refer and remember. It have been done a lot more to have a slight variation of  = str, con, dex, wis, int, cha =  as the core of the character stats and people still like it and do games like that... I dont know if I get your point well, but I think that you worry these familiar things will make my game less original, but in fact the core rules are not about the elements, thay are only in play in the character creation, evolution, and the elemental resistances...

Thank you for your encouragements, you seem enthousiast about AethEra and it is always mativating :)

I am now still working on the skills and discipline system, I think i found a way trough it but still a lot of work to do :P
I hope to come back to the play test soon with these nices new mechanics!

Simon C

What is the purpose of having stats in the range of 10-50, when they're often divided by ten when you use them?  Why not use a d10 instead of a percentile system, and divide all the points by ten from the start? That also gives you the option to use 2d6 instead, which gives you a bell curve of results, which you might like.

I like the idea of dividing points between elements and spheres to find your attributes.  I think that's clever.  Couldn't you just start with 5 points in elements, and 6 points in spheres, or something?  Sometimes too much choice is as big a problem as too little.

I am with Dan in being concerned that the stats that give you the number of actions are vastly more important than any others.  Consider that they control:

a) your ability to go first in a round (bigger chance of a high number)
b) your ability to be effective (with more cards, your highest card is likely to be higher than your opponent's highest)
c) the number of things you can do in a round (more cards)
d) your ability to succeed at your goal (more chances to succeed)
e) your ability to stop your opponent acting (more cards means your opponent has to defend more)
f) your ability to defend yourself

I really like the idea of drawing a variable number of cards, but at the moment I think the system makes this too powerful, unless that's your intent.




Hi Simon C,

The purposes to have attributes from 10 to 50 instead of 1 to 5 are:

- Having a smootest progression
- Reducing ties a lot (Even if both opponent have a +4 to attack, 46 is still stronger than 45 on a tie card number...)
- non-conflict resolution are on %
- It feels funnier for me (that is always a good reason hehehe)

The bell curve don't interest me that much, and it would mean two dices for each action in a round, that is a lot of dices.

About the number of actions, I understand what you mean. It been a problem in a previous version because it was almost only considering combat in the mechanics. Now, the mental sphere and the social sphere are as important as the physical, and in each the number of actions is ruled by a different element! (and, dont need to tell, a different sphere) so in physical sphere, it is agility (water) that determine the number of actions (so the number of cards for 1 round), but in the mental shere, it is the intelligence (Air), and in the social, the presence (fire) ... and if you think earth is left aside, consider it is constitution (pv, defense, resist poison, etc), wisdom (mystic powers, sanity), and charisma (seduction, leadership).  Ok, maybe i would create a character with a good agility, it is pretty nice and ninja style, but It only takes a little Goblin with a dirty tongue (and good presence ) to throw down your moral (the moral points are obtained from will) with some well placed dirty insults ( oh yes it have an insult skill :P ).

Each action is described. You dont tell the Storymaster: "I insult the guy" and then throw your dice... you have to say this insult "Ew! You are stench itself!" and then throw the dice!

Anyway, I hope I answered your questions, and I consider all these advices, even if I am going to playtest this version before to make a major change probably! just to be sure I dont throw away valuable ideas.

Simon C

I understand.  I think the result will be that you will have very specialised characters - they're excellent in one sphere, but vulnerable in the others.  That's not a problem, if it's your intent.

I still don't really understand your reasoning for the 10 to 50 stats though.

A "smooth" progression isn't a valuable thing in itself.  It's just complexity for its own sake.

Reducing ties is a good goal, but it seems like this is a very complicated way of achieving a simple goal.  Why not look at the cards' suits?

Non conflict resolution doesn't have to be on percentages, that's just your choice.

So, other than complexity, what does it add?