As described in the previous blog, one of the aims of this project is to develop a d100 system with a small number of character attributes and skills. To put this objective into a proper context, I thought I’d take a look at where some existing d100 games stand in this regard.
Below, I’ve summarised the number of characteristics and skills employed by several d100 systems. The list is not intended to be comprehensive. It simply represents some of the percentile-based games that I own.
I’ve standardised the terminology for comparison purposes, so “characteristics” refers to the numbers rolled by the player during character generation (e.g. Strength, Intelligence, etc.) and “skills” refers to the in-game rolls that are typically used to determine the success or failure of an action (e.g. Climb, Dodge, etc.). In most systems, the skills are usually derived from, or modified by, the characteristics.
- 2nd Edition (1980) – 7 characteristics and 20 skills.
- 3rd Edition (1984) – 7 characteristics and 33 skills.
- 4th Edition (2018) – 7 characteristics and 70 skills.
I’ve included one weapon skill in the above numbers.
Other Chaosium d100 systems, such as Call of Cthulhu, Magic World and Basic Roleplaying, will be similar.
The interesting thing here is how the number of skills has increased significantly from one version to the next. This is exactly the trend that Hack100 is seeking to reverse.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP)
- 1st Edition (1986) – 14 characteristics and 36 skills.
- 2nd Edition (2005) – 16 characteristics and 47 skills.
- 4th Edition (2018) – 10 characteristics and 46 skills.
WFRP also utilises a large pool of “talents” that provide characters with additional special abilities and bonuses. There are 133 talents in 1st Edition, 84 in 2nd Edition, and 167 in 4th Edition (although any given character will only have a small subset of these).
- 2nd Edition (2013) – 7 characteristics (the same as those used in RuneQuest) and 27 skills
OpenQuest, by D101 Games, is a homage to 2nd and 3rd Edition RuneQuest. It does offer some streamlining of skills. For example, there are just three weapon skills – “Close”, “Ranged” and “Unarmed” – rather than having individual skills for each weapon. Nevertheless, it still has a similar number of skills to 2nd Edition RuneQuest and stays pretty faithful to the mechanics and spirit of that game. It should also be noted that OpenQuest was published prior to Chaosium’s 2015 reprinting of 2nd Edition RuneQuest and so, at the time, filled a gap as a contemporary and easily available ruleset for playing old school d100 games.
GORE – Generic Old-school Role-playing Engine
- 1st Edition (2007) – 7 characteristics (again, identical to those of RuneQuest) and 52 skills.
GORE, by Goblinoid Games, is described as “a role-playing system in the tradition of old-school percentile-based games“. It is setting and genre neutral, with skills and equipment lists covering both fantasy and modern settings (although much of the artwork suggests that it is directed mainly towards Call of Cthulhu style games). It includes a “GORE Lite” variant that condenses the number of different skills to 27. Similarly to OpenQuest, it provides an accessible alternative to the official Chaosium d100 systems.
BareBones Fantasy Role-Playing Game
- 1st Edition (2012) – 4 characteristics and 8 skills.
In terms of the Hack100 project, this one is perhaps the most interesting. BareBones Fantasy uses DwD Studios’ proprietary “d00Lite” system to provide a genuinely streamlined d100 game. It has just 4 characteristics – Strength, Dexterity, Logic and Will Power – and 8 skills. However, the skills are slightly unusual in that they are presented as what would be considered as “classes” in any other game – Scout, Thief, Warrior, Cleric, Enchanter, Leader, Scholar and Spellcaster. So for example, a character might have “Scout” at 62%, “Thief” at 33% and “Warrior” at 30% melee, 43% ranged. It’s a different approach that gives the game it’s own flavour. I’ll also mention that, even though it comes from a smaller publisher, it’s beautifully presented – an 80-page, digest-sized hardback with a clean, crisp layout. It strays a little too far from the classic d100 template to render Hack100 irrelevant, but there’s a lot I like about it.
Overall, from this quick survey, we can see that there is plenty of scope for a streamlined rules system that retains the feel of the classic d100 games whilst using a greatly reduced number of characteristics and skills. In the next instalment of this blog, we’ll start to take a look at how Hack100 aims to achieve this.