Working on a Lightweight TTRPG system, Looking for opinions/feedback

It’s like it says on the title. I’m looking to make a lightweight TTRPG system, the kind of thing that would make for quick character creation and campaign-organizing, especially in a text-based RP. Inspired by a RP I had done a few months back, there would be a heavy (ha) emphasis on Cooking, Discovery, and Resource Management, ideally in a fantasy setting. This system relies on 3d6 for almost every roll, with occasional 2d6 or 4d6 rolls in certain situations.

  • To roll a character’s stats, roll 2d6, then halve the sum of the numbers (rounded up if needed). Do this until you have 3 numbers. Then, duplicate those numbers and invert them (ex. getting a 4, 5, and 2 means you also have a -4, -5, and -2). These 6 numbers now become the modifiers than can be attributed to your character’s stats.

I think this would make character creation quicker, as you only need to roll 3 numbers to get modifiers for six stats. It would also add risk and reward to higher stats, as having a high positive modifier inherently means you have an equally negative one.

  • Characters would also have Quirks and Trinkets, a special personality trait and keepsake item that can help players in giving their character a bit of personal flair, as well as opening up opportunities for special roleplay moments.

Currently, the most troublesome aspect of this system is how to apply Expansion, be it weight gain or inflation. I’ve been messing with having weight be divided by a specific stat of a character to determine size/mobility milestones, like a rudimentary form of BMI, but it’s still very rough. I’ve also been having trouble with turning something like Cooking into a simplified mechanic.

This system is currently in a very early state, and definitely not balanced, but that’s not really what I’m looking for. I’m hoping to achieve a system that will let anyone make a character and jump right into a game in a matter of minutes. In my experience, the excitement of an expansion-centric system can often be muddied in overly complicated mechanics.

If you have any interest, opinions, feedback, or critique in regards to this concept, please let me know! I’m always looking for other perspectives and ways to make this system accessible and intuitive.

Thank you for reading!

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I think my favorite part of noone’s fatty text adventure was that combat (which took up the bulk of the game) constantly used the stuffing mechanics. For example, health potions take up space in your stomach, and that affects a lot of things, depending on how much your character already has in their stomach.
It would be cool if your game’s expansion mechanics were front and center like that

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Incorporating stuffing mechanics into combat isn’t a bad idea at all. Maybe one’s stomach capacity is tied to their weight or are one of the main stats. Although, I’d want combat to be very quick, since it’s not the main focus of the game. I’ve been playing with a combat system where there is a turn order, but it’s only one actual turn where everyone gets to discuss their plan of attack, and everything happens at once, with only the results following thereafter. For instance:

  • Lysa goes first, her plan is to lunge at the green slime and pierce it with her spear.
  • The green slime stays stationary, waiting for the intruder to make a move before jumping forward.

Compare some dice rolls, then…

  • Lysa, you stab the green slime in the center, the oozing mass starting to shudder. But, just before it loses form, it makes a last ditch effort to lunge at you with whatever it has left. A small portion of the slime leaps onto your face, but since it’s not enough to suffocate you, it just ends up sliding into your mouth. The taste is sour, but with lingering notes of sweetness. The remainder of the slime lays on the floor and attached to your spear, motionless.

That way, the particulars of combat don’t take nearly as long, and there’s no insane wait times as players wait for their turn to do one thing every 15 minutes.

An update on this system:

In my original post, I was pretty vague about the actual main stats attached to character creation. The six main character stats will be Body, Mind, Heart, Willpower, Constitution, and Guts.

Body, Mind, and Heart are stats largely tied to general character actions and ability. Body generally covers any feats of athleticism or physical prowess, Mind covers general intelligence and brainpower, and Heart covers personability and charisma-adjacent abilities.

Willpower, Constitution, and Guts are more closely tied to eating. Willpower is your character’s mental fortitude in resisting food and other temptations, Constitution is your character’s ability to eat new and possibly dangerous foods without suffering other consequences, and Guts is your character’s ability to pack away potentially large quantities of food. I wanted to have equal emphasis on expansion-adjacent and non-expansion adjacent qualities, giving each section of gameplay its own ecosystem of stats to draw from.

In terms of combat, Initiative is as simple as 3d6+Body to determine turn order. Weapons are still in early development, but right now I want them to be static values + whatever stat they call for. Larger weapons may only add Body, and some smaller weapons can draw from Body or Heart, or even both. For example, a Greatsword can be a 5+Body, but a Rapier can be 3+Body or Heart.

Magic is still very much a work in progress. Making something as open-ended as magic work in a system designed for intuitive simplicity is very difficult. I want something that can draw from either Mind or Heart, or have a relatively small list of generalized spells for players to pick from.

For Expansion, as well as tracking character health, I was thinking of using Strikes to track both a character’s physical wellness, as well as their stomach’s wellness. Thinking of calling it the Wellness/Fullness Counter.

As a character incurs damage from battle, they accrue strikes to their Wellness. Likewise, as a character’s stomach fills, they accrue strikes to their Fullness. That way, there’s an easy way for both GMs and Players to keep track of their character’s general health without needing to worry about large Health pools.

The number of strikes to a character’s Wellness could be determined by either a dice roll or a static value + Body. Likewise, a character’s Fullness could be a dice roll or static value + Guts.

Again, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, opinions, critique, or whatever, feel free to let me know. I’m really committed to getting other views on a system like this to improve it.

Thank you for reading!

Another Update, on the topic of cooking:

Inspired by the Zelda games on switch (BotW and TotK), I want there to be a maximum number of ingredients available for cooking a dish. Right now, 5 could be a good starting number, but maybe players could get larger cookware, like a large wok can fit 7 ingredients, and so on. Spices and Herbs would count for half a space to keep things interesting. It wouldn’t be super realistic, but it would be simple enough while still having some depth with knowing what to cook.

Also, i’m currently working on a document to have a one-stop place to have all of the rules at once as I develop them, so stay tuned for that!

Please tell me you making a test-run of this?

If you want to make a simple magic system, consider making a few ways magic can interact with mechanics and then leaving the narrative open-ended for players and GM.

“There are many ways to fortify your Body by magic. You’ll have to find your own. Learn a ritual, gather the supplies you need, and learn what side-effects your way causes.”

Right now, I’m still in the process of making the main doc for the game. Once I have everything on paper, I’ll consider making a test-run if people are willing to playtest!

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That’s not a bad idea! Making magic similar to cooking in being experimental and reliant on resource-gathering is fun, definitely something I’ll look into. Maybe spells can be component-centric like cooking, with components that can change the strength of the spell, the target of the spell, elemental properties, etc.

Can probably get a lot of mileage out of having magic spells be casted by eating stuff. Like, a character’s stomach capacity doubles as their number of spell slots lol

It looks like your using something similar to the West End Starwars D6 system where you use a set of D6’s plus a modifier. While the ‘roll two and half’ system makes for a more ‘centered’ average stat distribution, I think rolling a single D6 for each stat and having the ‘negative’ of it would work just as well with one less step, because you already have a solid balancing factor built in. ((Though I’m also guessing that your having it to where advantage disadvantage determines if you roll 2D6 or 4d6))

Also means you can very easily have it be a ‘random roll’ or point buy. (Or you can have it where you roll 5 and you choose the 4 you want, as the average batch of D6’s tend to come in bundles of 6)

So I’m assuming your just rolling D6’s and adding to beat a challenge number. As mentioned, you can probably just follow the West End Starwars system where the dice you roll are the ‘to hit’ dice and have the weapon have a static damage, and that damage is ‘multiplied’ depending on how low the opponent’s defense roll is (basically, lowest common denominator, attack 10 defense 7, 1x damage, attack 10 defense 5, you fit 5 twice in 10 so 2x damage).

If your aiming at more of a themed RPG as opposed to just a ‘general ruleset’, really make magic unique to your setting. I see someone suggest’s cooking magic, maybe even take it further, have elements be different flavors and the like.

Also when your thinking about adding weight gain, big thing I discovered with my games is people enjoy when obesity is a double edged sword, where there’s a bonus ‘and’ a drawback unique to their wastelines. So fatness doesn’t just break the system, or is just constantly punished.

And with that you also need to view fatness as like… a ‘secondary exp/leveling’ system on its own terms, with its double edged properties, this should be a faster ‘stat’ to level as opposed to leveling up normal stats and so on.

This looks like a fun system, a bit of a different direction than what I took, but its got a good basis.

After some time, I’ve finally got enough of the main rules written down to make an official document for it! Major changes have been made to character creation and combat.

For character creation, Instead of rolling d6s and halving the sum, simply roll 3d4, and those numbers, as well as their negatives, are your ability modifiers! Much simpler.

For combat, the Abstract Brawl system has been introduced, assigning dice rolls to the various qualities of the fight in quick turns! It’s inspired by the dice setup from Otherkind, so if you know what that is, you kind of have an idea of what it’s like.

Currently, the Cooking and Magic system are still under construction, as well as diversifying Races, Classes, and Sub-Classes, but they’re all on the to-do list! Right now I want Spells to be something that are crafted, similar to cooking, with components that change how the spell works.

I’m going to try and update this a bit more regularly, but for now, thanks for reading!

On the topic of cooking spells, I think it would be interesting to make spells based on beverages, to go along with the cooking theme. Different spells with different flavors, some might be especially carbonated to show how potent they are, etc.

I’m currently working on potential upsides/downsides to weight, I totally get what you mean making it a secondary leveling system with costs and benefits. For gaining weight, it could be as easy as meeting/exceeding your character’s maximum fullness, then rolling to see how much they gained.

Just remember to not get into the nitty gritty of literally counting calories or adding pounds.

  1. Because 100lbs gain on a 6ft character is very different from a 100lb gain on a 4ft character.
  2. Weight calculations is extra paperwork, its better to just have a little ‘weight scale’ from thin to chonky to ‘huge’, and just do simple ranks. Helps make it a lighter game and means you dont have to worry about different heights or muscle mass or anything.

Actually, something I wanted to ask.
How do you do a skill check, either I missed it in the rules or it wasn’t explained. If your doing something ‘other’ than combat, then how do you roll, what are your usual challenge numbers? That kind of thing. ((I also feel that it’s better to explain the base mechanics of the game first before going into building a character.))

To answer your question, currently skill checks are done with 3d6+any relevant ability modifier. On the player’s side, I’m trying to keep the amount of different dice low in the early game, so outside of character creation everything’s done in d6’s. I understand 3d6 tends to skew towards the average more than a d20, so challenge ratings might be less spread out, still working on that.

Advantage and Disadvantage instead add or remove d6’s from these rolls, and are things that can stack on top of each other. You can get Advantage from eating good enough food, so players are incentivized to eat regularly to maintain bonuses.

Also, I hear what you’re saying on making weight something that’s not pound-for-pound. I’ve been considering a rank system for a while, it’s currently listed on the very bottom of the doc. Instead of crossing a specific threshold of pounds, it could just be the number of times you’ve stuffed yourself (exceeded your Max. Fullness), along with the healthiness of whatever you ate (The unhealthier the food, the higher the value towards the next stage of weight).

Yeah, I think it would be interesting going into the West End D6 system that has a very convenient leveling system.
Basically every time you increase a stat you get +1 in it, until you get to +3 and you then just convert that into an additional D6.
So a stat might look like
Fighting: D6+2
Running: 2D6+1
Intelligence: 3D6
With just, a D6 being like, the minimum stat. 6-10 being an easy task, 11-16 being a medium task. Bonuses and ad ons bumping up more dice and so on.

Just an alternate way of looking things cause a ‘distributed D20 system’ (3d6, 2d10) has a different feel than a dice pool system.

That’s a very interesting way to go about rolling skill checks, yeah! And it keeps in line with everything being relegated to D6s. Definitely something I’ll look into, maybe something that can be implemented in Combat. you’re very correct in distributed d20 having a different feel than a dice pool.
Right now, the only applicable modifiers for skill checks apart from advantage buffs are either Body, Mind, or Heart, with Constitution, Willpower, and Guts being more “saving throw” kind of modifiers.
I’ve also been considering a “freeform proficiency” mechanic where the more a character does a specific kind of action, the more they might be rewarded for it with additional modifiers. For instance, a thief may be rewarded with a proficiency modifier for a specific action, like archery, if they roll a successful check in archery enough times.

Doing the proficency thing is going to be additional paperwork.
I personally suggest taking what you have of the rules and trying to fit them ‘all’ on a singular double sided sheet of paper at 9pt font. If you can get the basics on a single side, even better.

What this does is forces you to really figure out the “necessary” mechanics that you need to really work on for the game, and to concentrate on them, along with seeing any big flaws, like having all modifiers be useful instead of splitting them between normal and ‘saving throw’ modifiers. This is very important as, you mentioned earlier, you want this to be a ‘lightweight’ TTRPG system.

I honestly have to thank you for suggesting this, it’s been a pretty sobering exercise to realize just how much fluff I’ve added to the game. Lots of stuff’s been removed or simplified, and I really think it’s better off for it! Not sure if this will be the definitive version of the game, but it’s a very refreshing slate to work on.

If anyone wants to help with refining this version of the game, I’m accepting anyone who’s down to playtest!

I would love to be one of the of your players then~