More About the Game

Built on the OGL material of the most recent edition of the fantasy adventure game that created the OGL, the NEC RPG is about making your living by being a hero and an adventurer in a modern world, and your role in a society that needs such heroes. In a world where humankind is plagued by nightmare monsters that will consume people’s spirits as readily as their physical bodies, there is a powerful incentive for society to reward Light Bearers and others with the ability to stand against the threat. Luckily, the corpses of the Beasts are valuable for their alchemical utility. Further rewards for powerful and skilled warriors lie in the treasure offered by the Dungeons, as the utility of the gold and other treasure for magical purposes results in a need for people willing to and capable of going down and extracting those resources.

The game will task players with managing their character’s time and training, using a downtime system inspired by the Persona series of video games referred to as the campaign mode. Beginning characters will need to balance their combat training and monster hunting with how they interact with society, and the game is meant engage with the friction where those two realities meet. Eventually, characters may wish to pursue larger goals, such as assembling and leading their own expeditions and delves. Many immature dungeons exist, with smaller hordes, in such quantities that local city-states will often throw in additional rewards for sealing them and marking them so that they can be monitored. And mature dungeons await, those that can be followed as deep as explorers wish to go, with huge rewards for those who can assemble an effective delving expedition capable of surviving the delve and transporting the treasure back up to the surface.

Assembling such an expedition requires resources and experience, and even those who have spent years hunting bounties on Beasts and plundering immature dungeons may need an additional leg up. Learning to navigate the high society of successful Light Bearers and other delvers, along with the other sorts of people who might be able to fund an expedition, may be a valuable thing for characters to spend time on. Successful characters will have opportunities to rub elbows with society’s elite, making friends and enemies along the way, and be forced to contend with their own growing celebrity, the fame brought by the successes necessary to accumulate a fortune; in United City-States of America, the most successful warriors are as celebrated as movie and sports stars. Indeed, maybe the most popular sport in the land is Tourney, the modern descendant of the medieval knightly tournament, with non-combat sports extant but correspondingly less central to the culture.

A social bond system will allow player characters to form lasting connections with both non-player characters and each other; bonds with NPCs will improve a character’s ability to navigate social encounters with them, while bonds between PCs improve their ability to work together in battle and adventuring challenges.

To fight, on the tourney field or against the Beast Below, martial characters will learn a variety martial techniques and maneuvers. Based on the fourth edition principle that everyone should have a interesting choices to make during combat, melee characters can learn maneuvers that allow them to build momentum (represented by momentum dice) when they successfully hit an enemy during combat. They can spend this momentum to make more powerful attacks and perform finishing moves. Ranged characters can accumulate marksmen dice by spending actions or moves aiming, which serve a similar purpose. This system of building up to performing more powerful attacks was originally inspired by the resource building system of The Secret World MMORPG. My hope is that this system solves the problem from fourth edition of every PC using their daily/encounter power on round one and then spending the rest of every fight slugging away at sacks of hit points.

And of course, martial skill is not the only route to success in the neverending conflict. Magical might can be just a valid route to fortune. Magicians can spend actions to draw in magical energy from the environment that they then use to cast spells, and can learn other methods of powering their magic as well. Alchemists may learn to create a variety of useful magical potions and other magical substances that can grant advantage in the field, while enchanters and artificers can supplement their combat abilities with magical arms and equipment.

The NEC game boils the resource management inherent to the experience of the fantasy adventure game genre to three key resources; Focus, supplies, and time. For player characters and important, intelligent NPCs, Focus replaces the concept of hit points, serving as a representation of both a character’s ability to avoid injury in battle, as well as a general representation of a character’s ability to function; as a character gets tired, they lose Focus, and for a tired enough character a single night’s sleep may not serve to completely restore their lost Focus. Most actions in the campaign mode will cost a character Focus, and characters can substitute Focus for maneuver, marksmen, or magic dice they haven’t had an opportunity to accumulate to gain an early advantage in combat. In addition to Focus, there is a Health pool, with the loss of Health representing actual injuries.

A simplified, slot based encumbrance system designed in conjunction with a follower and hireling system makes managing supplies for long expeditions and deep delves an important challenge for successful higher level characters. The huge quantities of treasure in the deeper dungeons will make even the most skilled characters require help to acquire these fortunes.

As discussed above, players will need to manage their character’s time. Training will be required to improve in both combat and non-combat skills, while out in the field, the more time spent exploring the wilderness or a dungeon, the more Focus and supplies will be spent and the more likelihood characters will encounter dangerous Beasts or other spirits and creatures using old school random encounter and wandering monster checks. While an encounter with a Beast will almost invariably result in combat or retreat, encounters with other creatures will have the opportunity to go in a wide variety of directions, as the attitudes and actions of intelligent creatures that do not serve the Powers Below can be determined with a reaction system similar to those used by early editions. Many spells and magical effects are additionally only available as rituals that require valuable time if you wish to take advantage of them.

Finally, I hope to write the rules in such a way that there will be three tiers of complexity: a set of basic rules that should not be much more complex than the fifth edition is: an intermediate ruleset that will break skills, combat maneuvers, and magic out of being tied to class level, allowing character to learn them with a sufficient time investment; and a set of super optional advanced rules, for other early millennials like me who grew up on the second edition and other nineties era RPGs and just love themselves some fiddly simulationist systems.

The combination of these features will, hopefully, create something that is fairly unique in the tabletop roleplaying ecosystem, while paying tribute to fantasy adventure gaming’s roots. I hope it turns out to be fun. Many of the systems planned are inspired by things written by the many amazing people in online DIY roleplaying communities, and whenever a feature of the game builds on ideas I first encountered elsewhere on the internet, I plan to acknowledge this and encourage interested readers to check out the sources of my inspiration, without whom I could never have even formulated the idea for this game.