Ashton’s Notebook: Creating a TTRPG and a world to go with it | Part 1

Greetings! For a good while now, I’ve been working on a TTRPG system and a fictional fantasy world to go along with it, as you could probably tell from the title. It all started with a Moleskin notebook that I started writing details of the world into when I started working on it, hence the name. This is only part one, obviously. The system is nowhere near done, same with the world. But I’ll give you what I’ve figured out now.

The System

Whenever you try to do something in any TTRPG system, you perform some sort of check. This unnamed system has three kinds of checks: normal checks, competitive checks, and assistance checks. Normal checks are performed whenever you’re trying to do something, competitive checks occur when you’re rolling against someone else, and assistance checks occur whenever you’re trying to help someone else do something. All checks are done by rolling a pool of d20, or 20-sided dice. Each individual die (yes, that’s the singular form of “dice”) in the pool must equal or exceed a TN, or target number, in order to be considered a “success die”. Any die that doesn’t is a “failure die”.

In normal and assistance checks, the amount of success and failure dice in your pool determines the outcome. There are five potential outcomes: botches, where all of your dice are failure dice, fails, where most of your dice are failure dice, messes, where your dice are split exactly in half, successes, where most of your dice are success dice, and criticals, where all of your dice are success dice. In the case of a normal check, you succeed at doing whatever you’re trying to do whenever you get a mess, success, or critical, but a mess means something bad happens as well while a critical means that something good happens as well. Failures and botches mean you failed, but botches mean something bad happens as well. If you’re familiar with improv, the outcomes can be summed up as follows:

  • Botch: No, and.
  • Fail: No.
  • Mess: Yes, but.
  • Success: Yes.
  • Critical: Yes, and.

Assistance checks have the same types of outcomes, and they are determined exactly the same way. However, the outcome determines how many dice are added or removed from the pool of whoever you’re assisting. So, a mess means no change, a success means adding 2 more dice, a critical means adding 4 more dice, a fail means removing 2 dice, and a botch means removing 4 dice.

Competitive checks work somewhat differently. Instead, you and your opponent both roll your pools, and whoever’s pool has more success dice succeeds while the other fails. If both pools have the same amount of success dice, that’s a mess. If one of you gets all success dice while the other gets all failure dice, then the first one gets a critical while the other gets a botch.

As for what determines the size of your pool, that would be skills. I don’t know what skills will be in the game just yet, but I know they will have multiple levels (don’t know the level cap yet either) and each level will add dice to your pool (2 dice per level right now). If you don’t have any levels in a skill, you have 4 dice in your pool. Why four? I still want messes to be possible for normal and assist checks, even if you don’t have any levels in a skill. 2 dice to start with, and your only possible outcomes are botch, mess, and critical. 3, and you can’t have a mess. So, 4.

That’s basically all I have figured out right now. I have some ideas for other things, such as how combat would work and whether classes would be a thing, but they aren’t figured out yet.

The World

The world the game would take place in is also somewhat under-developed. I’ve figured out that I want the world to have an axial tilt of 55 degrees (meaning that the equator has arctic temperatures while the poles have tropical temperatures, see Artifexian’s video on axial tilt for more information) and that I want four continents and a bunch of islands. I’ve also figured out how time is going to be. I did not do that mathematically, because last time I tried to worldbuild mathematically/scientifically I broke Universe Sandbox 2. Instead, I pulled numbers out of my rear end. And I got my little sister to do the same. Here’s what we decided on:

  • A local day is 27 Earth hours, or 18 local hours, long.
  • There are two moons, and the moon related stuff is as follows:
    • The inner moon has 5 local day long phases and 20 local day long months.
    • The outer moon has 10 local day long phases and 40 local day long months.
  • A year is 8 and 1/3 outer moon months, or 16 and 2/3 inner moon months, long.
  • So, in total, a normal year is 320 local days long while a leap year is 360 local days long.

I’ve also decided on having three different magic systems of sorts. These can be best described as “divine magic”, “genetic magic”, and “gun magic”. I’ll give you the gist real quick: divine magic is a sort of ritual magic that involves basically asking the gods of this world to do stuff, genetic magic is classic spell casting and is locked behind a genetic trait (like Harry Potter wizards but no squibs), and gun magic is based on the genetic magic but is simpler, doesn’t requite much preparation, and can be used by anyone. That’s about all I’ve really got figured out about them – details are nonexistent right now. But, I can’t really work on the gun magic until I’ve mostly figured out the genetic magic, since it will follow some of the same rules.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Leave feedback and questions in the comments if you want, and have an awesome day!


Ashton Snapp


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