"Passions and Percentages": stripped-down, quick-playing BRP / Mythras

The idea is to develop a game you can run with some paper and pencils and two differently colored d10's, and not much else. How exactly the scenario creation works could vary, but I imagine it'd be something like this:

The GM has two friends over who've never roleplayed before and want to try it. The group comes up with a famous story / setting, and two characters from that story they'd enjoy portraying, that we then put in a new situation. Say, Luke and Leia having an adventure between A New Hope and Empire wherein they have to break some Rebel prisoners out of an Imperial work camp. This part needs to be completely collaborative, with the GM willing to go along with anything that will allow the creation of an immediately compelling, dramatic situation. (It doesn't have to be famous canon characters, that just seems like an easy way to get started with new gamers.)

You don't, initially, write anything down on your sheet other than your character's name and, let's say, three Passions. "Love: my family," (heh) "Ambition: become a Jedi," "Faith: the teachings of Ben Kenobi" or whatever. One is rated at 30%, one at 40%, one at 50%.

Then, when a challenge arises, the GM simply asks, "Based on your concept of the character, what do you think is the percent chance your character will succeed at this?" I don't anticipate people abusing this, especially non-gamers, but there are all kinds of ways you could mitigate any power-gaming tendencies.

My current thinking is that whenever you add an immediately-relevant skill to your sheet, you also add a different skill not applicable to the current scene, at 100 minus the rating you assigned to the new one. So if I give myself "Brawl" at 63%, I immediately need to give myself another skill, say, "Dance," at 37%. The GM's job is then, of course, to introduce a dance competition. :smile:

Anyhow, the player adds the new skill to their character sheet at the listed percentage, say "Climbing 70%."

(You obviously have to be careful naming the skills, so they're neither too broad nor too narrow. As a rule of thumb, "Fighting" is too broad, but "Dagger" is too narrow. Any GM running this game needs to have a significant amount of experience and trust in their judgment. Of course, genre is an important consideration for this question of scope as well: if we're doing a martial arts game, maybe we do want training in different weapons to matter.)

Use the usual indie RPG techniques of stake-setting, Let It Ride, scene framing, Roll or Say Yes, etc.

Any time you fail a check, the skill goes up by 1%, and you also gain an Experience Point to be spent later. (Make a box on the blank piece of paper for Experience Points.)

It's also perfectly fine to bring in some more advanced techniques from Mythras proper: if, the next time you use Climb, it's a much steeper slope or they have worse gear or whatever, you could have them roll at 2/3 of their listed skill value. You could introduce crit successes and failures, too, with no problem, as long as you know the basic rules (crit successes are rolls that are 1/10th or less of the skill, so like a 7 or less for a skill in the 70's).

Next: more about Passions.


  • Passions work like they do in Mythras: when relevant to a scene, they add 1/10 their value to the main skill, perhaps only once per scene per Passion depending on taste. At the end of a session (or hour of play, or perhaps the end of a scene, if you want a really quick game), each player has the chance to adjust one of their Passions up or down by 2d10, or two of their Passions up or down by 1d10 each. You adjust up if you feel it became more important to you, and down if it became less important.

    If a Passion drops to 0, it is gone, and you immediately gain a new one at 30%.

    When two Passions conflict, the player rolls against the higher one. If they succeed in the roll, then they must follow that Passion; otherwise, they can follow the weaker one, which will now presumably go up.

    When a Passion reaches 100%, your character's story is coming to a close. Play one more session (or scene!) with them, where all of play is focused on them achieving, or failing to, some major goal or milestone related to that Passion, and then their story is over.

    Next: spending Experience Points.
  • Experience Points are spent to either improve Skills or to gain new Passions.

    Spending 1 XP on a Skill improves it as follows:
    If Skill ≤25, gain 3% to its rating
    If 26 ≤ Skill ≤ 50, gain 2%
    If 51 ≤ Skill ≤ 75, gain 1%

    No improvement, save that from failure, is possible once a skill is past 75, and no improvement at all is possible past 95.

    When you spend XP to gain a new Passion, it opens at a rating equal to your lowest current Passion. You can have no more than 5 in play at one time per character.


    Well, that's all I've got. It obviously lacks many things that can make games fun, like equipment lists, rules for being wounded, combat maneuvers, etc. But I think it could work well for its intended purpose. I hope to try it out soon.
  • whenever you add an immediately-relevant skill to your sheet, you also add a different skill not applicable to the current scene, at 100 minus the rating you assigned to the new one. So if I give myself "Brawl" at 63%, I immediately need to give myself another skill, say, "Dance," at 37%. The GM's job is then, of course, to introduce a dance competition. :smile:
    I'm not familiar with Mythras, but this bit here is really nifty. Kudos if it's original.

    I know you want to go free form, but I'm immediately drawn to the mechanical possibilities of using a pre-set list of skills to populate with numbers.

    I'm imagining something like a small bingo grid and when you complete a column or row there's some kind of effect. This could be an incentive (or disincentive if the effect is negative) to make selecting the "off" skill a little less arbitrary.

    If you wanted to be super-determinist you could label each individual row or column with something like "reversal of fortune", "A new opportunity arises", "a door closes", "an enemy returns" etc.

    And once you've complete the grid, that's act 1 of your character's narrative arc completed. We know who they are and what they're about - and a different mechanic kicks in for act 2. Perhaps you can only gain XP once you're in Act 2?

    Sorry for zooming in one small part of what you posted.

  • edited December 2018
    I think the percentages are cumbersome. It's a statement that TTRPGs are about rolling funky dice, right ? Why not simply use a Brawl + / Be nice - ? (Rickard called this a Kismet mechanic.) Ranking up a passion score from 1 to 10 each time it is used to overthrow an uncertain (+1) or contrary (+2) decision. It would allow the players to focus on what they want out of the game instead of the rattle toy. Looking at the material conditions, you still put the GM in a Guardian of the crypt position. Instead of calculating XP fetish, an educational session could profitably end in a more Wizard of Oz fashion, showing the strings and ropes of the GM (eg commenting the techniques you prepared written on index cards).
    Of course, you want to keep the statement, and that's just me sighing. Rather pointlessly because I am very interested in the skill list vs skill creation part of the discussion. Skill creation during the game is supposedly taxing for player creativity ("design effort " I've heard). But in fact I believe it's easier on them because the effort is distilled, always backed and built onto a concrete situation. It requires less system mastery. It saves me the effort of making the darned skill list and I think the "design effort" argument is invalid, being only a "sweat of thy face" guilt reflex kicking in when a valid solution seems too easy.
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