Minimalist d20

Posted: 2015-01-27
Last Modified: 2021-05-17
Word Count: 718
Tags: penandpapergames rpg
This post originally appeared on the Pen and Paper Games Forum, under the title "Searchers of the Unknown + True20 + Numenera = ???". Only formatting and links have been changed.

Lately I’ve found myself fascinated by minimalist D&D rules like “Searchers of the Unknown” and its worthy successor “1974 Style”. I also like the d20-only philosophy of True20 and Numenera’s Only Players Roll principle. All three have collided in my brain to create the following incomplete rules:

The numbers may need tweaking, since I’m just typing it off the top of my head (but see the d20 Injury system). Note that I’ve (1) eliminated a separate damage/“toughness” roll and (2) adopted the RuneQuest/GURPS/etc. attitude that armor reduces damage rather than prevents the character from getting hit.

Rolling a 20 probably should have a special effect, in addition to an automatic success. Either you roll again and add any additional points over the target to your success margin, or you simply add 1d6. Likewise, a 1 should be an automatic failure, although I probably wouldn’t add even more misery for the guy who failed his roll.

“Saving throws” and physical actions likewise use a d20 + Level roll against a fixed difficulty factor: 5 for easy, 10 for average, 15 for difficult, and 20 for extremely difficult. Unlike attacks and defense, ties always go to the player.


Postscript (2021-05-17)

If this system sounds familiar, I’ve been fiddling with it or adapting ideas from it for the past several years. None of it is particularly original, but as I said at the beginning I’d rather have something simple that I can add on, rather than complex pre-built game engines that I have to tear apart and put back together again if I want it to do soething else.