This is a simple RPG system that I designed to encourage a fast, interpretive, narrative-driven style of play. I call it Skein of Destiny, despite or perhaps because of the unfortunate acronym. I've divided it into three parts. Today, we begin with character creation.
Characters in the Skein system are defined by five attributes:
Assign a total of 55 points between these attributes.
Body is your presence in the physical world. Honor is your presence in the world of men. Similarly, you can see Mind as a measure of how the physical reflects in you, and Emotion as a measure of how society reflects in you. Imagination is where those things all come together: the inner and outer life, the world of physical reality and the world of human society.
When you consider that the types of conflict that generate stories essentially reduce to man versus nature, man versus society and man versus himself, these five attributes comprise all the foundation you should need for a rich variety of adventures.
It is up to the player how he or she chooses to interpret high or low scores in the five attributes. For instance, high Body could mean you're strong, or wiry, or big, or dexterous, etc.
Abilities are divided into skills (which can be trained) and talents (which can only be improved by experience). Abilities of either type are based on two attributes. The sum of these attributes determines your maximum possible score in that ability. The first attribute listed in each pair determines your highest possible starting score in that ability.
Agility = Body + Honor
Brawling = Body + Body
Etiquette = Honor + Mind
Magic = Imagination + Mind
Medicine = Mind + Honor
Missile Use = Mind + Body
Priest = Honor + Imagination
Scholarship = Mind + Mind
Seamanship = Body + Mind
Singing = Imagination + Honor
Spellcasting = Emotion + Mind
Thievery = Imagination + Mind
Tracking = Mind + Body
Weapon Attack = Emotion + Body
Weapon Parry = Body + Imagination
Authority = Emotion + Mind
Charm = Emotion + Honor
Perception = Imagination + Mind
Sex Appeal = Body + Emotion
Stealth = 20 + Imagination - Honor
Streetwise = Mind + Imagination
Survival = Body + Mind
You begin with two abilities at full starting (not maximum) value, three at half starting value, and four at one-third starting value. Round fractions up in your favor.
To use an ability, roll 2d10. Success is indicated by a roll equal to or less than your score in the ability. The degree of success is equal to the higher of the two dice in the case of skills and the lower of the dice in the case of talents. If you roll a double then add another 1d10 to either number to get the final degree of success.
Example: Fafnir has a Perception score of 9. He rolls, getting a 3 and a 5 on the dice. The total of the dice is 8, which is less than his Perception score so he has succeeded. Perception is a talent, so the degree of success is the lower number rolled: a 3.
Instead of making a straight skill roll, you can choose to apply a modifier ranging from -5 to +5 to the total roll (announced, of course, before you throw the dice). If successful, you apply the same modifier to the degree of success, to a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 15. (Note that optional modifiers cannot be applied to talents, only to skills.)
Example: Pierre is asked to entertain Prince Andrei. He decides to try and impress the prince by attempting a particularly difficult song. He opts for a modifier of +5 to the dice roll. His Singing score is 13 and he rolls 6 and 2, giving an 8. With the +5 modifier he just succeeds, and he also gets to add 5 for a total degree of success of 11.