Journey: Engine

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Under-construction.jpg This page is currently under development, and as such is somewhat in limbo regarding playtest viability. It is not recommended that information on this page be used or considered for playtesting until it has reached a more stable revision.

This is the page where we will discuss the LM's first and foremost job: the construction of the engine that serves as the platform for the game to be run.


Funnily enough, Journey is not necessarily playable out of the box (though we've tried to make it as easy as possible to do so). Given the flexibility and malleability of the system as a whole, you - as the LM - must make certain decisions regarding how the game is to be played.

Journey is a toolbox, a collection of polished pieces that can be assembled in a wide variety of ways, which interact on a deep and complex level. The vast majority of the time, these interactions are intended to be seamless and largely invisible: you do not need to delve into these intricacies if they do not interest you. However, you are expected to know and understand, at least on a basic level, what each of the pieces that is presented in Journey does, at least to the point of being able to determine what it is you are looking for in a game, and what pieces will best bring that vision to life.

If, for instance, you want a combat-heavy game that is similar - in function, if not appearance - to the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game, then you would want to use deep combat, shallow crafting, and lacking social. You may want basic terrain, basic city, and basic timeline, knowing that you must pay the most attention to dungeons and similar such environs, which require special treatment and are not well-handled by existing Journey subsystems.



The term used to describe the sum of the choices you make at this step, which should be the first one you, as an LM, proceed with. This section is intended to give you a reasonable method for determining how to piece together the various parts of Journey into a cohesive whole that you are interested in running and your players will enjoy.


A group of Journey subsystems that affect how players create characters, interact with the setting and NPCs, and how they perceive their characters and the world they inhabit.


A term used to describe the level of detail used for a player-side subsystem. Depth comes in four levels: lacking, shallow, moderate, and deep.

Lacking Depth

A player-side subsystem that is not used in a particular engine. Use this depth for a subsystem if you have absolutely no interest in it making an appearance in-game. Given an inability to make use of mechanics relevant to this subsystem, in a standard group of five, it is safe to assume that no players will focus on this area; if they do, this may indicate a disconnect in communication between the LM and the player(s) in question.

Shallow Depth

A player-side subsystem that is simple, easily integrated, and also easily ignored if so desired. Use this depth if you are interested in having a subsystem's ramifications present, but the mechanics easily pushed aside to make room for arbitrary decisions on the parts of the participants of the game, the LM included. In a standard group of five, perhaps one player will focus on such a subsystem.

Moderate Depth

A player-side subsystem that is used to a reasonable extent - not overshadowing other elements, but still relevant to the game at hand. This is the presumed level of depth when a subsystem is added to an engine, and requires the least amount of knowledge of rules-modifications. Moderate depth ensures that a subsystem's mechanics are integral to the game, but not necessarily its focus. In a standard group of five, it is safe to assume that at least one player, and perhaps up to three, will focus on such a subsystem, with at least three having some amount of skill relevant to it.

Deep Depth

A player-side subsystem for which all available options are used. Such a subsystem will become the focal point of the game; dealing with its ramifications and mechanics will consume a large portion of time at the table, and a significant amount of player effort will be spent on understanding the system and ensuring that their characters are at least proficient in an area of expertise relevant to it. In a standard group of five, it is safe to assume that at least three players, and perhaps up to all five, will focus on such a subsystem, while all five will have some amount of skill relevant to it.
...the journey of a thousand miles...
...begins beneath your feet...
Players Fundamentals Cover · Introduction · Basics · Tokens · Advancement · Metagame
Universals Attributes · Traits · Skills (Old: Skills) · Species (Was: Races) · Cultures
Subsystems Lifepath · Roles · Exploration · Combat · Social · Crafting · Ethos
Disciplines Overview · General · Warrior · Explorer · Lorist · Artisan · Mediator
General Equipment · Alchemy Items
LMs Engine Engine
Setting Cities · Terrain · Timeline
Creatures Monster Disciplines · Threat and Aggro · Bestiary
Designers Design Notes Ideas · Playtests · Task Resolution · Group Composition · Some Better Than None · Dice Calculator
Meta Navigation Template · Development Codes (Red, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Elements)
Deprecated Mechanics · Classes · Social Combat · Spells · Prayers · Orations · Talents