Journey: Ideas

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This is a page for random ideas. This isn't just for me (GW), but for everyone involved in the Journey development process.

If you have an idea for something to do with the system, throw it up here. This is a "meta" page, in the sense that it is not meant to be tied to any one concept; if it's related to Journey in some way, it's relevant.

The Basic Mechanics

Perhaps a straight d20 is not the way to go. I'm thinking a bit along the lines of mixing Houses of the Blooded (HotB) and Savage Worlds (SW).

Each ability score has two numbers associated with it, separated by a "d". So your Strength, rather than being an 18, is a 1d6. This indicates that, for any given Strength-based thing you do, the base die is 1d6.

With the XP-as-currency system, you can increase your ability scores. You do so by increasing the size of the die used: if you increase your Strength, it goes from 1d6 to 1d8. When it hits 1d12, you can spend slightly less points to turn it into 2d6. You then follow the progression again: 2d6 to 2d8, 2d8 to 2d10, 2d10 to 2d12, and so forth. There needs to be a reasonable cap here, somewhere; probably at 2d12, since that would turn into 4d6, which is just sort of ridiculous.

Then, based upon Potential (the Level replacement concept), you can add modifiers to these numbers. So if you spend, say, 1 XP, your Strength is now 1d6+1. Cap being your Potential. You could then say that each new plus requires XP equal to the new plus. So to get to a +3, you'd have to spend a total of 6 XP, and could only get that at a Potential of 3.

This would require that any sort of roll have an associated ability, or at least set of abilities (say that a roll is a Physical roll; that would mean that you have to use either your Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution dice).

This does make damage and HP more wonky, though; if you have a Strength of 1d6 and a Constitution of 1d8, and you're an einhander, you'd be dealing 1d8+1d6, while have only d4+6+1d8 HP (presumably max'd? So... 18 HP).

Also, anything relying on an ability score modifier would no longer use that. Modifiers would be gone; instead, you use the dice associated with the ability (in essence, the score and the modifier become one in the same, and it's a random number instead of a straight number).

Cure for the Upward Spiral: The Downward Spiral

Skills, ability scores, and everything else you can do atrophies if you don't use it. You may be an awesome swordsman, but if you don't use that skill for thirty years, chances are good you're going to be rusty - your skill decreases.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no good way of doing this, without calling upon the in-game passage of time.

I'm not sure how to work this mechanically, but basically, the answer to the upward spiral is the idea of a downward spiral. Using abilities allows you to improve them, while not using some causes them to degrade over time. However, there should be some way to represent the fact that you were good once, to allow you to retain some skill regardless of lack of practice, and to allow you to quickly relearn the things you've forgotten ("I used to be a badass swordsman, but it's been twenty years... huh, and look at that, three weeks of practice and I'm good as new again.").

This allows for a feeling of increased power over time (the upward spiral), while also simulating the decay of unused skills over time (downward spiral), and allowing a character to bounce between them (useful for allowing older starting characters); it also means that a campaign could, in theory, go on forever, since it would hopefully be such that it would be nigh impossible for you to use all your abilities in the in-game time increment that causes your skills to decay.

Current Conclusion: The downward spiral has to occur at the same time the upward spiral does. As such, whenever your Potential increases, the game checks the character for decay, and applies decay appropriately.

March 25, 2009

That current conclusion is wrong. The concept of Potential has been largely deprecated; as such, the game cannot check then. However, with city resource allocation going on in the background, the LM has to keep track of time - at least on a large scale - anyway; as such, adding in temporal checks can be sensible and not all that much more work to track.

Spending XP: The Core of the Upward Spiral

Character advancement is no longer tied to level. Huzzah! But advancement still happens, because the game would grow stale without it.

When you gain XP, you spend it. You keep track of the total XP you have spent, to determine when your Potential increases. There are two ways to spend XP:

  • Immediate: Each of your Keys has a set of things or categories associated with it. Whenever you gain XP due to that Key, you can choose to immediately spend the XP on something from that list. You don't have to spend all of it, and you can choose to spend none of it.
    • Exception: Whenever you gain XP, instead of improving an ability or anything that requires XP, you can spend some XP to "maintain" an ability or skill you have already learned (see below).
  • Training: You can choose to train. For each day you spend training, you can spend a number of XP equal to your current Potential; you spend the XP at the end of the training session, so you can spend XP on abilities that require more XP than your Potential. If you train, you can freely spend the XP on anything that requires XP to improve (which, ideally, would be anything and everything).

Ideally, everything will be improvable with XP.

Trained, Maintained, and Decay

Whenever you improve an ability with XP, or purchase a new ability with XP, note that it is a Trained ability. This mark never goes away. Also, mark it as a Maintained ability. Whenever you gain Potential, you will erase all Maintained marks (as noted above, you can spend XP to reinstate an ability's Maintained status).

When you gain Potential, note all abilities that are Trained but are not Maintained. Each of these abilities suffers a -1 decay penalty. Decay penalties stack, but have a maximum of one-half your Potential (so if you have a 15 Potential, you cannot suffer worse than a -7 decay penalty to any ability).

When you gain XP, you can choose to Maintain an ability you have. If you do, you must spend XP equal to the decay penalty on the ability; the penalty then decreases by 1 point.

This... might require some intense bookkeeping. If you have a better solution, post it!

Features: The Meat of a Character

With no levels, there are no classes - we have a classless system. Huzzah!

Everything you can purchase that isn't a stat is a Feature. Features come in a wide variety of flavors.

  • Skill: A skill is something you have trained to do. Even things like combat ability are skills. Skills are active things, and as such, have dice associated with them. Example: You have Skill - Defense at 1d4+1.
  • Feat: A feat is something nifty you can do, above and beyond what others can. Feats use your other abilities and even stats to determine how you use them. Example: You can use Shield Bash, based off of your Attack skill and Strength score. Or, you can use Magic Missile, based off of your Arcana skill and your Intelligence score.
  • Trait: A trait is a general tendency to excel at something others don't. Unlike skills and feats, traits are passive. Traits make you better at what you already do. Example: You can have the Economize trait tied to one of your Craft skills.
  • Proficiency: A proficiency is the ability to use something, like tools, armor, or weapons. Proficiencies are also passive, but unlike traits, they are binary - you either have them or you don't. This definition may change.
  • Talent: A talent is similar to a feat, but isn't tied to a skill.

Cascading Class System

This would somewhat represent a system where any specific class would inherit "features" from it's parent class. For instance, there'd be a Melee/Ranged/Caster Tier, under each would have a more specialized definition, such as under Melee there could be the Rock/Paper/Scissors breakdown. Under each of those you'd have classes that fit under each tier, the scissors might have the einhander and perhaps some sort of punchin' d00d. Each Tier would have it's own stats tied to it, for instance the Top Tier (Melee, Ranged, Caster) might hold Hit die and defenses, scissors would hold BAB, and einhander would hold specific abilities, such as picking people in the teeth as a standard action.

I think we're going classless.

Modular Framework

I'd be very interested to see some sort of generic framework for all the mechanics to fit nicely in. This could fit into the previously discussed Cascading Class System but hold every mechanic accountable. For instance, you'd have levels of granularity, being able to entirely ignore the bits in a tier below it. You could have a crafting Base tier, which says "Roll against these DCs", and then the next tier would say "modify the DCs for the type of material", and the tier below that would say "And modify the type of material based on location found, and it's level of quality". This could be extrapolated for almost every mechanic, truly allowing for a system that could be for everyone's taste.

I have a few ideas on how to go about this for combat, but it's still brewing.

The Bell Curve is King

Almost every action in Journey involves at least two dice. As such, the bell curve becomes the probabilistic... thing, against which we have to weigh target numbers (ie, DCs).

This is very much a departure from d20, in which the entire range of numbers was available and equally probable. We need to take this into account: a +2 DC in d20 isn't that big a deal, but in Journey, that could change the chance of success incredibly drastically (especially since we're dealing with much smaller numbers, to start out with).


Unlike with d20, we can't simply say that maxing out the die results in a critical - that would mean that it would be "better" to be using a d4 than a d8, for example.

However, we can take advantage of the fact that everything assumes multiple dice. So one condition for a critical is that it requires at least two dice - bam, now there is a distinct difference between someone skilled and unskilled (unskilled would be using one die, whereas skilled would be using two).

Criticals are thus: roll the same result on two dice. Bam, that's a critical. Now, the immediate response is - oh great, lower-sided dice are better, still. Solution: when you get a critical, you add one-half the max value of the lowest-size die to the total.

Example: You roll 1d8+1d6+2. Both dice come up as a 4, a crit! So you add half the max value of the lowest die, which is a d6, so you add 3. Your total is 4 + 4 + 2 + 3 = 13.

Hmm... but this would seem to screw over the 2d12 => 2d12+d2 transition. Perhaps it would be that you take the max value of the lowest die on which the double occurred. That way, if your d12's both roll an 8, you don't go from adding 6 to adding 1, and if 1d12 and your d2 both roll 2, you don't add 6. Seems solid.

As an interesting side-effect, this means that you can never roll the "lowest value" on the dice. If you're rolling 2d12, your minimum value is 3, because if you roll two 1's, your total is actually 8, not 2.

In this model, then, "crits" occur more often with smaller dice, but they're of smaller value. Criting on 2d4 is much less meaningful than critting on 2d10, for instance.

Though... I wonder if we even need crits.


Still screwing around with spells and how they work...

As of 8-19-08, we're doing spells as skills. Let's see how that works.

The Keyhole Problem

Orby and I were discussing various aspects of Journey earlier this evening (as of 8-21-08), and we came across an interesting conundrum.

Let's say that you're a really high Potential character. You pick up an experience-granting Key that is based off of a skill you are marginal at - for argument's sake, let's say Craft. You now gain XP for crafting... but it's a lot easier than attempting to gain XP from your other abilities and Keys.

This particular conundrum has been dubbed the Keyhole Problem. We'll have to figure out if it's a problem at all, and if so, how to resolve it.

XP and How to Gain It

So, we need to figure out more about the XP system.

I like the keys, but I think that there needs to be more.

Maybe gaining XP for "major events," as well? Sort of like the milestone thing in 4e?

Holy Brainstorm Batman

Been doing a lot of thinking as of late.

For one thing, we need to eliminate all talents that are essentially hidden classes. Token pools are gained based upon the skill that the talent called up for determining size of the token pool. As such, anyone with a rank in Spellcraft technically has mana tokens and is capable of learning spells. A little more chaotic, yes, but also more fluid, which is a good thing. In this way we remove the essentially wasted XP that gets thrown at the class talents, and also enable gish concepts.

Also thought just like fifteen minutes ago about the idea of everyone having a "generic" token pool, probably termed Energy, which would be usable for a variety of things. It would also serve as a measure of how much forced marching you can do, and also lets us do things with eating and drinking that would otherwise simply not be reasonable to mechanize. I have a number of other ideas that would key off of this "generic" token pool, as well.

March 23, 2009

Several unrelated ideas.

Gather Info

Gather Info-like checks should interact with city mechanics to generate the source(s) of the information garnered. In this way, the PCs actually have an entity with which to speak and otherwise mechanically interact.

My vision for this requires demographics tables.

Social Conflict Definition

We need to more solidly define what it means for a "social combat" to exist, why you would break out the dice to handle it, and all that fun jazz.

I think that this is the next major subsystem that is going to be tackled, as the 3-21-09 playtest seemed to indicate that the combat system is, at its core, rather solid.

March 25, 2009

A few unrelated things.

Social Encounter Mechanics

Spent a good few hours brainstorming what we can do with this. A number of interesting ideas came up, such that I can pretty confidently say that our social combat system will not be involving an analogue of hit points. The social encounter and combat systems are two fundamentally different beasts; they are not interchangeable.

I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but it certainly is a neat thing.

Monster Design

There is much concern about monster and encounter design. A few ideas - such as monster disciplines - have been tossed about, and most of these sound pretty solid so far. A combination of monster disciplines and streamlined XP costs is probably the way we'll start going, when we get there.

We are roughly hoping that a difficult encounter should consist of creatures whose total XP is equal to roughly the XP of the party. This is difficult to judge given that PCs are gaining XP all the time, and so our encounter calculation is going to be much more fast and loose than recent editions of D&D. This is not inherently a bad thing, and I find myself often questioning the value of encounter balance - ie, it is possible that I won't think it's relevant, when we get to this point.

March 29, 2009

One idea.

Action Cost Table (Beta)


Attack			Medium
Move			Varies (Quick to Long)
Dodge			Quick
Parry			Instant
Block			Instant
Stand Up		Short
Speak <1>		Free
Lift an Item		Short
Open a Door		Short
Retrieve an Item	Varies (Based on size of container)
Draw a Weapon		Quick (Generally; based on size of sheath)
Pick Up an Item	Short
Drink a Potion		Short
Use a Special		Varies

<1>: Note that this is just speaking for the sake of conveying information quickly. If you want to have an argument, as per the
social interaction rules, you must spend actual time to do so; having an argument while in the middle of combat is feasible, but
difficult, and all social encounter action costs are increased by one step.

April 4, 2009

One idea.

Ethos and Social Encounters

Virtues of the various ethoi can be used to determine the situation at hand being argued about in a social encounter.

For instance, the eponymous argument with the bandit king could be represented by several different virtue arguments. The strength of your belief in a particular virtue could then set your social hp for that encounter, meaning that social hp is variable - that might be a good thing.

April 28, 2009

One idea.

Expanding Roles

Spend some time discussing the expansion of the expert role this evening. The conclusion seemed to be that three replacement roles - explorer, sage, and rogue - would be appropriate.

It is also possible that another role or two may exist, though further discussion and analysis of what we're trying to do here will be required to finalize the roles available.

Reference here for a further discussion of this topic in regards to D&D 4e. Specifically Kamikaze Midget's post.

May 25, 2009

One idea.


Basically, to cause trauma, the attack roll must be double the armor value. If this is the case, and your damage causes a wound, the wound becomes trauma.

For each interval of the armor value that exists in the attack roll over the armor value, you convert one wound token into a trauma token.

Example: You roll a 12 to attack, and the armor value is 4. If you inflict wounds, two of them are converted to trauma (12 - 4 = 8, which is double 4, so two).

May 27, 2009

Two ideas, both rather important and one rather expansive.

Hit Locations

Hit Locations
1 - 3 Left Leg
4 - 6 Left Arm
7 - 9 Torso
10 - 11 Head
12 - 14 Torso
15 - 17 Right Arm
18 - 20 Right Leg

When you attempt to attack something, you always roll for hit location, regardless of whether or not you're going to inflict trauma (which you don't know until later).

Roll for hit location with a d20 (yes, we're serious: a d20).

For called shots (which is a special), you can add or subtract up to your rank from the hit location roll.

Note that this also means that we'll need a separate hit location table for creatures with differing anatomies. Hopefully that will not be all that much of a PITA - we'll try to standardize body shapes and types and such so that we don't run into this problem often.

For things like spiders, which have a ton of limbs, we'll "joint" limbs, then roll a die to figure out which of the jointed limbs you hit (so spiders have a R/L leg/arm, each of which is two limbs, roll randomly [even distribution] to determine which limb in a jointed limb you hit).

Hit location may wind up being important in other ways, too. For separate armor pieces (see below), you'll need to know exactly where you hit the target so that damage can be applied to the appropriate armor piece (that is, if you hit loc 10 [head], you deal damage to the target's helmet if you fail to overcome AV, not all of their armor).

Item Slots

Equipment Slots
Head Helmet
Torso Armor
Leg Pants Skirt

The table at right indicates all available equipment slots - that is, where you can wear literal armor.

The equipment slots table is complemented by the accessory slots table: that is, things you can wear that don't necessarily protect you from getting stabbed by way of putting something thick and metal between you and the offending object.

Note that the table looks a little weird.


You can have an arm slot item that covers all three of these sub-slots (such an item is simply called an arm equipment).


You can wear either pants, or a skirt (temporary name; basically something covers the upper leg) and greaves, which cover the lower leg, and - in addition to these (either pants or skirt + greaves) - wear boots.

Alternatively, similar to arms, you can have a leg slot item that covers all the sub-slots (simply called a leg item).

The relevance of these equipment slots and sub-slots is important for purposes of hit location; if you are getting hit in the head and don't have a helmet, it doesn't really matter how much of the rest of you is covered in metal, you're taking the shot.

In other words, when resolving an attack against you, you use the armor stats of whatever location you were struck in.

July 5, 2009

One relevant thing.


Making a skill check that includes the root is called a skill check.

Making a skill check that specifically excludes the root is called a simple skill check.

October 20, 2009

Two thoughts.


Was playing WoW earlier today, went fishing for an hour or so. Anyway, spent quite a bit of time contemplating how fishing would work in Journey, and came up with these points.

  • A given body of water has a "fish table," representing what kind of fish are present and rough populations.
  • Fishing skill works similarly to WoW melee hit tables, against the table.
  • Either roll or table is modified on weather, season, time of day, etc etc.
  • Somehow tie skill into the yield of the "fish table" - because being better at fishing might mean that you can catch fish faster.
  • Removing fish from the pool depletes the "fish table" at some rate, probably a function of yield.
    • Essentially, the population of fish in a given pool is abstract and not calculated up-front: we're determining it at run-time, not compilation. As yields of fish are removed from the pool, the table gets depleted, so that if you get that result, you might get fewer or even none.
      • Interesting side note, this would cause repercussions to the populations in a pool due to an unbalanced ecosystem... some kind of predator-prey model might need to be brought in here.


This has been bothering the hell out of me... need to change the term "Avoid" to "Resist."

So things that say things like, "Whenever you make an Avoid check..." should be "Whenever you make a Resist check..."

Because that sounds a lot less stupid. Why the term "resist" didn't occur to me is beyond me.

November 4, 2009

One thought.

Animal Companions, Vehicles, and Summons

One thing I feel that we really need to work on is the idea of a character having a pet, vehicle, or similar such non-personal extension. Such a thing is separate from the character, but tied to them in a way that normal equipment or other animals are not.

I think the best course of action, in terms of figuring out a good way to do this, would be to examine how later Final Fantasy games handle summons, particularly those that can be improved in some way. Doing so might give us a good feel for how to deal with this sort of thing, in a general sense.

Specific Summons vs. Make Your Own

One of the big issues, of course, is the idea of there either being specific creatures, or giving players the ability to customize their own creatures. Is it enough to say that Carbunkle exists, or should we give players (or LMs) the tools to construct from scratch such a creature?

November 6, 2009

One idea, but it's a big 'un.


The functionality of disciplines is being changed. That's right, we're screwing with the basic premise of things, yet again.

In order to account for varying approaches to combat within the Warrior role, all of which should theoretically be using different kinds of tokens, we need a way to ask a character how good they are at a given discipline.

There are two reasons to change how disciplines work. (1) Training rules regarding disciplines were strange, in that you trained towards a discipline to develop new specials within them, and (2) the Ethos system already uses the system we're about to recommend. We want mechanical consistency across the board, and thus the following change is pretty solid in terms of that.

Characters have ranks in Disciplines. You gain "Specials tokens" in a Discipline equal to the max value of your Discipline rank; you can spend these tokens towards individual Specials, which gives you ranks equal to the number of tokens you put towards it.

This will not lead to removal of individual XP costs for particular Specials, given that you gain XP towards a specific Special whenever you use it (and thus not the discipline itself). The idea that you can only accrue training XP towards a given discipline still applies.

XP Costs for Discipline ranks will be rather exponential (say, 4 + 8/rank), so that a character can gain access to disciplines relatively reasonably. The limitation of the one of "everybody gets two" still applies, so a character can still only access so many disciplines.

February 28, 2013

General ideas.

Social Ability Scores

Is it reasonable to introduce social ability scores? At the moment, I have this setup planned - power would be Reputation, skill would be Manipulation, endurance would be Confidence - and then have these play a bigger role in social conflicts. This kind of seems to screw with spirit, a bit, but I'm a bit unsure how much I want spirit involved in social conflict, anyway.

The problem I have with this plan is how does your reputation spread. It doesn't seem to make sense that it would move with you, but on the other hand, the other two abilities - manipulation and confidence - do seem rather solid. I'm not sure how comfortable I am with adding three more abilities, since we're already up to nine. Moving to twelve might be overkill.

It could be feasible to say that reputation doesn't move with you, but is moved by other people for you - word of mouth spreads, etc etc. Then you run into situations, though, with like hermits and such... they haven't heard of you. Is there something about the way more reputable people carry themselves that makes it immediately apparent they're "big dogs"? That seems like a thing, but again, I'm not sure...


Also thinking about (re)moving luck. It's awkward and doesn't fit the same feel as the rest of the ability scores. I'm thinking something like bravery, to represent the idea that you're willing to move past your own bounds - you are "moving" in a "spiritual" sense. Or something. It sounds like it might work, and it seems a whole hell of a lot better than luck, which is nonsensical and largely inconsistent.

Aug 24, 2013: Luck has been replaced by Bravery. We'll implement that concept in another mechanic somewhere else, I think.

August 24, 2013

One idea.

Terrain "Hit Points"

Hexes don't have hit points, per se. However, we could use some sort of numerical measurement of how "explored" a given hex is. A hex with 0... TP, or whatever, would be a fully-explored hex, with every nook and cranny known to those for whom its TP is 0. This would enable an LM to understand how explored a hex is, and do things like, "once the party gets this hex's TP to 10 or lower, it finds this particular location." Or things of that nature.

It gives us a mechanical hook for finding things in a hex. I like that.

March 20, 2014

Contemplating exploration.

Stealth Mechanics

In particular, thinking about stealth. This thread has a wealth of ideas and thoughts - specifically, the discussion of an area having "zones" and an abstract measurement of how likely a character is to be discovered are of interest.

This of course got me pondering how we would handle this in Journey. While I like a lot of the ideas mentioned in the thread, and would like to see more sophisticated stealth mechanics in Journey, I think this may be a step too far - for now.

Supplements and Extending Systems

I think the solution may be to implement these sorts of expanded systems in supplements.

For instance - mass combat. This is something we should probably deal with, or that I would like our system to be able to handle. However, I don't think the core rules are the best home for them. I would posit that this subsystem would be included in the Warrior book, acknowledging that it is related to the core combat rules but still somehow extant from them.

Likewise, more involved stealth mechanics would go in the Explorer book. Again, related, but extant.

Similarly, I'm certain there are concepts we should cover, but don't need to do so immediately, that could go in the remaining three.

Micro Exploration

However, this concept raises good questions about what micro exploration is, and what its goals are. It is a microcosm of macro exploration, yes - but ... hrm.

This will require more contemplation.

...the journey of a thousand miles...
...begins beneath your feet...
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