D-QUEST


A FRPG System by Dylan Craig

D-Quest is a free RPG. Please feel free to download, distribute, and/or reproduce,
provided that the text as presented (including this message) is left unaltered.

Welcome to D-Quest! The basic system concept of D-Quest is as follows: instead of having a system where the complexity of action resolution increases with PC skill (in other words, the better a PC is, the more calculations have to be done to resolve actions, and the more mental maths needs to be performed), why not build a system to default around a basically competent, fit, and intelligent character, leaving most of the modifications to handle those characters who fall on either side of average? This means that most rolls, except in the area of a characters particular strengths or weaknesses, will default to an unmodified roll, speeding up task resolution and enabling the GM to reward players more significantly for intelligent tactics than intangible character proficiencies.

Index   1. Dice Mechanics 2. Characteristics 3. Skills
  4. Task Resolution 5. Modifying the Task Roll 6. Armour and Wounds
  7. Melee Combat 8. Character Advancement 9. Designer's Notes

Note: D-Quest is still under development. Forthcoming features will include a magic system and bestiary.
A series of appendices and several adventure scenarios written for the D-Quest system are also on their way.


Dice Mechanics

D-Quest's basic dice roll is an additive 2d6 roll (called a Task or Basic Roll), giving a range of 2-12 and a belled score distribution. The only modifiers to this roll are provided by a PC's Characteristics, which represent varying degrees of natural predisposition towards certain types of activity and are detailed below. All other modifiers - varying degrees of skill, environmental conditions, and so on - are resolved by the addition of Bonus or Penalty Dice. These dice are rolled at the same time as the basic 2d6, but instead of adding to the total, Bonus Dice may be used to replace one of the Basic dice. In other words, the total generated by a Basic Roll including Bonus Dice is the sum of the two highest scores shown by the dice rolled. In a Basic Roll involving Penalty Dice, the total is generated from the two lowest scores. A single Basic Roll may be affected by both Bonus and Penalty Dice (such as in the case where a highly-skilled individual attempts to perform an action in difficult circumstances); in this case, Bonus Dice and Penalty Dice cancel each other out until only one type of dice, or neither, is left. The roll is then resolved normally.

Example: Kargan Clubfist is a tough (PHY +2), but naive (LOR -1) barbarian. When he makes a Task Roll involving a Physique-based skill, he adds his PHY score (+2) to whatever result he rolls. A basic roll, then, would be 2d6+2, giving a range of 4-14. If Kargan made a roll with a Bonus Die (gained through skill or favourable circumstances), he would roll 3d6, select the best two for his total, and add 2 to get a final result. If he had a Penalty Die instead, he would still roll 3d6 (Basic Roll, plus a Penalty Die), but he would select the lowest 2 dice for his total before adding 2 to gain a final result.


Characteristics

The six Characteristics used in D-Quest (which may be divided into Basic and Derived categories) are as follows (note that, with respect to Derived Characteristics, all fractions are rounded up):

Basic   Physique - health, stamina, coordination, fitness, general dexterity, strength, willpower, grit (PHY)
  Wits - alertness, initiative, perceptiveness, quick thinking, mental agility, reflexes, instinct (WTS)
  Lore - book learning, general knowledge, intellect, reason and deductive skills (LOR)

Derived   Courage (PHY+WTS/2) - bravery, sanity, ability to maintain composure in the face of stress (CGE)
  Fortune (WTS+LOR/2) - blind luck, efficiency of intuitive sense, sense of overall purpose (FOR)
  Health Points (12 + (PHY x 2): Min 1) - integrity and functionality of the body and its organs (HPT)

Characteristics (except for HPT) range from -3 to +3, with 0 representing the average adult human. A score of +1 in a characteristic places a character in the top quarter of the population; someone with a +2 is likely to be one of the most naturally talented people in the district; and someone with a score of +3 is a prodigy of enormous natural talent.

During character generation, a player may make a Basic Roll to determine the number of Character Points (CPs) he or she has to spend on positive scores for characteristics. This total may be modified by trading characteristics (except HPT) up or down. This process is summarised in table form as follows:

Action Effect
Increase Characteristic from 0 to +1 Costs 5 CPs
Increase Characteristic from +1 to +2 Costs 10 CPs
Increase Characteristic from +2 to +3 Costs 15 CPs
Decrease Characteristic by 1 point Adds 3 CPs to total

Any points left unspent at the end of character generation are added to the character's Exploit Points, and may be used during the game to increase various scores, as detailed below in the Character Advencement section.

Example: John rolls an 8 for his CP total at the beginning of his character generation process. Noting that this is only enough to increase one Characteristic to +1, with three points left over, and given that he wants to play a rogueish character, he weighs up several options. Firstly, he could take WTS +1 and the rest of his Basic Characteristics at 0, thus gaining CGE and FOR of +1 each. Alternately, he could drop 1 characteristic by 1 point, thereby increasing his CP total to 11 and allowing him to put two of his remaining Characteristics up by 1, with 1 point over. Assuming he chooses to drop PHY to -1, he might end up with WTS +1, LOR +1, CGE 0, FOR +1, HPT 10 - or, after increasing his WTS, he could put remaining +1 on CGE instead of LOR.. Finally, should he decide that he wants his character to have WTS +2, he would have to accumulate 15 CPs: he would need to drop 3 points from other characteristics, and would have 2 CPs left over.


Skills

A character starts with any four skills, plus his or her LOR score. In other words, a character with LOR +1 would get to choose five skills, while a character with LOR -2 would only choose 2. In addition, all characters get the relevant skill for speaking their native tongue for free.

Skills often make use of the Bonus/Penalty Dice mechanic. This mechanic is used to simulate the difference between characters who are simply competent in a field (having it recorded as one of their character's skills), those who are untrained in the field in question (and receive 1-3 Penalty Dice when using that skill), and those who are masters in the field (and receive 1-3 Bonus Dice). Bonus Dice are usually accumulated by experience, but if a players wants their character to start with a mastered skill, each Bonus Die doubles the cost of the skill. Skills with Bonus Dice are referred to as Expert-level skills when they allow a single Bonus Die, as Master-level when they grant two Bonus Dice, and Grandmaster-level when they grant three bonus dice. The final roll is modified by the appropriate Characteristic as usual.

Example: John's character, Indina the Nimble, has LOR +1, and may thus have any five of the skills listed below, character background permitting. He chooses Dagger Attack, Climb, Detect Secret Doors, Disguise, and Gem Lore. If he had wanted Indina to be a Master-level wall-scaler, he could have dropped one of her skills and taken a bonus dice on Climb, recording it as Climb +1D or Climb (M) on her character sheet. It would cost Indina two more of her skills (for a total cost of 4 skills) to have Expert-level Climb, which would leave her with Climb +2D and one other skill at default level.

Characters who do not have a certain skill, but wish to make a Task Roll requiring that skill anyway, should be allocated a number of Penalty Dice based on the degree of intricacy associated with the skill; put simply, almost everyone can climb a tree (Climb skill), but not everyone can decipher script in a foreign language (Scribe Skill). The number of Penalty Dice allocated should reflect this. The GM may, of course, rule that posession of a certain skill is required for a Task to be attempted at all; in this case, characters without the skill automatically fail in any attempts to use that skill. A list of the commons skills used in D-Quest is provided below: precise definitions of each skill are provided in the Appendices.

Physique Skills Wits Skills Lore Skills
(Weapon) Attack Charm (Subect / Profession) Lore
(Weapon) Parry Bargain Speak (Language)
Brawl Disguise Scribe (Language)
Dodge Intimidate Conjure Magic
Swim Pacify Control Magic
Climb Gamble Worship
Run Notice Petition
Jump Search Dispel (Force)
Throw Sneak Treat (Wounds or Conditions)
Force Detect (Feature)  
Resist (Condition) Pick (Lock / Pocket)  

Note that several skills have a bracketed qualifier as a part of their name. These represent skills with many subcategories, which are listed in open format to conserve space. The contents of the bracket are up to the player and the GM; their contents should tend more towards specifics than broad categories. Sample skills are as follows:


Task Resolution

A character's success or failure in a given task is determined by comparring their final rolled result with a Target Number determined by the GM. A table showing the chance of equalling certain TNs on a basic roll, and the descriptions of the difficulty levels represented by the Target Numbers is as follows:

Target Number % Chance to Roll Description of Difficulty Level
397Routine
492 
583Easy
672 
758Normal
842 
928Challenging
1017 
118Difficult
123 
13-Extremely Difficult
14- 
15-Legendary

Two exceptions to this table exist, in the form of Abject Failures and Heroic Successes.

Abject Failures, or Fumbles, occur when a character's final Task roll comes up a double-1, after any Bonus or Penalty Dice have been accounted for. Any numerical modifiers to the roll (from characteristics, for instance), should be applied; if the total is now equal to or higher than the TN, the character has succeeded in what they were trying to do, but with some unpleasant or inconvenient side effect. If the total is less than the TN, not only has the action failed, but it has failed in the most spectacular and inconvenient manner possible.

Heroic Successes work in a similar manner. Modifiers should still be applied; if the total is now equal to or higher than the required TN, then the action is completely successful, in such a way as to reap unexpectedly beneficial side effects. If the total is lower than the TN, the action has not been completely successful, but it is close enough that the chracter shoul be able to gain at least some of the desired benefits.

Example: Kargan Clubfist, surrounded by skeletons, is hacking left and right with his sword - a weapon in which he has Expert-level skill. He thus rolls 3d6 to attack (Basic dice, plus a Bonus dice for his skill). He also has PHY +2, and this modifier is applied to all his rolls. If he rolls 1, 1, and 6 on his attack, his total is 9 (two highest dice total 7, +2 for PHY). Several rounds later, after having lost his sword, he is forced to snatch up a fallen companion's awl-pike to defend himself. Having no skill in the use of this weapon, he takes a -2 to his roll; in addition, because the pike is an inappropriate weapon for close-in brawling, the GM assigns a single Penalty Die; should John now roll 1, 1, and 6, the roll is likely to be a fumble (lowest 2 dice are a pair of 1s, +2 for his PHY, -2 for lack of skill, for a total of 2).


Modifying the Task Roll

Apart from the normal modfiers resulting from characteristics and skill levels detailed above, Task Rolls are also affected by environmental variables and the degree of thought put into the task by the player. These factors should be handled by the allocation of 1-3 Bonus and/or Penalty Dice to the roll. Sample causes for such allocations are as follows.

Bonus Dice Penalty Dice
Character is 'taking their time' Distractions - noise, bad lighting, etc.
Character has a competent assistant Task is being approached incorrectly
Character has prepared for the task
diligently, and in advance (e.g. an ambush)
Task is being handled as if it were
more simple (or complex) than it really is
Character has a good idea or
inventive strategy for resolving the task
Task carried out in an unimaginative,
tactically unsound, or disinterested way

Certain items may add Bonus Dice to their users' Task Rolls in this manner; such items are magical or custom-built items which allow the user to operate beyond the usual constraints of their experience. An example would be a light, yet strong magical sword which seems to find weak spots in armour 'on its own'. Because of these qualities, which change the way the sword works, its user would gain a Bonus Die.

Items which are handsome examples of their type, but which have no special qualities which affect their ease of operation, add a numerical bonus (+1 or +2) to their users' rolls rather than a Bonus Dice. This represents the fact that while the results of their use might exceed the results gained through the use of a less impressive item, they still require a skilled user to be completely effective. In the case of weapons, this bonus is added to the weapon's damage.

Of course, the rules for useful items of this sort are easily converted to provide rules for cursed, badly-built, and shoddy items.


Armour and Wounds

The emphasis in this section is on wounds gained through combat; while other types of damage (immersion, immolation, defenestration, and the like) will be covered briefly, the GM has to determine his or her own rules of thumb as far as these figures go, bearing the flavour of their campaign in mind.

The D-Quest default for characters in combat is to assume that they are 'Lightly Armoured', having at least half of their body (three of the six body locations - head, torso, limbs) covered by armour. To model the effects of differently sized pieces of armour, a system of Armour Points is used. Each full piece of armour counts for 2 points; each partial piece counts only 1 point. Some exceptionally large items, or those which cover multiple locations, grant more than 2 APs. This information is summarised below:

1-point Armour items   2-point Armour items   4-point Armour items
Boiled Leather Bracers (each)   Leather Skirt or Great Belt Scale or Splint Cuirass   Breastplate with shoulderguards
Shoulderguards (each)   Studded Leather Jerkin Studded Leather Coat   Scale or Splint Hauberk
Gauntlets (each)   Coif or Helmet Mail Cuirass or Shirt   Chainmail Hauberk
Greaves (each)   Breastplate Cestus (single)   Ringmail Hauberk
Buckler   Shield Padded Jerkin   Great Shield

Attacks made on Characters on either side of the 'Lightly Armoured' level necessitate the use of an Armour Roll:

Heavily Armoured characters suffer penalties to their movements due to the weight of their mail. For every 2 APs, or part thereof, over 6, the character must subtract 1 from all Task Rolls. This penalty is doubled for fine work such as lockpicking. However, particularly strong characters (those with the Force skill), may reduce this penalty by 1, plus a further 1 for each Bonus Die they gain when rolling a Force Task. Hence, a character with Force +1D could ignore up to a -2 subtraction for wearing heavy armour, and could thus wear up to 10 APs without effect.

Note: The effects of armour can be circumvented by Aimed Attacks made on unarmoured locations, as discussed in the Melee and Missile Combat section below.

Blows that land will do a fixed amount of damage, based on the type of weapon and several factors relating to the user. Most hand weapons - swords, handaxes, and maces - do 2 points of damage. Daggers, fists, and clubs do a single point of damage; battleaxes, two-handed swords, and flails do 3 points. This figure is increased the following cases:

The damage inflicted by missile weapons work differently; shortbow arrows and thrown knives inflict 1d6-1 points of damage, self bows and crossbows 1d6, and longbows and spears 1d6+1. This amount is modified by the user's skill as detailed above, but any strength bonuses can only be counted if the weapon is specially made for users of great strength; in this case, anyone else using the weapon suffers the weapon's strength bonus as a penalty, unless they have the same level of Force as the weapon was intended to be used with. Missile attack damage is also open-ended; in other words, if the die rolled to determine damage comes up showing a 6, a Bonus Die is added to the damage. An attack may only gain a single Bonus Die in this manner.

These modifiers are included before any doubling or halving as a result of armour. Unarmed attacks, which are resolved using theBrawl skill, gain no damage multipliers for striking unarmoured locations, and are stopped completely by successful Armour Rolls by Heavily Armoured targets.


Melee Combat

Combat is divided into rounds of five seconds each. During this time, combatants may move, draw or use weapons, cast spells, and so on. Multiple actions may be attempted simultaneously; in this case, each additional action inflicts a Penalty Die on all the actions performed that turn.

Engaging in melee combat is counted as one action, irrespective of how many foes a character has. During this action, all combatants should make their Task Rolls to attack, using whatever skills and weapon bonuses they are able to employ; to generate an Attack Total. These totals are compared to determine who is able to strike whom. A character with a higher Attack Total may choose to land their blow on any combatant with a lower Attack Total within their reach. Characters may only land one blow per action; if they wish to wound multiple opponents, this can only be achieved by taking Penalty Dice and generating multiple attack rolls, as detailed in the example below:

Example: Kargan and Indina are fighting three skeletal guardians after disturbing a malevolent rune trap in a catacomb. Kargan has PHY +2 and Sword Attack +1D; hence, he rolls 3 dice to attack, and adds 2 to the total of the highest two dice to generate his total. Indina has PHY -1, and Dagger Attack at default level; she thus makes a Basic Roll, -1, to generate her Attack Total - coincidentally, the same as the Skeletons. Kargan has a broadsword (Damage 3,+1 for his Force skill, +1 for his Expert-level Sword Attack, for a total of 5), and Indina and the Skeletons all have daggers (Damage 2). In the first round, Kargan's dice come up 3, 3, 6; his Attack Total is thus 11 (3+6+2). Indina rolls 4,5; her total is 8 (4+5-1). The skeletons roll 4, 8, and 10. Assuming all combatants are within easy reach of one another, Kargan may choose to wound any of the Skeletons, because his AT of 11 beats all their rolls; Indina may only wound one of the two Skeletons whose AT's were lower than hers. If Kargan had wanted to try and wound two skeletons this round, he would have had to accept a Penalty Die to his skill (reducing it to default level), but he could have rolled two seperate attacks, applying wounds to any two Skeletons whose totals were lower than his.

Characters faced with dangerous foes may elect to Parry or Dodge rather than press an attack of their own. Any character may attempt this strategy, but those characters without the Parry or Dodge skills may only attempt to evade a single attack per round in this manner, whereas characters with the skills need only make a single roll, which is applied to all attacks against them. The total generated by this roll is used as if it were an 'Attack Total'; in other words, the evading characters' assailants must beat this total to land a blow. In addition, all damage suffered from a blow which a character is attempting to evade is halved (rounding up), even if the evasion attempt fails. Characters who wish to parry must have something to parry with (such as a weapon or shield); characters who wish to dodge must have clear ground to backpedal into, cover to dive behind, or some other tactic for evading the attack(s) directed against them. If these conditions do not apply, the roll cannot be made.

Characters fight without penalty until they reach 1 Life Point. At this point, a character is badly battered and barely able to stay on their feet. They gain a Penalty Die until their wounds are attended to. At 0 and -1 LP, a character has either passed out or otherwise been laid low by their their injuries. At -2 or below, the character is dead.


Character Advancement

After each session, players should be rewarded for good roleplaying, strategy, and humour by means of Exploit Points. A standard adventure session involving a moderately challenging but not especially dangerous or intricate plot should be worth around 3 Exploit Points. 6 points is a good maximum handout to use. Exploit Points can be used as follows:

Action Cost
Raise a negative Characteristic by one point 5 EP
Raise a Characteristic from 0 to +1 10 EP
Raise a Characteristic from +1 to +2 15 EP
Raise a Characterstic from +2 to +3 25 EP
Raise a Skill from Default to Expert level (+1D) 10 EP
Raise a Skill from Expert to Master level (+2D) 15 EP
Raise a Skill from Master to Grandmaster level (+3D) 20 EP
Maintain a Master-level Skill, per session 2 EP
Maintain a Grandmaster-level Skill, per session 4 EP

Designer's Notes

This set of rules were an attempt I made, in early 2000, to address my curiosity about how much 'system' you can pare away from a game before the process becomes self-defeating. I think D-Quest represents an interesting variant of the many 2d6-based systems out there (good old Fighting Fantasy, which provided many of the inspirations for D-Quest, comes to mind), and I look forward to putting more work into it as time permits.

I'm a little stuck for ideas on a magic system; what I'm waiting for is a coherent campaign world to suggest itself, so that the magical side of things kind of suggests itself based on the world, and not the other way around.

 

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