I like the new D&D’s Tier system. The first ten levels are known as the Heroic Tier. In the Heroic Tier the characters are typical fantasy heroes, killing goblins, looting dungeons and saving the local city/village/community. Heroic Tier is the most realistic, and probably the most relatable one. After defeating the evil wizard or finding the artifact they were questing for, the characters enter Paragon Tier, which spans the levels from 11 to 20. At Paragon Tier the characters are so awesome and full of magic that mundane things cease to be significant. Barbarians and fighters can break through wooden walls and toss huge boulders aside. Mages can command powerful magic and rituals, and death becomes a surmountable setback. Travel no longer happens via horses and feet, but by griffins and flying. After stopping the demonic invasion or slaying the beholder commanding an army of drow and their monsters, the players enter Epic Tier. At Epic Tier, the characters are nigh gods. Mages can destroy armies with their magics, knights can charge through stone walls and archers no longer need petty things like line of sight or effect for their arrows to find their marks. Physical distance ceases to matter as the most efficient way to travel is to rearrange reality to simply be there. Almost every character can cheat death somehow. The final quest would most likely involve the destruction of a god-like entity or a feat whose implications can be felt throughout the world.
The tier system gives a narrative framework on the story, and I would like to use the idea more intensely, rather than just having it be an option at the start of the game. Also, I talked about a structured campaign system for A Better Star Wars Roleplaying Game with my friend. That system felt potential, so I’ll expand it here. Let’s start making the Fantasy Saga RPG. The core idea of the game: A framework for an epic, sweeping fantasy game playable in a couple of sessions. It will need to break a lot from the usual roleplaying methods, since so much will have to be done in so little time. The system will probably be a joint storytelling game, rather than a standard rpg.
Let’s have the whole game happen in three sections: Heroic, Paragon and Epic. Each of these sections are divided into three acts: Acts I, II and III. In the first act, the players and the GM describe the players’ characters normal lives; Where they live, what they do and how they met each other. Towards the end of the first act, the GM gives the players their main quest for the section and establishes the major players in the game. In the second act, the GM describes the adventures the characters will encounter and the hardships they will have to overcome. They seek for magical crystals of power, try to hold off orcish scout parties while uniting the kingdoms or try to do good deeds. And in the third act, the players will finally put their hard work to use and face off the villain in a climactic showdown. This act structure is also applied in the larger sections: In Heroic Tier, the elements of the world and the things the characters wish to defend are introduced. The heroes gain their first knowledge of the threats beyond the ordinary. In Paragon Tier, the gods and extraplanar entities begin to take interest in the world and unleash their schemes. The heroes will have to use all of their skills to survive and grow in power. And in the Epic Tier, the biggest evils and villains who have been foreshadowed in the previous tiers finally show their unimaginally powerful faces. But the heroes have also become legendary heroes and demigods, and they will have to complete their final quest to stave off apocalypse and defeat the evil gods.
So this is the structure of the game. Three times three acts means that there are 9 atomic parts of the game. If each of them took one session, the whole thing would take 9 weeks, assuming once session per week. That’s a lot faster than normal D&D, and if the players are ambitious, they can try to make the whole game in three sessions. Next, we need some mechanics (or rather, I need some mechanics).
The core unit of a D&D is an encounter. Most of the time it is a combat encounter. The end results of an encounter are typically defeating the opponents, gaining treasure and experience, advancing the plot and losing temporary resources. Encounters tend to be stringed together to form a progression of challenges. This progression usually tends to advance the story: The heroes enter a dungeon, fight the guardians and gain an item they were searching. As encounters eat up a lot of game time, they will have be shortened a lot. Let’s have one battle be one die roll, so that an encounter string takes about 3-4 die rolls.
That’s it for now. I need to write some actual work and think about the mechanics a bit more. And possibly play some Dungeon Siege III.