I've decided to start posting my ideas for my own homebrew game system. This is in conjunction both with my Arabian fantasy setting, tentatively named Arabian Knights that takes place in the gigantic ancient city of Al-Haran and with a space opera setting I've been working on for over a year. What you see below is meant to be the start of my own universal role-playing setting with examples specifically applying to Arabian Knights. This is just the first post about the rules, and you'll see that there's still more to go, but ultimately the system is actually designed to be quite simple and straight-forward, not needing more than a dozen or so pages to explain how it works. Anyway, please share your thoughts or concerns you might have, and be kind, this system has been evolving and changing over the course of the last year as I figure out exactly what combination of mechanics will make me happy.
Players roll a d6 pool made up of Function Rank + Specialty Ranks (if any are applicable) + Gear Ranks (if any are applicable) + Circumstance Ranks (if any are applicable) in either opposed rolls or versus a fix success number (based on three or four tiers of play). You only have to roll if there's a chance your character could fail or if failure could lead to something huge happening (e.g. if the stakes are big enough, even the simplest of tasks can be incredibly difficult).
Each of the six Functions - Coordination, Constitution, Interpersonal, Academics, Fight, and Awareness automatically start at least Rank 1, so there's always a chance for some degree of success for every roll. Successes are Fives and Sixes on each d6. I'm thinking Fours, while not successes, may add some kind of stunt, or as I'd call it Tactics points to add some kind of embellishment to the dice roll. I'm also thinking Sixes will be exploding since it tends to be more pulpy and exciting for even the longest of shots to be able to succeed if the dice are with you.
To control the size of dice pools (and Tactics Points once that mechanic gets finalized), the maximum size for any dice pool is eight, with multiples of two beyond that granting one automatic success to the dice roll. Yes, two dice for an automatic success is better chances for successes than a normal roll, but no Tactics Points may be gained through these excess dice.
Step 1 - Functions
Players first choose from one of three arrays to apply to their six Functions:
Normal: 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1
The Specialist: 3, 3, 3, 1, 1, 1
The Generalist: 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2
They assign each Function with one of the numbers from the array until all the values are used once. It's important to note that a Function may only ever be increased twice as a result of spending experience points, so choose wisely! The starting rank of a Function also greatly impacts their Specialization choices in step 2.
Step 2 - Specializations
Characters have a starting number or Rank 1 Specializations for each Function equal to its linked Function's starting Rank. For Example, a character who chose to make their Constitution start at Rank 2 will be able to choose 2 Specializations (starting at Rank 1) from the list of Constitution Specializations (or, with final approval from the GM, create a new Constitution Specialization). You may never have more Specializations than the Rank of the linked of the Function, and the Ranks of the Specializations may never exceed the Rank of the linked Function.
When adding dice to the pool for Specializations, players may add dice from all appropriate Specializations (with final approval from the GM) linked to the core Function that would contribute to the execution of the action of the character.
Every character has a job or calling they've been trained to do since they were young, and this experience is something they've have to utilize in accomplishing their missions for the Prophets. Vocations offer both an intangible setting function as well as a specific mechanical function. For example, an Assassin may not have to make any kind of roll in a crowded market to sneak something off of some poor merchant's table whereas a bouncer would likely have to make a Coordination check to do so. A Prophet Vocation may grant the character some automatic prestige in a noble court (depending on the House) whereas a Kennel Master might need to do something to earn the respect of the nobles. Essentially, like in real life, a Vocation gives you prestige in certain circles.
The other part of a Vocation is in the Specializations and number of Advantages (which will be discussed in the next Step) it grants your character. Each Vocation has a number of Specializations that are only available to those of the right Vocation. Looking at the Assassin, he may have Forgery listed under his Vocation Specializations. Forgery is not a Specialization found to be linked under any of the Functions. The Assassin who has Forgery may add this Specialization's Rank to any Function test that the player and GM agree are appropriate.
In mechanical terms, a Vocation Specialization is much more powerful than a normal Specialization since it has the potential to be used across many different tasks. The maximum number of Vocation Specializations a character may have is 5. Each Vocation describes how many of these a character begins the game with. Additionally, the Vocation describes the number of Major and Minor Advantages a character begins with.