In my previous entry, I detailed some information about the Breachworld RPG Kickstarter, why I’m backing it, and why you should. Jason, the creator of Breachworld, had released a whopping 77 page preview of the most necessary parts to run any game. Having perused it three times myself, I’m happy to say that my money seems well placed.
A general overview; his writing is friendly and open, but by no means unprofessional. Each page includes a faded background image, some are the Breachworld logo, others are blown up maps, but each section (I.e., character races, history, skills, etc.) is colour coded for easy flip-to action. In fact, the whole thing is in colour as promised, though some pages are blank except for notes of what kind of picture is in the works for that placement. As a whole, the preview is easy to read, flows quickly, and even the more complex sections (such as character creation) are not too confusing. He even included a basic run down of terminology (stating there would be more for readers new to role playing in the printed book,) which helps to further explain how characters gain experience and how dice mechanics work for Anti Paladin Games’s Mini 6 system.
But can you build a character with it? Yes! You could even build a basic playtest session with a little imagination and the materials provided!
After a rousing introduction from Jason and his number one rule, “Have fun!”, he launches right into the character creation section. Always the heart of role playing, we’ve all played some different games that had long, drawn out creation rules. Luckily, the process is streamlined in Breachworld. Less rolling, more choosing what you want!
Before we jump into character creation, however, we need to go over dice rules. There are dice, which are only D6s in this game, and then there are “pips”. Pips are the “+1,+2”, like enchantments on a weapon or a bonus to your roll. One die is worth 3 pips. When you roll your dice, one of them is always a wild or “exploding” die. This die can be rerolled if it lands on a 6 after adding the die to your total, and if the reroll is a 6 you repeat as necessary, hopefully leading to some big numbers!
Now, there are only 6 steps to character creation and each can take only minutes:
1. Select race
2. Choose attributes
3. Choose skills
4. Choose perks
5. Choose complications
6. Gear selection
Each race provides different min/max attributes and some have racial perks or complications already, allowing you to allocate your dice elsewhere. Humans are the standard, and so far do not have a full page description, but the stats are included for those who wish to be one. Jason also encourages DMs and players to work together to create their own races and provides basic stats and information on how to do it, because he admirably wants anything to be possible in Breachworld. Other playable races outlined in the preview include:
1. Tusks Great, grey humanoids, commonly thought to be the strongest sentient race to visit Earth via a breach. Often hunted for their fearsome strength and appearance, they also make good companions and bodyguards, but are also hiding a tactical streak underneath those giant tusks and nearly impervious skin.
2. Demonkin A bit like a cross between a demon and a satyr with reddish skin tones. These little blighters are typically evil, roving in armies out of the breaches to conquer the Earth, which in opening, nearly destroyed their home planet. They have quick healing capabilities and have harnessed technological weapons more advanced than humankind had during their Golden Age.
3. The Holy Black-skinned creatures with an eyeball for a head on top of a stalk-like neck who are often religious zealots, calling followers to arms to crush any opposition or non believing heathens. They seek to bring balance through their religion to Earth, sometimes by any means necessary.
4. Reptilian Raiders Primitive, lizard humanoids with a lust for weaponry, which they slake through raiding towns and ambushing travellers along the roads. They are not the brightest, but they’ve usually got a Trapcat (which is vaguely like a domesticated saber toothed tiger but even less kind) to back up any tactical failings with raw muscle and speed.
5. River Folk While being air breathers, they much prefer being in their lake/river communities than on land. Wouldn’t you if you were a fish humanoid? Heads reminiscent of a piranha, webbed feet and hands (apparently very difficult to distinguish genders for,) they are superb swimmers but not so good at modesty (they can get better in a group of mixed races, but have trouble with the concept.)
In choosing your attributes, you allocate dice to value them. You may allocate whole dice, or a mixture of dice and pips so that you always have that bonus “+1-2” for your rolls utilizing that attribute. Player race also indicates a minimum and maximum dice value (i.e., a Tusk has a minimum Might value of 3D6 and a maximum of 6D6, so you have to allocate at least 3D6 from its avaliable 12D6 for attribute selection.) There are 4 different attributes:
1. Might Physical strength, endurance, how tough you are and how much physical damage you can deal unarmed.
2. Agility Aim, coordination, and speed.
3. Wit Mental intelligence, creativity, and paranormal skills (should you opt to select them.)
4. Charm Leadership, resolve, and charisma.
Usually, gamers dread skill selection due to confining rules, time consumption, sheer amount to choose from, or anything between. Luckily, Breachworld presents several different skills (which are presented plainly in the preview, though the final production will include in depth description and more finite skills) that are fairly obvious and not too overwhelming. Mr. Richards clearly lists which skills belong with what attribute (for example, the Axe skill lies under a Might roll and the Medicine skill rolls under Wit,) providing easy location and very clear rolling parameters.
Skill selection is simple yet very interesting. If you want your character to be especially good with the Axe skill, you would allocate no greater than 2D6 of your remaining skill dice (the maximum number you can place per skill at creation) to that skill during character creation. Now, if you had placed 3D6 in the Might attribute, and placed 2D6 in the Axe skill, if you roll to use that skill you would roll 5D6 total (1D6 of that being a wild die.) If you wanted to roll for the Might skill Brawl but had no dice put into that skill, you would only be able to roll your 3D6 for the Might attribute, but can still use that skill.
The Paranormal skill requires special mention, because for every die you allocate to it, your character will begin with two Aether Feats. Aether is the spacetime matter responsible, at least in part, for the original gate powers and the breaches being opened on Earth. It is also the form of supernatural magic that is rarely found on Breachworld. Aether Feats vary from electrical or kinetic manipulation to healing powers or talking with animals; there are a great many to choose from. In order to use your feats, you roll your dice to try and hit the Target Number. Should you fail, you may try again, but you lose a rolling die for every failure. Feats are recharged through rest, but only one feat may be cast per turn, regardless of failure. Some feats also require maintained concentration, which means once they are cast, they use up one action each turn for their duration. This certainly adds an interesting level to combat.
Skills extend even further into specializations. This is done by spending one skill die to get 3D6 for a specialized skill. So if you want your character to specialize in Climbing, which is included in the Athletics skill, but they don’t need to increase Athletics by that much, you spend one skill die and add 3D6 to a Climbing specialty.
Perks are small bonuses, often situational, which cost skill dice to select (the more powerful the perk, the more dice it costs.) They can include resistances to certain environments or damage types, modify certain skills, or even provide special considerations from the DM. Some races naturally begin with some perks. Included in the preview is a basic list of the perks, but in the print version, there will be a section of greater detail for each perk. Some examples of perks are Attractive, Greater Healing, and Signature Weapon, among others.
Also listed in the perks are what’s known as “Epic Perks”, which are mildly like the Paranormal skill, but in perk form. A character could have a Spirit Guide or a Familiar, for example.
Complications are only available during character creation (some races start out with them,) cost no dice, and are considered negative or inconvenient traits or characteristics that could come up in game play and hinder the character. Why would you willingly choose a complication? Well, you can only have two complications at any time (counting any racial complications,) but if they present themselves during role play, you are awarded one Character Point (and only 1CP can be awarded per complication each session, no matter how often it comes up,) which is how you increase your skills and abilities; how you “level up”.
Character Points (CP) are the proverbial experience in Breachworld. They are awarded by the DM for good role playing, quick thinking, and particularly difficult or heroic actions. They are spent to increase your skill dice, attributes, and Aether Feats, among other things. Hero Points (HP) also bear mentioning in that they are handed out by the DM in cases of superior play and can be used in game to miraculously sway the fates’ favors (in other words, improve a roll or gain some deference from the DM.)
Lastly, short of creating backstory or personality traits, is gear selection. In the preview, Mr. Richards outlines a lot of different types of gear, from amazing Exoskeleton armour to a basic radio or food rations. These are described quite well, including purpose, features, range/payload/weapon details, and cost. Cost is listed in the form of $ (yes, dollar signs.) The more rare or expensive an item is, the more dollar signs will be listed next to it, with the higher cost (usually $$$ more more) typically being available to only the wealthy, governments, and privatized groups. This enables the DM to envision a reasonable price range for the area or rarity of the object instead of reading off a set list, which I personally find refreshing.
Using these rules (and the race sheet pictured above,) I present my first created Breachworld character (trying to utilize pips, specializations, and Aether Feats to get a feel for them);
Name: Glont’ham Thuubaar A.K.A. Glo
Skills: 2D6 Polearm, 1D6 Gunnery, 3D6 Aliens: Maulers (specialization), 1D6 Paranormal, 1D6 Diplomacy.
Aether Feats: Kinetic Manipulation: Break Fall, Biochemical Manipulation: Heal.
Perks: Heavy Armour (racial), Unstunnable (racial), Healing: Lesser.
Complications: Enemy (racial), Debt [can’t have more than 2, counting racials, so I can’t select more.]
Gear: Weapon: Halberd (+3D), Weapon: Pistol (3D+2), Armour: Improvised Metal (+4), Armour: Shield, Binoculars, Survival Kit.
Background: Raised on Earth and crushed by a Mauler in his teenage years, he was dragged away from his nomadic family to be devoured. He awoke to barely escape using his lesser healing abilities, was found on the side of a road and rescued by a patrol from a larger, alien-friendly town. They took him in since he could not find his family (who fled, believing him dead,) and he works as a gatekeeper to pay his debt for his life, health, housing and food. He loves children and seems intimidating, but is a very friendly fellow. He will, however, protect the town to his dying breath. Once he pays off his debt, he wants to search for his family. He studies Maulers especially closely, and always joins the hunting parties if one is sighted near enough to the town.
Well, Jason, how’d I do? Took less than 30 minutes, promise.
Keep an eye out for future Breachworld posts,
Any image or information provided pertaining to Breachworld is the sole property of Jason Richards Publishing and any artists therein. I claim no ownership of content.