Cinematic RPG Design Diary: Skills

I’m working on a multi-genre original RPG called ‘Cinematic’ that will have traits and skills with an optional stunt system (that you can use or ignore). There will be a Sci Fi implementation of Cinematic called Imperium RPG. First let’s talk about the generic Cinematic RPG core system.

Design-Diary

Stan designing the next version of Cinematic and Imperium RPGs

Two Attributes

Cinematic will work like Cortex Plus, Traveller, and other systems with two attribute that you add together for most checks. In Cinematic, you have 6 Traits: Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education, and Social. They work very much like D&D ability scores. You’ll also have up to 40 skills depending on the setting. For most checks you’ll add your trait modifier (which will range from -2 to +2) and your skill rank (which will range from -3 if you’re not trained in a skill, to +3). Total possible ranges based on trait + skill rank would be -5 to +5.

Core Mechanic

The core mechanic is this:

Roll 2d6, add relevant die modifiers (DMs). If you get an 8+ you succeed.

So a character with a Dexterity modifier of +2 and a Shooting (Slug) skill of +1 will get a +3 DM when shooting a slugged weapon like a rifle. They’ll hit on a 5 or better.

Adding Shift to Damage

If you score higher than the target number, the difference is called a Shift. In the above example, the character is shooting their gun, gets a +3 DM from their Dexterity modifier and Shooting (Slug) skill, and rolls a 5 and a 6 on their two dice. Their total score is 14, a Shift of 6 over the target number of 8. The 6 is added to the damage roll.

Skills in Cinematic Settings

Now let’s take a look at the skill system. In the most generic flavor of Cinematic RPG, you have the following skill lists which differ by setting. Some skills have specialties listed after the skill (I’ll explain more about who specialties work in the future). Cinematic will be like Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying RPG, Fate Core RPG or Margaret Weiss’s Cortex Plus RPG where in most cases you’ll tweak the rules and skill list for each setting.

Basic Skill List

  1. Animals — Handling, Veterinary, Training
  2. Art — Performer, Instrument, Visual Media, Writing [in modern settings add Videography, and in Sci Fi settings add Holography]
  3. Athletics — Dexterity, Endurance, Strength
  4. Boating — Ocean Ships, Personal, Sail [in modern or Sci Fi settings add Submarine]
  5. Carousing
  6. Deception
  7. Diplomat
  8. Gambler
  9. Healing
  10. Investigation
  11. Language — [Setting specific specialties]
  12. Leadership
  13. Melee — Unarmed, Blade, Bludgeon
  14. Navigation
  15. Notice
  16. Persuasion
  17. Profession — [Setting specific specialties; in Sci Fi they are Belter, Biologicals, Civil Engineering, Construction, Hydroponics, Polymers]
  18. Reconnaissance
  19. Shooting — Archaic [Modern setting adds Slug; Sci Fi setting adds Energy]
  20. Sleight of Hand
  21. Stealth
  22. Streetwise
  23. Survival
  24. Tactics — Military, Naval
  25. Trade

Fantasy

In Fantasy settings, we add the following skills:

  1. Arcana
  2. Knowledge — [Setting specific specialties]
  3. Lore
  4. Nature
  5. Religion

Modern

In Modern or Sci Fi settings, we add the following skills:

  1. Admin
  2. Advocate
  3. Aircraft Pilot —  Airship, Rotor, Wing [Some Sci Fi setting add Gravlift, Ornithopter]
  4. Driving — Digger, Track,Wheel  [Some Sci Fi setting add Hovercraft, Walker]
  5. Electronics — Comms, Computers, Remote Ops, Sensors
  6. Engineer — [Some Sci Fi settings add STL, FTL, Life Support, Power]
  7. Explosives
  8. Gunner — Turret [Some Sci Fi setting add Orbital Artillary, Screen, Capital]
  9. Heavy Weapons — Artillery, Man Portable, Vehicle
  10. Mechanic
  11. Science — Archaeology, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Cosmology, Cybernetics, Economics, Genetics, History, Linguistics, Philosophy, Physics, Planetology, Psychology, Robotics [Some Sci Fi setting add Psionology, Xenology]
  12. Steward

Sci Fi

Finally, in Sci Fi settings, we add the following skills:

  1. Astrogation
  2. Spacecraft Pilot — Small Craft, Spacecraft, Capital Ships
  3. Vacc Suit

Skills in Imperium

The Imperium RPG has the following 40 skills:

  1. Admin
  2. Advocate
  3. Aircraft Pilot — Airship, Gravlift, Ornithopter, Rotor, Wing
  4. Animals — Handling, Veterinary, Training
  5. Art — Performer,  Instrument, Videography/Holography, Visual Media, Writing
  6. Astrogation
  7. Athletics — Dexterity, Endurance, Strength
  8. Boating — Ocean Ships, Personal, Sail, Submarine
  9. Carousing
  10. Deception
  11. Diplomat
  12. Driving — Hovercraft, Digger, Track, Walker, Wheel
  13. Electronics — Comms, Computers, Remote Ops, Sensors
  14. Engineer — STL, FTL, Life Support, Power
  15. Explosives
  16. Gambler
  17. Gunner — Turret, Orbital Artillary, Screen, Capital
  18. Healing
  19. Heavy Weapons — Artillery, Man Portable, Vehicle
  20. Investigation
  21. Language — Setting specific language skill specialties
  22. Leadership
  23. Mechanic
  24. Melee — Unarmed, Blade, Bludgeon
  25. Navigation
  26. Notice
  27. Persuasion
  28. Profession — Belter, Biologicals, Civil Engineering, Construction, Hydroponics, Polymers
  29. Reconnaissance
  30. Science — Archaeology, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Cosmology, Cybernetics, Economics, Genetics, History, Linguistics, Philosophy, Physics, Planetology, Psionology, Psychology, Robotics, Xenology
  31. Shooting — Archaic, Energy, Slug
  32. Sleight of Hand
  33. Spacecraft Pilot — Small Craft, Spacecraft, Capital Ships
  34. Stealth
  35. Steward
  36. Streetwise
  37. Survival
  38. Tactics — Military, Naval
  39. Trade
  40. Vacc Suit

[Edit: since I first posted this I removed Jack-of-All-Trades and added in Notice].

That’s it for now. I am working on a MVP (minimum viable product) set of Imperium rules this week which I hope to beta-test on Thursday’s one-shot game. 🙂

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