What is it?
A tabletop roleplaying game based on the world of Tall Tales.
The game is in production, with a full rulebook on the way. It uses a system I'm tentatively calling the Specialization System, which emphasizes training in a given are over inherent ability. The game setting and characters are built around that seen in Tall Tales, which means it's intended to be played primarily as a paranormal fantasy. Characters can be physical or spiritual, with access to magic, opportunities to investigate the supernatural, and threats from powerful fae and deities.
The Specialization System is a dice pool based system of gameplay in which training in a specific field is more beneficial to your character than having broad natural talents. The system is designed to emulate the way that training not only gives people greater odds at success in a specific action, but actually makes the natural talent at play more effective. It does this by playing with the different kinds of dice available to players, increasing the die size when a skill is involved, and increasing it further based on select focus areas or trainings. Consider, as an example, the act of firing a ranged weapon. Here are some examples of how that action is handled in different games, in which the effective modifier totals 5:
- d20 System (Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder): A Dexterity score of 16 produces a Dex Modifier of 3, and the skill total is 2. The player rolls one 20-sided die and adds 5 to the result. If the character instead had a Dexterity score of 20 (for a Dex Mod of 5) and no ranks in the skill, they would still roll one 20-sided die and add 5 to the result. Their results fall in the range of 6-25 either way.
- Modifier-based systems (Mutants & Masterminds): A character with a Dexterity rank of 3 and a relevant Ranged Combat skill of 2 ranks would roll one 20-sided die and add 5 to the result. If the character instead had a Dexterity rank of 5 and no ranks in a relevant Ranged Combat skill, they would still roll one 20-sided die and add 5 to the result. Their results fall in the range of 6-25 either way.
- Storyteller System (World of Darkness): A character with 3 dots in Dexterity and 2 dots in Firearms or Archery would roll five 10-sided dice and count the number of successes (dice showing a result above a target number, with successes added or subtracted based on critical rolls). If they instead had 5 dots in Dexterity and no dots in Firearms or Archery, they would still roll five 10-sided dice and count the number of successes. Their odds of achieving a given number of successes are equal either way.
- Specialization System (Tall Tales): Character A has 3 ranks in Dexterity and 2 ranks in a relevant Specialty, so they would roll five 6-sided dice and add the total of the dice. Their total roll falls in the range of 5-30. Character B, however, has 5 ranks in Dexterity and no ranks in any relevant Specialty, so they would roll five 4-sided dice, making their roll fall in the range of 5-20. Although Character A has less raw natural skill than Character B, applying a bit of effort into training just to the point where their total is tied with Character B's raw natural ability increases their odds of success and, even unlocks levels of success that Character B cannot reach!
Rather than races or classes, the Tall Tales RPG asks players to choose a character Nature. Natures are a reflection of how the character interacts with the Physical Realm, the Metaphysical Realm, and Magic. Players can choose between Physical (like Humans and Anchors) or Metaphysical (like Ghosts and Lesser Fae) Natures, and each category includes Natures that have varying degrees of awareness of the other Realm and varying degrees of ease in using magic. Some Natures are affiliated with specific Elements of magic, such as Fire, Order, or Life, and characters with such affiliations will find some forms of magic easier to cast than other forms. These Natures are very open-ended when it comes to personality, morality, and ability/skill builds; players choosing to play a Lesser Spirit may choose to design a fire elemental, a naga, or anything else they design that fits the broad category! The Natures define relationships to the Realms, without putting characters into predefined boxes.
Magic in the Tall Tales RPG emphasizes the spontaneous, and sometimes costly, way magic is presented in the story. While players can design spells to use repeatedly, they are not given spell lists to pick and choose from for their characters to use. Instead, players have access to a system of building spells on the fly, tailoring each spell to the specific circumstances and available resources in a given scene. This adds a level of complexity to spellcasting, but I am working on limiting it with ease of use in mind, to whatever degree I can that doesn't sacrifice flexibility. The goal is that players who have spellcasting characters will feel they always have the means to make the magic system work for them individually.
Interested in Playing?
The rulebook is still in development. However, a very rough and stripped down version of the rules is currently available for use in the Roleplay channels of my Discord server. Here, you can create a character, play out scenes, and give feedback on what is and isn't working with the game. When the first complete draft of the book is available and I start seeking playtesters, people on the Discord (whether they have the Roleplayers role or not) will receive the first invitations to participate.