"We use your universe for our games because we didn't feel like creating our own. Have fun!"- Corgerth, demigod of strength.
How to Play
To start, you'll need a character for each player, and someone in charge of the game world (Game Master/Dungeon Master).
The Character Creation page will help you make characters for everyone, but campaign writing is a huge topic that won't be covered for now, you'll have to find someone that knows how to write a campaign, or use an official campaign.
What is the basic system for rolling? On a scale of 3-36, that is what!
An unassisted die roll consists of 3d12 (Three twelve-sided dice), where 20 is considered average, 36 is perfect, and 3 is a critical fail.
If you have a rank on a roll (You get one rank for each set of 5 in a stat) you roll one extra die, and take just the highest three. You get a bonus die for each rank, and you can reach rank 5 with a perfect 25 in a stat. However, you can get up to rank 8 with bonuses on your armor, shield, and weapon, and even rank 9 if you have that plus a tactical advantage!
No twelve sided dice? No worries! Replace each d12 with 2d6. It's not a perfect replacement, but it's pretty close. Just remember to keep 3 pairs of dice instead of just 3 dice! And keep the pairs together!!! You cannot take just the 6's from a (6+3) (6+1) (6+2) (4+3) roll!!! It's a 24, not a 28!!!
A check is your stats versus your dice, where you are trying to exceed a given value with your roll. Exactly what a check stands for is up to the GM at any given point in the story, and there isn't much else to say about them. Here are some sample DC values.
Simple task - DC 10, A character traveling through the wilderness attempting not to get lost.
Easy task - DC 15, Finding a secret entrance which gives off a draft. Befriending a willing animal/creature.
Normal task - DC 20, Chugging an ale. Talking to a stranger and not being a fool. :P
Tricky task - DC 25, Performing a flip. Capturing a steed.
Hard task - DC 30, Pulling off a chain of lies against a house of nobles.
Impossible task - DC 35, Capturing a draconic steed. :O
If you are doing something against another character, especially in the case of attacking, the DC of the roll equals the defending stat's DC. This prevents the need to roll twice for one action, although the defender may have some options that require a roll.
A Skill is a specific task or action that your character is skilled in that other characters might not be . Skills are leveled up using "Skill Points" which are earned by leveling up.
- Introducing a skill costs one point.
- Upgrading a skill costs points equal to the level number
- Upgrading from level 2 to level 3 costs 3 points.
- Introducing a skill and leveling it up to level 3 all at once costs 6 points.
Characters are only allowed to learn skills for items (or actions) they have had experience with. This isn't strict at all, but let's be honest, a swordsman has little need for skills in wands.
A trait is an extra rule that only applies to (or is applied by) the character it is attached to. They can be positive or negative. Traits may be passive effects or reaction effects, but they may never be activated effects. Traits are most commonly seen granted from your race, but demigods often give out traits for their followers.
- "This character cannot be stunned while on the ground."
- "This character is immune to the effects of alcohol."
- "This character receives double effect from everything. (Damage, potions, ranks, etc.)"
- "This character may not use magic."
- "This character's Strength may never exceed 15."
There are actually two different kinds of skills in Heliabound, which reflect the difficulty of the task they represent.
Some actions are assumed to be simple to perform, such as using a weapon. In D&D, this distinction was made with simple weapons and martial weapons. In Heliabound, the distinction spreads to all tasks, although most is left to DM discretion, in the form of advanced skills.
While skills start at level 1, representing a simple task that a character has gotten better at, advanced skills start at level 0. Introducing an advanced skill costs 2 skill points, but leveling it up costs the usual amount.
If a character tries to perform an action that requires an advanced skill, they must either have the skill or roll without using bonus dice. If the advanced skill is present, the character receives bonus dice as usual, including from extra levels on the advanced skill.
While a comprehensive list of traits can never be written, due to the free-form nature of traits, the traits you can find on the race and deity pages will be very helpful in writing traits for yourself or your players.
Traits are hard to balance, it's impossible to tell how useful any trait will be without playtesting it, and even balanced traits can be overpowered if the campaign is centered around one element that the trait happens to get around.
With that in mind, it may be better for your players if you let them know traits will be edited if they become too powerful (or too weak), to keep the game interesting and fair.
Units and Points
While there are no "points" in HeliaBound, the kind that allow you to win just for having them, there are four different kinds of points no character can succeed without. Trait points and stat points don't count, go away...)
- Health points (HP, ♡)
- Mana points (MP, ✧)
- Energy points (EP, 🗲)
- Experience points (XP, △)
- Stat Points (SP, □)
- Skill points (SkP, ☆)
Health points, generally referred to as HP, are the most important kind of points to have. The difference between having very many or very few doesn't affect gameplay very much, but if you reach 0 or less Health points, you are immediately forced to perform a Vitality check, or you die. No questions asked, end of story. The exact difficulty of the check depends on your health points, and simplifies to
5 - health. So if you are at 1 health and take 39 or more damage, you are simply incapable of saving yourself, since the dice only go up to 36.
Health points are used to simplify combat, and as such, most attacks reduce the current HP of a creature. There are other ways to lose health, namely status effects like poisoned and burning. HP is gained from food, potions, resting, and magic. Resting is the cheapest way to regain health, but it can take weeks to restore large quantities of health (and some injuries have negative health that takes even longer), and certain rest periods can only be done at certain times. Food is the next cheapest, and the quality of healing shows, most food items can only be consumed out of combat (well, you go ahead and try to eat 36 cheese wheels while fighting a lich, you still won't receive the health for about 4 hours), and characters can only eat so much before they have to wait for another meal. Not to mention the low HP values granted by most food. Spells are arguably the next cheapest method, depending on if you know a friendly wizard or druid. Their perceived value also depends on how much you value MP, since spells generally consume MP. Spells have a variety of effects, but the category includes both the strongest and weakest HP recoveries, from "Healing hands" to "Restore dead". Potions are pretty much just spells turned liquid, but due to their ingredient costs, and their incredible convenience, potions are the most expensive form of HP recovery. A character could drink hundreds of potions without pause, but probably wouldn't need to (or want to), as one is usually effective enough.
Mana points, or simply MP, are only useful for characters who need a source of energy that is free flowing and capable of transformation into many other kinds of energy (Think: Electricity, but magical). These effects are seemingly magical without a deep knowledge of the underlying (fictional) physics, and in many medieval and modern settings, is considered just that: Magic. As such, the effects generated by Mana are called spells, and retain the namesake even in futuristic eras (where the science is better known). Mana itself, when not contained in another object or character, forms into blue crystals, or disperses throughout the world, if you were to find and use a crystal the size of a golf ball, you would add about 5 Mana to your Mana pool.
Mana is spent on various spells, but a Mana pool can also be dealt damage to, reducing the available Mana for a character to cast with. Losing Mana is trivial, and for most characters, running out of Mana doesn't have any negative effect (Aside from the loss of access to spellcasting, of course). Gaining MP is also a relatively simple matter. You can regain Mana from herbs and potions, and characters with a Mana pool will regain some Mana as they rest. If you have a way to use Mana from crystals without simply crushing them, Mana crystals will slowly refill with Mana as well, like a wrung out sponge absorbing any water around it. Mana permeates many parts of most planets, and the "natural" regeneration of MP is dependent on the area, and how much Mana is left for a given area. Herbs are incredibly simple to gather and cheap to purchase, so herbs like "Magic root" are a simple way to get Mana back. They aren't particularly fast acting though, herbs are most effective when smoked (as in a pipe, not like a salmon) or cooked. Smoking can only be done while resting, and cooking an herb means finding a place to cook, not to mention a decent recipe. Potions are the fast way to get Mana back, and they are incredibly potent, but the quality comes at a high price, often in the hundreds of gold coins. Manufacturing technologies significantly reduces the prices of potions in futuristic eras, though, so potions are your best bet if you play in the future.
Energy points are a representation of the bond between player and character. It represents in-world, your characters ability to pull off things that may be unlikely normally. Have you ever had a day where you just felt good? Yeah, having and using energy would make your character feel like that, like getting results where little effort was put in, just a good feeling. It is usually used to
- Energy can be spent before a roll is made at a cost of 1 energy for +1 on the result of that roll.
- You may spend 3 energy to run an extra space on your turn.
- You may spend 2 energy to increase the damage an attack deals by one, before the roll. This is applied after the normal damage calculations, and usually ends up negating a bit of armor.
- You may spend 5 energy when you are attacked to perform a counter attack that happens after the first attack finishes.
You receive energy for roleplaying well, and your character can receive energy from the DM and demigods as well. (Players are like the demigods who partnered with their characters, the DM is like a god who crafted the world and sees that balance (or not) is kept in order.)
Experience points, also known as XP, are a measurement of your character's experience at whatever job they do. Experience is granted for completing certain tasks, depending on your class. Most of the time defeating enemies will grant XP, but some working classes gain it from completing jobs, such as cooks, blacksmiths, etc.. Certain herbs have XP granting effects, and traits often enough grant XP to party members, either at random or for experience you earn yourself. Unlike the other point pools, XP is not limited, and it never goes down. A characters level is determined by their XP, where for each 1000 XP they have, they go up another level. Level is capped at 25, so Experience points beyond 25000 XP are pretty much pointless (Pun intended).
If you're playing in a new group, it may be a good idea to run your players through a test combat scene. Tabletop games can seem confusing, pointless, and pedantic for new players, and while a good narrative is the biggest factor in getting your friends into tabletop gaming for life, being quick in calculations during combat and keeping the flow is the second biggest factor in keeping your players.
If you're already player, you can refresh your memory here.
World of Heliabound
Worlds and Stories
The first of many official campaigns is in the works! I won't be posting anything as I don't want my players to cheat, but be certain it will be released as chapters get completed!
Want early access to campaigns and rulebooks? Check out our Patreon!
I can't be too picky about what happens out of combat, because that is in the realm of character interactions and narrative. As such, most of the rules will focus on combat, at least at first.
The "economy" in the worlds of Heliabound is complicated, due to it spanning many centuries and time periods, and also many races among the stars for you sci-fi players. There are your standard copper, silver, and gold coins, but you also get lots of modern currencies for in-game shopping sprees! Click here for detailed info.
Also! Item Lists! It's been plapped this under economy because money and equipment is just another form of character progression, and they're very closely related.