Updated to v0.6.2
"It takes a lot of information to have substance. A character can't to that on their own."
"But why am I responsible for this fool?"
A character is a little bundle of love that you will be guiding through their adventure. You can think of yourself as a guardian angel, protecting the character and helping them with existing.
The data required to get a character functional and operating at a normal societal level within the game is fairly small. Each character requires 9 stats and 3 pools, plus some extra supplementary info like their name.
Pools each have 2 values: The maximum value and the current value. The current value is changed often by effects throughout the game, but is usually not allowed to exceed the maximum value. Be careful about letting pools drop below 0, as each has a terrible misfortune related to it.
- Running out of HP can kill you.
- Running out of mana causes damage and afflicts curses.
- Running out of energy causes you to be lethargic and unwell.
Defensive Capability and Rank
When considering attacking or aggressive actions where the character is affecting other objects or characters, a value called Rank is used. For each full set of 5 in a stat the corresponding Rank is increased by 1. This gives a range of 0 through 5 which scales very, very slowly. Each character should only expect to get one or two stats to 4 or more ranks. Ranks manifest as bonus dice whenever the player rolls using the corresponding stat: 1 bonus die per Rank.
When considering defensive actions where the character is being affected by the world, especially when being attacked or setting off traps, a value called Defense Capability is used. Defense Capability is shortened to DC throughout this manual. DC starts at 17 and goes up by 1 for each full set of 2 in the corresponding stat. DC manifests by making rolls against you fail more often, thereby protecting your character.
Stats each have 3 values: The value, the defense capability (DC), and the rank.
The value itself is use to determine base damage when attacking, as well as prerequisites for equipment. This is most notable in strength and intellect, where fighters and wizards have to be strong (or smart) enough to use their oversized metal sticks, whether they be sharpened or engraved with runes.
The DC is called on whenever your character is being attacked, questioned, or attempting stealth. Imagine the classic deception versus perception roll in Dungeons and Dragons. It requires two rolls to evaluate, the attacker's deception roll versus the defender's perception roll. Heliabound is more like DnD's "to hit" rolls, but instead of having a single defensive value (DnD's AC), there is a defensive value tied to each stat! In the case of deception, you'll roll a charisma check with a DC equal to the defender's awareness. Notice that your defense capability (DC) is used identically to difficulty challenges (DC), where challenges are determined by the dungeon master for traps and the like.
Rank is, in a way, the opposite of your DC. It represents the offensive abilities of your character in that stat. Whenever you perform an action that requires a check, you'll get 3d12 base dice, then one bonus die for each rank you have in the appropriate stat. You also receive bonus dice for skills and tactical advantage.
- Health: Health is a representation of a character’s life force. As characters undergo physical stress and take damage, their health will decrease. If your HP drops to or below 0, your character will be knocked out and will be considered unstable. As soon as this happens, you must roll a vitality check to stabilize yourself. The DC of this vitality check is 5 + your negative hp. This means you'll have a harder time stabilizing if you are overkilled by a significant amount. If your HP is less than -31, you will not be able to stabilize on your own, however, adjacent allies can make a vitality check and add that result to the value of your check. At higher levels where damage is dealt in the fifties or even hundreds at a time, having allies to help you recover is a must.
- Mana is a versatile form of energy that can be contained within a character’s soul. It is used to cast spells. It is possible to overdraw your mana pool. At the end of the turn after your mana pool is overdrawn you will take damage thrice the value of the overdrawn mana, as mana from the landscape rushes into your body to fill the void. You will also receive a counter of magical poison (or some other form of chaotic energy based on the setting).
- Energy is a characters stamina. It is used to improve performance at checks, as well as to increase damage output and move speed. Energy cannot be overdrawn for special effects like perfect dice, but if it falls below 0 from lack of food during rests, you will become afflicted with the unwell status. Your AP will be cut in half until you get proper food and rest.
Strength is your character’s physical prowess. Stronger characters can lift more weight, equip stronger melee weapons, and deal more damage without the aid of a weapon.
Characters with greater agility move faster in and out of combat, and have vastly improved dexterity. Travel speed is affected by this as well, affecting the rations you will need to bring during travel.
Vitality represents a character’s ability to survive and thrive under tough physical conditions. It improves defense and makes death mush easier to avoid if you ever find yourself out of hit points.
A character who has high intellect will have a much easier time solving puzzles and solving problems. Rolling for intellect will allow your character to receive a hint on the current puzzle.
Wisdom is the appropriate application of intellect. Rolling for wisdom can let the DM offer you advice on the current situation.
Coordination is a character’s ability to manipulate objects in a controlled, refined manner. This can be anything from sewing to reloading weapons.
Characters with high charisma will have a potent advantage when trying to persuade or communicate with others, especially when social or cultural boundaries are at play.
Talent represents a character’s ability to execute non-trivial performances. Crafting, performing, and sailing are all tied to talent.
Awareness lets characters experience more of the world around them. It is most often used to get more details about a scene.
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 are always passive effects, so you don't get to give yourself a ton of combat moves.
- "Echolocation: Your vision is based on sound. You don't require light to see and you get descriptions based on how things interact with sound."
- "Pack Tactics: Whenever you are within 5 feet of a party member, you gain 1 bonus die on your rolls."
- "Inspire: Whenever a party member makes an attack roll, you may make a DC 27 charisma check. If you succeed, they must reroll all dice that were at most 3.
- "Distract: Whenever an enemy makes an attack roll, make a DC 27 charisma check. If you succeed, they must reroll any dice that were at least 10."
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 club as a weapon. In D&D, this distinction was made with simple weapons and martial weapons. In Heliabound, the distinction spreads to all tasks 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 at level 0, they get bonus dice from their stats as usual. At levels 1, 2, and 3, the advanced skills function exactly like regular skills.
While a comprehensive list of traits can never be written, due to the free-form nature of traits, there a good few already available in this guide. Each race has a handful of traits that make them distinct, lore-wise and mechanically. Gods will also grant traits to their closest followers... in exchange for your undying loyalty of course.
Even balanced traits can be overpowered if the campaign is centered around one element that the trait happens to be about, so be careful!
Each character will attain certain unique capabilities throughout the course of the game. These are represented by moves, which are short blocks of data that describe an action. Most out of combat moves are simply a paragraph describing the action, but combat moves have some shorthand for damage and other details.
+X type damage (attacking stat). Y range, Z AP.
An example stat block. The plus is only present on attacks whose damage is tacked on top of the character's base damage. A character's base damage is their stat value for the attacking stat listed in parentheses. X is the damage for the weapon. Y is the range in spaces, but can also be listed in feet with a ' indicator. Spaces are intended to be 5 feet in official moves. Z is the AP cost of the move. Other descriptions or modifiers can be suffixed to the end of the move block.
Armor and Resistance
Heliabound tends to stay away from stray numbers, but because defense can come from a variety of sources, it didn’t feel right to encapsulate the effect in a stat in the same way movement speed is encapsulated by agility. Armor and resistance are the only stray numbers you’ll need to keep track of, everything else is related to some stat.
Whenever damage is received by your character, you may subtract your armor or resistance from the damage. Armor resists physical attacks, and resistance blocks magical attacks.
There are actually two kinds of armor, soft and hard. Hard armor is used to block sharp and penetrating attacks, where soft armor is used to block blunt attacks. It can be a pain to keep track of so don't worry about leaving it out.
There are three ways a character can have armor: some races have armor naturally, such as dragons whose scales make for good defense; armor is also provided from equipment, namely armors; and lastly, armor is received from shields.
Shield armor is a bit different from natural armor and equipment armor. While the latter kinds are always applied, shield armor is only ever applied if the character uses a block action.
Whenever equipment or shields block damage, that damage can be applied to the armor or shield instead. Each item in the game has an optional hit point count, so this system can be used for item degradation.
Each race has a temperature range considered comfortable and one considered survivable. Temperatures in Heliabound are divided into 7 sections. Each section is quite large, representing around half of a planet’s temperature range.
The temperature gauge is represented by a sun icon on the character sheet. It is on the right and looks like a fan. Lightly shade the segments your character can survive in and heavily shade the segments your character is comfortable in.
If a character is outside their comfortable temperature range, they will not refill their pools during a rest. This effect can be negated using appropriate clothing, food, fire, or magic.
If a character is outside their survivable temperature range, they will lose hp at an alarming 10 hp per minute per temperature segment. This means, for example, a human wearing regular clothing would lose 10 hp per minute in an ice cavern and 20 hp per minute in a vacuum.
Desolate (Absolute 0 to ‑100C): Dead Space
- Freezing (‑100C to ‑30C): Ice Cavern
- Cold (‑30C to 0C): Earth (Night)
- Normal (0C to 35C): Earth (Day)
- Warm (35c to 100C): Fire Cavern
- Hot (100C to 200C): Underworld
- Insane (200C to 400C+): A star
The size of various characters can vary drastically. These rules can safely support characters from 1 foot tall all the way up to 20 feet. Although larger characters are possible, many of dungeon designs start failing once characters surpass 8 feet tall. It is generally recommended not to play a character larger than that for your DMs sake, not to mention the other characters who you probably already stepped on and killed while I was just talking to you.
A character’s size determines most of their HP and AP levels.
HP is a general measure of health.
Whenever your character gets a turn, they can spend AP to make actions. More powerful or time consuming actions cost more AP.
Smaller characters will be able to make many actions per turn, while larger characters will be able to soak up damage more effectively.
- Tiny (1’+, 30lbs): +0 HP, +2 AP
- Small (3’+, ~70lbs): +5 HP, +1 AP
- Normal (6’+, ~140lbs): +10 HP, +0 AP
- Big (8’+, ~320lbs): +20 HP, -1 AP
- Large (10’+, ~450lbs): +30 HP, -2 AP
- Massive (15’+, ~820lbs): +75 HP, -3 AP