- 1 Overview
- 2 Characters
- 3 Gameplay Rules
- 3.1 Basic Tests of Skill
- 3.2 Combat Mechanics
- 3.3 Character Advancement
- 4 Advanced Gameplay Rules
- 5 Advanced Philsys Theory
- 6 List of Related Topics
Philsys has a relatively complicated set of rules that govern character abilities and advancement, and it is commonly considered to require more knowledge than a freestyle RP in order to be successful. Philsys was originally developed by Phil-dog, a user from the days of the UBB forum. Since then, it has undergone many revisions, many of which are the doing of Archmage. Other users, including Divinegon, Jak Snide, Pervy, and Namagomi have contributed to the mechanics of the system over time.
It is not required to use any set of rules to RP. However, Philsys has gained some status as the "official" system of RPGWW. It is a "homebrew" RP system that shares some characteristics with other systems, most notably the d20 system and GURPS.
For a detailed explanation of the philosophy behind Philsys as expressed by Archmage, see the Philsys manifesto.
Following are the basic rules for creating and managing characters.
Starting Character Creation
The first step to creating a character is to decide what exactly you wish to create. You, the player, must have a concept of what or who you want your character to be. Are you interested in playing a noble paladin? A cunning thief? An arrogant mage? Just as if you were roleplaying without a complicated set of rules, it is required that you have a picture of who you want your character to be. Often, it becomes much easier to determine your character's physical abilities, traits, and skills after you have a clear vision of what you hope to create. Once you have an idea of what sort of character you want to create, you can take your idea and match it up with appropriate numbers.
After devising a concept, you must develop a set of base statistics, or stats, that represent your character's physical abilities. There are three elements define a character: Stats, skills, and abilities. To clarify the definition of each:
Stats: These are raw numbers that are associated with physical traits. Strength, Dexterity, and Wisdom are all examples. Philsys has nine stats, each ranked on a scale of -5 to +10. A stat of -5 is incredibly bad, whereas +10 is the limit for mortal characters that are not somehow enhanced by magic.
Skills: These are things that your character knows about or can do. Most characters will have several skills. A mage character probably has skills that encompass several schools of magic and related knowledge, whereas a physical fighter is more likely to have weapon skills and skills that relate to advanced fighting techniques. Not all skills are combat related; many skills represent a character's knowledge of botany as opposed to their ability to swing a sword. Skills have associated ranks as well. A rank of 0 indicates no training and does not need to be noted on a sheet, whereas a character with a rank of 30 might be the most proficient person in the entire world.
Abilities: These are special actions that your character can take or special qualities associated with your character. They are commonly based on your character's skills. Magical spells are included in this category. Other abilities allow characters to perform unusual or spectacular physical feats, such as striking multiple foes in range with a melee weapon or firing several arrows at once with a bow. Most abilities have some cost associated with them, preventing them from being used infinitely, but some abilities are passive and continually active or free to use. Racial traits, such as innate resistances to certain elements of magic, fall under abilities.
Each character has 21 "points" to distribute among their base stats. No stat may be higher than +10 or lower than -5. The only exception to this rule is Magical Aptitude, which is rated from 0 to 6. Magical Aptitude cannot be negative.
The stats are as follows:
- Courage: COU. The ability to remain calm and focused in stressful situations. It also represents personal force of will. This score will influence fighting ability, resistance to magical spells, and ability to persuade or intimidate other people.
- Wisdom: WIS. The amount of raw, bookish knowledge a character has. This figures into magical ability. It also affects the number of skills a character is able to learn and all skills related to pure knowledge of facts.
- Intuition: INT. This score represents a character's ability to think and reason as opposed to simply recalling data. It influences reaction time and a character's ability to read other people or his surroundings, improving combat performance and observation skills. It also figures into magical ability.
- Charisma: CHA. This stat is a mixture of physical beauty and the ability to win others over through guile and charm. It affects negotiation and bard-like skills, such as playing instruments or singing.
- Agility: AGI. The ability to move quickly, agility refers mostly to full-body coordination. It influences all sorts of things, including physical combat prowess and the ability to avoid certain types of hazards.
- Dexterity: DEX. The ability to manipulate objects with refined motor skill. Skills like lockpicking, and combat with missile weapons are most heavily affected. Characters may choose to use their dexterity instead of their strength to determine their probability of hitting an opponent when they are using certain weapons.
- Strength: STR. Raw muscle power. Heavily influences the damage done in melee combat and the ability to lift or push objects. It also increases general combat ability.
- Stamina: STA. The ability to take punishment. A higher stamina results in higher HP, allowing a character to take more damage before being incapacitated or killed. Stamina also helps a character perform strenuous tasks over a long duration, such as marathon running, swimming, resisting torture, or holding one's breath. A character with high stamina will have a better resistance to natural poisons and diseases.
- Magical Aptitude: MAG. Grades how "in touch" a character is with the astral plane. A must-have for casting spells. A character with a rank of 0 cannot cast magic at all. A character with a 3 or more in this stat can be considered a mage. A character with a 4 or greater can "read" the astral plane by merely concentrating; this ability has no other cost.
Taking a negative stat value increases the total number of points you can spend elsewhere--if you take a -1 in Strength, it means that you have 22 points to spend on other stats. Negative stats always have definite drawbacks, however. A common misconception among powergamers is that stats like charisma are of no use since they do not influence a character's ability in direct combat. This is incorrect; a character with a very low charisma score may find himself hated by everyone he meets, making his life extremely difficult. Players may also be penalized by the GM for not properly "roleplaying" their stats. A character with negative wisdom that commonly speaks in four-syllable words is pushing the limits of believability.
For some helpful ideas as to what stats mean, see the Philsys Stat Definitions page.
It is often effective to distribute stats based on some sort of character archetype. Physical fighters especially need points in courage, strength, agility, and stamina. Fighters that use light weapons, such as daggers, can substitute strength for dexterity if it better suits their character's concept and array of skills. Mage characters need intuition, wisdom, courage, and most of all, magical aptitude. Skilled characters like thieves will need dexterity, agility, and wisdom or intuition for extra skill points and combat capability. A character might have one stat that is very good compared to the others (say a +6) that represents their specific strength, or a particularly low stat that represents a specific weakness (a frail constitution, cowardice, or an inability to play nice with others).
Substats are parameters that are defined by mathematical manipulation of a character's stats. These include hit points, magic points, and other similar values. All of these things are precalculated for ease of usage during an RP.
A character's HP or hit points determine how much damage a character can take and survive. MP, or magic points, represent a character's stamina pool for manipulating the astral plane. A character expends MP whenever he or she casts a spell. If a character has no MP when casting a spell, the cost is deducted from HP instead. TP, or tech points are a stamina pool that fuels certain extraordinary abilities.
Initiative is derived mostly from a character's speed and determines combat action order. Base AT/PA, which stands for Base Attack/Parry, is a measure of a character's ability to strike accurately or defend himself against incoming physical blows. Missile Evasion represents a character's ability to avoid projectile attacks, while Magic Resistance (also called MBlock) shows how well a character can defend himself against an incoming spell. Base Magic Attack (sometimes called MAttack) is a baseline number that determines a character's skill with magic.
Each of these values is determined by a simple mathematical formula, and any half-values calculated are always to be rounded down.
- HP -- 55 + (Stamina * 5)
- MP -- (Magical Aptitude * 10 ) + (Intuition * 5) + (Wisdom * 5)
- TP -- 10 + (3 * (Stamina + Courage))
- Initiative -- Agility + (Courage / 2) + 2d6 (Do not calculate the 2d6; just write the result of the math in the form of #+2d6)
- Base AT/PA -- Agility + Intuition + Strength + Courage (When wielding a light weapon, you may substitute Dexterity for Strength if desired)
- MAttack -- Intuition + Wisdom + Magical Aptitude
- MBlock -- 10 + Intuition + (Courage * 2)
- Missile Evasion -- 10 + Intuition + (Agility * 2)
Divide the number of ranks you have in your currently equipped weapon between AT and PA as you see fit. For example, if you have a base AT/PA of 10/10, and you have 4 ranks in Weapon (Swords), you may have an AT/PA of 14/10, 13/11, 12/12, 11/13, or 10/14. Each time you gain a rank in your weapon skill, you decide whether to increase AT or PA. Having a high AT increases your chance to hit with physical/melee attacks, while having a high PA helps you dodge or block physical/melee attacks.
A character with stats has been defined physically and intellectually. But what about individual talents and training? These things are represented by skills. Skills have a rank that indicates the character's relative proficiency and a set of associated base attributes. The base attributes are the stats that determine the base proficiency with the skill in question; for example, a strong character will be naturally better with a heavy axe than a weaker one, and his maximum level of proficiency will be higher, too. Just about anything can be a skill, though there is a reference list of some common skills in the article list of Philsys skills. Some examples of skills include Melee Weapon (Polearms), Fire Magic, Smithing, [k]Geography, and [s]Pain Resistance.
A character has 20 plus 2*(INT+WIS) points to spend on skills. Each point spent on a skill increases its rank by 1. Thus, spending 4 points on Unarmed Combat grants the skill rank of 4. At first level, no skill may be higher than the 4th rank, regardless of whether or not a character has enough points to purchase it at a higher one.
Determining Base Attributes
Whenever a skill is created, a little bit of logical reasoning is used to determine which stats would have the most impact on the character's ability to perform the skill. For example, Lockpicking requires nimble fingers and dexterity, and it also helps to have a little bit of intuition to figure out what steps to take to crack a tough lock. Since dexterity plays a greater role in the character's ability to pick a lock, the skill's base attributes are written as "<Dex/Dex/Int>." Each skill has three base attributes paired to it. No normal skill may have the same attribute all three times. The purpose of the base attributes will be later explained when we cover leveling up and tests of skill.
Many skills have clearly defined base attributes. All melee weapon skills are <Cou/Str/Agi> by default, though certain light weapons can be <Cou/Dex/Agi> instead at the option of the player. All skills that are magical schools are <Int/Wis/Mag>. The list of Philsys skills makes note of some of the more important skills for which there are clearly defined bases.
Types of Skills
There are actually three different kinds of skills: Normal Skills, Knowledge Skills, and Support Skills. Each type of skill has a different function.
- Normal Skills -- These skills represent something your character can do. Weapon skills and magical skills are always normal skills. Examples include Melee Weapon (Swords), Fire Magic, and Lockpicking. They always have three base attributes and are purchased at a cost of 1 point per rank.
- Knowledge Skills -- Often called "[k] skills." These skills represent raw, bookish types of knowledge such as [k]Geology, [k]Magical Theory, [k]Anthropology, and so forth. In general, any sort of science or academic discipline will be a [k] skill. These skills are denoted with a [k] before their names. A [k] skill costs 1/2 a point per rank, meaning that one point buys two ranks (or half a point can buy one rank). The base attributes for [k] skills are always <Wis/Wis/Wis>, which is an exception to the usual rule.
- Support Skills -- Often called "[s] skills." These skills can represent one of two things. Support skills can provide passive abilities or bonuses, or they can indicate supplementary knowledge. Valid support skills that provide passive abilities increase a character's ability to perform common, everday tasks. [s]Observation, for example, indicates that the character has a higher level of observation skill than a normal person, but this sort of ability is not necessarily a full-fledged skill. Support skills usually have a minimum stat requirement that must be met in order to learn the skill. In the case of [s]Observation, this is an intuition of +3 or better. An [s] skill typically costs 1/2 point per rank, like a [k] skill, but there are exceptions. Some specific and very special [s] skills cost more, such as [s]Improved Critical Striking, which costs 3 points per rank because of its high power and the difficulty of mastery.
Any character using a weapon (or fighting barehanded) should take an appropriate skill to match their weapon choice. Mages should have one or more schools of magic as skills. Everyone should have a variety of skills, and not all of a character's skills necessarily need to be directly related to combat. Spending skill points on non-combat skills and [k] skills is an excellent way to develop that character's repetoire.
Abilities are combat and noncombat talents that are based on a character's list of skills and innate capabilities. All of a mage's spells are considered abilities. A character who is not a mage may have special weapon techniques or other abilities. Any ability that costs MP, or magic points, is a spell, whereas any ability that costs TP, or tech points is a tech. These are derived substats that are covered in the appropriate section.
A character's list of abilities is quite likely to be largely unique to that character. A sample list of abilities, taken from the character sheet of Hakaril Silvar:
- [Magical Theory=4]Charge Spell (5 TP) - Empowers a spell for a turn, doubling the effect of the spell when it is cast next turn.
- [Fire Magic=1]Fire 1 (5 MP) - Deals 10+3*rank+1d6 fire damage to one enemy.
- [Water Magic=1]Ice 1 (5 MP) - As Fire 1, only water damage to one enemy.
- [Lightning Magic=1]Lit 1 (5 MP) - As Fire 1, only lightning damage to one enemy.
Each ability has four parts: A set of required skill ranks, a name, a cost, and a description.
The required skill ranks defines the minimum number of ranks in the listed skill needed to use the ability. Fire 1 is a relatively simple and low-power ability, so it only requires one rank to use. If no skill ranks are required for some reason, this field is indicated as [Innate] if it is a function of the character's race or similar reason. If the ability is granted by an equipped item, it may be denoted as [Item-granted]. The name of the ability is largely self-explanatory. The cost of the ability is the amount of TP, MP, or both that is expended whenever the ability is used; some abilities may have other costs, such as HP. The description indicates what effect the ability has. Some abilities have very simple descriptions. Other abilities require very long descriptions in order for their effect to be defined.
Like skills, a character's abilities are more or less completely defined by the player; a player is free to give a character whatever abilities he desires as long as there is some justification for the skill in the form of a prerequisite skill rank. In order to determine what appropriate strengths for skills of given prerequisite ranks are, a player is advised to peruse other character sheets, converse with the GM, and read available literature regarding benchmarks.
Equipment and Inventory
Once a character has stats, skills, and abilities, a character is considered to exist as a Philsys character. These numbers do not necessarily say everything there is to say about a character's personality and background, but they do cover the mechanical end of using a character in an RP.
Most characters do not adventure naked, or at least, not if they wish to survive in the heat of battle for more than a few minutes. Choosing what kind of equipment a character will use is a matter of personal preference--both for the player and the character.
Many characters will carry at least one weapon. Some may carry multiple weapons, but the plausibility of such will be critically examined by a prospective GM. While a character bearing a sword, a boot knife, and a longbow is not excessive, any player with a character that attempts to be a walking armory is probably going to be asked, "how are you carrying all of that?"
Likewise, most characters will wear some sort of clothing. Standard clothing does not need to be listed on a character sheet outside of a character's physical description; only gear that affects a character's performance, in combat or otherwise, needs to be noted. Even simple clothing usually has an Armor Class, or AC, even if it is very low. Whenever a character recieves physical damage, this value is deducted from the damage dealt, increasing the character's chances of survival. Some very exotic armor may even reduce damage from magical attacks. Heavy armor has much higher AC, but it also carries penalties to a character's PA, impeding a character's ability to dodge attacks without taking damage. The value of armor must be carefully considered; a character wearing heavy armor will take more hits, but each hit will do less damage (and some hits may be negated entirely). Also, spellcasting characters will suffer penalties to their spells if they attempt to cast them while wearing armor that restricts their movement. Many characters that do not wear armor do so for IC reasons (and vice versa). In addition to armor, a character may carry a shield. Shields usually provide bonuses to PA, allowing a character to block attacks without taking damage. Shields have their own AC; if a shield's AC is exeeded by the damage of an incoming attack, the shield may be damaged or even destroyed. Again, use common sense to determine a character's armor. No character can plausibly wear or carry seven suits of full plate without some sort of magical container.
Non-weapon, non-armor possessions only need to be listed if they are significant. In many cases, GMs are willing to assume that a character has a specific item if it is reasonable that they might be carrying it, such as a rope or a roll of parchment. Magical items in a character's possession should always be listed, as they will usually have an effect on the character's stats or can be used in ways that ordinary objects cannot. Usually, Philsys GMs do not bother to keep track of a character's material wealth, and things like money are abstracted for the sake of a more cinematic or fair game. As such, players should not feel the need to keep track of a character's wealth over the long term unless there is a specific reason to do so.
Weapons have a damage, listed in Light/Medium/Heavy format. This is because most weapons can be used to attack in different ways, and depending on how the weapon is used to attack, it deals more (or less) damage. Weapons often also have various associated modifiers to AT/PA, and these are written as a fraction-looking thing like +1/-1. This is the amount by which your AT/PA is affected by your using that weapon (the effects of AT/PA are covered more in detail in the combat section). Weapons also have a weight (which usually has little effect on gameplay except where common sense kicks in) and, if applicable, a strength requirement. Pre-determine the amount of damage your weapon deals with each attack type by adding the attack type damage to the attack type damage modifier. Calculating attack damage is explained in the section on melee combat.
Characters may use weapons for which they do not have the requisite strength bonuses, but they suffer an AT/PA penalty equal to twice the difference between the requirement and their strength.
These rules govern the actual flow of Philsys gameplay.
Basic Tests of Skill
A test of skill, commonly referred to as a check, determines whether or not a character succeeds at a difficult or challenging task. A GM may choose to test a character's skill at any time he or she feels that such a test is appropriate. If a character tries to do something that would be challenging, such as lifting a heavy rock, remembering some obscure fact about illithids, or disarming a trap, the GM can use the character's stats and skills to determine whether or not the character lifts the rock, remembers the fact, or disables the trap.
The basic mechanic to remember is very simple: Modifiers + 1d20.
Rolling 1d20 introduces an element of randomness into a character's success. Even the best fighters or scholars or locksmiths make mistakes, and even the worst occasionally get lucky. The d20 allows an opportunity for both occurrences.
The second rule to remember is that Philsys likes the number 3.
Whenever a skill is being tested, it has three bases. These bases are added together to determine the base chance of a character's success. The skill rank is then added as a final modifier. If a character has no skill ranks, then the modifier will simply be the sum of the base attributes. This means that for checks that measure things such as raw strength, the STR score is multiplied by three to determine the modifier. If the character has a skill that might apply, it should be used instead. Alternately, a character might have an [s] skill that can be applied as a multiplier.
The reason that stats are multiplied by three is for consistency and uniformity; it essentially makes a check against a stat a skill check where the character has zero ranks and all three bases for the skill are the stat in question. Therefore, to perform a check against a stat, the player will use the following formula: Stat * 3 + d20. Once the die is rolled and added to the base modifier of Stat * 3, the GM compares the final total against the target difficulty. If the total is equal to or greater than the difficulty, the character succeeds.
Some example checks and the associated stats:
- Courage -- Resisting fear, threats, or intimidation; activating a magical item by force of will; overcoming possession.
- Wisdom -- Remembering an obscure fact about gryphons. Usually, unless a character has an associated [k] skill, he will only know fairly common knowledge.
- Intuition -- Spotting a secret door; determining whether or not a person is lying.
- Charisma -- Haggling over prices; attempting to convince an angry foe not to fight; winning beauty contests.
- Agility -- Dodging a falling rock; leaping off a trap door before it closes; winning a sprinting contest.
- Dexterity -- Giving a massage; knocking over milk bottles with a thrown ball (although this might also be tested as a ranged attack roll).
- Strength -- Lifting a heavy piece of furniture; kicking a door down; pushing a rock off a cliff.
- Stamina -- Resisting the effects of a toxin or disease; enduring torture; holding one's breath.
- Magic Aptitude -- Reading auras or the astral plane; detecting magical signatures; performing improvised spells.
The target difficulty of a stat check should be determined by the GM before the dice are rolled. It should generally be kept secret from players in order to minimize metagaming. Target difficulties can be abbreviated as TDs.
- TD 10 -- This is a fairly easy task for anyone with any knowledge or skill at all.
- TD 20 -- This is a task that will challenge most people. Even someone with a good stat (around +3) will only succeed about half the time.
- TD 30 -- This is a task that is very difficult. It is likely to be impossible for a large number of people.. Even someone with an very good stat (+6 or +7) will only succeed about half the time.
- TD 40 -- This is a task that is impossible for almost everyone. Even someone with an extremely good stat (+8 or more) will only succeed about half the time.
A skill check follows the same basic rules, as mentioned above. The base stats are summed and added to the skill rank in order to produce a modifier for the die roll. Because of the additional modifier of the skill rank, the TDs for skills are measured slightly differently.
- TD 10 -- This is a fairly easy task for anyone with any knowledge or skill at all. For most trained characters, or those with natural aptitude, this will be always be a success.
- TD 20 -- This is a fairly easy task, but not always a success. Someone with some training (4 or 5 skill ranks) will succeed most of the time (a roll between 5 and 8, typically).
- TD 30 -- This is a fairly hard task. Even someone who is adept at a skill (10 ranks or so) will only succeed about half the time.
- TD 40 -- This is a very hard task. Even someone with a very high skill or high aptitude (total modifiers equal to about 30) will only succeed about half the time.
- TD 50 -- This is an extremely hard task. Even a master (with a modifier of around 40) will only succeed about half the time.
- TD 60 -- This is a task that very few people could ever accomplish. Even a master with an incredibly high skill (30+ ranks) and very high attributes (all three in the +6 or +7 range) will only succeed about half the time.
- TD 70 -- This task is practically impossible. Even someone with a mastered skill (30+ ranks) and maxed out base attributes (all three at +10) will only succeed about half the time.
Most adventurers will find themselves forced to fight at least occasionally. While violence is not always the answer, it certainly works a fair percentage of the time.
Combat in Philsys is divided into rounds. A round is one action from everyone participating in combat. The timeframe of a round is not strictly defined, but it is assumed that a round is approximately one minute of real time. The true length of a round may be slightly longer or shorter; in combat, time is slowed down and heavily abstracted for both dramatic effect and GM sanity.
Each round of combat is futher divided into turns. A turn is each character's individual action. A round will consist of at least as many turns as there are participants in the combat. It can be assumed that the time of a round is divided equally into each character's turn, but the events of each turn are assumed to flow smoothly and sequentially. A characters is not standing around doing nothing when it is not his turn; instead, turns are an abstraction that defines the relative order in which things happen during combat. A mage chanting a spell, for example, might technically be doing so during the turns of other characters, and the spell's effect resolves on the mage's turn when he finishes the incantation.
Initiative determines the order of turns in a round. At the beginning of combat, each character, including NPCs, rolls initiative. Initiative is calculated as AGI + (COU/2) + 2d6. The sequence of turns occurs in order from highest total to lowest total. In the event of a tie, the character with the higher modifiers (AGI + (COU/2) total) wins. If the modifiers are identical, reroll for those two characters; the winner goes first.
Spells and other effects that last for a set number of rounds have their duration measured from the turn they began. If the second character in order casts a spell that lasts for three rounds, that spell will still be in effect when the first character takes his turn on the third round. When the second character's turn comes up, the spell's duration will have expired.
Actions in Combat
A large number of actions in combat will be attacks. An attack is any direct attempt to cause damage to an opponent, such as a sword swing or a conjured fireball. Most offensive spells and techs require only one turn to cast or activate, and their effects are resolved immediately.
A character can trade any number of his attacks for parry rolls, which are covered under the section on melee combat.
Movement in Philsys can either be handled abstractly or with a gameboard. Due to the limitations of the chat medium in which many RPs take place, abstraction is more common. When abstraction of movement is used, the GM arbitrates where characters are in relation to one another and how far they can move during a turn. This is the simplest method of handling movement. The preferred gameboard for Philsys combat is a hexboard, a map that is divided into hexagonal sections. Each hex on a board scaled for combat is three feet wide, or one yard. The distance a character can move in yards per turn is equal to their AGI+3. A hexboard can also be used to more accurately measure the radius of area spell effects and depict the location of obstacles or terrain that can impede combatants.
A character may usually attack and move during the same turn unless the character wishes to move a great distance. In abstract combat, this is determined by the GM. In hexboard combat, a character may move twice as far in exchange for being unable to attack. This is called a double move action.
Other actions include long actions such as rifling through a backpack and free actions such as talking. Long actions may take more than one turn to complete; the time a long action takes is determined by the GM. Free actions essentially take no time to complete and do not interfere with a character's ability to take another action. Dropping a held object to the floor, for example, takes minimal time and does not detract from a character's ability to do other things immediately thereafter. Talking is a free action as long as it is deemed reasonable by the GM; while a character could potentially recite a memorized speech during combat without it being detrimental to his fighting ability, the issue is to be judged on a case-by-case basis.
Resolving Attack Actions
Like any other challenging action attempted by a character, attacks in combat have a chance to fail. Sooner or later, most PCs will perform some action that qualifies as an attack.
Resolving Melee Attacks
To resolve a melee attack involves a type of opposed check between the attacker and the defender. The attacker's modified AT is used as his modifier, whereas the defender uses his modified PA.
- The attacker rolls Modified AT + d20.
- The defender rolls Modified PA + d20.
In the case of a tie, the defender wins. If the attacker beats the defender, he deals damage.
A melee attack and defense works differently from a simple skill check because it uses the AT/PA value. AT and PA are modified by several potential factors, including the weapon being used by both parties. The most important modifier is weapon skill rank. However, weapon skill rank is not simply added to AT and PA.
Each rank of weapon skill adds +1 to either AT or PA. Which substat is increased at the time the skill rank is gained. Therefore, a character with 12/12 base AT/PA and 4 sword ranks could have an AT/PA of 16/12, 12/16, or anything in-between. This only applies when the character is using the appropriate weapon (or no weapon, depending on the skill); characters will have different AT/PAs for different weapons or if unarmed. A character using a weapon (including being unarmed) for which that he has no ranks of skill suffers an additional -4 penalty to his AT.
The defender's d20 has a special name; it is called a PA roll or parry roll. During a single round, a defender is only allowed one PA roll. If a defender is attacked in melee a second time, defender gets no roll. This means that the defender is relying on his modifiers to be high enough to beat all incoming attacks for the remainder of the round. Because of this mechanic, defending against multiple attackers in a combat situation is incredibly difficult and very dangerous. Ganging up on an opponent, even one with very good combat skills, is an excellent way to eliminate him quickly.
Characters with [s]Improved Evasion or an equivalent skill add their skill rank to their PA rolls, but not to their defense modifiers in situations in which they are denied a roll.
Melee attack damage is based on the weapon being used, the attacker's skill rank with the weapon, and the type of attack. There are three types of attacks: Light, medium, and heavy. Medium and heavy attacks deal more damage, but they penalize the attacker, reducing his chance to actually land the blow. Each weapon has three "base damages," one for each of the three types of attacks. If a character is using no weapon, treat the "base damage" as zero, but unarmed attacks while wearing gauntlets, heavy boots, brass knuckles or the like will have a base damage that modifies the attack.
Weapon damage and penalties are determined as follows:
- Light Attack: Base damage + skill rank + STR + 1d6
- Medium Attack: Base damage + skill rank + STR*2 + 2d6 at a -2 penalty
- Heavy Attack: Base damage + skill rank + STR*3 + 3d6 at a -5 penalty
If a weapon is being wielded with two hands, the character's strength score has a greater impact on the damage and the overall damage is increased:
- Light: Damage + Rank + STR*2 + 2d6
- Medium: Damage + Rank + STR*3 + 3d6
- Heavy: Damage + Rank + STR*4 + 4d6
A very strong character wielding a heavy two-handed weapon can do a lot of damage with a single attack!
Resolving Ranged Attacks
A ranged attack is resolved as an opposed check that works almost exactly like a regular skill check.
The attacker adds together the base attributes and his weapon skill rank as though making a skill check, then adds any special modifiers contributed by a weapon that is more or less accurate than average. The defender uses his base missile evasion, which is derived from the formula 10 + INT + (AGI*2), as his modifier.
- The attacker rolls Ranged Attack Modifiers + d20.
- The defender rolls Missile Evasion Modifiers + d20.
Again, in the case of a tie, the defender wins. There is no limit to the number of "ranged parry rolls" because a defender is not usually actively trying to avoid an incoming arrow or gunshot (and to do so would often be pointless anyway, particularly at close range). Characters with shields add the shield's PA bonus to their missile evasion modifier. Characters with skills such as [s]Missile Evasion and equivalents add their skill rank to their modifier.
Some creatures will get a bonus or take a penalty to their missile evasion based on their size or distance from the attacker. These penalties can be applied as the GM sees fit:
- Small Target -- Humanoid-sized targets or similar animals. A +4 bonus at longer ranges.
- Medium Target -- Larger creatures, such as ogres (8 to 12 feet in height). A +2 bonus at longer ranges.
- Large -- Large creatures between 12 and 18 feet in length or height. A -4 penalty at closer ranges and a -2 penalty at at longer ranges.
- Very Large -- Creatures between 18 and 24 feet in length or height. A -6 penalty at closer ranges and a -4 at longer ranges.
- Gigantic -- Creatures larger than 24 feet in length or height. A -8 penalty at closer ranges and a -6 at longer ranges.
A ranged attack may be aimed at a specific portion of the defender's body. Striking a limb may incapacitate that limb, and a shot to the head may kill certain targets instantly. Creatures lacking various clear anatomy to aim at will likely be immune to these effects; alternately, creatures with non-humanoid anatomies can have hit locations designed by the GM and appropriate penalties. A list of penalties to the attacker's modifier and effects of hit locations:
- Limb (arm, leg, tentacle, whatever) -- A -4 penalty. Roll 1d6 if the attack hits. On a 5 or 6, the limb becomes unusuable.
- Abdomen -- This is the "default" hit location and has no special effects.
- Chest -- A -2 penalty. The attack deals +2d6 damage.
- Head -- A -8 penalty to accuracy. Many targets will be killed instantly unless they roll a 6 on 1d6. Targets that are not killed instantly take an additional 20+3d6 damage.
Ranged weapons have their own damage formula dependent upon the weapon. Add the PC's rank with the appropriate ranged weapon to the final damage.
Resolving Magical Attacks
A magical attack works remarkably like a ranged attack. It is a simple skill check that adds the attacker's base attributes to his skill rank. Because all magic skills have the same base attributes of <INT/WIS/MAG>, this number is usually precalculated as MAttack. The defender uses his MBlock, which is equal to 10 + INT + (COU*2), as his modifier.
- The attacker rolls Magic Skill Modifiers + d20.
- The defender rolls MBlock Modifiers + d20.
In the case of a tie, the spell is "partially resisted." Damaging spells do half damage; non-damaging spells may have reduced effects at the GM's discretion. There is no limit to the number of magical defense rolls a character may make each round. This is because the in-game explanation for a resist does not necessarily involve (and typically does not involve) dodging the spell in any way. A resist involves a character utilizing their force of will, consciously or subconsciously, to dissipate the spell's effect. This is explained more in depth in the magic article.
Some spells may create projectiles that are totally physical in nature, such as flying knives or arrows. These spells are dodged as though they were missile attacks, not spells. The spell's description should make clear which type of defense is applicable.
A spell's damage is not generally subject to reduction from AC. Spells cannot usually be aimed at body target locations. Spell damage and effects are specific to each spell.
Taking Damage, Wounds, and Dying
Just as combat is inevitable for most characters, so is getting wounded. Combat is dangerous, and it is highly probable that characters will learn this particular fact firsthand.
As a character takes damage, he or she becomes less able to fight. Attacking and defending alike are much more difficult after being stabbed, slashed, or impaled by foes, since wounds both physically make taking actions more difficult and are highly distracting.
If a character is reduced to critical status, or roughly 1/10th of his unwounded hit point total, he or she suffers a -6 penalty to AT, PA, missile attacks, and spellcasting rolls. Being struck by a single, hard blow that cuts a character's hit point total by more than 1/2 his maximum can also result in a penalty depending on the whim of the GM; a suggestion is to apply a penalty of -4 that lasts for one or two rounds at most.
When a character reaches 0 HP or less, under normal circumstances, they fall unconscious. In order to regain consciousness, an unconscious character must be healed to a postive HP value and wait a number of rounds equal to (10 - STA) before recovering and acting again, or until combat ends, or some other time determined by the GM depending on the severity of the character's wounds. Some healing spells will cause an unconscious character to regain consciousness as a side effect of the spell, or even as the main effect of the spell, hastening the process of recovery. It is suggested that any unconscious character that is healed and has his HP total raised above critical status be returned to consciousness. Characters within negative HP values lose 1 HP per round until they either die or are healed; any amount of magical healing stops damage from blood loss. If such bleeding or wounds would be more severe than this loss value would indicate, consider increasing the value by a few points per round.
Usually, deceased characters must be revived within 48 hours in order to preserve the character's prior memories and skills. The standard Resurrection spell is a rank 18 healing magic spell that calls back the spirit of the dead, reshapes the aura of the deceased, and repairs most gross physical damage. A separate spell is required to restore missing limbs, and the spell in question requires the remains of the deceased be present and at least partly whole. Other spells that return life to the dead may exist, though some of them may be considerably less pleasant or desirable for the dead in question. Very powerful spells that can resurrect a person that has been dead for weeks, months, or even years without any portion of their remains are possible but largely theoretical.
Eventually, one side will triumph and there will be no one left to fight. Characters that are victorious in combat should usually be awarded EXP for their valor. At this point, time drops back into "regular time" instead of "slow time" as abstracted by combat.
As a character participates in Philsys RPs, the GM will award "experience points," or XP, to the characters involved. A GM can and should award XP for any suitably difficult task or challenge overcome by the character, such as winning a battle, using diplomacy to defuse a conflict, or picking a lock. XP may also be awarded for exceptional roleplaying or other circumstances. A newly made character starts with 0 XP, though some GMs will award bonus XP for a well written character background.
A fixed amount of XP is required to gain each level. A character's XP count resets after each level is gained. The table shows the amount of EXP required to achieve each level; at level 1, 1000 XP are required to level up (achieving level 2), and then 1250 XP are required for the next level up (achieving level 3).
|Lvl 1||Lvl 2||Lvl 3||Lvl 4||Lvl 5||Lvl 6||Lvl 7||Lvl 8||Lvl 9||Lvl 10|
|Lvl 11||Lvl 12||Lvl 13||Lvl 14||Lvl 15||Lvl 16||Lvl 17||Lvl 18||Lvl 19||Lvl 20|
Whenever a character gains a level, the following things happen:
- The character gets a chance to increase up to two stats by +1.
- The character gets a chance to increase their skills by a total of WIS+3 (minimum 2) ranks.
- The character gains more HP, MP, and TP.
The step to a level up is to roll for stat increases. The player selects two stats, a primary stat and a secondary stat. This does not have to be the same at each level; a player may select a different primary and secondary stat at each level increase. The primary stat has a higher chance of being raised successfully:
- To raise the primary stat, you must roll equal to (100 - Stat*5) or less on percentile (100-sided) dice. Therefore, if you have a stat of +4, you must roll 100 - 20 = 80, or 80 or less on the die.
- To raise the secondary stat, you must roll equal to (50 - Stat*5) or less on percentile dice. Therefore, if you have a stat of +4, you must roll 50 - 20 = 30, or 30 or less on the die.
MAG can only be increased with sufficient plot justification; most characters do not spontaneously develop magical aptitude, but it is not impossible nor entirely unheard of.
Increasing a stat will increase relevant substats such as AT/PA and MAttack. A character does not gain retroactive MP for increasing INT or WIS, but retroactive MP is gained for increasing MAG. Retroactive HP is gained for increasing STA at a rate of 5 HP per point. A character who increases WIS gains the benefit of an additional skill point per level immediately, starting with this level. All variable increases (HP, MP, and TP) use the new, higher value if a stat increase for a relevant stat succeeds.
After stat increases are done and necessary modifiers are recalculated for the character's improved statistics, the character gains the following:
- STA + 1d6 additional maximum HP
- ((MAG + INT)/2) + 1d4 additional maximum MP
- STA + 1d4 additional maximum TP
A character's WIS + 3 (but not less than 2) skill points may be spent to increase existing skills or learn new ones. Increasing a skill costs the same as the skill cost at creation: 1 point per rank for regular skills, 1/2 a point for [k] skills, and (usually) 1/2 a point for [s] skills. A skill's maximum rank is "capped" at a rank equal to the sum of its base attributes + 6. For example, a character with +3 INT, WIS, and MAG cannot have a Fire Magic rank greater than 15.
No single skill may be increased by more than 2 ranks at level up. A character with a 4 in Unarmed Combat cannot suddenly raise his rank to 10, even if he has enough skill points.
New abilities (spells and techs) may be added to a character's sheet as necessary when new skills are learned or existing skills are increased.
Advanced Gameplay Rules
This section covers more advanced Philsys rules.
Any time a character is involved in an opposed check and his total beats the opponent by 15 or more, the winner has scored a critical success.
Attacks and spells that are critical successes deal double damage. Spells with a duration that do not deal damage have their duration doubled. Other, more extreme effects may be applied as appropriate.
For every 15 points by which the attacker succeeds, add another multiple. An attacker who succeeds by 30 deals triple damage, by 45 deals quadruple damage, and so forth.
It is possible to rule that an attack is a critical failure if the defender wins by 15 points or more. In this case, the attacker might drop their weapon, strike the wrong target, or suffer some other applicable downfall.
A character that wishes to hold, wrestle, or restrain an opponent is said to be grappling with that foe.
Grapple checks use the character's base AT/PA without modifications for armor. Characters may use their AT/PA as modified by any Unarmed Combat skill if applicable. In order to begin a grapple, most characters must make an unarmed attack against the target; this attack deals no damage, but if it hits, they are grappling the foe.
Each round, a grappled foe may make an opposed AT check against his enemy in order to escape the grapple. A grappling character may also use his opposed AT check to deal unarmed attack damage (punching) to the grappled enemy. Grappling characters can also opt to use any light weapons they are carrying once they are already in a grapple.
Grappled characters cannot cast spells unless they can cast spells without having to move.
A character can attempt to disarm a foe with no special skills, though [s]Disarming <Dex=3> provides a bonus of 1 per rank on a disarm attempt (or to resist a disarm). Disarming does not cost TP.
A disarm is handled as a basic attack roll versus a parry roll; a character denied his parry roll does not get a roll, as usual, and uses only his base PA. A character wielding his weapon two-handed is more difficult to disarm and gets a +4 bonus. A successful disarm means that the defender drops his weapon. If the attacker is unarmed, the attacker can take the defender's weapon into his hand instead.
If a character attempts a disarm and fails, the defender gets an automatic and free disarm attempt in return.
Multiple Attacks and Two-weapon Fighting
A very skilled character can attack his opponents multiple times per turn, fend off more than one incoming blow per round with a skilled parry, or even fight with two weapons at once.
Weapons are divided into light, standard, and two-handed in the equipment list. A light weapon wielder can substitute DEX instead of STR in all formulas except attack damage. Each class of weapon requires a different amount of effort to wield; lighter weapons are generally easier. Because of this, a character wielding a light weapon can attack more times in a single turn than a character wielding a heavier one.
- For every 8 skill ranks, a character using a light weapon gains a bonus attack per turn.
- For every 12 skill ranks, a character using a standard weapon gains a bonus attack per turn.
- For every 14 skill ranks a character using a two-handed weapon gains a bonus attack per turn.
Bonus attacks may be traded for bonus PA rolls as desired on a turn-by-turn basis.
Another way to gain extra attacks or parries is to wield two weapons. Wielding two weapons at once requires a certain degree of coordination, represented by a sufficently high DEX. A character must train in the [s]Two-weapon Fighting skill, which costs 1 point per rank, in order to wield two weapons. A character's off-hand weapon skill is limited by their [s]Two-weapon Fighting skill rank. For example, a character with 8 ranks in Dagger and 6 ranks in [s]Two-weapon Fighting can only use his off-hand dagger as though he had 6 ranks in Dagger skill.
- DEX +3 is required to dual-wield two light weapons.
- DEX +4 is required to dual-wield a light weapons and a standard weapon.
- DEX +5 is required to dual-wield two standard weapons.
A character cannot dual-wield two two-handed weapons unless he has four hands and four arms, a condition that few characters are able to meet.
The bonus attack granted by wielding an off-hand weapon may be traded for a bonus parry with that weapon. Bonus attacks for high skill are granted to off-hand weapons, so a character with an 8 in Dagger skill dual-wielding two daggers gets four attacks or parries per turn.
Whenever a character is making multiple attacks, if the defender is allowed one PA roll, he gets a roll against all of the attacker's strikes. The function of the PA roll is to represent a defender's ability to focus on only one attacker per round; if the defender is allowed a PA roll against an attacker, he is allowed a PA roll against all of that attacker's individual blows, no matter how many. Likewise, a defender denied a PA roll gets no roll against any of the attacks.
Status effects are conditions that affect characters, usually in a negative manner. Being poisoned is just one example.
The duration and curability of any given status effect depends on what has caused it. For example, a paralyzing toxin might last for a week, or it might not wear off until cured, or it might last for a mere ten minutes.
A list of some possible status effects:
- Poison: Being poisoned deals damage each round based on the strength of the poison. Poison is defined by levels. Poison deals 1d6 damage per level of poison in the victim each round. Poisoning stacks and is cumulative; an already poisoned character will be poisoned worse if another poison effect is inflicted. For example, if a spell is cast which inflicts level 3 poisoning, the target will take 3d6 damage at the beginning of the next round. The round after that, the target will take 2d6 damage, then 1d6 the next round, and no damage the following round as the effect has worn off. Spells which cure poisoning might cure the entire effect or simply weaken the poison by removing a few "levels." Poison strength increases dramatically as it goes up in level -- level 3 poison deals 6-36 damage over three rounds, but a level 5 poison deals 15-90 over five!
- Blindness: A blind character cannot see for whatever reason. A blind character will suffer a -6 penalty to AT, PA, and missile evasion. He will suffer penalties to spellcasting and magic defense if he does not first locate his target astrally or know the spell is being cast. It is utterly impossible for a PC to make any sort of vision-related check while blind; such checks will automatically fail.
- Paralysis: Paralysis prevents the affected target from being able to move. If a creature does not have muscles or joints that can lock up and become immobile, it cannot be affected by paralyzing spells or effects (for example, slimes). Paralyzed characters suffer a -10 penalty to AT, PA, and missile evasion. Paralyzed characters are also denied PA rolls. A paralyzed character cannot take any actions that require movement. If a character can somehow cast spells without having to move, spellcasting might still be possible.
- Petrification: Petrification turns the target's flesh into stone. The affected target cannot move, act, speak, cast spells, or take any other action. The target's AC will likely increase as a result of being made entirely of stone. If the target is hit very hard by a physical attack, it is possible that their body may break into pieces. In this case, the target will be much more difficult to cure or revive.
- Berserk: Berserked targets attack enemies indiscriminately in a blind rage. All melee attacks deal additional damage, and berserked characters will always choose the most powerful but least accurate attack possible. This means that characters armed with melee weapons will always utilize heavy attacks, and their STR is added an additional time to the damage. Characters armed with ranged weapons will always do the risky thing and go for the head shot. Any strength check of any sort is +4 while berserk.
- Mute: Muted targets cannot speak. As a side effect of being unable to speak, most spells are unusable.
- Astral Drain: Targets under the effect of astral drain suffer a continual loss of MP over several rounds. Astral drain works exactly the same as poisoning, with a system of levels, each level resulting in 1d6 MP being drained per round. The effects are stackable and cumulative, much like poisoning.
Falling long distances can be quite painful and often results in broken limbs or worse.
Damage from a long fall is as follows:
- 10 feet: No damage.
- 20 feet: 40+2d10
- 30 feet: 60+2d10
- 40 feet: Add 20 points of damage per 10 feet fallen.
Landing on a particularly hard surface or a similar hazard (such as a bed of spikes) will deal additional damage.
Holding One's Breath
A character forced to hold his breath for long periods of time can suffer serious damage. Lack of oxygen to the brain and other tissues can result in permanent injury and loss of brain cells.
Holding your breath for one combat round or roughly one minute deals 1d10 points of nonlethal damage. Holding it for 2 deals 5+1d10 points of nonlethal damage at the end of the second round, then 10+1d10 at the end of the third, 15+1d10 at the end of the fourth, and 20+1d10 at the end of the fifth. For each round after that, the damage dealt is still 20+1d10.
Also note that no character can hold their breath for longer than their STA+1 rounds. Doing so will cause them to fall unconscious regardless of HP value until something rouses them. If underwater, an unconscious character will rapidly drown.
A falling object deals damage based on its weight if it lands on a character. Round off the object's weight to the nearest 10 pounds and multiply the result by how far it fell (rounded off to the nearest 10 yards, as well). Divide the result by 100. For example, a 30 pound object falling 20 yards is 30 * 20 = 600/100 = 6. Multiply this number times the base damage of 14+2d6. In this example, a 30 pound rock falling 20 yards onto an unsuspecting creature deals 96-156 damage.
Very light objects (less than 10 pounds) deal half damage. Weight or distances of 2 or less should be treated as 10, but the damage is halved. A 2 pound object (round up to 10) that falls 20 yards deals (2*(14+2d6))/2, or more simply, 14+2d6 points of damage.
Soft objects, such as many living beings, deal half damage or less for their weight.
Complicated Support Skills
Support skills, or [s] skills, are usually passive or supplementary skills purchased at half cost. These [s] skills usually have prerequisites based on the type of skill they are; the prerequisite is usually a +2 or +3 in the closest stat associated with the skill. An [s]Observant skill would be based on INT, whereas an [s]Load Carrying skill would be STR-based.
Some [s] skills have very specific functions. Also listed are some example passive [s] skills:
- [s]Advanced Parry <Agi=2>: This skill adds its rank to all parry rolls against melee attacks. It only takes effect whenever the character is allowed a roll. It has many synonyms; skills such as [s]Physical Evasion and [s]Improved Dodge or the like are identical to this skill.
- [s]Missile Evasion <Agi=2>: This skill and equivalents add their rank to rolls for the purpose of dodging ranged attacks.
- [s]Acrobatics <Agi=3>: An example of a passive support skill, this skill adds its rank to any acrobatic or athletic tests of agility.
- [s]Drinking <Sta=1>: This skill adds its rank to any tests to avoid intoxication.
- [s]Observant <Int=3>: This skill adds its rank to any checks that involve attempting to notice details, hear sounds, detect traps, or other similar activities. It does not help with fine work, such as appraising the value of gemstones.
- [s]Pain Resistance <Sta=2>: This skill allows a character who would ordinarily be unconscious to keep fighting until they recieve too much damage to ignore or are incapacitated. For each rank of [s]Pain Resistance, a character may stay conscious an additional hit point under 0. Therefore, a character with 4 ranks in this skill is still active and able to fight at -4 HP. This skill also reduces penalties for being in "critical condition" by rank/2 (so a character with 4 ranks in [s]Pain Resistance suffers a -4 penalty where others suffer -6 from injuries).
- [s]Blind Fighting <Int=4>: This skill reduces penalties for fighting in total darkness or blind by 1 per rank of the skill. It costs 1 point per rank.
- [s]Firewalking <Sta=3>: This skill allows a character to walk over hot coals without being injured, if he or she succeeds a check.
- [s]Limb Defense <Dex=3>: This skill provides a +1/rank bonus to defend attacks by an enemy directed at the arms, legs, and head. It includes missile weapons, but it does not stack with any other evasion support skills--use the better of the two values.
- [s]Shield Blocking <Agi=1>: A character equipped with a shield gains a +1 bonus per rank to all PA rolls. A successful parry when using this skill is assumed to use the shield to block the attack; damage will be dealt to the shield accordingly.
- [s]Chink Detection <Int=2>: With this skill, an attacker may use a thrusting attack with a melee weapon to find a weak point in an opponent's armor. Doing so is a tech with a TP cost of 2. If the attack hits, make a second AT versus PA roll with this skill factored into the AT roll as a bonus (+1 per rank). If the attacker succeeds the second roll, the defender's armor class is totally ignored.
- [s]Improved Magic Resistance <Int=2, Wis=2>: This skill provides a bonus of +1 to magic resistance per rank. It applies to all magical attacks directed at the character.
- [s]Vital Striking <Int=5, Dex=5>: Improves the chance to score a critical hit on an opponent. This skill adds half of its rank to attack rolls for the purposes of scoring critical hits, but not for the purpose of actually hitting. For example, if A attacks B and A's attack roll beats B's defense roll by 14, A has not scored a critical hit. However, if A has 2 ranks in [s]Vital Striking, his roll is treated as though it were 1 greater, scoring a critical hit (2x damage). Effectively, for every 2 ranks in [s]Vital Striking, the amount which the attack must beat the defender to score a critical is reduced by 1. However, this skill's effectiveness caps at 10 ranks, or a critical hit on a score of 10 greater for a standard critical hit, 25 greater for an "improved" critical hit and 40 greater for a "massive" critical hit. This skill costs 3 points per rank.
Item Creation Skills
Some characters have abilities that allow them to create items. These work like normal techniques and spells, only that they create items for later use, and take time, accordingly. However, to preserve a decent level of balance, the pre-RP stock must be limited. As a result, it has been decided to be limited to as many (total of all) that one could make in one day (A full MP and TP's worth of items, basically.)
Advanced Philsys Theory
This section has its own dedicated article, Advanced Philsys theory. It covers more theoretical, GM-side aspects of the system. It also provides baselines and benchmarks for players creating spells and techs for their characters from scratch.