Introducing Skyfinder: A lightweight tabletop RPG system
Posted on August 30th, 2017
When looking at a D&D campaign I could run with friends, I found that pre-existing RPG systems are complicated. Of course I knew this to begin with, but going through the loads of text on lore, rules, mechanics, etc. I realized that what I really wanted was a system that simplified many of the rules, weighted things a bit differently, and was more accessible both for players and DMs, while still having substance.
Because I played Pathfinder before, much is heavily sourced from Pathfinder's System Reference Document. I also wanted to include a spacefaring mechanic and my initial thought went to Sunless Sea, a top-down RPG where you sail with a crew and manage resources (and story encounters). I looked into it and it turns out someone made a Sunless Sea tabletop RPG system, Sunless Fate, which uses the Atomic Roboto / Fate SRD. So some of my mechanics are
lifted from remixed from those sources.
Before going on to talk about it, here's a link so you can read the rules and / or run the game yourself: https://tinyurl.com/skyfinderrpg
Now, onto a bit of what the system has to offer:
Ability Scores and Skills
The core of the game is based around a player's chosen ability scores and skills, with players rolling checks (1d20 + modifier) to determine the effects of their actions (usually success or failure, though this can differ depending on the DM / story). There are the six traditional ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma) and twelve skills, two of each which use a given ability score as its base. Skills are as follows:
Intimidate (STR): Your physical ferocity can scare others into doing what you want.
Force (STR): You can break down any barrier or item you need.
Stealth (DEX): You can stay out of sight of enemies and move without a sound.
Acrobatics (DEX): You can more easily climb, jump, and maneuver.
Knowledge (INT): You know more about the world around you, from local lore to knowledge of
the universe’s workings.
Handicraft (INT): You are able to understand and take apart devices and machines.
Perception (WIS): You are better able to notice your surroundings, especially when things look out of place.
Survival (WIS): You have the basic skills needed to survive in the Void -- or anywhere, really.
Bluff (CHA): You can can convince anyone (or anything) that you’re speaking the truth.
Perform (CHA): You can put on dazzling displays to please any audience.
Ability scores and skill points are allotted at character creation and also help with saves (Reflex, Fortitude, and Will, like in D&D).
Classes and Traits
Classes are as follows:
Engineer: Makes sure things keep working the way they ought to. +1 Handicraft, can convert some inventory items to fuel
Medic: Skilled at saving lives, even if it means removing a few limbs in the process. Can stabilize allies in combat; can assist allies with CON saves
Gunner: Can shoot anything that moves, and usually anything that doesn’t. +1 Acrobatics, bonus to ranged attacks
Navigator: Able to guide just about anything by the light of the stars. +1 Knowledge, reduces fuel consumption by 25% (does not stack)
Chef: Responsible for feeding the crew with whatever is on hand. +1 Survival, can convert some inventory items into supplies
Warden: Keeps people in line -- friend or foe. +1 Force, bonus to melee attacks
Explorer: Here to see what wonders the Void has to offer. +1 Stealth, can assist allies in DEX saves.
Entertainer: The life of any party, even when others don’t want them to be. +1 Perform, can assist allies with WIS saves
Classes are meant to be a mix of flavor and mechanics. Choosing a specific class will affect some mechanics and thus, how you play your character (for instance, a Warden is going to be slightly better a fighter at level 1) but they are meant to be templates on which you can expand. They are also designed off positions in a ship, so if certain roles are missing (gunner, navigator, or chef, for instance), feel free to run with that as a DM and have your players try to creatively try to fulfill those roles in a creative or nontraditional fashion.
Furthermore, classes are not restricted by alignment. Feel free to have a cannibalistic chef or a pacifist gunner.
Traits are similar to classes in that they add flavor but can also be mixed into the mechanics of the game. At character creaton players pick their life goal, history, talent, and flaw, which will help to define them storywise but you can also use these sections to reward good roleplay (for instance, extra XP for pursuing their goal or using their talent). I'd recommend keeping talents short and sweet--something feasible and not game-breaking. Other than that, have at it.
Combat and Actions
Actions outside of combat are fairly unrestricted. I've outlined in the guide how some non-combat actions work, but generally this is up to however the DM wants to run it. For combat, actions are more restricted and usually players take turns after initiative order is determined. The guide accounts for melee and ranged attacks, as well as other actions within combat such as flanking, grappling, and charging.
The World and Navigation
Although players will likely start in a more populated location (city, planet, space station) sooner or later they may wish to take to the skies. This document outlines some of the mechanics of flight (combat, resource management) as well as some fluff about the different empires that make up the galaxy.
The main things to focus on here are that resource management and encounters (both subject to the DMs whims) are going to be largely influenced by where they are in space. Players should be cautious of venturing too deep into unfriendly territory without the resources (supplies and fuel) to make their escape, since they might get themselves into trouble without any stations willing to give them resources. Furthermore, a player's actions can help or hurt their reputation with given factions, so choices should be made with care.
The document handles some other details such as DM tips, random encounters, and items for purchase. Just keep in mind that the document is not exhaustive, and you can pick and choose what you want to keep, change, or remove. In fact, the best way to get started is to check out the document yourself!
Want to run it yourself? You can check it out here.