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It was 2017 ...

... and I was probably supposed to be doing something else, but I was playing around with an updated version of John Wick's Legend of the Five Rings dice pool system. Over the next few months I tore down what I had done, redesigned it, performed statistical experiments, and so on and so forth.


In fact, the dice system was re-vamped even after the Quickstart Guide was published (That was 2020). Then that change took playtesting, and on the cycle went.


I can't believe this system has come this far. I started developing it way before I published anything. I didn't even seriously consider publishing what I was doing. Even when I did start publishing adventures, I did not know it would turn into a platform to launch Heroes & Hardships. But almost every dime we've made has went into the development of this game.


It is August 2022, and it is almost make or break time.


What were the first design goals?


Well, as I mentioned, I wanted to use the L5R dice pool system. L5R 4E is one of my favorite games, mechanically and setting-wise. In L5R, you roll a pool of d10s. You add your ring value and your skill to come out with your rolled dice, and you keep your ring score.


Heroes & Hardships does that too. And in both systems, trained skill checks explode on 10s. After that, Heroes & Hardships updates the core mechanic.


The second thing I wanted was a HP-less combat system. I am not a big fan of tons of hit points, where having 1 HP is functionally the same as having 1000 (at least until you are hit again). So I wanted to have a HP-less system with penalties for being wounded. This is something L5R does as well, in a way, but H&H does it much differently.


I wanted a universal system that could handle any genre or setting. I had always been fascinated with GURPS and the potential it had, but something always rubbed in a little wrong about the design.


Early Years


Like in the intro of this post, I worked on the dice pool system. The core mechanic. I spent months just doing that. Of course, at the time I wasn't working on anything too in depth. Just an hour or two a week, probably. And this level of efforts waxed and waned over 2017-2019. I had a semi-functioning system by July 2019, but a lot of the options weren't finished. Abilities, Ancestry Traits, and Flaws were very incomplete. However, my group wanted to play a United States Western themed game. I kicked the tires on Boot Hill, but ultimately decided to give H&H its first real test run. And for 20-some-odd sessions we did just that.


Anyway -- I'm probably getting ahead of myself. This is my rambling blog about H&H's development. In it, I'll be talking about how things came together, and all sorts of odds and ends in regards to the system -- and maybe other things you may or may not find interesting! I hope I can keep up with one or two of these a week. But Kickstarter is coming and all the cards are on the table. It is make it or break it time.


Cya next time!


Below are Benefits & Hardships rules from a 2019 version of the CRB. This isn't how it works today! Benefits are only add rolled dice, and Hardships don't affect kept dice at all. You always keep your Attribute score in dice!


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