Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Few Insights into the Power of 12 Roleplaying System

The Power of 12 Roleplaying System has been designed from the ground up to encourage and facilitate role-play. To that end, many of the common paradigms from other RPGs are blatantly not present. New paradigms have replaced them.

Choice of dice:

The Power of 12 Roleplaying System utilizes the 12-sided die. I chose the 12-sider because, truly, it hardly ever gets used. It didn’t take long before the gaming store I frequented and the friends I had there associated me with the 12-sided die. Eventually it became a rallying cry for my endeavor to design a Role-playing game that actually helped me role-play, rather than forced me to role-play “against” the mechanics of the game. I do not claim that the D12 has some magic within it that facilitates role-play. But, it felt that way as I built the system.

Opposed Dice Rolls:

The Power of 12 Roleplaying System is an opposed dice rolling system. This is not new. With a few exceptions (initiative being one of them), if you are rolling dice, someone is rolling dice against you. That became a core concept: If you are going to roll dice then you are taking a risk. Where this works exceptionally well is in combination with Foci.

What are Foci:

Attributes and Skills, common in many games, are replaced with Foci. What this really means is that the miniature-game stat block that virtually all RPGs use as the basis for a character is replaced with a much smaller set of “stats” that reflect how the character is to be role-played. For example: In the Power of 12 (Po12) There is no “Dexterity” or “Intelligence” score. There is no “Two-Handed Weapon” fighting skill. There is no “Stealth” skill. Your character gets a much smaller list of Foci (the plural of Focus) that represent his or her motivation for acting. A Focus might be “Courage”, “Honor”, or “Deception”. There is a score associated with each Focus, chosen by the player, that determine that Focus’s relative strength compared to the character’s other Foci.


Classes aren’t new either. How we do classes is. A class in Po12 is defined by one basic ability that differs from the other classes. Not a huge array of statistical modifiers and adjustments. Just one ability, one concept that, for example, makes the “Warrior” class different from the “Skald” class. By this we avoid the, “We can’t play this week, Bill isn’t here with his Rogue. How are we going to detect traps?” That kind of rock-paper-scissors character class design is a direct descendant of table top miniature games. And when I play table top miniature games, I love it. But not in my RPG. You should feel special as your “class”, not hamstrung because you brought the Phillips screw driver but forgot the flat-head.


Everything up to this point encourages and facilitates role-play. I am a Vendai Warrior. My Foci are Joy, Dogma, Courage, and Honor (Try finding “Joy” as a stat in most any RPG). When my Vendai Warrior swings his weapon, the dice he rolls, how powerful his swing is, how much damage he can do is based on his motivation for swinging that sword in the first place. Is he showing great Courage? Is he defending his Honor or that of his companions? Is he standing up for what he believes in (Dogma)? Or is he mired in some violent circumstance that threatens his happy-go-lucky state of being?

And you don’t simply say, “I swing my sword with, (yawn), courage, at my foe.” Well, you can. That’s up to you. Limit yourself if you chose. Or you can role-play… “He tasks me and I shall have him. He has made a grave mistake, questioning my courage. Feel the wrath of the Vendai Warrior!”

It’s hard to role-play when you are trying to add up your strength bonus, your magic long sword bonus, the higher ground bonus, the favored enemy bonus, and the friends in combat bonus.

What about my equipment?:

Equipment, per se, is not in the system. You can use a two-handed claymore, a tiny dagger, or razor sharp wit. You can wear mighty plate armor, or a simple leather jerkin. Imagine your character how he should be, not chock full of unrelated “stuff” that happens to have the best bonuses. In ANY heroic novel or movie, the stuff NEVER matters. Only the hero. The stuff is flavor. Use it the way it was intended.

Now, there are Relics. Mighty heirlooms of the Gods. Excalibur was a Relic. Odin’s spear, Gungnir was a Relic. Those will have meaning. Those will have Foci of their own. Those we proudly put on the character sheet. Your coin purse? Really?

Wait, did I say razor sharp wit after the dagger and two handed sword? Yes I did.


Man, there is so much more. But, that’s what the book, “Of Gods and Relics Vendai” is for.

I’d like to thank “d.” for asking me to post something of the Po12 Roleplaying System.

p.s. I am still working on free to download adventure. I got a bit sidetracked adding more background and history to continents outside the present game world. Outside it for now. How the world came to be, how the races developed, what motivates the Gods to create Relics and to ask those worthy to risk their lives is so important to the game. This is, after all a game about “Why.”


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Filed under Of Gods and Relics, Power of 12, Power of 12: The Vendai