System analysis

While the Mortars & Miniguns series used the 5th edition rules via the open game license, The Frontier has its own custom system. Initially, I toyed with the idea of using 5th edition, but it would be too much work to get it to do what I wanted. A custom system means that the game is streamlined and focused on its core elements (high action and a lot of loot!).

If you’re afraid that you’ll have to learn an entirely new system from scratch, fear not! The Frontier is still a d20-based game and should be instantly familiar to everyone who has ever played such games. It’s like what Steve Jobs used to say about the iPhone: you already know how to use it.

Every action in the game is resolved by a d20 + attribute roll versus a target number. If you’re rolling against an opponent (for example, trying to hit them), then that target number is 10 + the opponent’s attribute score. Couldn’t be simpler.

There are some small differences with other d20 games. The most important ones are:

  • When you roll multiple dice of the same type, you pick the best one to use instead of adding them together. If you roll 3D6 for damage and get 2, 3 and 5, you inflict 5 damage.
  • Armor is not added to your defence score (which is called Evasion). You use your Evasion or your armor’s rating against attacks, whichever is higher.

Oh, and there are also exploding dice! Most damage rolls, and a few others, allow you to reroll dice scoring their max result (6 on a D6, 8 on a D8) and add them to the total. This caused some pretty exciting moments while playtesting the game.

So these are the basic of the game system and it doesn’t get any more complex when you get into combat and action scenes. There’s dynamic initiative, rolled once per round, and everyone gets one action and one move. Most actions will only require a single attack and damage roll, even when throwing a grenade in the midst of a bandit gang.

The rest of the game is also as simple and streamlined as combat is. I got rid of everything that wouldn’t fit well with the core concept or made the game unnecessarily complex. There are no skills; anyone can try to do anything using one of the attributes (although some classes provided bonuses to certain actions). Instead of tracking weight and encumbrance, there is a simple slot-based inventory system that will remind you of a video game: you get a certain number of slots based on your strength, and each item takes a few slots depending on its size.

This is a very basic overview of The Frontier’s system, which I hope game you a better idea of what to expect from the game. In the next update, I’m going to talk more about the game’s default setting,

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