The Trollbabe system is designed specifically for the Trollbabe setting. It is meant as an introduction to narrativist style of play for those used to more traditional gamist or simulationist roleplaying or for beginners. The system is designed for everything to revolve around the player(s). NPCs do not have stats and only player characters can a roll for anything. So if NPCs attack a player, then the player decides how to resolve the conflict and makes the only roll, but the GM might apply modifiers if the attackers have an advantage, such as superior numbers.
- Players can only play Trollbabes, and only players are Trollbabes.
- Stat: There is only one number which determines fighting, magic and social ability.
- The system resolves around stakes & consequences. Stakes are the conflicts and the consequences are how the stakes turn out.
- The system is designed to be scaleable so conflicts can be resolved in the same manner, but consequences affect things on a personal scale, family scale, group scale, village scale or the scale of the world.
- There are clear rules which determine when the Game Master and when the Player(s) can describe a scene and the outcome of an action.
The player chooses a number to reflect fighting, magic and social ability. She must select a "speciality" for each. The player must also come up with a fairly detailed description of the character and select one item from her human side and one from her trollish side.
1D10 roll against the number on the character sheet. It must be below the number to succeed in any fighting action. It must be above to succeed at magic. For social tasks the better of the fight and magic range is used, but including the number.
- Scenes: Everything is resolved in scenes initiated by the GM, but ended by either the GM or players.
- Combined Roll:Two, or all three, action types can be combined, in which case two or three dice are rolled respectively. Doing so increases the chance of success as only one die needs to succeed and if three die succeed the player gets to narrate the outcome instead of the GM. However, failed combined rolls proceed directly to the injured stage and from there directly to possible death.
- Series: On failed rolls, the player can invoke a reroll with any relationship that is relevant or a carried object, found item, sudden ally, remember spell or geographic feature. These are recorded on the character sheet, and with the exception of relationships, each can only be invoked once per session.
- Modifiers: The GM can assign modifiers which are affected by scale as well as what the trollbabe is trying to do.
- Pace: Before a conflict it must also be decided with how many series it needs to be resolved, ranging from one to five. Faster pace means that each series is more important, while a slower pace increases the risk of injury before the conflict is resolved.
- Outcome: Whenever the Trollbabe succeeds at a series the GM describes the positive outcome of that success. If it failed the player describes the failure.
If a character fails at a first re-roll she may be "injured" in some sense. If she fails on a second re-roll she will be incapacitated in some sense and a third and final failure will mean absolute failure and the player may choose to let his character die. Only the player can allow his character to die, but otherwise the GM gets to describe his fate.
Injuries are "healed" when re-rolls are refreshed, at the beginning or end of a session or at a negotiated time.
Companions such as allies, friends and lovers may also be hurt if involved in a conflict and they can die.
Social conflicts are resolved same as magical and physical conflicts. Characters that are very good at either magic or fighting will tend to be social adept as well, unless the player chooses otherwise. Trollbabes that are equally good at magic and fighting, will be more average in their social ability. As a narrative system, Trollbabe is very well suited for social conflicts and dialog can form the basis for a roll as easily as a punch or spell.
There is no character development as far as skills or abilities go, as there are neither. Instead the character gains relationships (allies, lovers, enemies, etc.) which can be used to re-roll in future conflicts. There is also development in how the scale would normally be advanced when the GM and player(s) are ready, hence allowing the Trollbabe to affect events on a greater scale.
Magic is divided into human and troll magic. Troll magic concerns itself with nature and whole areas and best in groups. Human magic is individual and concerned mainly with the body and behaviors, it is usually performed through hypnosis, potions and such.
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- Ron Edwards
Ron Edwards has followed his own design philosophy and designed a system that is integral to the type of play and setting Trollbabe is meant to be. Even so the system is so simple and story (narrative) focused that it could with a bit of thought be adapted to other settings with only minor changes. The design is focused and the simple mechanics innovative. It is a great system for involving the players in the storytelling and allowing them to be creative, but not at all suited for players and GMs who are more interested in playing a game than telling a story.
- Short: 47 pages describes not only the rules, but contains artwork, examples, glossary and stories for the setting.
- Ultra Fast Character Creation: A character can be created in minutes and play start immediately.
- Player Scalability: The system works very well for a game of only a GM and a single player, but can just as easily be run with several players.
- Setting Scalability: The innovative ability to play games on any scale from a single adventurer to world conflicts, and to escale the scale as a campaign progresses.
- Minimal Preparation: The GM does need to spend some time preparing the sort of conflict that is to played out and ideally have some ideas for adversaries, allies and other characters. However as NPCs or items have no stats and the story is told in collaberation with the player(s) an experienced or inspired GM can easily rely on improvisation.
- Narrativist: This is not really a weakness, but it should be noted that the system is not for GMs and players that prefer more gamist or simulationist system and may not be suited to players who want to be playing a game rather than telling a story.
- Traditional Playstyle: The system is designed to accomodate those used to a more traditional roleplaying. While this is good it also means that it may not be suitable for those who prefer more edgy narrativist systems.
This needs more work, was written very fast and could easily contain mistakes about how the system works.
Trollbabe is a 47-page PDF published 2002.