za3k > games > tower of choices
Tower of Choices is a game for two players: a DM and a player.
This a simple RPG system inspired very vaguely by the towers from "Sufficiently Advanced Magic", and some of the princples from "Index Card RPG".
written 2023-11-17 by zachary "za3k" vance
- Pick 3 starting skills. Add 2 of each to your character deck.
- Choose one special ability
- Equipment. You have 3 coins to spend. Buy up the 3 starting items with them.
The Skill Deck
As the player, you have a "skill deck". The deck represents everything your character is good at. Each time you meet an obstacle, you will pick an approach corresponding to a skill. For example, you might pick "Melee offense".
A standard obstacle is "DRAW 2, TARGET 1". You DRAW 2 cards. If you get at least your TARGET of 1 "Melee offense" card, you have succeeded at the check, and describe how your character beats down the opponent in melee. If you do not hit the TARGET number, your character fails and is set back in some way.
You may get bonuses to DRAW, if you have equipment that grants them, or the DM decides an approach is especially clever, funny, or likely to work. Rarely, equipment can decrease the TARGET instead. Conversely, difficult obstacles or poor-fit approaches may increase the TARGET number.
As you draw cards, they are not returned to your deck, but placed in a discard pile of spent skills. If your draw pile is ever empty, you are exhausted and unable to do anything. To conserve energy, before you start drawing you can choose to draw less cards than you the DRAW number.
Once your character takes a rest, you discard pile is restored. Shuffle it (together with any undrawn cards) and place them face-down as your replenished skill deck.
There is one special kind of card, called a CHALLENGE card. When shuffling your discard pile to restore it, you can voluntarily add CHALLENGE cards. This is the only way they are added to your deck, and each card is only played once. Drawing challenge cards count against the target number--if you drew one challenge card, you would need to draw two matching skills to beat TARGET 1. Overcoming the extra challenge is how your character grows.
Instead of discarding a CHALLENGE card, cross off the word CHALLENGE, and write the name of one of the other skill cards from that draw. It goes into the discard pile normally.
- Melee offense - you are proficient with the dueling cane, the staff, axes, swords, and with your fists and legs
- Ranged offense - you know how to use a bow, dueling cane, aim thrown missiles, and load and shoot a gun
- Defense - Physical defense
- Knowledge - You can remember things you have seen in the past, and research in the library to learn new facts
- Perception - Spotting hidden panels, making connections, and investigating
- Luck - Sometimes, it's best to just avoid bad situations
- Strength - athletics and brute force
- Grace - balance, acrobatics, and stealth
- Stealth - hiding, moving quietly, and acting naturally
- Speech - diplomacy, initimidation, and lying
- Crafting - Leatherworking, jewelerymaking, stonecutting
- Spellcraft - Knowledge of spells and runes. (You cannot yet cast them, in the first trial.)
Choose 1 starting ability.
- ARCANE - If you encounter magic, you will be able to learn the magic and copy it with a SPELLCRAFT check. +1 SPELLCRAFT skill.
- ASSASSIN - If your target doesn't know you're there, your first attack always hits.
- DEFENDER - You can draw DEFENSE for nearby allies
- DETERMINATION - Before starting a draw, you can choose to discard a card from your skill deck to draw 1 extra card.
- HEALER - Restore stamina, health, or mana in others. Somewhat useful on yourself, though less so.
- HEIRLOOM - Start with a magic item
- INDEFATIGABLE - After each obstacle, refresh a single card at random back into your draw deck.
- QUICK DRAW - If you exceed the TARGET for a RANGED ATTACK, fell one additional enemy per extra skill point
- RICH - You have 100 coins, not 3. You can still only take 3 starting items in with you.
- STUDIED - You have prepared well. Select 5 topics. The DM will give you about 300 words of concise, actionable, and truthful information on each topic. Topics could include questions ("What should I bring with me?"), headings ("monsters I may encounter, and their weaknesses") or general keywords ("mana").
- TRAPS - You know how to craft traps.
- WHIRLWIND - You can take up to two MELEE ATTACK actions per turn.
In addition to the skill deck, you can carry up to 10 items with you at a time. Keep track of them on an index card.
You have 3 coins to spend. Buy up the 3 starting items with them.
Equipment: ITEM (coin cost)
- CLIMBING SUPPLIES (1): Pitons, pick, strong wire rope, harness and carabeeners
- CRAFTING SUPPLIES (1): Allows crafting a wider variety of items in the trial. +1 CRAFTING DRAW
- DRINK, ENERGY (1): Restore your discarded skills without resting. One-use.
- HEALER'S CASE (1): Bottles, bandages, anti-venom, scalpel
- MISC SUPPLIES (1): You have a candle and flint, a water bota, a length of string, and a small knife.
- MISC SUPPLIES (2): Everything above, plus a large coil of rope, camping supplies, a pocket mirror, a bag of ball bearings, acid, a pulley, a lamp, oil, and a bell.
- MISC SUPPLIES (3): Any common item you could conceivably need that would fit in a backpack (and is not specifically in another kit).
- MANA CRYSTAL, SMALL (1): Can be used as a battery to recharge magic items. One-use.
- MAPS, INCOMPLETE (2): You will be given the name (only) of each room you are in
- NOTEBOOK (1): You have bribed the guard to smuggle in a concealed notebook and quill. You will remember anything you see perfectly during the trial
- POISON (1): Can be used to coat darts, arrows, or edged weapons. Deals ongoing damage or other effects on hit.
- REFERENCE BOOK (1): A reference book on a subject of your choice. +1 KNOWLEDGE DRAW, even if lost.
- SHIELD, WOODEN (1): -1 to DEFENSE TARGET, and allows defending against certain attacks at all.
- STEEL SHIELD, STEEL (2): -1 to DEFENSE TARGET, and +1 to DEFENSE DRAW
- WEAPON (1): Staff, Axe: +1 to MELEE OFFENSE DRAW
- WEAPON (1): Bow, OR Darts: +1 to RANGED OFFENSE DRAW
- WEAPON (2): Dueling Cane: +1 to MELEE OFFENSE DRAW and RANGED OFFENSE DRAW
- WEAPON (3): Pistol: +2 to RANGED OFFENSE DRAW