This is a BIG update, which is essentially several months’ updates packaged together while I’ve been a bit too busy to make changes to the website.
There’s a lot going on here, so you may just want to dive right into the documentation to get up to speed rather than crawling through all the changes. We now have a quickstart guide that lets you do just that!
There have been some changes to the website and how it functions. Most notably, I’ve started adding in some internal hyperlinks which should help navigate around the documentation more quickly.
Lots of website pages have changed names, and if you made any bookmarks, it will be likely that these will need to be revised.
I’ve also removed the donation page and setting-specific pages for now; these will come back soon (TM).
Attributes have been re-standardized to a max of 5. When we reworked the social mechanics (see below), there was no longer a need to have larger integers and big volumes of dice.
Motivations have also been tweaked so that they go from 5 to -4. This may look like a weird pair of numbers, but it makes it much easier for DMs to randomize them on a d10 when needed, without doing loads of supplementary maths.
EXP gain and progression
One thing that was abundantly clear from the few games I’ve DM’d using the now former experience-form system was how frustrating and random it was to gain new abilities.
While you can still gain forms from experiences, forms no longer represent a single ability, but rather, an entire suite of abilities. These individual abilities are now known as memories.
Sometimes you can pick up a memory from a single experience – that is, the experience is a memory.
Experiences and memories are also a lot more common than forms were – virtually all of the things which were “basic actions” are now memories. This opens a lot of doors to new and interesting combinations, as well as representing disabled and differently-abled characters in a more inclusive way.
This seems a good balance between realism (where it might take a long time to learn new skills) and fun (where you want to progress consistently and reliably). This is greatly assisted by some changes to combat mechanics, where we can now make memories a lot more commonplace. As with any new change, it will probably be tweaked on testing.
Mechanics changes: social
I’ve been musing for some time on how to make social interactions meaningful without (1) huge volumes of dice or (2) making it feel too random. I think I’ve finally landed on Something Which Works, albeit it will probably need some tweaking as it actually gets tested in live play.
An “attempt” is a bit like an attack in combat. 10s and 9s are good, just like in combat. Genius and Physique work like “damage” (see below) for more mental and physical tasks, respectively. So if you roll a 10 + it’s a simply physical check, one or two physique will probably cut it.
“Dialogue” is a new system for… uh… dialogue. It uses the attempt mechanic to provide a kind of initiative, then uses your motivation detection (no major changes here) to give you a hint as to how to talk to another character.
Then you talk, and if you found a target motivation, you change the NPC’s attitude.
There’s no chance of failure in the talking itself; however…
…if you’re trying to lie to another character, there’s a simple insight check against the difference between your attempt rolls. This is intentionally fairly random, however you can get a sense of your chance of deceiving (and being deceived) just by looking at your attempt roll for that round. It’s a bit like a poker mechanic – you might lose when you expect to win some of the time. But lying is like that, right?
If it’s too random, we might tweak this a bit in future, but I’d like to play with it and see how it works with live groups.
Attitude and motivation detection
Motivation detection has been slightly simplified and tweaked mostly to bring it in line with the lower (in absolute terms) motivation integers.
Attitude has been standardized to a 10-point scale, as attitude changes are now far more likely and far more common.
Mechanics changes: combat
Fight or Flight
The biggest change to combat is that hit points have been replaced by a new concept called fight or flight, or F/F for short.
The reason for this change is that there were a lot of mechanics doing the same thing – injuries, control attacks, fear, etc – which all just replaced your abilities. It naturally followed that there should be a name for this same thing. From there, it seemed logical that we cut hit points entirely, as they weren’t doing anything except calculating how near you were to death – which is just as easily to visualize using F/F.
The more I experimented with this mechanic, the more I liked it. Not only does it feel a bit more intuitive than magic black buttons which eventually kill you, it brings to the fore the thing every player wants to avoid – loss of control of their character. Rather than having this as a sudden thing which is inevitable, F/F ensures that various types of loss of control slowly effect the character over time in the same fundamental way.
Vitality now serves a triple function in combat – it gives you dodges, it prevents you from getting injuries, and it prevents you from dying from those injuries. This makes it quite valuable, but it’s also a bit more easy to get damaged and injured in general, because of the lack of a shared damage pool.
Basically, high-Vit characters should spend more time at “full health”, but they’re a bit more susceptible to injuries from a high volume of low damage attacks, because damage “stacks” inside a round (which it didn’t before).
Blocks and Resolve
There’s been a slight reversion to the old system (but not quite). You can now make any memory (formerly called “forms”) into a block, if you have a memory which has block (2) or higher. If a foe hits you on a block, no damage and no injuries.
This does introduce an extra player decision, in that knowing where to anticipate an attack might be quite hard. However, it does give high-Resolve characters “something to do” as most Resolve abilities are instincts (passive).
As there are no hit points, damage is now a per-round function. If you deal damage higher than the target Vit *in a single round*, you cause injuries. If you don’t, you don’t.
This leads (I’ve been testing it) to a lot of “Tis but a flesh wound” scenarious where a high-Vit unit can tank quite a lot before feeling any effect. However, this is already functionally the case – it’s just calculated a bit differently.
The main difference is that it takes away the small hit at the beginning of a round that takes a high-Vit unit into an injury (or death). This means that some high-Agi characters will need to time their attacks more carefully. But as Aim Ten was always a system designed to reward co-operation, this is perhaps a good thing.
It also leads to a lot of “heroic blow” situations where a seemingly impenetrable creature is finally brought down by a master stroke.
Actives and passives have been renamed to powers and instincts, respectively.
Donations and cashflow
I’ve had a mild increase in general solvency, which has allowed me to subscribe to some new content. For this new content, I’ve prioritized creators from the LGBT+ space, especially non-binary creators.
After some deliberating, I’ve added the following to our subscriptions list:
Awfully Queer Heroes is a duo making fantasy art and games. Some of their maps will likely make their way into our games soon.
Deven Rue of Critical Role is mostly known for their fantastic world maps, but she’s also made a small collection of small maps and shops. I will definitely use the shop maps soon, which are really detailed and customizable. I also have plans for her awesome hand-drawn banners!
I’ve also purchased a couple assets from Rae Nedjadi, whom I’ve been following for some time. He makes fantastic games and I’ve been keen to buy something from them for ages.
As always, 100% of donations to Aim Ten are forwarded to artists, game makers, and creators in the ttrpg space, as well as our Roll20 Pro subscription.