Hubris Dev Blog #2- A Little Deeper Dive into DIY Rules- Abilities Scores and Modifiers

Ok, so I was HOPING to do a bunch of videos on this on my YouTube channel, but I just don’t have the bandwidth right now and I want to focus my energy on a different video… so you’re just gonna have to deal with all these purdy words right here on your screen.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m converting Hubris to my rules- you can find the beta version for free on DrivethruRPG.

Links to the older posts below:

Random Thoughts on Rewriting Hubris

Confessions of a Very Tired Writer

Hubris- General Overview

Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy But Playing A Game Fucking Should Be

My players tend to be casual gamers and/or I only get to play with people once a month, so forgetting the rules or only having a loose understanding is common place. We’re all busy, beau! Mortgage, work, politics, COVID, climate change, existential dread, trying to avoid having your partner start crying when you ask if they want to have sex, exercise, or whatever else shit is resting on our shoulders… So yeah, modifiers muck things up and confuse the players.

Here is a dramatization of what may occur during a game:

Ability Scores

As my available time to game has diminished over the years, my desire to cut the bullshit that creates annoyances (or barriers) has grown. I appreciate the mythology and thought that has gone into making Ability Scores work (and balanced)- but I think there’s always been a disconnect with them. Which is why they are constantly being tinkered with. Here’s a few thoughts/niggles I have:


I really don’t remember this being too much of an issue in 2e (the edition I cut my teeth on) but man, 3.x until now it’s just… fucking crazy.

Like… I get it, we want to show player growth and we want our beloved PC’s to emerge victories. But constantly stacking numbers on top of one another as the player’s get higher level, so the amount of mental math that get’s bolted on is just silly.

What’s the point of needing to roll a 35 or higher on something when you’re 15th or 20th level? To show how godly the characters are to lesser mortals? Why not just say it? Like “anything below level 10 just can’t do any damage to you unless they have a powerful magical weapon and/or roll a 20”? Bolting on modifiers just to give the appearance of badassery just seems needless to me anymore.

This escalation appears on the monster and trap side of things too- cause they have to be dangerous and challenge your players right? Traps deal a gazillian d6 damage because the PCs have a megazillion HP. Monsters have to hit harder/deal more damage because of that reason as well, not to mention they have to have a way to overcome all the spells, abilities, and buffs that PCs have to give themselves a fucktrillion armor.

Character Creation

With limited time, it’s gotta be quick and easy. Rolling 3d6 in order is easy. Even the base modifiers is mostly easy to commit to memory. But there’s still explanation, referencing a book, and it takes time.

Remembering Shit

Remember what modifiers to add when and what bonuses, buffs, potions and spells are active can be daunting and tiring. Players forgetting buffs only to remember them after the fact (especially if they suffered something detrimental) is frustrating and a bummer. Even if players that know their shit and are ready to go, it’s still counting- which means waiting around for everyone else.

Roll Under

Rolling under is definitely easier for players to grok. Into the Odd and The Black Hack are perfect examples of this. I mean they inspired me to write Death is the New Pink and Barbarians of the Ruined Earth. So yeah- they are good rules-lite fun and I highly recommend them.

But several issues became apparent to me after years of playing both systems. The first is most people I’ve played with, even brand new players, like rolling high. They like seeing that 20 face up before letting out a squee of delight, saying shit like, “That’s good right? I did good?!” But when I have to say not in these rules: a 20 is bad, a 1 is good. More than once I got, “well that’s stupid.” Not that is shitting on the rules- but it’s important to acknowledge player perception.

The second issue that became really apparent is the widdling down of Ability Scores throughout the session. Yes I know it’s supposed to provide a challenge but when it leaves a player feeling like they can’t contribute and/or ineffective that’s not fun.

I know it’s easy and effective having a wight that deals 1d6 STR drain damage each attack, but when suddenly everyone in your group has a 6 or less- it’s more frustrating than anything.

How I Handle It Now

Basically all I care about know is if the PC is good at something or not. I don’t care HOW good because that is too nuanced for casual gaming. With my rules, there are four stats: Body, Agility, Rapport, and Focus. Choose two to be good at. There are three edges (for fantasy): Melee, Ranged, and Magic. Choose one of those to be good at.

If you are good at something, roll 1d20 and get an 8 or above. If you’re not good at it, you need a 12 or above. If you’re playing smart, have a buff, or something- roll with Advantage. If you are are being stupid, hindered, debuffed- you roll with Disadvantage. Disadvantage always cancels Advantage (unless specified in spell’s or magic item’s description). That’s it. That’s the main jist of the rules.

Character creation is do the above, roll 1d8+4 for HP, and roll for starting equipment. That’s it. My rule for playing the game is if you just want to show up and play and not read or do anything, totally cool. You will play a human (each human has a unique ability that makes em all snowflakey). If and when you can drum up a fuck to give about learning the rules and reading the book THEN you can choose a Species to play (if applicable).

There’s a little more on my rules but I’ll cover those in other posts.

Be well all!

Side tangent but related– this is a cool episode of Questing Beast and I tend to run my games very similar to this. Rulings not rules, quick and based on some amount of experience on how the world works. Enjoy.

Author: Mike Evans

I am the dude behind DIY RPG Productions. I have a fuck all punk rock attitude, love meeting new people, doing nature shit, and gaming (tabletop and console) and having a good time. I love craft beer (maybe too much), punk, grunge, and industrial music. I write books. Good for me.

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