Paragon is the revised, updated, and greatly expanded second edition of 2006's HDL Universal Tactical Role-playing Game. It is meant to be a straightforward, realistic, and highly customizable system for role-playing with an emphasis on story. Like other tabletop RPGs, one player serves in the role of Narrator (or game master). The overall goal of the Paragon system has always been to combine the most interesting and effective game mechanics, to make a system in which anything is possible while eliminating arbitrary constraints on player characters.
- Point-based character creation, with customizable Background- and skill-based characters; allows complete control over characters from the start and through continuing improvement
- No classes or levels; spend EXP directly to improve your character, as well as improving individual rolls
- Original HDL dice mechanic; no d20s!
- Unique Energy system for improving abilities and using special powers
- Custom Active Delay combat system eliminates artificial rounds and turns
- Options for ESPers, cyborgs, and magic
- Incorporates Game and Background cards to augment character creation and make gameplay more interesting, with a strong focus on player success
- Role-playing system that rewards staying in-character and solving problems thoughtfully rather than solely combat
- Characters are defined by their personalities and abilities, not by their stats or equipment
Demongate High, now it its second edition, is an urban fantasy setting for the Paragon RPG, centered around a high school atop the last gate to the Demon World in which students with supernatural powers are trained to protect humanity. It's also the inspiration for my current webcomic, of the same name. By far the most expansive, and my favorite, of the Paragon settings, Demongate High is over 530 pages, with more than 20 power archetypes, and nearly 100 pages of creatures from the mortal world, the Heavenly Realms, and the hellish Demon World.
My first Demongate High campaign ran for 8 years, during which time I developed a detailed mythology for the world and fleshed out dozens of characters I came to love. That campaign is now detailed in the Demongate High webcomic, and I continue to run campaigns in the same chronology. Of all the games I've written or run, Demongate High is the most well-loved by players, and the deepest, and most rewarding for me. It's truly been a labor of love, taking many, many years to get to its current state.
Perfect Horizon 216X
Perfect Horizon was actually the very first setting of the original HDL system (which eventually evolved into Paragon), inspired by various cyberpunk anime/manga sources such as Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell. It now stands as the first game in the "cyberpop" genre; not quite the dark, dystopian world of "cyberpunk" settings, but certainly no paradise, either.
In Perfect Horizon, characters live in the world of the 2160's, overseen by the "perfect" engineered society of Neutopia. Cybernetics and genetic engineering run rampant, creating cyborg super-soldiers, inhuman terraformers working Mars and Venus, and chimeric beings designed for combat or even household chores. The world itself, split between enormous mega-corporations and imperialistic neo-nations, is idyllic only on the surface, with a powerful undercurrent of revolution and technological upheaval.
Perfect Horizon is in the same timeline as Infinite Vector, and many of its themes and plot elements carry over to the deep space sci-fi setting.
LUCID: Dreamscape Reality
LUCID is based on a short story I wrote back in high school, in which certain people called Dreamers are able to enter the real world through their dreams, and control it as if it were a lucid dream. In an RPG, this bestows some pretty fantastic powers on the players, leading to a lot of creativity in essentially re-writing reality. Of course, there is also a mysterious force embodied by sentient shadows that hunt the Dreamers.
LUCID is a very unique and fun setting, but it's also a lot of work on the Narrator side.
Infinite Vector is a deep space semi-"hard" sci-fi setting for the Paragon RPG, taking place in the same universe and timeline as Perfect Horizon. While it's still in development, I've been trying to ground it in real science as much as possible, while maintaining an adventurous quality to it. Star maps, interstellar propulsion, weapon systems, and more are meant to convey a realistic depiction of space travel and the behavioral and cultural diversity of alien species.
The setting already includes a great deal of backstory and information on human and alien societies, with more than 20 playable alien races.
Tiger Territory is a strategic tile-placing/territory control game based around the real-world lives of male tigers in the wild, with a play time around 2 hours. Each player is a male tiger, trying to make it in the jungle by marking his territory, hunting, evading poachers, competing with other tigers for mates and territory, and withstanding monsoons and other environmental conditions.
Tiger Territory is still in testing, and art isn't yet final. I'm hoping to launch a Kickstarter campaign once I've worked out all the bugs, then publish it through Tremorworks. Of course, testing never really ends!
The Realm of Pyre
The Realm of Pyre is an ongoing, "living" grand strategy role-playing game based on the fantasy world in development for the Paragon RPG. Chapter 1 ran November 5, 2016, with a completely full group of 46 players.
In the Realm of Pyre, players take on the leadership roles of various kingdoms of the Realm, as well as organizations like the Mages Guild and the Church of the Angels, and even the roles of powerful dragons. Each chapter of the game resumes where the previous one left off, with results and consequences of player choices impacting the overall world and game state. The "plot" and key events change with each game, but the overall world persists. Pyre is the biggest GSRPG undertaking so far, with a strategic combat system and a map of the Realm spanning 7 feet by 8 feet! The game is expected to run in the second half of every semester.
My second GSRPG, Crossfire is slightly more strategic and military than Emergence, with a lot less focus on subterfuge and more on survival and resource management. Crossfire is scheduled to run April 30.
The year is 2033. Human society has continued to evolve and advance, with most nations now organized under larger regional governing unions. The environment is on the mend, though that promises to be a long road indeed. Technology has continued a slow but steady advance, and war is still a way of life in many parts of the world. The world’s population has surpassed 8.6 billion, and resource shortages are commonplace. However, human life goes on, much as it does today.
But that is all about to change, as two fleets of alien forces converge on Earth. Not only do these forces present a grave danger to safety of the planet Earth, but also to the stability of its society.
In Crossfire, players take on the roles of the leaders of the world's nations, dealing with economic, environmental, and diplomatic issues as two opposing alien fleets bring their war to Earth. Each 4-player team of Humans needs to manage their resources and engage in diplomacy with other teams, all while struggling to survive in the alien crossfire.
Inspired by the megagame Watch the Skies!, Emergence is a grand strategy role-playing game (GSRPG), running once a year for IGM students. The first session ran all day Saturday, April 11, 2015, with 46 players and 8 "control." I built the game from the ground up, based loosely on the framework provided by the Megagame Makers, with customized mechanics and components including hand-made flying saucers and nearly 900 cards.
In Emergence, players assume the roles of the leaders of the world's top nations, the World News Network, or a team of non-humans with mysterious objectives. At the start of the game, a mysterious rogue planet, called Planet X, has revealed itself in our solar system, setting off a chain of events involving political upheaval, alien infiltration, and potential world war. Players need to manage their economy and military, engage in diplomatic actions, conduct research, and figure out how to handle the unknown threat posed by non-humans on Earth.
Emergence is set to become a staple event for IGM students, to be offered every fall to new students. It uses a universal system that can be adapted to a number of scenarios, with plenty in the works!
Project: Infinite Vector
The concept of Infinite Vector has been in the works since the early 1990s, evolving and growing into an enormous and rich universe of cultures, technologies, and locales. Project: Infinite Vector aims to open that universe up to development and contributions from a wide variety of disciplines, including writing, traditional and 3D art, tabletop and digital games, and more. All contributions to the project will be free and open-source, and all books and other materials will be put into the public domain.
While still in its conceptual stages, I'm accepting any offers to be a part of this growing science-fiction universe, grounded in current physics and imagination.