Project Overview: Ballistic

Posted: October 8, 2013 in Project Overviews
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To provide a better context for future project updates, I’m going to post a few overviews of some of the major projects I’m working on. Here’s today’s project:

Ballistic: A Modern Tactical Roleplaying Game

Ballistic is my attempt to create a gaming system that incorporates the flexibility of systems like d20, but is streamlined enough to provide quick setup, and fast gameplay. The impetus for this project was my desire to play an RPG that could accurately reflect the feeling of action films. Attempting to play a game based on something like James Bond or Die Hard would be difficult with d20 because of all the extensive stats and rules players need to remember, and working with that system would slow down the gameplay to the point where it loses the intensity those films have.

Since most gamers are at least roughly familiar with the d20 system (most commonly used in D&D 3.5, and open source in the SRD), I’ll use that as a reference point for comparison, and list some of the main differences that make Ballistic unique:

Character Creation

In 3.5, character creation takes a fairly long time, choosing races, classes, feats, spells, etc… In Ballistic, it’s much quicker. Being set in modern Earth, you only have one race: Human. Ethnicity can be chosen as desired, but has no effect on gameplay. Additionally, there are no classes in Ballistic. Character development is much more flexible by using only one set of modifiers called “training perks” instead of a combination of class features, feats, and skills.


You have 6 core abilities, similar to D&D, but wisdom is dropped in exchange for perception, which makes much more sense in spot and listen checks. Task resolution becomes simpler by using only one number for abilities, instead of a score and a modifier. Ballistic is also simplified by only requiring two d6′s for all rolls, rather than a fistful of polyhedrals. Combat is both simplified, and made more interesting by requiring opposed rolls for attacks, rather than aiming for a set AC, and damage is standardized for weapons, so that’s another roll you can skip. Leveling up is fast, and the only benefits you get are from training perks, so you can level up in-game, or even in-combat with no hassle.  Additionally, experience is gained from non-combat tasks just as much as fighting, so your medic/techie can be just as useful and keep up in level with the heavy hitters.


The stakes are higher in Ballistic, since HP is a set attribute determined by ability scores and you don’t gain HP when you level up. That’s one of the things that always bothered me about D&D. Even naked with no equipment a level 20 fighter would tremendously overpower a level 1 commoner. In Ballistic, equipment, tactics, training, and luck make all the difference. The same level 1 commoner could destroy a level 20 fighter if he had the right equipment. Armor absorbs damage, rather than just somehow making it harder to hit like in d20. Equipment takes damage from general use and requires maintenance for proper reliable function. Called shots are included, and individual limb damage affects gameplay in various ways. Improvised weapons work just as well and hurt just as much as purpose-built weapons.

Other things included

Everything around you is possible in the game. Guns, cars, drugs, criminals, soldiers, etc, etc, etc… The whole game is designed to be as realistic as it can while retaining as simple a ruleset as possible. I’m really looking forward to completing and playtesting it, and I’ll be sure to give everyone who wants it the opportunity to be in the beta testing phase.

Current Progress: Initial draft ~30% complete.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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