'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Quickly! To Barsoom!

Today Modiphius released the quickstart rules for John Carter. We get our first taste of the system.

I wanted to jot down what I see as the major differences between Conan 2d20,as I am most familiar with this system, and the mechanics in the John Carter game.

The system is the same as Conan in this.
2d20+up to 3 bonus d20s
combat dice are calculated the same, 1,2,0,0,effect,effect.

Accomplishing Tasks
The Same
Roll 2d20, buy up to 3 extras.
Roll vs 2 numbers, get under the TN = 1 success, get under the lower value = 2 successes
Opposed tests work the same. Each side rolls, if both succeed, the side with the most momentum wins.
The Differences
Skills vs attributes
Conan uses Attributes+Skills. Skills have an Expertise and a focus and these plus the attribute provide the TN and Focus to roll against. Example: Melee attack: Agility=9, Melee Ex=4, Fc=4. Melee TN=13, Fc4.
John Carter uses attributes. Each test utilizes two of the attributes. Daring+Might for example. The sum of these is the TN and the lowest of these is the target to gain a second success. Example. Daring=5, Might=6. Daring+Might test: TN=11, FC=5

Momentum, etc.
The Same
You gain one momentum for every point above your target difficulty. Task is Difficulty 2, roll 3 successes, momentum = 1
You lose one momentum at the end of each scene
You can spend momentum for various effects
The Differences
No group pool. Players are allowed to save momentum past their turn, but it is stored in a momentum pool with a maximum equal to the players lowest attribute. Players may contribute to another players momentum pool, but it can't exceed it's maximum. Doom becomes Threat
Fortune becomes Luck

The Same
The world is broken into zone vs measuring squares. Distances are therefore abstractions.
The Differences
New names for the zones
Immediate - Within arms length. (Melee)
Near - not next to, but easily reachable. (Same zone)
Away - areas apart from others either due to distance or obstacles. (Adjacent zone)
Far - Visible range (2 zones over)
Too Far - Out of visible range, beyond the ability to engage without special tech.

Action Phases
The Same
Broken into rounds and turns. Each round is composed of player turns.
Players go first in initiative. GM can interrupt for the cost of 1 threat.
The Differences
Phases are simplified. Movement, Conflict, spoken.
Movement allows moving to any point within away. Moving further costs a momentum..
Conflict actions. Generally things that require tests.
Spoken actions. Simple quips and spoken commands.
Free actions. Not listed in the quickstart, but references are made to it.

The Same
Essentially broken into stress and harm. Harms are renamed as afflictions.
Having an affliction causes a penalty on the appropriate stat.
Reducing stress to 0 = 1 affliction.
Causing 5+ points of stress in a single attack = 1 affliction.
The Differences
One additional damage category. Confusion. It's Affliction is called "Madness"
When characters take damage they look at the two attributes used in their defend reaction and choose which stress track to take the damage on. Ex. A character parries with "Cunning" and "Daring", this brings the "Confusion" and "Injury" stress tracks into play and either can take the damage.
Blacking out instead of death at 5 wounds.
Optional note that an affliction can be caused at EACH 5 stress if the GM desires

What other differences have you noticed in the rules between the various 2d20 systems and this "lite" offering? Drop me a comment below and let me know!


  1. I could be wrong (I'm a novice to the 2d20 system, and have only run Star Trek Adventures a couple'a times), but it looks like damage in JCM is a little different from damage in Conan and STA -- specifically, in how many dice you roll.

    The quickstart for JCM says that "[e]ach source of damage inflicts a minimum of 2 [challenge dice?] of damage", and you spend Momentum to increase that pool. Maybe that's just in the quickstart rules, but in STA and the Conan quickstart, damage dice are per weapon (in STA, it's per weapon plus your Security discipline).

    Anyway, that's a thing that I noticed is different, just looking at the quickstart.

    1. Yeah. It's hard to say. Could be a simplification for 2d20 lite or for the quickstart. Good catch though. I haven't looked at the JCM rules in a little while and primarily play Conan. :)