student 20 Productions

Random Thoughts of a Game Developer


Is this post late? Is it? I’m starting to think that instead of updating on Sunday, this blog actually updates on Wednesday or early Thursday. Anyway…

I’m not going to say a whole lot today. The Elements rulebook has hit just over 10,000 words, which is pretty cool if you ask me. I’ve finished Chapter 1 and started on Chapter 2 (character generation). Below, I’ve included an excerpt from the Challenges section of Chapter 1 for your consideration.

Things are going smoothly, if slowly, in case anyone was wondering. Without further digression:

Whenever a player is rolling a basic Effort check – be it a normal one or a Cumulative Effort – they are attempting to equal or overcome a Challenge. Sometimes that Challenge is fairly easy, sometimes it’s very difficult or neigh on impossible. Either way, the Player hopes to at best equal and at least exceed the Challenge.

This section describes Challenge in more detail. Although of interest to all participants in an Elements game, this section is targeted primarily toward the GM and the Adversary. It describes what Challenge numbers mean – both standard and ongoing. It will also touch on the ways that a Challenge can be modified, either for or against the Players.

In Elements, Players roll the dice, and GMs set the Challenges. NPCs are made up of static Challenge numbers and lists of capabilities. Unlike Players, a GM should never have to pick up dice. While this might seem a little less fun, it simplifies the GM’s job substantially; encounters are much easier to build and evaluate when you don’t have to worry about critical strikes and awesome GM rolls accidentally resulting in a Total Party Kill (TPK).

Of course, GMs are welcome to build things the way Players do, and roll the dice every bit as much as the Players do; the GM roll sets the Challenge the Player is trying to overcome. The system will work that way – but it’s not the best way to use Elements.

In the following sections, an outline for how hard different Challenge levels are is given, and how Challenge should be ramped up based on broadly defined TC levels. In addition, something called “Layered Challenges” will be addressed. Finally, the various situational modifiers are addressed.



And that’s it for now. See you next week (or sooner, if I have time)!


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