You've probably noticed there's no update this month, which I think is a first! Instead, I'm well into development on Sabre 2nd Edition, a series of sweeping changes to the core system to make it easier to learnand play. Let's go through some of the things I'll be introducing, but first:



About two weeks ago, as of the writing of this blog, I had an epiphany - I could see the whole system as a quilt, stitched together from all sorts of bits and pieces. It's whole, it works and we're familiar with it, but it's pretty rough when you get right down to it, and could be smoothed out a lot. 

Every now and then a system like this needs to be cut back and refined, and now is the time. This will actually be the 4th edition of sabre, as I've been here before, armed with a nerf bat and the delete key long before it was released to the public. For the purposes of the public release version it's the 2nd edition though, to prevent confusion :)


Uniform Rules

After using and developing the system for the last few years, I've got a good sense of what's working and what's not. At the moment, you've got to learn and deal with separate rules for different parts of the system. Just the Attributes and their bonuses are a hassle - Damage Modifier is +1 for every 3 Strength. Reactions come at 1 for every 5 Agility. Spirit Points equal half your Willpower Attribute and Luck Points are on a sliding scale.

Then your ability to learn new talents is on a compounding scale, but everything else is a flat scale that varies between skills, manoeuvres and psi/magic. It's a mess :(

I also don't like how detatched Attributes are to other aspect's of a character's abilities, so I want to tie them together in a better structural way. 

And while I like the freedom of the Background system, allowing you to be more fleixible with how your character is created, I feel there's too much crossover in skills which muddies the roles everyone is playing. So while I think Backgrounds are like 50% of a Class (referencing the class system of something like D&D), we're going to lean into it a bit more with 75% of a class :D 

Finally, the layout and style of the manuals is too harsh on the eye, with heavy, dark headings on all tables (meant to highlight important bits) contributing to a challenging read. 



Firstly, I'm combining Willpower and Intelligence into 'Intellect', as Intelligence didn't have any impact on a character's combat abilities, and was mostly used for faster learning. Now it'll also be Spirit Points, and it's one less Attribute to keep track of, and one more that you'll need to consider for any character build.

Then I'm taking a leaf out of 3rd edition D&D's ruleset by having each Attribute have an Attribute Bonus, starting at 10 and advancing +1 for every 2 in the Attribute. So a score of 18 gives a +5 bonus. We'll be using this number as a bonus to skill results, as I really like how the Result Bonus works in the system so we'll be using that a lot more. This number will also dictate Damage, Reactions, Heal rate and Spirit Point bonuses, as well as Luck points. 

Instead of Backgrounds, we're going with Professions, each of which has more in the way of unique abilities, but more than that they present a character's capabilities in a modern context, speaking about what you can do now as opposed to what you learned growing up. It's a subtle distinction that makes a profound difference in how we think of characters, and now you'll be able to say what you're playing, as each profession has a title not unlike a character class. I doubt anybody ever took the Fisherman or Farmer backgrounds, and they were more thematic for roleplaying purposes than character ability. Now you'll have Hunter, Soldier, Gladiator, Thief, Doctor and so on. The total number of these professions is less than the backgrounds system, but there's still a huge variety.

Some skills have a companion tied to them as well, such as Leadership and Artifice/Robotics. I'm developing this further with professions that have a specific companion ability baked-in. The Inheritor profession gets a butler/bodyguard, Wizard gets a familiar, Hunter gets a pet (which can be a beast or dire beast once you're skilled enough), Roboticist gets a robot etc. For scifi, the ability to make a whole lot of robots is being removed. Sure, if you can build one you should be able to build a hundred and have them do the adventure for you, but that's bad gameplay, so restrictions are coming in. These companions will also not be counted as separate characters, requiring your own Accolades to advance, so a player's abilities are split over two characters, essentially, using the power of teamwork to achieve victory!

Now that talents, skills, manoeuvres and psi/magic are all going to cost the same to 'buy', manoevures are being revamped completely, bringing them up to the same value as the others with better abilities that advance automatically as the related skill increases. I should also mention that the Quick action is being removed too, with Reactions being used in its place for things that are 'quick'. This also means that you can use more than 1 manoevure in a round, but they're each being pegged to a particular action now. So your Action, Movement and Reaction(s) can each have a manovure attached to them, requiring only a Spirit Point with no other dice rolls required. It's a cleaner system with more freedom and will produce faster play :D

The current system to roll critical hits is easy to use and elegant, but the result is basically a 10% critical chance by default (10% of your skill level, no matter what it is), and 20% on an expanded critical. In our last game, the players (who are playing very experienced characters) rolled a LOT of criticals, more than 12 combined. It's just too many, and the system doesn't allow for any granular adjustments, it's either 10% or 20%. So I've come up with a new system which gives a 5% critical chance on all skills by default, and I can incrementally boost that with talents etc. It's the top 5 points from your skill score, basically. So if you've got a 55 skill, 51-55 is your base crit range. It should fix a LOT of issues, and of course the ability to use Luck Points to "de-crit" an enemy's roll will be removed. Mmm, balance!

Finally, the entire layout of all manuals is getting a facelift, with those heavy lines being removed and a lighter, fresher look to make it easier to follow. I'll do new cover art too, something that really captures the adventurous feel we're going for here. Wish me luck on that one!

One of the new manoevures:

A profession n the new layout:

And the race/species new layout, single page!

When will it be ready?

No idea! I'm making excellent progress on the scifi edition, as both of our local games are scifi and well, the squeaky wheel gets the grease! The next campaign I'll start will be Sabre 2e, and I'm wrapping up my current campaign before the end of the year so we can switch to the new system. That should give me enough time to get all of the manuals done and some of our experts can analyse my work. The good news is that most of the core system will simply copy over to the fantasy version, but there's still a lot of work updating all of the spell system too. Plus I have to do the bestiary and encounters guide as well, so there's a fair bit of work to do there. I need to run a few sessions to verify it'll all work on paper as well as I think it'll work in my head, and then I can get it out there. So, tenatively, I'm thinking the end of the year at the earliest, but more likely it'll be sometime early next year, depending on how well the cover design goes. Oh, and if all goes well, I'll make sure the new manuals are set up for print publishing, which is something people have been requesting for a while now! I never got around to it because I didn't like the look of the manual, but this new one is shaping up very well indeed. So, keep an eye out here for any further news :)