The Sister Continents RolePlaying System: A Brief Introduction


The Sister Continents is first and foremost a World, a setting for both fiction and gaming from the time of its conception late in the 20th Century. The Roleplaying Game is a far more recent invention that has percolated for many years, but never took shape, as there were many fine games on the market that functioned for our world while it was in its infant and youthful stages. However, as the world coalesced and became more fine tuned it became clear that there was not a game out there that fully met our needs.  

In order for these game systems to function cleanly they would have needed overhauls and additions. During the writing of The Mystic Lapidary, a game book devoted to gemstones and their enchantment for magic items, the desire for a completely customized system began the transformation from wistful concept to rational decision, both creatively and legally.

At this stage we began to look not only at the needs but the wants, and the battle cry for systems development became “Simply Complex” with an eye toward computer assisted automation while still retaining a Pencil & Paper game. Eventually this became known as:

Depth Streamlined

When the first kernels of the gaming system began to form during the writing of The Mystic Lapidary there was one thing that was abundantly clear: How things worked in the Sister Continents was not simple, so therefore system mechanics were not going to be simple. 

Depth: The mechanics systems needed to be comprehensive and full of options, starting with Character creation and progressing through Combat and Magic, to the item creation systems. Options mean choices, and choices mean consequences, and consequences equal drama, and therefore a deeper playing experience. 

Streamlined: The mechanics of the systems, in order to achieve this goal, needed to stay out of the way of game play and enhance rather than slow them down. Like so many things in life, the key to a system being streamlined is preparation. For the Sister Continents RPG, Character Creation is the ultimate preparation. By the time a Player has created a character from A-Z they will have a firm grasp of how the systems of the world work, so it is highly recommended that Gamemasters also start out by creating a character from scratch.

In the end, what it really boiled down to was how complex were they going to be? 

The roundabout answer is as complex as they need to be, but no more. For example, amongst other things, Combat needed:

  1. Tactical Options
  2. Reasonable Realism - The Suspension of Disbelief
  3. Plenty of Choices for the Player and Gamemaster
  4. Hit Locations
  5. Criticals

The base Combat System that everything plugs into is only two charts. That is the key to that system. Whether a character wields a sword or a mace, throws a vial of acid or a bolt of lightning spell, falls from a wall or has a wall fall on them, the Hit and Hit Severity Charts are exactly the same. This is not to say that a dagger yields damage equal to getting stepped on by a dragon, just that their damages may be found on the same chart. The charts are complex, but Players and GMs do not need a stack of them to flip through. For more detailed information on the Combat Charts click here.

Whether or not the final system is D20 or D100 is currently up in the air. While it is well known that D100 works great, it is also quite possible that D20 will be able achieve a comparable granularity due to how the system functions. At first, D100 was the lock, but enough changes have occurred to suggest that D20 could function while easing the "math burden" significantly. The premise of the system is the same, no matter the dice, only the numbers don't remain the same.

With these basic philosophical notions in mind, it is recommended that you next take a glance at Characters, the true heart of any role-play system. 

Background Art by Jon Gibbons

© 2018 L. James Rice