Thoughts on using d20 for Conclave
The original World of Conclave was written without a specific game system in mind, although it was always intended primarily as a gaming setting, not a fiction setting or as a purely theoretical world-building exercise. At some point, however, it needed grounding into a particular system to prevent it from losing focus.

The advantage of the d20 system over others is the existance of the Open Gaming License (and thus no need to worry over copyright) and its widespread nature (unlike other Open systems which simply do not have the same level of public awareness).

Another aspect of the d20 system and its OGL spin-offs is that it has become very modular. Concepts such as hit points and armour class can be replaced by vitality/wound points and armour as damage reduction, or many other variants. Magic can be played as a spell slot system, a points system, a skill subsystem and so forth. It is not necessary to hew exactly to the core rules and try to shoe-horn them into a setting that does not fit.

With that said, however, the design choice for this website and other Conclave materials is the try to stick to only those elements that exist in the System Reference Document. There are three reasons for this:

  • It's the central Open Gaming material
  • It saves everyone (including us) from owning loads of extra supplements
  • It's an interesting challenge to re-interpret the rules
This doesn't mean that there will be no new gaming material on the Conclave website - we have new races, for example, that require defining in terms of game mechanics - but we won't be putting out loads of new classes, feats, spells and so forth. From time to time such things may be published, but our primary function is to provide a detailed and entertaining setting.

Already this decision has thrown up some surprises. The fact that Serene Lil can cast spells was an unexpected side effect of giving her assassin levels. She could have remained a simple Expert but the idea of a slightly darker edge to her abilities appealed. She does not, I think, belong to an assassin's guild or any such organisation, but there is an element to her character that suggests the ability to do harm, in a sneaky fashion, to her enemies and that, to me, suggests assassin. I picture her as more of a wuxia style fighter, with the spells expressed as graceful movement through the air, than as a hand-waving chanter of arcane verbiage. Which illustrates the third point above. It can be easy to slip into thinking of the rules describing just one way of doing things, but the window dressing can be changed to give an entirely different feel to the setting.


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