Here are my initial thoughts:
Anything which is the obvious selection for an experienced player should be free and baked in.
Characteristics are just broad Virtues pretending to be something else.
The virtue list is clogged with examples of (+3 on this skill) Virtues, and instead of noting that they are all the one virtue, with different in-world dressing, they are treated as separate. This should cease.
Virtues that unlock skills and abilities make no sense and should be removed.
Virtues and flaws should not balance.
The skills list is too wide, does not make sufficient use of Profession as a catch-all, and contains separate military skills for things which real people did together, like Brawling and fighting with weapons. I’m fine with longbows having an untrained penalty, but your basic poacher should be able to hit a man as well as he hits a deer with his shortbow.
The numerical differences between weapons are neither interesting nor useful. The combat should be opposed skill rolls with bonuses for better gear than the opponent.
The multiple rolls to resolve as something as simple as a swordthrust make the game slow and the system intrusive. Shades of narrative control needs to be given, not a damage number. When you have bonuses for gear, then Damage can be represented by damage to gear, by situational changes like seizing high ground, or by actual wounds.
Experience points are unnecessary. Do the thing, get the thing.
Beginning players should be limited to a single Technique+Form pair if playing magi.
Libraries are detailed to a ridiculous degree. If your source is a high enough quality, you should just get your level of magical training, Do the thing: get the thing.
Longevity potions should not exist. Longevity should be an innate property of being a magus, or not exist (four score and ten, no more.)
Arts should use the skills progression. Sponts use the addition of arts, double for formulaic (double plus X for fatigue loss). Rituals break this.
The Order should be smaller: if you create a new spell, people should care.
Magical and Companion characters get ten points of virtues, and can take another five if balanced, Grogs get five, with an extra one if you take a flaw. Remember, in this system, Characteristics are Virtues.
Virtues, for now, just as is, but ignore anything that just unlocks skills. Also, a Characteristic is a Minor Virtue that is a +1 bonus whenever the a specific adjective is relevant to a skill. Intelligent, sly, charming, strong, whatever…
In this system, your Profession has a lot broader application. If you’re a fisherman, you can use that skill to bargain for things you’d sometimes buy, to sail, and to use tools like your knife as a tool. You can also use it for minor brawls. Your personal history, and this profession also replace many of your Lores. This use of Profession to represent “things you know how to do because it’s your job” doesn’t kill off a lot of skills: if you are a fisherman and you learn how to to burgle buildings you may need Stealth. Alternatively, you might prefer to get Profession: Burgular.
The specific skill for hitting people is called Fighting, but if you are, for example, a Knight, then your Profession works for that too.
Arcane abilities can similarly be tied to professions, like Soothsayer and Nun, but if you want to be a lady courtier who has the Second Sight, that’s a separate skill.
I’d like to remove Imaginem somehow…as an easier layer of difficulty to the other Nouns. For new players, 1 Noun + 1 Verb is all that’s allowed, to prevent them being paralysed by choice.
Vis is just vis. No flavours. It’s so much simpler. At cons I use matches and you actually burn them when you use the pawns.
Certamen uses the fighting rules: see later.
Spells: the lower art totals flatten out the art guidelines. Eventually I’ll rework them as steps of 3, not 5.
Aging: I do not care. Really I don’t. I know the rest of the world does, but really? For PCs? Really?
Combat is simple, if you come from a diceless background. Here’s how it works:
You roll and the NPC rolls. If you like, you can have the NPC roll first so you get to enjoy targeting a number in your roll.
- If you have better weapons, you get +3.
- If you have better armor, +3.
- If you have a situational advantage (on a horse when your opponent is not? Standing on a table fighting someone below you?) +3.
- There are no minuses for having worse gear: the difference is expressed through the bonus to the person with the advantage.
If you win the roll, you have narrative control to the extent that you describe how you win. The player of the defeated character can veto, and can perform small, interruptive actions that make sense in the broader context of your win. If the character has a resource that they reveal to disrupt the flow of the story, negotiate, but the winner is still the one making the story.
How much you win by determines the degree to which you can win. The basic wins are
“minor damage” which is anything that gives a +1 bonus on subsequent scenes
“Light damage” which is anything which gives you a +3, or takes away an opponent’s advantage to the same value. This is, for example, an injury that prevents the off-hand being used.
“Medium damage” which is anything which gives you a +6, or takes away an opponent’s advantage to the same value. For example, throwing salt in an enemy’s eyes so that he’s blind until the fight is over.
“Heavy damage” is -9, which is, for example, an injury that forces the opponent to drop his shield and prevents them from picking up anything to use as a fending bar.
Anything above this is a discussion about death.
A few rules:
You need to agree for your character to die. Don’t be a tool. Seriously. People will hate you if you are a tool.
You may trade death for other forms of removal from the story, provided you are not playing a grog.
Non-grogs may not die on the first injury. You always get one loss first. It may be that the guy chops off your arm…but you never die or kill on the first hit.