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The Neithernor RPG Level System

Hello Mounties! I’m posting this, but Mike, fellow Mountainer and Neithernor RPG co-creator, wrote a fair chunk of this, and we worked together to refine some of the existing rules and clarify it all as best as possible for you! We learned a lot about the game in trying to distill some of the more complex concepts into an easy to understand post…

Most, if not all, of my fellow GMs out there, are acutely aware of the common occurrence that happens at the end of nearly every session of play. It’s almost universal, beholden to no specific title, genre, or game system. When the day or evening’s play has finally come to a close, players will expectantly look their Game Masters in the eye, a smile stretched across their hopeful faces, and ask, “Did we level up?”

There are few things Tabletop Roleplaying Game (TTRPG) players find more rewarding than gaining a level. It means more resilience, more abilities, more power, and by extension, more fun. The joy that comes from leveling up is something that both CJ and I very much wanted in this system. We wanted something robust that made players eager to unlock the mysteries that lay ahead while also affording room for creativity. We went through numerous versions, adding, subtracting, and in some cases, completely overhauling the previous version until we finally came up with a system we believe works for the Briarverse. Obviously, there will still be tweaks to make, but until we get into the weeds of playtesting, what follows is the journey every character will take as you experience the Neithernor RPG.

This post will explain our leveling system basics, and tomorrow we’ll give a similarly broad overview of the Neithernor RPG (NNRPG) magic system. Let’s break down the leveling system in its most basic form first so you can see what it looks like, then explain the magic system tomorrow, so the benefits you see given at various levels make sense. Let’s begin!

Note: We’ve previously discussed the broad strokes of Fate Core, which we’re using as the foundation of NNRPG, including touching on Aspects, Stunts (which we’re renaming and splitting into Mortal Abilities and Magimystic Abilities), Refresh, Skills, and even our custom “Augmented Skills” concept in earlier posts. The Milestone descriptions below reference those concepts and concepts we haven’t fully revealed yet, like Coven Tomes, Abilities, and the idea that Affinities in NNRPG are the special kind of magic that only your guild-bearing can perform. It will all be clear soon. :cjheart:

In simplest terms, there are 18 levels (Naturally.) You begin at level 1 and eventually progress to level 18. The 18 levels are broken down into three equal “Acts” that help define the arc of your narrative progression. Each level on your journey is considered either a Minor, Significant, or Major Milestone.

Here’s a working breakdown of what each of these level Milestones grants:

WHEN YOU REACH A MINOR MILESTONE:

  • You have the option to switch the ranks of any two skills on your skill tree OR replace one skill with another that is not already on the tree.
  • You have the option to rewrite one Mortal Ability OR return one Magimystic Ability to your Coven Tome and take any Ability that your bearing and current level affords you.
  • You may expand one Stress Track of your choice by one circle.

WHEN YOU REACH A SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE:

  • You have the option to rename one character Aspect that is not your High Concept.
  • You gain one additional Magimystic Ability Allotment.
  • You may advance a single Skill one step up the Skill Ladder OR choose to Augment an existing Skill not already Augmented.

WHEN YOU REACH A MAJOR MILESTONE:

  • You have the option to rename your High Concept.
  • You have the option to return any or all Magimystic Abilities to your Coven Tome and take new Abilities that your bearing and current level affords you.
  • You gain an additional Refresh Level.
  • You gain one additional Mortal Ability Allotment.
  • You gain one additional Magimystic Ability Allotment.

With that in mind, below is a quick skeleton view of the leveling “ladder” and the benefits of each (there are additional aspects to leveling, such as “Ranks” of magic proficiency, but we’ll explore that later):

ACT I: Initiate Magimystics

Level 1: You begin with 6 Refresh Points, two Mortal Ability Allotments, and four Magimystic Ability Allotments.
Level 2: Minor Milestone.
Level 3: Minor Milestone, and you are introduced to Coven Magic.(!!!)
Level 4: Significant Milestone.
Level 5: Minor Milestone.
Level 6: Minor Milestone. 

ACT II: Expanded Magimystics

Level 7: Major Milestone. You may now “minor” in an additional bearing within your guild if you choose. Add one Mild Consequence for a total of 4.
Level 8: Minor Milestone.
Level 9: Minor Milestone.
Level 10: Significant Milestone.
Level 11: Minor Milestone.
Level 12: Minor Milestone.

ACT III: Virtuoso Magimystics

Level 13: Major Milestone. You can now bond with your Walking Stick and use it for accelerated casting. Add one Moderate Consequence for a total of 2.
Level 14: Minor Milestone.
Level 15: Minor Milestone
Level 16: Significant Milestone. Walking Stick Upgrade 1.
Level 17: Minor Milestone.
Level 18: Major Milestone. Walking Stick Upgrade 2. Add one Severe Consequence for a total of 2.

In order to understand many of the specific benefits of Milestones, it helps to know how magic in the NNRPG will work. Before we dive in deeper tomorrow, let’s take a board look at the magic system we’ve created: It starts with your Coven. 

Your Coven is the group you form to begin your adventure. A Coven requires a pact you make with each other. Once you have determined your individual guilds, bearings, and made your pact, you will magimystically receive your Coven Tome.

The Coven Tome will be mostly blank when you begin. But soon, it will hold a chronicle of your journeys, maps of your discoveries, mysteries you’ve unraveled, mysteries that are yet to be solved, and every piece of magic you learn along the way. Your Coven Tome will also help you and your covenmates master your guild-bearings, revealing to each of you secret knowledge, powerful skills, and ancient teachings, as well as commonly shared Spells and unique-to-your-bearing Affinities (the aforementioned “Magimystic Abilities.”) Your Coven Tome is an endless, one-book library that contains everything you and your Coven needs to explore the lost age of magic, protect the world from darkness, and realize your full potential, both as a magimyst and a human being.

However, this kind of knowledge can be dangerous to the untrained. Therefore, you begin with limited access to the Magimystic Abilities within your Coven Tome and gain additional access as you rise in level.

To ensure that you don’t become overwhelmed in your studies and practice, each member of your coven has a Magimystic Ability Allotment. This Allotment denotes the number of shared Spells and bearing-specific Affinities you can practice from your Coven Tome at any given time. 

Imagine a magimystic library card. On your card is your name, level, and spaces representing the number of Magimystic Ability Allotments you have. Your level determines which tier of “books” (Abilities) you have access to, and your Allotment is how many of those books you can have checked out at any given time. The higher your level, the higher your Allotment (spending Refresh Levels may also increase your Allotment.)

But— it wouldn’t be the Briarverse without the ability to also create your own magic. Crafting your own Spells is greatly encouraged, and those custom spells cost the same as a pre-fabricated Ability (though the power, outcome, and requirements of your Ability will need to be agreed upon by your Narrator.)

An Example:

Janice is a level 1 Navimant with a Magimystic Ability Allotment of 4. Therefore they have can 4 Affinities and/or Spells at their disposal. Janice can choose 4 Affinities and/or Spells from the lists of Spells commonly available to their Coven and the Affinities available to their level within their Guild-bearing. They may also choose to create their own Spells. Janice decides to learn 1 Spell, 2 Navimant Affinities, and they also create their own unique Spell with the help of their Coven and the go-ahead from their Narrator.

Tomorrow, we’ll go deeper into the classes and types of magic, the difference between Affinities and Spells, Spell Sickness, minor bearing Affinities, and Coven Magic! Until tomorrow, we’re both looking forward to your thoughts!

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