Neverending Pretending

Introducing the Journeyman Engine

I’d like to introduce you to a homebrew system I’ve been working on recently. I call it the Journeyman Engine, and it comprises elements steals liberally from some of my favorite Odd Borg Hack games.

I was hoping to create a lightweight system that supported rich and flavorful character concepts with enough knobs, buttons, and levers that interacting with the world would be fun but not a burden.

Resolving risky actions

Any time your character is going to try to do something risky, you’ll roll two dice, applying any appropriate modifiers, and compare the total against a range of outcomes:

Roll Outcome
6 or less Failure (2 might be a Fumble)
7 - 9 Success at a cost
10 or more Success (12 or more might be a Critical)

Die ranks

One die comes from your character’s Ability (Strength, Agility, Wits, Empathy) and one die comes from your character’s Skill. The dice you use depend on the rank of each:

Die Ability Skill
d4 Weak Unskilled
d6 Average Apprentice
d8 Strong Journeyman
d10 Elite Master


With this, it’s easy to see that Magdalene, a stoic swordsman with weak Empathy (d4) and unskilled in Manipulation (d4) can only hope to succeed at a cost when trying to persuade the noble into acquiescing to her request. That is, at least, without aid from equipment or ficitonal positioning. Were she to supply the noble with enough wine or present the signet ring of the noble’s husband, she might get a +1 or +2 to her roll, opening up the possibility of an outright success.

Pushing a roll

Were she to fail, she could attempt to push the roll, giving her one final chance to succceed, at the expense of rolling her Ability die to see if it is reduced. On a 1 or 2, her Ability die would be degraded one step on the Dice Chain.

Dice chain

d10 -> d8 -> d6 -> d4 -> Broken!


When an Ability reaches Broken, the character takes on a condition, appropriate to the Ability. Physical failures result in Damage while Mental failures result in Stress.