Librium: Basic Rules

Over the past 8 years I’ve been working on a roleplaying game system. I work on it off and on, and actually have made some good progress with it. Unfortunately, I feel super vulnerable when I show it to people and thus I rarely actually playtest it. I even branched the system out from fantasy to science fiction when I converted it to [[|Blueshift]], my system inspired by Mass Effect. I had more success playtesting this because the system was much more straightforward.

Anyway, I really want to push Librium out there now, so here are the basic rules. This is basically just [[|this post]] with some updates to terminology and rules.

Core Mechanics

Rule 0 – The Architect is the Judge: The Architect is the ultimate judge of any situation. When it comes to making a ruling on what can or cannot be done, the Architect has the final say; it is pointless to argue against the Fates. The Architect has the power to override and interpret any written, spoken, or implied rule. Heroes may see their story change in ways they did not think possible and it is best to accept these changes and adapt. Keep in mind that the Architect acts as a neutral entity and merely points heroes and enemies at their goals and allows the story to play out. He is neither for nor against you.

Rule 1 – The Rule of Cool: Players are encouraged to think outside of the box. While talents list their effectiveness in purely straightforward combat, they can be used outside of combat or in unique ways in combat. The architect is advised to encourage situations that would make for an interesting story over anything that would follow the rules strictly.

Rule 2 – Bigger is Better: When comparing two values, be they arbitrarily assigned or randomly generated by chance, higher numbers are better than smaller numbers. High numbers mean a higher probability for success. The Architect will never punish a hero for succeeding, especially not for succeeding greatly.

Rule 3 – Defender Win Ties: Whenever a check is made, the target value is given. If the check is greater than the target value, it is considered to have succeeded.

Rule 4 – Specific Rules Beat General Rules: When two rules contradict each other, the rule that applies to the more specific situation wins out.

Rating System

Librium uses the Librium Rating System, which is devised to provide a simple method of tracking an adventurer’s attributes, traits, skills, and talents. The Librium system uses a 5-point scale to categorize the strengths and weaknesses of an adventurer. A rating of one is considered mediocre while a rating of five is considered excellent. A low rating indicates that the individual is not practiced in the ability while someone with a 5-rating would be a master of his or her specialty. An average rating with this system falls around two. It is possible to have a value of zero, which means you are untrained and inexperienced in that field.

Your abilities are divided into two major parts: your attributes and their skills. Attributes represent your fundamental capabilities: aptitude that cannot be trained through books, lessons, or practice. Your attributes affect your skills and define core strengths and weaknesses. Skills represent areas of specialization that you have trained. You use your skills when you face a task or challenge that is difficult to overcome. You can improve your skills by gaining experience.


There are six major attributes tracked in Librium, divided into three categories: physical, mental, and social. Within each category an offensive and defensive measure is taken.


  • Strength (STR) is the physical offensive attribute representing your muscle and power. Among other things it contributes to how much you can carry, combat abilities, and fortitude defense.
  • Constitution (CON) is the physical defensive attribute representing your health and stamina. Among other things, it contributes to your maximum endurance, how well you can endure an attack, and your ability to resist certain effects.
  • Intelligence (INT) is the mental offensive attribute represents your ability to think, learn, and reason. Among other things, it directly contributes to your ability to evade attacks.
  • Wits (WIT) is the mental defensive attribute representing flexibility, balance, and deftness. Among other things, it contributes to your ability to evade attacks, react quickly to stimulus, and come to logical conclusions.
  • Charisma (CHA) is the social attribute representing your influence, personality, and persuasiveness. Among other things, it contributes to your social pull, your ability to speak publicly, and your resolve.
  • Insight (INS) is the social attribute representing the ability to understand and discern intent. Among other things, it contributes to your ability to evade all attacks, your read people, and resist influence.


Skills are a rating of your ability to perform certain difficult tasks with competence. Whenever you attempt a difficult action, you are testing your abilities with a skill check to see how well you can perform that task. The more training you have within the skill the better your performance can be. Like your attributes, your skills are rated using a 0-to-5 point measure. Your attributes usually play into skill checks as well. Like attributes, skills are divided into physical, mental, and social. Each category has six skills total, three of which focus on combat.

A list of the skills is found here.

Whenever you want to perform a task that goes beyond mundane activities, when you cannot guarantee success, or when there are different measures of success you are making a skill check. A skill check is a test of your skills and abilities against the task. A skill check is weighing your own ability and luck against the competition.

Potency and Outcome

A skill check is rarely a measurement of just a single skill or ability. Whenever you make a skill check you are combining two abilities together, usually an attribute and a skill related to the task. Each rank in the skill or attribute grants you one potency. Potency is the total number of dice you roll when making a check.

Potency can have a result from 1 to 10 depending on your luck. We consider lower values to represent worse luck and higher values to represent better luck and better control over the situation. For each die, you have +1 outcome on each die that exceeds a roll of 5. When you roll a 10, it is considered a critical success and gives you +2 outcome. However, sometimes you slip and make things worse than when you started. When you roll a 1 you fumble, which counts as -1 outcome. Your total outcome determines whether you succeed.

Difficulty and Success

All tasks have a difficulty class, which determines how much outcome you need to actually succeed. When finalizing your results, subtract the difficulty from your outcome. The final outcome is your result. More positive outcome in your favor yields better results. This is seen by either higher quality work, completing the task quicker, or making more progress towards a final goal. Every point of outcome you obtain passed the difficulty of the check improves the outcome.

Passive Defenses

Sometimes checks are made against you, such as when someone is lying to you or hiding from you. Instead of doing a contested roll, which gives the player information that the character may not have, the aggressor instead compares their result to a single ability of the target, such as their insight or a specific skill.

Failure and Repeating Attempts

Not even heroes are perfect and even they occasionally fail or just need some extra time to complete a task. You can retry and repeat most checks, but each successive attempt during a scene incurs a cumulative -1 outcome. You can avoid this penalty by taking 5 stress per point.


Using the character from the images above. Kiera is lost and hurt after a kobold attack in the woods. Without proper medical supplies, she makes a Survival/Intelligence (3 + 2) to splint her knee. Her dice roll results in 2, 4, 6, 6, 7, (0, 0, 1, 1, 1) an outcome of +3. The Architect has secretly set a DC of 1, so she has a +2 result. She is able to continue moving.

Kiera’s has no way to contact her friends to let her know where she is, but she stumbles across a traveler. They are wary of strangers, but Kiera insists she just wants to back to town. She makes a Communication/Charisma (0+3) to convince him to help her. Her dice roll results in 1, 8, 9 (-1, 1, 1) an outcome of +1. The Architect has secretly set a DC of 2, so she has a -1 result. Kiera knows she did not do well, but she isn’t sure if she failed. The person agrees to let Kiera join her for a leg of the journey, though secretly they intend to take advantage of her situation. Glad to get help, Kiera keeps moving.

An hour later, the traveler stops to water their horse at a nearby brook a bit off of the path. Her companion is acting oddly and says he will return momentarily, asking Kiera to watch the horse. Kiera has an Insight of 3 and senses that he has an ulterior motive. She is on guard. A few moments later, a single volkmyr arrives, asking her if she needs assistance. Something is amiss. Two other volkmyr secretly move into flanking positions, each having an outcome of 2 on their stealth/wits check. Kiera has 3 ranks of survival and detects them. She doesn’t know where they are, but she knows they are there. Kiera decides to bail, mounting the horse and riding off.

That’s the basic gist of how things run. More on combat, social encounters, and characters coming soon.

Michael McElrath

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