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Mystique Design

Mystique Design

Design Goals

Podcast Optimization (Optimize for on-air listening)

  1. Simple Combats take < 25 minutes  
  2. Mass battles take < 40 minutes  
  3. Minimize on-air game mechanics and focus on story while remaining a satisfying game to players  


  1. <= 15 Minute CharGen   
  2. Minimal bookkeeping. Maybe have powers be ‘once per scene’ versus using Power Points.
  3. Fast game prep due to tie-in to adventure location cards and background cards
  4. Quickly create stat blocks by treating everything like a characters (doors, characters, vehicles, starcraft, etc.)
  5. Avoid different rules subsystems. Have starships rules follow character rules.  


  1. Seamlessly move between narrative (theater-of-the-mind) and tactical (minis-with-grid) combat   
  2. Seamlessly move between character scale and wargame scale combat  


  1. Support all top genres: Pulp, Fantasy, Sci Fi, Cyberpunk, Supers, and Horror
  2. Seamless wargame variant. Ability to use system for a miniatures game (like Savage Worlds ‘Savage Worlds Showdown’ PDF).
  3. Use any types of miniatures, or none at all  (use a Grid, hex, 15mm Rulers, 28mm Rulers, or Zones)


  1. Family friendly content and artwork
  2. Inexpensive core rulebook to increase adoption.
  3. Generous fan and pro licensing (like Savage Worlds)
  4. Digital versions (PDF, maybe Roll20).
  5. Eventual ADA accessibility


  1. A Rules Reference not a How-To-Play-RPGs (see Mike Mearls twitter posts on how people learn games).
  2. 80/20 rule — 80% of types of characters and rules are represented by 20% of possible content. Use only this 20% and ignore edge cases.
  3. Concise rules — 96 to 250 pages, 6×9” or so format
  4. Basic Character Sheet Could Fit on a Playing Card, and all the rules for your powers could fit on a single page of paper.


Optimization Focus

Three areas for optimization


  • Skill checks
  • Combat
  • Optimize to Avoid Time These Sinks When Possible


  1. Dice selection (picking out your d12 and d8, etc.)
  2. Math (adding modifiers, calculating raises, etc.)
  3. Initiative (dealing cards each round, setting up order etc.)
  4. HP Grind (having 5+ combat rounds to whittle down enemy’s HP)
  5. Rules Lookups (because of unclear rules or unknown rules)
  6. Reaction Rolls (this can be good (defender gets to roll) but can take time)
  7. Defender Stat Lookups (asking for AC, etc., reaction roll can take the place of this while increasing player participation)
  8. Tactical Moves (dodge, go prone)
  9. Character Sheet Analysis Paralysis (studying characters options while its your turn)
  10. Stunt interactions (adjudicating stunts or rules interactions that require discussion and GM ruling)
  11. Writing Down Aspects (in games like Fate or Cortex Prime)
  12. Placing Minis on a battlemat
  13. Drawing a Battlegrid
  14. GM Skill Selection (GM taking time to determine correct skill to use on a skill check)
  15. Stat Block Lookups (GM looking up stat blocks)


*Mystique Core Rules Phase I*

— Start with Mongoose Traveller 2e core rules

— Replace Traveller 6 characteristics (strength, dexterity, endurance, intelligence, education, and social standing) with D&D Attributes (

Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma)

— Point buy rules from Mongoose Traveller 1e

— Potentially use Fate or Rarescape skill list (may need to adjust point buy math if the skill list is shorter)

— Venture City Powers (mods)

— Zone rules from Fate

— Maybe Death & Dying (Death saving throws) from D&D?


*Mystique Core Rules Phase II*

— Extensive gear and weapons list from Rarescape

— Flesh out the Gadgeteering rules

— Add in a few additional Magic powers and maybe Cantrips

— Vehicle / Starship rules from Rarescape

— Bestiary and NPCs list

*Crimefighters Setting*
— Use John’s setting fiction and John’s gear and weapons list, statted out for Traveller

Other rules to consider:
— Mob/minion rules (from Fate or Barbarians of Lemuria)
— Chase rules from Call of Cthulhu
— Scale rules from Battlestar Galactica and/or Traveller 2e

I’ve actually got nice mob rules adapted from 13th Age in Dungeonesque, so I’ll add those in (essentially what you did Mason in Traveller — blob of HP, and an enemy goes down every X hit point).
Another thought — I think the Characteristics+Skill math adds an extra layer of unneeded complexity, so I’ll try out using a Fate style Skills-only system, and move to using Standard hit points (though derived similarly to Traveller and Fate where you start with a base and get a bump for high Physique/Con, etc. So maybe Beta Version 1 of Mystique would be Fate skills, Fate Venture City powers, Stress converted to HP, but no aspects, and essentially everything else (task resolution on a 2d6, weapons, etc.) be Traveller. Core mechanic is Skill Mod + DMs >= 8, with Effect and armor damage reduction just like Traveller. Weapons would have both ranged values and a Zone value so you could do grid or zone combat, GMs choice.

Another approach would be my 80s Things system where GM doesn’t roll, but I suspect our group would better appreciate a more traditional, tactical, but uber-fast game based on Traveller.


Powers From

Mini6, OpenQuest, Legend, d100 Revolution, Venture City