27 January 2011

Novus and Firehawk Games

As mentioned in an earlier post, Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE) recently underwent a significant change in management. Among other things, Tim Dugger (author of 'HARP' and many other ICE products) is not with the 'new' ICE. Instead, he has moved on to a company called Firehawk Games, and is working on a new RPG called 'Novus', the beta version of which is now available for free.

For more information on 'Novus', here is the explanatory e-mail message that I received from Tim earlier this week:

My name is Tim Dugger, although you likely know me by my more common internet handle, Rasyr. A few months ago, I started work for a tiny company called Firehawk Games. I have authored a new role-playing game for them. It is called Novus.

We are proud to announce that Novus has just gone live!

Firehawk Games has released Novus in an Open Beta format. In fact, there are two different versions of Novus. The Free Version and the Deluxe Version.

The Free Version is a no-frills PDF that contains just the rules. No bookmarks, no internal hyperlinks, no artwork, no extras of any kind. The Deluxe Version currently has bookmarks and internal links, and will be updated with an index, and artwork as the Open Beta progresses. Both versions will receive updates to the rules as any such updates are made in response to feedback from folks participating in the Open Beta.

Both versions are available from RPGNow at http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=410

Here is a brief overview of the system. I hope that you find it interesting.

Novus is a 2d10 roll-over TN system that incorporates exploding dice. What this means is that the GM decides upon a Target Number (TN) for a given task, and you have to equal or beat that number to succeed. By "exploding dice", I mean that if you roll an unmodified 10 on either die, then you get to roll that die and add it to the previous roll. There is no limit to how many times your dice may explode, thus allowing for the possibility of very high rolls. This also means that there is ALWAYS a chance for success.

Combat works just like normal task resolution. However, the TN for the attack is the foe's DEF (Defense), and sentient foes can perform actions that raise this (i.e. sacrificing some or all of their attack bonus to increase DEF). Shields add to DEF, armor does not. Instead, armor reduces the damage received (AR - Armor Rating). When dealing damage, you start off with a static base (Base Damage + Strength bonus for melee) and then you do additional damage based on how good your attack roll was. You can also earn "Boon Points" which you can then spend on dealing extra damage or on making additional attacks or even giving yourself a bonus of some sort in the following round.

Magic also works like other tasks. You have a single skill for casting spells, and you learn each spell separately (you purchase them via character points, same as with skills and talents). Each spell has its own TN and Spell Point cost for casting. And just like for combat, you can earn Casting Boon Points that allow for scaling up the power of the spell. As part of one of the first supplements we will be introducing a spell creation system that is designed to also allow characters to cast spells on the fly, creating them as they need them.

Novus comes with everything you need to begin playing today! Go get the Free Version from RPGNow, and give it a spin. If you like it, feel free to support Firehawk Games by coming back and picking up the Deluxe Version.

And if you would like to continue to receive updates about Novus, visit our website at http://www.firehawkgames.com and either sign up for the newsletter or join the forums. We hope to see you soon!


Tim Dugger
Firehawk Games
I wish the best for Tim and the Novus RPG, which I plan to check out once I have some spare time. Because of other commitments, though, I doubt that I'll be able to try out Novus in the near future. Nonetheless, I look forward to following its development, and will very likely purchase the final version when it is available.


  1. I developed a modified version of the d20 system based on my experience of Rolemaster which seems to have been quite similar to this in outline. I wonder if this game represents the synthesis of those two systems?

  2. It is impossible for any game author to not be influenced to some small degree by games that he has previously worked on.

    In addition to RM, and d20, I was also influenced by such games as Arcanum (by Bard Games -- this was a huge influence), Hero System, Dragon Age, Talislanta, and others.

    I have tried to limit those influences, especially those from RM, but I wouldn't be surprised if something bled through. :)

    Since there is a free version available on RPGNow, it wouldn't hurt to check it out.


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.