On the Nature of the Journeyman System

I’m getting ready to run a new Navah campaign using Journeyman, my gaming system. So people are starting to ask again what Journeyman is about, and that is a difficult question to answer. Journeyman is a system I’ve built up since the early 1980s. I started with D&D and then went to AD&D, which was great as a player, but as a DM was too restrictive for me. I fell in love with RQII, but the combat took forever, so I went to COC, and decided that I wanted to add a stronger magic system to it, something more like D&D. That was the origin of Journeyman, and since then there have been a lot of changes.  

Inspired by the Sorcery for RQ article in White Dwarf, I began to build a magic system based on three magic skills: Perception, Domination, and Body Control. I wanted magic that was more powerful than RQ, but not as powerful as AD&D, because that was built for war-gaming and tended to destroy the worlds I was building. As a longtime martial artist (SCA, fencing, tkd, hkd, iaido, and others), I wanted a “realistic” combat system, so I researched the kinetic energy of weaponry and the damage that weapons did to the body. I read a lot of the Journal of Forensic Science over my lunch breaks. Eventually I got a system that was fast and bloody. How fast? About 20 minutes for a large melee (compared to about 40 minutes for D&D and 3 hours for RQ2). How bloody? Bloody enough that players tend to avoid combat if they can, which is exactly what I wanted. I also have Ph.D.s in U.S. History and American Studies and because of that, and the many wars and atrocities that I’ve had to teach about, I wanted people to realize that combat was a bloody and dangerous thing best avoided. I went to a d10 based system to ease the burden of math (there’s a lot of math and physics behind the magic system). I’m not sure that was the best choice, but it works for me. And I don’t have d20s rolling off the table any more! I got better at mapping and used Fractal Terrain to build a world, Navah. Then my wife & I created a city and character generator for the system, that allowed us to detail every NPC out there. I am very fortunate to have a wife who not only is skilled at computer programming, but also loves to game, and actually was willing to do this in her off time.  The world of Navah continues to grow, and that’s the pay-off for me at this point.

Along the way, there were all sorts of influences from other games. D&D led to make the magic system strong. Stormbringer influenced that as well. COC made the monsters scarier, and Ars Magica informed the development of magical covenants. Thieve’s Guild (which few people know these days) shaped my early urban adventures as much as did the Fafhrd & Grey Mouser series. Gamma World, EPT, and Blackmoor helped me justify the use of ancient technologies, and Pendragon got me thinking about personality traits, which I now use for all my NPCs (and sometimes for the PCs). EPT, Jorune, and Traveler‘s Animal Encounters made me work harder on creating a solid ecology, which led to a differentiation between the mundane world of Navah and the realm of Faerie that lays just next to it. The new RQ influenced me to use basic weapon sets based on culture, and D&D5e had a nice background system. There’s a lot of other influences, but that should give you an idea of where I’m coming from.

I want my players to be actors, to play a role, and I’ve learned a lot of that from my current players. But I still appreciate the old D&D mentality of planning one’s moves with some care, although I don’t like taking too long with that. It is a fantasy after all! 

We’re finishing off a COC campaign right now, so the next Navah campaign will start on Roll20.com around June or July 2019, and by then I hope to have much more online about the game. If you’re interested, the game details will be at https://app.roll20.net/lfg/listing/20439/navah You can also ask questions here if you like.

About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
This entry was posted in Navah, Navah Campaign, Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to On the Nature of the Journeyman System

  1. Looks like your link doesn’t work for Roll20. I tried with me logged in but it says it is denied. Looking forward to finding out more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s