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Essence20: The New RPG System Which Powers Hasbro Licensed Games

Renegade Game Studios announced last year that it would be making official tabletop RPGs of various Hasbro properties, including Power Rangers, GI Joe, and Transformers. This week, they revealed the d20-based Essence20 game system which will power those games.

essence.jpg



Elisa Teague from Renegade spoke to Forbes about the system.

“The Essence20 Roleplaying System is a d20 based system that uses what I call a ‘fashion plate’ system for character design, drawing from three aspects: what type of person are they, what is their function as part of the team, and what experiences have they had in their life prior to becoming a hero?”


The system has three elements: Origin, Role, and Influence, and uses different dice for different skill levels.

"When rolling Skills Tests and Attack Rolls, a player will always roll a d20 plus the applicable die for the type of roll they are making, resulting in a total that must exceed the Skill Test’s Difficulty in order to succeed. Essence20 also includes a ladder mechanic, where if a character has specialized in a particular Skill, they may roll their Skill Die plus every other die type under it, choosing the highest die result to add to their d20 roll. A critical success is made when any Skill Die shows its highest number, giving a huge chance of rolling crits, mathematically, and of course, then being able to roleplay those epic results in the most heroic way possible!"



In Power Rangers, characters don't die. They can be defeated and taken out of combat, but the threats they face are not lethal. The core book covers the period of the show when Zordon was the Power Rangers' mentor. The main villains are Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa.

power_rangers_art.jpeg


This weekend, at Renegade Con, they will reveal more information.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Undrave

Hero
Seems silly though. It's like if Sony decided to publish their own video games, but not go through Sony Interactive to put on the PlayStation, but instead create a new video game system with nothing to do with the PlayStation.
Like, why not capitalize and synergize with the largest RPG company in the world? Why not bring in D&D fans to your other properties and create cross-over appeal with those other companies to later try D&D?
It's just ... well, it makes no sense.

they probably figured that somehow putting the round Transformers peg into the square hole of D&D was not the best idea. It's also possible that they don't think there is enough earning potential to saddle their "A" team with such a project that would monopolize man power away from their main property and that using an outside studio that probably works for cheaper would be more effective.

They COULD have tried to make it some sort of 5e Modern along the way, that's for sure.
 

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ElisaTeague

Explorer
Hey all! Elisa Teague, here, the Senior Producer of Roleplaying Games over at Renegade Game Studios!

I'm happy to field any questions you may have about our new and exciting upcoming RPGs, but I want to make sure there is no confusion: Essence20 is an RPG system designed and published by Renegade Game Studios, and we have no affiliation with WotC and D&D, despite that we happen to license a few of Hasbro's other brands for our games.

These new games are not a "6E preview" but instead a whole different system, designed specifically to work well with these types of brands and neither are planned as an extension nor competition to D&D 5E, a system I love dearly but is just for a different fanbase. I hope that clears up any speculation, but if you have more questions, PLEASE tune into Renegade Con this weekend (starting today at 3pm PST) where we will have tons of panels and info about our new games and the premiere episode of our Power Rangers RPG actual play (tonight at 8pm PST) on twitch.tv/PlayRenegade

So glad to see all of the excitement!

Elisa Teague
@geekypinup on Twitter for any questions! :)
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Quote: "First off, as you may suspect from the name, Essence20 is a d20 based system. The core mechanic for resolving a roll is for the player to roll a d20 along with their Skill die (ranging from a d2-d20). The result of the d20 and skill die must exceed the difficulty of the test in order to succeed. Characters with a specialization in the skill being tested get to roll their skill die and all dice below it, and pick the highest result to add to their d20 roll, increasing their odds of success! What’s more, a max value roll on ANY die is a critical success, leading to more chances for crits and more opportunities for great roleplaying incorporating them.
So any character with any skill has a 50% of scoring a crit since they (I'm assuming) start at d2. But your chance to crit goes down if you increase your skill rating to the next higher die, say 33.33% on a d3 and a 25% on a d4. Unless you are specialized which means you roll all the dice under your current rating, so you'll always have that d2 and a 50% (well, way more than that) to crit. For a game engine aimed at kids it seems needlessly complicated.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
So any character with any skill has a 50% of scoring a crit since they (I'm assuming) start at d2. But your chance to crit goes down if you increase your skill rating to the next higher die, say 33.33% on a d3 and a 25% on a d4. Unless you are specialized which means you roll all the dice under your current rating, so you'll always have that d2 and a 50% (well, way more than that) to crit. For a game engine aimed at kids it seems needlessly complicated.
Maybe. In context, “crit” might mean “extra success.” In which case, it essentially just means skills aren’t binary checks.
 

I also asked in this forum about why Hasbro to lincence a famous franchise with a 3PP and not by WotC team and the answer was this was too busy.

And I guess with a 3PP is easy to say "this is not canon". Other reason is Hasbro may be testing Renegade Game Studios, and if they like their work, then they can be "closer".
 

Rune

Once A Fool
I also asked in this forum about why Hasbro to lincence a famous franchise with a 3PP and not by WotC team and the answer was this was too busy.

And I guess with a 3PP is easy to say "this is not canon". Other reason is Hasbro may be testing Renegade Game Studios, and if they like their work, then they can be "closer".
I can’t imagine what Hasbro would gain by acquiring a tiny rpg studio (they’re all tiny) with no mainstream recognition outside the industry and no major IP to its name.

This is surely a financial decision: Spend resources for little gain vs. Get paid for little competition (that might even feed players into D&D).
 
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Von Ether

Adventurer
Seems silly though. It's like if Sony decided to publish their own video games, but not go through Sony Interactive to put on the PlayStation, but instead create a new video game system with nothing to do with the PlayStation.
Like, why not capitalize and synergize with the largest RPG company in the world? Why not bring in D&D fans to your other properties and create cross-over appeal with those other companies to later try D&D?
It's just ... well, it makes no sense.
We just watched Hasbro take decades to cross market MTG and D&D. Evidently they are slow learners (how many years did they keep trying to toyify/board game-ify D&D?) or they have a phobia of mashing up D&D with anything else.
 

darjr

I crit!
Seems silly though. It's like if Sony decided to publish their own video games, but not go through Sony Interactive to put on the PlayStation, but instead create a new video game system with nothing to do with the PlayStation.
Like, why not capitalize and synergize with the largest RPG company in the world? Why not bring in D&D fans to your other properties and create cross-over appeal with those other companies to later try D&D?
It's just ... well, it makes no sense.
It makes perfect sense. The D&D folk are geared for doing D&D and the Renegade folks already had a previous relationship with the license and now have an RPG studio.
 

darjr

I crit!
We just watched Hasbro take decades to cross market MTG and D&D. Evidently they are slow learners (how many years did they keep trying to toyify/board game-ify D&D?) or they have a phobia of mashing up D&D with anything else.
If you want to make an RPG doesn’t it make sense to have people steeped in the lore to do so? It’s exactly what was done with the D&D Magic crossovers.
 

grimslade

Doddering Old Git
Hi Elisa! The system sounds interesting. Cascading dice, as opposed to exploding dice, is a cool system. I am more interested in the GI Joe and Transformers RPGs than Power Rangers, but I am excited to see an outside design group expanding what 5E can do. Plus, I like Kids on Bikes, so I have good hopes for these games.
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
Hey all! Elisa Teague, here, the Senior Producer of Roleplaying Games over at Renegade Game Studios!

I'm happy to field any questions you may have about our new and exciting upcoming RPGs, …
Elisa Teague
@geekypinup on Twitter for any questions! :)
With giant robots and kaiju, I’m curious how scaling interactions between giants and regular sized people go.

I assume we’ll see more genre specific rules in each game and get guidance on how to use them in cross overs?
And thank you for dropping by!
 

Rune

Once A Fool
With giant robots and kaiju, I’m curious how scaling interactions between giants and regular sized people go.

I assume we’ll see more genre specific rules in each game and get guidance on how to use them in cross overs?
And thank you for dropping by!
I’m curious how combined robots/mechs that form larger robots/mechs will work. This will be important for Power Rangers and Transformers.
 

Undrave

Hero
Hey all! Elisa Teague, here, the Senior Producer of Roleplaying Games over at Renegade Game Studios!

I'm happy to field any questions you may have about our new and exciting upcoming RPGs, but I want to make sure there is no confusion: Essence20 is an RPG system designed and published by Renegade Game Studios, and we have no affiliation with WotC and D&D, despite that we happen to license a few of Hasbro's other brands for our games.

These new games are not a "6E preview" but instead a whole different system, designed specifically to work well with these types of brands and neither are planned as an extension nor competition to D&D 5E, a system I love dearly but is just for a different fanbase. I hope that clears up any speculation, but if you have more questions, PLEASE tune into Renegade Con this weekend (starting today at 3pm PST) where we will have tons of panels and info about our new games and the premiere episode of our Power Rangers RPG actual play (tonight at 8pm PST) on twitch.tv/PlayRenegade

So glad to see all of the excitement!

Elisa Teague
@geekypinup on Twitter for any questions! :)
Welcome aboard!

I'll probably have some questions but I think the most polite thing would be to wait until after your proper reveal to as for details and clarifications. Still, I am VERY curious about the depth of lore your games will pull from and how many incarnations of those brands can be realized in them. Transformers in particular has a very rich tapestry of multiple universes and timeline (I'm looking forward to seeing what the art looks like in that one). I'd be a little miffed if the Transformers game is exclusively limited to the Great War with no mere mention of anything else.

I'd be curious to hear what were some of the design challenges in creating those games. For exemple, making the Megazord combat in Power Rangers feel like it involves the whole team working together, or making the secret identities lives of the Rangers an interesting space to explore through role play. Or just how to get people to play vehicles, or how to properly employ a military chain of command in a RPG where freedom is often the key...

Again, welcome aboard!

One final question: what pronunciation of 'Elisa' do you use? "El-eye-za"? "El-ee-sha"? "El-ee-za"?
 

Undrave

Hero
We just watched Hasbro take decades to cross market MTG and D&D. Evidently they are slow learners (how many years did they keep trying to toyify/board game-ify D&D?) or they have a phobia of mashing up D&D with anything else.
I almost get the feeling they have a phobia of mashing there brand with D&D and not the other way around :p

I REALLY wis the Kre-O D&D line was around for 5e. I think it would have took off... It was a PERFECT way to get customizable minis for your game! Just mix and match parts!
 

i think what has alot of people riled is even in the AD by reengade studios, it clearly says "powered by the 5e rules" and yet now we have a whole new system, so it just feels like being jerked around when everyone thought we were getting something 5e related and now we aren't.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
i think what has alot of people riled is even in the AD by reengade studios, it clearly says "powered by the 5e rules" and yet now we have a whole new system, so it just feels like being jerked around when everyone thought we were getting something 5e related and now we aren't.
Seems like a good change to me. 5e probably wouldn't be the greatest fit for these licenses. Too crunchy. And too class-based.

As for the fundamental underlying mechanic: d20 + numbers? Looks like that’s essentially still the same.
 

Argyle King

Legend
D20 + a skill die sounds a little bit like the Proficiency Dice alternate rule for D&D.

The ladder of dice sounds like a very different direction.

I'm curious to see what the writing style is like for the fluff.
 


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