The Echelon Gaming System, or EGS, is a rank based d20 rules system that I have just began creating. EGS is the reason I even deigned to begin this web log. I read through the D&D core books immediately after Wizards of the Coast put them on the shelves. I was very disappointed.
I had been at the big 4dventure announcement party at GenCon ’07 when they revealed their plans to bring out a new edition. I had listened to the designers speak about how they were going to improve things: streamline combat, make races meaningful, balance classes, etc.
Honestly, I had mixed feelings. I wanted my beloved game to improve, but I had just sunk five hundred dollars in 3rd edition books, and they were talking that because of radical design changes, most of the old stuff would not be compatible. This left a knot in my stomach.
So I had to psyche myself up for the release, promising myself that the new stuff will be so good I’d give away all my 3rd edition books. Then they were released and I was pissed. Wizards had improved much of the game. I loved the consolidated skills, the tiers, and combat did seem faster paced. But they had clearly missed the mark on classes and only half delivered on their promises for meaningful races. The classes were… I don’t know how to say it, too balanced. None of them seemed to excel beyond the others in their niche. I felt like no matter my choice, I would have about the same options.
That disappointment inspired me to begin creating my own version of d20. It had begun as a fusion of what was good about 3rd and 4th edition D&D, but now I believe it has become something different, perhaps even better. Echelon does not have your typical classes, or typical levels. Players are awarded Experience each session, and can spend that experience to purchase ranks in Powers, in much the same way as White Wolf’s Storytelling dot system. There are vestiges of levels which are calculated by the total experience that has been awarded, but levels don’t drive the character. I have boiled away classes, leaving Powers (vestiges of class abilities and spells) and something called Archetypes. Races actually scale with the power of the characters, so which race you choose matters beyond character creation.
I have ranted and raved more than enough for one post, but you can look forward to sneak peaks at Echelon game mechanics and a setting I have planned for it in the future.