System & Philosophy

Our goal is to give players a robust and open character creation system that allows them to create any character concept imaginable and to give Game Masters a simple but broad rules set that they can use to determine the outcome of any situation that comes up. We do that with the four pillars of Silvervine: Unlimited Character Creation, Thematics, Cinematics, and Shared Narrative. We wrap it all together with a simple mechanic that provides endless options to both the Game Master and the players.

Unlimited Character Creation

You shouldn’t be limited in how you build a detailed and interesting avatar for use in a game world. Whatever your character concept – be it swashbuckler, intelligent warrior, brawny battle-mage, suave orcish spy, penguin ninja, political insider, philosophizing truck driver, or any other concept – you can build it in Silvervine. (No joke. Just ask us about the talking sandwich.) The process is simple. First, assign Attribute Points to define the character’s base physical, mental, and spiritual capability. A character’s attributes set their dicepool for relevant actions. Then assign starting Experience Points to purchase Skills, Weapon Skills, Focuses (special abilities), Hit Points, and other settings specific elements (like magic, psychic abilities, or technology interfaces). You aren’t limited in how you pick and choose your character’s abilities, so it becomes easy to create anything.  If you can’t find the right power or ability in one of our books, you can always use Unlisted Race templates or abilities like Permanent Ability or Spell Power to create it from scratch. The catblooded ninja and rollerblading necromancer (right) made by Silvervine players at Ancon 2010 are just the tip of the iceberg.


Thematics and Cinematics

Thematics -Players are not just given freedom with how they combine the skills and abilities of their characters, but in the thematic elements as well. Players get to determine how and why their powers and abilities work, where their skills and training come from, what their equipment and armor looks like, and much more. One character’s flight power could come from psychic prowess, while another character’s flight power comes from generating super hot flames. Both work off the same Flight focus, but the how, why, and looks of it are all in the player’s hands.

Cinematics – The description of a characters actions are up to the player and can be as cool, creative, and involved as they want it to be. The player might describe the incredible actions of their character running up the back of the dragon, their halberd edge dragging along hard scale and turning red with the heat, sparks flying off and ichor oozing out as the dragon bellows in rage and thrashes about. The rules have already made the damage happen; the embellishment of it is up to the player to thread into the story being told. The system registers this as a regular attack with no penalties and no bonuses. The character, however, did something excellent in their own unique way.


Shared Narrative

Narrative is an important part of any role-playing game, both on the part of the Game Master and the players. In Silvervine, narrative is a collaborative effort. While the Game Master is responsible for the framework of the game and for the world around the players, everyone builds the story together.

The style of Game Mastering in Silvervine is about determining success with the system, then building how it happens with the players. The Game Master can hand off the narrative to a player so that they can describe how they cast their spell and what the thematics and cinematics of it are, then take it back to require a roll when some new element comes into play.  An important element of achieving this kind of rapport is in the question: “How does your character do that?” This helps hand the narrative off while putting some boundaries on the scope of what the player can control. And Shared Narrative is fully in the hands of the group, so you can use it as little or as much as you feel comfortable.


Any situation in a Silvervine Game can be resolved by one simple rule; the Core Mechanic. The Core Mechanic is easy to learn and implement, and holds a great deal of diversity in its use.

Core System Mechanic

  • The Game Master calls for a roll to determine success or failure of an action.
  • The player rolls a number of dice (d10) equal to the two attributes most relevant to the roll (Strength and Reflexes, Knowledge and Perception, etc.).
  • Any die that that is an 8 or above is considered a success.
  • Skills lower the number that has to be rolled on the die to be a success. A relevant skill at level 1 makes a 7 or above a success, a relevant skill at level 2 makes a 6 or above a success.
  • If you get the required number of successes, as set by the Game Master or situation, then the action is successful.
  • If being used in combat, the number of successes determines the damage, so a better roll deals much more damage for a truly epic effect.

The Core Mechanic is the starting point, but it isn’t nearly the end. The Core Rulebook contains many optional rules that allow Game Masters and Players to add as much mechanical depth and nuance as they want. Simple rules systems such as Heroes in Mass Combat, Chemical Compounds, Circumstance Modifiers, and Size Scale provide endless options for your game, but aren’t required.