The Chronicles System is a d100 based role-playing system with a primary focus character skills. Characters do not gain levels or hit points as they grow more powerful. Instead, their skills become more defined and capable as the characters use them. Designed to be more "realistic" than other systems, combat is intended to be quick and lethal. Magic and psychic abilities are completely scalable, allowing players and game-keepers maximum freedom and creativity. For example, it is entirely possible for a "low-level" character to attempt a high-powered spell, although the difficulty and stamina cost will be exhausting.
The Chronicles System is primary tuned to play Steampunk genre games, but it has been designed to be very adaptable and it works very well for traditional Fantasy, Civil War era, Western, and Modern campaigns. Two genres that the system does not lend itself well towards are Super Hero campaigns and high-power games such as many White Wolf settings.
Chronicles System, like any other creative work available, draws inspiration from many sources. Call of Cthuhlu (Chaosium), Nephilim (Chaosium), Deadlands, Hackmaster (Kenzer Co.), and Conspiracy X are the biggest influences. Oh, and free stuff. This game was really inspired by the thought of giving things away FREE.
Shane Singleton is the lead designer of Chronicles System. A life-long gamer, I grew up on Nintendo, D&D (the boxed sets with the dice you had to color the numbers in), and playing soccer. He started creating the system back when he was a young pup of 18 years of age. In between college, owning his own business, working as a corporate slave, and playing in local bands, Shane somehow managed to sqeeze the time in to create a full-fledged game system. Needless to say, Shane doesn't sleep much.
The Chronicles system started back in 1995 when several of my friends and myself were in college. At the time, the only game systems we played were Call of Chthulhu and AD&D 2nd Edition. While we had fun, we craved something different. It really bothered me that a 7th level Fighter was able to get hit 10 times by a sword for maximum damage and still be able to function. While we didn't have any problems with Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu system (4th and 5th editions), sometimes we craved being able to play characters that could just kick some ass. We wanted badass AND fear AND skills.
We tried Nephilim, but I was the only one that seemed to love that system. To this day, I still swear by that system as it is one of the most elegantly designed game worlds with a top-notch game system to match. We tried Conspiracy X and what we discovered was a wonderful world concept wrapped in an obscure system. We tried Whispering Vault and discovered that making characters was fun, but the gameplay was so confusing we made up our own rules because we just didn't like the ones presented to us. So what was a disillusioned geek to do? I started writing down a wish-list of things I wanted to see in a game, both as a GM and as player. Quick combat, lethal combat, scalable magic, and a free-form character creation process. I wanted it all.
Thankfully, all of the original documentations of the early system are either lost or destroyed, because it was clunky, difficult to read, obscure, and so full of crappiness it really should have never seen the light of day. My friends were desperate for a game, so they put up with my crap. Then, I accidentally graduated. Yes, acccidentally. I was studying computer science and communications, and accidentally graduated with a degree in violin performance. Apparently I took too many electives. With the freedom of being a student well behind me, I had to get a haircut and a real job. I also had to give up gaming for several years.
In late 1999, while I owned my video game store, I broke out the old documentation and said to myself, "This sucks... I can do better." So in between customers, I started out rewriting everything I had done. I changed the system to use d100 base instead of a multi-d6 style system. Playtesting with Matt, Pat, Miranda, Josh, and Dusty commenced somewhere in the middle of 2000. Version 1. It wasn't perfect, but it worked. It had a lot of flaws, but we were having fun. I closed my store and took a corporate job, but I didn't stop writing. In fact, I wrote more than ever.
In 2002, I filed for copyright protection on the Chronicles System after completing Version 2. Version 2 saw a much larger number of playtesters. Matt, Pat, Miranda, Thea, Jeff, Jon, John, Ken, Aaron, Chris, Jackman, Joshie, Kravick, Derek, Aaron, and a few other people I can't remember. At the time I was thinking of how to make money with the game. Then something happened. Sometime in 2004, I decided I wanted to distribute the game free on the web. So I started converting Version 2 into HTML, but the sheer size of the book (200+ pages) was simply a daunting task to convert to HTML. Then I decided that I wanted the website to be indexed and searchable. Starting July 2005, I decided rewrite the system again. But instead of writing a book, I was going to write a program and database containing all of the rules and information needed to play.
Thus evolved Chonicles System-Version 3. An indexed, cross-referenced, real-time game system. At any given time, the online version will be updated and accurate. If we make a correction, it is available to everyone immediately. There will be no need to buy a 3rd edition or 4th edition or 17th edition book. It's a dream, but an attainable dream. At this time, the software is not complete yet. Neither is the data entry. Over 15,000 lines of code are currently involved and thousands of database entries are complete. By the time the project is done, I expect it to require approximately 30,000 lines of code and 20,000 lines of database entry. Not too bad, really.