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Characters in PENDULUM are composed of various traits that represent what they are more naturally gifted at and tend to lean on when they approach situations, as well as what they do for a living and any additional individual areas of learning that they have amassed over the course of their life.

Exiting Character Creation, a new Player Character should have a combination of the following traits:

  • Attributes, which represent the character's natural lean and approach towards doing things. The four Attributes in the game are Athleticism, Insight, Intellect, and Will. These apply to any Roll a Player ever makes in the game, and act as a form of resource management.

  • Affinities, which are pulled straight out of the character's Concept and define what circumstances, activities, etc. act as a source of confidence and/or comfort for the character. Where an Affinity applies, it benefits the Roll result and increases the likelihood of getting a Critical Outcome.

  • Profession, which denotes what the character does for a living; i.e. this isn't a hobby. A Profession acts as a combination of different skillsets and forms of know-how and can often be used broadly for Rolls. A character may have more than one Profession, but this increases the cost of improving any one of them.

  • Expertise, which are areas of knowledge the character has amassed separate from their Profession. These are simpler to improve than a Profession but are also more narrow. There will be examples in the game, but these examples are in no way all-inclusive. Players should work with their Guides to make up new ones if/when they don't find what they're looking for.

  • Ambition, which is a long-term aspiration the character has for the future. This is used as a North Star for deciding on Personal Goals that, when completed, not only lead towards satisfying the Ambition but also earn Experience for evolving the character over time.

  • Gear, which are Items, Weapons, etc. that the character is carrying on them when the game begins. 'Gear' is always defined as whatever is on the character's person and immediately accessible to them.

In addition to the above, Players should walk away from Character Creation with their character's current and total Experience, as well as what their character's Vigor is. Experience is used in the process of building your character to pay for improvements. Vigor is determined by the character's total Experience and represents their capacity to do things. Any Damage taken by a character subtracts from their Vigor, whether it is physical, emotional, psychological, etc., and leads to Injuries at set intervals.


In PENDULUM, there are two forms of Character Evolution: Sequential Evolution and Dramatic Evolution. The former will likely feel familiar, so we will tackle defining that one first. The latter, however, is likely new to most people and warrants further explanation.

Sequential Evolution

Over time, the character will complete Personal or Shared Goals, with each Goal granting them 1 Experience. As it accumulates, Experience leads to increases in Vigor and makes the intervals for Injuries larger. But it also acts as a form of currency to enhance existing traits or gain new ones.

In essence, the use of Experience to make numbers bigger is referred to as Sequential Evolution; i.e. it is largely predictable and plannable.

Dramatic Evolution

Dramatic Evolution is less predictable, even if it may be aspirational. In Dramatic Evolution, the Player's character gains special abilities, tactics, or methods called Arts. Arts are actions that are quite possibly unique in the world, only usable by that character, and allow them to perform feats that are staggeringly impressive.

Arts can be spontaneously discovered within Conflict or earned when the character's Ambition has been achieved.

What are some examples of Arts from popular media?

  • When Link does his spinning slash in The Legend of Zelda.

  • When Legolas slides down stairs on a shield and fires arrows at enemies.

  • When Naruto pulls off his multiple version of the Shadow Clone Jutsu.

  • When Edward uses alchemy without a transmutation circle.

In other words, Arts not only give a character the ability to do something almost no one else can, they act to define the character's identity and reputation within the world.



I hope this sneak peek into aspects of Character Creation and Character Evolution was interesting and informative of what Players can expect from the game. Essentially, all of these things are there to make characters progressively more and more unique - not only in their group but globally - and give indicators to Guides of what Players most want to do with their characters.

It might be good to follow up this post with something about Guiding the game, for those people likely to Guide for others or plan to play the game solo in Self-Guided mode. Yes, the game will be fully playable solo. It's 2023, folks.

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It's time to reveal PENDULUM, a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game that I hope will bring something different to the space: Open and dynamic character creation and advancement combined with a robust and highly detailed world. A world that, while detailed, is intended for Players to change and evolve over time.

Operating on a highly evolved version of the engine that powered WITCH DOCTORS, it offers a similar spellcasting mechanic for many of its arcane traditions, while adding huge improvements and opportunities for martial fighters to showcase what they're capable of. In addition... the focal point of PENDULUM is to open the play-space to Players who want to askew fighting and focus on crafting, on commerce, etc. To make it possible to get a deep and rewarding experience regardless of the character you make or the life they're intended to lead.

This isn't a combat game. It's a world. And in a world, paths radiate in every direction - they don't lead down too many isolated corridors.



The world of PENDULUM is dominated by a massive supercontinent called Khylaeron, which is inspired heavily by Eurasia from our own world. Khylaeron is punctuated by a vast, fragmented mountain range that separates its northern-most quarter from the rest. Often referred to as Khyra's Spine, this mountain range marks the dividing line between what is known as the Khylaeron Mainland and the Northern Wastes, a frigid and dangerous tundra that covers the northern pole of the planet.

The Khylaeron Mainland's western half is controlled by the "Western Powers", three powerful nations - Bokkeran, Duvothe, and Tal'visse - that long believed themselves to be the only proper nations on the planet. That view, however, has taken a beating over the last 30 years, following the discovery of Kharak, a massive nation to the far east built from conquest and the assimilation of hundreds of diverse tribes. This new, distinct nation - along with its chosen means of expansion - has a population that reportedly dwarfs the Western Powers' combined.

The only thing separating Kharak from the Western Powers is the Hedge Lands, a dense wilderness thick with foliage, trees, and erratic topography. It is a place steeped in the unknowable trappings of the world's prehistory; dotted with mysterious ruins, creatures from the Hidden Realms, and native beasts inspirited with intelligence and powers unlike those found anywhere else in the world.

Where there is no law but the kind you're able to enforce on your own.

Off the southwestern coastline of Khylaeron lies a small continent and nation known as Abbsa, whose turbulent rise has led to questions the Abbsan people refuse to answer. Questions about the animal-human hybrids known as kin and what caused The Shattering, a nigh-apocalyptic event that fractured Abbsa's coastline and killed tens of thousands of its people in seconds.

Players are free to create characters originating from any of these nations or from their outskirts, from rural or rustic heritages generations long - even ones of their own design.

Why aren't there more nations?

The purpose of the nations is to provide backdrops to different types of fantasy stories, motifs, and characters, not dry up every available parcel of land. Each nation has its own culture, traditions, strengths, and weaknesses, and provides context for characters from traditional molds in the fantasy genre. Whether you want to be a necromancer or technologist, traveling merchant or war chieftain, there is a natural landing place for your character.

In addition, the land is kept intentionally open to allow those acting as Guides and Players of the game to add their own ideas to the world as freely as possible right from the beginning, not to mention later on if/when they decide to build their own settlements.

It's hard to do that if every serviceable location is canonically on someone else's doorstep.

Are there gods in the world?

There is a dominant creation myth of the world that suggests that all land, ocean, and life was created when a goddess named Khyra fell to the barren world's surface during a great godwar long ago, in prehistory. As she died, her body, blood, tears, and dreams fed into the creation of all components of the living world.

This is the prevailing belief of most people in the Western Powers. However, there are many cults across the Mainland, particularly in Kharak, that feel connected to gods or spirits other than Khyra.

Players are free to create their own gods, spirits, and religions befitting the persona of their characters and origins. There are means within the mechanics to bring such beliefs to life in spellcasting and far beyond.



I'm in the process of doing internal and limited playtesting across different elements of the game, but will eventually be opening up public playtesting to solicit a broader perspective on how the game functions.

When the time comes, I'll make sure to communicate this out very widely.

In the meantime, I'll post elements of the game that are both near-final as well as in-development via this blog going forward. Even if no one reads these things, it'll act as a nice development diary to look back on once the game is completed. =)

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